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Some incomprehensible lapses in Easter Attack Commission Report



By Kalyananda Tiranagama

(Continued from yesterday)

Links of Zahran group with Muslim Politicians in the country

The country expected the PCoI to inquire into and find out the links the Zahran group had with Muslim political leaders like Rishard Bathiudeen, Azaad Salley, Hisbullah and Rauf Hakeem, whose conduct was subject to much discussion through the media and recommend how to deal with them. However, the PCoI has failed to make any definite findings and recommendations against any one of them.

In Chapter 22 of the Report titled Contributory Factors dealing with the activities of individuals resulting in aiding and abetting or causing racial and religious disturbances, the role of individual persons has been discussed and findings and recommendations made: i. Rishad Bathiiudeen; ii. his brother Riaj Bathiudeen; iii. Mohommadu Shibly Farouk; iv. Hisbullah; v. Abdul Razik; vi. Galagodaththe Ganasara Thera.

Out of all the persons whose activities are discussed, Galagodaththe Ganasara Thero was identified as the person who is mainly responsible and most severely to be dealt with. No such recommendation is made against any of the Muslim leaders.

i. Rishad Bathiudeen

There were lot of suspicious circumstances suggesting the involvement of Rishard Bathiuddeen with Zahran and other extremist Muslim groups. Not only among the general public of the country, but also among political circles there was much suspicion about Rishard’s involvement, about his contribution to the extremist forces. That is why several political leaders and Buddhist priests made complaints to the CID against him. That is why the Opposition Members of Parliament brought a no-confidence motion in Parliament against him for his removal from the Cabinet. Following the commencement of the fast unto death by Rathana Thero demanding his arrest, due to the resignation of all Muslim Ministers belonging to different political parties from the Cabinet with a view to protecting him, no-confidence motion could not be proceeded with.

The following are some of the allegations made against Rishard in the no-confidence motion on which he had been questioned by the Parliamentary Select Committee: i. Having links with Zahran’s terrorist group; ii. The treasurer of his Party Alaudeen is a terrorist involved in the attacks; iii. His links with Mohomed Ibrahim, the father of two suicide bombers; iv. He knew the suicide bomber, having attended his wedding; v. His support to Ibrahim’s import export business activities; vi. The Industrial Development Board under his Ministry issuing unusually high amount of scrap metal used for making explosives to Colossus (Pvt) Ltd belonging to the suicide bomber Inshaf at a discount not given to others; vii. The two suicide bombers Inshaf and Ilham, sons of Mohomed Ibrahim, being the major source of financial support for Zahran; viii. A Pradesiya Sabha Member of his Party, one of his Coordinating Secretaries, arrested at Mannar with some detonators; ix. A house belonging to his sister at Wattala leased out to suicide bombers x. Repeatedly making inquiries about a terrorist arrested at Dehiwala from the DIG, Army Commander and the State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardane xi. Visiting the arrested terrorist’s house at Dehiwala; xii, Ignoring the information given by Turkish Embassy about 50 trained terrorists present in Sri Lanka; xiii. Terrorists using vehicles belonging to Sathosa under his Ministry for their transport.

The Report does not mention anything about inquiries conducted on most of these allegations. It mentions only about two matters: i. Inquiries made from Army Commander about Ihsan Meinudeen – a terrorist suspect, arrested by the Army ; For that the COI has recommended the AG to consider instituting criminal action under any suitable PC provision. No criminal action can be instituted for making inquiries about a person in custody, though the COI has recommended.

ii. Chairman of the Industrial Development Board under Rishard had issued unusually high amount of scrap metal to Colossus (Pvt) Ltd belonging to the suicide bomber Inshaf, who is related to Bathiudeen, at a discount not given to others causing a loss of Rs. 4.6 million to the State. Inshaf and Ilham were the major financiers of Zahran – P. 334 Zahran has given Rs. 500,000 received from Ilham to wife of Mufeez to obtain bail for suspects in the Mawanella incident. The only recommendation is that this matter to be referred to the Bribery and Corruption Commission.

