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We don’t have to have so-called independent inquiries into any Tom, Dick and Harry allegation-Rajiva Wijesinha

By Krishnan Guru-Murthy

The spokesman for Sri Lanka's ministry of disaster management responds to claims that his country was involved in human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings

[Ch 4 UK interview with Prof Rajiva Wijesinha]

KGM: You’ve been urged by the international community to investigate human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings. Have you started yet?

RW: Yes. Sri Lanka has had commissions of inquiry when evidence is presented before us. I think the problem with this particular video is, it’s a gross generalisation.

When Philip Alston wrote to us, I wrote back to him immediately. We were slightly worried about the fact that Mr Alston, contrary to his promise to us previously, actually sent us a letter at 2.45 in the afternoon and followed this up with a public press release that contradicted what he…

KGM: But he wants an independent inquiry…

RW: I’m sorry. Can I finish? What he said in the letter to us is, could we have an investigation by Sri Lanka?

Now, when you send a letter at 2.45 and follow it up 45 minutes later on a Friday afternoon with a claim for an independent inquiry, that makes a mockery of the letter you’ve sent us.

Now, we have the feeling that Professor Alston – he’s done this before, he’s quite a nice man but gets carried away by idealism… You know, the last time we thought he’d attack us he spent a long time against Nato.

I think there’s a certain political element in this. I’ve actually wondered why he hasn’t pointed out there was some extra-judicial killings in Sri Lanka which were very bad, but these have not been asked inquiry into.

KGM: But have you actually held the independent inquiry? Has it begun? And in what form is it independent?

RW: I’m sorry, but we don’t have to have so-called independent inquiries into any Tom, Dick and Harry allegation. We pointed out to him that we had an extra-judicial killing a couple of weeks ago. We are sorry he wasn’t concerned about that. But that’s because it was not grist to the mill of LTTE…

KGM: This isn’t a Tom, Dick or Harry allegation. This is an allegation that the United States ambassador to the UN says gives her grave concern.

RW: What we wrote to Philip Alston was to say…

KGM: Let me finish the question.

RW: I’m sorry. I’m answering your question. Your question was about the video. We wrote to Philip Alston to say, very gently: “Do you have any evidence of such an incident taking place? Or are you telling us that a video was shown by Channel 4? In that case, could you tell us perhaps where this incident took place or when it took place? Or ask Channel 4, if they wish to conceal whoever told them, to at least give some information so we can proceed.”

KGM: So you’re not going to go looking for evidence of extra-judicial killings until somebody comes to you and says: “This is when we believe the incident happened. This is who we believe was involved”? You’re not going to go and interview armed forces personnel to find out?

RW: How can we go into generalisations? We’ve gone into this video itself which, as you say, you haven’t actually given to us, but we’ve gone into what we could see of it.

We have found certain discrepancies. There were some technical ones which I believe your correspondent, if he was there at the press conference…

KGM: We’ve just listed those.

RW: Yeah. But no, you haven’t mentioned the technical difficulties. What you’ve mentioned is certain discrepancies. You didn’t show that wonderfully moving leg. You didn’t show the way in which the man who was shot in the back of the head went down very smoothly, like that.

So these are areas in which we would now like you to at least tell us who these Journalists for Democracy are.

When I spoke to you a bit earlier, I’m glad that I gave you all the points I was going to make – which was a bit more than you did to our high commissioner, because when you invited him to speak, they asked to see the video before and you refused to show it to him.

KGM: Well, that does bring us to another question, really… Let me get another question in for a second, because you say when we approached your high commission on the day of this, just before broadcast, they gave us an extensive denial. And that has been your position throughout. They gave us that denial without having actually seen the video themselves…

RW: They asked to see it and you refused.

KGM: And you stuck to that position all the way through.

RW: I’m sorry. They asked to see it. You refused to show it to them. You said your policy was not to show these things… I’m sorry, this is what you said.

But you’ve showed it to a so-called independent human rights expert – you haven’t told us who he is – who said it was authentic.

At some point you’ve got to realise that you’ve got to be at least consistent.

KGM: Fine. OK. The point is, you’ve got to convince the United States and the United Nations and governments like Norway, who described this as more than solid evidence to accuse the Sri Lankan government.

Now, have any of them, since you came out with your rebuttal this week, come to you and said: “OK. We’re convinced. We drop our concerns”?

RW: Well, we’ve written to Alston and he hasn’t replied to my last letter. The Norway… Mr Solheim is not the Norwegian government. We have had discussions with the Norwegian ambassador in Sri Lanka.

