Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader – Defend Our National Army
We finally have an opposition that doesn’t support the government in power. However, this Opposition has a major role to play. Sadly, 10 years after the victory over terrorism, that too Sri Lanka being the only military to defeat an internationally banned terrorist movement, we are still struggling to sift the lies from the truth & propaganda. Some hard questions need to now be put on the table for those making the allegations to answer.
- Sri Lanka’s conflict is TERRORIST not ETHNIC and this needs to be clearly articulated across the international community & UN
- Sri Lanka’s military defeated LTTE Terrorists & not Tamils. LTTE terrorists were all Tamil but ALL Tamils were not LTTE Terrorists. Those that materially supported LTTE included Tamils, Muslims, Sinhalese, foreigners, UN, INGOs/NGOs & even diplomats.
- LTTE began its killing spree in 1975 when it assassinated the Mayor of Jaffna – Alfred Duraiappah (a Tamil) LTTE next targeted Tamil policemen on duty to scare them from joining the public service. LTTE thereafter began attacking Sri Lanka Army & then civilians, politicians, public servants, clergy, principals – anyone who went against them including Tamils & including own combatants.
- LTTE did not take up arms because of 1983 July riots because Prabakaran first formed Tamil New Tigers in 1972 which later was rechristened LTTE in 1976 (Prabakaran took up arms a decade before 1983 riots)
- Another false propaganda is that July 1983 riots was an ‘ethnic’ riot by Sinhalese against Tamils – this is totally wrong as Sinhalese saved their Tamil friends & neighbors. The attacks were committed by the then UNP Govt using their thugs that comprised Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims who were only bothered to attack & loot homes. Moreover, the then UNP Govt ensured their rich Tamil friends were free from any attack.
- When LTTE began attacking villages, killing villagers, chasing them from their homes, shooting at unarmed civilians worshipping, cutting pregnant mothers & babies, planting bombs on roads to kill innocent civilian passengers – where were the entities screaming ‘accountability’ when LTTE was getting defeated. Why did they not stop LTTE terror that raged for 30 years unabated?
- What did the international community do against LTTE for kidnapping Tamil children & turning them into child soldiers apart from writing reports & issuing statistics? Were any resolutions passed to take action for these crimes that denied children their right to be with their parents, right to education, right to peace & more over why did the international authorities not take action against the very foreign woman now living happily in UK who trained these children to kill & to also commit suicide by biting a cyanide capsule? Many have logged complaints against her with the UK Metropolitan Police – why is there no investigation launched against her even? LTTE remains banned in the UK?
- LTTE is banned in the very countries that LTTE fronts are openly operating in. The bans by these countries specifically mentions material support & when Sri Lanka banned 16 LTTE fronts incorporating UNSC Resolution 1373 in April 2014 why have these foreign countries not even launched their own investigations as they have ample evidence when TRO was banned for channeling funds to LTTE & many of the Tamils involved in this operation are connected to the LTTE fronts that have been named & banned. How is it that these very entities are now openly holding events even inside UK Parliament and are frequent visitors to the UN & UNHRC?
During military / humanitarian operations
- The decision to militarily defeat the LTTE came not suddenly or impulsively. Sri Lanka suffered 30 years of gruesome terror – all that the international community gave was an official statement of condolence after each LTTE suicide/assassination attack. Over 5 peace talks, ceasefires, negotiations in Sri Lanka & overseas were held since 1985 and each of these occasions was used by LTTE to regroup, rearm & re-strategize. It was the LTTE that prevented water supply to farmers in the East (Mavil Aru) that led to LTTE’s demise by committing a war crime in denial of water.
- From the liberation of the East to the eventual Wanni operation, the Sri Lankan Government, Armed Forces heads & all others regularly kept the foreign governments/envoys briefed through Consultative Committee meetings held twice a week. If any alarming news had reached the foreign envoys/NGO heads etc this was the forum to bring questions to & seek answers from the Sri Lankan top level heads who were attending these sessions. Minutes of these meetings did not disclose any such concerns regarding violations of IHL or even human rights abuses. These sessions even provided details of food, medicines etc sent to the conflict areas by the Govt. There are even records of Sri Lankan Forces being praised for their conduct. These are all evidence to completely negate the false allegations that have leveled against Sri Lanka’s troops.
- From the food convoys sent with the knowledge of ICRC, WFP and others – it was very clear & visible that Sri Lanka was engaged in a military operation while also taking the greatest of care to send essentials to the People knowing the LTTE was keeping them as hostages/human shields and were taking these provisions to be given to LTTE combatants & their families.
