( February 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Government yesterday admitted that nearly 8,000 civilians were killed during the final phase of the war against Tiger guerillas from January to May, 2009. The figure is contained in a 48-page report titled “Enumeration of vital events “2011 – Northern Province, Sri Lanka”. It was published by the Department of Census and Statistics and was made public yesterday.
Census and Statistics Director D.P.B.P.S. Vidyarathne told the Sunday Times, “the report was completed in November last year”. But he was unable to explain why it was posted on the department’s website yesterday. The release of the report comes a day ahead of tomorrow’s United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva.
According to the report, in 2009 a total of 11,172 deaths had occurred in the Northern Province and of these 2,523 had died due to natural causes while 7,934 had died due to other causes. “Natural deaths include deaths due to succumbing to diseases, aging due to natural disasters etc., while other deaths include deaths due to accidents, homicides, suicides, acts of terrorism etc. However 71 per cent of the deaths that occurred in 2009 are reported as being due to extraordinary circumstances,” the report said.
It also said the death toll in the Northern Province between 2005 and 2009 was found to be 22,329 and one half of the deaths have taken place in 2009. In relation to the total size of the population, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts showed higher death tolls during 2009, it said.
The report also found 4,156 cases of untraceable persons reported during 2005-2009 and of these, 63 per cent of the cases were reported to have been last sighted in 2009. “However it should be noted that due to the conditions that prevailed in this province there had always been a degree of intractability among the people throughout and the causes of such intractability are due to disasters like the tsunami as well,” the report added.