Navy Pillay’s grim silence on Tamil war criminals
Posted on September 12th, 2013

H. L. D. Mahindapala

On May 26, 2009 when the UNHRC met for the first time to consider the post-war situation in Sri Lanka Ms. Navi Pillay was busy elsewhere. Because she could not attend she sent a recorded message to UNHRC. It was pre-recorded on May 25, 2009, which was only eight days after the total collapse of ƒ¢¢”š¬…”the murderous organizationƒ¢¢”š¬‚ (Navi Pillay) of Tamil Tigers on the banks of Nandi Kadal.

It is the haste with which she slammed Sri Lanka in her recorded speech that exposes her political agenda. The war ended on May 18. 2009. Before the smoke of the silenced guns could dissolve and clear the skies to assess the devastated war zone with some clarity, accuracy and objectivity she jumped to conclusions of her own and accused Sri Lanka of not conducting the war according to international norms. Mark you, she went on the offensive against Sri Lanka without having any reliable evidence, or statistics, or researched reports. It is obvious that within eight days of ending a war no oneƒ”š‚  would have had any consolidated evidence to mount a case against any party.

The best guide for her would have been a report from the UN. She had none except a statement by Gordon Weiss, UN’s point manƒ”š‚  in Sri Lanka, saying that the total amount of deaths in the last months of the war was around 7,000. Weiss jacked up his own figure to 40,000 whenƒ”š‚  he went back to Australia to sensationalize his book, The Cage. Inflating the figure from 7,000 to 40,000 was a sales gimmick. Later he revised his figure and came down to 10,000 deaths when questioned at a public meeting in Melbourne.

Clearly, Ms. Pillay had nothing substantial to hang her anti-Sri Lankan agenda. She is also on record saying that the day she recorded her message ƒ¢¢”š¬- i.e., May 25, 2009 ƒ¢¢”š¬- the Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was visiting Sri Lanka. This confirms that she was not in possession of any report/data from the UN to make any judgment. Everyone was digging for information and the available reports were confusing.

The confusion was inevitable because the case against Sri Lanka was based on the last five months of the war and not the entire length of 33 years ƒ¢¢”š¬- from 1976 to 2009. So on what basis did she accuse Sri Lanka? There were, of course, guesstimates, hearsay and some media reports. The most significant piece of paper available to her was theƒ”š‚  EU resolution which condemned Sri Lanka for not ending the war according to international norms. Her statement ran, unsurprisingly, on parallel lines with that of the EU Resolution. The coincidence of Ms. Pillay and the EU attacking Sri Lanka on the same day, in the same platform, is, indeed, noteworthy, to say the least.

Besides, the accusation of not conducting the war accordingƒ”š‚  to international norms was leveled only against the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL). There were other actors like India which violated international humanitarian law in conducting their operations in Jaffna against the LTTE between 1988 — 1990. The Resolution against Sri Lanka did not mention a word about India’s violations of international laws and international humanitarian law. Does this mean that UNHRC considers India to be above the law andƒ”š‚  should be exempted from all the documented war crimes and crimes against humanityƒ”š‚  committed by the IPKF in Jaffna?

The main thrust of the UNHRC Resolution against Sri Lanka runs on two parallel paths:ƒ”š‚  (1) exonerate all the other actors/agents involved in a 33-year-old war and (2) raise issues that occurred only in the last five months. Though at first sight both tactics seem like sheer lunacy there is a method in their madness: if their finger-pointing is confined to the last five months then only the GOSL is answerable because the last stages of the war were fought only by the Sri Lankan forces on the banks of Nandikadal. It is quite apparent that this tactic of limiting issues arising from a 33-year-old war to a time-frame of five months in the last stages was designed to corner Sri Lanka and exempt all other actors/agents. So the resolution presented to UNHRC by Ms. Pillay on May 26, 2009 stands out as a selectively politicized act to target Sri Lanka only, exonerating all other violators of international norms, including the LTTE and its collaborators like Adele Balasingham, head of the women’s brigades, and the leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

