Statistics are like bikinis. What they expose is revealing what they conceal is suggestive. Accountability is to reach an authenticated number of civilians dead and not act silly with fairy tales of a zero civilian casualty number or become traumatized with horror stories of over 40,000 civilian deaths. In war, civilian casualties are inevitable but it is no war crime, unless civilians are intentionally targeted and fire power utilized is beyond the limits of proportionality.
Numbers disclosed in the researched UN Country Team Report (2009) challenge allegations that “tens of thousands” of civilians were killed in the last days of the war against LTTE terrorism. Country Team Report placed killings at 7,721 and injured at 18,479 from August 2008 up to 13 May 2009. This includes civilians killed / injured by the LTTE and LTTE cadres killed and injured. The terminal date of the Country Team Report is placed as at 13 May 2009 (war extended until 19 May) as the count thereafter became “too difficult” to manage. This report has value, to test the veracity on competing figures originating from government and pro LTTE sources. Ironically Ban Ki-Moon has failed to release the much sought after UN document to assist in determining accountability.
However, Moon did hand the undisclosed Country Team Report, to his three-member Panel of Experts (PoE) chaired by Darusman which compiled the controversial Darusman Report. Naturally the Team Report did not satisfy Moon’s PoE in their valiant attempt to justify 40,000 civilian deaths were caused by Sri Lankan Forces without supporting evidence; solely based on conjecture. Moon’s PoE reached the 40,000 casualty mark on a vague assumption which they explained in their Report:
“A number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths. Two years after the end of the war, there is still no available figure for civilian deaths, but multiple sources of information indicate that a range of up to 40,000 civilians cannot be ruled out at this stage”.
Contradictions galore – as Darusman Report asserts “there is still no available figures for civilian deaths” and then conjures “40,000 civilian deaths cannot be ruled out at this stage”, without a reference to the Country Team Report’s conclusion that had clinically arrived at a number after months of research on a compilation based on an organized framework.
UN Country Team was an “Internal Crisis Operation Group” set to UN standards using national staff of the UN, NGO’s and Government officials in Wanni. An incident logged required verification from triple sources or double counted. They neither accepted reports from Government or Tamil Net, both were deemed biased.
The County Team Report number of 7,721 was a problem in reaching “tens of thousands” bench mark; a gap it had to overcome since it was too great to bridge. Significantly the Darusman Report exhibited 23 formal letters, most of no worth as annexure; yet failed to make the Country Team Report as an exhibit –being the solitary UN assembled contemporaneous on-the-spot ground report on accountability with numbers indicating death and injury respectively. UN Country Team Report still remains unknown in the public domain. Moon and his Panel failed to reveal comprehensively the Country Team Report in their custody preferring to stretch their hand to deflate and discredit the number of 7,721 civilian deaths- placing reliance on uninformed sources without an iota of material evidence collected on a scientific basis and arrived at 40,000 dubious civilian deaths. To use a current cliché the basis possibly was in a realm where “only god knows”.
Darusman Report had to debunk the Country Team Report to keep alive the 40,000 civilian death symbol. Why? UN Country Team Report did not reach the anticipated aggregate of around 40,000 civilian deaths-so it had to be discarded! Darusman Report sought to give credence to unidentified sources: UN Country Team’s 7,721 deaths and 18,479 injuries was an embarrassment that needed a by-pass. Darusman Report failed to adduce a reason for accepting unnamed sources that placed civilian deaths at 40,000 instead presented two feeble grounds to reject the UN Country Team Report.
Last 5 days of war would increase the figure of 7,721 civilian deaths but the toll did not to reach even ten thousand as revealed on the enumeration conducted by the Department of Census & Statistics. Significance is the weird methodology utilized in the Darusman Report to take the unsubstantiated 40,000 figure as the preferred option to the calculations done on a recognized basis in the UN Country Team Report.
On a conservative estimate 7,000 – 8,000 civilians including LTTE combatants met with untimely death. Indeed a long distance away from the figure of 40,000 relied by Moon and Darusman!