17 July, 2019

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Sri Lanka’s War In Its Last Phase: Where WIA Figures Defeat The Gross KIA Estimates

By Mango

Millions of words have now been written about the numbers of Tamil civilians killed during Sri Lanka’s victory over the Tamil Tigers in May 2009; probably more words than the millions of bullets fired during the war. But something didn’t ring true.

Missing from this civilian casualty toll inflation is any mention of an immutable fact of warfare: the ratio of dead to wounded. This was first analysed in a ground-breaking study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1999, which examined casualty ratios in wars from 1940 to 1988. The study showed that the “number of people wounded is at least twice the number killed and may be 13 times as high” depending on the conflict type, weapons used and other factors.

Applying this ratio to Sri Lanka’s civilian casualty numbers during the last stages of Eelam War 4 shows a truly appalling misuse of civilian casualty numbers by international humanitarians, whose jaundiced view on Sri Lanka’s victory has led them to disregard basic mathematics, statistics, facts and logic.

Counting the Dead and Ignoring the Wounded

The number of wounded vary from 18,479 to 440,037. Odd.

Tamil Civilian Casualties KIA-WIA Estimate

Casualty Chart, KIA to WIA including Sri Lanka Army’s own casualty data © The Carthaginian Solution 2013

Spot the Glaring Error 

KIA to WIA Ratio Chart

KIA to WIA at 1:3 ratio with data shown by release date order, from 2009 to 2013. © The Carthaginian Solution 2013

The United Nations in Sri Lanka’s Casualty Numbers

In 2009, the UN’s “Crisis Operations Group” in Sri Lanka first established the numbers of Tamil civilian casualties with any degree of authority and confidence. They estimated 7,721 killed and 18,479 wounded arriving at a killed to wounded ratio of 1:3. This is a low ratio and is in line with the fact that wounded civilians in the combat zone did not have quick access to high quality medical facilities.

This screenshot shows an unarmed civilian work group lead by an armed, uniformed LTTE cadre – May 2009

This screenshot shows an unarmed civilian work group lead by an armed, uniformed LTTE cadre – May 2009

The Darusman Report’s Casualty Numbers

This report’s authors gave credence to the 40,000 dead civilians meme in a masterful display of officialese stating, “A number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths. …. but multiple sources of information indicate that a range of up to 40,000 civilian deaths cannot be ruled out at this stage.” Oddly, none of the Committee’s highly qualified members noted the discrepancy between the number of dead civilians and the lack of correspondingly (high) number of wounded survivors.

Gordon Weiss’s Casualty Numbers

In his book “The Cage” Gordon Weiss (ex-Colombo based UN staffer), upped the ante by raising the civilian dead total to between 10,000 and 40,000. Applying a conservative ratio of 1:3 (dead to wounded), we arrive at wounded totals ranging from 30,000 to 120,000. Weiss merely noted in passing that the UN counted about 20,000 wounded Tamil civilians, and completely ignored the stunning implication this has on his inflated civilian deaths numbers.

Frances Harrison’s Casualty Numbers

Frances Harrison (ex-Sri Lanka based BBC hack and ex-Amnesty International staffer) raised the civilian dead total even higher ranging from 26,000 to 146,679. Assuming a ratio of 1:3 (dead to wounded), we arrive at wounded totals ranging from 78,000 to 440,037. Here things start getting slightly insane as there were only 330,000+ civilians held hostage in the No Fire Zone.

Civilian helper helping to camouflage a LTTE personnel carrier, overseen by an armed LTTE cadre dressed in civilian clothes

Civilian helper helping to camouflage a LTTE personnel carrier, overseen by an armed LTTE cadre dressed in civilian clothes

Using Harrison’s upper estimate of 146,679 ‘civilians’ dying and thus producing 440,037 wounded gives a total 586,716 people killed and wounded. This is almost double the number of civilians thought to be in the No Fire Zone area at the time.

Sri Lanka Army’s own Casualty Numbers

The Security Forces admitted 5,285 combat deaths (KIA) and 28,189 wounded (WIA). This gives a dead to wounded ratio of 1:5, which is broadly in line with the BMJ study. Troops had access to better medical care than the wounded civilians, thus explaining the 1:5 ratio, when compared to the 1:3 ratio applicable to civilian wounded. Comparing this ratio to a well-equipped Western force like the US Army in Iraq, which by 2012 reported 4,487 US soldiers killed and 32,223 wounded since in 2003, produced a dead/wounded ratio of 1:7.

