Human Rights Watch (HRW), [website] on Thursday called [press release] on the government of Sri Lanka to begin its investigation into war crimes by examining the role of its own Deputy Minister of Resettlement. HRW alleged that Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, known as Colonel Karuna, is a former leader of the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is accused of war crimes committed during a 26-year civil war. Ultimately, Karuna and his unit changed sides, joining forces with the Sri Lankan government. In March, Karuna called for an investigation of war crimes by the LTTE. Asia Director at the Human Rights Watch released a statement, saying, "Karuna's call for war crimes investigations should not allow him to airbrush out his own role in atrocities. His LTTE forces were implicated in some of Sri Lanka's most horrific abuses, so the government's long-stalled war crimes investigations might as well begin with him." HRW has urged the government not to overlook Karuna's conduct while he was a member of the LTTE.
The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war in 2009. Last week the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution [JURIST report] to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. In February Sri Lankan authorities were accused of using rape [JURIST report], as a method of interrogating members or supporters of the LTTE. Earlier that same month the UN criticized Sri Lanka for failing to investigate war crimes, and HRW pushed [JURIST reports] for an independent investigation of rights abuses.