27 October, 2020

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A Film Of Alleged War Crimes … How I Became Sri Lanka’s Most Hated Man

By Callum Macrae –

 Callum Macrae

Callum Macrae

They haunt our every move, on their motorbikes in their silver hatchback and on their tuk tuks. Sri Lanka’s intelligence officers are a tenacious lot, but there’s another group perhaps even more tenacious in their pursuit of us: “spontaneous”, pro-government demonstrators.

They were there when the Channel 4 news team and I arrived at the airport. They turned up outside our hotel that night – and when we set off by train to travel north to the former war zone, there they were again. There were a few hundred of them with hurriedly written posters, denouncing us as Tamil Tiger supporters. They blockaded our train and eventually forced us to return to Colombo.

So here’s the issue. There are two versions of the situation in the traumatised north-east of the island, where perhaps 40,000 or even more, innocent Tamil civilians died in the horrific last few months of Sri Lanka’s civil war that lasted a quarter of a century.

The government and its supporters say the place is transformed: there are new roads, they say, new schools, former fighters “rehabilitated”, hotels being built and elections held.

But the Tamils who live there tell another story. They speak of continuing misery, of military occupation, of a climate of fear. A place where thousands remain homeless while army land-grabs continue unabated. Where thousands are still missing – and many women who remain are subject to the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of repression.

Of course, the way for journalists to get to the truth is to go there and see for themselves. But despite assurances from the president himself that we would be free to travel, it was not to be; several hundred noisy government supporters made sure of that.

That’s the problem for those who would try to hide the truth. If you want to work out which side is telling lies, you just have to work out who is trying to stop you seeing things with your own eyes. Here’s a clue: it wasn’t the Tamils.

This meeting of the Commonwealth heads of government is rapidly turning into a PR catastrophe for both the government of Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth itself. The extraordinary prospect of a Commonwealth committed to core principles of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression being hosted by a government which routinely flouts every one of those values is bad enough. But if this same government is also made the subject of a call by the UN Human Rights Council for an international investigation into alleged war crimes and alleged crimes against humanity (as might well happen next March), then this could be terminal for the Commonwealth’s credibility.

For Sri Lanka’s president, what he hoped would be the golden chalice of the Commonwealth summit is rapidly changing into a poisoned one – and the problem is that Colombo’s supporters blame that process almost entirely on Channel 4. In particular, Channel 4 News and – with extra, added venom – me.

We were gratified when, in something of a first for international diplomacy, David Cameron tweeted last week that he’d watched my most recent film, No Fire Zone, broadcast two week ago, and that as a result he had serious questions to ask President Mahinda Rajapaksa about what happened. It was a significant and surprisingly straightforward pledge. The downside is that it didn’t make us any more popular.

Every night Sri Lankan television carries stories stating quite unequivocally that I am a Tiger supporter. These sentiments are echoed by government spokesmen who suggest I – and Channel 4 – are funded by the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The fact that we have accused the Tigers, too, of war crimes, of using suicide bombers and targeting civilians, counts for nothing. These wild denunciations are pretty unpleasant – and a direct act of incitement which has inevitably translated into a number of death threats. I am probably the most hated man in Sri Lanka at the moment. I am a celebrity and they want me out of here.

But look behind these threats and hysteria – beyond the front page banner headlines that read “End of the road for Callum Macrae” and you detect a different current underneath. It was Jonathan Miller of Channel 4 News who first noticed it. As a tuk tuk drove past, the passenger inside saw us and gave a furtive, discreet little thumbs-up. Then it happened again. And others, when no one is looking, came up and asked for a photograph with us.

It is very clear there are a lot of people in Sri Lanka who are very happy to see their increasingly despotic ruling family coming under pressure.

*A version of this article appeared in the Guardian on November 16, 2013

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Latest comments

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    I take my hat off to the Channel 4 team and particularly to Callum Macrae for exposing the war crimes of the Rajapaksa regime and also for coming to Sri lanka and exposing the charade that freedom of expression exists under Rajapaksa rule.

    The service you have rendered is not just for the tamil people but for all the people of Sri lanka. The Rajapaksas are hiding behind the people and trying to fool the people by saying they, the Sri Lankan people, are under attack by Channel 4. Rajapaksa thought he was clever butr he made a huge mistake in agreeing to host CHOGM and exposing his regime as war criminals to the entire world. I gratefully thank Callum and his Channel 4 team for their ehlp in exposing the Rajapaksa brothers’ crimes against humanity.