How Do You Define A Civilian?

There were at least three types of civilians caught up in combat in the No Fire Zone. LTTE cadres (in uniform and in civilian clothes), semi-trained LTTE auxillary forces and press-ganged civilians who carried out military duties for the LTTE.  When killed in action, all could (and would be) counted as civilian casualties. In the LTTE’s glory days, cadres killed in action were often stripped of their uniforms and dressed in civilian attire to increase the ‘dead civilian’ count. But it’s doubtful if the LTTE had time for such niceties as they fought to stave off annihilation, in May 2009.

LTTE cadres dressed in civilian clothes firing a ZU-23 heavy machine gun

LTTE cadres dressed in civilian clothes firing a ZU-23 heavy machine gun

This captured LTTE combat video (above) from May 2009 shows all three categories of civilians in action in the “No Fire Zone”. Screenshots taken from the video clearly show the various types of civilians at work, helping to shore up the LTTE’s defensive line.

So How Many Civilians Were Killed?

The best guesstimate predicts between 10,000 to 15,000 dead (including LTTE cadres), which ties in with the UN’s casualty total of 15,000 to 20,000 wounded civilians.

Show Me the Money… er…. the Wounded

It’s entirely possible that over 146,679 Tamil civilians were killed in Eelam War 4. But for that to be true, (and allowing for the large margin of error evident in anything to do with casualty numbers in Eelam War 4), those who make that claim have to conjure up at least another 440,037 wounded Tamil civilians, who – so far – are proving difficult to find and are conspicuous by their absence.

Source data notes:

(1) “The UN’s Country Group in Sri Lanka established a total figure of 7,721 killed and 18,479 wounded.” International Crisis Group.

(2) “The United Nations Country Team is one source of information; in a document that was never released publicly, it estimated a total figure of 7,721 killed and 18,479 injured from August 2008 up to 13 May 2009, after which it became too difficult to count.” [paragraph 134, Darusman Report]

(3) “..by late June, when all civilians were inside the [post-war IDP] camps, a collection of aid agencies had made a preliminary calculation of 15,000-20,000 wounded civilians”. p. 321, “The Cage”, Gordon Weiss

“I believe that between 10,000 and 40,000 [deaths] is a reasonable estimate. I think most likely it’s somewhere between 30,000 to 40,000 [deaths] , Gordon Weiss on Australian TV & interviews

(4) “..anywhere from 26,000 to 146,679 people unaccounted for, presumed dead.” p.238, Frances Harrison, “Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War”

(5) Sri Lanka Government’s post-war census report recorded that about 7,400 people died of undefined or “other” causes during the months leading up to the end of the war. Source: http://www.statistics.gov.lk/PopHouSat/VitalStatistics/EVE2011_FinalReport.pdf

(6) from July 2006 (Mavil Aru) to May 2009 (Nanthi Kadal) 5275 were KIA, 28,189 were WIA, and 140 were MIA. This is for the whole operation…. almost one-fourth of the Army losses that occurred during the entire two and a half year operation were sustained in the final stages. My note: KIA and MIA have been combined as generally, those missing in action are presumed dead. Source: http://www.army.lk/docimages/image/LLRC_2013.pdf

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Mr.mambalam/mango of Toronto

    You have made a very big mistake in this analysis.The crux of your argument is your quote”British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1999, which examined casualty ratios in wars from 1940 to 1988. The study showed that the “number of people wounded is at least twice the number killed and may be 13 times as high” “

    Now now dear shrewd friend you mention ‘people”here.Are you referring to civilian casualties or combatants,because you later say “The Security Forces admitted 5,285 combat deaths (KIA) and 28,189 wounded (WIA). This gives a dead to wounded ratio of 1:5, which is broadly in line with the BMJ study.” Obviously from that statement you are referring to combatants,not civilians because one in every 6 soldiers hit by the LTTE died which is correct,but we are talking about tamil civilians,not combatants.You are shrewdly trying to muddy the waters too trying to show photographs of LTTe in civilan clothes and civilians doing some manual work for the LTTE.Shame on you,a tamil lending his brains to the modayas just for some measly benefits and trying to crucify your own people just like christ a jew was crucified by the jewish priests.Welcome Judas back to the tamil mother you came from.

