Video: Sri Lankan doctors retract death claims - 10 Jul 09

Recommended reading: 'The Times says Tamil doctors in Sri Lanka were forced to withdraw statements.'




Miriam A. Young, Director, U.S. Council on Sri Lanka, says on the video that she isn't surprised that the Sri Lankan government would bring these doctors out in what she calls a "scripted press conference."

It is worth noting that the doctors had the opportunity to answer 'unscripted' questions by a delegation of both local and foreign journalist.

Usually a 'scripted' confession under duress would mean that these doctors would be locked up forever, and never be able to recount their version of events when released. 'Scripted' statements are not presented in front of several neutral journalist, they are generally filmed in detention and released to the public later.

Sri Lanka cannot detain these doctors forever. It would be ridiculous for Sri Lanka to force them to make such statements. It will only further tarnish Sri Lanka's global image if the doctors were to come out later and say they were forced by the Sri lankan government to make false statements.

That then gives us a more logical outlook to these statements as opposed to more conspiracy theories.

The UN never released official figures for casualties on Sri Lanka. On 1 June 2009 this is what John Holmes, U.N. humanitarian affairs chief, had to say:

Reuters
Holmes said the initial figure of 7,000 deaths had been deemed far too questionable for official publication because the world body was not in a position to calculate a reliable death count. It was not really present in the battle zone, he said.

Ban expanded on this point in his speech to the General Assembly, insisting that the "final total is not yet known."

"Most of these figures do not emanate from the U.N. and most are not consistent with the information at our disposal," he said.


It's impossible to know for certain if these statements by the doctors are true or false. But as I pointed out previously, it is ridiculous to assume that the Sri Lankan establishment is willing to risk it's own image, in such an unprofessional and immature manner, if it knows that the doctors will leave the island in the coming years and deny all of the above.

It would be a huge slant on Sri lanka if the doctors were to seek refuge in the UK five years from now, and claim they were forced to recant their previous statements under pressure by the Sri Lankan government.

I doubt the Sri Lankan government will take such a risk. Sri Lanka is a democracy and Rajapakse won't be president forever. I doubt he will risk tarnishing his reputation and legacy in this manner.

These remarks by the doctors don't really matter now. There is no UN war crimes investigation looming. It appears that these statements are more of a matter of pride for Sri Lanka than a cover up.

Common sense will tell you that a shell can be fired from miles away. It's impossible for the doctors to have ever know, with any degree of certainty, that the Sri Lankan Army was shelling them.

Even in a court of law, that logic would be questioned. But that didn't prevent the media from securing a cover story or a best-selling editorial. All at the expense of innocent women and children, under the guise of helping humanity.

The doctors claimed at the press conference that the Tigers used rockets (RPG-Rocket Propelled Grenade) on fleeing Tamil civilians. The RPG is fired from several meters away from the intended target. Therefore, it is possible to see and identify the source firing the rockets, but to say you know the source of falling shells which were fired from miles away is ridiculous.

What is even more callous is that the press never questioned the obvious. They just want to know "How many dying?" and "Is it the Army that is shelling?" The Tigers fed them what they wanted.

Despite these new statements from the doctors, some news sites claim that independent aid workers confirmed shells hit a hospital. When the accusation first came out, Sri Lanka sent out an Unmanned Drone (UAV- Unmanned aerial vehicle) to verify the claims.

The hospital, although owned and paid for the by the government, was under Tamil Tiger control. Below is the video of the hospital thought to have been shelled.




The Sri Lankan authorities released the above footage when rumours began spreading of a shelled hospital. Yet, the international media ignored the facts. They preferred to take the word of anonymous sources, Tiger leaders, and others forced to make statements to save the cornered Tiger leadership.

This didn't annoy just the Sri Lankan government, but most citizens of this nation. The international media chose to highlight the Tigers' version of events perhaps to prove a point to Sri Lanka that it should allow independent media into the conflict zone.

One does not need to be pro-government or pro-Rajapakse to understand the logic in the above. I voted for the opposition (UNP) most of my life. One doesn't need to be pro-government to love this island and it's people with as much passion as I do.

The Sri Lankan military had at it's disposal the technology (UAVs) to avoid shelling hospitals. The only party which gained by the news of large scale deaths of Tamils, were the Tigers themselves.

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