Our best defence
Posted on October 17th, 2016

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The Geneva Resolution is our immediate threat and should be countered first, argues journalist Shamindra Ferdinando. In his weekly column in ‘The Island’, he repeatedly highlights that the last phase of the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was not a war without witnesses. He regularly challenges these charges.

Allegations against the government are:
Ordering the United Nations and the International Non-Governmental Organizations in September 2008, out of Kilinochchi, to get rid of the witnesses.
The allegation has not taken into account the UN’s underhand dealings with the LTTE. Even after the LTTE imprisoned Tamil UN workers for aiding civilians to escape, the Colombo-based UN mission continued its secret dealings – keeping the UN Headquarters ignorant of the developments. Though the threat that civilians would be held hostage had been real since 2007, the UN refused to act.

Internal review

Their own internal review, headed by Charles Petrie, “Report on Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel on UN Actions in Sri Lanka”, concludes that “events in Sri Lanka mark a great failure of the UN to adequately respond to early warning and to the evolving situations during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians and in contraction with the principles and responsibilities of the UN. The elements of what was a systematic failure can be distilled into the following:
A UN system that lacked an adequate and shared sense of responsibility for human rights violations.

An incoherent internal UN crisis-management structure which failed to conceive and execute a coherent strategy in response to early warnings and subsequent international human rights and humanitarian law violations against civilians.

Furthermore, this discounts the presence of the ICRC and the Indian medical team stationed in Pulmuddai, North of Trincomalee. While the ICRC assisted evacuating the wounded along with a ‘helper’ – often a family member, the Indian team remained until the war ended.
The hostages themselves are witnesses. General Daya Ratnayaka highlights, “We rescued 290,000 civilians. There were approximately 2,000 UN employees, thousands of government employees, including the GA, and hundreds of Hindu and Christian clergy.”
The Vanni population was denied essentials.

Ferdinando writes that this should be “probed against the backdrop of supplies made available to Puthumathalan, until the week before the war ended in May 2009. India and ICRC, too, should be requested to explain their roles in the operation.”

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, explains, “If a terrorist organization takes control of some area, the government can no longer take responsibility for those civilians. Can our Police or military go to those areas? Can our officials go and distribute anything? Who was in control there? It was the LTTE. So, it becomes their responsibility.

“Though we knew terrorists confiscated everything we sent and civilians only got what’s left over, we still sent essentials and other needful to those areas.
“Mahinda Samarasinghe, Cabinet Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, headed the Coordinating Committee for Humanitarian Assistance. All the UN organization heads, American, British, Japanese and Norwegian Ambassadors as the co-chair members and government secretaries made up the committee.
“The minutes of the meeting show discussions were on things like not enough cement, aluminum utensils, and tin sheets. Now, if there was an issue with food and medicines, will they be talking about cement?

“A very efficient Bangladeshi from the World Food Programme – a UN organization – coordinated everything. Suddenly he was transferred to Japan. If the UN thought the situation in Sri Lanka was very serious, would they have transferred him? I asked his reasons for leaving. He was also puzzled and said, “I don’t know what’s important in Japan right now”.

“Week before he left, he visited me and said, “I have stockpiled food items for six months in Kilinochchi and Mulathew areas.”
Firing heavy artillery into the no fire zones massacring 40,000 trapped civilians.

Ferdinando notes various organizations have published varying numbers as the civilian casualty figure. “British Labour Party MP Siobhan McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden-Labour) told the House of Commons, in September 2011 that 60,000 LTTE cadres and 40,000 Tamils perished during January-May 2009. She made the only specific reference to the number of LTTE cadres killed during a certain period.” However, neither the MP nor the British High Commission substantiated this figure.
AI Report

“Special Amnesty International report titled “When will they get justice: Failures of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission”, also released in September, 2011, estimated the number of civilian deaths at 10,000,” writes Ferdinando. “A confidential UN report placed the number of dead and the wounded, including LTTE combatants, at 7,721 and 18,479, respectively. The report dealt with the situation in the Vanni, from August, 2008 to 13 May 2009. The war ended a week after the UN stopped collecting data due to the intensity of fighting.

“The vast majority of the wounded civilians were evacuated by the ICRC. The Indian medical team, tasked with receiving them, should be able to explain specific measures taken by India to assist the wounded. The UN is yet to release the report though it was made available to Darusman.
“That UN report had been based on information provided by those who were trapped in the war zone and even today further verification can be made as the identities of those who had provided information are known to the UN.

Contradiction

“Darusman refused to accept the report as it contradicted his own claim,” of 40,000 as reflected in the Geneva Resolution.
The then Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo, Tore Hattrem wrote to the then presidential advisor, Basil Rajapaksa: “The proposal to the LTTE on how to release the civilian population, now trapped in the LTTE controlled area, has been transmitted to the LTTE, through several channels. So far there has regrettably been no response from the LTTE and it does not seem to be likely that the LTTE will agree to this in the near future.”

