Thou shalt not lie! - Editorial

14 January 2014 04:10 am - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Fr Rayappu Joseph would know the full quote: ‘Thou shalt not give false testimony against thy neighbour.’ 

The good father has testified.  He has given a figure: 145,000.  That’s the number of civilians ‘killed by the Government security forces during the last stages of the war’.   Let’s consider the claim.

This was no war without witnesses.  Everything was seen from the air. We’ve seen satellite images of places that are said to have been shelled.  Who shelled, who received the shells and when are of course questions that even today remain unanswered, which is why certain people have got away with wild conjecture.  There is footage of Tamil civilians being shot in cold blood. These ‘cold blood’ shots were of LTTE gunmen firing at hostages trying to flee to Government-controlled areas.  No one disputes this.

The point here is that if indeed so many civilians perished it would amount to cold blooded slaughter.  The catch is this: if so many were killed in such a short period of time, it could not have gone uncaptured, one way or another.  We are talking of a human mass that could not have been hidden, during or after the bloody act.  Not even the LTTE spoke those numbers and we know that inflation was their watchword in all communications. The TNA did not and still do not trot out such numbers. 

No one knows where the good father was during those last days, but there were others who knew what was happening.  He might know however that in September 2006 the Government set up a consultative apex body to provide assistance to affected populations (Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance or CCHA).  The CCHA included representatives of relevant ministries as well as ambassadors of the USA and Japan, representatives of the European Union, the UN humanitarian coordinator, all heads of UN agencies, and the heads of ICRC, ECHO and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies.  All these individuals were aware of what was happening and know the efforts expended by the Government.  They would have known if a number like 145,000 were killed.  Indeed, they would know if 1,450 were killed in one go.  They would have raised hell. They did not.

They knew they had a massive challenge before them. They needed to know the numbers.  They all came up with estimates and finally went along with the highest number, that provided by the Divisional Secretariat in Mullaitivu.  That number was 305,000.  Over 290,000 hostages were rescued by the security forces.  The missing number included LTTE cadres, civilians shot dead by the LTTE while fleeing, civilians who did not report to ‘Receiving Centres’ and civilians who died in the crossfire.  The current exercise to enumerate the missing or ‘disappeared’ has not yielded the kind of figures the good father has been trotting out.  Perhaps it is because of these reasons that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has disassociated itself from Fr. Joseph’s ‘testimony’. 

It is important to understand that post-conflict reconciliation is not helped by malicious and politically motivated exaggeration or concealment. 

  Comments - 2

  • prometheus Wednesday, 15 January 2014 03:56 AM

    Because the war carried out by the GoSL against the LTTE was by no means "CLEAN". When fighting an outfit like the LTTE no way the war was going to be clean. From what I have observed GoSL saw it as a "Necessary Evil" and foreign powers pointing fingers should mind their own business because the LTTE needed to be crushed. You and I may not agree with that but thats how it is.

    singing fish Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:02 AM

    Post-conflict reconciliation is only possible when there is justice.Whoever carriedout the killing of innocent civilians including sinhalese should be punished.The whole world know very well what happened during the last sixty years to tamils.International investigation is necessary to clear the allegations against the goverment,if the goverment is genuine why don't they allow the UNO to carryout the investigation?


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