The 'White Flag killings,' alleged extra-judicial executions of those who surrendered to the security forces on the penultimate day (May 18, 2009) of the Eelam War, are back in limelight with the Paranagama Commission initiating investigation into and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister raising the matter in Parliament a few days ago.
Maxwell P. Paranagama, chairman of a three-member panel on missing persons, told The Hindu that an investigating team had been constituted to go into the alleged killings and it included retired police officers who were experienced in such investigations. To ensure that the work was carried out in a balanced manner, a former high court judge had also been roped in. H.W. Gunadasa, secretary of the commission, said there were five persons including a woman.
Mr. Paranagama said the investigating team would also cover alleged shelling by the security forces on hospitals and the portrayal of incidents as shown on Channel 4 which included the killing of Isaipriya, a high profile member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Balachandran, the 12-year old son of the LTTE founder Prabahakaran.
The team, which would visit eight districts, was expected to submit its report by February, the Chairman added.
The Commission, in its report, quoted several reported versions of the alleged killings and found some of them “contradictory.” It added that “the circumstances of the ‘white flag killings’ are by no means clear.” As for the Channel 4 episode, the panel said that “these are not images that can be set aside simply because the journalism is extravagant.” It also stated that “the reputation of the SLA [Sri Lanka Army] is indeed at stake, but proper accountability is of equal, if not greater importance.”
The Sunday Observer reported Mr Wickremesinghe as alleging, during his speech in Parliament on Friday last that “when the LTTE cadres came carrying white flags, it was left to the discretion of the Commanding Officer present to accept or reject them. However, the orders came from Colombo.”
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera wondered whether any member of the security forces would have killed white flag surendees or the son of Prabhakaran son “without orders from the top ? If so, those who gave orders need to be dealt with, just as much as those who may have committed these crimes,” he added.