With controversy revived about Sri Lankan war crimes including the murder of surrendering prisoners, Inner City Press on February 24 asked UN official Vijay Nambiar to explain his role in these “white flag” killings.
Nambiar said that British journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria earlier this week, had spoken to him during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and attempted to broker the surrender of some top LTTE leaders.
She talked to me, you know that,” Nambiar said of Colvin. Inner City Press asked, hadn’t Colvin urged Nambiar to go witness the surrenders?
Nambiar nodded yes. “I asked to go, twice I contacted [US diplomat] Bob Blake, the two of us were planning to go… the ICRC was not able to go by sea route. The Government refused to give us permission. There was no way we could just force our way in.”
With no witnesses, those who tried to surrendered ended up dead. Inner City Press asked Nambiar why he hadn’t then spoke out.
Nambiar continued with this story: “in the middle of the night, Marie called me, the two people, I’ve forgotten the names, one was on the Peace Commission, they wanted to surrender. We need to get assurance, free passage. I said OK, I’ll do it. I took it up with foreign minster, the defense minister and the president. They would be treated like any surrendering prisoner, What happened after that, I couldn’t…”
Again Inner City Press asked Nambiar, if you passed on the assurances, then were blocked from going to witness and those you assured got killed, why haven’t you spoken out?
Nambiar “subsequently said they could have been shot by own people. I am not prepare to hazard any guess. Even Basil [Rajapaksa], he also said that. It was mainly Gotabaya [Rajapaksa] and the President [Mahinda Rajapaksa].”
Nambiar told Inner City Press, “I spoke with Palitha Kohona, the Foreign Secretary.”