Without at least 40,000 dead bodies UN-US-UK-EU have no case for war crimes tribunal against Sri Lanka’s Army
Posted on October 28th, 2017

Shenali D Waduge

When UN Secretary General arrived three days after the military victory over the LTTE ground force there was no allegation of any 40,000 dead. The timelines of those that quoted dead figure estimates is important and will help deducing the mischief at play. Leaving that aside, paramount to any allegation and a principle for any allegation is that to accuse a person(s) of murder there has to be a dead body. Whether the number is 40,000 or even 200,000 the onus is on those making the allegations to produce evidence – the dead bodies or skeletons, the names of the dead or even their birth certificates. A Government cannot agree to hold any war crimes tribunal just because international organizations think they can descend like former colonial governors insisting on Tribunals without a basic prima facie case for such.

What we are seeing unfolding is a miscarriage of justice. These seems to be a stampede to roll out various experimental programs the UN system has devised upon developing nations just recovering from a protracted and prolonged conflict which Sri Lanka solved which the international community failed to solve or didn’t want to solve for 30 years.

The US State Department Report 2009 to the US Congress is important as it gives 216 incidents from 2 January 2009 to 18th May 2009. These incidents cover allegations against both LTTE & the Sri Lanka Army but the total deaths attributed to the Sri Lanka Army number just over 3000 while the number of injured is just over 6000. Even taking the death and the injured as dead the total does not come to even 10,000. How is it that 40,000 died then? The Report also quotes HRW 86 times (either HRW is reporting or HRW is reporting what sources have told HRW)

US State Department Report to US Congress in 2009 states However, one organization, which did not differentiate between civilians and LTTE cadres, recorded 6,710 people killed and 15,102 people injured between January 20 to April 2009”.

The report also clearly states The State Department has not received casualty estimates covering the entire reporting period from January to May 2009”

https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/131025.pdf

However, browsing through the report a plethora of questions emerge.

  • Quotes ‘a foreign government’ – we hope the authors who know the exact foreign government doing the reporting and who their source on the ground is
  • How can we ascertain who the dead are

o   Are they LTTE cadres wearing civilian

o   Are they LTTE cadres in LTTE uniform

o   Are they civilians who died while engaged in combat

o   Are they civilians who died from crossfire (either LTTE or Army)

o   Did they die from combat wounds, natural or fatigue

o   Are they military personnel whose uniforms were removed after death by LTTE

  • Can all those who were ‘sources’ of information to the US embassy or HRW provide details of the dead & have they at least logged these deaths with the police or even the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons etc with dates & other details to be able to verify the claims as anyone can say they saw an x number dead or being killed but not be able to substantiate it?
  • Who are these ‘organizations’ & their ‘sources’ who are reporting to the US embassy in Colombo?
  • Who are the ‘organizations’ & their ‘sources’ who are reporting to HRW & others who are quoting from third party sources?

On Hospitals

  • 2 Jan aerial bombing of a petrol station & bus depot 250 metres from Mullaitivu General Hospital (Is there such a petrol shed/bus depot?)
  • Did shells hit Puthukudirippu hospital on 12 Jan
  • Was Puththukudurippu hospital shelled on 2 Feb as is alleged by multiple organizations & sources and how were these sources able to communicate to Associated Press and to even know that the shelling was by the SL Army and if the shelling continued for 14-16 hours how did the hospital or even patients survive?
  • Was Ponnampalam Memorial hospital shelled on 5 February as the ‘source’ insists it was the Sri Lanka Army.
  • Did shelling hit Putumattalan makeshift hospital on 9 Feb and kill 16 patients.
  • Who is the source that reported shelling in area of Matalan hospital on 3 March
  • The US report of 16 March draws attention to satellite imagery on Puthukudurippu hospital which had no visible signs of damage on 28 Jan but was heavily damaged by 16 March. The report also states that four days earlier (12 March) the Sri Lanka Army had issued a press release that the hospital was used by LTTE as a command centre and a weapons firing site and most of the damage was done by LTTE and the ICRC had to remove patients and medical staff elsewhere. These can be confirmed by ICRC.
  • US report cites an eyewitness who had live in a bunker about 200metres behind Putumattalan hospital reporting to HRW that LTTE vehicle fired two or three shells and drove away on 30 Mar

