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Bruce Haigh

I am writing, as Head of the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat in 2009, to correct some errors in the opinion piece on ‘The Drum’, reproduced it seems from ABC News. It seems best to make annotations direct on the published text, though I hope you will also reproduce the evidence from the ICRC that suggests Mr Haigh is being his usual mischievous self as regards Sri Lanka.

“Admiral Thisara Samarsinghe was recently approved by the Australian Government to become the next Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canberra. He joined the navy in 1974 and retired in January 2011.

Admiral Samarsinghe was chief of staff of the Sri Lankan Navy at a time when the navy shelled Tamil soldiers and civilians trapped in what had been declared a safe zone at the end of the civil war. The navy then blocked attempts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate the injured, women and children from the safe zone.”

Mr Haigh advances no evidence at all for this bald statement. He completely ignores the evidence of the ICRC, which sent the letter below to the previous Commander of the Navy on February 14th 2009, following assistance provided by the navy to the ICRC. Sadly, in recent discussions of what took place, the support provided by the navy to the ICRC with regard to provision of food and evacuation of the wounded (under 5000, with about 2000 more sick and 7000 bystanders sent out, indicating that the number of war wounded was limited), the role of the navy is ignored. I need only refer you to the language used by the Head of the ICRC, and his references to discipline and kindness and respect for you to realize that Mr Haigh possesses none of these qualities and should not be let loose on an unsuspecting public. 

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2011
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