Posted on March 3rd, 2013

Mahinda Gunasekera Toronto, Canada

Three decades of terrorist violence was finally brought to an end on May 19, 2009 by a concerted military effort by Sri Lanka’s Security Forces which achieved the total defeat of the internationally designated terror group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), aka Tamil Tigers , which held nearly 1/4th of the island’s terrain, a large army, naval unit, a mini-air force and a squadron of suicide bombers to pursue its terrorist objectives of establishing a mono-ethnic Tamil separate state in the north and east.  Six separate attempts to reach a peaceful settlement failed as the LTTE did not negotiate in good faith, using such ceasefire periods to replenish their weapons stockpile and rebuild their forces to resume hostilities.  The LTTE ignored a call to surrender opting to fight to the end.

New dawn of peace: At the conclusion of the military action, Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million from all ethnic communities who had been constantly targeted by the Tamil Tiger terrorists with detonating claymore mines, bombs  in public transit and shopping centers, bomb attacks on public buildings, destruction of passenger aircraft and public utilities, facing a total of 388 exploding suicide bombers, day and night time ethnic cleansing massacres, attacks on places of  worship, shooting and machete attacks, and every form of violence, heaved a sigh of relief and looked forward to restoring ethnic ties and enjoying the newly won peace.  The citizens had regained their right to life from terror attacks and prepared to undertake the massive task of caring for the nearly 300,000 displaced Tamils rescued from the control of the LTTE who used them as slave laborers, conscripts, plus a human shield, and developing the war affected regions and the country which lagged behind due to ongoing terrorism.

Building a HR Case against Sri Lanka: The peace that dawned on the country was being disturbed by the remnants of the Tamil Tiger terror movement located overseas mainly in western countries with huge stacks of money that they had gathered through extortion and other criminal means, by joining hands with western funded INGO/NGO that was supportive of a two state solution since disappointed that their proxy forces in the LTTE had been eliminated.  These Tamil Tiger supporters who funded the terrorist violence of the LTTE have today metamorphosed into champions of human rights and seek the South Sudan route to gaining their separate state with the aid of the INGO/NGO gang and western bloc which has an agenda to destabilize and break up other countries to take control of valuable resources under the cloak of human rights and democracy, using their dominance of the international media and their military might as they falsely intervened in Iraq in search of non-existent WMDs.

The pro-Tamil Tiger lobby domiciled in the west have helped former Tamil Tiger cadres and other Tamils  from Sri Lanka who survived their failed final war of liberation willing to pay exorbitant sums to be smuggled to the western countries by ship and other means, whom they are using to make allegations of human rights violations and contraventions of IHL by the Sri Lankan forces during the conduct of the military action against the LTTE.  These Tamil asylum seekers in developed western countries have been coached to concoct tales, whilst their propaganda arm the Tamilnet has a storehouse of staged photos and doctored pictures readily available to be passed on to gullible media persons who are sympathetic to their cause.  These tattle tales and expertly tampered photos have also been shared with the various rights groups such as ICG, HRW, AI, and the UNSG’s so called Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka who have used the material to write volumes from their ivory towers in western capitals and surmise that there are “ƒ”¹…”credible allegations’ (whatever that means) of serious wrongdoings by the Sri Lankan Forces that needs to be investigated by an independent international body.  Sri Lanka has rejected these unsubstantiated claims and refused to submit to international scrutiny just as any other sovereign country would, as she is quite capable of carrying out such investigations on her own.  The UNSG’s Panel which came to the same conclusions as the INGO even took a decision to lock up whatever material that they examined for a period of 20 years giving a black eye to openness and accountability.

Highly Elastic Tamil Civilian Casualties Numbers Game:   Several  INGO have guesstimated numbers of Tamil civilian deaths in the latter stages of the military action (Jan 1-May 19, 2009) from their overseas headquarters  which are far removed from reality.  The numbers vary from 7721 to in excess of 100,000 which clearly shows that their guess work is baseless and not to be relied on.

