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Last updated: 23 September, 2010 - Published 16:10 GMT
 
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Sri Lanka urged to apologise for war
 

 
 
LLRC
The LLRC was told that the military deliberately targeted civilians in the north
A business leader in Sri Lanka has called on the government to apologise to the country for the suffering created during the civil war.

It was the latest in a series of submissions given to a government-appointed commission examining the final years of the conflict.

It has also emerged that witnesses in the north had accused the armed forces of killing civilians in shell attacks.

But the government places the blame for the war squarely on the defeated Tamil Tiger militants.

Once more, this commission has been hearing submissions which will cause the authorities some discomfiture.

Shelling refugees

Chandra Jayarathne, former president of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, said that last year, as well as celebrating its war victory over the Tamil Tigers, the government should have undergone what he called a process of atonement.

 I hope sirs your process will lead to a public expression of regret and apology on behalf of all the leaders and governments of the past, specifically to the war victims and to the nation at large
 
Chandra Jayaratne, business leader

"I hope sirs your process will lead to a public expression of regret and apology on behalf of all the leaders and governments of the past, specifically to the war victims and to the nation at large," he told the Lessons learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

"If Austrtalia and other countries could have done that after so many years I see no reason why the leaders of this nation cannot come to it now."

Mr Jayarathne also listed what he said were some damaging perceptions at large concerning the situation in the north.

These included the notion that disappearances and arbitrary arrests were continuing.

He said the panel should look into these perceptions and make recommendations accordingly.

According to accounts emerging from the panel's visit to what was the Tamil Tigers' last stronghold earlier this week, a Tamil civilian who fled the war zone accused the navy of repeatedly shelling refugee boats as they crossed a lagoon to escape, even though they shouted that they were civilians.

Eight people were killed. A woman described how her daughter and son-in-law were also killed by shells as they fled.

Witnesses also said the Tigers violently tried to stop them escaping.

Only a few journalists were allowed to report on the proceedings in Mullaitivu but these accounts came from Tamil-language newspapers.

 
 
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