I = Harshula’s Open Letter
To whom it may concern,
re: Sri Lanka’s Intransigence By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, AUG. 22, 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/23/opinion/sri-lankas-intransigence.html) The New York Times Editorial Board claims: “The United Nations estimates that 40,000 Tamils died during the final weeks of the conflict.”
The United Nations has estimated between 80,000 and 100,000 deaths during the entire duration of the separatist war. This has been widely reported by international media organisations: “The UN’s humanitarian co-ordination office says 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed in the war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.” (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-05-20/up-to-100000-killed-in-sri-lankas-civil-war-un/1689524) and: “According to the UN, between 80,000-100,000 people may have been killed in the country’s civil war, including at least 7,000 ethnic Tamil civilians killed in the last five months of the conflict.” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/05/27/sri-lanka-military-united-nations.html)
On 12th of March 2007, the United Nations News Centre published: “The UN estimates that some 70,000 people have been killed and 465,000 displaced by Sri Lanka’s more than two decade-long conflict, including nearly 205,000 uprooted since fighting escalated in April 2006 despite a ceasefire signed in 2002.” (https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21825&Cr=sri&Cr1=lanka) Therefore, the United Nations has estimated that between 2007 and May 2009, when the war ended, that an additional 10,000 (80,000 – 70,000) up to 30,000 (100,000 – 70,000) have died.
If the New York Times Editorial Board is referring to the Darusman Report (2011), the report commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General, it states: “125. At the outset of the final phase, on 13 January 2009, … … 132. There is no authoritative figure for civilian deaths or injuries in the Vanni in the final phases of the war. … 133. … Others have put the estimate at 75,000, a figure obtained by subtracting the number of people who emerged from the conflict zone (approximately 290,000) from the estimate of the number thought to have been in the conflict zone (approximately 330,000 in the NFZ from January, plus approximately the 35,000, who emerged from the LTTE-held areas before that time). 134.
The United Nations Country Team is one source of information; in a document that was never released publicly, it estimated a total figure of 7,721 killed and 18,479 injured from August 2008 up to 13 May 2009, after which it became too difficult to count. … 137. … 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 reliable figure for civilian deaths, but multiple sources of information indicate that a range of up to 40,000 civilian deaths cannot be ruled out at this stage. Only a proper investigation can lead to the identification of all of the victims and to the formulation of an accurate figure for the total number of civilian deaths.” (http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/POE_Report_Full.pdf)
Hence, credible individuals and organisations will report ‘up to 40,000’ deaths in the last 5 months of the separatist war. In this instance, an example of a factually accurate statement should run thus: ‘A United Nations report estimates up to 40,000 Tamil civilians died during the final five months of the conflict.’
What is the New York Times’ official response on why the Editorial Board claims are factually inaccurate. Does the New York Times correct factual errors? If so, will it correct this particular factual error?
Yours Sincerely, Harshula
II = Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam’s Letter to the NY Times, 26 August 2014
courtesy of ibnlive.in.com
Your Aug. 23 editorial “Sri Lanka’s Intransigence,” about the government’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations investigation into suspected human rights abuses during the country’s civil war, makes insensitive assertions about my country. Sri Lanka has enjoyed uninterrupted democracy since 1931. Last September we held the first election to the Northern Provincial Council, delayed by more than two decades because of the refusal of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to politically empower people in the North. Now, the Tamil National Alliance is in control of provincial administration. To compare Sri Lanka to human rights and humanitarian emergencies elsewhere in the world is unjust. We reject the United Nations investigation because its intrusive nature exceeds its mandate. It challenges the sovereignty of our country; violates basic principles of international law; vitiates the atmosphere needed for reconciliation; and ignores substantial and progressive socioeconomic and political progress already achieved, including the resettlement of 300,000 displaced people and the reintegration of 11,000 armed cadres. The three-decade-long conflict with many failed attempts at peace because of L.T.T.E. intransigence affected the whole country. Local accountability mechanisms, now strengthened with international experts, are respectful of inherent social, cultural and ethnic susceptibilities, unlike the United Nations-driven process, which serves externally motivated interests and will destabilize the intricate balance of the national reconciliation process.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM Washington, Aug. 26, 2014
ALSO SEE IDAG 2013 “The Numbers Game: Politics of Retributive Justice,” http://www.margasrilanka.org/ OR http://www.scribd.com/doc/132499266/The-Numbers-Game-Politics-of-Retributive-Justice
Mango: “KIA:WIA Ratios – Conjuring With The Dead And Ignoring The Wounded,” http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/kiawia-ratios-conjuring-with-the-dead-and-ignoring-the-wounded/
Michael Roberts: “BBC-Blind: Misreading the Tamil Tiger Strategy of International Blackmail, 2008-13,” http://thuppahis.com/2013/12/08/bbc-blind-misreading-the-tamil-tiger-strategy-of-international-blackmail-2008-13/#more-11221
Michael Roberts: “Estimates of the Tamil Civilian Death Toll during the Last Phase of Eelam War IV in 2009: Appendix I for ‘BBC Blind’,” http://thuppahis.com/2013/12/08/estimates-of-the-tamil-civilian-death-toll-during-the-last-phase-of-eelam-war-iv-in-2009-appendix-i-for-bbc-blind/#more-11226
Michael Roberts: ““Estimates of the Death Toll among the Fighting Forces of the LTTE and Government of Sri Lanka: Appendix II for ‘BBC Blind’,” http://thuppahis.com/2013/12/08/estimates-of-the-death-toll-among-the-fighting-forces-of-the-ltte-and-government-of-sri-lanka/#more-11234