War casualties may not have exceeded 8,000: MR

Former President Mahinda Rajapksa, who is in New Delhi, has said that the number of war casualties in Sri Lanka including the terrorist casualties may not have exceeded 8,000, the Hindu reported.

Delivering a public speech on Wednesday, Mr. Rajapaksa said
extravagant numbers reaching up to 40,000 have been recklessly bandied about as the alleged scale of fatal casualties.

“This is false and malicious propaganda...the number of casualties, including terrorist casualties, would probably not have exceeded, 8,000,” he said in response to the international campaign for justice for the persons affected by the war.

He said that the Sri Lankan military saved 300,000 Tamil civilians who were trapped in the last stage of the war from a narrow strip of land in the east.

He reiterated that the war of 2009 was against terrorism of LTTE and not against the community.

Mr. Rajapaksa hit out at his international critics and said that allegations of human rights abuse against the victorious Sri Lankan military is “false”.

“We did not at any time, wage an ethnic war: the military action was certainly not directed against the Tamil community. It must not be forgotten that the reach of this terrorist organisation was not confined to Sri Lanka, but extended to Indian soil where they assassinated Shri Rajiv Gandhi and many others,” Mr. Rajapaksa said at the speech organised by Virat Hindustan Sangam led by BJP MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy.

The public speech, the first ever delivered by any Sri Lankan political figure in recent years dealt in detail with the war that began after the peace negotiation between the Sri Lankan government led by Mr. Rajapaksa, and the LTTE broke down in 2006.

“Eradication of terrorism was not for the sole benefit of one community, or even for one country,” said Mr. Rajapaksa arguing that not completing the military campaign that led to the killing of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, would have amounted to “betrayal of coming generations.”

Earlier, introducing the speaker, Dr. Swamy said: “Mr Rajapaksa is the frontrunner for the next government and hopefully he will be President of Sri Lanka soon. He took decisive action against terrorism and cleaned up the country. As a result Sri Lanka is today a favoured destination of international investment.”