Quoting HRW

  • Did shells hit Tharmapuram Hospital on 8th Jan?
  • Did shells hit Puthukudirippu hospital on 13 Jan (US Report itself says that the satellite images taken on 28 January does not show visible damage to the hospital!)
  • Did shells land in the yard of Vallipuram hospital on 19 Jan, 21 Jan, 22 Jan?
  • Did shells hit Udayarkattu Hospital on 26 Jan
  • Who is the source that informs HRW say that SLA shelled Vallipuram town on 29 Jan but there were ‘no known LTTE position in the vicinity at the time of the attack’
  • Did a school teacher die on 30 Jan in Puthukudurippu (Ministry of education can verify)
  • Who is the source that reported to HRW from 14-21 March that LTTE shot and killed 10 while trying to escape.
  • The US reports cites a HRW source in Mattalan reporting shelling in Pokkanai on 19 March. Who is this witness that HRW interviewed who claimed 60 people were injured by 2 cluster bombs? Is this insertion to imply that the Sri Lankan Army was using cluster bombs?
  • HRW interviewed a woman in March who tried to escape NFZ when LTTE opened fire at the group but they kept running – HRW or the US report does not mention any deaths or injuries from LTTE firing. WHY?

On LTTE

  • Between 16-29 Jan sources informed US embassy that LTTE took civilians (how many were taken and what happened to them)
  • Amnesty International reported on 28 Jan that LTTE stopped a convoy of 24 vehicles arranged to transport 300 wounded and prevented them leaving NFZ.
  • Puthukudurippu hospital shelled on 1 Feb after LTTE cadres fired weapons into sky from near hospital – 9 patients killed.
  • HRW confirms civilians in LTTE controlled areas prevented from fleeing to ‘safer areas under government control’ – 2 February.
  • HRW report on 3 May states LTTE cadres fired on civilians when they tried to cross the front line in Moongkilaaru killing an unknown number of people and shot others trying to escape (who many exactly were killed & injured by LTTE)
  • Report by UNSC Working Group on Children & Armed Conflict on 1 July quoted a 7 year old girl shot by LTTE on 8 February while trying to escape with family to government held area and she died while her father too was injured. How many more Tamils died shot by LTTE while fleeing?
  • US report says that an organizations source in Putumattalan that local staffers were advised to move to the NFZ on 8 Feb but LTTE Liason officer denied their travel passes and refused to allow them or their dependents to leave. What happened to them?
  • A female LTTE cadre blew herself at a Government IDP processing centre in Mullaitivu ‘killing 30-40 people including 20 or more soldiers & 8 civilians’
  • HRW 3 May report confirmed that on 9 Feb LTTE forces tried to push civilians in Suthanthipuram area from crossing to government area and LTTE opened fire on civilians. (The report says 17 were injured but there is no mention of dead – did LTTE kill any civilians and how many?
  • US embassy Colombo quotes press reports on 10 Feb of LTTE shooting & killing 17 civilians and injuried 69 near Udayarkattu – US says it is not clear whether the incident is same as 9 Feb!
  • An organization with sources in NFZ informs US embassy that LTTE to prevent IDPs escaping 70,000 IDPs were moved to coast near Putumattalan (what happened to them?)
  • US embassy receives report from a foreign govt on 13 Feb that LTTE killed 60 civilians who were fleeing by boat in the night.
  • Another source claims on 14 Feb LTTE had caught 2 or 4 fishing boats with IDPs escaping and had shot and killed 7 people and arrested others (how many and what happened to them)
  • An organization reported to US embassy that their source witnessed limited LTTE fire coming from Puthukudurippu hospital complex on 16 Feb.
  • The US report cites a source claiming to US embassy in Colombo that LTTE positioned its artillery within ‘civilian concentrations’ on 18 March – WHERE? Is not mentioned!
  • Who is the local source in Valayanmadam who reported 36 deaths by LTTE on 19 Mar can’t take photos. This will affect me. This is increasing”.
  • The US report of 22 March citing a HRW source claims hundreds of people trying to escape were arrested by ‘local dictators’ and beaten with sticks and poles regardless of gender (wonder who these ‘local dictators’ are)!
  • Who is the local source that reported LTTE shooting at escaping civilians in the NFZ on 23 Mar. The report also covers LTTE prohibiting civilians from leaving and even damaging boats to prevent them from doing so.
  • US reports a source confirming LTTE had shot and killed at least 40 people trying to escape the NFZ on 28 Mar
  • What happened to the civilians who had been moved by the LTTE to the southern end of the NFZ on 16 Apr to prevent them from escaping?
  • Who is the witness that confirmed the shell that hit a roof of a small church on 22 Apr was by the LTTE?
  • What was the fate of the civilians who had been removed from St. Mary’s Shrine in Valayanmadam by LTTE on 24 Apr and forced to the beach in the east of the NFZ and kept as human shields?
  • What became the fate of 60,000 people that a foreign government reported tried to escape on 14 May across the Nandikadal lagoon when LTTE fired at them. There is no mention of the numbers that died from LTTE shooting.