Initially, the UN Resident Representative’s office in Colombo said that around 7000 had died between January 1 and April 30, 2009, which the UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sir John Holmes rejected as the UN was not present on the ground and as such cannot be validated. Next we had the UK’s Sunday Times reporter Jeremy Paige who overflew the final battleground at Vellimullivaikal (which had been devastated by the Tamil Tigers blowing up their remaining bombs placed on trucks and burning of sensitive material over 3 days)in the Mullativu district in NE Sri Lanka, along with other foreign journalists and the UN Secretary General reporting 20,000 deaths by surveying the ground below.  In May of 2010, the International Crisis Group published their report  titled War Crimes in Sri Lanka based on information from Tamils claiming to have been witnesses  wherein they guesstimated tens of thousands of civilian deaths which they put at around 40,000. The UN Secretary General’s so called Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka sitting in New York came up with their report in April 2011 copying some of the contents in the ICG release jumping to the same conclusion of around 40,000 civilian deaths whilst noting a total of 7721 deaths assessed by the UN office in Colombo in para 134 of their report.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Channel 4 News of UK were parroting the same numbers as the ICG, sticking to this much bandied 40,000 number without any valid explanation.  The former UN Spokesperson in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss who was aware of the local UN office’s  count of 7,000 deaths, wrote a book called “The Cage” on his release from his UN posting  where he exaggerated the number of deaths from 10,000 to 40,000 to cater to the Tamil diaspora and profit from it.  When Weiss was questioned about the basis of his estimation he called it a “ƒ”¹…”scientific- unscientific  method’ which is meaningless and unreliable.  Frances Harrison too has written a book where she says that the final number could be as high as 55,000. She also quotes a Tamil Catholic Bishop of Mannar, Rev. Rayappu Joseph who claims that the number unaccounted for is 146,679 merely using arbitrary population numbers to suit his calculations but lacking the ability to provide names and addresses of the 429,059 residents he assumes to have lived in the affected region.

The LTTE did not allow the Sri Lankan authorities to conduct a population census in the north and east where they controlled a substantial  extent of territory after 1981.  Even though the LTTE was in physical control and they even taxed the resident civilian population and exploited their labour, abducted and forcibly conscripted their children, it was the Government of Sri Lanka that paid for the education and health facilities and all other public utilities in addition to supplying food, medicine and other essentials for the people living under the jackboot of the Tamil Tigers.  The population in the Vanni region fluctuated with people from the Jaffna peninsula forced to move into the Vanni following the Sri Lankan Army gaining control of the peninsula in the 1990’s, but shortly thereafter returning to their former places of residence in the peninsula.  Whenever hostilities took place, some would leave by boat and seek refuge in South India where even today there are over 100,000 Tamils who are now gradually returning to Sri Lanka as there is peace. Some of the residents moved out of the LTTE controlled areas by paying a steep tax or handing over a child to be conscripted by the Tamil Tigers, which is a major reason for the influx of Tamils to the capital city and suburbs to make the Tamils the second largest group next to the Moors whilst the 75% indigenous Sinhalese have fallen into third place.

The allocation of food and other essentials to the people residing in areas controlled by the LTTE was not determined on accurate census counts but arbitrary assessments including exaggerated numbers provided by the LTTE who sought higher quotas which would benefit them as they commandeered stocks for feeding their cadres and building up reserves. In fact some LTTE bunkers had used bags of rice and lentils instead of sand bags to fortify them.

At the conclusion of the military action, and re-settlement of a major segment of the internally displaced, the Sri Lankan authorities carried out a census of the population of the war affected areas in the north in February /March 2012, using Tamil school teachers specifically to determine the number of deaths which took place in the latter stages from January 1 to May 19, 2009. The results of the census published by the Department of Census and Statistics are as follows:

Total number of deaths registered for the period January  to May 2009                                              –   8998
Less:  Non-natural deaths unrelated to war (accidents/suicides/homicides for  same period   –      454
Sub-Total                                                                                                                                                                          –    8544
Adjust for  deaths due to natural causes                                                                                                           –     1102
Total war related deaths
                                                                                                                                          –    7432
(Note: Verified by census enumerators “”…” 6858 leaving 584 deaths where exact cause is not known)

The above figures closely resemble the numbers reported in the LTTE propaganda unit known as Tamilnet which reported a total of 5925 deaths without distinguishing between LTTE cadres and civilians broken down monthly as follows:  Jan 2009″”…” 628; Feb””…” 519; Mar “”…” 1349; Apr””…” 828;and May 2009 -2601. (Refer ). The maximum number of deaths  reported as a total  by the Tamilnet for the same period is 7398.

