I am a war criminal
Posted on January 18th, 2016

by Fr J.C. Pieris Courtesy The Island

Samantha Power, Soros, Blair and others like them have come and gone and will come again. World powers have begun to show a great interest in our country, especially about our political issues more than about our economic issues. We must be wary when great powers show such concern for it is a dangerous and a warning sign. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” Vergil (Aeneid) If the UNHRC and the international community say that war crimes have been committed in Sri Lanka; I firmly declare to the judicial instrument, whatever its pedigree, ‘hybrid’ or not, that is going to inquire in to the role of the GOSL armed forces in the defeat of the LTTE terrorists and their separatist agenda, that I am a war criminal. I am neither a soldier nor a politician I am a civilian but I am a war criminal. I shall prove that I am so with a quotation from the famous historian Arnold Toynbee.

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“Every participant in an institution has some degree of personal responsibility for the acts committed in his name by the persons who are in control of that institution. If the electorate in the United States were to set up a war tribunal for trying American war criminals in the Vietnam War, I think the prosecution should not be limited to presidents, commanders in chief, and civilian and military subordinates. The American electorate ought to indict the whole of itself, since the electorate bears the ultimate responsibility in a state that has a democratic constitution.” (Choose Life, A dialogue between Toynbee and Ikeda, OUP 1989, page 190)

Of course the American public, the American electorate did not indict itself of the horrible crimes against humanity (My Lai) or of unforgiveable crimes of ecocide committed in Vietnam. (Agent Orange defoliation of whole jungles and hundreds and thousands of acres of forest cover.) More recently in the destruction of Iraq and the killing of Saddam Hussein both Bush and Blair pontificated that there were WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and acted on those false premises to wage an unjust, ugly war in Iraq. Neither the British electorate nor the American electorate indicted themselves of crimes against humanity. At least they should have taken the responsibility for the totally misleading black lies (WMDs) of the combo of their leaders. The present tragic and bloody chaos in the Levant and terrorism and refugee influx in to Europe, are the direct consequences of the destruction of Saddam by the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The Chilcot report on the Iraq war was suppressed, shelved and forgotten for, very probably, it clearly accused the two countries of war crimes. Every Brit and American is a war criminal according to Toynbee. It is good to remember what S.P. Huntington said about the West: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.” – ‘The clash of civilizations’ page 51. Ergo, as far as UK and USA are concerned the UNHRC plays the monkey game of no see, no hear, no talk.

By the year 2005 we, the peaceful citizens of Sri Lanka, have had enough of the indiscriminate, barbaric, massacres of the LTTE. They were a Satanic, mindless, heartless, horde of zombies who without batting their eyelids bombed, shot, cut, butchered and slaughtered infants, children, women and old men. The world remains shocked by the ISIS terrorist attack in Paris on the 13/11/15 which left over 130 dead and hundreds of others wounded. That sort of thing was our weekly routine experience in Sri Lanka those days and the world did not even notice. I shall list some of the bloody heroics of the LTTE with bombs, guns and machetes.

In Colombo alone: 01. 21/04/1987: Central bus stand bomb, Pettah: 120 civilians of all races, 1 soldier and 2 constables killed and 298 wounded. 02. 09/11/1987: Bomb opposite Maradana railway station: 23 civilians of all races killed and 106 wounded. 03. 13/07/1989: Buller’s Road shooting and killing of Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran and wounding Sivasithamparam. 04. 11/05/1990: Gregory’s Road shooting of Sam Thambimuttu and wife. 05. 01/03/1991: Havelock Road bombing; Ranjan Wijeratne, 19 civilians killed and 56 wounded. 06. 01/05/1993: Armour Street bombing of President Premadasa, 23 civilians killed and 52 injured. 07. 07/08/1995: Maharagama bomb; 08 civilians killed and 23 injured. 08. 23/10/1994: Thotalanga bomb; Gamini Dissanayake, 4 MPs and 51 civilians killed and 40 injured. 09. 07/08/1995: Colombo 7 bomb opposite Chief Minister’s office killing 21 civilians and injuring 44. 10. 31/01/1996: Central Bank bomb killing 86 civilians and injuring 1338. 11. 24/07/1996: Dehiwala railway station bomb killing 63 civilians and injuring 366.

