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Muttur | Aid worker protection

The truth about the assassination of 17 humanitarian aid workers in Sri Lanka

London, 3 December 2013 

Ahead of International Human Rights Day, observed on 10 December, humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger | ACF International reveals publicly for the first time who is responsible for the assassination of the 17 humanitarian aid workers killed on 4 August 2006 in the city of Muttur, Sri Lanka, and who protected the perpetrators of the crime. In one of the most serious crimes ever committed against humanitarian workers, the 17 aid workers were lined up, forced to their knees and shot in the head.

Entitled The Truth about the Assassination of 17 Humanitarian Aid Workers in Sri Lanka, the report unveils that according to the information Action Against Hunger holds, the aid workers were assassinated by members of the Sri Lankan security forces and the criminals were covered up by Sri Lankan top authorities.  

‘Every day we and other humanitarian organisations work in war zones,’ said Mike Penrose, Executive Director of Action Against Hunger - France. ‘It is paramount that those who do not respect humanitarian aid workers are brought to justice and that these crimes do not go unpunished.’ 

Action Against Hunger does not seek to be or to replace a judge. Up until now, the organisation’s position was to wait for the outcome of the official investigation. Now that relevant domestic mechanisms have been exhausted, witnesses have been silenced and the internal Sri Lankan investigation has become a farce, Action Against Hunger considers it has a moral duty to denounce publicly the perpetrators of this crime.

The report brings together publicly available sources**, confidential documents and witness statements obtained by Action Against Hunger from witnesses on the ground and overseas, diplomatic contacts and other sources close to the matter. These sources implicate Army, Navy and Police personnel in the killings. 

The organisation calls on the international community to consider seriously the arguments presented in the report and to end the impunity by conducting an independent international investigation into the massacre. If such an investigation is opened, Action Against Hunger stands ready to cooperate with it in full by providing additional information in its possession.

Every day, humanitarian workers risk their lives delivering assistance in situations of armed conflicts. Respect for those who deliver humanitarian assistance is the most important condition to be observed by warring parties. Impunity for the Muttur massacre is not only an example of flagrant injustice for the deceased aid workers; it is also a brutal sign to the international community that humanitarian aid workers who work in situations of armed conflict are no longer protected nor respected.



Notes to editor

*About the Muttur Massacre: Seventeen humanitarian aid workers working for Action Against Hunger were brutally executed on the organisation’s premises in Muttur on 4 August 2006. The aid workers were lined up and shot dead at close range. The Muttur massacre is not only a crime against humanitarian workers of unseen scale but also one of the most atrocious war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan internal armed conflict.

**Sources include: WikiLeaks cables, articles by non-governmental organisations, UN reports and press articles amongst others