The Minister said in the interview:
The armed forces had to do what they had to do to eradicate the ruthless terrorist outfit and give a new lease of life within a democratic framework to the citizens. In the process of doing that many thousands of lives had to be sacrificed.
In response to another question about the number of civilian casualties killed during the last stages of the war, the Minister said:
No one knows really how many civilians were killed because of the complex nature of the conflict. How do you distinguish between the appearance of a LTTE cadre and a civilian? We know that LTTE cadres were not always wearing uniforms. . . So to talk about numbers in respect of civilian casualty [sic], it is like walking on thin ice, no one can authoritatively support numbers and therefore it is best not to speculate.
It seems to me that the Minister is saying, in effect, that thousands of civilians may have been killed but it was necessary in order to defeat the LTTE, so let’s just forget the past and move on. And without an investigation, we’ll never know how many of the dead were civilians or LTTE cadre but let’s not try to find out for fear of “destabilizing” the country. How would the truth be “destabilizing”? It could be if an investigation determined that the military committed war crimes but the government held no one to account for them. Is this what the Minister has in mind – there will never be any accountability, so best not to expose what the military did toward the end of the war? If this is indeed what the Sri Lankan government has in mind, the international community shouldn’t stand for it. We need an international investigation now.