Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
In 2011, in its Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis July 2006–May 2009, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence stated:
With the commencement of Eelam War III, the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] expanded its suicide operations targeting religious places and economic establishments. The attack launched on the Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth – the Buddhist Shrine housing the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha – using an explosive laden vehicle was the first suicide attack launched by the LTTE on a religious place.
The Ministry of Defence also stated:
162. While the Humanitarian Operation in the East was reaching its climax, it was decided to open a frontage in the Wanni theatre. …
169. The recapture of Madhu on 24 April 2008 was considered the first major objective liberated during the Wanni operation due to its significance for Sri Lankan Roman Catholics. The LTTE had built bunkers around the church and launched artillery attacks from the premises. It also used the church premises to treat its wounded cadres. In keeping with the instructions given to avoid any harm to places of religious and cultural significance, Security Forces avoided offensive operations in proximity of the church. Instead, troops cut off LTTE supply routes around the church, causing the LTTE to withdraw.
The Ministry of Defence further stated:
X. General Operational Procedures and Preparations to Safeguard Civilian Lives
B. Sri Lanka Army
225. Cultural properties such as Holy Madhu Shrine and Hindu Temples were protected from attacks and restrictions were imposed on the use of force against them, unless used for military activities by the LTTE or in the case of imperative military necessity.
The Ministry of Defence further stated: “On 18 May 2009, Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE, bringing to an end three decades of conflict and suffering.”