Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa rejected claims yesterday that civilians had gone missing in the North during the last stages of the war, insisting that all records maintained by the Army and the ICRC tallied with no discrepancies.
Responding to a question posed by a journalist, the Defence Secretary said that the people who came to the Army by sea, during the final stages of the war were registered with the ICRC and with the “Indian hospitals manned by the Indian Army, and not a single person is missing from that list”, when tallied.
“This is another factor that many people have forgotten. Take the large number of people who were coming by sea. Where did they go first? They went to the Indian hospital; it was manned by the Indian Army. They reported to them first and from there only did they come to the welfare camps. And the ICRC was present whenever they surrendered.
“There was a procedure followed when registering these people. Not a single person is missing from that list,” he said.
Earlier Mr. Rajapaksa had said that many of those considered to be ‘missing’ might have died during the war as a result of their fighting against the Army.
“That’s a false allegation. Of course you have to understand that when you say missing, people should realise that in these areas there were people recruited by the LTTE and they were fighting the Army, if you take the Army alone I think even today you have about 3000 missing personnel. We couldn’t find the bodies. If you take the North of Sri Lanka it was dominated by the LTTE so we didn’t have the military going in and arresting people. Nobody talks about these things. These people were terrorists who died in action. For their parents they may be missing because they were taken forcibly and put to fight by the LTTE and they died and their parents didn’t know what had happened to them. So to their parents they are missing. You have to understand this,” he said. (Supun Dias, Menaka Mookandi, Darshana Sanjeewa)