The TNA, the Armed Forces and the Tamils in North
Posted on February 22nd, 2013

Rear  Admiral (Rtd) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera Member of Parliament 

I thought of responding to the article published in Sunday Leader on 16th Dec 2012 titled ” Plight of resettled IDP’s, striving make ends meet”. The article has been written by Niranjala Ariyawansa and Chrishanthi Christoper and mentions the “concerns” of the TNA MP’s Sumanthiran and Premachandran. What has been implied by their allegations was that IDP’s in North are not properly looked after, continuous harassment of Tamils by the Army, land mine story is a bluff, presence of “unnecessary” large cantonments of army in the north etc.

As an officer who was in service from the beginning to the end of war and now a Member of Parliament representing East, I view the above “concerns” of the TNA as contemptuous if not hilarious. With my experience I do not think that the TNA, today, has any moral right to speak about the Tamils or to grumble about their welfare. In the absence of that moral right, one can easily understand that their consistent treacherous attempt to paint a wrong picture in the eyes of the international community as above is to undermine the economy of Sri Lanka, to dissuade investment, persuade tourists to boycott the country, reduce volumes of international trade and to strike at the root of the economy in Sri Lanka which is at the moment vibrant.

It is interesting to ask a few questions from the TNA members who cry their hearts out about the plight of the Tamils in the Northern peninsula. Did they ever condemn, whenever the LTTE killed the reputed Tamils like  Neelan Thiruchelvam, Amirthalingam, Thangathurai, Laxman Kadiragaman ? Did they ever protest against, when the Tamil MP Yogeshwaran was killed and his wife who became the Mayor too was assassinated? What was their response when the LTTE systematically destroyed the entire democratic leadership of Tamils as above?   None. They always stood by the LTTE and consequently the reputation of being a “ƒ”¹…”proxy” of that terrorist organization.

The TNA today is very critical about the Army who had entered the Jaffna university to prevent certain  elements commemorating Prabaharan/ LTTE cadres killed during the war. It should be remembered that during the “Peace accord” how the LTTE regularly entered all the schools in Jaffna and forcibly took away students for protest marches during school hours. When some school principals objected to it, they were brutally assaulted in front of the school children and some were even killed. Where were Sumanthiran and Premachandran at that time? What was their response towards those innocent Tamil children whose education was consistently disrupted by the LTTE in the above manner?

The Army entered Jaffna University to prevent certain elements, backed by TNA, instigating the students to commemorate the ruthless killer Prabaharan, who was responsible for the devastation of the country including the Tamil nation. A terrorist is a terrorist whether he appears as a beggar, businessman, lecturer or a student. LTTE is banned in many countries and even the FBI has branded LTTE as amongst the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. Hence commemorating those who were killed in that organization is also an act related to terrorism. Army went in to stop that. Would the US President Barak Obama or Secretary of State Hilary Clinton allow students to light lamps to commemorate Bin Laden and his Al Qaida members inside the Washington university? It should be reminded that in Germany, since World War ii, no German commemorates Hitler, who killed millions of innocent Jews, even though he was the Head of the State at one time.

There were not even crocodile tears from the TNA when the  LTTE , during the ” peace time” , forcibly conscripted children, heavily taxed the businessmen, extorted money from the families whose loved ones were employed abroad, and made poor shop keepers to commit suicide because they were unable to keep up with the tax demands. During the final phase of the war, what was the response of the TNA when LTTE opened fire and killed many Tamils, mostly the aged and women, who were trying to escape into government controlled area? What has Sumanthiran got to say about the innocent Tamil boy, 12 yrs, whose both legs were chopped off by the terrorists when he was running into the arms of his parents? Only a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer could abstain from condemning such a barbaric act, and we know Sumanthiran and Premachandran did abstain.

On the other hand it was the army who rescued hundreds of Tamils including pregnant women risking their own lives. Many women army soldiers were killed whilst trying to save genuine innocent Tamil women, knowing that there were suicide cadres among them. During the last stage at Nandikadal, when Prabaharan was keeping hundreds of Tamils around him as a human shield, our army advanced to the target across the mine field, knowing that they would lose their legs/lives, in order to prevent civilian casualties. They could have easily fired Arty shells or mortars and destroyed Prabaharan together with the civilians without entering the mine field. That supreme sacrifice on the part of the soldiers, which has no parallel in any part of  the world, was for the sake of their Tamil brethren.