The number of 7432 deaths include both civilians as well as LTTE cadres who fell in action. As the Sri Lankan Army lost nearly 4000 men of the total of 6200 killed in action in the last stages, it could be safely assumed that the LTTE too lost an equal number in battle leaving a balance of 3432 made up of Tiger cadres dressed in civilian attire, other civilians engaged in combat related duties and the remainder made up of persons who could be classified as “true civilians’ caught in the crossfire or done to death by the LTTE in their attempt to flee to safety in government controlled areas.   Therefore, the total number of civilian deaths is considerably lower than the highly exaggerated 40,000 plus numbers frequently reported in the western media and cited by rights groups such as the ICG, HRW or AI.


Based on the above numbers, the resident population in the war affected areas of the northern province would consist of the following:

Internally displaced Tamil civilians rescued from the clutches of the LTTE                                –         284,209
LTTE cadres surrendering to the army and others detected midst the IDPs                              –            11,070
LTTE Child Soldiers surrendering to the army                                                                                          –                 594
Sub-Total                                                                                                                                                                 –         295,873
LTTE cadres/civilian combatants/’true civilians’ war related deaths per census                       –             7,432
Missing per census (Some smuggled into Canada by boat, others likely waiting for boats)   –            2,635
Total number residing in war affected parts of N. Sri Lanka during Jan 1 “”…” May 19,2009      
–          305,940

Allegations of indiscriminate shelling:  Another allegation leveled against the Sri Lankan Forces is that they indiscriminately shelled hospitals, safe zones earmarked for civilians, and a UN food distribution point as they advanced against the Tamil Tiger forces.  At the same time, the various INGO such as the ICG, HRW, Ai and the UNSG’s POE acknowledged that the LTTE had placed their long range guns close to hospitals, inside civilian safe zones, and the UN food distribution point from where they attacked the Sri Lankan Army naturally drawing retaliatory fire.  The Army has stated that they verified the position of the LTTE’s guns and the IDPs by means of UAV flights prior to making surgical strikes to disable the offending enemy weapons.

A British qualified Historian, namely, Dr. Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda who was granted access to the front has confirmed that the Sri Lankan forces abandoned the use of heavy weapons by the third week of April 2009 after virtually boxing in the LTTE in order to minimize harm to the civilians. They battled on with hand held weapons whilst the Tigers continued to attack them with their remaining artillery guns and mortars which resulted in a high ratio of casualties for the Army.  Dr. Delgoda’s detailed papers from the front have been published by the prestigious Centre for Land War Studies (CLAWS) of New Delhi as well as the Independent Newspaper of UK, wherein he had stated that even if a single incendiary had been fired into the final “ƒ”¹…”civilian safe zone’ in Puthumatalan infiltrated by the Tamil Tigers it would have destroyed all of the flimsy civilian housing erected in close proximity to each other. The enclosed picture taken by the UK Times journalist who accompanied the UN Secretary General, Ban ki moon, who overflew the final battleground and civilian safe zone confirms the ground situation as vouched for by Dr. Delgoda.

The vicious campaign to vilify and demonize Sri Lanka by the above mentioned rights groups, the UNSG’s Panel on Sri Lanka, Channel  4 and other western powers and media with the help of the remaining LTTE leaders in the Tamil diaspora, using highly exaggerated casualty numbers drawn from thin air and questionable photos and material in their continuing onslaught are seeking to punish the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka for single handedly defeating Tamil Tiger terrorism and thereby disrupting their well laid plans to put in place a two state solution to the long drawn out conflict in that country.  These accusers whose human rights records are stained with the blood and suffering of millions of people in Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. have only been able to come up with what they call “credible allegations” based on unsubstantiated evidence.  Continuing this process, they would only succeed in destabilizing the country once again and adversely affecting the ongoing healing and reconciliation currently taking place in Sri Lanka.


Mahinda Gunasekera

Toronto, Canada  – Dated March 2, 2013


Aerial Pic from Times journo with Ban ki moon, late May 2009


  1. Vis8 Says:

    Thanks, valuable information. Hope Ambassador Ariyasinghe and GoSL take note. Sri Lanka should ask the West what they have done, other than “kill terrorists”. No one has saved more civilians, and no country has seen the remarkably rapid development of the former terror-held areas, than Sri Lanka. People in the North of Sri Lanka are happy, and live without fear of terrorists abducting their children. It is the soundly-beaten and guilt-ridden ltte rump overseas who are funding these fabrications. Money talks in the West. Sri Lanka should put forward fact-based details of the humanitarian operation. No one will be able to argue with the fact that Sri Lanka defeated terrorism completely, and stands far ahead of the ‘developed countries’ in rehabilitation and rebuilding a country that has been decimated for 30 years by insane terrorism.

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