The Need To Answer Allegations Intelligently

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,MORE OPINION,Opinion |
 

By Rajiva Wijesinha -

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

As pressures mount in Geneva, my bemusement increases at our failure to answer systematically the many charges made against us. I had long pointed out that the criticisms made were by and large untenable, but there were certain incidents which required to be investigated further. This view, based on close observation from the vantage point of the Peace Secretariat where I had set in place mechanisms to monitor allegations and check on them, was confirmed by the LLRC Report. That highlighted the need to check on the treatment of surrendees while affirming that indiscriminate attacks on civilians etc were absurd and tendentious charges.

To dismiss those charges however requires logical argument based on evidence. This approach is sometimes not acceptable, as I realized when I was roundly attacked for having declared way back in June 2009 that there had been civilian casualties. The then Attorney General asked me why I had said this, to which my answer was that it was true. I could however understand his assertion that people would try to make use of my answer, and I sympathize with those who feel they might succumb to leading questions and therefore stay silent. But the way of dealing with such matters is to point out the nonsensical nature of such stratagems – as I did with Stephen Sackur on ‘Hard Talk’ when he asked whether I was admitting there were civilian casualties – rather than hiding one’s head in the sand, ostrich-like, and pretending one knew nothing, or even worse, denying reality.

Unfortunately, given that we have so many ostriches in the country, blank denials are thought preferable to logical argument. Thus we seem internationally to have lost the battle with regard to the number of casualties, which has reached the inflated figure now, sanctified by the blessed Darusman, of at least 40,000. These are claimed to be civilians who were killed in indiscriminate firing.

The facts speak otherwise, but we do not use the facts. The recent census report is not publicly discussed, and though there is a report that tries to use data from it to rebut allegations, the process is flawed because the report is long-winded and would not be read by anyone except those already convinced.

What is needed rather is short, sharp arguments based on facts. In this case the statistics are in line with those maintained by other agencies such as the ICRC, but since for a long time we did not work sensibly with the ICRC – for reasons that were not entirely our fault, but reasons that were outdated a couple of years ago – we have not been able to present our arguments forcefully.

In this case, the statistics indicate that the vast majority of alleged disappearances are of those of an age in which they would have been forced by the LTTE into combat. There are very few children amongst them or adults over 40, and a very high percentage are of those in the 20-30 age group – which suggests that deaths were of those engaged in combat.

There is other inductive evidence to show that attacks were not indiscriminate and few civilians in the fullest sense – that is civilians who had not been forced into the frontlines by the LTTE – were killed. We all know that the UN had several workers in the Wanni whom the LTTE kept back, using them at one stage to slow down the army advance – when it kept pretending to be about to release them, to the infamous remnants of convoy 11. Not one of those UN workers was harmed, except that one of them trod on a landmine when she finally made her escape, and was attended to immediately by our forces, who arranged special transport to Colombo.

Again, the LTTE kept back all the workers of the NGOs, when these were asked to leave the Wanni in September 2008. They, along with the UN staff, continued to provide the humanitarian assistance which it is claimed we stopped. Indeed the one person who tried to stop this was Guy Rhodes (of the shadowy Solidar whose vehicles the Tigers used to build defensive bunds) who turns out to be the principal source of American allegations against us, according to Wikileaks. I was present at a meeting at which he claimed, contrary to the position of the other more established agencies such as Oxfam and Save the Children, that they would have to stop functioning in the Wanni since there were no internationals. His rationale for this was that their agreements with donors demanded the presence of international staff, but I stopped that nonsense by pointing out that he had no business to have clauses in aid agreements pertaining to Sri Lanka that were kept secret from the Sri Lankan government. Needless to say, he could not produce such texts, and his colleagues, who were genuine humanitarians as opposed to politicians in disguise, continued with their good work.

None of those NGO workers was killed. Had our firing been indiscriminate, it is unlikely that we managed to avoid all these purveyors of aid. But equally, we could be sure that they would not have been sent to the frontlines, whereas others were ruthlessly conscripted, which is why we do have records of about 3000 youngsters missing.

They do not include priests or doctors or anyone who could have avoided conscription. Indeed, though this should be studied more, I believe all Principals and most public servants remained safe. Unfortunately no one in government has had the sense to draw up statistics of such persons, which would go a long way to establishing that firing was not at random. And indeed the survival of all the doctors makes it clear that there was no random shooting at hospitals either.

