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A blemishless army and hasty conclusions

world Updated: Jun 01, 2011 00:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
Sutirtho Patranobis

At the end of the one-hour speech by defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, his audience, military officers from Lanka and few other countries, stood up and clapped. Rajapaksa had spoken non-stop on how the Tamil Tigers -- ``stubborn, ruthless, fascist, formidable’’ --- had used and killed civilians. And how the Lankan military had followed every available syllable on human rights but had still miraculously wiped out all LTTE combatants without even shooting an angry glance at the displaced Tamils.

The LTTE tried hard to provoke the military but no, the military ensured zero civilian casualties, Rajapaksa said.
In his speech at the seminar on `Defeating Terrorism: the Sri Lankan Experience’, there was just the passing mention of the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom and nothing about, say, the 1956 Sinhala Only Act.

But there was enough mention of certain western countries and figures continuing to harass this small island with limited resources on human rights issues.

"They had come to hasty conclusions," Rajapaksa said.

Many in the audience would have been overwhelmed with emotion at his moving speech about how hostages were rescued and then taken to camps to be washed, fed and looked after the best ever in their till-then limited lives under the LTTE.

But then there are these hasty, thoughtless people who don’t believe a word from the government.

On Monday, one such person, Christof Hyens, UN’s special investigation on extrajudicial killings told the UN Human Rights Council that war crimes were committed by the military during the conflict’s final days. Hyens said this after getting video footage of executions technically tested.

Then, UN Human Rights chief, N Pillai told the Council that information in the UN expert panel report about war crimes should be taken note of.

And if they weren’t hasty enough, the Cage, a new book by former UN spokesperson Gordon Weiss also talked about large-scale civilian deaths. Weiss, UN spokesperson during the war’s final months, gave gruesome accounts of hospitals being shelled and thousands being slaughtered – by the LTTE but many more by the military.

But I agree with Rajapaksa; let’s not come to any hasty conclusion. Let’s wait for the government-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report. If nothing else, their report will never be accused of being a hasty, hurried job.