The government yesterday raised concerns of a possible `serious` international conspiracy against the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration in the wake of contradictory reports by various factions.
Government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwelle said an Australian forensic expert and the International Court of Jurists (ICJ) had submitted contradictory reports on the Mutur killings and most recently a Human Rights Watch report and a statement made to the Reuters news agency by UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes.
Minister Rambukwelle cautioned that the international community was playing into the hands of both the LTTE and the main opposition UNP who were pushing for international intervention in Sri Lanka.
`Statements by some international organizations appear dubious. We cannot allow this to continue. The government is ready to face the challenge,` Minister Rambukwelle told journalists during the weekly defence news briefing.
Minister Rambukwelle said Mr. Holmes had tried to tarnish the image of the government by blaming it for the death of 34 aid workers and further saying Sri Lanka was not a safe place for humanitarian organisations.
According to the Minister the government had records of the deaths of only 20 aid workers during the period specified by Mr. Holmes and it includes the massacre of 17 aid workers in Mutur, 2 Red Cross staff members and a worker attached to the Danish refugee council.
`The other 14 must have taken place in LTTE areas so we are asking the LTTE to put forward information about them,` the Minister said while accusing the international community of concealing killings committed by the LTTE in rebel controlled areas.The government has also sought a clarification from Mr. Holmes, through Sri Lanka`s permanent mission in New York, regarding his interview with Reuters where he had called on the government to probe civil war abuses and consider an international rights monitoring mission.
`All this is playing into the hands of the LTTE and the main opposition,` the Minister said while recalling that the UN official had made the comments only to Reuters and not at his meetings with the government or during a joint press briefing with Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe last week.
Meanwhile according to a Reuters report yesterday a top government official has accused the aid group Action Contre la Faim of being responsible for the massacre of 17 of their own local staff last year through `negligence` and `irresponsibility`.
Rajiva Wijesinha, head of the government`s peace secretariat, has written to Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe calling for an independent probe into the matter. `We have not dealt firmly enough with the original reason for the tragedy, which was the utter irresponsibility of the ACF organisation in putting such workers at risk,` Wijesinha wrote in a letter to Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe dated August 13, his office said according to Reuters.
Nordic truce monitors have blamed the massacre, the worst attack on aid workers since the 2003 bomb attack on the United Nations office in Baghdad, on state security forces. The government denies this and says it is investigating.
Wijesinha said the government should insist on an independent probe into why the group`s staff were told to stay put in their compound during fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels and demand more compensation for the families of the victims.