40,000 killed in last phase of war? Gota challenges UN to produce evidence Issues to be raised with Navi Pillay
Posted on August 17th, 2013

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy Island

August 17, 2013, 7:27 pm
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday challenged the UN to furnish evidence relating to the main war crimes allegation that 40,000 persons allegedly disappeared during the final phase of the war in early 2009. He emphasized that none of those propagating war crimes allegations, including the UN, had so far revealed the basis of their accusations.

In a brief interview with The Sunday Island, Rajapaksa said the government intended to take up the issue with United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (UNHRC) Navanethem Pillay scheduled to visit Sri Lanka later this month. The UN should without further delay divulge data to justify the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Report of the Secretary GeneralƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the Defence Secretary said.

The Defence Secretary asked whether any country accused of disappearances in such a scale would accept the Panel of ExpertsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ recommendation that its ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”sourcesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ would remain classified for 20 years since the release of the report on March 31, 2011.

According to the report, the three panelists, Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Steven R. Ratner (US) and Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) had received over 4,000 submissions from 2,300 persons in response to a notice posted on the UN website on Oct 27, 2010.

The Defence Secretary said that the refusal to name sources on the basis of confidentiality of the Panel of ExpertsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ records meant such a report/evidence couldnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t be acceptable in any court of law or special investigative mechanism. He pointed out that disclosure of credible sources would strengthen ongoing efforts to haul Sri Lanka before an international war crimes inquiry. Hence the UN shouldnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t hesitate to do away with confidentiality clause.

Rajapaksa said that a comprehensive survey conducted by the government in the Northern region at the conclusion of the conflict placed the number of dead and missing during the final phase at 7,400 and 2,600, respectively. The 7,400 dead included those who died fighting for the LTTE, he said.

Responding to a query, the outspoken official said of the 2,600 missing, 1,600 had been with the LTTE, whereas only 438 disappeared in areas under military control. The Defence Secretary insisted that there had been only in 28 cases in which security forces were directly blamed for the disappearances.

The death toll figure as reported by the government is consistent with an early UN estimate. Rajapaksa made the point that Tamils carried out the Northern survey hence there couldnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t be any allegations that it was manipulated by the government.

Asked whether the survey carried out by the Department of Census and Statistics could be substantiated, the Secretary said that every case could be verified. He said: “The UN can furnish data to disapprove our findings. It can lift the embargo on oral and written submissions received by the Panel of Experts to coincide with Ms PillayƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s visit. There cannot be a better time to humiliate Sri Lanka.”

He pointed out that the Amnesty International in a special report titled ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”When will they get justice? Failures of Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation CommissionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ published in 2011 estimated the number of civilians killed at 10,000.

The Defence Secretary said that a debate on human rights in the Indian subcontinent in September last year in the House of Commons highlighted the irresponsibility of those making war crimes accusations.

Long standing LTTE supporter Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) (Labour) told the House of Commons on Sept. 15 that Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s war, in its last five months alone, had claimed the lives of 100,000 people, 40,000 of them civilians.

Rajapaksa said that a section of the international community was engaged in a numbers game targeting Sri Lanka. In fact, the UN mission in Colombo had been fully aware what was going on in the Vanni region, he said.

Those running the UN mission here at that time went to the extent of conducting secret negotiations with the LTTE when Tamil UN workers were detained at the behest of Prabhakaran for helping Tamil civilians to escape the fighting.

“This was in early 2007. The UN can easily examine those who played ball with the LTTE at that time. The detention of UN workers by the LTTE was raised in New York,” he pointed out.

The UN never revealed who authorized secret contact with the LTTE to secure the release of workers, the Defence Secretary said, claiming that the war would have ended years ago if the UN ensured the LTTE adhered with an agreement not to recruit children.

The Defence Secretary recalled the finalization of the tripartite agreement among the GoSL, UN and the LTTE way back in 1998 with the then UN Special Envoy Olara Otunu playing a major role. The global community should examine UN operations here during the conflict to ensure that such grave errors wouldnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t be repeated elsewhere, he said.

7 Responses to “40,000 killed in last phase of war? Gota challenges UN to produce evidence Issues to be raised with Navi Pillay”

  1. Chanaka B Says:

    Well done! Gota is on right track. During the war Gordon Weiss (the then UN Spokesman in Colombo) stated that up to 7,000 people were killed (this was also a high number and the Sri Lankan Government denied this). Mr Weiss waited for 9 months after the end of the war to state that the actual number of deaths may be 40,000. He wanted to sell his book; the writer of these Comments, confronted Mr Weiss at his book launch in Melbourne in 2010 as to how he came up with the figure, Mr Weiss could not answer. The London Times picked up the figure and published a big headline story that Sri Lanka killed 40,000 innocent Tamils. The news spread like wildfire. Channel 4 produced a number of dubious videos.

    Darusman went and wrote the report based on such hearsay evidence.

    Up to now, no one has been able to say where these figures have come from. They cannot do this because Mr Weiss plucked the 7,000 and 40,000 figures from thin air.