Where are these Witnesses

  • Where is the witness who is badly injured but reported to a foreign government that on 20 Jan shelling in a ‘residential area of Redbana’ Vishwamadu had killed his wife and 2 daughters?
  • Who is the witness inside the NFZ who reported to HRW on 24 Jan that 11 people were killed inside the NFZ & by whom?
  • Who is the witness who reported to HRW on 25 Jan that SL Army ‘completely flattened’ area that was full of displaced persons only minutes before? Where was this place that is supposed to have been ‘flattened’ using multiple rocket launchers?
  • Who is the source in Puthukudurippu who reported to HRW that 102 people were killed and 274 people were injured on 26 Jan?
  • Did SLA shell Ampalavanpokkanai at 2a.m. on 18 Feb that killed 20 persons mostly children.
  • Who is the local source in Valayanmadam who reported that the SL Army was continuously shelling for 10 hours killing 108 civilians. Have these civilians been identified and named?
  • Who is the source that claimed 100 LTTE forcibly recruited children were killed in Valayanmadam on 19 February by SL Air Force and how does the source know that these children were ‘forcibly recruited’?
  • Who is the local source that reported LTTE firing at approximately 300 civilians fleeing on 6 March (report claims only 11 injured no mention of deaths – were LTTE such poor shooters?!)
  • Who is the source in the IDP camp that reported SLA firing at his 5 cousins when they attempted to escape shooting sister in the head while the 4 brothers sent to detention camp could not be contacted. (how authentic is this report)
  • Who is this ‘media source’ that gained access to IDPs evacuated from safe zone and who confirmed that LTTE fired on civilians on 16 Apr
  • A foreign government claims that an eyewitness informed it in July of a man whose children and grandchildren were killed by SL Army shelling as they crossed the LTTE defense lines in April – how authentic is this?
  • What is the organization that reported heavy shelling in Vallamullavaikal and Karaiyamullivaikal areas on 9 May of LTTE shelling from civilian areas.
  • Who is this ICRC humanitarian worker whose mother was killed in a shell attack in Mullaivaikkal on 13 May
  • Who are the local sources who claim that a large group of people including children coming out with white flags on 16 May were confronted with SL soldiers throwing grenades at them! This allegation needs to be confronted with evidence!