When talking about Tamil welfare , it is interesting to note that one of TNA members, like ” Sakvithi” , fraudulently collected money from the Tamils through “Sabra” financial company promising huge interest and a few of them committed suicide unable to get their money back. Another member of TNA, pushed innocent Tamils towards Mullivaikkal to protect Prabaharan and later escaped through a Red Cross vehicle with a large some of money. Hence, when considering all above, who has the moral right to speak and work for Tamils? TNA or the  Army?

Tamils always lived with the Sinhalese in harmony. With the defeat of LTTE,  Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils enjoyed the dividends of peace for the past 3 years and now there are attempts to disrupt that by a few extremist politicians and LTTE activists operating overseas. Recently, four men arrested by Tamil Nadu who were planning a revival of an LTTE youth group. Recruitment done by a terrorist called Nadiyavan who is operating from Norway. In this background what does TNA do? It is poisoning the minds of Tamil youth so that they will be vulnerable and ready for recruitment by Nediyavan who bring them to Tamil Nadu, train them, and send them back to Sri Lanka to conduct acts of terrorism. Intelligence clearly says that TNA extremist politicians are criticizing, radicalizing and militarizing young Tamil minds for Nediyavan to exploit them. Hence it is not hard to guess whether TNA is the savior or a destroyer of the Tamil Nation.

With regards to the alledged ” plight” of the IDP’s, I would like to briefly mention the following. The important post conflict development challenges the government faced were, demining approx 5000 square kilometers, resettlement of 297000 IDP s, rehabilitation of 12000 LTTE carders and reintegrated into society and reconstruction and economic development.

As it retreated, the LTTE had laid a large quantity of anti tank mines, anti personnel mines, and Improvised Explosive Devices ( IED). Swiftly demining them was a big challenge. Army with a few NGOs  have by now removed 469,000 anti personnel mines, 390,000 IEDs and 1400 anti tank mines. Did TNA, which says demining is a bluff, offer even a cup of tea or a glass of water to a soldier who worked on it for the Tamils to resettle and live safely? If the efforts of TNA is genuine and if TNA still says that demining is a bluff, they must spend a few days with the soldiers who still work in agri areas, paddy fields, forests etc looking for mines for the sake of Tamil families.

No sooner the war was over, the Presidential Task Force was set up for Resettlement and Reconstruction in the North, headed by Hon Basil Rajapaksha. The government also launched a program titled “Northern Spring” to undertake large development projects in North.

The mammoth task and the challenge was looking after approx 300,000 IDP’s. The challenge was to provide them with food, medicine, water, sanitation, security etc which was excellently accomplished with the District Committees, Line Ministries, UN agencies, NGO’s and Armed Forces. Many visiting dignitaries and Heads of UN Agencies who have visited Manik farm and other centers had commended Hon Basil Rajapaksha, and have appreciated the government efforts in treating IDP’s with safety and dignity.

As at today, 142,300 families have been settled, and the balance will be completed by mid 2013. TNA is collecting colossal amounts of funds from the Tamils living abroad and sympathetic front groups operating in Western soil to politicize, radicalize and mobilize Tamil youth in Sri Lanka to revive terrorism. It is considered prudent to inquire from TNA, who today cry for the welfare of Tamils, as to whether they have spent even 20 rupees from that money to give a cup of yoghurt to a innocent child in a refugee camp.  Instead of helping the government’s effort to serve the innocent Tamils, they still attempt to sabotage same by various means for petty political gains and this time with a person called a Professor in Geology.

This professor says “every morning when the innocent Tamil in North wakes up what he sees is a gun/armed soldier, “¦.Army may seize the land not the hearts”. I wonder where this professor was before May 2009. What does he think, during that period, the innocent Tamil in North saw when he woke up in the morning? LTTE “boys” clad like angels, carrying colored balloons and kites in hand, asking the children to come and play hide and seek? If he was in Europe in a lavish villa at that time, he must tell this sentiment to the Tamil people in Kilinochchi . They would definitely tell him to go somewhere and dig for minerals without wasting time. It is not hard to understand that this professor is trying to gain some “cheap” popularity among Tamils, after found himself to be a miserable failure as a lecturer.

