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20 April 2011

The Editor – The Island

I write to exercise a right of reply to the statement you have quoted from the Report of the UN Panel which claims that the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights responded by accusing the ICRC of naiveté when I responded to a statement issued by the ICRC in Geneva.

The Panel has been selective in suggesting that my response dealt with the ICRC’s  reminder that ‘wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities are all protected by international humanitarian law. Under no circumstances may they be directly attacked’.

The Panel’s efforts to denigrate the Ministry are not naïve; they seem rather to be extremely cunning.  My statement dealt primarily with the appeal of the ICRC ‘to both sides’ to allow movement of civilians out of the combat zone and in noting that patients needed evacuation. Those who now try to achieve political ends through devious reports failed signally then to exert any pressure at all to make the LTTE let the civilians leave. Of course we wanted them to move out of the combat zone, because we knew the LTTE was planning to use them as human shields. But they were allowed to continue with this wicked plan, perhaps so that our advance could be stopped, perhaps because, when that effort failed, we could be punished for what the LTTE did.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2011
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