Response to Bob Rae’s article titled ‘Sri Lanka: Here lies the rule of law’
Posted on November 23rd, 2012

Mahinda Gunasekera   

By E-mail

84 Tambrook Drive
Agincourt, ON
M1W 3L9
Tel. (416) 498-0783

November 21, 2012

The Editor
Globe and Mail
444 Front Street West

Dear Editor,

Response to Bob Rae’s article titled ‘Sri Lanka: Here lies the rule of law’ published on November 21, 2012

I find Bob Rae’s article has no substance as he too merely wants to join the band wagon of Sri Lanka thumping bogus pundits with exaggerated claims based on wild guesstimates and unsubstantiated allegations.  Bob Rae was part of the international charade along with Norway, USA and the EU that foisted a meaningless ceasefire equating the internationally designated terrorist group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE aka Tamil Tigers) with the legally and democratically elected Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) into never ending peace talks to achieve  a negotiated peace settlement which was not part of the vocabulary of the LTTE.  It was just part of the military  strategy of the Tamil Tigers to buy time and build up their weapons stockpile and fighting forces further fortifying themselves within the usurped territory they held in the Vanni region to form their separate mono-ethnic state. 

Sri Lanka made six separate attempts to negotiate a peace settlement through direct negotiations and international mediation over a space of 20 years, but failed to make any headway as the LTTE did not negotiate in good faith. During the last ceasefire mediated by Norway in 2002, there were over 7000 ceasefire violations by the Tamil Tigers including the killing of over 400 persons both military and civilian, and also Sri Lanka’s distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar and two other cabinet ministers.  The last war was thrust upon Sri Lanka by the LTTE when  they launched their so called “ƒ”¹…”final war of liberation’ in December 2005 by carrying out lethal attacks on government forces and civilian targets, boycotting  peace talks held in Zurich and Oslo in early 2006 having travelled to these venues, and later cutting off drinking and irrigating water to farmers from Mavil Aru followed up with a lightning strike on the town of Muttur with intent to disable the operation of the Naval Harbor of Trincomalee.   

Sri Lanka had no alternative but to respond to these attacks which rolled back the Tamil Tiger incursions forcing them to withdraw resulting in their final defeat on May 18, 2009 on the northeast coast. As the Tamil Tigers retreated, they herded the Tamil civilian population from the NW coast to the NE coast over a period of 33 months, laying down over 1.5 million landmines and removing the roofing sheets and doors of the abandoned civilian homes as they proceeded.  Whilst this forced migration of civilians took place Canada and the international community stood by in silence only to make half an attempt to seek their release at the final stages when the civilians were being used as a human shield by the LTTE. Sri Lanka designated special safe zones and declared two 48 hour ceasefires to enable the trapped civilians to move out into safer
areas but were prevented by the Tigers firing on them.  The LTTE moved their heavy weapons into these safe zones and vicinity of hospitals to attack the Sri Lankan forces unconcerned about retaliatory fire which could endanger civilians.  

The London Times reporter who overflew the last battleground claimed 20,000 civilian deaths, which then snowballed into tens of thousands ranging from 30-40 thousand in the reports published by the ICG, HRW, AI, Channel 4, which were later repeated by Gordon Weiss (to sell his book) and the UN Panel, none of whom had a presence on the ground, merely based on hearsay evidence from just one side to the conflict.  The UN office in Colombo using information drawn from their local Vanni staff and their family members who were detained throughout the military action by the LTTE arrived at a figure of 7721 deaths of persons deemed as civilians, which number was ignored even by the UN Panel in New York who instead went with the haphazardly guesstimated figures published by ICG from their headquarters in Europe.  The Sri Lankan authorities
carried out a census at the conclusion of the military action using Tamil civilian enumerators, and arrived at a figure of 7400 civilian deaths.  These deaths were caused by the LTTE shooting those who attempted to flee their area of control, those caught in between the two warring sides, and many who were LTTE combatants dressed in civilian attire.

Sri Lanka has done much to bring about reconciliation by providing every needed care and speedily re-settling the internally displaced Tamil civilians numbering over 295,873 in their villages, whom they rescued from the heavily armed Tamil Tigers grip in the last stages at great cost losing over 3,900 men in the process.  Heavy weapons were rarely used in the latter stages except to neutralize enemy gun positions. Sri Lanka’s record of resettlement of IDPs is an enviable one, de-mining almost a 1,000 sq. km., repairing and building new homes, putting in infrastructure and evolving livelihood assistance programs which resulted in a 22
percent economic growth in the war affected areas.  They also carried out a comprehensive rehabilitation program including vocational training to provide new skills to the 11,000 former Tamil Tiger combatants and 594 child soldiers that surrendered helping them to become contributing members of society.  Added to all of this, they were able to hold local government elections in the north after two decades, thereby affording the people an opportunity to elect their own representatives to manage the local affairs.  Above all, they restored the ‘Right to Life’ of her 21 million citizens and a new era of peace and stability that had been hijacked by the marauding Tamil Tigers over a period of three decades causing immense death and destruction.  So you still want to beat up on Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism and bringing about peace, whereas the west has miserably failed in their attempts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere despite the massive scale of bombings, use of heavily armed ground forces, drone attacks and innumerable civilian loss of life and displacement caused in those lands.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera   

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