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Yahapalana Cabinet never discussed how to counter war crimes allegations by UN and Wetern but Co-sponsored – SF

fonseka

Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, yesterday, acknowledged that there hadn’t been any Cabinet discussion on how Sri Lanka should respond to Geneva allegations of war crimes against the country.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

The war-winning Army Chief said that his views in this regard were never sought by anyone since the change of government in January, 2015. Fonseka said so when The Island asked the Sinha Regiment veteran whether the Cabinet ever sought his advice to counter allegations before the ruling coalition co-sponsored Geneva Resolution in Oct 2015 or after. Fonseka emphatically said: “Not a word!”

Recently, SLFP spokesman Mahinda Samarasinghe also admitted that the Cabinet had never discussed the decision to co-sponsor Geneva Resolution.

The Island raised the issue, at a media briefing, called by Fonseka at his ministry at Rajagiriya to explain a major project undertaken by his ministry to build an electric fence to prevent wild elephants raiding villages.

Asked why such a vital matter hadn’t been taken up at the Cabinet level, Fonseka said that security matters had been discussed with him in the run-up to the 2015 elections.

Presidential and parliamentary polls were held in January and August 2015.

The Island also sought Fonseka’s views on the wartime British High Commission dispatches, which contradicted the UN Panel of Experts (PoE) allegation that deliberate military action caused the deaths of 40,000 Tamil civilians. According to UK dispatches obtained by Lord Naseby courtesy British Right to Information Laws, of the maximum 7,000-8,000 killed in the last phase one fourth were LTTE combatants.

Fonseka stressed that during two-year-and-nine-month long campaign, launched in Aug 2006, the LTTE lost approximately 23,000 cadres while 12,000 were captured.

The Island pointed out that the government had not only co-sponsored Geneva Resolution in Oct 2015 but reiterated its commitment in March 2017 to fulfill its obligations by March 2019. Field Marshal Fonseka didn’t respond but emphasized that loss of civilian lives was exaggerated.

Fonseka said 4,000 to 5,000 civilians may have perished in eelam war IV though they had not been deliberately targeted.

Fonseka also recollected the presence of the ICRC in the North except during last weeks of the war and that the international community operated a ship between Puthumathalan seas and Pulmoddai to transfer the war wounded.

Although Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC, assured parliament in Nov 2017 that British dispatches would be used at appropriate time, the government is yet to officially inform Geneva where the UNHRC sessions are now on.

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