The forged UN Report The Number died far exceeds the number who ever lived!

By Palitha M Senanayake

The Report of the UN Panel of Experts, or the Darusman report, as it is popularly known continued to create its share of controversy at the recent UNHRC sessions when Yasmin Sooka, a member of this ‘Panel of experts’ tried to maintain that the actual number of civilians who perished at the last stage of the Sri Lanka conflict, that ended in May 2009, is in excess of 150,000 persons even though the UN report listed the number as a mere 40,000.

That statement alone by a ‘member in earnest’ of the Experts Panel cast an aspersion on the ‘numbers game’ the report makers are toying with, in order to conjure up their allegations at the SL forces.  The question is, if it is 150,000 why state 40,000 in the report and what about the 110, 000 persons that are not accounted for?  This is a serious situation and could any forum, leave alone an International body, entertain a report that is so flawed in its quintessence of the very number that was killed? This is not just a case of ‘give or take a thousand’ but give or take a hundred and ten thousand!!

Does this member of the Panel of Experts think that the report could just quote ‘a figure’ when what is at stake, on the one hand, is the sanctity of human lives and, on the other, the reputation of a professional and trained army that has negotiated one of the most complex humanitarian operation in the history of terrorist warfare. Ms Sooka could be making her own contribution towards that adage of Mark Twain ‘Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics!’

The real issue this Panel is now confronted with is that they have to look askance for some credible evidence in the wake of new developments on the number that is said to have been caught during the cross-fire.  Apart from the fact that the report lacks focus and in its worth in credibility, the partisan and unprofessional nature of the report could be plain to any student of world conflicts situations and purposeful laws on International War crimes. To add insult to injury Ms Yasmin Sooka has now taken over the twin roles of being the ‘opinion raiser’ and the ‘executioner’ both, when she pursued SL military offices in diplomatic postings and now at the UNHRC.  Thus, it is apparent that the interests of the members of this Panel of experts is not limited to expressing just their considered opinions.

It was in February this year that Lord Naseby, a member of the British House of Lords questioned the numbers mentioned in the UN Panel of Expert’s report stating that the ‘numbers do not add up’ when compared with the reports of The British military attaché and the US Ambassador’s report on the last stages of the conflict.  He also quoted data from the UN situation report and from expressed opinions of the University Teachers of Human Rights Jaffna, a professional body of conflict event monitors for the past 30 years. The number killed during the last stages, in all those reports hover around 7000 to 8,000 and that include the LTTE cadres in civilian attire. Thus, it was the BBC that first suggested in its news bulletin in February this year that the numbers in the UN report could well be ‘forged’.

However, the real challenge to these statistics stated in the report emanates from the fact that there had not been that many persons born and living, and now reported dead in those areas as per the official report of the Sri Lanka’s Department of Census and Statistics. Enumeration of Vital Events – 2011 (EVE 2011) is a special enumeration conducted by the department covering the entire Northern Province with the view of providing the Government of Sri Lanka with information on vital events that were not collated for 30 years in the province since the Census of Population and Housing (CPH) – 1981. The Department usually conduct its census every 10 years and similarly these censuses due in 1991 and in 2001 could not be performed due to the unstable conditions that prevailed in those provinces.  However, the primary data registers, as of necessity, had been maintained by the respective administrative officers and hence the data on vital events such as births, marriages and deaths were available for compilation.

Thus, in order to bring these two provinces in line with the rest of the country, the Department of Census & Statistics initiated a census survey mechanism in 2011 in the North and the East provinces. The EVE 2011 covered the two provinces and the information so collected was presented at Province, District, Divisional Secretariat Division, Grama Niladhari Division and Local Government Authority levels. A team of DCS technical officers provided the Training, supervision and guidance to the field enumerators. The on-field enumeration was carried out by Government school teachers of the northern province with the assistance and authority of relevant Grama Niladhari officers of the area. The EVE 2011 is a total enumeration based on Usual Residence of the respondent population and the importance of this survey compilation is that these data available at Divisional Secretariat offices were verified on a house to house basis by school teachers (Tamil) in the respective areas in collaboration with the records of the Grama Niladhari (Tamil) of each area.

