Posted on November 3rd, 2010

By Gomin Dayasri

1 The war was waged against an organization that was deemed to be a terrorist organization that had bans imposed against them and recognized by the UN as utilizing child soldiers. It was never termed a part of a liberation struggle.

 2 It was terrorist outfit that spilt beyond territorial boundaries in the matter of the killing of the Indian prime minister and the attempted assassination of the Pakistan High Commissioner. In the international realm there was money laundering, terrorist funding especially through networks such as the TRO, illegal shipping activity, narcotics trade that enabled them to buy/ bring arms to the country.

 3.It was a battle Mahinda Rajapakse government had to engage after all attempts at peace talks failed. At the first round of talks LTTE  were not interested of a peaceful solution but only to disable the breakaway Karuna group. At the second round in Oslo they refused to talk at the table. When they realized at the third round in Geneva that the government was not going to open A9 they left the dialogue process. It was only after the government realized there was no purpose in continuing peace talks and when it was clear that the CFA was being violated beyond the limits of tolerance that the government decided to embark on a war to rid of terrorism.

 4 Features of the war that makes it a just war were

 (a) It commenced after exhausting the peace process to its end and after LTTE re- launched several attacks after violating on many occasions the terms in the CFA and when the terrorist started depriving civilians of water resources availabe that the government decided to undertake the war

 (b) The fact the war was completed successfully within a short period ending terrorism and ushered a period of genuine and lasting peace. The people held captive were restored their democratic rights with political plurality and the right to exercise the franchise together with the right to dissent. The fact that a party opposed to government won a majority of the votes in the North and East is a matter of significance as it shows that political plurality was established.

 (c) The fact that a stable and peaceful society has emerged after the end of terrorism shows that it was a just war.  A just war was the only possible the avenue to a lasting peace and a society where law and order prevailed and there was end to the carnage of 30 years.

 (d) The fact that during the military campaign (until the final stages) there were no complaints of harm to civilians (except of a few stray and vague complaints) and that the majority of the complaints were during the last few days of the war establishes that the military exercise was carried out with the intent of minimizing civilian casualties and it was successful. You can never have zero casualties but this reveals that the principles of proportionality leading to excesses did not feature. If so, civilian casualties should have being a uniform complaint throughout the military campaign. Even the complaints made by the US State Department covers a period that coincides with the period that the terrorist were holding civilians as human shields for their protection during the last days of the war when the theatre was in a restricted area.

 (e) The fact that all times when the civilians desired to make the crossing to government areas and when ever they got the opportunity did make the crossing and never desired to go back to the terrorist controlled areas.

 (h) Rehabilitation of cadres, returning child soldiers to parents, no prisoners of war except in cases where crimes have been committed- the characteristics of a just war.

  (i) Principle of jus ad bellum-can be justified since the military operation commenced with the intent to provide water to a multi ethnic community where water sources were deprived by the terrorists; which is needed for consumption and livelihood so that it originated with the intent to restore lost basic human needs. Throughout the military campaign the purpose was to end brutal terrorism that terrorized the entire country and deprived a sector of people their democratic fundamental and human rights. The fact of success within a limited time frame shows it was an achievable goal realistically undertaken that contribute to eventual greater good. This was indeed achieved. The accusation of excesses came in only during the last phase of the war when there was near hand- to- hand fighting and civilians were held in captivity as a human shield. If the war had been not completed within a short time frame there would have been serious international ramifications that would have prevented the end to the war. If Millebands and Kouchners were let loose to sun bathe on the beaches in Nandikadal we would not have been enjoying the luxury of peace! 

 (j) Principle of jus in bello has been satisfied because the targets taken were of a military nature. It was proved beyond doubt the Senencholai that was the celebrated case showed beyond doubt that it was military training camp where children were taken against their will. There were no complaints during the Eastern campaign or till the last days of the Wanni campaign that there were civilian targets zeroed. In that narrow stretch of land between the lagoon and the sea where the terrorist established every inch of land as a protective shield it was a live military camp where the terrorist leadership quartered holding the civilians against their will. That whole stretch of land was a military target required to complete the war against terrorism as it was the final headquarters of those mastering the terrorist war. Two factors stand out-

    (i) With the backbone of the terrorist leadership being decimated, terrorism came to an abrupt end. This would not have been possible to achieve unless terrorist military installations was over run. You cannot take the prime military installation without civilian casualties when they kept civilians as the last defense line till the attempted final break out by the leadership took place with their families.

   (ii) The fact that hordes of civilians crossed the line during the last 48 hours when the LTTE began to loosen their iron grip over them displayed that they lived in captivity searching for the first opportunity to escape. If the Forces did not carry softening up operations those civilians would not have obtained escape avenues. It was an imperative military exercise. All attacks were made within limits of token collateral damage to civilians. The military objectivity of ending terrorism and the achievement of greater good within a limited time frame was successfully achieved

       It fits perfectly with additional protocol No 1 of 1977 on the principle of an advantage achieved in defeating terrorism, in terms of a just war in the absence of excessive collateral damage. Democratic and human rights were obtained. This battle brought to a conclusion a 30 years of terrorism. The extent of collateral damage is minimal compared to Horoshima and Nagasaki, which ended the war against Japan? There was minimizing of collateral damage to the possible minimal by resorting to No Fire Zones, Precision bombing, use age of small arms, intelligence obtained from surveillance drones on civilian presence as the methods to lower human casualties.

  Humanitarian aspects of the military undertaking has already been presented by other witnesses and therefore will not dwell.

 Thee are seven principles to establish a just war coming down from the time of Hugo Grotius

 1 there is a just cause-to end terrorism and restore democracy

2 there is right authority-undertaken by a sovereign state to regain land/people taken to perpetrate terrorism

3 right intention-to attack the terrorists while providing humanitarian assistance to the people under the control of the terrorist and to safeguard civilians from collateral damage

4 resort to force being proportionate to the object- the safeguards taken to protect civilians, the attacks directed at military targets

5.last resort-after efforts at peace talks collapsed and at the stage the terrorists deprived people of facilities to water to maintain life and agriculture

6 peace is the goal-the results show permanent peace was obtained

7 hope of success-success achieved comprehensively within a short time frame for the greater good.

 What was at stake was the self – defenses of a sovereign state where the sovereignty is vested in the People by the Constitution which was under a attack by a terrorist organization which did not adhere to the principles of democracy or the norms of human rights. We are the only country in modern history to reach this achievement in the democratic world. The last country to achieve it was Malaysia where they overcame terrorism 60 years ago and more recently Peru decimated a tiny terrorist group called the Shinning Path. But both the Malaysians and Peruvians were small time terrorists and were never a major threat like the LTTE or Al Queda. That makes our victory more memorable.

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