By Shamindra Ferdinando
The US has refrained from making its position clear on Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wignewaran’s request that the visiting American medical personnel examine the rehabilitated LTTE cadres to find out whether they have been injected with poisonous substances while they were being rehabilitated. In answer to several questions The Island posed on the controversy, US embassy has only said: “Operation Pacific Angel is providing assistance based on the specific needs of the local communities. Among the nearly 70 members of this multilateral assistance programme – including some medical staff and engineers from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Maldives, as well as the United States – are over 40 doctors providing basic medical services: dental procedures; physical therapy; general medical assistance; and optometry. These are the only services being provided.”
We asked the US embassy whether it could confirm that US Pacific Command personnel conducting medical tests on ex-LTTE cadres allegedly poisoned by the previous government; whether they would be moved to overseas medical facility for further tests; whether the GoSL had been informed of the development; when did the TNA had requested the US intervention and whether the US military had conducted similar tests in other countries.
The five-day project was launched in Jaffna by US Ambassador in Colombo Atul Keshap early this week
The New Indian Express recently quoted Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran as having said that US Air Force’s medical team would examine ex-LTTE cadres who had been sick because they were injected with poisonous substances by the Sri Lankan armed military while they were undergoing detention or rehabilitation. Former Supreme Court judge Wigneswaran, according to the New Indian Express had told the NPC on Tuesday that he had mentioned the plight of the former combatants in his conversation with the US Ambassador, Atul Keshap and asked if the USAF team could examine them and give an independent report.
State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene on Wednesday (Aug. 17) frowned on Wigneswaran’s call for foreign intervention. Responding to allegations that the military had caused cancer among ex-LTTE cadres including one-time its women’s wing leader Thamilini, Minister Wijewardene alleged that some Tamil leaders didn’t appreciate government post-war national reconciliation efforts. Minister Wijewardene emphasised that there was no basis for those allegations. The minister was responding to the media following a religious ceremony at the Sri Sambodhi Viharaya in Siyambalapewatte, Biyagama. The State Defence Minister emphasized that Tamil eelam would never be a reality.
Cabinet Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told the post-cabinet meeting that there was no requirement for foreign intervention. Minister said that Sri Lanka could always obtain foreign help though there was no need at the moment.
Asked whether the US embassy in Colombo or CM Wigneswaran had informed the Foreign Ministry regarding the Jaffna project, FM spokesperson Mahishini Colonne said the ministry had not received any requests of the nature from the Chief Minister of the Northern Province. Spokesperson Colonne has sent us the following statement: “The Ministry is informed and aware of the U.S. Pacific Command’s ‘Pacific Angel’ exercise, which is taking place in Jaffna from 15-22 August, to provide free medical services to area residents, as well as carry out construction repairs to schools and libraries.
American, Sri Lankan, Maldivian, Nepali, and Bangladeshi civilian doctors and military personnel are assisting with this humanitarian exercise, and as per the information available to us, as at the evening of 17 August, 2,100 people in Jaffna district had received free medical treatment, diabetic screenings, physical therapy, dental care, and optometry assistance at Idaikaddu School. The team plans to continue providing treatment at Punguduthivu School. They are also in the process of carrying out repairs to Punguduthivu School, Nagarkovil School and Pannalaikkadduvan School, and fixing the roofs at Kuddyappulam School and Kaddupulam School.
There is no connection between the ‘Pacific Angel’ exercise and the concerns expressed regarding allegations pertaining to the health of certain ex-LTTE cadre in relation to their rehabilitation.
Concerns raised regarding the health of certain ex-LTTE cadre in relation to their rehabilitation, that have received media attention, have been noted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It may be best that these concerns are brought to the attention of the Ministry of Health, officially, by the parties concerned, so that appropriate action could be taken to address the matter.”
5 Aug 2016 – According to the Tamil media, 105 former members of the Liberation Tigers of … The deaths, allegedly due to poisoning, came to light when an ex-cadre … Other ex-cadres had also been given mysterious injections, he said.
23 hours ago – … over 100 LTTE cadres at rehabilitation centres were injected with poison … referring to claims by members of the Northern Provincial Council.
14 mins ago – இலங்கை மறுவாழ்வு முகாம்களில் இருந்த 104 விடுதலைப்புலிகள் விஷ ஊசி …