Railway ceased to function since 1990 as LTTE destroyed the railway track. Repairing this infrastructure which was critical is underway and it will be completed by mid 2013. By now most of the roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, drinking wells etc have been constructed and electricity provided. Since May 2009,  Rs 123,304 million has been spent in North, confirmed by all the GA’s.  No government has spent that kind of money in North to date. The provincial allocation is 5.1 billion rupees, the highest allocation and TNA knows it because they attend the DDC meeting in the North.

To day in the North nine hundred  schools are functioning, with 260,000 students and 13,967 teachers. It is said that when compared to other countries under similar circumstances, the achievements of SL government in restoring the damage done for 30 years in just 3-4 yrs is highly commendable. In that regard this was what, the UN special Adviser for counter terrorism, Maj Gen (Rtd)  Dr. Douglas Stone USA had to say at the last Defence Meeting held in Colombo. ” I want to congratulate your country that has taken on an objective of 3 decades and then in 3 years done something that the rest of the globe needs to hear about. There are very few, less than a handful of other nations, who have done that and done it as well as you have”

Today we have seen an economic renaissance in the Northern  province which is growing at 22% of the economy, when the average for the rest of the island is about 8%. That itself is enough proof of the development in North.

In world war ii , the city of  Dresdon in Germany was destroyed completely by Britain, killing civilians and that was to break the morale of the Germans. Also the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to bring the war to an end. That type of “Strategy” was never adopted by the H E the President or the Secretary Defence. The war in Sri Lanka was a”Humanitarian operation” to rescue the innocents from the clutches of  LTTE , to release an oppressed people from the doldrums of terror, and to lead a life that was built upon dignity, freedom and fairness. Zero casualties was the motto. The total number of servicemen   killed (26,000)  and  wounded (14,000) could have been easily reduced to a greater extent if the armed forces were not “considerate” about innocent Tamil lives and that kind of noble sacrifice/attitude/behavior from an army  has  no comparison in the whole world.

There is considerable misunderstanding, deliberately created by TNA, on the nature of the armed forces and their relationship to Sri Lanka community. There is no disparity of treatment meted out to Tamils in North. There is army presence in some form in every part of the country. Jaffna is no exemption.

The army’s role what the TNA is trying to paint in the eyes of the International Community, is far from truth. Like in any part in Sri Lanka , military is now a part of community in Jaffna whose role is to defend, protect and to help to nation build. Sri Lanka military has been able to speed up development at a rapid pace to enable the area to “catch up” on the aspects that held her back due to terrorism.

The army was instrumental in building roads, bridges. She alone had built more than 2000 houses for the IDP’s. Army did the demining for the people to resettle. Army repaired and renovated many schools and it is heartening to note that in important school events such as price giving, the school principals invite a senior army officer as the Chief Guest or Guest of Honor to show their gratitude, obviously much to the envy of TNA. Hence the presence of the army in Jaffna has become not just desirable but indispensible.

Sri Lanka army also must be commended for conceiving, designing, and implementing   a very successful rehabilitation model. It resulted in total reintegration of 11,000 ex LTTE’ers to society within just 3 years. Also 212 ex LTTE ers have been already selected for university education and they  will  be  doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants etc in a few years. Beneficiaries of marriageable age too were not deprived of their civic rights. Matrimony according to their wishes was facilitated irrespective of their level of radicalization. Peace villages were established to facilitate re unification of married ones who were undergoing rehabilitation in different centers. This is how the army treat the men/women whom they fought and from whom they got killed and maimed. Not a word of appreciation from TNA.

The country including Jaffna now has transformed itself from a nation at war to a country that is amongst most peaceful , secure and stable in the world.

The President of Janatha Party  of India, Dr. Subramanium Swami says that Tamil after Tamil tell him that they now are happy, that their children are not going to be forcibly recruited by LTTE, that they can go to schools and colleges, that their money , their pay cheques, is not sliced by extortion, that there’s no uncertainty. There is a breath of fresh air, that they are now breathing and they want this to continue.