Prof. Michael Newton, an expert on war crime issues, explains, “The LTTE refused to permit some 330,000 Tamils to flee towards safer areas away from the zone of conflict, and used them as human shields to deter offensive operations by the Sri Lankan Army. The government declared a NFZ in order to protect the civilians. The LTTE embedded its heavy artillery within the NFZ and intentionally shelled military positions from the midst of the civilian population.
“This is roughly comparable to the war crime of perfidy because the LTTE sought to use the government’s compliance with the laws and customs of warfare in order to gain an unwarranted military advantage.

“As reported by the US Embassy, the Sri Lankan Military expressly took ‘the utmost care’ to avoid intentional warping of its operational environmental by the LTTE. No military commander should accept a legal premise that military forces must suffer the lethal force of the enemy while under a legal obligation not to respond using lawful force in self defence.

“Participants in an armed conflict must ensure that in the conduct of military operations, constant care should be taken to spare civilians. Thus, the LTTE bears the responsibility for civilian deaths because their own conduct was the casual factor in such deaths.”
A Wikileaks leaked cable highlights Ferdinando, “reveals a discussion Geneva-based US Ambassador Clint Williamson had with ICRC Head for Operations for South Asia Jacques de Maio. The US envoy declared on 15 July 2009 that the Army actually could have won the battle faster with higher civilian casualties, yet chose a slower approach which led to a greater number of Sri Lankan military deaths”. Thus, “The Army lost nearly 2,500 officers and men during January-19 May 2009. Thousands suffered injuries.”

Rape used as a war tactic

On 30 September 2009 Hillary Clinton chaired the UN Security Council session as it adapted Resolution 1888 that dealt with conflict-related sexual violence. There, she read from a prepared text, “We’ve seen rape used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka and elsewhere”. When pressed for specific allegations against the Sri Lankan Army, a senior aide to Clinton admitted that statement had not been properly “vetted”.

Clinton helped topple governments in Asia, Africa and South America, supported sanctions against Iraq killing half a million Iraqi children, threatened Iran with nuclear weapons and gloated when Colonel Gaddafi was killed, jittered over tendering an apology. The government received a backdoor explanation of sorts – not a retraction, not an apology and that too not from Clinton. UN repeated the allegation in 2014, again without evidence. Major General Shavendra Silva asserted these baseless allegations are to justify the demand to remove the Army from the Northern Province.

Prof. Newton categorically states, “There is no evidence in the record to suggest that the government used inherently indiscriminate weapons such as barrel bombs or Grad rockets.”

Maxwell Paranagama, who chaired the Presidential Commission to investigate missing persons, states, “There’s no credible evidence that the Army used cluster munitions during the war. The Darusman Report had alleged, without including the sources. When the Army denied the allegation, UN accepted it, which means there was no evidence to contradict that denial.

“The Cluster Munitions Convention banning the use of such weapons only became operational on 1 August 2010. Even if there had been a need for the SLA to use cluster munitions because of military necessity, it was not illegal at the time.” Killing surrendering terrorists including those carrying white flags.

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera explains the extraordinary situation that developed with the LTTE taking over 300,000 civilians as a human shield. “Last days before Prabhakaran was killed, he was confined to Nandikadal. He surrounded himself with 200-300 civilians, including children and pregnant women. They dug trenches right around and planted anti-personnel mines. We couldn’t use heavy artillery, without harming those civilians. So, about 300 soldiers went over those trenches, fully aware of the danger. Many died or are now without limbs.”

“As people were coming to our side, we got intelligence that a suicide bomber disguised as a pregnant woman might come as well. But how can we identify? Still, we allowed them to come. When the bomb blasted, about 30 died”.

“Soosai made many of our women widows. But when we caught his wife and children trying to escape around 11 p.m. we brought them safely back and now they are living normal lives among the Sinhalese.”

Escaping civilians

General Ratnayaka too rejects the allegation. “Small teams broke through and stood like a wall between the firing terrorists and the escaping civilians. As these civilians came rushing, it wasn’t possible to shoot some groups and rescue others.”

The statements were attested by the then Colombo-based US Defence Attache, Lt. Colonel Lawrence Smith in June 2011. At a seminar organized by the Army, “Defeating Terrorism: The Sri Lanka Experience”, he stated, “I’ve been the Defecse Attache here, at the US Embassy, since June 2008. Regarding the various versions of events, that came out in the final hours and days of the conflict – from what I was privileged to hear and to see – the offers to surrender, that I am aware of, seemed to come from the mouthpieces of the LTTE, Nadesan, KP, people who weren’t and never had really demonstrated any control over the leadership or the combat power of the LTTE.”

“So their offers were a bit suspect anyway, and they tended to vary in content, hour by hour, day by day. I think we need to examine the credibility of those offers before we leap to conclusions that such offers were, in fact, real.” The US State Department only asserted that he had not been at the Defence Seminar on an official capacity. They disputed his right to make that observation, but never contradicted the statement. The Geneva Resolution is based on the Darusman Report. Every aspect of the report translates into an issue. Its initiation violates the UN mandate. Its panel has proven to be biased. Its findings are without foundation. The Parangama Report with input from specialists of international repute slams the Darusman Report and offers our best defence to face the oncoming Geneva Resolution.