    Now the whole world (ie the West) wants to prosecute Sri Lanka for a crime it did not commit. This is not justice.

    Sumanthirian recently stated (I think last week after the Weliweriya incident) that the Army killed 75,000 Tamils (he continues to receive VIP treatment in Sri Lanka).

    With time to come, enemies of Sri Lanka will increase the figure, say to a more comfortable 200,000 or 300,000, so that their demand that our War Heroes should be taken to the International War Crimes Tribunal will be successful.

    If Sri Lanka killed so many innocent Tamils during last stages of war, would India, or for that matter Tamilnadu (located only 30 km away from the war zone), maintained a silence that time?

    People like Weiss, Sumanthirian etc who come up with fanciful allegations against Sri Lanka would not agree that if such a large number of innocent Tamils died (7,000 or 40,000), they were the Tamil civilians killed by LTTE weapons and the Tamil terrorists that were legitimately killed by the Sri Lankan Army.

    During last stages of the war, the Tamil Tigers were deliberately killing the Tamils who were fleeing the no fire zone. Even Weiss agreed that the LTTE were holding heavy armoury inside the no-fire zone and fired at the civilians who fled it. The number of civilians died from LTTE gunfire amount to few hundreds, not thousands. Then, about 12,000 Tamil Tigers were killed by the Sri Lankan Army and about 5,000 Army soldiers also died. So there were killings happening in the areas. But, killings did not happen nowhere near the 40,000 mark as alleged by the adversaries.

    To save civilians, Sri Lankan Army did not fire at the no-fire zone, large numbers of Sri Lankan soldiers got killed as a result from the Tamil Tiger gun/artillery fire.

    Mr Weiss. The London Times, Sumanthirian or other enemies of Sri Lanka would not admit this truth. This is because then they cannot a create a bad impression about Sri Lanka worldwide.

    Dr Pillai, being a Judge and a Lawyer, has the best opportunity to look into these allegations. Mr Amunugama, the Sri Lankan Foregin Secretary has stated that she will have a free ride in Sri Lanka and the Government will not interfere with her work itinerary. This is the right way to go.

    Dr Pillai, when in Sri Lanka, hopefully you will make a statement about this matter, in accordance with your own conscience.

    Truth must prevail at any cost, even so belatedly – after more than 4 years of ending the war.

    Sri Lanka fought a just war that no recent Army has fought.

  2. S de Silva Says:

    Well said GR, but a little too late. We should have challenged the figures then and there and threatened to sue them for libel – which is what many including myself have demanded for so long. In the West when people lie about you, that is what is always done. Again, as I have said times before, we need to start with Gordon Weiss and the contents of his book containing the origin of his cooked up 40,000 figure. It is never too late to do that if you wish to kick the mouths permanently shut of Gordon Weiss and others parroting the same number ad-nausiam- GO for it! – S de Silva – London

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Well stated Gota ! With you all the way !

    Sri Lanka should have done all this during the last two UNHRC sessions. Who from Lanka have botched up the UNHRC sessions for the whole of Lanka ?

  4. Sooriarachi Says:

    40,000 dead is Gordon Weiss’s contribution to Tamil Tiger terrorists false propaganda campaign. Though he had zero access to the conflict zone, he invented this figure after his position in the Colombo UN office was terminated and today he is touring the world with the Tigers trying to convince the world to believe his fabrications. This could be his bread and butter and he is not the only person resorting to such a low form of conduct, maybe for rewards they could only dream of.
    Rather than worry about this fictitious figure, GR should query from Navi Pillai as to why she is not pressing the respective Western Nations to take action against the Tamil Tiger diaspora that helped Prabakaran to violate human rights of several generations of Tamil children by preventing them the right to have an education, in a country where free education is offered to all its citizens, and instead use them as suicide bombers, child killer brigades and fight in the battle front to end up as a mere statistic in the list of missing persons. GR must also ask for help to claim compensation from India for training the terrorists, Norway and Canada for funding Tiger fronts to purchase lethal weapons and ammunition to commit crimes for well over two decades.

  5. Sarath W Says:

    Is there any way the government can request to examine Gordon Weiss’s asserts before he hot involved with the LTTE and after? Is he living in luxury like the Balasingham ?

  6. Chanaka B Says:

    Former LTTE Leader, Elilan’s widow, Anandi Sassitharan has stated she will tell Dr Pillai about what happened in Wellamullivaikkal – she witnessed disappearances and surrenders etc. I am pretty sure Dr Pillai being an experienced lawyer would be able to differentiate truth from fiction. TNA heavyweight, Sumanthinran has already lied that the dead Tamil civilian figure is 75,000 (he has surpassed all the previous liars); TNA is a racist party with no credibility at all. Let’s hope Dr Pillai will not blindly believe what TNA and other racist groups state, but make an honest and independent impartial investigation. She should make her finding known before she departs Sri Lanka. I hope the Sinhalese groups will also make correct and proper representations to her.

  7. Chanaka B Says:

    Anandi Sassitharan is a TNA candidate in the forthcoming NPC election.

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