A Sri Lankan touring Normandy
Posted on September 26th, 2015
Touring Normandy, I visited the Omaha Beach, the Juno Beach, the Gold Beach and Sword Beach where thousands of Allied Forces soldiers perished for the cause of peace in the World War II. It is estimated that at least 130,000 soldiers died for the cause of peace.
My mind travels back to the sacrifices that Sri Lankans too made for that cause. My father owned a Radio Shop at Bambalapitiya- Radio Works, the importer for Kapsch Radios. . One day, all of a sudden, one of the technicians that worked, Ben Samaranayake told us that he was off as a soldier to the Allied Front in Europe, and took leave of my father. He was a lad from Polgahawela. That was all I heard of him.
The Allied Invasion of 1944 was meant to defeat Hitler, who by then had conquered almost all of Europe and was bombing England. The Allied Forces comprising soldiers from the UK, Canada, the United State and many other countries commanded a total strength of 1.3 million. The Germans under Herr Hitler had built up a fortress of fortifications on the shores of Normandy and were about to invade England. Under Prime Minister Winston Churchill the UK was put on a war footing. Air raids by Germany was a common occurance and Churchill commanded from an undeground bunker in London.
Under Operation Overlord 130, 000 troops, half of them from the United States and the rest from the UK, Canada and other European and Commonwealth Counties were parachuted and dropped by boat. Thousands perished but the rest fought on breaking the backbone of Hitler’s Nazi Army. The rest is history.
Today, well wishers, relatives that lost their loved ones in battle visit the Beaches and gaze in veneration at the sands where their blood was shed. The Juno Beach has a museum depicting how the Armed Forces from Canada valiantly battled the Germans The names of all the soldiers that perished are etched for posterity. They are the heroes.
Sometime back in London on Remembrance Day the veterans of the War, donned their uniforms and paraded in marches in London. They were the heroes of the war. People gazed at them in devotion and veneration.
Walk through the streets of London and statues of great soldiers stand out at prominent sites. On Remembrance Day wreaths are placed by VVIP at solemn ceremonies.
Not so in Sri Lanka The Armed Forces that liberated Sri Lanka from the LTTE are now being hounded by the United Nations and its branch covering Human Rights. The UNHCR has put out a massive report stating that war crimes have been committed. What is sad is that he UNHCR has been totally blinkered. The UNHCR has ignored real transgressions of human rights in the World and has singled out Sri Lanka. For instance the UNHCR is silent about what is happening for the past few years in Palestine. Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel is expanding the borders of Israel even at this very moment, pulling down the homes of innocent Palestinians, those who had lived for ccnturies, throwing their belongings onto the streets and within hours Israel bulldozers are in action, reducing the Palestinian homes to rubble and in the next days high rise apartments are built for Israeli settlers. The deeds claiming the land are the treasured possession of the Palestinians who are now homeless. But the UNHCR is blinkered and fail to see the human atrocity that is happening there.
The UNHCR is also not aware of one significant fact about the manner in which the battle against the LTTE was fought. Right throughout, the Sri Lankan Government looked after the civilians in the North and the East which were forcibly ruled by the LTTE. Every week hundreds of lorries full of rice, currystuffs and medicines were dispatched in fleets of lorries. The lorries we driven to the border and handed over to the LTTE cadres that manned the border. The fully laden lorries were accepted and it is a well known fact that the medicines and food was sold to the civilians. The LTTE never paid a cent the Government of Sri Lanka. The food and medicines were given totally free. That was not all. At times for years cement, iron and building materials were sent totally free. Some of the lorries sent never returned. My own car driver n the Agrarian Services, Lionel Gunatileka was promoted as a lorry driver and he took a load of rice along with a full contingent of over twenty lorries. None of the Drivers ever returned. The LTTE confiscated the lorries. Lionel’s wife and children pine even today at what happened to their father. I feel sorry for having recruited him for otherwise he would be a farmer in Mawaramandiya today.
The war against the LTTE was waged in a humanitarian manner, so far unknown in the annals of warfare. Normally in warfare the enemy is not only fought in battle but he area occupied by the enemy is deprived of food to make the enemy surrender. .Not so in Sri Lanka where provision was made for the well being of the people. All the schools in LTTE held land were maintained, paid by the SriLankan Government. But they were forced by the LTTE to teach what they wanted. The officers paid by the Government carried out the orders of the LTTE on pain of death. Five. Government Agents- the Cmmissioners in charge of the Districts were murdered by the LTTE. Yet the Sri Lankan Government provide food, clothing and shelter to the people.
Further, it is a well known fact that in the last stages of the war, the LTTE as they retreated took with them by force, some 300,000 civilians whom they held as a human shield. They attacked the Sri Lankan forces hiding behind this civilian force The Sri Lankan Armed Forces liberated this mass of 300,000 Tamil clivilians , provided them with food and lodging till their home areas were cleared from mines that the LTTE had laid. Thereafter the people were settled in their homes. The task accomplished by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces was not only to liberate the Tamil civilians from the LTTE that ruled with the gun, taking over their sons and daughters as soldiers for their baby brigade that were brain washed and made to work as suicicde cadres. The Armed Forces also liberated the people of SriLanka from the endless attacks of the LTTE. The LTTE attacked the Central Bank killing over a hundred. They attacked the Temple of the Tooth. Even President Premadasa and the former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE. Not a day passed without the LTTE attaking civlians in other parts of Sri Lanka which make anyone think that their plan was not to carve out a kingdom in the North and the East, but to occupy the entireland.
It is nosensical to even think that the Sri Lankan Army killed wantonly. Th UN Report accuse the Sri Lankan Army of resorting to torture. That was never the case. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces fought an essentially humanitarian battle caring for the people.
It is an accepted fact that any excesses done by army personnel are seriously dealt with. The murder of the Manamperi girl in the 1971 JVP Uprising was investigated and Captain Wijeysooriya and his accomplice a Seargent were incarcerated and both died in prison. The Sri Lankan Army has a strict procedure and Sri Lanka has able Judges who can inquire and punish any miscreant. Thus the UNHCR call for foreign interference in the form of international judges, lawyers and prosecutors in my opinion is not necessary.
The current UNHCR proposal which includes a Hybrid Court to consist of foreign expertise is in my opinion an infringement on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and should not be accepted by Sri Lanka. If at all we are to agree or provide consensus it would be illegal, unless it is approved at a referendum before the people.
It is hoped that UNHCR will be fair and concentrate on the countries that really infringe on human rights and totally drop the resolution against Sri Lanka
25 th September 2015