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* Human Right Watch is now trying to block the IMF loan
Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 10:40 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

[Courtesy : SL - Ministry of Defence]

The New-York based Human Right Watch released another disinformation report on Monday (March 23) saying that despite the assurances given by the government of Sri Lanka the Army continues to shell the no-fire zone where thousands of civilians are held as human shields by the terrorist outfit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

HRW citing new information from the region said that they have received reports of civilians being killed and wounded daily in the no-fire zone, while the Sri Lankan government continues to deny the attacks.

Their 'reliable' new information came from a doctor at the makeshift hospital in Putumatalam who over the phone told the HRW 'that dozens of dead and wounded civilians were being brought to the hospital daily.'

There is no doubt the 'reliable' information was received from the same doctor who supplies exaggerated casualty figures to Associated Press and BBC. HRW says shells fell 250 meters away from the makeshift hospital while the doctor was on the phone with the HRW.

It is surprising how this doctor has miraculously survived this long while hundreds of civilians around him have died daily due to the shelling from the government on every hospital, makeshift or otherwise he has been serving.

Does HRW have any information from sources other than this doctor? Are there any other doctors in the hospital who can give information? Is this a self-appointed spokesman for civilians or LTTE? Do they have any information from the aid agency workers in the area? HRW in its report mentions few incidents of death and injury to aid workers, so there are at least local aid workers in the area.

Certainly an international humanitarian agency cannot just rely on just a telephone conversation thousands of miles away with a source who could very well be either under the death threat of LTTE and acting as a LTTE spokesman or an actual LTTE Tiger acting as a doctor. Are there any HRW staff in or near the area who can verify the identity of this doctor who gave all the information in a phone call while shelling is going around him?

Simply put what credible facts and figures the HRW has, to claim that the government troops are still shelling the no-fire zone and the makeshift hospital other than hearsay? What evidence does HRW have to identify the shells that fall in the no-fire zone are from the Sri Lankan Army and not from the LTTE? After all LTTE has no regard for the human life as they continue to kill the civilians who try to leave.

If the Sri Lankan government is still continuing the shelling and as Brad Adams, the Asia director at HRW says, "has responded to broad international concerns with indignation and denials instead of action to address the humanitarian crisis," why would the sailors of the Sri Lankan Navy risk their lives to evacuate the fleeing civilians who are being shot at by the LTTE?

For a while HRW hollered of genocide and internment camps with barbed wires for the lucky ones who escaped the LTTE execution. Those charges went silent when the government allowed the international aid agency officials to visit the Internally Displaced People (IDP) centers in Vavuniya and to see for themselves how the displaced are treated.

Sir John Holmes, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator toured the civilian shelters last month and said he was very satisfied with the way the government authorities are handling the humanitarian situation in the IDP centers.

When the Sri Lankan military started the offensive last year from Mannar in the Northwest and proceeded towards the east and even during the capture of Kilinochchi the Air Force bombed various LTTE installations and strongholds but there was no accusations of government shelling of civilians that flew around the globe despite that there were more civilians in those areas then.

Coincidentally when the LTTE got cornered in Puthukkudyiruppu and realized that they are finished and no where to run and will be annihilated unless they stop the offensive somehow, the HRW started its campaign to accuse the government of genocide and shelling hospitals.

What is the real agenda of HRW? There is no secret that the HRW is supporting the Tamil Diaspora's struggle to save their dream of separate homeland. HRW makes their goal of blocking the Sri Lankan government's war on terror clear in their report.

One of HRW's goals is to put Sri Lanka on the UN Security Council's agenda, asking UN to "urgently address the deteriorating situation." However, they have faced a stumbling block from China and Russia. China blocked the move last week and Russia voiced against it recently.

HRW has repeatedly called on Sri Lanka's key bilateral partners, such as Japan, the United States, and India to tie their financial assistance to the civilian issue. During the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Sri Lanka on February 24th, HRW insisted on imposing conditions on the financial assistance to Sri Lanka but admitted that China and Russia would oppose such a move.

Having failed to achieve these goals HRW now has turned its attention to block the loan the Sri Lankan government is requesting from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to continue with the resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the Northern Province.

Last week, Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the IMF board saying that the government's current policies and practices are counterproductive to the stated goal of the IMF loan and urged the IMF board members to set strict conditions before granting the loan.

HRW in the letter to IMF said that based on their recent field research on the humanitarian situation in the northern Vanni area "an emergency support loan for post-conflict resettlement will not achieve its intended objectives unless the Sri Lankan government takes serious steps to safeguard the rights of internally displaced persons and ensure an effective humanitarian response to the immediate conflict and post-conflict situations."

The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly assured the donor countries, the UN, and all other responsible humanitarian agencies that the displaced civilians will be settled in their original residences as soon as the war is over and the area is cleared of mines. The government has clearly shown that it can be done as they did with the resettlement in the Eastern Province. Yet HRW somehow seems to be certain that the government would fail to deliver those promises perhaps because the organization is making every effort to ensure that war with LTTE would never be over.

The Sri Lankan government and Sri Lankan people all over the world have a responsibility to counteract the HRW's relentless campaign to block the government's efforts to militarily defeat the LTTE and liberate the people and its reconstruction and rehabilitation plans for the Northern Province.

By continually accusing the Sri Lankan government of disregarding the rights and well-being of civilians in the Vanni despite the government's repeated assurance and releasing biased reports full of hearsay on the conflict, the HRW is purposely carrying out a smear campaign against the Sri Lankan government in the eyes of the Western world, especially of the donor countries.

U.S. Senator John Kerry's letter to Sri Lankan President on March 23 saying that the Senator was alarmed by reports about actions taken by the government of Sri Lanka and urging the "Sri Lankan government to take all necessary steps to protect civilians, allow humanitarian access to the displaced, and credibly investigate human rights violations by all members of government security forces," is a clear example of the devastating effect of this smear campaign by the HRW on Sri Lanka.

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