British NGO pushes for Sudan type
referendum in SL

… exaggerates number of civilian deaths



By Shamindra Ferdinando


UK-based NGO "ACT NOW", controlled by former British humanitarian workers deployed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces during eelam war IV, is now accusing the Sri Lankan military of massacring up to 40,000 Tamil civilians, though a UN allegation that some 7,000 civilians perished in the final phase of the war has gone unsubstantiated.


The NGO, with links to the LTTE rump pushing for UN intervention in post-war Sri Lanka, raised the issue with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon following a lecture at the Oxford Union on Feb. 2 by the UNSG.


On behalf of ‘ACT NOW’, Tim Martin, while alleging the massacre of 40,000 civilians in 2009 (from Jan-May 19) asked the UNSG whether he would push for a referendum in Sri Lanka on the lines of the recent referendum held in Sudan.


Senior government sources told The Island that the UNSG did not care to rectify distortion of facts by the ‘ACT NOW’. Instead the UN chief said that he shared Tim Martin’s concerns before explaining steps taken by him to appoint an advisory group. Sources said that all of a sudden, the Sri Lankan military had been accused of killing 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front, whereas those gunning for the Sri Lankan political leadership couldn’t prove the previous charge of 7,000 civilian deaths.


Martin had lived in the LTTE-held area during eelam war IV and fled the country when the LTTE started retreating across the Vanni battlefields. In May 2009 he launched a hunger strike opposite the US embassy in London demanding immediate intervention in Sri Lanka while the Sri Lankan Army was wiping out the last pockets of enemy units.


The Island learns that James R. Moore, who had been Deputy Chief of the US mission in Colombo during eelam war IV (2006 to 2009), questioned the basis of the UN assessment on 7,000 civilian deaths. According to a US Embassy missive originating from Colombo, Moore, now Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, pointed out that the UN had failed to verify the number of LTTE combatants among 7,000 deaths.


 ‘ACT NOW’ has launched a campaign to force major British departmental stores to stop retailing Sri Lankan products, particularly garments. The group is also trying to discourage British tourists from visiting Sri Lanka.


 ‘ACT NOW’ also pressed the European Commission to cease the GSP plus trade facility to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the conclusion of the war. Its website said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had alleged that the Sri Lankan government used rape as a weapon, a charge denied by Sri Lanka.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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