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Sunday, 15 March 2009





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Government Gazette

Minister shocked at UN figures

Mahinda Samarasinghe

Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, expressed dismay and surprise over the highly exaggerated and unsubstantiated figures mentioned by Ms Navaneetham Pillai, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her recent media release on civilian casualties combined with other unfounded allegations on the government security forces, which had received wide coverage in the local and international media.

She had put the number of civilians killed at 2800 in a seven-week period from January 20 and number injured at 7,000 quoting ‘reliable sources’.

The approach of the UN body was unprofessional and most disappointing in that they had failed to cross-check with the Government of Sri Lanka or the its permanent representative Dr. Dayan Jayatillake, before issuing the media release as customarily done, the Minister said at a media conference yesterday at the Government Information Department.

The LTTE is keeping the civilians by force as hostages for its own protection without allowing them to leave to safer areas and High Commissioner Ms Navaneetham Pillai has failed miserably in her duty to tell them to let the people go, he said.

The Minister was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohana, Director of Media Centre for National Security Lakshman Hulugalla, Consultant to the Defence Ministry and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism Rohan Perera and Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara.

The figures of mentioned in the press release of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) approximates the pro-LTTE TamilNet website and LTTE front organisations operating as crisis groups lobbying for the LTTE in Geneva.

Contrary to accusations in the OHCHR statement, the government security forces never targeted civilians in the ‘no-war zone’ which was declared not by the LTTE but by the government for the safety of the civilians, the Minister stated.

The government considered this as an effort to sling mud at the government and the security forces, he stated. The Defence Ministry has gone on record saying we had never used heavy weapons or long range weapons in our effort to safeguard civilians trapped in the LTTE areas.

If we had used them disregarding the safety of civilians, we could very well have captured the whole LTTE area much earlier, he said.

The Minister said that he met Ms Navaneetham Pillai in Geneva on March 04 during the High Level Segment of the UN Human Rights Council and had a 20 minute discussion but she never raised the matter at that meeting.

The OHCHR was invited and facilitated by the government of Sri Lanka and it worked through the aegis of the government and should have contacted the government instead of relying on the so-called unnamed ‘reliable sources’.

Subsequent to this very damaging statement released last Friday and picked up by the international wire services and the media, the Minister went on the BBC explaining the true situation and the resolute position of the government with regard to eliminating terrorism while ensuring the safety of civilians.

Foreign Minister Dr. Palitha Kohana also expressed displeasure and regret over the OHCHR statement and said that it was not in keeping with the diplomatic ethics of an international body.

He said if a ceasefire was agreed upon by the government heeding to requests from sections of the international community misguided by pro-LTTE international crisis groups it would afford another opportunity for the LTTE to fully re-group and strengthen them and the war will go on for another 25 years.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
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