Joint letter from Ministers Kouchner and Milliband to the President of Sri Lanka

15 May 2009

His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa
President
COLOMBO

We are deeply grateful to you for the time that you gave to us when we visited Sri Lanka last month.

One of the issues that we discussed was the Government of Sri Lanka’s announcement on 27 April that combat operations had concluded and that the Sri Lankan security forces had been instructed to end the use of heavy calibre weapons, combat aircraft and aerial weapons which could cause civilian casualties. We welcomed this publicly. You repeated this commitment to us.

As you know, there have been a number of reports that your security forces have not lived up to these commitments. We are particularly concerned at information we have received from more than one authoritative source (unconnected to the LTTE and their supporters) that the conflict zone was bombed from the air last weekend. This comes on top of several reports that your security forces continue to use other heavy calibre weapons.

The use of aerial bombing is a very clear contravention of the commitments that you and your Government have given both in private to representatives of the international community and in public. Deploying such weapons in a very confined area in which there are a large number of civilians inevitably causes innocent casualties. It also does untold damage to the international reputation of you and your Government.

We urge you again to stop the use of such weapons, to accept a humanitarian truce in order to find a way to get humanitarian assistance to the many civilians still in the conflict zone.

We of course recognize that you cannot be considered on an equal footing as the LTTE, a terrorist organization. Nevertheless the eyes of the world are on you, your Government and the Sri Lankan military at this moment. The way in which you choose to end the conflict will have lasting consequences in the years ahead.

It is in your hands to choose whether you wish to transform a probable military victory into a long-term political success, widely supported by the international community.

BERNARD KOUCHNER DAVID MILIBAND

Online 18/05/2009

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