- That Sri Lanka Armed Forces rescued close to 300,000 Tamils is evidence enough that people who did not wish to be with LTTE were saved & brought to safety by the armed forces. There are enough evidence including UN & foreign envoy statements pleading LTTE not to shoot unarmed civilians & to release them and some of the rescued themselves declared LTTE were firing at them.
- That close to 12,000 LTTE combatants in civilian clothing surrendered to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces is another proof that none of these combatants ‘disappeared’ as is being alleged. Of this 584 child soldiers were even given a Presidential amnesty & thereafter these children studied & are now in some form of livelihood. We recall fondly the singing sensation Gokulan. Would these children have this new lease on life if they remained in LTTE.
- Let the Opposition point out clearly at NO POINT since the military onslaught against LTTE did the present Govt including the TNA take the side of the Tamil people held by LTTE. No statements were issued to release them & not a single relief item was even collected to be sent to these people even as a humanitarian gesture by TNA & their supporters either. Not a single humanitarian relief item even came from LTTE fronts to these Tamil civilians.
- Every IDP acceptance unit set up had female soldiers & soldiers competent in speaking in Tamil. IDP centres given the scale & magnitude of the relief operations were well within reasonable acceptance and with time government facilitated with state banks, training for children, play set up for kids etc.
- On 19 May 2009 LTTE ground fighting leadership was defeated & the country was rid of bombs, suicide missions and assassinations that was part & parcel of life for 30 years.
- LTTE kitty was such that it could afford to relay propaganda presenting a false notion that told enough became accepted as truth as the Sri Lankan Government lacked the will to counter & nip the lies in the bud.
- The themes that had been promoted since 1980s have been discrimination by Sinhalese against Tamils, examples of 3 riots, a Tamil homeland, genocide & war crimes – all of which are now blowing up in their face given the challenges that are surfacing
- Discrimination allegation – while empty allegations have been made there is stoic silence when hard facts with names are presented on the numbers of Tamils holding public & private sector positions, the ownership of private enterprises, the businesses etc that the Tamils operate in Sri Lanka. Question that those making allegations cannot answer is what are the discriminations that are exclusive to ONLY Tamils that other citizens do not suffer
- Tamil Homeland – when self-determination claims first started in Tamil Nadu the question never answered is did Tamils evolve in Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu, without answering this the same ethnic group cannot claim 2 separate states in 2 different countries.
- Ethnic cleansing / Genocide/War Crimes – ethnic cleansing was when LTTE chased out Sinhalese & Muslims from North to claim Tamil Only territory – no one has helped these people return to their original habitats. Genocide claims fall flat when statistics showcase Tamil population increase – how can there be genocide if Tamil population is increasing (fundamental fact) / war crimes – the international terrorist experts in their reports clearly reveal that LTTE was at fault for using Tamil civilians as hostage/human shields and firing at the enemy from civilian enclosure. No conflict is without some form of irregularities – no soldier can defend himself while engaging in hostilities keeping Geneva Convention book and referring how to fire! He would be dead meat by then! Anyone plucking laws from these international laws must be a little practical. It is not that LTTE has ever fought a clean war – how about the innumerable crimes LTTE has committed since 1980s – why is there no international attention or accountability for these? There cannot be RESTORATIVE JUSTICE for LTTE and RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE for a National Army that was ONLY doing its duty by the Nation & its citizens.
- 3 days after the conclusion of the conflict the UNSG arrived in Sri Lanka & toured the conflict areas – had their been mass graves newly dug he & everyone on that helicopter ride should have seen it as the final battle was fought in open terrain. They did not report any such newly dug graves. The US satellite pictures also revealed 3 graves none of which could even hold 40,000 the minimum figure that has been flogged over the years.
- Let us presume the allegation of 40,000 – but then where are their names, why have families not logged police complaints at least declaring them missing? Why have families not logged their names with the Presidential Commission appointed – only 5000 missing soldier names were given out of a total 19,000.
- As for the allegations – anyone making allegations need to show how many Tamils LTTE killed, how many Tamils Sri Lankan Armed Forces killed, how many were actually ‘civilians’ how many ‘civilians’ died engaged in hostilities, how many of these civilians belonged to LTTE’s civilian armed force, how many LTTE combatants died in civilian clothing… without answering any of the above questions how can every death be credited to only the Sri Lankan Army?
