Sri Lanka Civilian Casualties – why is UNHRC refusing to accept 7721 figure?

Hot on the heels of Lord Naseby questioning the British Government & exposing the duplicity & bias of the UNHRC, it is time for the UN to come clean and explain why they have been selective in picking civilian casualty estimates. Why are they shy from releasing the UN Country Team report giving 7721 deaths? Anyone alleging war crimes must explain why the Sri Lankan Military would allegedly kill ’40,000’ but physically save 300,000 of which 12,000 were LTTE cadres surrendering in civilian clothing! All of the guestimates it must be pointed out come from third party sources with invisible or possibly non-existent ‘witness’ accounts. However, a war crimes tribunal cannot be established based on these flimsy lies & media stunts & a country’s national army cannot be taken to the gallows on such lies & hyped allegations sans proof.

Sources quoting less than 10,000 deaths


·      UN country team in Sri Lanka placed dead at 7721 (Ban Ki Moon’s personally appointed a 3 member panel however declared the figure ‘too low to accept’

·      Survey by the GOSL in the North at the end of the conflict done by Tamils placed the dead and missing at 7400 including LTTE killed in combat & 2600 missing of this 1600 had been with LTTE whereas only 438 had disappeared in areas under military control

·      Population survey by Tamil Teachers of the North in July 2011 covering migration, deaths, untraceable persons from 2005 to 2009 revealed 7896 dead including LTTE. The dead from natural illness & sickness was 1102.

·      UNICEF-sponsored Family Tracing & Verification Unit 2011 listed 2564 untraceable persons of which 676 were children (64% had been kidnapped by LTTE)

·      Amnesty International (2011 report) quotes 10,000 civilian deaths. Thereafter Amnesty quoted figure of 40,000 dead.

·      Gordon Weiss – former UN official originally quoted 7000 dead, at his book launch he inflated the figure to 40,000 and changed it to 10,000 at his book launch & when cornered by a member of the audience he placed the error on the printer! Quoting dead has become a lucrative venture.

·      Tamilnet – the LTTE propaganda channel reported 7398 deaths

·      Data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, data “primarily based on figures released by the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net”, put the casualty figure for civilians inside Mullaithivu at 2,972 until 5 April 2009.

Above 10,000 deaths quoted from third party sources

·      Darusman Panel selected to be members of the UNSG’s personally commissioned Panel immediately after producing their report co-authored an article claiming the Sri Lankan Government committed war crimes. Furthermore, Darusman report refers to LTTE as a ‘disciplined group’ – if so why has 32 countries proscribed it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization?

·      13 March 2009 – UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s press release said that ‘as many as 2800 civilians ‘may have been killed’.

·      US former envoy Robert Blake – quotes 40,000 dead (US Congressional Hearing)

·      Siobhain McDonagh (UK Labor MP) declared 100,000 dead (did she count from UK)

·      Satellite report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science identified 3 graves – one had bodies of 1346, another a LTTE graveyard with 960 bodies. Report did not detect 40,000 or more dead.

·      The Times of London – 20,000

·      The Guardian editorial (Sri Lanka: Evidence that won’t be buried (June 15, 2011),) – 40,000

·      Editorials by The Times and The Sunday Times in late May 2009 related investigations the papers had conducted that revealed more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final phase.

·      Alan Keenan the Project Director of International Crisis Group Sri Lanka placed civilians killed in the Vanni between 40,000 – 147,000

·      The Institute of Conflict Management, Delhi – 11,111

·      The University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna in a Special Report no. 32 of 10 June 2009 and Special Report No 34 of 13 December 2009 placed the dead between 20,000-40,000

·      Dr. V. Shanmugarajah – says the death toll is closer to 1000 (thousand)

·      Charles Petrie reviewing UNSG’s report in 2012 gave 70,000 figure completely ignoring the UN Representative office figure of 7721.

·      Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph – claims 147,000 as missing (It is strange that he has not placed one single name of the missing with the Commission though he can rally numerous priests to sign letters and sent to the UNHRC calling for international investigations against Sri Lanka.

·      Independent Diaspora Analysis Group-Sri Lanka – 15,000-18,000

·      Rajasingham Narendran – ‘My estimate is that the deaths — cadres, forced labour and civilians — were very likely around 10,000 and did not exceed 15,000 at most’

·      Muttukrishna Sarvananthan of the Point Pedro Institute said “[approximately] 12,000 [without counting armed Tiger personnel] “.

·      Dr. Noel Nadesan: “”roughly 16,000 including LTTE, natural, and civilians”.

·      Publication titled “Genocidio: (Primera entrega) – La masacre de los Tamils en Sri Lanka,” [Genocide: (First Delivery) The Slaughter of Tamils in Sri Lanka], the Argentinean periodical La Tarde (diario) in a Spanish language article – 146,679 Tamils disappeared or killed between 2008 and 2009, of which 40,000 deaths occurred in the 48 hours of the final assault

·      Arundhati Roy, Indian commentator –”Government of Sri Lanka is on the verge of committing what could end up being genocide” and described the Sri Lankan IDP camps where Tamil civilians are being held as concentration camps. April 2009

·      Prof. Michael Roberts based his estimates between 10,000 and 18,000

·      ICRC press statement of 21 April 2009 declared that their estimates of Tamil civilians inside the no fire zone was 50,000 (In other words upto 21st April 2009, the ICRC did not know that LTTE had 300,000 people with them.