KGM: None of them have accepted your version of events, have they?

RW: Well, they have not actually mentioned a version of events. Solheim said very clearly the video does not seem to be authentic. He didn’t say it was obviously false.

But he, like you, hides behind this wonderful suggestion: “We’re not responsible for this. We don’t know if it’s authentic – but have a look.”

And I think that sort of approach, that I think you’ve been taking up, is really an attempt to put doubt in people’s minds, whereas your responsibility was (a) to check that video carefully, as our experts have done.

We’ve now shown you what we think is wrong. Prove that we weren’t wrong. Show us that that leg did not move. You can change the video again.

And also, most importantly, you talk about the Journalists for Democracy and say because they’re Sinhalese, it must be authentic.

Let me tell you that this is not a matter of race. People can be wicked, whatever race they are. Most of the Tamils in Sri Lanka are relieved the LTTE is over.

But this particular group have had a lot of ties with the opposition in Sri Lanka. We know that. I told your people this morning. Investigate, please.

KGM: OK. You’ve had a chance to make that clear. Professor Wijesinha, thank you very much indeed for joining us today. [courtesy: ch 4 UK]

14 Comments

The above interview is like, a judge is asking a murderer to investigate him-self and provide more evidence about his crime to the court, on top of the prosecutor's evidence so he can be punished.

In a country like Srilanka where THE RULERS, THE POLICE, THE PROSECUTION AND JUDICIARY are colluding and working to-gather, how any Tamil person can get justice? Even these Westerners who are asking the SINHALA BARBARIANS to investigate them-selves is a joke in it-self.

These very same SINHALA BARBARIANS are calling the LTTE, a terrorist out-fit in their every sentences. No one will dispute that the LTTE carried out many like these killings. But, they are called TERRORISTS, aren't they? But Srilankan state has institutions and further it is a member of the UN. As every-one knows last week in Afganistan one German NATO commander ordered an air-raid on a suspected Taliban position.

But in the event there are many civilians killed. Now there is an inquiry ordered and even the German head of state apologized to innocent Afgan victims. But in Srilanka innocent victims are jailed and not allowed even to talk let alone complain. Now, what shall we call this Rijiva wijesinha and the Sinhala state he serves?

A BARBARIC-TERRORIST and THE BARBARIC BANANA REPUBLIC OF SINHALAM. Now, all you so-called Sinhala intellectuals who are writing here and your government say that you do not need the help of the Western-governments to manage your affairs?

Why then TERRORIST SRILANKAN OFFICIALS are applying for the UK visa. Isn't is shame on you people? Why don't you people avoid any thing to do with the West and GO TO HELL with your partners INDIA, CHINA, PAKISTAN, IRAN, AND ZIMBABWE?

Posted by: afool | September 12, 2009 10:21 AM

I'm proud that we have a person like Dr. Rajiva to rebut. foreign media arguments. He has a very cool head and love to see the anchor get upset because he is unable to get a word in to defend ch4. Not only he stays cool but he also makes the anchor look like a fool. Good English, good posture, and good voice.
thanks for your good work.

Posted by: billa | September 12, 2009 10:34 AM

isn't it Amazing that this Video turned out to be Fake, but the truly Amazing part is that the INDOCTRINATED and PROPAGANDIZED TAMIL DIASPORA all beleived this to be true. THe LTTE have spent Decades telling LIES to their SYCOPHANTIC FOLLOWERS and thus they have to produce these FICTIIOUS VIDEOS to prove to their DELUDED SUPPORTERS that what they have been lying about is TRUE!

It is quite Comical to see. But instead of Denouncing the Video and asking their LTTE Leaders why they keep putting out FALSE PROPAGANDA they then dismiss the LIE and say that even if this video is fake it represents the TRUTH! LOL! Meaning it represents the FAKE TRUTH they have been FED by the LTTE.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | September 12, 2009 12:53 PM

This video is like an anonymous letter(in Sri Lanka"Kala(jungle)Pathraya(news paper), or one you recieve from a wicked relative or friend.Does one investigate these-NO, they are sent to the trash bin!To investigate anything there must be a clue or a lead.The perpetrators of this video or those who publicised it must put forth the clues or leads.Whats the point of investigating something that has already been questioned - nay, proven to be a doctored piece of anti -SL propaganda.SL should complain to the UK Press Council and sue Ch-4 for defamation of the SL Nation

Posted by: Yassus De Silva | September 12, 2009 05:08 PM

"To investigate anything there must be a clue or a lead." So Yassus, if there is no clue or a lead, where is the proof that the video is DOCTORED? Those who keep ranting that the video is FAKE, have no proof that it is FAKE. The screams of "fake video" is just another denial that sinhalas have become famous for. If the same video is promoted as LTTE atrocities on civilians, simhalam would have no problem in accepting it without any proof for that either.


