UNACCEPTABLE: Placing Sri Lanka Army & LTTE on par but holding War Crimes Tribunals for ONLY SL Army

Several clarifications need to be made. There is a concerted & subtle effort to place a national army on par with a terrorist movement, while at the same time demanding war crimes tribunals only for the SL Armed Forces? How can this be entertained? A country has only one armed force & that is its national army to protect & defend the nation & its people. All others taking up arms with an objective to carve out territory & declare that separate to the nation is involved in an illegal act for which they are criminally liable. Having said that, there are NGO groups interviewing LTTE & Soldiers and placing their stories to give us an impression that the terrorists had a just cause. All these are done through well-funded programs by people who perhaps never lived in Sri Lanka to witness the gruesome murders & mayhem committed by LTTE over 30 years. Would these NGOs dare put the US or NATO on par with Al Qaeda or ISIS or any other terrorist groups that the West is trying to destroy?

Firstly, we need to draw a line on what & who are legal entities.

Sri Lanka’s National Army is legally tasked to defend the nation. It is legitimately tasked to safeguard the territorial sovereignty of a country & the safety of its citizens.

LTTE by virtue of it being banned internationally & by the Sri Lankan state seals its illegal status. The armed forces have a hierarchical command structure & a distinguishable uniform & weaponry given by the State, the soldiers would not have been called to defend the nation & militarily defeat the LTTE if the LTTE had not attacked & killed innocent citizens. LTTE cannot say it was not given chances to surrender & give up its murderous ways. Therefore, individuals & organizations attempting to project LTTE as some innocent group for whom the world must feel sorry for seriously need to get their facts in order. World empathy for LTTE cannot supersede that of their empathy to the innocent victims that LTTE killed for no reason.    

Though there is no internationally accepted definition for a terrorist, in a conflict the rules of war applies even to the LTTE though it does not ratify any international conventions or treaties. LTTE also had a hierarchical structure, their weapons were illegally acquired. LTTE wore uniforms but killed in civilian clothing too.

Unlike Al Qaeda or any of the other jihadi terrorist movements that sprang into being after 9/11, the Sri Lankan Government designated the LTTE as a terrorist movement after decades of terror unleashed by LTTE upon innocent civilians and after 5 peace talks & ceasefires failed to stop LTTE from its murderous ways. So no one can say the LTTE was not given chances. Even the Nordic nations who comprised the SL Monitoring Mission in 2002 recorded close to 4000 violations by LTTE during a ceasefire brokered by Norway which placed the National Army on par with a Terrorist Movement for the first time in history.

Another insidious attempt is to highlight LTTE as political prisoners. LTTE are neither POWs or political prisonersand the GOSL should incorporate Article 3 common to the Four Geneva Conventions & take legal action against LTTE in domestic courts. LTTE has no legal rights. LTTE are unlawful combatants but laws of IHL apply to LTTE.  They refused talks & peace & preferred killing. Their leaders instructed them to kill.

Soldiers are only instructed to kill the enemy in defense of the nation & following the rules of war. Any soldier violating these are dealt in military tribunals. This is where everyone needs to draw a clear distinction.

Today, everyone is crying crocodile tears for LTTE, their spouses (wrongly terming them ‘war widows’ a name tag that should be only referred to soldier wives).

Why do those crying crocodile tears for the LTTE not do the same for dead soldiers, their children, their wives & their parents? There is something amiss when tears are only shed for one party in particular the party that had been carrying out murder & mayhem.

A noticeable feature in those shedding crocodile tears for the LTTE is that they were always in favor of the aims & objectives of the LTTE, or they are working for entities that directly & indirectly supported the LTTE over the years, or they never had a member of their family killed by LTTE or they were enjoying disbursements from LTTE’s global kitty. Can these people be called unbiased & impartial speakers for both parties?

The international community that insisted on talks with the tigers must take part responsibility for the LTTE murders of people during these cease fires & peace talks which were only used by LTTE to regroup & refine their terror tactics & roam the world to purchase more deadly arms & ammunitions.

Anyone who wishes to place LTTE on par with a national army must explain what good are legally bound borders & territorial sovereignty if it is acceptable for terrorist groups to use terror & illegally hold land which with time through their political arm they declare independent citing terms like homeland & self-determination?

If the world looks down at Al Qaeda, ISIS, Bin Laden, Saddam Huseein, Gaddafi, Pol Pot etc what makes Prabakaran & LTTE any different? The world cries over the child of Prabakaran little forgetting thousands of children Prabakaran killed over 3 decades.

The world feels empathy for LTTE wives but what about all of the mother’s whose pregnant bodies were slit open by LTTE killing both mother & baby?

Basically what needs to be said is that LTTE cannot enjoy Restorative Justice & the Sri Lankan Army cannot be meted out Retributive Justice. 

In other words the same conflict cannot treat the perpetrators of the crimes as the less guilty party while the national army called into militarily defeat the LTTE cannot be considered the more guilty while the LTTE’s crimes against the State, State property & killing of innocent civilians cannot result in simply forgetting & forgiving the LTTE for their crimes while a War Crimes Tribunal with Foreign Judges are created as Retributive Justice against Sri Lanka’s National Army & the Government Heads that gave orders for the military action against the LTTE.

We do understand that we have to move forward. We are against foreign tribunals primarily because all of the UN tribunals & hybrid courts held have not served justice to the victims. They have been nothing but wasting time & money – this money could have easily been given to the victim families. Moreover, some of these tribunals have run into decades – more often than not the perpetrators may have ended up dead or suffering old age dementia.

What needs to be clearly pointed out in the case of Sri Lanka is that we are not agreeable to having restorative justice for LTTE & retributive justice for the National Army. What confounds the situation is that although the LTTE leader & his ground leadership is no more, the ideology of separatism remains promoted through LTTE agents the TNA & the LTTE fronts that are steering it through their organizations overseas. Moreover, foreign intelligence too have confirmed that the LTTE support networks & LTTE propaganda machinery remains functional. Also, the police & Armed Forces continues to locate hidden arms & ammunition belonging to LTTE while LTTE cadres too are getting caught. All these cannot put to rest & force the citizens to forget LTTE or their ultimate objective of separating a sovereign state.

Anyone coming with all sorts of teary eyed solutions & stories cannot omit these fundamental facts & realities in their fantasy to force everyone to believe in a non-existent forgive & forget theory.

We are prepared to forget IF & ONLY IF the LTTE & their coterie gives up quest to separate Sri Lanka, gives up their false propaganda locally & internationally. However, so long as these objectives continue – sorry to say, we are not prepared to let LTTE or their agents take the cake & eat it too while locking up our national heroes in prison claiming them to be the only culprits.

Shenali D Waduge

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