Photo from New York Times
Interviews with Mahinda Rajapakse are not so rare. Last week he’s been interviewed by TIME and the New York Times, the latter managing to file the story from a Cheddikulam dateline. What’s rare in the interviews, however, is any mention of the Sri Lankan dead. In fact, he repeatedly denies any civilian casualties or any violation of civil rights. This is, prima facie, false. I have personally seen a lot of people injured by shrapnel and almost all mentioned dead family, often from the same blasts. For Mahinda to say “Seven thousand? No way. In the eastern province, zero casualties. I won’t say there are zero casualties in the north. The LTTE shot some of them when they tried to escape” is simply not true. More to the point, it doesn’t help the grieving families or national reconcilation.
Whatever has happened in this war and for whatever benefit, people have died. Many innocent people have died, including many innocent civilians. I think the number is in the thousands, but I really don’t know. It certainly isn’t zero. I mean, I personally know a few wives, husbands and children who sorely wish that number was true. But it’s not.
Sri Lanka has ended this war in one of the most brutal ways imaginable. To quote Robert Kaplan (who’s been here and who I consider relatively well-informed and pragmatic):