Last Stages of the Separatist War: Does Karuna Balance The Scale of LTTE Crimes?
Posted on July 2nd, 2020

By Lakshman I Keerthisinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

During the last stages of the war, many in the Diaspora remained silent in the face of numerous LTTE violations, including holding tens of thousands of Tamils hostage in the Vanni, using violence to prevent their escape and forcibly recruiting children into their ranks. At the end, parts of the Diaspora appeared more concerned about preserving the political State of ‘Tamil Eelam’ than about the suffering of the civilian population trapped between two fighting forces.”  – (Para 418 – UNSG Panel of Experts Report)

UNHRC Statement

The Media reported the UNHRC issued a statement regarding the recent utterances of Vinyagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman at an Election meeting held in Batticaloa. According to Media reports he admitted to having killed 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers in a single day. The UNHRC stated We note that Karuna, former LTTE Commander & Government Minister is being questioned for alleged past crimes. He should also be investigated for the wholesale recruitment of child soldiers, a crime under international law. Accountability should apply to everyone in Sri Lanka.” There is no doubt that recruitment of child soldiers is a war crime of the worst order.

It is relevant to note the Government of Sri Lanka had four rounds of talks with the LTTE during the 31-year Separatist War, to give up arms and enter the political mainstream. The LTTE refused this offer and embarked on their objective of establishing a separate state in Sri Lanka by waging an armed conflict with Sri Lanka.

However, in 2004, Karuna, then LTTE’s Eastern Commander declared his intention to leave the LTTE and surrendered to the Government utilising the peace overtures. Karuna gave up the struggle for separatism and joined the political mainstream. At that time the LTTE was mistakenly perceived as ‘an invincible military foe’ by the international community and the Government and the public approved Karuna’s move. The Government welcomed Karuna’s move and his offer to assist the Armed Forces in defeating the LTTE. The LTTE meanwhile continued with their onslaught boasting about their invincibility. The 4th Eelam conflict caused a large number of casualties on both sides. 

LTTE held 1,000s of Tamils hostage

Therefore, for the UNHRC to single out Karuna alone for ‘war crimes’ is not justifiable and to disregard all the other militants who fought and committed heinous war crimes for the LTTE, especially till the end of the conflict after Karuna’s departure. It is apparent the UNHRC is holding a brief for the Tamil Diaspora against the Sri Lankan Government. It is obvious from the ‘UNHRC’ quote at the outset of this article, that after Karuna’s departure, the LTTE during the last stages of the ethnic conflict, held thousands of Tamils hostage and the Diaspora were more interested in their target for a separate state than the suffering of the vast numbers of Tamil civilians, who were trapped by the LTTE during the fighting

UNHRC must investigate Rudrakumaran and  Surenthiran

T. Rudrakumaran and Suren Surenthiran of the Diaspora have been the most vociferous against the Sri Lankan Government supporting the LTTE during the sessions of the UNHRC. As they amongst many others have been financiers, propagandists and theoreticians of the LTTE and supported all activities of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, the UNHRC should take them to task for recruitment of child soldiers and other terrorist activities of the LTTE rather than singling out Karuna who helped the Sri Lankan forces to overcome the LTTE in many ways despite his past misdemeanors. 

This recent attempt by the UNHRC even without the backing of the US at the behest of the Diaspora attempting to avenge the defeat of the LTTE, is indeed shameful as the UN never ventured to help the Sri Lankan state during the nearly three decade long ethnic conflict engulfing our motherland. Some of these western powers just kept vigil until the LTTE succeeded in separating Sri Lanka in to parts in order to step in to gain undue advantage from such a miserable situation.

All peace loving Sri Lankans irrespective of race, creed or political differences should endeavour to forget and forgive the past mistakes and resolve to live in peace and harmony as one nation. Buddha in his discourses has advocated loving kindness to all living beings even by forgiving Angulimala for his past sins and indicating the correct path. All elected leaders whoever they may be must assist our motherland to tread such correct path.

In conclusion, what has occurred in the past is now history. Sri Lankans should take a lesson from the past and our people should look forward to a safe and prosperous future in our motherland presently fast overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, MPhil.(Colombo)[email protected]

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