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This article is taken from the FOR THE RECORD section of the Reconciliation Website, which subsumes the old site used by the former Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP). The articles in FOR THE RECORD are intended to counter those who promote division.  Though problems should be raised, and addressed, there must be balance, so as to avoid the perpetuation of bitterness.

I looked earlier at what I believe is the only specific allegation about war crimes brought against Sri Lanka, namely that based on the video broadcast by Channel 4 – though, as noted, the place where the incident was supposed to have taken place remains unspecified, and the time has been specified divergently. Apart from that there are only vast generalizations, and some assertions that were later belied.

The greatest of the generalizations is that of the numbers killed during the last few months of the fighting, where the figure enunciated by the Times, 20,000, is now seen as a base on which to build, and build, and build, regardless of evidence. No matter that the Times gave three different – and contradictory – reasons for its assertion, and that the base on which it built, 7,000, which it attributed to the UN, was denied by the UN. I have gone into all this at length[1] but obviously anything I say would not have anything like the impact of established newspapers, even if they are now obviously identified as politically driven. My Periclean scholar, who had heard of the Times figure, had not read any critique of this. Nor had she looked at the ICRC website with its record of the wounded who had been taken to government hospitals with the support of the navy, just around 6000 of them, suggesting that the number of fatalities (including combatants) was much less.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

February 2011
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