The Independent newspaper in Britain which published the latest photograph today said the images were taken in May 2009 at the very end of the Sri Lankan government’s operation to crush the LTTE. The newspaper report claimed the images, contained in a new documentary, No Fire Zone, which will be screened at the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival during the UN Human Rights Council meeting in March, suggest the boy was captured alive and killed at a later stage. “It is difficult to imagine the psychology of an army in which the calculated execution of a child can be allowed with apparent impunity. That these events were also photographed and kept as war trophies by the perpetrators is even more disturbing.” The 12-year-old’s father, Prabhakaran, was killed along with most of the senior leadership of the LTTE as Sri Lanka’s army advanced on the rebels’ position. There were reports at the time that several LTTE officials were shot and killed as they tried to surrender.Prabhakaran’s body was displayed on state television, part of the front of his skull missing, also suggesting he may have been shot at close range. The Sri Lankan authorities have always denied shooting anyone who was trying to surrender. Last night, Brigadier PR Wanigasooriya, an army spokesman, said Sri Lanka had been a repeated victim of “lies, half truths, rumours, and numerous forms of speculations”.“No substantive evidence have been presented for us to launch an investigation,” he added, referring to alleged human rights abuses. A new video, set to be screened in Geneva on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session next month, shows what it claims to be the son of LTTE leader Villupillai Prabhakaran being fed inside a military bunker before being shot dead.Balachandran Prabhakara, the 12-year-old son of the rebel leader, was shown in an earlier video with bullet wounds on his body but the army denied capturing him during the final stages of the war. A forensic pathologist who examined the later images for the film-makers, said the boy was shot five times in the chest. Furthermore, propellant burns around the wound suggest he was shot at very close range.“The new photographs are enormously important evidentially because they appear to rule out any suggestion that Balachandran was killed in cross-fire or during a battle. They show he was held, and even given a snack, before being taken and executed in cold blood,” claimed the film’s director, Callum Macrae.
In places where livestock production is limited or imported meat unavailable or unaffordable, people will continue relying on wild animals to feed their families. However, measures like recognizing people’s customary tenure rights may encourage more wildlife conservation on their land, avoiding unnecessary hunting. In large urban areas, where wild meat is sold and consumed more as a luxury item, restrictions on wild meat consumption need to be put in place.The initiative also focuses on creating jobs in the farming sector, empowering women and securing indigenous rights to access the natural resources their livelihoods and cultures depend upon. The programme contributes to several targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to food security, sustainable land management and biodiversity conservation, specifically supporting SDG15, this year’s review of which notes that “poaching and trafficking of wildlife remain serious concerns.” To help African, Caribbean and Pacific countries stop unsustainable wildlife hunting, conserve natural heritage and strengthen people’s livelihoods and food security, the United Nations agriculture agency launched on Tuesday a €45 million multi-partner initiative. Funded by the European Commission, the seven-year Sustainable Wildlife Management programme will be led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to contribute to conserving and sustainably using wildlife in forests, savannas and wetlands by regulating hunting, strengthening indigenous and rural communities’ management capacities and increasing the supply of sustainably produced meat products and farmed fish. “Wildlife has ecological, social and economic value. It is important for rural development, land-use planning, food supply, tourism, scientific research and cultural heritage,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva speaking at today’s launch. “This programme will protect wildlife species, conserve biodiversity, and maintain the essential ecological roles of wildlife. It will also help to secure the stocks and ecosystems services that are essential to the livelihoods of the poorest communities on the planet,” he added. Countries participating in the project include Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Madagascar, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Hunting and fishing in the targeted countries is often unsustainable – affecting wild animal populations in forests and savannas – causing what FAO calls a “wildmeat crisis.”For example, the programme estimates that in the Congo Basin some 4.6 million metric tonnes of wildmeat are consumed annually, an equivalent of approximately half of the beef produced in the European Union. According to FAO, if hunting wildlife for food is not reduced to sustainable levels, not only will biodiversity be lost, but also countless numbers of families whose livelihoods depend on natural resources will suffer soaring levels of food insecurity and debilitating child malnutrition. The programme will work closely with national authorities to provide rural communities with alternative protein sources such as chicken, livestock or farmed fish. Doing so will help deter hunting of endangered species, support recovery of their populations and reduce food safety risks that can be associated with the consumption of wild meat.