In May 2009, the Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) acquired and analyzed commercial high-resolution satellite imagery of the Civilian Safety Zone (CSZ) and surrounding area in northeastern Sri Lanka. The project was done at the request of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who expressed concern over the status and safety of civilians due to the heavy fighting occurring 9-10 May, 2009. Comparing the May 6 and May 10, 2009 images of the CSZ, AAAS found significant removal of IDP shelters. In addition, imagery showed evidence of bombshell craters, destroyed permanent structures, mortar positions, and 1,346 individual graves. AAAS’s analysis was based on images from various publically accessible commercial satellites, US Army Field Manuals, and open-source information from public statements and media reports.
Strengths - Satellite imagery analysis is a useful way to assess the situation on the ground during conflicts in which no outside parties are allowed in the area.
Weaknesses – None