A Sri Lankan touring Normandy
Posted on September 26th, 2015

Garvin Karunaratne

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

Garvin Karunaratne

25 th September 2015

5 Responses to “A Sri Lankan touring Normandy”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Dear Mr. Karunaratna, Thank you for this piece. There were so much cruelty that was done by LTTE to the Sinhalese who tried their best to accomodate them. I cannot understand why even President Mahinda Rajapakse delayed looking into these matters. He spent so much effort to try and make the Tamils happy in the North and East. I guess he thought he could get their vote. It just shows how out of touch our people are with Tamils. Right through the fighting in the North and East there were observers from UNO and also the US and UK embassies had staff who were in constant communication with all the players. It is true that USA helped Sri Lanka in identifying and destroying the 12 ship loads of arms. Yet at the same time they did not want the LTTE supremo to be eliminated. I believe all these countries wanted the war to drag on so that they could keep selling arms to all the players. I believe it is the same reason that both CBK and RW did not conclude the war expeditiously. When SLFP came into power and CBK became President with Ranil W as Prime Minister they bungled the entire military operations against the LTTE. She appointed her uncle Anuruddha Ratwatte as Secretary for Defence and her nephew Rohan Daluwatte as the Military commander. Rohan had no military experience and would run off to see Sai Baba whenever there was trouble. She kept the war with LTTE dragging on and thousands of our Sinhala soldiers were brutally killed by LTTE. See article http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2015/04/08/how-chandrika-won-the-war-exposing-lies-part-1/

    She had a preset idea that it was not possible to beat the LTTE along with Ranil W. There was a commission appointed to look into bribery by her uncle Ratwatte. When they started sitting he had a heart attack and died so the case was cancelled. Ranil W kept trying to hand over the North and East to appease Prabahakaran. He even stopped a crucial military operation in 2001 where the army knew the exact location of Prabahakaran and were ready to take him out. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZWO5fWDikQ

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    I am filled with sorrow to read, among other details, this particular incident :

    “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 Yahap new govt also MUST look into this tragedy and further compensate those families. I think perhaps earlier MR govt must have helped these families in some ways.

    We the Civilian population of Lanka must look at the Root Causes of the tragedies of some 30 yrs. Apart from the two JVP uprisings, the 30 yrs of LTTE terrorism took its toll on the country and the people.

    The then JVP leaders said that the first uprising was due to Unemployment. The second uprising was due to the 13-A being imposed by India.
    Both Causes are still with us – yet unresolved properly, though Unemployment was less under the MR govt.

    Why have Tamil Leaders called for Separatism from the 1930s onwards ? Why was the LTTE trained in India during JRJ times ?
    Why the V’koddai Resolution of 1976 calling for Separatism through Violence ?

    The Tamil Dalit Caste issue goes unaddressed. It is an issue in Tamil Nadu NOT in Lanka. Yet the rage of it is unleashed in Lanka. TN issues Birth Certificates with Caste named on it. A Tamil Dalit child has its Caste named on the Birth Certificate. In Sri Lanka there is no such naming of Caste on anyone’s Birth Certificate, Tamil or otherwise. Violence against Tamil Dalits have increased rapidly in Tamil Nadu. There is also free Education and Health Care in Lanka for all here.
    To stop the Tamil leaders call to Separatism, should Lanka authorities also issue new Birth Certificates to Tamil folk with their Caste named, now and in the future ? After all, Tamil Nadu (homeland of Tamils) and India do just that, don’t they ? Isn’t it the right thing to emulate power blocs in the region ?

  3. Indrajith Says:

    GL rejects Champika’s claim that MR brought in foreign experts
    September 26, 2015, 8:08 pm – Courtesy The Island.

    Former Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris yesterday rejected as “totally false” a claim by Minister Patali Champika Ranawake that the former president brought in foreign experts (to investigate war related matters) long before Geneva.

    “The government never brought foreign judges, prosecutors or investigators,” he said. “The mandate of Sir Desmond de Silva, QC, Geoffrey Nice, QC, and Prof. David Crane was to assist the Paranagama Commission with regard to international humanitarian and human rights law, customary international law and laws governing armed conflict.”

    Explaining that they were brought to give advice based on their undoubted professional expertise, he said that it was open to the commission at all times to accept or reject their advice.

    “They were only resource persons and were by no means judges having the right to decide matters on their own responsibility,” Pieris said. “It is a complete distortion to suggest any parallel between these two situations. The previous government would not have contemplated such a situation even for one moment.”

    He said the resolution Sri Lanka was co-sponsoring in Geneva holds that there are reasonable ground for believing that Sri Lanka’s armed forces have committed some of the most serious offences known to international law such as widespread unlawful killing, systemic sexual and gender based violence, kidnapping, abduction and disappearances, recurring patterns of torture, calculated starvation of civilian population, denial of essential medical supplies and the recruitment of children to be deployed in war.

    “This is the resolution we are co-sponsoring, Pieris said. “I can’t see how this is construed as a victory for Sri Lanka.”

  4. NAK Says:

    Pa Cha. Ranawaka was cliaming that this is not the first time that foreigners were getting involved.
    Even MR did invite foreigners.
    Yes,he did and that was a bad experience which taught us a bitter lesson and I am refering to IIEPs and not Sir desmond de Silva’s team. Justice Baghawithie and the lot were invited only to observe the AFC case and they started behaving as if they were the supervisors of the judge hearing the case and when they were told that they were interfereing in the case left the country blaming MR.
    Some people argue that it was Mahinda who went to Geneva in 89. true, but,he went there with the truth and what takes place today in Geneva is far from the truth and every one knows that.

  5. NAK Says:

    Correction, UNHCR is is the refugee agency. UNHRC is the human rights commission.

    It is not a question of our soldiers violating human righs, it is all about US’s geopolitical agenda in the Indian ocean.

    If,our solders are so bad as they claim,how come they are invited for peace keeping missions in many countries like Haiti,Lebenon and frequently commended for their excellent service?
    They are aiming for a military base in the east and they don’t seem to be in any hurry. They are squeezing a little at a time.
    And when they make the demand,we will be pleading with them to come and loosen the nooze they tightened so hard.

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