The doctors found themselves in front of the media yesterday.
They claimed that their comments about large scale casualties were false. They also claimed the Tigers forced them to exaggerate.
The doctors have always been state employees. Paid for the by Sri Lankan government. They, however, served in areas under the control of the Tamil Tigers.
During the final days of the conflict the Tigers used the doctors to claim that thousands upon thousands of civilians - who BTW were being held against their will as a human shield by the Tigers - were dying.
See the video below for one such statement by Dr. T. Varatharajah.
If one can accept the above as a valid statement, it would then be a huge contradiction to question their statements now, under government detention.
Duress is duress, be it the Tigers, or the Sri Lankan government. All statements of casualties, made by these doctors, were made utilsiing the Tigers' sattelite phones, cameras, and distributed via Tamil Tiger proxies.
If the media could accept casualty figures and statements when these individuals were under Tiger control, then there is very little they can say or do now to make it seem their statements are not reliable under Sri Lankan government detention.
None of their statements become valid evidence. This maybe the very point Sri Lanka is making.
Rajapakse and Co. knew very well that the world would claim the doctors recanted their previous statements under duress. In any court of law the same logic would apply in the opposite direction as well.
The Times' investigation of 20,000 deaths, and various other claims of a 'bloodbath' were all educated guesses made according to these doctors' statements.
The doctors' recent comments has affected The Times, so much so, that they published three articles in the span of several minutes. Read them and judge for yourself how largely one sided and very angry they all seem.
Scepticism as Sri Lankan doctors backtrack over mass deaths by army shelling
World Agenda: ‘Confessions’ by Sri Lankan doctors raise doubts over lasting peace
The same day the above went into press, there was no coverage on Pakistan's war on the Taliban and the 2.5 million displaced there. Nothing on Iraq or Afghanistan. Just a whole lot of one sided jargon on Sri Lanka based on hear say and anonymous sources.
The following day The Times, yet again, had a scoop that no other publication could get a hold of. More 'exclusive' news! The Times followed the above articles with another the following morning titled: Tamil death toll ‘is 1,400 a week’ at Manik Farm camp in Sri Lanka.
When The Times stated that their cameraman, on board a helicopter which took reporters and the UN's Bank Ki Moon over the conflict zone, had photos which showed mass graves. Reuters reported that it too had a camera crew on board the same helicopter, and none of their images showed any signs of mass graves.
British media reports also said that aerial photographs taken when a U.N. delegation flew over the former conflict zone last week showed evidence of mass graves.
Photos of those locations taken by a Reuters reporter traveling with the delegation showed no clear signs of mass graves, though some individual gravesites might be visible.
When the Times said 20,000 Tamils died in the final days of the conflict. It was yet again a 'Special Times Investigation'. The U.N. under-secretary-general John Holmes said the figure had "no status" as far as the UN was concerned.
U.N. under-secretary-general John Holmes, who oversees the United Nations' many humanitarian operations, told Reuters in an interview that it was unclear how many died in the months before Sri Lanka declared victory over the LTTE on May 18.
He also disputed a death toll reported in The Times of London that cited a "U.N. source" to support an estimate that at least 20,000 people were killed during the months-long final siege.
"That figure has no status as far as we're concerned," Holmes said.
At this point you and I both have similar questions. I am as clueless as you are when it comes to the logic behind the Times' smear campaign on Sri Lanka. Clearly 1400/week are not dying in Sri Lanka. If so every aid group including the Red Cross, UNHCR, and Care International are involved in a huge cover up, and that shining beacon of truth, The Times, is right.
Regular readers of this blog know that I publish press releases from charity groups involved in Sri lanka. The reports carry reliable information about the conditions of the displaced. Every aid agency reports that things are gradually look up for the displaced Tamil citizens.
If you are Tamil, you would be compelled to believe the Times' version of events. If you thought the Tigers were freedom fighters, and not terrorist, then you would have more reason to hate the Sri lankan state and the Sinhalese.
If you read The Times for only Sri Lankan news, then you must do a search on their site for the term 'Ethnic Cleansing'. Not only do they routinely accuse Sri Lanka of it, but it seems to be their favourite pastime. I did a search for the term. Here are the results.
So what's my gripe with the Times?
I have no gripe with the Times, and it's not that I have no sympathy for the plight of my Tamil brothers and sisters either. I have tried, to the best of my abilities, to portray to you that The Times cares not for Sri Lanka, or it's Tamils. They care for the 'story' more than they give two hoots about us.
The articles above will sit there on the Internet for years to come. They will help form an impressions of Sri Lanka amongst impressionable Tamil youth. All this will continue to breed hate between the Tamils and the Sinhalese.
Those who choose to believe everything they read, very seldom pay attention to the words 'allegation', 'alleged', or 'claim'. Everything becomes fact and enough of a reason to hate, a reason to mistrust.
The truth will come out when the displaced return home. I will be here in the coming years to either apologise to The Times, or call them liars and shame them. But rest assured they will hide under those very words, "allegations', 'alleged', and 'claimed'. Because that would mean they never lied, but merely carried allegations and unproven claims.
In any case The Times has won and Sri Lanka, and all Sri Lankans lose. The damage is already done. The seeds of hate have been sowed.
The Times' smear campaign against Sri Lanka won't mean consumers would stop buying Sri Lankan goods. It won't mean people will stop travelling to Sri lanka either. We live in a selfish world. It would be naive to think any accusations against Sri Lanka would effect tourism or the export industry.
It will only accomplish what the Times' anonymous sources intended it to accomplish. Which is to give a Tamil freedom struggle some legitimacy.
If you are above the fray, you will see it as clear as day.