 It is strange that the COI did not probe whether this resulted in facilitating terrorist attacks with financial support and material that can be used for the preparation of explosives used in the Easter Attack;


ii. Riaj Bathiudeen

Riaj is a brother of Minister Rishard Bathiuddeen; He is a member of the Minister’s staff; He had close contacts with Inshaf, one of the biggest funders of Zahran; His connection with sale of scrap metal and in irregularities committed therein. – P. 335 The COI recommends that these matters to be referred to the Police to conduct necessary investigations.

 Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has stated that the April attacks were carried out by those who wanted to strengthen their political power.

 Are not these suspicious circumstances sufficient in identifying the real culprits responsible for the Easter attack?


iii. M. Mohammadu Shibly Farouk

Shibly Farouk is a Member of the Eastern Provincial Council elected from the Batticaloa District in 2012 and functioned until 2017. He got to know Zahran and Rilwan around 2015 and had a close association with Zahran and his group. Shibly helped Zahran to get loudspeaker permits from the Police for his meetings. Farouk had visited the hospital with Rauff Hakeem to see Rilwan after he received injuries. Zahran and the NTJ received the political patronage of Farouk at least till March 2017. No finding or recommendation against Farouk.


Azath Sally

The Report mentions about Sally’s involvement in the investigations into the Mawanella incident as well as the release of two suspects Nafrith and Navith arrested at Wanathawilluwa. – P. 118 Nafrith and Navith are brothers-in-law of Mufeez, the suspect arrested at Wanathawilluwa with explosives and a note written in English with instructions on making bombs; Salley admitted his involvement in making representations for the release of the two suspects Nafrith and Navith.

Salley had contacted Thassim Moulavi, a cousin of Abdul Latheef, father of Jameel Mohomed who died at the Tropical Inn, Dehiwala and inquired about Mawanella incident. With information received from Maulawi Salley had immediately called IGP Pujitha Jayasundara and Defence Secretary, Hemasiri Fernando and requested for a meeting, which was granted. Salley informed that Moulavi would surrender the two brothers, the main suspects in the Mawanella incident during the day, but that did not take place. These interventions had the effect of hampering independent police investigations. – P. 122 – 123. It was to Mufeez’s wife that Zaharan had sent Rs. 500,000 received from Ilham for obtaining bail for Mawanella suspects.

All these show that Sally had close links with the main suspects involved in the Mawanella and Wanathawilluwa incidents and that he tried to get them released. However no inquiries / no investigations conducted by the COI on Salley’s connections with terrorists and no recommendation made against Sally. The only recommendation made is the introduction of a penal offence criminalising any intervention by a Member of Parliament, Provincial Council or local authority into police investigations and about terrorist suspects in custody or detention. – P. 124. Though Sally is in custody at present, that is not on any recommendation made by the COI.


iv. M.L.A.M. Hisbullah

Hisbullah has played a prominent role in the Arabization of Kattankuddy. In his view Wahhabis manner of practicing Islam is the proper way. At times he has spoken of violent extremist actions. Among his associates are people like Adam Lebbe Mohammadu Mumthaz, Thowheed follower and supporter of the IS ideology and Dr. Zakir Naik, extremist preacher and owner of Peace TV, who is banned in India and Bangladesh. The COI finds that the acions of Hisbullah facilitated the spread of extremism within Kattankuddy. – P. 342-343

However no penal action recommended against Hisbullah.


v. Abdul Razik

Abdul Razik was the Secretary of Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaath since 2005; In May 2014 he equated triple gem of Buddhists to three gem stones and went on to say that Lord Buddha consumed human flesh. An Action was filed by Police in M. C. Colombo case B7467/1/14 in respect of this statement, but no charges filed yet even after seven years, File was sent to AG three years back. In 2017 in a speech at Dehiwala he stated that IS is Islam; He openly speaks against Buddhism being given the foremost place in the Constitution; He was instrumental in converting Sara to Islam. He chose Hasthun to marry Sara and provided Mahr; Led a demonstration in Colombo advocating implementation of Sharia law. Only recommendation: AG to consider expeditiously whether criminal charges can be filed against him. – P. 429

 But the COI has not recommended any criminal action against him under the ICCPR Act as against Gnanasara Thero.


vi. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera

Findings and recommendations against Gnanasara Thera: Bodu Bala Sena to be proscribed as its actions are a threat to religious harmony. His utterances and actions contributed in part to radicalisation of Muslim youth. AG to consider instituting criminal action against him under the ICCPR Act for his speeches made at Aluthgama in June 1914 and on Feb. 17, 2013 at Maharagama.

