29 May, 2023


UN Internal Report: BBC Newshour Interview With Rajiva Wijesinha

Razia Iqbal: Why (did) the Govt of Sri Lanka want the UN to go? Was it because you couldn’t protect them or did you have another reason?

Rajiva Wijesinha: Well in fact we didn’t want them to go.  In Sept we asked the NGOs to leave, one of them had actually been supplying vehicles to the Tigers.

We specifically asked, and that letter is available, UNFPA and UNHCR to stay along with the Red Cross.  I’m afraid the then UNDP rep was galvanised by some people who wanted almost to blackmail us to say “No no, if we can’t all stay them we are going to leave”. So the Sec Defence said then leave. But the ICRC stayed right through and we have got all the details of the ICRC interventions during that period.  We also have the UN interventions …


RI: We’re not talking about the ICRC Sir, if I, if you wouldn’t mind …

RW: Hold on let me finish. The UN was there through convoys right through January, and its nonsense to say the UNDP rep didn’t bother – they were very concerned.  I remember my Minister (Mahinda Samarasinghe) being rung up one morning and told that the people in the No-Fire Zone were being fired on, but in the evening they sent us an sms saying their information was that the firing came from the Tigers – I don’t think they were lying, but unfortunately junior members of the UN have complained about their bosses and lied about them

RI: Sir, this internal report of the UN says that under intense pressure from the Sri Lankan Govt the UN did not make clear that a large majority of deaths were caused by govt shelling, and that you put the UN under that pressure

RW: The panels of inquiries have not been transparent. We have got the letters through which the UN dealt with us and I think this is an attempt to undermine senior members of the UN.  I am sorry you can’t share the leaked report with me, but recently I saw something by a Britisher Julian Vigo which quoted young people in the UN – they are liers – for instance I checked with IOM about the person called Suzanne – they said there was no such person called Suzanne …. I’m afraid these people are not only determined to push a political agenda, but they are not truthful – I mean I don’t mind people being anonymous but don’t claim to have a name which turns out to be false.  Why don’t you check with the senior leadership of the UN? I have to say that the Sri Lankan govt has failed because when the Darusman report came out I personally checked – Sir John Holmes had not been contacted, except very briefly initially, Neil Buhne was the UNDP head and worked very well with the Sri Lankans, was not contacted. He can testify that the Tigers did not allow something like 600 Sri Lankan (UN) workers to leave, but at the end of the war all of them were safe – so this is hardly indiscriminate attacks.

RI: Well let me ask you about the issue that both sides in this conflict have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  What do you as a representative of the Sri Lankan govt have to say about that – that there was widespread indiscriminate shelling of civillians.

RW: Well who are the people who make these attacks? For instance in the East, where I followed very carefully, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said “indiscriminate attacks on civillians” but their report recorded only one instance of civillians being killed and that was because of mortar locating radar.  We took full responsibility and said we are sorry but we had mortar locating radar, and HRWgranted the Tigers had been with weapons in a refugee camp but said they were not heavy weapons.  How dare they allow these people to shoot from amongst refugees.

RI: Do you not Sir take responsibility …

RW: I was head of the peace secretariat, I monitored TamilNet every day and I would ask for explanations

RI: How do you account for tens

RW: Let me finish please

RI: You are not answering the question

RW: Of 425 sorties by the air force, in only 29 of them were there allegations of civilian deaths

RI: How do you account for tens of thousands of civilians being killed?

RW: It is not tens of thousands because even the UN report – which the UN then said we cannot talk about because its not verifiable, Sir John Holmes said that, he was accused of suppressing but he was trying to be accurate – said 7,000. The larger figure is obviously exaggerated, and you’re relying on people like the Times who started this figure of 20,000.   They first said it was on the basis of extrapolations.  When I pointed out that it was not true they said it was on the basis of graveyards.  The graveyards were looked at aerially by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and their report was suppressed because they said the graveyards barely expanded during those days. So why don’t you look at a few facts instead of mentioning the exaggerations of people who simply cannot cite dates and times.

RI: Is it not also the case Sir that you do not allow journalists to, have not allowed journalists to report on this story freely which makes it very difficult to verify some of the things that you are claiming?

RW: Don’t be ridiculous.  During the war I was head of the peace secretariat – I kept asking journalists to come in.  The Indians came and reported very fairly and I must say in fairness to the BBC it was not outrageous, they tended to cite people but they always said they were citing – it was Channel 4 and the Guardian that came out with such outrageous lies and when I questioned the Guardian guy he sort of said to me ‘I now realise that source was not reliable.’  This is the source that told him there were 13 women with their throats cut – there was not 1, I checked with all the protection agencies.

RI: OK OK Sir we have run out of time.  Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Related posts;

UN Failures In Sri Lanka On 128 Pages: US And And The RC Did Not Stand By The Casualty Numbers

Tamils Want Inquiry After UN Says It ‘Failed Civilians’ In Bloody Sri Lanka Civil War – CNN

Following Report On Activities In Sri Lanka War, Ban Determined To Strengthen UN Responses To Crises

BBC Report: UN Failed Sri Lanka Civilians Says Internal Investigation

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Latest comments

  • 4

    After reading all this, there will never be peace in SL

    • 0

      That’s because SL was born like “Holman” in 72 with the economic embargo on compared to Ceylon the name given by the ancient spice traders who wandered for pepper corn the European currency and cinnamon.

  • 0


    I am neither a Sinhalese nor a Tamil. I am 100% Vedda.

    My ancestors didn’t come from India.

    According to Tamil/Sinhala history both people came to my ancestral island on Kallathonies.

    I assume you are a Tamil. Please take all your Sinhalese brethren with you. Let us have peaceful in this island.

  • 0

    If UN admits that they failed in the final stages of war, we have to assume that they were successful during the other 26 yrs of this conflict.All those agencies who thrived on human suffering ( UN, AI, Human rights watch etc) and the west backed media had a party in Sri Lanka.Suddenly that party came to a halt and now they are sad that no more opportunities here.
    There were no leaked reports when LTTE bombed school buses, trains,massacred villages, killed unarmed policemen in east ,pilgrims (Anuradhapura), pregnant mothers (kabithigollawa),bombing shopping centres, butchered young monks (Aranthalawa)and the list goes on. The UN was successful in drafting messages and more massages but nothing else.They were very successful in preventing democratically elected governments fighting this terrorism.
    We can see how successful they are in conflict resolutions.Just look at Iraq, Afghanistan,Syria,Libya and now Palestine.
    UN has totally lost it’s credibility as a neutral organization.!!!

    • 0

      No need of leaked reports because those who responsible for the events you listed are now around your politicians and military. So nothing UN can do about it. If you have rights to ask(of course you have because you are the one elected this gov and backing them for their criminal activities), you can directly ask from your government. no need of third party like UN to investigate. KP agreed he was responsible for to send arms to LTTE. he is a VIP now so you can ask from him. world know who was responsible for killing policemen. This leaked report is all about why UN failed and who was behind the failure. I think you are totally confusing where to ask what…

  • 0

    UN Internal Report: BBC Newshour Interview With Rajiva Wijesinha | Colombo Telegraph is a superb share. Thanks a lot for this writing.

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