Julio 5, 2007

Sri Lanka - Ex-air force officer among 6 arrested over Sri Lanka abductions

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested a former air force officer, a serving airman and four police officers for their alleged involvement in civilian abductions, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

The suspects were arrested last month after initial investigations suggested they were linked to several abduction and extortion cases, government security spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said. He did not elaborate, saying investigations were still pending. It was not immediately clear if the air force officer was in service when the alleged crimes were committed, where the civilians were abducted from, or how many people the men allegedly abducted.

No indication was given that the abductees were ethnic minorities on this island nation riven by a separatist conflict. The Civil Monitoring Committee, a group that campaigns against abductions, says at least 140 people, mostly minority ethnic Tamils, have been abducted from the capital, Colombo, in the past year, 18 of whom were subsequently found dead. Some of the abductees were released after relatives paid huge ransoms, while others never returned despite the payment of large sums, the committee says.

‘US should do more’: About 50 US lawmakers have written to President George W Bush asking him to step up American efforts to help resolve the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. “The United States has the opportunity to serve as a leader” in renewed international efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict, the lawmakers said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Led by two Democrats in the House of Representatives, David Price and Rush Holt, the lawmakers told Bush it was “imperative” for him to step up US diplomatic engagement and high-level political contact in Sri Lanka in a bid to achieving peace. The US legislators also asked Bush to increase US efforts “to promote strong human rights protection for civilians” amid the conflict, and called on Colombo to take “active measures” to end “extrajudicial killings and disappearances” in government-controlled areas.

They cited a recent report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, which described the international response to Sri Lanka’s human rights problems as “disjointed, lackluster and tardy.” A commission set up by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to investigate a wave of killings and disappearances said last week that 430 civilians, mostly minority Tamils, were slain over a bloody recent five month period. agencies


Posted by marga at Julio 5, 2007 7:29 PM | TrackBack
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