One step at a time
Bowing down to international pressure, the Sri Lankan government has finally taken the first step in counting on its own, how many civilians were killed in the bloody civil war that encapsulated the country for decades and finally ended in May 2009. International human rights groups have placed the number at tens of thousands, and this investigation is seen as a move by the government to prove the global community wrong.
However, the acknowledgement that Sri Lankan soldiers could have committed serious atrocities against the Tamils and an inquiry into the actual number of those killed, marks a major shift from the previous official government stance of outright denial of the issue. Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, stated that the census department’s report shows a very small number of people killed and “It has been possible to identify by name all such persons (dead or missing).”
The Sri Lankan government has come under strong pressure after human rights groups demanded a war crimes probe following video footage showing soldiers shooting their victims. The videos were slammed as fabricated and Rajapaksa argued that the numbers of the dead were validated and provided a much more realistic figure than sensational UN statistics. He argues that genocide claims are absurd and maintains the government stance of resisting any international inquiry and involvement in issues it deems as internal matters.