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4 Responses to “Our best defence”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    Well Done!! Hope our people dealing with the UN resolution take not of this and prepare their defences.

    People like Mangala do not want to offend UN or USA or India even at the expense of his mother country. So he prefers to go with their lies rather than the ground truth.

    Who will take these up is a question. Mother Lanka has produces so many educated people and politicians but those who are in the positions to protect her from the foreign interference are unfortunately selfish and taking the sides of the enemy of Mother Lanka…

    It looks like left with a handful of people living outside SL to take it up with UN..

  2. Dilrook Says:

    A good analysis.

    However, this is not the “best” approach.

    The best approach is a counter investigation into LTTE, its financiers (Tamil diaspora, etc.), instigators (TULF, TNA, ACTC, etc.), those who incited violence against Sinhalese, Muslims and Sri Lanka, etc. Only this will give Sri Lanka a bargaining tool. Otherwise, it is one-sided. For meaningful reconciliation, both parties must be investigated.

    When Sri Lanka launches a counter investigation, prosecution and rectification process into terrorism, violation of UN resolution 1373 and separatism, Tamils will have to shed their war crimes charge and other extortion demands, or suffer due punishment for their crimes. Only that can save the nation and war heroes. The ostrich strategy (burying head under sand in fear) followed since May 23, 2009 will only worsen matters. How many more war heroes should die needlessly, witch hunted and harassed while terrorists are set free.

    The best defence is offence. Start a counter investigation into all Tamil and other groups complicit in war crimes.

  3. plumblossom Says:

    The LTTE massacred over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members over 6000-7000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians, 1,253 Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) members, over 2,000 Tamil Armed Group members who supported the Government of Sri Lanka and who were against the LTTE, around 3,000 Tamil civilians and all this add upto 47,000. Around 35,000 LTTE terrorists are estimated to have perished too. In all around 84,000 in total have perished on both sides in the war.

    As you can see it is the brutal LTTE terrorists who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members, Civil Defense Force members in over 26 years of war. Over 23,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are today both temporarily and permanently disabled due to the war. Over 13,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are permanently disabled due to the war. Over 156,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members have been injured due to the war. Over 6,000-7,000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians have been massacred by the LTTE terrorists in the war of over 26 years.

    The LTTE terrorist group also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala and Muslim population of the Northern Province, of over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 Muslim people of the Northern Province in the 1980s and the 1990s. The LTTE also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala population of the Batticaloa District in the East of over 25,000 Sinhala people.

    Today, the Sinhala people and their descendants of over 135,000 are yet to be resettled in the North and in the Batticaloa District and Muslims of over 115,000 are yet to be resettled in the North. Uptil 2012, of the above number, around 32,000 Sinhala people and around 32,000 Muslims has been resettled in the North.

    The LTTE terrorist group recruited over 20,000 child soldiers, all Tamil youth, as attested by UNICEF itself which stated in 2007 that perhaps the LTTE has recruited over 20,000 young persons under the age of 18 years into its cadre between 1983-2007 inclusive.

    The LTTE was notorious for its horrific terror tactics such as large scale bomb attacks and the use of suicide bombers in carrying out hundreds of attacks against mainly Sinhala civilians and the country’s leadership, horrific attacks against Sinhala civilians using IED devices, claymore mines and bombs, the massacre of Sinhala villagers in their villages in the North Central, Eastern, Northern and North Western Provinces, the coerced recruitment or abduction of Tamil youth and children for recruitment as child soldiers, forced money collection from Tamils with threats to life in case of non-compliance, attacks on Sri Lanka’s economic infrastructure such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka’s the then only international airport, oil storage facilities, hotels, planes, buses, trains etc. ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese and Muslims from the North and East of Sri Lanka, the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the systematic assassination of over 120 noteworthy Sri Lankan politicians, civil servants, senior military and police officers, prelates, activists, academics, journalists and other professionals who were assassinated by the LTTE who were but a few of the hundreds of assassinations carried out by the LTTE, including the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

  4. plumblossom Says:

    Why is the writer repeating here the lies being concocted up by the LTTE terrorists supporters etc. and providing such lies publicity again and again? The facts are that around 300,000 people were rescued by the Sri Lankan Army. Between February and May 2009 up to 36,000 persons inclusive of LTTE terrorists were ferried by the ICRC from Puthamathalan to Pulmuddai. Of the 300,000 persons who were rescued and the 36,000 ferried, around 12,000 were LTTE cadres who were rehabilitated and released into society.

    We know between 2006-2009 over 6,261 Sri Lankan Security Forces personnel perished. A few hundred police personnel in addition would have also perished. Around 1,000 Sri Lankan Security Forces personnel in addition may be missing in action presumed dead. Around 10,000 LTTE terrorists would have died too between 2006 and 2009. However civilians would have not been affected and may be around a few hundred civilians would have perished, it is true. We know that during the very last weeks of May, around one hundred civilians were shot at and killed when they tried to cross over to the Sri Lankan Army side by the LTTE terrorists.

    Therefore the lies being told by the LTTE supporters etc. should not be provided publicity falsely implicating us for no reason and these lies should not be provided publicity again and again for no reason whatsoever.

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