But to make all this clear, and in brief, requires an intelligence that government is not willing to deploy, when ostriches are much easier to emulate.

Print Friendly

27 Responses to The Need To Answer Allegations Intelligently

  1. 0
    0
    Just watching a program on CNN this morning, I ask myself, if UNO is still to react with Irak war and the human losses that costed in that war – according to a british diplomat, that US and UK could have handled it respecting the alternatives – I really dont think that the war end of the lanka could be addressed directly. War situation in both countries may have many similiarities, but not having Ltter any longer in the Island, one should focus only with SLGO milliatary and their war crimes is not thinkable because of the fact that UNO in the opinion that war end in SL was related to colateral human damages. However, as Rajiva is pointing out, the country should these investigations very intelligently not accusing that west will interfere in internal matters – or them being called as emperialists and have other hidden interests as Dr. Sara made it clear in his recent debate sessions. As he reiterated in that sessions, it is very right to say, that our people are made think that west and international communities have other intentions just because they repeatedly ask SLGO to act with accountablity in the metnioned issues. LLRC has been drafted by rulers in the country – and taking longer than 10 months to translate into sinhala and tamil languages – with the knowledge of President of the country – is absurd. As Dr Sara argued, that alone proves that SLGO is intention that the folks should not know the details in the LLRC report. It was just drafted ONLY for the IC to show that CURRENT regime is interested in recocillatory process after Ltters being milliaarily defeated. Latter is evident today- when considering all the quesitons raised by IC in UNHRC sessions this month.

    Sam
    March 17, 2013 at 11:43 am
    Reply

    • 0
      0
      Sam The government is more intellgent than You and Rajiva. They know how they gave instructions to kill all combatant or otherwise especially in between the ages of 12-40 after raping the females. There are enough evidence collected as momentos by Aremy personnel, now being divulged as some those army personnel could not live those horrendourous acts. Remeber the army personeel who raped and buried alive the Kataragam Quen in 1971, How they committed suicide and went mental. Those army personnel acted on their own. But these soliders were carrying out the orders. Those evidence shows clearly that they aere captured or surrendered and later killed in cold blood with ther hands tied behind. How can you defend intelligently teh war crimes and ethinic clensing directed rom the highest levels of government You think govenrment is foolish not give into investigations. Rajiva does live in his own cuckoo land Sam what are you

      Raja
      March 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm
      Reply

      • 0
        0
        Where are these momentos? can you provide ONE FRAME of film or ONE PICTURE of a Tamil woman being raped or a Tamil civilian being murdered? Just one will do, since there are so many of these momentos. Surely there must be at least one.

        David Blacker
        March 18, 2013 at 9:52 am
        Reply

        • 0
          0
          Watch Channel 4 and Indian TV PuthiaTHalimurai you will get enough of those

          Raja
          March 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm
          Reply

        • 0
          0
          Issaipriya was raped, tortured and murdered by the Sinhala army. There are so many daily rapes in the South. Do the media publish any frames/picture of the rapes? So on that basis are you suggesting there are NO RAPES in the South? That is BS.

          Donald J Gnanakone
          March 19, 2013 at 6:30 am
          Reply

        • 0
          0
          David dont talk crap,its totally unbecoming of a Weslyite We understand that your ex army and yes you will be loyal to them but that does not mean you have to lie through your teeth David You jolly well know the answer to your question about if the army killed civillians or not,there were even videos of them so if there is a murder/rape in the south of sri lanka will you be asking the aggrieved party to produce video or photograpic evidence? you can deny all you want but deep down in your heart you know the truth dont you Mr Blacker

          Peace Lover
          March 19, 2013 at 11:34 am
          Reply

    • 0
      0
      To Rajiva Wijesinha it was from wiki-leaks; Ambassador opened by summarizing a meeting (reported septel) he and USAID Director Cohn had the previous day with Basil Rajapaksa, the GSL’s Senior Coordinator for all humanitarian issues. In response to the Ambassador’s concerns about the first credible reports of possible starvation in the safe zone in the north, The Norwegian Ambassador commented that in two recent meetings with Rajapkasa he acknowledged military forces were shelling into the safe zone, but was not comfortable discussing the subject.” Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr. Blake further wrote. Lies nothing But the lies . The Need To Answer Allegations Intelligently as to Lies and cover ups to be arranged. All the witnesses to be white vanned or to eliminate. Documents and other electronic media items should be destroyed or set fire with the Unpatriotics and make those as natural Accidents. but your Governing Rulers are one step ahead of you . You have to understand that they are a shrewd clan than you are.

