I mention in this instalment the foolish decision of the government to close the Peace Secretariat. But this was a minor blunder compared with the major mistake of sacking Dayan from his ambassadorial position in Geneva, after his brilliant victory against the machinations of the West.

But I note too the immense amount of other work I was involved in, which limited efforts to correct these momentous mistakes.

The pictures are from June 25th, taken by Felix, and including Bindu. Primary education was a priority as was vocational training, and the Indians had set up a hospital which did yeoman service. Sadly government simply did not bother to make it clear how well we did in treating our displaced, much better than other countries in similar situations.

I did try, and brought out a book to showcase all this, but the Foreign Ministry was not interested at all.

23. The aftermath of the war

I stayed on in Europe to attend also the regular June UNHRC session, with multiple press interviews in England in between, and only got back to Colombo on Sunday June 14th. That week the forces staff were withdrawn from SCOPP, which I was sad about but I could understand we did not need them any more. The rest of the staff were wiser however and realized this meant the Peace Secretariat would be closed, and that indeed happened at the end of July. I had suggested to Lalith Weeratunge that it continue as a Secretariat for Reconciliation and I thought he had agreed, so I did not bother about lobbying the President.

But when nothing happened and I asked Lalith what was happening, he said he had made no commitment. It was probably too late by then, but I did not want to ask the President for what would be seen as a favour, since it was clear that those in authority had no idea what a blunder they were committing. But by now hubris had taken over, and they even sacked Dayan from Geneva, with disastrous consequences.

I was too busy however to bother about all this, what with interviews and meetings and much writing to do. I only had Friday night at my cottage that weekend, and on the Wednesday I was off to Vavuniya with some of my staff to check on the situation of the IDPs. I had left after some work at SCOPP so we got there only in time to meet the GA and check on the CBSM work, before I dropped my staff at a hotel and went to stay with the forces, in the airforce camp this time, so I could meet Chandrasiri and Jagath to find out more about the situation.

Apart from Bindu who ran the CBSM project I was accompanied by Kath Noble who was my Director of Communications, and Felix Vicat, son of my old friends in Oxford, Jane and Giles Vicat, who had come out the previous Sunday to spend six weeks of his gap year working as a volunteer at SCOPP. He was going on to King’s College for a degree in War Studies, and came back twice in the next two years to pick up material for his work. I had allocated him to Kath and they got on very well and produced some excellent publications to make clear how much work was being done for the Tamil people. And they both loathed David Miliband and did splendid demolition jobs on the outrageous claims made by him and his fellow travellers in the Labour Party who were solid supporters of the Tigers.

Next morning we were taken by one of Jagath’s officers whom I knew from the SLMA days for a tour of the different zones at Manik Farm plus Weerapuram, one of the new centres that had been set up. We found that though they were crowded everyone had decent shelter and the food distribution was adequate and the health facilities very good. In the afternoon we met with the International Organization for Migration at the kachcheri though I was sorry UNICEF did not attend as expected, and also discussed what more could be done for psychosocial support. And that night I had dinner with Jagath and Sudantha Ranasinghe who was now his chief support there, and whom I also knew well for he had been Commanding Officer at the SLMA and thoroughly supportive of my work.