Sri Lanka to dig up suspected Muslim mass grave

Updated 24 June 2014
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Sri Lanka to dig up suspected Muslim mass grave

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities are to dig up the site of a suspected mass grave next week after claims it contains the bodies of scores of Muslims killed by Tamil rebels 24 years ago, police said.
The move comes amid criticism that Sri Lankan authorities have been turning a blind eye to recent attacks against Muslims carried out by Buddhist militants. At least four Muslims were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed in rioting last week at two southern resort towns.
"The site will be exhumed on July 1," a police statement said adding that security has been tightened in the area ahead of the exhumation.
"According to the complainant, the bodies of nearly 100 Muslims killed by the Tigers are buried there."
The announcement came the day after a judge ordered the dig to be carried out following a complaint from a local resident that nearly 100 people were killed by militants in the east coast town of Kalavanchikudy in 1990 before then being buried on the beach.
Sri Lanka's 37-year civil war, which ended in 2009, mainly pitted the majority ethnic Sinhalese, who are Buddhists, against the minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus and live in the north.
The Muslim community, which accounts for around 10 percent of the island's population and is concentrated in the east, largely avoided being caught up in the fighting.
But there have been allegations that the Tigers carried out several massacres of Muslims in the east as part of their push to create a separate Tamil homeland.
Several mass graves have been found in Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict, mainly inside the former war zone but also in areas which were largely unaffected by the conflict which claimed around 100,000 lives.
Sri Lanka's government, whose troops are accused of the mass killing of civilians in the latter stages of the war, has been heavily criticised for failing to prevent last week's riots.


Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

Updated 43 min 42 sec ago
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Eritrea responds to Ethiopia PM’s olive branch

  • Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War
  • Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed

ADDIS ABABA: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is dispatching a delegation to Addis Ababa for “constructive engagement” with arch-foe Ethiopia after peace overtures this month from its new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a senior Eritrean diplomat said on Wednesday.
Isais made the annoucement — a potentially significant breakthrough in one of Africa’s most protracted conflicts — earlier on Wednesday, Eritrea’s ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, said on Twitter. He gave no further details.
Eritrean information minister Yemane Ghebremeskel did not respond to requests for comment.
Eritrea and Ethiopia remain bitter foes after a 1998-2000 conflict that drew comparisons to the First World War, with waves of conscripts forced to march through minefields toward Eritrean trenches, where they were cut down by machine gun fire.
Casuality figures are disputed in both countries although most estimates suggest 50,000 Ethiopian soldiers died, against 20,000 on the Eritrean side.
Even after the end of the war, the border remains heavily militarised and disputed, most notably the town of Badme which was part of Eritrea, according to a 2002 international arbitration ruling.
Since then, Addis has ignored the ruling and refused to pull out troops or officials, to the fury of Asmara.
However, Abiy, a 41-year-old former soldier who has embarked on a radical economic and political reform drive since taking over in March, stunned Ethiopians this month when he said Addis would honor all the terms of the settlement between the two countries, suggesting he was prepared to cede Badme.
In parliament this week, Abiy also acknoewledged the tensions continued to inflict a heavy economic cost on both countries and said Addis should no longer hide this price tag from the Ethiopian people, another stunning departure with the past.
There has so far been no official response to Abiy’s overtures from Eritrea, one of the Africa’s most closed states.