The number of enumerators to be appointed at DS/AGA level was determined by the number of census blocks created for each district in the Northern Province for the Census of Population and Housing 2011. Government School Teachers attached to the Northern Province were enrolled through the Zonal Directors of Education and appointed as field enumerators. The enumerators were attached to a DS (AGA) division at his or her convenience and the coordination between the enumerators and the DS (AGA) offices were maintained through the relevant Grama Niladhari (GN) of the GN division in which the enumerator’s assigned census blocks were located. This is how the Department conduct its census surveys normally in its country-wide operations, and the data so originated is then collated to district, provincial and finally at national level. These primary data sheets are available with the department and thus any person needing verification could do so even today. Accordingly, the total population of the Northern province in 2011, including Vanni is as follows,


Northern Province   total         997,754

Jaffna district                           567,229

Mannar district                           95,430

Vavuniya district                      164,852

Mullaithivu district                     66,526

Kilinochchi district                    103,717

What is noticeable here is that the Mullaithivu district that is at the centre of this controversy has a total population of only 66,526.

                                         Re-settled population       

Northern Province total              388517

Jaffna district                              158747

Mannar district                             34229

Vavuniya district                          40722

Mullaithivu district                       58114

Kilinochchi district                       96705

The above settlements are not necessarily through the IDP registers maintained by the Government but on information provided by residents on the basis of their status. Accordingly, a total of 195,541 persons claimed resettlement in the Mullaithivu. Kilinochchi and Vavuniya districts after the conflict.

What is of greater relevance now is the number of deaths and missing persons furnished by the residents to the enumerating officers and the GN

                                           Deaths (2005 – 2009)         Deaths – 2009

Northern Province total                    22,329                       11172

Jaffna district                                    10,884                         3677

Mannar district                                  1,427                          608

Vavuniya district                               2,857                        1542

Mullaithivu district                            2,716                        2019

Kilinochchi district                            4,445                        3326

This shows that the total number of persons who have died in the Northern province during the whole year of 2009, as per the information provided from each household, is 11,172 persons. The above figures show that in the Northern province 2,790 persons die during the natural course of events every year and when that number is taken out from the 11,172 deaths reported for the year 2009, the number that may have died due to the conflict could be determined as 8,382.

Then we come to the missing population numbers which had taken place either due to enlistment/conscription by the LTTE, or due to just un-traceability.

Untraceable population (2005 – 2009) Untraceable population (2009)

Northern Province total                              4,156                                     2635

Jaffna district                                              1,359                                       651

Mannar district                                              335                                       164

Vavuniya district                                           603                                       378

Mullaithivu district                                        635                                       488

Kilinochchi district                                      1224                                       954

(Source; Department of Census & Statistics report EVE – 2011)

We may add the number of missing persons as claimed by the household (but not confirmed as dead) during 2009 and the total number we reach, as probable casualties of the cross fire then is 11,017.

Therefore, the above being the number of persons who were born, lived and died in the Northern province according to the household information provided by presently living persons, collected by offices in the area and then verified by the administration offices of the area, the credibility of same is beyond question. The question now is from where did Yasmin Sooka got her 150,000 and what is the basis of the UN Panel of Expert’s report’s official declaration of 40,000 deaths? Did they kill more persons than those who ever inhabited the area, and if so, why?

It is a fact that the Tamil diaspora had been behind this war in Sri Lanka that caused so much deaths and destruction in this small country for a period of 34 years and it is their propaganda and influence that sustained this conflict for so long. Therefore, it is the duty of the Sri Lanka government to question the UN about the scale and extent of this Tamil Diaspora influence, ideologically and fiduciary, on Yasmin Sooka and her coteries of experts in the preparation of this questionable report.

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