12. 12. 15/10/1997: Hotel Galadari bombing and shooting killing 13 civilians and wounding 94 including 33 foreigners. 13. 05/03/1998: Maradana Junction bombing killing 38 civilians including 2 constables and wounding 270. 14. 29/07/1999: Kynsey Road bombing and killing of Neelan Thiruchelvam, driver and body guard. 15. 20/12/1999: Town Hall bomb killing 33 civilians and injuring 110 including Chandrika Kumaratunga. 16. 07/06/2000: Ratmalana Golumadama Junction bombing and killing CV Gunaratne, wife and 33 others and injuring 30. In Kandy the heart rending bombing of the temple of the sacred Tooth Relic killing the early morning worshippers. In Anuradhapura district 12 such incidents including the killing of the pious devotees at the Sri Maha Bodhi. In the Polonnaruwa district 14. In the Moneragala district 4. In the Puttalam district 3. In the Northern Province 16. In the Trincomalee district 25. In the Ampara district 23. In the Batticaloa district 15. In India 3.

– “The Wages of Sin”, S.L. Gunasekara, pg 20 ff.

The man in the street lived utterly terrorized and dejected. Parents commuting to work never took the same bus or got in to the same compartment of the train. They travelled separately so that their children may not lose both their mother and father. In every home there was uneasiness and tension till all who went to work or on other business returned home safe in the evening. What fright the country endured! What tragic times they were! It was in that desperate context that the presidential election of 2005 came around. MR and the alliance canvassed under the Betel Leaf for the ending of the war and the elimination of the LTTE. That was what the country desperately needed and what the country had hoped for. RW and the UNP were dilly dallying with the LTTE and did not show any signs of the ability to finish the war. How can they when they did not know the geographical difference between Pamankada and Alimankada, Medawachchiya and Kilinochchiya? I had voted for MR not so much because I trusted him to deliver but because of the JVP and the JHU which I was certain would somehow get the job done. In the year 2009 the job was done, the LTTE was totally eliminated and the war came to a definite halt. In 2010 I voted for the Swan but that is not relevant to this topic.

We never secretly trained and armed rebels and terrorists of other countries as many of our powerful neighbours did. We never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries trying to destabilize them as the powerful countries of the world are constantly doing. We never were bullies. We never invaded or bombed another sovereign country. We only defended ourselves in our own country from the cruelest and vilest terrorist outfit in the world. Self defense has no rules. It was a matter of life or death. We had to safeguard the unitary status of the country which is the sine qua non for the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of our small, island nation. It was all out war but not between two legally constituted conventional armies. One was a terrorist organization that did not recognize or honour any international rule of war.

The peace talks in Thimpu, Phuket and all over the world came to naught. The LTTE talked while getting everything ready for the next massacre. The LTTE was totally unreliable and their barbaric trickery was notorious. The Sri Lanka armed forces had no option but to play the game, often one hand tied behind the back by the international rules of war and the pressure brought on by the self interest of powerful countries. Yet, the SL armed forces fought with superb strategy, intelligence and bravery ultimately winning the war that the international pundits said was unwinnable. Not only the president and the GOSL but the whole country, Sinhala, Muslim and even many Tamils, stood by the armed forces. Toynbee is right: Sri Lanka being a democratic country, we shared the responsibility for the war and whatever consequences that followed.

The Paranagama report says, “The LTTE was principally responsible for the loss of civilian life during the final phase of the armed conflict through their actions which included taking 300,000 to 330,000 civilian hostage, implementing a strategy of killing Tamil civilians to suit their military aims, using civilians as a strategic human buffer leading to considerable loss of civilian life, using hostages to dig trenches and build fortifications thereby exposing them to harm, sacrificing countless civilian hostages to keep the LTTE leadership in power, arming hostages and forcing them into the front line leading to the deaths of large numbers, forcing a great number of children to man the frontlines; deliberately preventing civilians, under their effective control, from fleeting to areas away from the fighting and executing civilian hostages for attempting to escape their captivity; shelling civilian hostages in order that the LTTE might assign those deaths to the SLA for media purposes to provoke international humanitarian intervention; placing their heavy weaponry amid civilians making it inevitable that there would be civilian casualties; killing civilians through the use of suicide bombers; placing mines and other explosive devices that resulted in civilian deaths; causing the deaths of civilians who drowned in an attempt to flee their LTTE captors; and adopting a practice whereby a significant number of its cadres fought in civilian clothes, thus blurring the distinction between combatants and civilians inevitably leading to civilian deaths.”….”Commission is of the view that the principal reason for the loss of civilian life during the final phase of the war was the hostage taking and use of human shields by the LTTE.”