 When charged under the ICCPR Act he cannot get bail and is liable to be punished with a heavy jail sentence.

– S. 3 (3) A person found guilty of committing an offence under this Act, shall on conviction by the High Court, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

– An offence under this Act shall be non-bailable, and no person suspected or accused of such an offence shall be enlarged on bail, except by the High Court in exceptional Circumstances.

 No recommendation is made against any other person to be indicted under the ICCPR Act. One cannot understand why only Gnanasara Thera was selected to be dealt with under this harsh provision of law.


Incomplete Findings and Lack of Recommendations on some material issues


As shown below it appears from the Report that the Commission has not been able to conduct full inquiry and make due recommendations on several matters which are of vital and practical importance.


1. Persons having links with dangerous foreign terrorists

Yusuf al-Qardawi – is a devoted member of Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, committed to the doctrine of suicide bombing- P.52, a person banned from entering the UK in 2008 and France in 2012 – p. 53; Egyptian Embassy in Colombo has issued a press release on 15. 06. 2020 identifying al-Qardawi as a fountainhead of the banned terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, fanning religious hatred and promoting a cult of violence. He is a person stripped of Egyptian citizenship and sentenced to life imprisonment by Egyptian Court. – p. 54


The COI has received a photograph of al-Qardawi taken on 28. 04. 2013 along with three Sri Lankans – Inamullah; Naimullah, former Member of Central Provincial Council and N.M. Ameen, President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka.

 No findings made against them due to time constraints, but recommends that an investigation be conducted into their association with al-Qardawi. P. 54


2. Officially Promoting Terrorism through Education

Quotes from Yusuf al-Qardawi are contained in Islam Tamil Civilization Teachers Guide Grade 12 at P. 79; Islam Sinhala Teachers Guide Grade 13 at P. 44, 63, 109 and 123; Books written by him are recommended for further reading in Islam Sinhala Teachers Guide Grade 12 at p. 72. – p. 54


Islam Sinhala / Tamil Teachers Guide Grade 12 / 13 contained recommended reading material written by several extremists – Abul Ala Maududi; Qyyim Al Jawziyya; Mohommed al-Ghazali, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood; Rachi al-Ghannaouchi, of the Muslim Brotherhood – a terrorist organization banned in Egypt;


Their teachings – Islam cannot be fulfilled without the power of govt and that govt. and Islam are twin brothers; their objective is not only the religion but the land and the governing power. – P. 54 – 57

 The COI has not inquired about the persons responsible for introducing these terrorist material into Teachers Guides and the impact of these material on the teachers and children;

 It has only recommended removal of these material from the books.

 One cannot understand why no recommendation has been made for the removal of these persons who introduced this terrorist material into Teachers Guides from their positions and legal action to be taken against them for promoting terrorism.


3. Promoting Wahhabisam through SLBC

The COI heard evidence of Wahhabist programmes being aired over the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation over a period of time. A person who spoke against the IS and Wahhabism was later not given any air time. It was one Ahamed Munuwar who has done that at the instance of Sri Lanka Jamath Islami; Munuwar’s son is married to the sister of Jameel, the terrorist who caused the explosion at Tropical Inn, Dehiwala.

 The Report states that No findings made against Munuwar due to time constraints, but recommends that an investigation be conducted into his activities in the SLBC. – P. 58


4. Sri Lankan Diplomats concealing vital information of preparations of IS operatives for terrorist attacks

On 10. 08. 2018 Pakistan authorities have shared with the SL High Commission in Islamabad vital information of a Sri Lankan IS operative in SL who is an active member of IS online networks and was planning / in the process of preparing explosive devices from easily available chemicals. Jihad material retrieved from the suspect included material relating to preparation of bombs. Some pictures of the suspect were also handed over. This communication does not appear to have reached the SL Defence authorities – P. 76

 Pakistan Govt had provided this information in August 2018, long time before the attack and after the disclosures made by Minister of Justice Wijedasa Rajapakse in November 1916 in Parliament about 32 Sri Lankans who had links with IS terrorists in Syria.