    BTW did the british medical journal you refer to take into consideration the enormous civilian casualties in the german population due to the 24/7 bombings carried out by the allies,and did it take into consideration the civilians who died when berlin was taken by the russians and the burnt out shell that it was.That journal you dim bulb/shrewd judas is for battle field casualties only and it is reasonable to assume that out of every 5 to ten soldiers who are hit by enemy fire i to 2 may die of his wounds.It does not apply to civilians and that is the 40000 number that the UN came up with mainly for.

    • 1
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      Shankar,

      Forget the ratios of dead : wounded.
      The problem for LTTE supporters is that they lost the war they stated. Lost with Total Humiliation!
      Surely, you guys would have known that when you go around killing Sinhalese, there will be reaction.
      It’s over, no use crying over spilt milk! Get a life!

      • 1
        2

        “Get a life!’

        Lal,get a brain.Mongolia doing brain transplants latest news.We are talking about something here which is trying to ascertain the civilian casualties for which war crimes charges are going to be framed and you are talking about something else altogether.Scatter brain,say something constructive and relevant or f….off.

  • 2
    1

    Is the western world’s hounding of Sri Lanka gone too far? The Gods and Devas seem to think so. They have brought the weapons of ‘climate’ into action.

  • 3
    4

    Who is this Mango?

    Why can’t he write under his own name?

    LIAR!

    Probably some Kothapaya servant.

    Give us your name Mango. Then we can see your intentions.

    • 0
      1

      The first time you are being sensible.

    • 0
      1

      “Who is this Mango? Why can’t he write under his own name? “

      Because Mango= Fathima Fukushima

      Logic means atleast 3 should coincide. I just give one each day to you the Jewish/Islamic axis of evil.

      1.Mango was the first to use the word Transsexual and Fathima Fukushima followed.

      enjoy your stay paramilitary operative till you get dragged out of UK to Den Haag.

  • 5
    2

    What about accountability of the Tamil leaders, intellectuals and Tamil civillions killed by LTTE. What about Accountablity of civilians killed at Central Bank, in Pettah and through numerous suicide attacks in the south, no one talks about them today.

    Did USA and its allies killing of civillians in Afganistan and Iraque aftermath of babaric attack by flying sucide terorists at the World Trade Centre was ever investigated.

    Fighting terrosts is a difficult task. Sri Lankan forces have mastered the art and the science of eliminating terrorisam fighting LTTE terroisam as well as JVP terorisam since 1971.Other countries faced with similer problems should study this.

    Now help Sri Lanka to develop the country so that all peace loving people will be able to live in harmony irespective of their race, cast or creed.

    After all “Hatred does not cease with hatred.”

    • 1
      3

      The west fought 2 world wars even thought all western royalty is related to get together. You got independence because India fought and all lost 2 million brave soldiers fighting for the the master UK.

      The Sihala spied for Japan and the colombo harbour plus the church were bombed by Japan. The JT’s and Burghers fought for the British WW2.

      Freedom carries a responsibility and Sihala arnt responsible therefore the instability of the spice colony ceylon.

      We are going to bomb you both to stone age then you learn the meaning of freedom and stop being bath gullas.

  • 3
    4

    Mango you taste very sour

  • 1
    2

    We have to be sympathetic to USA like Indians and not isolate USA. Realise that they are afraid of the sudden peace talent, jobs and GDP growth in SL.

    For America, jobs are not coming back. Americans do not have the skill software engineering, etc. Americans are competing with the rest of the world to survive PLUS the education system is outdated anyway.

    In such a world Asia need to be arrested thru ethnic issues, how small or great. Sri Lanka must slow down and be friends with USA as well as China. After all we are all shared human beings, US has talent that benefits all humanity. Lets be friends.

  • 3
    1

    When in WW2 Americans had to stop the Japanese by putting an atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians got killed instantly. Some are still born in those two cities as crippled, due to the effect of the atomic bomb. Americans are the worst Human Rights Violators!

  • 1
    0

    Statistics speak for out loud for people who can understand and them many cannot comprehend the complexities of statistics. This shhows very clearly their intention to sensationaliseq k, and manipulate facts and figures for thie own underhand agenda. G. W. F. H duo must havemafeva lot of money from their book sales.

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