    • 0
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      Well said Piranha!….It is hard to find GOTA, MERVIN, WIMALYA and other big mouths when the world media was here.

  • 0
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    They issue visas to come there, then invite you for a cup of Tea, then they board you on a train to go to north, then they take you off the train and put you on a Van ( not a white van this time) then they ask you to pay for the van fare,…Then they whack you with a brick on the head. That is the hospitality of this regime. Hey guys, all Sinhalese are not like that. We are a very hospitable bunch.

    This regime shiver when they hear the word “HUMAN RIGHT”. These guys know very well they shot and killed surrendering LTTE cadres. When General Fonseka uttered the word “White FLAG” they went in a frenzy and all hell broke loose and all the GOSL sponsored media chastised this local hero. Ultimately he was remanded and jailed and the released when the White House petition reached 100000 signature.

    For the next few months everything will come to a stand still and we will be fed 24/7 with spin doctors and the local pundits that this is a “INTERNATION CONSPIRACY” and “DIASPORA LTTE ROMP “ and these are the work of traitors. UN office, British Embassy and British Council will be surrounded with local habitual protested like Mervin Silva. Wimal Weerawansa and their goons. Everything British will be bad for next 6 months. But, 16th century old Cricket will be OK.

    Remember the Master list of Political opponents for Richard Nixon? Welcome to Master List of Opponents of Maharaja of Sri Lanka.

  • 0
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    Thank you Chanel 4 you are making little bit safer for Sri Lankans

  • 0
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    Mr.Callum Macrae,

    The opportunity you have now in Sri Lanka is one of a Life time under President Rajapakse.

    Therefore get the maximum of it as there could be no more C4 be allowed in future.

    By the way, when is your next video documentary going to be out……

    You and Jonathan Miller are already celebrity and courageous investigative Journalists both in Sri Lanka and around the world.

    Hat’s off to you sir. Keep up your good work.

    • 0
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      Mr.Callum Macrae,

      If you are thinking of Prolonging your stay in Sri Lanka, the only option available for you is to bring a Lawsuit against the Van driver who charged 30,000 rupees for a one way trip from Anuradhapura to Colombo. Therefore this case will eligible for you to stay legally in Sri Lanka until the case is over, so you could cover more stories.

      Also it was not you that hired this Van or agreed upon the price, but was forced upon you by the DIG Anuradhapura forcing you to come to Colombo.

      You could enjoy more sun shine in Paradise island while the case goes on without staying indoors facing Winter in UK.

    • 0
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      Ma-hela

      This mongrel Mac got mouthful from SL public for his unbiased films.

      I fee sorry for him as he has to look after somehow his family by polishing the British Camels private parts to provide bread and butter.

  • 0
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    dont flatter your self , you are just a clown . not even a true journalist. Go to your ugly grey wet country and stay there .

  • 0
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    James Ingram:

    Thank you for the wonderful response you gave to the knee jerk defenders of ‘Sinhala only’ Sri Lanka that continue to dominate this island who care little for morality or ethics when it comes to other rightful claimants to the island home.

    MR and Gota must be shaking in thier military underpants by this disasterous and glittering spectacle.

    “John, before you blame CH4 address the following issues that concern all Sri Lankans;
    1- Who was responsible for the tamil problem and LTTE taking up arms? – Sri Lanka’s politicians, especially the SLFP with SWRD’s ‘Sinhala only’ stance.
    2- Who contributed most to fight the terrorism? – Armed forces and Police, and Sri lanka’s tax payers.
    3- Who has benefited from the end of the war ? MR and family.The people only have the freedom to travel to the north and east.
    4- Who has benefited from LTTE funds? ask KP how he has bought his freedom. A front man of the LTTE and VP’s arms procurement man walks free, without any charges of HR violations, terrorism. Lesser offenders are still lying in jail without a hope of getting out.
    5- Who has benefited from LTTE paramilitary? Look at Karuna Amman, the man accused of cold blooded slaughter of 800+ policemen, now govt’s representative in the east with police and army guard. No charges against this monster.
    6- Who has got rich or super rich after the war?, who got the LTTE gold?, who gets commissions still for buying weapons for a military in barracks?, who flouts the law?, whoa acts with impunity?, who attacks christian churches, muslim mosques, hindu temples??…..the bloody list goes on.
    CH4 are not being paid by LTTE it is our lot that got richer, thanks to the LTTE.
    John or whoever you are CH4 has done Sri Lankans a justice which they are not getting in their own country. I ask CH4 to investigate the above issues which is post war and ongoing.