 If this information was conveyed to the Defence Authorities in Sri Lanka they could have taken preventive steps and this failure to convey this vital information to defence authorities may have contributed to Easter Attacks.

 Who are these High Commission Officials who withheld this information from SL Govt? Are they still in the SL foreign service? Why did not they convey this information to the Govt? Are they persons having links with IS terrorists or Wahhabist groups in Sri Lanka? All these need to be probed.

 The COI has not conducted any inquiry as to this failure of the High Commission officials.

 It has only recommended that an investigation be conducted into this omission. – P. 154


President’s efforts require parliamentary support



President Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Jehan Perera

With less than a year and half to the presidential elections, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has a tight deadline to meet if he is to attain his aspirations for the country.  His visit last week to Japan where he sought to renew ties which had made it Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor for decades, was reported to be highly successful.  During his visit, the President had apologized to the Japanese government leaders regarding the cancellation of the Light Rail Transit project which was subsequently delivered by Japan to Bangladesh.   The completion of the elevated railroad would have significantly reduced Colombo’s traffic jams. The disastrous mistake the previous government made in crudely cancelling the project unilaterally and without rational reason lost Sri Lanka the goodwill of Japan which will not be easy to get back.  Getting Japan back as a donor partner would be a great boon.  Overcoming the serious economic crisis that besets the country and its people would require a massive infusion of foreign assistance if the period of recovery is to be kept short and not prolonged indefinitely.

President Wickremesinghe’s leadership is also being credited with the structural economic reforms that the country is undertaking with regard to revenue generation and cost cutting.  Undertaking economic reforms that would streamline the economy has been a long term desire on the part of the President and seen during his past stints as Prime Minister.  During the period 2001 to 2004, when he effectively led the government as Prime Minister and entered into the ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, he tried to implement the same set of economic reforms.  Both of these radical measures proved to be too much for the population to bear and he suffered defeat at the elections that followed. Typically, the reform measures he presents is based on the “trickle down” theory, which, in highly corrupt polities, like Sri Lanka, means that the poor have to be content with the crumbs falling off the table. Once again, and unfazed, he is taking up the challenge of taking up unpopular economic measures, such as cutting subsidies, increasing taxes and privatizing state owned enterprises.

As part of the IMF recovery plan for the country, the government, under his leadership, is putting in place anti-corruption legislation that is required by the IMF.  It appears that this legislation, which is still in its draft form, is being pushed more by the President than by the government.  This was evident when a civil society group, led by the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, held a meeting for parliamentarians of all parties within the parliamentary complex.  The attendance from the government side was limited, though the Opposition participated in strength.  The top leadership of most of the Opposition parties, was in attendance, especially the largest Opposition party, the SJB, whose leader Sajith Premadasa also made an appearance.  They gave an inkling of the change of faces that needs to accompany any “system change.” The consensus of the discussion was that the draft legislation was a positive addition to the fight against corruption.


The situation on the ground, in terms of implementation of the laws pertaining to good governance and accountability, continue to be highly unsatisfactory.  The protest movement that was in evidence a year ago, gave its attention to issues of corruption and economic mismanagement for the reason that it had led to the economic collapse of the country that affected the entirety of its population. Both corruption and economic mismanagement had been facilitated by the concentration of political power in the executive.  One of President Wickremesinghe’s first actions was to give astute political leadership to the passage of the 21st Amendment which sought to restore the independence of key state institutions necessary for a check and balance function.  The most important aspect of the 21st Amendment is to protect those who are in charge of oversight bodies from interference by the political authority.

 A notable feature of the present is that the parliamentary majority has shown itself to be willing to follow President Wickremesinghe’s lead when it comes to putting frameworks of good governance and accountability in place for the future.  But when it comes to implementing them in the present, the ruling party, in particular, works in its own self-interest and to protect its own.  Unfortunately, there are a growing number of instances in which it can be seen that the parliamentary majority, led by the ruling party, continues to flout the spirit of the law and practices of good governance.  This was seen in the manner in which the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission was forced out of his position through a majority vote in Parliament.  Regrettably, the protections afforded by the 21st Amendment could not protect the Chairman of the regulatory authority who opposed the electricity price hikes that led to the price hike to the poorest being up to 500 percent, while to the super rich and companies it was only 50 percent.