The Paranagama report does not fully exonerate the SL armed forces. For, it was not a ping pong match and there is no gentlemen’s war. War is always ugly, dirty, tragic and unfair. If people are not aware of that cruel truth after two world wars, Auschwitz and Treblinka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and now Syria, either they are idiots or they are insane. The recent statement of the TNA leadership which has replaced the LTTE as the representatives of the Tamil people in the negotiation process shows that they have accepted that truth: “We also accept and undertake to carry out our responsibility to lead the Tamil people in reflecting on the past, and use this moment as a moment of introspection into our own community’s failures and the unspeakable crimes committed in our name, so as to create an enabling culture and atmosphere in which we could live with dignity and self-respect, as equal citizens of Sri Lanka.”

The Tamil leadership certainly should take the responsibility for the civil war and the destruction it caused as Neville Ladduawahetti explains clearly in an article in The Island on the 04/12/15. “The compulsion for the Tamil community to be separate and distinct from the rest of the Sri Lankans goes way back beyond Vaddukoddai. However, it was only at Vaddukoddais in 1976 that they articulated it as a resolution to establish a separate state based on the right of self-determination. It was this resolution that called “upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached”. Therefore, the Tamil leadership that initiated the call “to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state…was reached”, should take full responsibility for the death and destruction they unleashed on the whole nation, and in particular on their own community.”

The “unspeakable crimes” were committed not only against the innocent civilians belonging to all communities especially the Sinhala community but also against their own community destroying almost a generation of Tamil children by sending them to the front lines with guns. So says S.P. Huntington in his book ‘The clash of civilizations’ page 259: “…and the Tamil Tigers, it was reported, were “unique in their reliance on what amounts to a children’s army”, recruiting “boys and girls as young as eleven”, with those killed in fighting “not yet teenagers when they died, only a few older than eighteen.” The Tigers, The Economist observed, were waging an “under-age war”. Some LTTE ideologues dare talk about victimhood and martyrdom. The innocent children were certainly victims of the brutal LTTE but they were not martyred, they were simply tricked in to or forced in to being cannon fodder.

With positive and conciliatory attitudes shown by both sides we can handle our own process of post war mutual forgiveness and the journey towards justice, collaboration, development and peace. All of us, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher communities, we shall always protect and be proud of our beloved nation; the sovereign, independent, unitary state of Sri Lanka. We do not need any interference and guidance from outside. I wish to remind the countries that habitually poke their noses in to the garbage bins of other countries and accuse them of violating human rights and committing war crimes, the words of Jesus to the hypocrites who accused a poor woman of committing adultery. “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” The Jews of those days had the grace to feel ashamed and left the woman alone. But those who goad the UNHRC to punish us don’t have that grace; they are those who felt humiliated by the defeat of the Tigers who were their agents, their pets, their cats’ paws; they still want to run the world on the ancient Imperial Roman strategy of ‘divide and rule’. They are the war-mongers, arms merchants and rapacious exploiters of the non renewable resources of the Earth. They have blood on their hands and insatiable greed in their evil hearts. UNHRC or International Community or whoever you are – leave us alone.

 

Concluded

3 Responses to “I am a war criminal”

  1. nilwala Says:

    Fr. J.C. Pieris has presented an extremely well articulated and well reasoned essay on why Sri Lanka should be allowed to settle her problems without foreign interventions, especially from mistrusted sectors who have proven themselves to be no true friends of Sri Lanka.
    The Paranagama Report was available but not presented at Geneva when it could have saved Sri Lanka from the hounding of its political and military leaders who had saved the country from endless repeats of terror war. Instead, the OISL Report by the UNHRC which is so damaging to the country’s leaders and its Defense Forces was accepted by the current GoSL in a partisan move, without even having properly read it for all its implications, and without it having been presented in Parliament for approval….and therefore with no legality or constitutionally acceptability. This was a brash act that has put the country in jeopardy and under the dictat of Western-led leaderships inimical to the island’s majority Sinhala people. Fr. Pieris’s voice in laying out the truth of what it was to live as those targeted by the LTTE terrorists, and in support of the people subjected to this heinous injustice will hopefully not be lost as a voice in the wilderness.

  2. nilwala Says:

    Correction: In Para 2 line 5, replace “constitutionally” with “constitutional” Thanks!

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Fr Pieris has presented the facts honestly for which we thank him.

    We agree with Nilwala. We hope that sanity prevails and people take note of what Fr Pieris says here.

    It is absurd and even silly to demand that, at this point in time, the majority community trust and accept folks from abroad who trained the LTTE as well as those who colonised Lanka, isn’t it ? An “Island” editorial summed up the situation well when it said : ” Lanka is like a damsel in a rough neighborhood, having to open the door to every thug in the neighborhood” (not exact words) …. !!

    How can we love/like the unlovable/unlikable, at this point in time ? No apologies have ever been tendered to the majority community for the damage done to the People of Lanka over a long period of time.

    Leave Lanka alone to sort out her problems !! Please.

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