·      The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in November 2008 claimed there were 230,000 IDPs in the Vanni (Sri Lankan forces saved close to 300,000 – this continues to raise the question of how can we differentiate civilians and LTTE)

·      The International Crisis Group quoting ICRC says 150,000 were in the NFZ in early March 2009.

·      UN estimated on 13 May 2009 that about 50,000 civilians were trapped by the conflict, in a strip of land

·      Indian embedded journalist Murali Reddy reported that from 13 May 2009 there were no civilians in the strip LTTE was restricted to.  

As Lord Naseby has rightly pointed out NONE of those quoting dead have been on the ground. They are simply quoting from either LTTE support groups or parties linked to LTTE. Lord Naseby makes reference to the UNPUBLISHED report by the UN Country Team whose death toll figure is 7721 covering August 2008 to 13 May 2009. He quite rightly says that from 13 May to 19th May 2009, it is impossible for 40,000 to have been killed. Why has this UN report not been published? Why is it kept hidden from public domain?

The Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report tabled in Sri Lanka’s Parliament in 2011 concluded that the Sri Lanka military did not target civilians.

The Missing Persons Commission, also known as the ‘Paranagama Commission’ says the figure of 40,000 civilians killed during the final weeks of the war is a myth.

In fact no one speaks about the 5600 complaints received by families of missing soldiers and these are with name. The missing soldier families had even logged the details with the Parangama Commission as well as the UNHRC and to date no statement or effort has been made by any UN envoy to account for their lives and do justice by them. Instead the UN & UNHRC are going behind figures and guestimates which have no names, no details and whose details have not been logged by any family members. The Paranagama Commission had less than 20,000 names logged as missing of which 5600 complaints by soldier families.

In terms of ‘civilians’ voluntarily or involuntarily remaining with the LTTE or taking part in hostilities the international legal luminaries headed by Sir Desmond de Silva declared that it is extremely unlikely that some 20,000 cadres of LTTE, at that stage, could have taken up to 330,000 hostages against their will”. The implication is that civilians went voluntarily with the LTTE – how many went voluntarily is a question no one has answered. In the eyes of these legal luminaries LTTE had committed the act of perfidy an- act of feigning civilian status with the intent of gaining an advantage amounts to unlawful perfidious conduct.” LTTE is guilty of blurring distinction between combatants & civilians and therefore LTTE stands guilty of not complying with the principle of distinction. LTTE is guilty for unlawful use of human shields. The Sri Lankan Army complied with a no fire zone to which LTTE did not comply and if both sides are not in agreement there is no official No Fire Zone.

Some factors need to be repeated

·      Sri Lanka’s conflict categorized as a Non-International Armed Conflict denies LTTE any legal status as combatant or POW & requires LTTE inspite of its terrorist designation abide by international humanitarian laws.

·      That LTTE was designated as a terrorist organization & banned by 32 countries clearly destroys the myth that Sri Lanka suffered an ethnic conflict. Sri Lanka suffered a terrorist conflict as LTTE killed even Tamils.

·      The decision to militarily defeat the LTTE came after the country suffered 30 years of terrorism and after failed peace talks, ceasefires & third party negotiations. One incident (9/11) was enough for US & Allies to bomb Afghanistan, invade the country & remain occupying it since 2001!

·      LTTE & Prabakaran could not have become an internationally feared terrorist organization capable of even assassinating a foreign Prime Minister if it did not have ‘friends’ in higher places. All those calling for investigations nicely omit to mention the need to investigate who were the players that helped LTTE directly/indirectly, provided material support, financial support, training, propaganda & PR support, technical expertise, arms training, NGOs, foreigners, international organizations involved with & co-partnering with the LTTE to advance their own geopolitical objectives. When will these people & organizations be held accountable?

·      What is beyond belief is the manner foreign forces in the form of foreign governments, foreign organizations, UN & associate bodies, foreign MPs, foreign media are all congregating to demand answers from the Sri Lankan Government on the last 3 months that ended 30 years of terror but did NOTHING throughout 30 years to save innocent citizens from being blown to pieces by the LTTE. Let us not forget that that the Sri Lankan Armed forces inspite of its military offensive brought to safety 300,000 Tamils which included 12,000 LTTE cadres who surrendered in civilian clothing. If the intent was to kill as is being alleged how is that that these LTTE cadres in civilian clothing remained alive?

·      It is also puzzling why the UNSG chose only Sri Lanka to appoint a personal panel to appraise him of the last 3 months and we are stupefied how that personal report became the basis of successive resolutions by the UNHRC against a sovereign state when the report was never tabled in the UNGA or sanctioned by the UNSC. This questions the legality of the resolutions having being derived from an illegal & questionable process where the Ban Ki Moon panel has openly shown bias. Yasmin Sooka a member of the panel who is paid to be working in the interest of South Africa is 24×7 more interested in LTTE than her native South Africans! She is a frequent visitor to pro-LTTE stages and they address her as ‘comrade’ such alliance is a direct conflict of interest. Her fantastical reports are released close to some international session no different to the dramas by C4. The legality of the Ban Ki Moon report used for the UNHRC resolutions need to be investigated as well as the links of all those making allegations against the Sri Lanka Armed Forces for their financial involvements with LTTE fronts.

All these linked and taken together shows a large nexus of people riding on the LTTE using it as a cash cow for various purposes.

Why does UNHRC and foreign governments not want to accept the 7721 dead figure?

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