    BRAVO CHANNEL 4 ALL EDUCATED CULTURED SRI LANKANS WHO ARE NOT HANGING ON TO THE LOIN CLOTH OF THE RAJAPAKSES ARE WITH YOU.

    • 0
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      bbs dayan,

      some nice pertinent points, and here in my southern liar, slightly east of bustling Galle, where the zephyr blows sweetly, I hear my neighbours publicly berating the ‘bloody foreigners for interfering in our private business’ but on the verandahs, when the betel leaf and spittoon is brought out and we relax and speak with native candour, the acceptance is that we fucked up our affairs big-time and what shitty luck it was that we ended up with such a incompetent bunch of nincompoops accomplishing the long overdue task of subdueing the evil forces of the north. Bad karma; what to do?

  • 0
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    .
    What C4 saying is some of the Lankan soldiers were involved in war crimes and therefore they need to investigated and punished.

    I am surprised some are against punishing bad guys.

    :-)

    • 1
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      I am surprised why they are blind and deaf about massive killings done by LTTE.

  • 0
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    Callim McRae , let the pariah dogs bark, but keep on fighting for an international investigation of the last days of the war when. as many as 70000 innocent civilians were massacred. With the assistance of Cameron, you must accomplish the
    task that you have undertaken. You are very courageous person let not these pariah dogs prevent you, from undertaking what you
    have set out to do.
    Good job, Keep it up.

  • 0
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    During R Pemadasa time 1600 surrendered people were killed by LTTE for blood withdrawing. LTTE killed small children in Kebithigollawa. Are You blind and deaf for these Mr Macrea ?

    • 0
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      What is your point?

      • 0
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        He can make 1600 videos on that

  • 0
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    Is Callum funded by the LTTE?

    Here is your fundraising appeal for No firezone:
    http://tinyurl.com/c6lcy47

    In the last couple of days we’ve raised almost another £3000, let’s see if we can reach £35,000 by the end of today!

    Every contribution is so important and we’ve been overwhelmed by your continuous support during the campaign.

    Pledge £1 – Our warmest thanks on our social media
    Pledge £10 – You’ll get a shout out on twitter
    Pledge £20 – All the above plus a no Fire zone badge
    Pledge £50 – All the above plus a Title track and End Credit Track from NFZ

    Pledge £100 – You will receive all the above prizes but you’ll also get a DVD signed by the film team

    Pledge £250 – All the above PLUS 2 tickets to a screening of your choice anywhere in the world.

    Pledge £500 – Want the chance for a private Q&A session with the filmmakers? Get a twenty minute Skype session to ask your own questions about the film. Oh and you get the other prizes above as well.

    Pledge £2000 – Want 4 tickets to a country premiere of your choice? Here’s your chance plus a personal email of thanks from the film team. (Travel not included) And yes, you also get the other prizes above as well.

    Pledge £3,000 or more – You and 3 guests will get to have dinner with the team at a Central London location.

    Publish the names of the people who donated money, and we’ll let you whether they are Kosher.

    • 0
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      Hi Callum
      Hope you reach your target funds to work on the next relaese of No Fire Zone and screen them internationall in all major cities of the world

  • 0
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    Mr. Callum Mcrae:

    Sri Lankan news papers say you did not pay the van that you and your crew transported to Colombo from Anuradhapure when you abandoned your trip to North.

    How come you did not pay him ?

  • 0
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    Callum, Jon Miller and friends:

    A very large number of Sri Lankans from all communities, not notably
    almost all of those English speaking, welcome you to the Debacle of Asia (which the crooked regime claim as the Miracle of Asia) When
    two members of your team got down from your vehicle and dared to challenge your “tail” (Govt intelligence men from the army in this Police State) they retreated – tail behind their legs. That’s the Rajapakse way. Remember what that
    creep who goes as Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya R boasted “He (Cameron) cannot go anywhere he wants and do this and that. We have given him a Visa with conditions and he has to conform by that” That is the quality of this idiotic Minister. The President and his sibling Gothabhaya spoke in those terms. But Cameron went to Jaffna, spoke with whomever he wanted to and saw what he wanted to. The Lankan Tamil Nation will always be grateful to him for that. It is not easy for the Rajapakses, with their appalling IQ, to understand the world is much bigger than their gangster-infested fiefdom. It is men like Kamlesh Sharma who keep them going. This country has now sunk to the level of Papa “Doc” Duvalier’s Haiti and those goons who gradually destroyed that country and all its institutions.