- Who are bringing the allegations – the allegations are being made by 3rd parties / 4th parties or LTTE connected groups & individuals. The foreigners making the allegations too are regular attendees to these pro-LTTE events – this showcases their bias. Similar foreign MPs making the allegations are also regular visitors to pro-LTTE events and rely on Tamil vote banks & funding for their election propaganda. All these should be investigated by these foreign countries as LTTE remains banned in their countries – let us not forget that it is their citizens who are victims of various illegal acts that pro-LTTE sources are engaged in – credit card scams, human smuggling, prostitution, money laundering etc
Questioning the legality of the UNHRC Resolutions
- When the National Army defeated LTTE on 19 May 2009, 17 nations led by Germany asked for a special session in the UNHRC to discuss whether GOSL committed crimes during the last phase of the war. However, a counter resolution was presented congratulating Sri Lanka for ending terror and it was adopted as more nations supported it than the earlier resolution chiding Sri Lanka.
- It was after this resolution that UNSG chose to appoint a personally commissioned panel
- All of the UN Resolutions, UNHRC Investigations and every demarche issued against Sri Lanka has used as a basis the 3 member panel report that Ban Ki Moon assigned as a personal initiative to brief him of the final phase of Sri Lanka’s conflict. This personally assigned report, packed in questionable statements & conclusions was never tabled in the UNHRC for the GOSL to officially reply, it was never officially tabled in the UNGA or UNSC – the report was only leaked to public and thereafter everyone is using this as a basis to level unsubstantiated allegations against a country & its national army.
- The personally commissioned Ban Ki Moon report was INDIRECTLY submitted to the UNHRC in 2011 and this became the basis for the first Resolution against Sri Lanka in February 2012 & passed in March 2012. Every March has been a month for resolutions against Sri Lanka annually (2012. 2013, 2014, 2015 with the bizarre co-sponsoring)
- In 2014 Resolution 25/1 authorized an investigation by the UNHRC (OISL) which ended in March 2015. Citizens of Sri Lanka never had a chance to counter the allegations made. It was obvious that the objective was to present a case that system crimes via chain of command was committed. They were not interested in individual crimes. The report covered 4 IHL crimes and 4 human rights charges – the GOSL without assessing its credibility or truth went & co-sponsored the controversial resolution (30/1). Was the co-sponsorship with the mandate of the President & with the knowledge of Parliament or was it simply on the acceptance by the then foreign minister. The Opposition should officially demand an investigation into the legality of co-sponsoring 301/ as a priority.
- What about the 6 reports by the International Terrorist experts led by late Sir Desmond de Silva? These were individuals who were experts in terrorist laws & had stood on various tribunals. Their reports concluded that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces did not commit war crimes as was alleged. Sri Lanka’s Opposition must renew calls for the UN to take up these reports & insist that the GOSL table them officially.
- The procedural lapses & violations committed by the UNHRC needs to be taken up at diplomatic level by the Opposition appraising diplomats & Sri Lanka-friendly nations of the violations & illegalities that have taken place. These are precedents that are likely to affect other nations as well. Therefore, Sri Lanka must rally nations against the interference by UN & UNHRC on internal affairs of sovereign states violating the UN Charter & mandates of bodies in the UN. It is noteworthy that a procedural complaint petition has been filed in the UNHRC and thus far over 6 months now it has not been dismissed giving hope that the UNHRC is perhaps worried about the validity of the legally raised questions against its handling of resolutions and allegations against a UN member state.
- Let us also not forget that the main sponsor of the 3 UNHRC Resolutions against Sri Lanka – the US left the UNHRC accusing it of being a ‘cesspool of political bias’. The allegation adds meat to our claims that UNHRC has been treating Sri Lanka unfairly & with bias. The very country that calls UNHRC a cesspool of political bias has brought 3 resolutions against Sri Lanka & that should reveal the status of these resolutions so why would Sri Lanka wish to co-sponsor it?
Therefore, Mahinda Rajapakse as Opposition Leader must lead the crusade to champion the truth and defend Sri Lanka’s National Army from a biased & compromised international mechanism out to safeguard the terror entity that they used for geopolitical gain by insisting on retributive justice for the National Army & restorative justice for LTTE.
The Opposition must demand a fresh look at all allegations made since 2009 and all crimes committed since 1970s from the emergence of terror in Sri Lanka, who funded & who provided material support & every crime committed since.
Shenali D Waduge