US, UK troops should be hauled up for war crimes: Gotabhaya

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Gota Vs. Fonseka on army casualties
Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
Gotabhaya Grinning

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Troops and leaders of the United States and United Kingdom should be accused of war crimes before Sri Lanka is made to face any kind of war crimes tribunal, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has stated in an interview with Nitin A. Gokhale, Senior Defence Editor of India's NDTV Channel.

He himself being a naturalised United States citizen, Mr. Rajapaksa's exact words were: "If somebody talks about taking our military or anybody into war crimes tribunals, before that, you have to take US troops, UK troops, all those troops, and all those leaders, into war crimes."

"I can tell that without any doubt," the Defence Secretary challenged with certainty. 

"Before we are prepared to give any investigation in this land they must do investigations in those lands. So UN or human rights organisations or anybody should first do those investigations and talk about investigations here," he asserted.

 Mr. Rajapaksa insisted that "from the beginning to the end," Sri Lankan forces took all possible precautions to prevent civilian casualties. The Sri Lankan military "did much much better than all these forces in everywhere in the world when it comes to the civilian casualties."

Mr. Gokhale also interviewed Army Commander, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who accused western countries of conspiring to try and rescue LTTE Commander Vellupillai Prabhakaran under the pretext of trying to help civilians. "Any ceasefire at that time, any fool would have realised, is not only going to save the civilians. That will save that bunch of terrorists who were there."

"That was the excuse they were giving," Gen. Fonseka explained. "We didn't do this thing all the way to finally listen to some outsider and allow this bunch of terrorists with this terrorist leader who ruined the country for thirty five years, killed so many innocent people over such a long period. We can't allow him to go out like that. 

Claiming that the army alone had killed over 22,000 LTTE cadres in the course of the final military campaign, the army commander also contradicted figures for army casualties earlier given to the press by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. 

In the interview with Nikin Gokhale, General Sarath Fonseka claimed that the army had lost 190 officers and 5,200 men, with an additional 25,000 injured soldiers, of whom, he said, 60% have recovered and are now back with the army. 

Mr. Rajapaksa was previously cited by the BBC as claiming on State Television that 6,200 security forces personnel were killed and almost 30,000 injured in the recently concluded military campaign. 

In a series of articles published by The Sunday Leader in 2008, Unbowed & Unafraid writer Ranjith Jayasundera revealed that the army has previously claimed 1,325 soldiers killed in 2006 and 2007, and had presented monthly casualty figures to Parliament in 2008 up until October, totalling 1,267 deaths for that year. 

Factoring in Mr. Rajapaksa's statistics, in the 200 days between the start of November last year and the war's conclusion this week, over 3,600 Sri Lankan soldiers have been killed in offensive operations: an average of 126 per week. 

The government controversially stopped providing details of army calculations to Parliament after October, 2008, citing "national security" concerns. 

Interview excerpt with Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa:

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Interview excerpt with General Sarath Fonseka:

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