UN drew int’l attention to ‘other mass graves expected to be found in the future…’ Before release of US lab reports on Mannar bones
Posted on March 12th, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Sri Lanka is expected to inform the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the conclusion of the radiocarbon dating analysis by the Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory in Florida, US, in respect of six skeletal samples sent there in January 2019 with the intervention of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) established in accordance with Oct 2015 Geneva Resolution.

US lab tests have revealed that the skeletons belonged to a period that covered the Portuguese and the Dutch rule.

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Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saroja Sirisena, having referred to US reports received by the Mannar Magistrate recently asserted that the latest developments would be made known to the OHCHR and HRC pending conclusion of the matter.

The FM spokesperson said so in response to The Island query whether the Foreign Ministry would brief members of the HRC as regards the US findings against the backdrop of HR Chief Michelle Bachelet having negatively dealt with Mannar mass grave site in a report titled ‘Promoting Reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ submitted to the ongoing 40th session of the HRC.

The following is relevant section bearing No 23: “On May 29, 2018, human skeletal remains were discovered at a construction site in Mannar (Northern Province), Excavations conducted in support of the Office on Missing Persons, revealed a mass grave from which more than 300 skeletons were discovered. It was the second mass grave found in Mannar following the discovery of a site in 2014. Given that other mass graves might be expected to be found in the future, systematic access to grave sites by the Office as an observer is crucial for it to fully discharge its mandate, particularly with regard to the investigation and identification of remains, it is imperative that the proposed reforms on the law relating to inquests, and relevant protocols to operationalize the law be adopted. The capacity of the forensic sector must also be strengthened, including in areas of forensic anthropology, forensic archeology and genetics, and its coordination with the Office of Missing Persons must be ensured.”

The Bachelet report dealt with the situation here from Oct 2015 to January 2019.

A high ranking military officer told The Island that Michelle Bachelet’s report reflected the HRC’s thinking. The official, who had been at the forefront of military operations against the LTTE pointed out that Bachelet, had already reached the conclusion that the Mannar grave site contained skeletons of civilians killed and buried by the military and went to the extent of speculating about other mass graves to be found in the future. Responding to another query, the official said that the HRC never expected the US report to undermine its grand strategy. The official pointed out that those involved in a sustained campaign against Sri Lanka since the conclusion of the war had been so confident of the outcome of US tests; HRC blamed the Mannar killings on the SLA.

The lawyers representing the families of disappeared persons: C. Ranitha Gnanarajah, V. S. Niranchan, G. Rajakulendra, K.S. Ratnavale and V. Puvitharan PC representing the families of disappeared persons posted the following statement dated March 8, 2019 on the website of Center for Human Rights and Development: “The Report of Radiocarbon dating Analysis from the Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory in respect of six skeletal samples has been received officially by the Magistrate Court of Mannar and made public.

“As the Report contains modern technological inputs and related scientific findings which are specific to the field of Forensic Anthropology, we are in the process of consultation with professionals in the relevant fields in order to comprehend and decipher the material presented in the said Report. We are also mindful that there are several constraints on us professionals before hastening to any conclusion.

In view of the extensive work that has been carried out so far and much more to be done in the future in this regard, we have to exercise caution in place of plain speculation. We also have to take into consideration that there are several more tests, which may also have to be referred to experts for analysis and Report. Only on receipt of the reports of all such tests that any meaningful conclusion could be reached as to the age and position of such skeletal remains.

We are also mindful of the enormous interest and attention as regards the excavation of the Mannar Mass grave and we would like to inform all sections of the public and the Media that the Report that has been received is only in respect of one aspect of the mass grave and the analysis and report on the layers of the soil and the artefacts and materials discovered at the site are still due and that any speculations on the entire process based on the available Report alone may be premature and be prejudicial to the process that is being carried out under the directions and supervision of the court of Law namely the Magistrate Court of Mannar”

One Response to “UN drew int’l attention to ‘other mass graves expected to be found in the future…’ Before release of US lab reports on Mannar bones”

  1. aloy Says:

    The last para is interesting: English language can be used in diplomatic parlance to mask the truth and make facts irrelevant. Now these lab results on samples painstakingly selected as representative of the whole lot with agreement including those western diplomats has been reduced to nothing.

    I can understand the British siding with Tamils as they were the empire builders. Why are the Germans taking so much pain and take a leading role to crucify the majority Sinhalas in this country?. What wrong have the Sinhalese done to them?.

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