Sri Lanka stifles attempts to investigate war atrocities - paper

[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 September 2010, 19:06 GMT]
Comparing how the United States accounted any Vietnamese killed as Viet Cong, Peter Bouckert, in the British Daily Guardian said Sunday that "Sri Lanka's defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, has taken such creative accounting to new heights. The United Nations reported that at least 7,000 civilians were killed and tens of thousands wounded during the final months of the brutal conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which ended in May 2009. But Gotabhaya has repeatedly cast aspersions on the idea that there were any civilian casualties."

Gotabhaya claimed that injured Tigers "changed their uniforms into civilian clothes" and that the Tigers must have suffered at least 6,000 dead and 30,000 injured – suggesting those counted as civilian casualties were really just Tamil Tiger fighters who had shed their uniforms, the paper said.

Noting Gotabhaya's statement to the Sri Lanka's "Lessons Learnt" commission that "[n]o complaints about human rights violations or abuses by the army were brought to my notice. None at all," the column in Guardian said, the "defence secretary seems to be suffering from severe amnesia," pointing out the reported evidence during and after the conflict by various UN agencies, the US state department and human rights organisations.

"The government clearly wants to avoid an honest attempt to find the truth. During a BBC interview in June, Gotabhaya threatened to have the commander behind the final military offensive, Gen Sarath Fonseka, executed after he promised to co-operate with investigations into wartime violations," Boucaert said refering to a a widely broadcast video where an agitated Rajapakse made the incriminating statement.

The column concludes: "What the Lessons Learned Commission makes of the testimony it receives remains to be seen. One would hope that it would see the government's version of events for what it is: a cynical fabrication designed to avoid scrutiny. Unfortunately, there is every reason to fear that the panel will believe the story that is being spun by the Rajapaksa brothers, which basically runs to the formula from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: "Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't.""


Chronology:


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External Links:
Guardian: Sri Lanka's government is still denying civilian deaths

 

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