Three Months after the Massacre in Sri Lanka, Action Against Hunger Remains Mobilized

Three months ago, on August 6, all 17 employees of Action Against Hunger’s base in Muttur, Sri Lanka, were found shot to death at their offices. So that no one forgets this tragedy, a Commemoration is being organized in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and a minute’s silence will be observed around the world. Action Against Hunger continues to work at speeding up the official investigations and is making every effort to disclose the truth.

This tragedy is unprecedented in humanitarian work. When a non-governmental organization’s employees are targeted, the whole humanitarian community is directly hit. In the absence of respect for humanitarian workers’ independence and neutrality, all humanitarian actions must be reappraised.

To Pay Tribute to the Victims

To act in accordance with Sri Lankan tradition - three months after a death, families assemble to pay homage to the deceased - a Commemoration will be organized in Colombo in the presence of Action Against Hunger members, representatives of the Sri Lankan community, and the UN, as well as local and international humanitarian organizations working in Sri Lanka. At the same time, Action Against Hunger asks all its members in its 44 countries of intervention, together with the worldwide humanitarian community, to observe one minute of silence on November 6 at 5:00 p.m. (local time in each country).

What about the Investigation?

From the moment Action Against Hunger learned of the massacre, it has done its best to identify all the perpetrators and bring them to trial. Action Against Hunger keeps a close eye on the investigation and calls upon its partners and the international community for support in bringing pressure on the investigators to complete their task as soon and as thoroughly as possible.

As part of the investigation, 11 bodies were exhumed and transferred to Colombo on October 18 for autopsies. The post-mortems were carried out under the observation of Australian experts. According to Sri Lankan law, the post-mortem reports should be transferred to the magistrate in charge of the case. The conclusion of this report should be released during the next hearing (in the coming weeks).

The International Commitment

The setting up of an investigative committee, made up of important Sri Lankan officials and international observers, under the aegis of Sri Lanka’s president, shows a willingness for transparency in the sovereignty of Sri Lankan States. However, the international observers should be independent and recognized as such. Multiple observers should be entirely free to make their observations public. Discovering the persons and the motives behind the tragedy in Muttur should be their first priority.

Because of the seriousness of the massacre in Muttur - and what is at stake for the international humanitarian community - all initiatives working to uncover the truth should receive the most widespread attention possible.

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