Clarifications

  • The US report mentions that on 30 Jan SL Army shelling destroyed the Vanni headquarters of Caritas (social arm of the Catholic church) destroying humanitarian supplies, fuel reserves and documents but Tamilnet reports that on 23 April its Director Rev. Father Vasanthaseelan was wounded from shelling on the Our Lady of Roses Church in Valaignarmadam which is not included in the US Report! WHY? https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=29135
  • Our understanding is that in a morgue the bodies kept are naked – but US report claims that an organization reported that Vavuniya hospital had 22 naked corpses in the morgue – all women who ‘did not resemble LTTE cadres who had been shot at point blank range between the eyes!
  • The 18 Feb insert claims the source claiming that shelling in the safe zone with large numbers of casualties could not rule out LTTE shelling civilian areas to assign blame to SL Army as SLA had denied such.
  • What happened to roughly 1000 civilians who were crossing on the land route to Kilinochchi on 13 March and LTTE prevented them fleeing? Can this source verify what happened to these 1000 people.
  • The US report mentions of a civilian retaliation on 17 March against LTTE inside the conflict zone and that LTTE had used arms to quell it however there is no mention of any deaths – why is that? Every time there is reporting on LTTE shooting it is purposely kept to minimum numbers or a very vague remark
  • The US report of 21 Mar mentions an organizations local source in Valaiganarmadaam reporting that a fellow staff member was arrested by the LTTE as he tried to escape – what happened to this person, is he still alive?
  • It is also interesting how the US report mentions of LTTE possessing multi barrel weapons but the sources almost always confirm that the firing comes from only government held areas and by the Sri Lanka Army!
  • Who are these SLA soldiers and officers who reported to the US embassy in Colombo on 31 Mar that SLA had shot at escaping civilians? This is a serious insertion to make in a report and US embassy would need to be challenged to provide information
  • The US report also mentions a local source claiming that all individuals arrested by LTTE who were trying to escape the NFZ were labelled ‘traitors and severely punished’ how many such people and what happened to them and are they alive?
  • What is the organization who reported that on 14-18 May the SLA were shelling resulting in civilian casualties though the report also says that the IDPs clearly said that the SLA were only shelling in reply to LTTE’s mortar and gun fire. The report also cites civilians as saying that the on 15 May SLA stopped shelling when LTTE began destroying its own equipment. This piece of information is very important as it confirms that the civilians were honest enough to reveal the LTTE actions as against the hyped media allegations against the SLA. Interestingly enough this same organization also reported that LTTE cadres were going to bunkers where civilians were sheltering asking ‘so you want to run away to the Army do you” and opened fire on them. How many they killed or injured however is not surprisingly not mentioned!
  • What is the organization that reported on 15 May that civilians trying to run from the NFZ were confronted by LTTE and prevented them from escaping twice – how many were killed or injured is also not mentioned.
  • Another foreign government had reported that an eye witness account on 15 May that a young man attempting to escape in Mattalan was fired upon by the LTTE – whether the family were shot is not mentioned and the foreign government should be asked to clarify these details.

The US report citing an organization whose interviews with IDPs confirm that heavy fighting from night of May 17 to morning of May 18 that the majority killed in the NFZ were by LTTE forces. This information is crucial too. Yet another organization gives reports of witnesses in the NFZ claiming SL soldiers were throwing grenades into civilian bunkers on 18 May, some claim that army truck ran over injured people lying on the road. This organization must be confronted and demanded to produce evidence of its allegations!

It is important to take into account Indian embedded journalist Murali Reddy’s diary entries as he was a direct eyewitness and he was interviewing fleeing Tamil civilians.