The armed forces in Jaffna are fully committed to let the Tamils enjoy that “freedom” without any interruption. They will ensure that no one will regroup and engage in any terror activities in the area. The army has freed the people from terror, brought normalcy to area, developed the infrastructure, resettled them and provided them with security. Hence they have more right to be in the North than anyone else including the TNA whose contribution to the freedom, security and welfare of the Tamils is disgracefully negligible or zero when compared to that of the army.

4 Responses to “The TNA, the Armed Forces and the Tamils in North”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    They only talk about TAMIL welfare, TAMIL grievances, TAMIL homelands, TAMIL aspirations, TAMIL this and that.

    Useless wasting time and money on them.

    What has these Tamils and TNA done for the country? That is the important question to ask.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    The President of Sri Lanka – Mahinda Rajapakse and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces should have been given the Nobel Peace Prize for the Great Humanitarian Effort they carried out to rescue the Tamils in the grip of the LTTE.

    However Norway awarded the same price to Barack Obama for doing sweet nothing for world peace! This is the world we live in!

  3. Senevirath Says:

    SARATH
    WHAT EVERWE DO OR HOW EVER WE HELP, TAMIL LEADERS WILL NOT BE HAPPY. 75% SINHALA TAX PAYERS
    MONEY NOW GOES TO NORTH FOR REHABILITATION WORK . WHO DID THE DAMAGE? WHO HELPED PRHA BHA SINHALA OR TAMILS. IT WAS AND IS TAMILS.
    SO THERE IS NO RESON FOR THEM TO COMPLAIN. THEY HAVE TO WAIT FIRST THE GOVT. HAS TO LOOK AFTER SINHALESE WHO HELPED TO WIN THE ‘WAR’.

    THIS PROFESSOR MUST BE TRYING TO GET ANOTHER SCHOLARSHIP TO A WESTERN COUNTRY. SO LET HIM LICK THEIR BOOTS

    U ARE ONE OF ‘PANAS HAYE DARUWO’ AND NOT OF MACOLI SAAMY”S. U KNOW THE HISTORY AND U HAVE DONE SO MUCH FOR THE COUNTRY FOR ABOUT 35 YEARS. DO MORE WHEN U ARE IN THE PARLIAMENT

    MOST OF THE MPS AND MINISTERS ARE UNEDUCATED IGNORANT SELFISH THUGS THEY NEVER COMEFORWARD LIKE U

    THANKS FOR PRODUCING GAMANI IT SHOULD BE SHOWN TO ALL STUDENTS IN SCHOOLS.
    IF POSSIBLE THINK OF PRODUCING” MAHARAJA GEMUNU” WITH JAYANTHA C..
    OTHER MPS ARE NOT CAPABLE

    PLESE PROTECT THE PRESIDENT FROM THE DESHA DROHI GANG AROUND HIM

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Well done GR!!

    Some country should bring a resolution on Kashmir.

    Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in an interview reminded India about telecast of a video by UK’s channel 4 last July about Indian atrocities in Kashmir. The video showed how hundreds of thousands of stone throwing teenagers took aim at heavily armed Indian forces who returned live fire killing 118 demonstrators. It was a shocking film uncovering a state sanctioned torture of the hapless Kashmiris.

    The Sri Lankan Defence Secretary had to make this courageous statement to tell the Indian government of its own human rights record as New Delhi is being pressurised by Tamil Nadu MPs to vote for a resolution against Sri Lanka in March session of the UN Human Rights Council. The situation deteriorated further in Kashmir after the secret hanging of Afzal Guru and subsequent mass arrest of youth. Opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti had to say that the State has been turned into a pressure cooker without a safety valve. The entire Kashmiri leadership has been put either in jails or placed under house arrest and curfew imposed to pre-empt revolt in Kashmir against Guru’s hanging. This situation cannot be allowed to go on and we would urge the international human rights organisation and world powers to raise their voice and persuade India to accept the genuine demands of Kashmiri people.”

    – Pakistan news

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