White flags, LTTE and diplomats
Posted on May 18th, 2011

By Albert J. Fernando, Canada

During the last several months there had been quite a spate of articles contributed by individuals and organizations criticizing the Sri Lanka Government and security forces alleging that leaders of LTTE who offered to surrender bearing a white flag had been killed by the military at the final phase of Eelam War that ended in May, 2009.

Let us examine the circumstances under which this incident alleged to have occurred. According to reports, this incident had taken place on May 17 or 18, 2009. Those who criticize the military forget the following:

  • Some 70,000 people mostly civilians belonging to all ethnic groups””‚Sinhalese, Tamils and Civilians””‚had died in this 30 plus years war (beginning with the murder of Jaffna’s Tamil Mayor Alfred Duraippah in1975) by the Tamil terrorists. In fact more Tamil civilians had been killed by Tamil terrorists than by Government security forces.
  • The so-called surrender incident with white flags is reported to have occurred at the height of the final phase of the battle.  For several weeks before the final debacle, LTTE leaders under Prabhakaran had been using tens of thousands of Tamil civilians as a human shield which is a war crime. If the Sri Lanka security forces are as ruthless as Eelam activists and their supporters claim, then how is that tens of thousands of Tamils civilians fled towards the security forces? Where were the so-called guardians of human rights when Prabhakaran forced these Tamil civilians to protect the LTTE leadership? As well, in May, 2009, thousands of Eelam Tamils took to the streets in USA, Canada and European countries “crying” for the Tamils in Wanni, Sri Lanka. Did one of them point out that LTTE leaders were keeping thousands of innocent Tamil men, women and children as human shields? Instead, these protesters were carrying Eelam flags and large portraits of Prabhakaran, the mass murderer of Tamils!
  • Let us assume for a moment that LTTE leaders did approach the Sri Lanka security forces when they realized that the game was over. At the height of battle time is an essential factor; it is a matter of either you kill or else get killed. Even seconds make a difference between life and death. In such a situation, can you trust LTTE leaders? These are the terrorists who feigned friendship with Rajiv Gandhi and killed him. Also developed a “sincere friendship” with President R. Premadasa and killed him. It was same with the assassination of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar. Who knows, the security forces would have thought, quite rightly, going by the record of LTTE and at the height of battle, that LTTE leaders might be approaching with a white flag but carrying a gun or a grenade hidden in their uniforms. So can the security forces take a chance?

Iraq Experience

Let us also consider what happened in Iraq following the invasion by US-led coalition forces in 2003. In her report published on April 17, 2003, Carrie Satterlee (heritage.org) points out a white flag mishap: “On March 23, 2003, Iraqi soldiers and Fadayeen fighters killed 10 U.S. soldiers and injured 40 in an ambush after feigning surrender by waving a white flag and then opening fire on U.S. soldiers preparing to accept their surrender.” According to her such an act constitutes perfidy. She then points out that under the Geneva Convention,

“Following acts are examples of perfidy: (a) the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender; (b) the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness; (c) the feigning of civilian, non-combat status; and (d) the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not parties to the conflict.”

Article 37, paragraph 1, of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1).

MEG Laughlin, Drew Brown and Matt Stearns writing in a Knight Ridder report dated March 28, 2003 state as follows:

“The Iraqi military knows if they look like civilians, they can fire first and they do.” Said Capt. John Wilson of Army Intelligence.

“The lesson is never drop your guard,” said Army Specialist Timmy Melia. “All it takes is one straggler. The straggler will get you killed.”

Finally, let me quote from a report by Peter Ford and published in The Christian Science Monitor dated April 1, 2003:

As the war continues, international legal analysts say, it will undoubtedly throw up allegations of war crimes, and some will prove to be true. “There has never been a war without violations of humanitarian law,” sighs Philippe Spoerri, an ICRC lawyer.”

Knowing very well that LTTE is well known for its violations of human rights, ruthless disregard of human values, notorious record for slaughtering innocent men, women and children, forcing of civilians to use as human shields, abuse of resources of aid agencies including food, monies, vehicles and rescue boats, can anyone blame the Security forces even if they had to ignore the approaching LTTE leaders bearing white flags at the height of battle? Who knows, one or more in the surrender party might pull out a gun and start shooting at the security forces, or throw some grenades or better still, there could have been suicide bombers for which LTTE is famous the world over.

In conclusion, let me quote from an announcement made on January, 10, 2008 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):

As terrorist groups go, it has quite a resume:

  • Perfected the use of suicide bombers;
  • Invented the suicide belt;
  • Pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks;
  • Murdered some 4,000 people in the past two years alone;
  • Assassinated two world leaders””‚the only terrorist organization to do so.

No, it is not al Qaeda or Hezbollah or even HAMAS. The group is called Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or the Tamil Tigers for short.

Needless to say, the Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. For more than three decades, the group has launched a campaign of violence and bloodshed in Sri Lanka, the island republic off the southern coast of India.

Its ultimate goal: to seize control of the country from the Sinhalese ethnic minority and create an independent Tamil state”¦”

The FBI report also warns the American public:

“Why should you care? Certainly because of the suffering and bloodshed that Tamil Tigers have caused. And because its ruthless tactics have inspired terrorist networks worldwide, including al Qaeda in Iraq. But also because the group has placed operatives right here in own backyard, discreetly raising money to fund its bloody terrorist campaign overseas, including purchase of weapons and explosives”

Foreign diplomats and UN officials can point out laws and conventions governing a war from their air-conditioned rooms sipping coffee, but do they understand that Sri Lanka security forces had to make quick decisions amidst the smoke and gunfire in the battlefield? Can anyone say with confidence and certainty that LTTE leaders were genuine when they came out with white flags?

One Response to “White flags, LTTE and diplomats”

  1. ranjit Says:

    Mr.Fernando your article explains the brutality of the L.T.T.E terror group likewise millions of articles written about them in every news papers around the world but still these western hypocrits dont understand or they dont want to understand because of big money involved between terrorists and these so called human rights experts and western heynas.

    All these bull shit investigations started to come up after that stupid General opened his big mouth not before. Now from the day we celebrated our freedom these white hawks cannot sleep for not caring a damn to their demands during the last stage of the war. Let them come we will be ready.To be strong we need to be united then only we can win this fight. In this 2600 buddha jayanthi year our country will be protected from all evils and no power can take our freedom.

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