Nothing of Murali Reddy’s ‘Last Hours” remotely suggests any foul play in the last 70 hours of the Eelam War IV starting out at 3p.m. on May 16 and stopping at 12.30p.m. on May 19th 2009. Reddy says ‘by the night of May 15 there was no civilians left in 1.5sq.km area the Tigers were boxed into’. It was because there were no civilians that the International Committee of the Red Cross who were the only other outfit present inside the war zone decided to suspend humanitarian operations. This reveals that there was absolutely no civilian after 16th May to 19th May inside the war zone. How could then 40,000 or even 125,000 have been killed? The last of the civilians were members of LTTE families was seen in the detention of Sea Tiger Chief Soosai’s family by the Navy on 15/16 May. On 16th May close to 50,000 escaped to safety. It must also be mentioned that Prabakaran’s parents too would have accompanied the civilians for they were eventually found on 27 May by the military in a camp.

Thus, Murali Reddy’s Last Hours covers from 3p.m. 16h May to 12:30p.m. 19th May 2009.

10th May LTTE realizing their fate
11th May LTTE destroying their belongings
12/13th May LTTE allows civilians to leave
15th May Important events :No civilians in 1.5sq.km that LTTE was boxed into·

ICRC suspends operations because there are no civilians.

No civilians from 16th to 19th May ” How could there have been 40,000 to 125,000 civilians?

16th May 50,000 civilians escape (could this be the figure that is being alleged as dead?)·

President Rajapakse informs ICRC that his Government will offer an unconditional surrender which LTTE refuse.

17-18th May Pitch battle between LTTE and Sri Lankan Army
19th May Announcement of Prabakaran’s death

We need to confront all these allegations to demand them to produce the evidence without which there is no requirement for any war crimes tribunals. It is clear that a well-funded tarnishing campaign has been orchestrated to demean the military-cum humanitarian rescue mission of the Sri Lankan Army against an internationally banned terrorist movement whose main funding parties are all located in foreign climes enjoying protection of foreign governments & institutes who must be investigated for their links to terror first as LTTE runs a very lucrative international legal/illegal money generating racket large enough and monetarily powerful enough to buy over anyone & any entity.

Shenali D Waduge

9 Responses to “Without at least 40,000 dead bodies UN-US-UK-EU have no case for war crimes tribunal against Sri Lanka’s Army”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Shenali, Thank you very much for highlighting these facts which our කාලකන්නි යහපාලන ආණ්ඩුව should have brought up with these countries. Instead, they agree with everything these countries accuse our War heroes of and do their best to create problems for them. Starting with the spineless President and the corrupt traitorous Prime Minister and all the UNP members of the of the mock Parliament we have today in Sri Lanka the whole lot would love to see all the War heroes and the past President who rescued the country from a fate worse than death, sent to the gallows in foreign countries. Their main aim seems to be to divide up the country and break it up and was done in Yugoslavia so that foreign Corporations can walk in and loot all the few resources we have in the country.

    Our people have never had a real say in matters ever since so-called Independence in 1948. Ranil the traitor is part of the IDU (International Democratic Union) whose head is a UK citizen. His loyalty is therefore not to the people of the country but to a Foreign group. Same as CBK who is part of the Club de Madrid whose aims are the same. It is sad that the JVP which really stood for the Country and the people have now sold itself to the UNP. Ranil’s idea of Neo-Liberalism is to sell the country’s assets to the foreign Corporations who will be given license to plunder the few assets we have. They will cut the trees of Sinharaja forest for profit, grow bananas in the forest reserves, make the foreigners come and live in Sri Lanka while our people have to serve them with cups of tea and other comforts! The Norwegians have already been given license to use big trawlers to go deep sea fishing to catch all the fish in our deep sea oceans. The two major ports will be given on a plate to the major powers who may use it to replace Diego Garcia and Guam. Countries like North Korea will then target Sri Lanka instead of Guam, with Nuclear weapons.