Billa, you are right. But that's what Sri Lankan war criminals are known for - telling lies after lies at your face without batting an eyelid with Good English, good posture, and good voice.


Devindo, Nothing is more comical than your delusions and rantings you exhibit in article after article here.

Posted by: Veda R | September 12, 2009 06:46 PM

What a performance, Dr Rajiva. The channel4 interviewer looked like a school kid in the presence of an academic. Well Done, Sir.

Posted by: Liyanage | September 13, 2009 05:02 AM

1.While journalists have been barred from the whole of Northeast(that includes areas of military attacks - journalists are safe in areas of military attacks in other countries but not in Sri Lanka)for three years, when humanitarian agencies are NOT allowed to i.carry cameras and phones and ii.have conversation with the detainees, only Prof Rajiva and the like will come forward to defend Sri Lanka.
2.Torture and extrajudicial killings by armed forces have been the topic of reports by international human rights organisations in the last few decades.
3.in spite of what's happening with the police officials' families and courts ....

Posted by: punitham | September 13, 2009 05:24 AM

.
To Devinda.......People can be wicked, whatever race they are.....I agree with Rajiva on this.

Also, I believe this video is fake, because:
- Sinhalese never killed un-armed people
- Sinhalese army never torture prisoners
- Captured suspects are never blind folded and killed
- These kind of incidents have never happened in Sri Lanka
Therefore, this video is fake.
:-)

Posted by: aratai | September 13, 2009 07:49 AM

Someone has recruited a dozen men to act in the nude on a desolated patch of land somewhere, plus a few to wear unifoms to also act as the shooters. All this, to discredit sri lanka.
To beleive this, one has to be very gullible.
But BBC says this video was given to them by a group of sri lankan journalists abroad who had fled the country to escape being killed by unknown groups who have assaulted & murdered many journalists and then vanished so that the extensive police and army intelligence cannot catch them.
I beleive the BBC.

Posted by: Thamilan | September 13, 2009 09:55 AM

I am shamed to be BUDDHIST SINHALEASE.

One again, I request my fellow sinhalease, Do not do these type things anymore.

Be a Buddhist.

Posted by: zoyza | September 13, 2009 06:03 PM

Devinda Fernando,

You are talking about decades telling lies.

Ceylon got her Independnence from Britain in 1948. It is about 6.1 decades now. Who were given the sovereingty and territorial integrity ? - All the Ceylonese at that time.

From 1983 July to now it is about 2.6 decades. Who was ruling SL the last 6.1 decades ? Either UNP led government or SLFP led government. Under both these governments, Tamils from the South were sent by the government back to their home lands in the NE for safety whenever there was bashing of Tamils. Many of the Tamil students from Southern schools started studying in NE schools. I had schoolmates and classmates joining in 1958/9.

Under Mahinda , Gotha Sarath regime many Tamils have lost their homes, they have no lands. Their home and lands are occupied. Media access is denied using stringnet conditions. Opposition MPs denied full access to their electorates. Rumours are plenty that in the NE new army camps are built, homes and lands are taken by government to lease it to MNCs, new Buddhist temples are built but IDPs are neglected ( no quality food, health and educational facilities ) even though foreign countries have donated lot of aids. How come these army personnel living luxurious lives in the NE free from land mines ?

To ascertain who is telling decades of lies, your president regime must also allow free media access to NEP by all the reputed International media, International Insittutions like UN. If you and your president regime do not believe in these Insititutions, why are they sending Palitha Kohena, Rajiv Wieyasinge to UN , To bully and accuse Navaneetham Pillai that she is biased ?.

Posted by: M.Thiru | September 13, 2009 09:34 PM

It is good that the Sri Lankan govenment got a chance to disagree with what Channel 4 was showing. But, Journalist never accept their mistakes, eh?

Posted by: pathmadevi | September 14, 2009 11:51 AM

Hey Mr. Devinda Fernando,

Tamils believe it because they have been experiencing the true face of racist srilankan forces for long years. I saw one of the execution (1980s) with my own eyes. DO NOT TRY TO FOOL TAMILs.

Posted by: SET | September 14, 2009 02:29 PM

*** DO NOT TRY TO FOOL TAMILs. ***

SET, I would not dream of it... besides you people do such a wonderful Job FOOLING YOURSELVES... you don't need me.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | September 18, 2009 04:30 AM

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