Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe has said the government did not agree with death toll figures related to the civil war published in a recent UN report.
However, the Premier has added that the government is willing to verify and get back to the world body on the issue.
In an interview with Indian television channel Thanthi TV, Wickremesinghe has said that the numbers reported in the UN report are in dispute,
“The UN report talks of the last phase of the war, where large numbers of people were killed. The numbers are in dispute. UN report says 40,000…Some of the official reports say 5000… I don’t think it would come even up to 40,000… We are willing to verify it. ”
He said Sri Lanka had to fight a war with the LTTE and the LTTE used the civilians as a shield.
“Sri Lanka had to fight a war…LTTE used the civilians as a shield… Then what happened there, is what we have to inquire into… Was it that they were used as a shield and you couldn’t avoid the casualties or, was it that you could avoid some casualties and you didn’t do so?”
The PM said the government is not trying to cover any thing up. “We are dealing with the UN.”
On the allegation that genocide had taken place against Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister had said, a large number of people were killed in Sri Lanka during the war.
“I would say that a large number of people of Sri Lanka, including a large number of Tamils were killed in the conflict. ”
“Some of them are casualties of war. Some are killed for no reason at all. Deaths have been partly due to the operations of the Sri Lankan Army, security forces, partly due to the operations of the IPKF, partly due to the operations of the LTTE,” he said.
The Prime Minister has come under severe criticism for making some controversial statements during the interview with the Chennai-based Tamil language TV channel.
Wickremasinghe said the security forces are allowed by the law to shoot intruding Indian fishermen as they are “breaking into one’s home”.
He also called the Chief Minister of Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran a “liar” and slammed him for tabling a resolution at the Northern Province Council calling for an international investigation into alleged acts of genocide committed against the Tamils during the war.
The Prime Minister denying that he ever had any deals with Wigneswaran said if the chief Minister claims so then he is a liar.
He said it is very difficult for the government to communicate with the Chief Minister when he passes such resolutions.