Transcript of an interview of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha by Al Jazeera, regarding photographs alleged to be of incidents during the last days of the war against the LTTE – 10 November 2010.

I: These very graphic photos show people being massacred, some of them execution style. Does the Sri Lanka Government still deny that human rights abuses were committed during the war?

RW: Well, of course. I mean, if you talk about this type of thing as being evidence, you simply must be clear. You mentioned, or rather Tony Birtley did, the video. Now, Philip Alston, the UN Expert, thinks it’s genuine, he got so-called experts to look at it. We had pointed that one dead person in there had a moving leg. Now let me just quote from what his so called experts said – ‘It has not been definitively established whether this person was already deceased or merely wounded, intoxicated, sleeping or possibly even uninjured and feigned death after being shot at and missed in order to evade actual injury or death at the hands of a more competent marksman.’

Now since the very video showed people shooting people at close range, you know the idea that some man was intoxicated and therefore his leg collapsed, it was perfectly part of a genuine video, is nonsense. These particular pictures that you’ve shown now, I don’t have them with me, they surfaced when I was in London 2 weeks ago. I agreed to do an interview with you and then you suddenly cancelled it because you were worried about the genuine nature of these pictures. Now you tell me that you still haven’t actually got any authenticity now but you still spread these rumours. (She interrupts continuously).

You have the responsibility to be accurate! You must check things correctly!  (She interrupts loudly)

I: These photographs cannot be verified. Okay? These photographs, as you’ve been saying, cannot be verified, surely that’s what an independent inquiry would be able to do.

RW: What I don’t understand is why two weeks ago you wouldn’t telecast this, when I actually had the photographs with me when I was in London, you cancelled the thing. And now two weeks later, without any further information, you are surfacing this story. Now all this is exciting for you but it’s really very unfair. Someone said we’re trying to close debate, we don’t want to close debate! We are very open to debate. (She keeps interrupting). The debate must be based on evidence, young lady.

I: Is the Government still refusing calls for independent inquiry into these allegations of Human Rights abuses?

RW: We have always said that any allegation will be investigated. We, meaning our own inquiry that’s going on, is perfectly independent. We have asked for evidence. For instance, with regard to the Alston video, we said, ‘Look, each of you say you got this from people. Let us know when this incident happened, where it happened.’ Philip Alston could not even get the Channel 4 video because his so-called experts testified that he had to go and get another copy which is different from the first copy. I mean, this type of real fraudulence should not occur in a serious television station like Al Jazeera, which is normally very circumspect, as indeed you were two weeks ago (she interrupts).

Please make sure not to propagate lies because the UN has denied that 7,000 figure, very, very clearly. The ICRC figures have a maximum of 6,000 odd wounded, and you know perfectly well that includes combatants as well. You know perfectly well that the ratios are like 4:1, which means the dead are much less.

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