    Instead of taking advantage of the opening given to Sri Lanka by Lord Naseby the කාලකන්නි යහපාලන ආණ්ඩුව is keeping silent without saying a word. The big question is why? Whose pockets are to be filled? We should really challenge the UNHRC and the army of NGOs funded by foreign countries who have set as their goal to break up the country and divide it up among themselves. No action has been taken to date on the Central Bank bond scams initiated by the traitor Ranil who brought in a Singaporean as the head of the Central Bank and when Dinesh Gunawardena questioned him in Parliament as to why a foreigner was appointed as Governor, Ranil stated that he will take responsibility for him. Let him do so now, and hopefully, they will all go to jail for the crime of insider trading on such a massive scale that they did.

  2. nilwala Says:

    Thank you Shenali for bringing up this elementary issue of “Where are the dead bodies” if so many thousands were killed? The “Missing Persons Office” must have a register of the names of the dead and the claimant(s) of such.
    Has any investigation been carried out to ascertain whether some those claimed as missing might be those who were swept away with the tsunami?
    Has it been ascertained whether those claimed as dead were simply those who voluntarily decided to seek greener pastures elsewhere?….a very pertinent possibility since the human trafficking of Tamil people had continued unabated until a couple of years ago when Australia decided to challenge those landing on its shores with stories cleverly constructed as economic refugees have always done in order to gain sympathy and Residency in some more developed country. The tall stories told by these adventurists should be compiled and made public. These persons have so abused the kindness of countries that had opened their doors that today those open doors are being closed to even the deserving. They are living today under false names and their fake stories that cleared them through Immigration Laws remain undocumented.
    The UNHRC wastes valuable international funds and time in defending the myths of “numbers” related with much shedding of tears by people trained to act their tales, the NGOs that feed the West’s hegemonic initiatives and by the politicization of the International Institutions with world powers supporting internal wars that suit their foreign policies, as well as the officers at these institutions who have made career advancement at these institutions their goals while they sacrifice their countries’ territorial integrities; but which thankfully are being questioned today by the world’s citizenry that is finally beginning to understand what has gone on, after being blinded by the propaganda makers of the media for decades.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    USS Nimitz, arguably the world’s most powerful Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier, leading an immensely strong battle-group with a strong contingent of US Marines, attack and troop-carrying helicopters on board, is STANDING OFFSHORE Colombo Port, Sri Lanka …. even as I write this comment …. and WILL BE HERE during the DEBATE and VOTE in Parliament on the NEW TRAITORS CONSTITUTION!

    The last time a Western Carrier group visited Sri Lanka was DECADES ago!

    Why NOW, and Why when a Bill crafted by and Supported by the USA is being DEBATED in Parliament?? This DOES NOT SEEM like a COINCIDENCE!

    I ask, to WHAT PURPOSE is this task force here? Is it to QUELL ANY POPULAR UPRISING AGAINST the NEW TRAITORS CONSTITUTION?

    Is this a PLANNED PLOT by the Yamapalanaya TRAITORS in COLLUSION with a Foreign Country to FORCE the NEW TRAITORS CONSTITUTION down Sri Lanka’s THROAT?? Is this ANOTHER CHILLING ASPECT of the Yamapalana TREACHERY to DEPRIVE the Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka the RIGHT TO DEMONSTRATE & PROTEST to the MAXIMUM on the eve of HIGH TREASON?

    Be WARNED Patriots of Sri Lanka!

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Our thanks to Shenali and to those who wrote in Comments to this important article.

    ————

    Indeed, where are the dead bodies of some 40,000 people ?

    People went ‘Missing’ after :
    * The Tsunami of Dec 2004 claimed some 30,000 peoples lives in Lanka, including those in the N&E and elsewhere.
    * Nearly a Million Tamils went abroad as so called Refugees to the west after the trumped up 1983 Riots (no other way to go west, other than as Refugees). These people formed the Tamil Diaspora and went on to fund the LTTE, and also bribe various politicos & VIPs in foreign countries to form Eelam, and spread stories of lies, cheat & deceit to down Lanka.
    * The LTTE killed off young people who did not join them or opposed them.