      JULAAMPITYE AMARAYA
      March 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm
      Reply

  2. 0
    0
    Well, Professor Wijesinha, you are in the government, aren’t you? So what is the point in writing here as to what the governemnt should be doing? You need to participate in developing government strategy in this are. We are just simple Simons, struggleing to buy the next loaf of bread. You are the people in-charge. So help us!

    Mathew
    March 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm
    Reply

    • 0
      0
      He only handles the meta data . Not the real data. So…..

      Lanka Liar
      March 17, 2013 at 1:47 pm
      Reply

    • 0
      0
      All these further prove that the govt is divided. And it is said that the team to Geneva was approved in the eleventh hour. Who to be sent there to defence the most expected resolution. They were well aware of the fact that UNHCR will pass it again – latter could be presumed even by 10 year olds when looking at the manner the GOSL handled all the issues in related to LLRC implementations or not in the course since the previous was passed.

      Ben
      March 22, 2013 at 7:46 am
      Reply

  3. 0
    0
    It is said that there were 300,000 Tamil people trapped in the area. So how many UN or NGO people were there in the first month or two. I believe it should be 10 or perhaps 20. So your argument was how those 10 UN people who were among 300,000 Tamil people were not injured in the final stage bombing? Use your basic mathematical knowledge with these numbers and your understanding on transport, proper dwelling, and professional knowledge those UN people had against to an average Tamil peasant ..

    Anura Alahakoon
    March 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm
    Reply

  4. 0
    0
    What about the foreign journalist who was injured in the vanni and had to be repatriated ? You cannot bury all the lies and get away Mr. How many NGOs were permitted by the Patron of BBS to function inside the Vanni and how many UN members were there to get injured.The place waqs cleared so that there will be no witnesses. How do you know that government servants were not injured.

    manmohan singh
    March 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm
    Reply

  5. 0
    0
    Rajiva Wijesinha: Answer allegations intelligently or lie intelligently – I thought both mean the same, No?

    jansee
    March 17, 2013 at 5:26 pm
    Reply

  6. 0
    0
    Rajiva, if you think the Government is wrong, why are you still a part of the Government?

    Lankan
    March 17, 2013 at 5:57 pm
    Reply

    • 0
      0
      The Darusman report looked into the evidence of civilian killings from numerous sources and came out with the figure of 40,000. Your government claimed that there were only 60 to 80 thousand civilians trapped in the Vanni during the last stages of the conflict in order to limit the supply of food and also with the intention of murdering as many civilians as possible to reduce the tamil population in the Vanni. Your government lied and misled the international community right through the last stages of the war claiming that not even a single tamil civilian was killed. When the first Channel 4 film was released to the world based mostly on video and photo evidence from your very own forces your government kept on denying the evidence and continues to do so despite further evidenc coming to light. The US, India and the UN and other countries have ample evidence of your guilt and that is why they are hounding your government to show account for your actions. Blaming the tamil diaspora for your troubles gives them too much credit because they certainly do not have that much influence over the governments where they reside. Even in Canada which has the largest concentration of tamils they do not support the conservative government in power that is more than ever pushing your government to account for its action during and since the war. Your detractors are powerful countries that will not listen and act according to the wishes of a few thousand tamils scattered in many countries in the West.

      Piranha
      March 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm
      Reply

      • 0
        0
        The Darusman Report doesn’t claim 40,000 were killed; it says that that figure is possible. The Ch4 footage doesn’t show any civilians being killed or abused in any way. Don’t make up stuff.

        David
        March 18, 2013 at 9:55 am
        Reply

        • 0
          0
          If you are so sure that no civilian was killed why won’t the government allow an independent inquiry to clear the name. Blocking any type of investigation appears to prove that the civilians were targeted. There is proof as per the clip that civilians were targeted but there is no evidence or proof to say they were not, this is the issue that has to be sorted out.

