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After ten posts from Oxford, I move back to my Peace Secretariat days, and the approaching conclusion of the war in 2009. I note here the conclusion of the visit of Walter Kalin, the UN Special Representative on the Rights of the Displaced. He was very helpful, and would not let himself be guided by the junior UN staff, paid by the West, who tried to fulfil a Western agenda. In appreciation of his commitment, I hosted him at the end of his visit for lunch at my my cottage by the river. This pleased the also very helpful UN head, Neil Buhne.

And then we moved swiftly to the end of the war, with our forces finally breaking through the LTTE defences at Mullivaikkal, and rescuing a vast number of the civilians who had been held hostage.

The pictures are of the very helpful people I worked with at this stage, Kalin and Neil Buhne and John Holmes of the UN, Generals Jayasuriya and Chandrasiri who did so much for the displaced, and Jeevan Thiagarajah who did as much on a voluntary basis.


The beginning of the end of the LTTE From Omanthai Kalin and I went back to Vavuniya by helicopter, for lunch at the Kachcheri, and then visited a couple of the transit centres before seeing Jagath at headquarters. We stayed that night at the Palm Garden Lodge for Kalin to write his report and then next day, having flown to Colombo, I took Kalin to the cottage for lunch.

I had arranged this with Neil, who was happy about the arrangement and my specification that I did not want anyone else from the UN to come along. Kalin I think enjoyed the place, with the river running below, and was charming with Kithsiri’s children. Neil sent a car to Ingiriya to pick Kalin up as I had requested, and later sent me a thank you not to say how much he had appreciated the gesture. 

I slept after he went and then wrote up what was going on, for the SCOPP website was now one of the most visited sites for information about the war and its impact. Back in Colombo next morning we had a round up meeting for Kalin with the Minister, and I then had a press conference as well as several interviews over the next couple of days before leaving for a new year break in Thailand. Back then on the 15th, I left after three days for Geneva, for Dayan had wanted me around when a couple of Ministers made presentations, using the opportunity to brief friendly countries which were being subjected to a barrage of propaganda against us as the war began to draw to a conclusion.

By the time I got back home, on Sunday April 26th, our forces had broken through the LTTE’s bulwarks, and about 200,000 of those they had been holding hostage had been freed. This obviously meant a great effort at Manik Farm, and the world was watching closely, with John Holmes in Colombo on yet another visit. He was balanced as usual, but it was not so easy dealing with the British government representatives, a Minister as well as a group from DFID.

That Thursday I went up to Aluvihare, for a lovely day with Ena on Friday 1st May which was a holiday, though I had to deal with a lot of calls before relaxing on the lawn for drinks before dinner. And then Jeevan arrived, for we had arranged to leave early the next morning for Vavuniya. We had breakfast with Chandrasiri and then met with the NGOs and UNHCR and Jagath, who was still dealing with the laststages of the war. We then went to Manik Farm where we had lunch before checking on the medical arrangements at the clinic that had been established. Then there was a final meeting with the UN before we went back to the camp for tea, getting back to Alu for the night.

The next day was a welcome contrast, coffee on the lawn, breakfast with Ena and Jeevan, and then staying on after he left for lunch with her before getting to Colombo to meet again with Jeevan and L C Perera and also Mohan Peiris whom I thought of then as a positive member of the team. But I then went off to the cottage, to write quite a bit including a comment on what David Miliband had been up to in his insidious effort to save the LTTE, purely for electoral purposes as he confided in the Americans.

Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2020
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