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Sri Lanka: Government to Count the dead and the disappeared since 1982

The Department of Census and Statistics will launch a massive, islandwide survey this week, to take a count of the number of persons who had died, disappeared, wounded and disabled, in addition to a count on the loss of property during the nearly three-decade long civil war. The survey is set to be launched on 28 November (Thursday).

The nationwide survey is a key recommendation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which earlier had called for a survey to calculate the death toll of the war, especially during the final phase of the government’s military operation.

Director General of the Department, D.C.A. Gunawardhane, said the survey would be carried out in 14,022 Grama Niladhari Divisions, islandwide, and that 16,000 officials would be deployed to engage in the exercise.

The reference point of the survey is from 1982 to date, Gunawardhane said, adding that special teams of officials from the department are currently being trained to conduct the survey.He said his department would use the resources of, and personnel from the Grama Niladhari Divisions, Divisional Secretariats and District Secretariats.

The government has repeatedly brushed aside local and international calls for it to provide a civilian death count of the latter stages of the war, while contesting the figures stated by the UN that 40,000 civilians had perished during the concluding phase of the war.

The latest move comes in the wake of an ultimatum issued by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to conclude war crime investigations by March next year, or face an international war crime inquiry.

By Ariyaratne Ganegoda


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