    A lot of Tamil civilians in Lanka went “missing” in those three ways especially.

    There ought to be a Permanent Exhibition showing up the nearly 30 yrs of terrorism in Lanka, showing up the death, destruction and loss of funds, and loss of Reputation to Lanka, to make sure such events never happen again.
    Mini Exhibitions of those times ought to be displayed in every Embassy & High Commission of Lanka abroad too, to make sure that such events never ever happen again in Lanka. Better late than never. It is mostly the Tamil people who will benefit from such a move – they will have Peace and reasonable Prosperity too.

    The most cruel part in all this is that the then Govts of Lanka and the South were landed with all the blame for the Tamil CASTE WARS coming from Tamil Nadu CASTE system, which CASTE WARS were transferred to Lanka after breakaway Tamil Nadu was contained through the PM Nehru Anti-Secessionist Law of 1963.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Should Sinhala Buddhists stage MASS DEMONSTRATIONS against the NEW TRAITORS CONSTITUTION, BEFORE it is DEBATED, or AFTER if it is APPROVED by a 2/3 VOTE in Parliament, the Yamapalanaya MAY NOT BE CONFIDENT of the support of the Police Force and the Armed Forces, largely manned by Sinhala Buddhists to ACT AGAINST Sinhala Buddhists!

    In such an event, they would APPEAL to foreign countries for EMERGENCY MILITARY ASSISTANCE to QUELL public protests by Sinhaala Buddhists.

    Is that why the US Naval Task Force is NOW offshore Colombo, and the Indian Navy has just concluded a joint Military Exercise with the Sri Lankan Navy, Maithripala Sirisena recently promoted and set-aside the Tamil head of the Navy, and appointed another Navy chief and MR went abroad to India to escape the potential violence?

    Is it to PREPARE for the use Foreign Forces to PROTECT the Yamapalanaya against Sinhala Buddhist PROTESTERS? FOOD for THOUGHT! The next FEW DAYS will REVEAL the TRUTH!

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    Kurdish leader Barzani resigns after independence vote backfires

    By Raya Jalabi and Maher Chmaytelli
    Reuters•October 29, 2017

    ERBIL/BAGHDAD Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said he would give up his position as president on Nov. 1, after an independence referendum he championed backfired and triggered a regional crisis.
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    Iraq KurdishCatalonia Independence Vote

    There was high drama at the Kurdish parliament, which was stormed by armed protesters as it met to approve the veteran leader’s resignation as Kurdish president. Some MPs were barricaded in their offices on Sunday evening.

    In a televised address, his first since Iraqi forces launched a surprise offensive to recapture Kurdish-held territory on Oct. 16, Barzani confirmed that he would not extend his presidential term after Nov. 1 “under any conditions”.

    “I am the same Masoud Barzani, I am a Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter) and will continue to help my people in their struggle for independence,” said Barzani, who has campaigned for Kurdish self-determination for nearly four decades.

    The address followed a letter he sent to parliament in which he asked members to take measures to fill the resulting power vacuum.

    The region’s parliament met in the Kurdish capital Erbil on Sunday to discuss the letter. A majority of 70 Kurdish MPs voted to accept Barzani’s request and 23 opposed it, Kurdish TV channels Rudaw and Kurdistan 24 said.

    Demonstrators, some carrying clubs and guns, stormed the parliament building as the session was in progress.

    Gunshots were heard. Some protesters outside the building said they wanted to “punish” MPs who they said had “insulted” Barzani. Some attacked journalists at the scene.

    A Kurdish official had told Reuters on Saturday that Barzani had decided to hand over the presidency without waiting for elections that had been set for Nov. 1 but which have now been delayed by eight months.

    The region, which had enjoyed unprecedented autonomy for years, has been in turmoil since the independence referendum a month ago prompted military and economic retaliation from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.