          Lankan
          March 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm
          Reply

        • 0
          0
          Moron Have you heard of circumstantial evidence

          Raja
          March 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm
          Reply

    • 0
      0
      This is the vital question ! Maybe he is hoping for a last minute trip to Geneva to use his “intelligence” ? What increasing pressure ? We hear nothing of it and is it going to be another PUSSWEDILLA ?

      Don Quixote
      March 18, 2013 at 1:51 am
      Reply

  7. 0
    0
    Rajiva,I agree with you and Dyan Jayatillake that we need to answer allegations intelligently. For this purpose there must be a group of intellectuals proficient in building a data base of all the facts, fiction and the wild allegations relating to the last stage of the war. They must use the data intelligently to respond to the lies and damn lies concocted by people doped by the millions of Dollars at the disposal of the LTTE sympathizers posing as defenders of Human Rights. In addition, we need to learn from Burma on how to change the international image of Sri Lanka. To change the image, we need to practice good governance based on the rule of law and democratic norms; to once again become a respected member of the international community. If we do not change course, this UN resolution can become the beginning of a sad and painful end of an era where we won the battle and lost the war!

    Truth
    March 18, 2013 at 6:49 am
    Reply

    • 0
      0
      How can you practice rule of law and hide the murder of 5 Students in Trincomalee beach. WHen oneo fteh the father came to UNHRC and related the story how for seven years no action has been taken whole world knows waht your government has been doing. You have to suppress those coming up only by suppression of rule of law

      Raja
      March 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm
      Reply

  8. 0
    0
    Rajiva, why are you hiding the fact that you never allowed the International media in to the war zones? Your government had ordered all the INGOs and UN to move out of the war zones in September 2008, what are you talking now? Is there any sense in what you write just because you are not there in Geneva?

    Paul Newman
    March 18, 2013 at 8:16 am
    Reply

    • 0
      0
      The GoSL didn’t order the UN and INGOs out; they said that they couldn’t guarantee their safety in a war zone. The international staffers then ran away, abandoning the civilians and their local staff. The only group that ordered anyone out was the LTTE when it ordered the EU citizens of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to leave after the EU declared the Tigers a terror group.

      David
      March 18, 2013 at 10:04 am
      Reply

      • 0
        0
        Are people including UN is foolish like you not to understnd the statement that safety can be guaranteed. The way the army shlled the hospitals they would have shelled UN and INGO offices. It would have been suicide

        Raja
        March 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm
        Reply

  9. 0
    0
    “I had long pointed out that the criticisms made were by and large untenable, but there were certain incidents which required to be investigated further.” Investigate further? Where were you when Gota kept saying there was not even a single casualty? “I did with Stephen Sackur on ‘Hard Talk’ when he asked whether I was admitting there were civilian casualties – rather than hiding one’s head in the sand, ostrich-like, and pretending one knew nothing, or even worse, denying reality” You LIED during a TV debate, Rajiva. You said, there was one Bharathy, who worked with the Government, was punished for his activities during the war. I am still looking for that name and the case in the news. If you are talking about Iniya Bharathy, you may want to look at the list of people who were honoured with the Deshamanya award in the recent past.

    Rohan
    March 18, 2013 at 9:40 am
    Reply

  10. 0
    0
    Indiscriminate killing means that Sri Lankan army bombed out Tamil civilians as if they were combatants. They were quite aware that they were civilians, as much as they were aware of UN presence and some NGO. Army commanders are accused of being criminal, not stupid.

    Celerati Editorial
    March 18, 2013 at 10:26 am
    Reply

  11. 0
    0
    Rajiva, One has to have intelligence to deal with the UN and IC intelligently. You are simply a case of sour grapes. I wish you are in Geneva representing Sri Lanka. You will screw it up big time and piss off the media like you have done in previous interviews. Unfortunately, The Rajapakses keep you totally out, and we Tamils are saddened by that fact. But no worries. The diplomutts there are a close second to you. Anyway the facts and truth are against them. So it is a mission impossible. That is why Basil, Sajin, Namal, Kohonne and the rest keep away and send some other sacrificial lambs from 2009. Investigations are unavoidable and Tamil Nadu Youth are rising as spring breaks out next week.

    Donald J Gnanakone
    March 19, 2013 at 6:36 am
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>