The second incident, in the same week, has been the apprehension of a parliamentarian at the airport for gold smuggling who was let off with a fine that was much less than the fine provided for by law for such offenses.  The parliamentarian himself has shown no remorse whatsoever and on the contrary has argued with considerable gumption that he is a victim of injustice as he did not pack his own bag and it was done by another.  The very same day that he paid his fine and was released by the Customs he went to Parliament, as if he had no problems. Opposition parliamentarians have urged that the parliamentarian, caught gold smuggling, should resign, but so far to no avail.  The question is whether he will be held accountable for the discredit he has brought upon himself, his political party, Parliament and the country or whether he will be judged to be no worse than many of his peers and the matter put aside.


The third incident, in the same week, is that of a foreign national who entered the country, on a forged passport, and was apprehended, at the airport, by Immigration officers.  They were instructed by a government minister to release the foreign person on the grounds that he was a businessman who had come to invest in the country.  However, when the incident was reported in the media, the government decided to deport him and said it will take action against the Immigration officers who had followed illegal orders in releasing him.  The media reported that no inquiry will be held against the Minister for influencing the Immigration officials to release the arrested foreign national as anybody could make a request like that but that an inquiry should be held against the Immigration officials for obeying the wrong instructions.

President Wickremesinghe has won many plaudits for his willingness to take up the challenge of rescuing the country from the abyss when he accepted former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s offer to become Prime Minister. It has now become clear that the President is determined to set laws and frameworks for the future. Unfortunately, it appears that the implementation of good governance practices and accountability is simply impossible in a context in which the parliamentary majority is not willing to follow them.  As a result, the crackdown on corruption and abuse of power that was hoped for when President Wickremesinghe took over has not manifested itself on the ground.

There is still little or no evidence that President Wickremesinghe is able or willing to take action against those within his government who violate the laws and frameworks of good governance that he is setting for the future of the country.  Up to now, the President has only been able to use the security forces and the parliamentary majority to crack down on the protest movement which demanded an end to corruption and accountability for abuse of power. If this situation continues, the President will lose both credibility and authority while those who engage in corruption and abuse of power will once again entrench themselves and become impossible to dislodge to the detriment of the national interest.  There is a need for all in the polity, both government and opposition, to strengthen the hand of the President to make a break with the past so that the resources of the country will be used for the common good rather than end up in private pockets.

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Sri Lanka’s ignorance matches that of US – II



LTTE training forcibly recruited civilians

Human Rights and war crimes:

By Daya Gamage
Foreign Service National Political Specialist (ret.)
US Department of State

(Continued from yesterday)

It is essential to note the most fundamental divide in the country is between rural and urban populations. Sri Lanka’s economy has always been essentially agricultural and even today some 77 percent of the population lives in rural districts. The ratio of Sinhalese to Tamils living in rural districts nationally approximates their ratio in the population at large.  Rural areas include Tamil-majority parts of Vanni (Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya Districts) and the Kilinochchi District in the Northern Province.  Similarly, such Sinhalese-majority districts as Monaragala and Badulla in the southern province of Uva, and Hambantota in the south are mostly rural.  During the colonial period and until the early 1970s the economic and political elites of Sri Lanka were almost exclusively a subset of the approximately 19 percent of the population living in urban areas.

These areas were privileged in terms of better economic infrastructure, better health and other government services, and better educational and employment opportunities.  These advantages were shared by all communities living in the cities: Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, who coexisted and cooperated in general harmony.  Again, all three ethnic communities in the rural sector face inadequate educational facilities, less economic infrastructure and employment opportunities.

Post-Independence dilemma

Post-independence leaders faced a prickly dilemma: the economic development and broadened enfranchisement demanded by democratic politics required that more resources and opportunities be shared with the countryside, which would dilute the power and privileges of the 19 percent. All sections of the educated urban class were threatened by this, and none more than urban Tamils.  Not surprisingly, political leaders reacted to this broadening competition for national resources by reaching out to their ethnic constituencies for support in defending their privileges.

Let’s turn to war crimes and human rights violations the 18 May 2023 US House of Representative Resolution and the Canadian prime minister were referring to. The data and facts given below could be new to policymakers and lawmakers in Sri Lanka as well as to their counterparts in Washington. I say this because there was no evidence that Sri Lanka ever presented these factual data to the West. If the policymakers and lawmakers in Washington were aware of the following data the Resolution would have taken a different tone.

