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Sri Lanka Commission
AP-APTN-2330: Sri Lanka Commission Wednesday, 11 August 2010 STORY:Sri Lanka Commission- REPLAY Government-appointed commission begins war hearings LENGTH: 03:12 FIRST RUN: 1730 RESTRICTIONS: Part No SLanka TYPE: English/Nat SOURCE: VARIOUS STORY NUMBER: 654009 DATELINE: Colombo - 11 Aug 2010/ File LENGTH: 03:12 AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY DERANA TV - NO ACCESS SRI LANKA ITN SRI LANKA - NO ACCESS SRI LANKA ++QUALITY AS INCOMING++ ++PRELIMINARY SCRIPT++ SHOTLIST AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY Colombo - 11 August 2010 1. Wide of government-appointed commission looking into Sri Lanka's civil war 2. SOUNDBITE (English) C.R. de Silva, Commission Chairman: "People of our country have gone through the traumatic nightmare of 30 years of war which ravaged our motherland. It is just one year back, our military forces were able to vanquish the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world. Time has now come to consolidate the military victory by addressing the root causes of the conflict and to establish national unity and reconciliation." 3. Cutaway of audience 4. SOUNDBITE (English) C.R. de Silva, Commission Chairman: "His Excellency the President has appointed a commission entrusted with the task of primarily identifying the root causes that led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement entered into in 2002 and also identify the person or persons or groups responsible for its breakdown. Secondly, to identify lessons learned from our past experiences to ensure that such incidents will not occur again. Thirdly, and most importantly, to formulate propositions which will ensure national unity and reconciliation amongst all communties in Sri Lanka, in order to usher in an era of peace and prosperity." 5. Cutaway of audience 6. SOUNDBITE (English) Name to be confirmed ++QUALITY AS INCOMING++ "He speaks of a letter that was written by the Prime Minister of Norway to LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) leader in December 2000 proposing (inaudible) which would lead to an understanding between the LTTE and the Government." 7. Wide of rooom DERANA TV - NO ACCESS SRI LANKA FILE: Nanthikadal Lagoon, Mullativu district - 25 April 2009 8. Various of displaced people disembarking from boat, being helped by soldiers DERANA TV - NO ACCESS SRI LANKA FILE: Puthumathalan, Mullativu district - 25 April 2009 9. Various of Sri Lankan troops watching as people displaced by the conflict are helped off boat 10. Mid of elderly man supporting bandaged boy 11. Army officers discussing next rescue mission ITN SRI LANKA - NO ACCESS SRI LANKA FILE: Puthumathalan, Mullativu - 25 April 2009 12. Various of Sri Lankan soldiers giving medical assistance to evacuees DERANA TV - NO ACCESS SRI LANKA FILE: Puthumathalan, Mullativu district - 25 April 2009 13. Various of crowd of civilians sitting on sand, children eating 14. Sri Lankan troops defusing land mines on beach, AUDIO: explosion 15. Various of large group of displaced people sitting on ground STORYLINE A government-appointed commission looking into Sri Lanka's civil war began public hearings on Wednesday amid international scepticism about its credibility as it has no mandate to investigate allegations that thousands of civilians died in the final months of the conflict. The United Nations says at least 7,000 civilians were killed in the last five months before the war ended in May 2009 when government forces finally crushed ethnic Tamil rebels who had been fighting for an independent state for a quarter-century. The rebels had claimed marginalisation of minority Tamils by ethnic Sinhalese-controlled governments. President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the commission in May, a year after the end of the war, to determine why a Norway-brokered cease-fire signed by the government and Tamil Tigers in 2002 collapsed and who was responsible. Human rights groups say the commission is aimed at deflecting calls for an international probe of alleged war crimes, including government shelling of civilians and other issues. In June, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a three-member panel to advise him on ensuring accountability for the alleged abuses during the war. Sri Lanka has refused to cooperate with the panel or issue visas for its members, saying an external panel is an infringement of the country's sovereignty. Commission Chairman C.R. de Silva said in his opening remarks on Wednesday that the time had come to "consolidate the military victory by addressing the root causes of the conflict and establish national unity and reconciliation." The commission began its hearings with presentations by the former Sri Lankan ambassador to the US, Bernard Gunatillake, and a former government peace negotiator with the Tigers. Gunatillake said that the Tigers were not sincere in peace talks that followed the 2002 cease-fire and were buying time for another war. The government has accused the rebels of having used the truce to smuggle in weapons, including a set of small airplanes, by sea, and to build berms and other defences around their stronghold in the north of the island. Gunatillake called for the immediate resettlement of tens of thousands of war-displaced civilians still living in camps and the return of private land and houses occupied by the army as important steps for long-term peace. Hearings also will be conducted in ethnic Tamil areas to allow people there to air their grievances, de Silva said. The hearings will be held in public except when witnesses ask for a closed session or when sensitive security details are discussed, he said. In addition to accusations of indiscriminate shelling, rights groups have also accused government forces of having blocked access to food and medicine for minority Tamil civilians trapped in the war. The rebels have been accused of holding civilians as human shields, killing those trying to escape the violence and forcibly recruiting children as fighters. The International Crisis Group think tank said in a report early this year that at least 30-thousand civilians could have died in the last phase of the war. It said it calculated the figure by comparing the original population of the war zone with the number who escaped the fighting. On Tuesday, a group of 57 US lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to push for an international investigation of war crimes allegedly committed by Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tigers. The lawmakers said the Sri Lankan commission had a narrow scope and no mandate to investigate abuses. Clients are reminded: (i) to check the terms of their licence agreements for use of content outside news programming and that further advice and assistance can be obtained from the AP Archive on: Tel +44 (0) 20 7482 7482 Email: (ii) they should check with the applicable collecting society in their Territory regarding the clearance of any sound recording or performance included within the AP Television News service (iii) they have editorial responsibility for the use of all and any content included within the AP Television News service and for libel, privacy, compliance and third party rights applicable to their Territory. APTN APEX 08-11-10 1935EDT
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