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Asian conflicts exact heavy civilian toll in 2009: Amnesty

Asian conflicts exact heavy civilian toll in 2009: Amnesty

Asian conflicts took a brutal toll on civilians in 2009, killing thousands and leaving millions homeless, destitute and often ignored by governments responsible for their misery, Amnesty said yesterday.
From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, civilians caught up in fighting between government forces and insurgents were left to fend for themselves, with international monitors repeatedly denied access to the worst-affected regions.
In its annual global report, which focused on a lack of accountability for even the most glaring human rights violations, Amnesty International highlighted the plight of non-combatants during the final months of the war in Sri Lanka.
Between January and May 2009, some 300,000 civilians found themselves trapped between government troops and the remnants of the once powerful Tamil Tiger rebel army.
By the time of the Tigers' final defeat in May, some 7,000 civilians had died, according to the U.N. estimates, amid well-documented reports of abuses on both sides.
The Sri Lankan government dismissed all charges of war crimes by its forces - including indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas - and rejected calls for an international inquiry.
An attempt to censure Colombo at the U.N. Human Rights Council was blocked by member states such as China and ended with the adoption of a resolution commending the government for its military victory.
"One would be hard pressed to imagine a more complete failure to hold to account those who abuse human rights," said Amnesty's interim secretary general Claudio Cordone.
In Pakistan, more than two million people fled their homes near the Afghan border, some driven out by Taliban militants holding sway in the region but most by "brutal" government counter-insurgency offensives, the report said.
"The government's response to the long-standing conflict in the northwestern border with Afghanistan has vacillated between appeasement and extreme violence.
"Neither strategy indicates a government committed to protecting the rights of the Pakistani people," the London-based watchdog said.
In Afghanistan itself, Amnesty said nearly 2,500 civilians were killed and more than 60,000 displaced by a combination of escalating Taliban violence and the inability of the government and its international allies to improve the political and economic situation.
Despite the violence, millions of Afghans turned out for presidential elections, but Amnesty said their efforts were undermined by voter harassment and ballot fraud that "further eroded the Afghan people's right to participate in the conduct of their public affairs."
On the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, more than 200,000 civilians continued to live in camps or makeshift shelters, sometimes surrounded by a heavy military presence, despite the July ceasefire between the government and Muslim separatist rebels.
In other parts of the Asia-Pacific region, political and ethnic repression forced thousands to flee countries such as North Korea and Myanmar - often for nations hostile to their presence.


Updated : 2021-09-21 17:24 GMT+08:00