Consensus or Compromise will mean Admission
Posted on February 17th, 2021

By Palitha Senanayake

Discussing the impending issues, Sri Lanka will be confronted with at the forthcoming UNHRC sessions, Minister Sarath Weerasekera, blurted,’ The arguments we present will not matter munch because they are determined to punish us”. This appears to be the thinking of the Government too, and in that mood it further confirms what the foreign secretary Mr. Colombage has aired on this topic, at a few instances.

This however appears, a rather capitulating attitude and an un-redeemable commiment, given the fact that, what the country and its forces have been accused of; killing civilians and violating basic human rights in milieu, that was 100 % LTTE creation. This should mean that the Government is prepared to admit, at least to some extent, that our forces, that risked their lives, with an extraordinary number killed and wounded, in rescuing 290,000 civilians, are guilty of deliberately killing, and violating the right of, civilians?  

Listening to M/s Tamara Kunanayagam, our former UNHCR representative, the other day who faced some of the UNHCR sessions in her forthright manner, it is all but right for us to withdraw from this 30/ A resolution  because she has been privy to how US exerted  undue influence on those resolutions against Sri Lanka. The issue now is, having rightly withdrawn from that resolution, on what and with whom are we now trying to reach a consensus? Further the attitude of the present UNHCR secretary is quite clear when you study the remarks she has made in her new report; she obviously thinks that she could treat the democratically elected Government of Sri Lanka like a doormat.

There are two salient factors in this whole scenario of ‘human rights violation’, that the present or any of the previous Governments have not taken in to reckoning and those two factors beam out as daylight amidst the concocted darkness of these allegations. These two issues have neither been considered even in the Maxwell Paranagama report nor in any other document that deals with the subject.

The first of these is the Census report of special population census survey carried out by the Department of Census & Statistics for the North East in the year 2011 and then the report of the General census carried out in 2012.  Apparently this figure of 40,000 missing persons, brought in Darusman and UNOCHA reports, is based on a report an AGA named Pratheepan has submitted to the Darusman  panel in 2012, having collected the statistics from the Grama Niladharis who were present at the Nanthikadal site at this so- called ‘last stage’. It is a fact that the Grama Niladharies have been the authorities in declaring population figures as per their voters list, since the LTTE did not allow the Department of census & statistics to conduct a proper survey in the North and some parts of the East since 1981. Further, it is also a fact that these Grama Niladharies worked under the LTTE since 2002, courtesy Ranil W Peace Agreement. It is also revealed that these GN’s , in the absence of a population survey, have  been manipulating their voters list for subsidies and purposes. Therefore, it is these Grama Niladharies who have declared a figure of 330,000 as the number of persons to have been present at  Nanthikadal from February to May 2009  as per the records they claimed to maintain of the Vanni area (4 Districts).  They have been maintaining these records by adding the persons born from Birth certificates issued and deducting those for whom death certificates have been issued.        

However, when the special survey was commissioned by the Department of census in 2011, as is usually done, these same Grama Niladharies were requested to present the figures they had in their possession and were told to update the same after enumerating, the persons present, known to have died due to natural or unnatural causes and the missing. Since the Grama Niladharies were not able to visit all the households in that limited time, school teachers from the GN divisions were hired with the co-ordination of the GN.  The wider purpose of this survey was to issue Death certificates to those who died during this questionable period between 2006 January to 2009 May; the period of displacement. This report, which covers the entire Northern province including Jaffna and Vanni, is available in the Department website and gives the following results,

Total number died from January 2009 to May 2009              8,898 persons

Of which deaths due to age and sickness                                 1,067 persons

          Do               due to natural disasters                                      45 persons

          Do               due to Accidents and homicides                     454  persons

          Do               due to other                                                     6,858  persons

          Do               due to reasons not stated                                 584 persons       

Then we also have the untraceable persons report for Northern province in the same website and that gives a verified figure of 2,651 persons of which the Jaffna figure of 651and that number is suspected to have migrated to UK and Canada through India. Therefore, for Darusman to maintain that 40,000 people have died from Jan to May 2009,  some people who have not registered their births in Sri Lanka should also may have died at Nanthikada!!!

This exercise gets still more interesting when the General survey carried out as at end of 2012 results were released in 2016.  By that time all the IDP’s internal migrations have been settled and hence the enumeration was more realistic.  In 2011 Rev. Rayappu Joseph declared under oaths to the LLRC that not 40,000 but 146,679 persons have perished at Nanthikadal claiming that the entire Vanni population that was present there was 429,059 and only 282,380 have been rescued.  The good Rev. had released these figures to Frances Harrison of BBC and even to Yasmin Sooka (Darusman Panel) who have quoted this figure in their publications.

When the 2012 All Island general census report was published in 20015 the report mentioned   430,525 persons as the total verified and living Vanni population that made not only Rev. Rayappu’s figures partisan but even his total population figures wrong.

Therefore, the question now is, is Sri Lanka, with the Government that fought the war in power, going to admit all these fabrications as true when incontrovertible evidence is available to the contrary??

The other major factor concerning these allegations is, what is the LAST STAGE of the war that this Darusman &  UNOCHA reports are interpreting as? Is it possible to identify the rescue operation of the Sri Lanka army as the ‘last stage’? As far as SL army was concerned the war was over on the 22nd January after they captured Kilinochchi and Mulaitivu and after the LTTE vacated their headquarters which they occupied for the last 27 years of the conflict.  That was when the Government dropped leaflets from the air and called the LTTE fighters to surrender with an offer of clemency.

The LTTE hot footed their belongings from Kilinochchi and Mulaitivu and took a load of civilians for their protection and went in to a hiding in a lagoon. They took along 300+ civilians and deployed them to construct bunkers, making them also combatants and positioned themselves in the No Fire Zones declared by the Government. Do you call that the LAST STAGE of the war when the war was well over by then and it was only the capture of LTTE leadership that remained?  The Second WW was over on the day they capture Berlin and not the day Hitler committed suicide. Conventionally, a war is called ‘Over’ the day the headquarters of one party is captured. Please study how the NATO bombed civilian sites in Kosovo and brought army generals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic to trial. Prabhakaran did exactly the same thing and he went further by shooting the fleeing civilians. These are documented well in the Darusman report. The LTTE may be no more but what about Sampanthan who said that the LTTE is the sole representative of Tamil people and Suren Surenthiran who financed the LTTE?

Sri Lankan Foreign affairs officials are lining up for foreign travel but how many have studied these cases and explore the possibilities of taking these culprits who are now portraying themselves as victims.

Any compromise on this issue will not be in favor of the mandate this Government is enjoying!

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