    In his address, Barzani vigorously defended his decision to hold the Sept. 25 referendum, the results of which “can never be erased”, he said. The vote was overwhelmingly for independence and triggered the military action by the Baghdad government and threats from neighboring Turkey and Iran.

    He added that the Iraqi attack on Kirkuk and other Kurdish held territory vindicated his position that Baghdad no longer believed in federalism and instead wanted to curtail Kurdish rights.

    U.S. CONDEMNED

    Barzani condemned the United States for failing to back the Kurds. “We tried to stop bloodshed but the Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilization Front (Shi’ite militias) kept advancing, using U.S. weapons,” he said.

    “Our people should now question, whether the U.S. was aware of Iraq’s attack and why they did not prevent it.”

    Barzani has been criticized by Kurdish opponents for the loss of the city of Kirkuk, oil-rich and considered by many Kurds to be their spiritual home.

    His resignation could help facilitate a reconciliation between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s central government, whose retaliatory measures since the referendum have transformed the balance of power in the north.

    Barzani has led the KRG since it was established in 2005. His second term expired in 2013 but was extended without elections being held as Islamic State militants swept across vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

    U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces, Iranian-backed paramilitaries and Kurdish fighters fought alongside each other to defeat Islamic State but the alliance has faltered since the militants were largely defeated in the country.

    After the Kurdish vote, Iraqi troops were ordered by the country’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi to take control of areas claimed by both Baghdad and the KRG.

    Abadi also wants to take control of the border crossings between the Kurdish region and Turkey, Iran and Syria, including one through which an oil export pipeline crosses into Turkey, carrying Iraqi and Kurdish crude oil.

    The fall of Kirkuk – a multi-ethnic city which lies outside the KRG’s official boundaries – to Iraqi forces on Oct. 16 was a major symbolic and financial blow to the Kurds’ independence drive because it halved the region’s oil export revenue.

    Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga started a second round of talks on Sunday to resolve a conflict over control of the Kurdistan region’s border crossings, Iraqi state TV said.

    A first round was held on Friday and Saturday, with Abadi ordering a 24-hour suspension on Friday of military operations against Kurdish forces.

    He demanded on Thursday that the Kurds declare their referendum void, rejecting the KRG offer to suspend its independence push to resolve a crisis through talks, saying in a statement: “We won’t accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the constitution.”

    (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Raya Jalabi; Editing by Andrew Roche)

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    In the end, who PAYS for the costs of war, death & destruction, loss of reputation, in Sri Lanka, and for all the civil disturbances created within, mostly due to COLD WARS, COLONISATION of nearly 500 yrs and Tamil CASTE WARS ?

    What a waste of life & property !
    Those lost lives, wasted funds & property, could have been used to uplift all of society in Lanka and prepare for the future to survive Climate Change, and enjoy some Peace & Prosperity for all.

  8. Hiranthe Says:

    Fantastic work Shanali,

    The only entity will get the help from these research and facts are Sarath Weerasekara and GSLF.

    Even MR’s government never paid any attention to what was written by Shenali at that time. She was the lone worrier but no one picked any points from her hard work and writing to counter attack UNHCR despite making sure that some of her articles were reached them.

    Things would have been totally different if the issues were killed at their bud level with these facts.

    Ignorance of our politicians is the main killer of our nation.

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    First round of debate on interim constitution reform report tomorrow
    Sun, Oct 29, 2017, 10:30 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 29, Colombo: The first round of debates on the Interim Report of the Steering Committee on constitutional reforms in the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka is due to commence tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. in the chamber of Parliament.

    The debate will take place for three consecutive days on the 30th and 31st of October and 1st of November 2017.

    The draft Interim Report of the Steering Committee was tabled in the Constitutional Assembly on the 21st of September 2017 by the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Steering Committee.

    The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly are open to the public.

    The Interim Report of the Steering Committee and other information on the constitutional reforms process can be accessed/ downloaded at Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka.

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