The former UN spokesman in Colombo Gordon Weiss has stirred up controversy by claiming today that as many as many as 40,000 civilians could have been killed during the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war last year.
In an interview with Australia’s ABC news, Gordon Weiss also accused the government of saying things which were either “intentionally misleading, or were lies” and that the LTTE was also regularly killing civilians to prevent them from fleeing.
Mr Weiss has resigned from the UN after 14 years and returned home to Australia. He’s now free to speak openly about the situation in Sri Lanka, for the first time and does so candidly and unflinchingly in Foreign Correspondent’s return program.
He tells reporter ABC news that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians died during the final, desperate battles - last year - of one of the world’s longest running and bloodiest civil wars.
“About 300,000 civilians, plus the Tamil Tiger forces, were trapped in an area of territory about the size of Central Park in New York,” says Weiss. “They were within range of all the armaments that were being used, small and large, being used to smash the Tamil Tiger lines … the end result was that many thousands lost their lives.”
Gordon Weiss says his information comes from reliable sources who had a presence inside the battle zone, not Tamil civilians or fighters.
"The Sri Lankan government said many things which were either intentionally misleading, or were lies", Weiss tells Campbell. He says that after the war ended, a senior civil servant openly admitted that the authorities had deliberately underestimated the number of trapped civilians “as a ploy to allow the government to get on with its business.”
He acknowledges that the Tamil Tiger forces were also regularly and ruthlessly killing people, to stop them from leaving the battle zones.
Link to video: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201002/r511492_2769388.asx