    Here’s wishing you and your team all success in your remarkable and fearless work. I am sure when you do a documentary on the Rajapakse Family “Business” it will stand a good chance of winning global acclaim.

    Kettikaran

    • 0
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      Kettikaran

      “they retreated – tail behind their legs. “

      So did many anti imperialist Sinhala/Buddhists in this forum.

      When Cameron dared and made his chilling statement not a single Sinhala/Buddhist told him to mind his own business.

      The Sinhala/Buddhists should have arrested him and taken him to Hague for war crimes committed by his country and his allies.

      Brave hearts are nowhere to be seen.

      Where are those brave hearts? We need them to teach the white imperialists a lesson they will never forget.

      David Blacker we need you.

  • 0
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    Callum MCRAE:

    Why you are not allowed in India ?

  • 0
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    Calum@,
    now it is time to write that bugger – Bandula Jaya and provoke him that you nevertheless travelled to lanka and got almost all what you thought wanted to be done. He was the ones challenged you saying the he would take every action rejecting you enter the island.

  • 0
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    Australia to give Sri Lanka two patrol boats to curb human smuggling

    Excellent!

    The BEST OUTCOME of CHOGM. This is the only thing worthwhile in CHOGM.

    SL spent $3 million and gained back $3 million so the net loss is $0!!

    So who won this round too? SLs.
    Who lost this time too? Tamils.

    Now the genocidal SL state has 2 more Tamil killing warships thanks to CHOGM paid by 50,000 Tamil taxpayers in Australia!! :)

    • 0
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      FatFuk

      Does this Abbott idiot know people smuggling from Sri Lanka to
      Australia is done under the control of a regime VVIP?

      Backlash

      • 0
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        O I say, Backlash…..you hit the target.

        A VVIP and……wait for it….TWO commisioned officers (colleagues of YO SHIT A no less)

  • 0
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    It is up to SL t use them as SL pleases. Not just against human smuggling.

  • 0
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    Every one work for their agenda.
    Channel 4 works for LTTE diaspora money.
    David Cameron works for Tamil Diaspora vote.
    Mahinda works to stabilize his power.
    Non of them work to ordinary Sinhalese or Tamils.
    This is the truth.
    What impartial inquiry is going to do, put war crimes charges against Mahinda and Sri Lankan Army, It is absurd they are the one defeat the 30 year brutal terrorism and brought peace to the country.(I am not agree MR with his other political and economic activities, but he defeated the terrorism that a big help to the country and to the world.

  • 0
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    Awwww poor Colin McRae! Maybe you should go back to rally driving?
    As for international pressure, Sri Lanka have a friend in China now so Britain’s noises can be met with a ‘meh’ and they will veto anything in the UN.
    Bye!

  • 0
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    For all those who have been drinking Gota’s Coca Cola and smoking his surrutuwa this is for your reading pleasure:

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA37/003/2013/en/e035c268-e72f-42fa-9532-4355ec694ec2/asa370032013sin.pdf

    and the English version is here:

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA37/003/2013/338f9b04-097e-4381-8903-1829fd24aabf/asa370032013en.pdf

  • 0
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    Well done Callum Macrae. You’re the today’s Karthigai Deepam for Tamils –

    Karthigai Deepam is a Hindu festival which is celebrated mainly by Tamil Hindus. The day of Karthigai Deepam is fixed based on Tamil Solar Calendar. It falls in the month of Karthikai when Karthigai Nakshatra prevails during Ratrimana. This is also the time when Karthigai Nakshatra coincides with Pournami, the full moon day in the month of Karthikai.

    • 0
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      KUMAR:

      You can not fool him by naming him.

      Send him cheque in British – pounds.

  • 0
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    Callum Macrae, Jonathan Miller et al

    This shitty November was waiting to happen from ever since the last of the colonial masters left and the tribes resumed their suspended internecine massacres. Blame the gods of our ancestors who placed us side by side on this magical island for this whole

    unwholesome mess. We Sri Lankans are indeed a feral lot. Jealous. Vengeful. Devious. And inexplicably; If you live amongst us you will hear the daily unceasing blaming of the colonial master for all this. Yet succesive governments of SL never took the most logical step of getting out of the embrace of the old white chief. There is an indelible streak in the Sri Lankan, the brown sahib, who wants to educate his sprog in the west and wants to be seen sucking up to the white man. We just seem unable to let go. Now our unholy business has spilt over onto to streets of the west and we rile at you people for coming to check things out.

