Friday, February 12, 2010

SRI LANKA: "40,000 CIVILIANS COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED " SAYS FORMER UN OFFICIAL



As many as 40,000 civilians could have been killed during the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war, according to someone with detailed knowledge of the conflict – the former United Nations’ spokesperson in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss. Mr Weiss has resigned from the UN after 14 years and returned home to Australia. He’s now free to speak openly about the situation in Sri Lanka, for the first time and does so candidly and unflinchingly in Foreign Correspondent’s return program.

He tells reporter Eric Campbell that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians died during the final, desperate battles - last year - of one of the world’s longest running and bloodiest civil wars.


“About 300,000 civilians, plus the Tamil Tiger forces, were trapped in an area of territory about the size of Central Park in New York,” says Weiss. “They were within range of all the armaments that were being used, small and large, being used to smash the Tamil Tiger lines … the end result was that many thousands lost their lives.”

Gordon Weiss says his information comes from reliable sources who had a presence inside the battle zone, not Tamil civilians or fighters.

"The Sri Lankan government said many things which were either intentionally misleading, or were lies", Weiss tells Campbell. He says that after the war ended, a senior civil servant openly admitted that the authorities had deliberately underestimated the number of trapped civilians “as a ploy to allow the government to get on with its business.”

He acknowledges that the Tamil Tiger forces were also regularly and ruthlessly killing people, to stop them from leaving the battle zones.

Campbell talks to Tamils who were caught trying to flee to Australia by boat. Despite facing criminal charges in Sri Lanka as a result, one of them admits he’s going to try to make the journey again, as soon as he can. He says he can’t live in Sri Lanka any more.

Claims of Tamil persecution are denied by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who tells Campbell asylum seekers are criminals – drug dealers and arms traffickers. The President says the problem will disappear and national unity will prevail now that the Tamil Tigers have been destroyed. Tamils prepared to farewell their home, friends and extended families to make the dangerous journey to Australia are a clear indication rhetoric and reality are along way apart.

© ABC News


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1 comment:

lambodara said...

Very Clearly,BEFORE Surrendered and beaten to death,LTTE CIVIL Officers declared the figures of the civilians whom stayed with them,Pl.Google the ammount and deducted from the ammount of registered IDP's,The ammount Missing is very large than 40,000 and nearly over50,000-75,000.

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