Millions of words have now been written about the numbers of Tamil civilians killed during Sri Lanka’s victory over the Tamil Tigers in May 2009; probably more words than the millions of bullets fired during the war. But something didn’t ring true.
Missing from this civilian casualty toll inflation is any mention of an immutable fact of warfare: the ratio of dead to wounded. This was first analysed in a groundbreaking study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1999, which examined casualty ratios in wars from 1940 to 1988. The study showed that the “number of people wounded is at least twice the number killed and may be 13 times as high” depending on the conflict type, weapons used and other factors.
Applying this ratio to Sri Lanka’s civilian casualty numbers during the last stages of Eelam War 4 shows a truly appalling misuse of civilian casualty numbers by international humanitarians, whose jaundiced view on Sri Lanka’s victory has led them to disregard basic mathematics, statistics, facts and logic.