    It was never our intention that you help us with our dirty laundry. But you must see that not all of us subscribe to the blind sycophancy that blights our political life. Our political state is a classic text book case of when the lunatics take over the asylum. Democracy is regularly touted as our licence but what we have is a bastardisation of the democratic ideal. Still, the parvenu’s, thugs and crooks who run our country hold the upper hand and their tribal supporters are happy to let them. No wonder the steady drip of our people to other lands.

    For us who witnessed the brutal put down of the JVP in 1971 (thank you to the British government and others for helping our socialist-marxist goverment of the time with arms and anti-terrorist advice) and then again the brutal annhilation of the second JVP uprising of 1987-89 (again, thank you to the British government and others for helping our right-wing goverment of the time with arms and anti-terrorist advice), we marvel that no one in the west made any documentaries of the widely practised extrajudicial killings of the time. What happened C4? Let’s just say the GOSL got lucky that no one noticed. Never mind, the JVP were all Sinhalese anyway – and we have many of them. When the time came to take out the odious and misguided Tigers, our old boys thought that they will get away with it again. They are most peeved that someone ran away to tell tales and worse still, mobile cameras stored the evidence. How inconvenient!

    I am confident that our persevering and resourceful Tamil brethren will find peace, happiness and success in the lands that gave them sanctuary.

    Here, in our tropical paradise there will be new roads and other long-overdue developments but alas until we lay the ghosts of our sinhalese and tamil victims to rest we shall be tormented by the ever restless curse of the dead as they haunt our beautiful hills and valleys and our golden shores.

    Callum, Jonathan and indeed all your team, Thank You for coming, have a safe journey home

  • 0
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    We Buddhists are not hating. Buddha told ” Hatred is not end by hatred ; but by loving kindness” We are always for peace. The problem is that Macrem and others do not have neurons to think about thousand times cruel killing done by LTTE while getting financial support from west. If you want read about KEBITHIGOLLEWA, ANURADHAPURA, ARANTHALAWA , COLOMBO CENTRAL BANK,AT COLOMBO BO TREE and also killing of 1600 SURRENDERED police men. Prabakaran used our innocent Tamil as human shield. The government tried maximally to prevent their death by getting destroyed own army. Prabakaran should be responsible for civilians death too.

    Dear Tamil brothers and sister. This our country (of sinhala, tamil, mualims and burgers). We can make this the best in the world. We will do that forgetting past mistakes done by both sides NOT ALLOWING people like macrem to destroy our future.

    • 0
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      gayaramya

      ” This our country (of sinhala, tamil, mualims and burgers).”

      No, no it is our ancestral island but you have made it into a Sinhala/Buddhist country.

      ” We will do that forgetting past mistakes done by both sides”

      I am willing to forgive after what you have done to my people but will never forget you.

      “NOT ALLOWING people like macrem to destroy our future.”

      You don’t need Cullen Macrae or any other outsiders to destroy your future. You have been doing it yourself splendidly.

      You have achieved self sufficiency in self destruction.

  • 0
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    I thought SL Gov was behind all those protests against this man & his c4 team in various parts of SL…

    With this statement I am compelled to change my mind as he himself admits he is the most hated man and obviously it was SriLankas who protested every where in SL !

    • 0
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      He may have seen photos of civilians including children at Kebithigollewa killing by LTTE

  • 0
    0

    Tamils totally fcuked now!

    Australia given genocidal SL government two massive warships. What the hell is going on?

    Where is Channel 4?

    • 0
      0

      SL government did not do genocide. It escaped people from the genocidal Prabaharan.

  • 0
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    “Colombo forced Tamil doctors to lie: Dr. Varatharajah

    Dr VaratharajahFormer Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) for Mullaiththeevu, Dr. Thurairajah Varatharajah, currently in exile in the U.S, says in video documentary aired in India’s NewsX TV station that Colombo, after keeping him and four other doctors in prison at the end of the war, forced the doctors to lie to foreign media and to the Organizations accusing Sri Lanka of allegations of committing war-crimes to neutralize the allegations. Dr Varatharajah said that living under such conditions had become unbearable that he had to seek ways to get out of Sri Lanka with his family. The doctors were accused by Colombo of giving false accounts of civilian deaths during the war, and were forced to recant the figures in a well publicized news conference. Dr Varatharajah, said he is talking voluntarily to set the record straight now that he does not have to fear for his life. Full story >> ” http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=36833

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