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Gotabaya releases "factual account" of war against LTTE

[Hindu, Tuesday, 2 August 2011 08:11 No Comment]

The Hindu Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaking before the launch of the report "Humanitarian Operation — Factual Analysis" compiled by the Ministry of Defence, in Colombo on Monday. Photo: R.K. Radhakrishnan Hinting that Sri Lanka will re-examine its war with the Tamil Tigers, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has said his country “will certainly engage with and account for the events of the past, [but] our focus must be on the future”.

Launching the report “Humanitarian Operation — Factual Analysis”, compiled by the Ministry of Defence as an answer to a series of reports, books, and documentaries that have been released since the conclusion of the war in May 2009, he said the allegations made in a section of the international press were “quite absurd”.

He denied the allegation that LTTE soldiers or civilians were tortured. “Take for instance the allegation that the security forces killed or gravely mistreated those who surrendered or were detained. This has been repeated loudly and repeated often, but it is not an accusation that stands up to scrutiny. By the end of the humanitarian operation more than 11,000 LTTE cadres surrendered to security forces. Despite the various acts of terrorism and mass murder they had committed, these cadres were not mistreated in any way. The 595 child soldiers who surrendered were reunited with their families within one year, while over 6,100 adult cadres were rehabilitated and released by June 2011. Most of the remaining cadres are undergoing further rehabilitation programmes and will be reintegrated to society when they are ready. Those culpable for atrocities at a higher level will be prosecuted through legal channels,” he said.

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former Colonel with the Sri Lankan Army who ran the war for his brother and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told an audience comprising members of the diplomatic corps and international NGOs stationed in Colombo that Sri Lanka had taken utmost care to look after not only those citizens who were oppressed by LTTE terrorism in the North and East but also those who were directly connected with the LTTE.

Challenging the number of civilian casualties — some international reports had said up to 40,000 were dead — he claimed this was “a vague accusation, based on even vaguer arithmetic, which keeps getting repeated without any sort of critical analysis by people who should know better”.

His reasoning: According to the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, the number of civilians in the North was between 75,000 and 1.5 lakh. According to the U.N. Resident Coordinator, the number was between 1.2 lakh and 1.8 lakh. According to the World Food Programme, the number was 2.1 lakh. According to the Government Agent in Mullaitivu, the number was 3.05 lakh — the highest estimate. The registered number of IDPs at the end of the war was 2.94 lakh.

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