The question of war crimes—and related charges of crimes against humanity and even of genocide—are a telling example of the frequent gulf between complex facts and simplistic popular beliefs that has distorted perceptions of the Sri Lankan civil war and, one would argue, US policy towards Sri Lanka. In a broader sense, this writer believes that the persistent fictions that have grown up around the separatist conflict are symptomatic of a larger problem in the crafting of policy toward countries that are insufficiently or incorrectly understood.

In the case of Sri Lanka, the tendency of international observers to rush to judgment— and censure—under worst-case assumptions is evidenced by the civilian fatalities figure cited extensively in print and public discourse. This figure of 40,000 is alleged to be the number of unarmed Tamils who were killed during the final stage of the war (January–May 2009). These deaths are blamed largely on the Sri Lankan military, which is accused of using excessive and indiscriminate force, and thereby of committing war crimes. The 40,000 figure became an item of international orthodoxy after it was mentioned in the report, often referred to as the Darusman Report, by an “unofficial” panel of experts appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The figure was arrived at by simply subtracting the number of internally displaced civilians who were administratively processed after the hostilities from the UN’s estimate of the number of civilians caught up in the final offensive.

To be precise, the March 2011 Darusman report conceded that “there is still no reliable figure for civilian deaths” but stated that the figure of 40,000 “cannot be ruled out” and needs further investigation.  The report did not refer to “credible evidence,” much less adduce any, using instead the vague expression “credible allegations.” This verdict was not voted upon or endorsed by the United Nations as an organisation, and despite its questionable logic and conflicting figures from other sources, the UN Secretary General pronounced the figure of 40,000 to be definitive. In a strange case of groupthink, most western governments and international NGOs have accepted it unquestioningly and wielded it rhetorically.

Disputed death count

The currency and obduracy of the death count, to which the Darusman Report gave birth, is all the more mystifying because it represents a major departure from calculations made not only by other reputable observers but even by UN staff on the ground in Sri Lanka. On March 9 (2009), the country team of the UN mission in Colombo briefed local diplomats for the first and only time on the civilian casualty figures it had collected from its Humanitarian Convoy.

 According to this briefing, 2,683 civilians had died between January 20 and March 7, and 7241 had been wounded. The UN country team did not indicate to the diplomats that the majority of these casualties were due to government shelling.  According to a cable from the US embassy in April 2009, the UN had estimated that from January 20 to April 6 civilian fatalities numbered 4,164, plus a further 10,002 wounded.  The International Crisis Group is quoted as reporting that “U.N. agencies, working closely with officials and aid workers located in the conflict zone, documented nearly 7,000 civilians killed from January to April 2009.

Those who compiled these internal numbers deemed them reliable to the extent they reflected actual conflict deaths but maintain it was a work in progress and incomplete.” Some three weeks before the end of the war, Reuters reported that “A UN working document, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, says 6,432 civilians have been killed and 13,946 wounded in fighting since the end of January.” An unpublished report by the United Nations country team in Sri Lanka stated that from August 2008 to May 13, 2009 (five days before the war ended), the number of civilians killed was 7,721. Even if the UN Secretary General chose to ignore reporting from his own staff in the field, there were reports from other sources that should have tempered the figures adopted by other international organizations and governments with diplomatic representation in Colombo.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the only outside agency present in the war zone during the final phase, used various statistical indicators to conclude that the total number of noncombatants killed was around 7,000.  Lord Naseby, a British parliamentarian and longtime advocate for Sri Lanka, announced in the House of Lords in November 2017 that he had managed to pry classified documents out of the Foreign Office through a freedom of information inquiry. These documents, which were dispatched from the British Defense Attaché in Colombo during the final days of the war, reported that about 7000 people had been killed.  Amnesty International wrote that . . . “derived independently from eyewitness testimony and information from aid workers [we estimate that] at least 10,000 civilians were killed.” This figure is in line with the estimate of an anthropologist working in Australia who questioned LTTE government servants and others who survived the final battles. This academician estimates that total fatalities from January 1 to May 19 ranged from 15,000 to 16,000, including some 5,000 Tiger dead. He cautions that any final figure must take into account the 600-900 deaths due to non-military causes that would be expected at standard death rates for a population of several hundred thousand over a period of five months, especially under very difficult conditions. He emphasizes that it was very difficult to distinguish civilians from combatants because the latter often did not wear uniforms.

According to some commentators, the prevalence and resilience of the 40,000-fatality figure can be attributed in significant measure to the publicity given to it by Gordon Weiss, an Australian journalist, who served as spokesperson for the UN mission in Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2009. In that official capacity Weiss reportedly used the fatality figure of 7,000 for 2009 and noted that, for the Sri Lankan Army, it made no tactical sense to kill civilians. Yet, in interviews to promote his popular book on the final days of the war, he used the unsubstantiated figure of 40,000, presumably for its shock value. When the book was published, the fatality figure had been reduced to 10,000.

ICRC figures 

On July 9, 2009, the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, John Clint Williamson, met in Geneva with Jacques de Maio, Head of Operations for South Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Williamson requested the meeting in order to collect information required for reporting to the US Congress. This information was invaluable because the ICRC was the only international organisation allowed by the GSL onto the northeastern battlefield for humanitarian work. In his diplomatic cable to Washington on that meeting, Williamson quoted de Maio as saying that “the Sri Lankan military was somewhat responsive to accusations of violations of international humanitarian law and was open to adapting its actions to reduce casualties.” The ambassador added that de Maio . . . “could cite examples of where the Army had stopped shelling when ICRC informed them it was killing civilians. In fact, the Army actually could have won the military battle faster with higher civilian casualties, yet chose a slower approach which led to a greater number of Sri Lankan military deaths …. On the LTTE, de Maio said that it had tried to keep civilians in the middle of a permanent state of violence. It saw the civilian population as a ‘protective asset’ and kept its fighters embedded amongst them.

De Maio said that the LTTE commanders’ objective had been to keep the distinction between civilian and military assets blurred.”  In April, as the fighting was nearing its climax, both the United Nations and the Group of Eight nations strongly condemned the LTTE for using civilians as human shields.

This writer can assure that the manuscript he is preparing with the retired Senior Foreign Service and Intelligence Officer of the Department of State Dr. Robert K. Boggs will disclose startling evidence of Washington’s foreign policy trajectory toward Sri Lanka, and how successive governments in Sri Lanka since 1980 – to date – displayed their utter ignorance that led to the infantile foreign policy approaches.

(The writer, Daya Gamage, is a retired Foreign Service National Political Specialist of the U.S. Department of State accredited to the Political Section of the American Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka)

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Excitement galore for Janaka



Janaka Palapathwala…a new identity soon!

Another artiste who is very much in the limelight, these days, is singer Janaka Palapathwala, who specializes in the golden hits of the past, made popular by Engelbert Humperdinck, Elvis, Tom Jones, Jim Reeves, and the like.

He has been seen crooning away at some of the prestigious events, in Colombo, and is now ready to entertain those who love the golden oldies…in Canada and the States.

Janaka, who plans to reveal a new identity soon, indicated to us that he is eagerly looking forward to this particular overseas tour as he has already been informed that the opener, on 3rd June, in Washington D.C., is a ‘sold out’ event.

“Summer Mega Blast’, on 3rd June, will have in attendance the band Binara & The Clan and DJ Shawn Groove.

Dynasty (Apple Green)…in action at ‘Memories Are Made Of This’

On 16th June, he will be in Toronto, Canada, for ‘Starlight Night’, with the band 7th String.

He has two dates in New York, on 24th June and 28th July (‘Welcome To My World’); Nebraska, 4th July (‘An Evening With Janaka’): Los Angeles, 15th July, and San Francisco, 22nd July.

Both the Los Angeles and San Francisco events are titled ‘Memories Are Made Of This’ and Janaka will perform, backed by the group Dynasty (Apple Green).

On his return home, he says he has to do the St. Peter’s College Welfare Society Dinner Dance, “Wild West’, scheduled for 26th July.

There will be plenty of action at this Peterite event, with the bands Misty, and Genesis, Shawn Groove, Frank David, Mazo, Ricardo Deen, Dinesh Subasinghe and Clifford Richards.

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