The role of TNA which collaborated with the quasi-state of Velupillai Prabhakaran, complete with an army, navy, air force and judiciary, takes R. Sampanthan and his lieutenants like M. Sumanthiram to a higher level of criminal liability than just being complicit in the crimes committed by ƒ¢¢”š¬…”the murderous organizationƒ¢¢”š¬‚. As the known records revealƒ”š‚  TNA MPs were obedient and active factotums who went along with the LTTE when it was committing war crimes and crimes against the Tamil people, particularly the Tamil children. They cannot hide behind the standard excuse of havingƒ”š‚  to ƒ¢¢”š¬…”follow ordersƒ¢¢”š¬‚ coming from the top because all crimes have an element of compulsion ƒ¢¢”š¬- biological, psychological, political, ideological, environmental, economic etc. — which can be used to absolve responsibility. The law steps in to fix responsibility for acts of commission and omission and the responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity was defined in the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946).ƒ”š‚  The ƒ¢¢”š¬…”defense of superior ordersƒ¢¢”š¬‚ used to avoid criminal liability was rejected by Nuremberg Courts. This is also known as the ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Nuremberg defenseƒ¢¢”š¬‚ used by the Nazi war criminals to pass the buck to their superiors who gave the orders to kill. They argued that they were following the superior orders that came from Adolf Hitler.

Rejecting this the Nuremberg Principle IV countered by determining : “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” The TNA, which acted as covert and overt agents of the LTTE in exchange for the political patronage and guarantee of personal security, had ƒ¢¢”š¬…”a moral choiceƒ¢¢”š¬‚ available to them. Other courageous Tamils resisted the threats of ƒ¢¢”š¬…”the murderous organizationƒ¢¢”š¬‚ and either joined the democratic mainstream or maintained their independence by hidingƒ”š‚  in safe havens in the south. Instead of exercising the ƒ¢¢”š¬…”moral choiceƒ¢¢”š¬‚ available to them the TNA in particular decided to go along, willingly and knowingly, with the quasi-state of Prabhakaran which decimated not only the entire Tamil leadership but also killed more Tamils than any other force in the longest running war in Asia, as stated by S. C. Chandrahasan and V. Anandasangaree, President of the TULF.

They do not have even a fig leaf to cover their guilty part. Adolf Eichmann in his defence in Israel claimed : “I never did anything, great or small, without obtaining in advance express instructions from Adolf Hitler or any of my superiors.” The TNA leaders too never did anything, great orƒ”š‚  small, without obtaining in advance clearance from the Tamil avatar of Adolf Hitler in Vanni. Sampanthan and Sumanthiram knowingly and willingly accepted Prabhakaran’s blessings for their political survival when they could have fought for the human rights of the persecuted Tamils. Today they are posing as defenders of human rights because the GOSL has given them the right and the freedom to fight for their political beliefs.

Where were their voices when their people were facing the brutal violence of Prabhakaran? Wasn’t it the ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Sinhala governmentsƒ¢¢”š¬‚ that gave the TNA leaders their dignity, liberty and the equality to exercise their democratic rights in Parliament and in the open political arena? But what rights and dignity didƒ”š‚  they have under Prabhakaran? The more the TNA collaborated with the LTTE the more they lost their dignity, liberty, and, of course, conscience. It is these willing collaborators who went before Ms. Pillay and pretended to be the defenders of Tamil rights.

The guilt of the Tamil leadership in being partners in the crimes committed by their ƒ¢¢”š¬…”liberatorƒ¢¢”š¬‚, Prabhakaran, assumes a greater significance in the light of the arguments raised by Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Neelan Tiruchelvam, and their co-partners in I/NGOs who collectively blamed the GOSL for ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚. They took the high moral ground in ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ and accused the J. R. Jayewardene’s UNP government of being ƒ¢¢”š¬…”complicitƒ¢¢”š¬‚ in the senseless riots that killed around 300 innocent Tamil civilians. The charge of complicity was based on the allegation that the GOSL not only failed to take preventive action but was also guilty of turning a blind eye when Colombo was burning. That is a fair argument.ƒ”š‚  If that is her conviction then shouldn’t Ms. Coomaraswamy and her I/NGO partners apply the same principle in judgingƒ”š‚  the role of the TNA leadership? Didn’t TNA go all out to prop up Prabhakaran knowing full well that he was committing war crimes and crimes againstƒ”š‚  humanity? Isn’t this far worse than the ƒ¢¢”š¬…”complicityƒ¢¢”š¬‚ of GOSL in ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚? Talking purely in terms of statistics, in ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ roughly 300 Tamils died. How many thousands of Tamils were killed by Prabhakaran, the great Thamby of the TNA?

In contrast ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ was like the fizz of a soda bottle: it flared and died never to repeat again. Butƒ”š‚  the subhuman violence of Prabhakaran against his own people lasted for three decades with the blessings of the TNA, NGOs and the Tamil diaspora. So what is holding back TNA, ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Pakiƒ¢¢”š¬‚ Saravanmuttu, Jehan (Pacha) Perera and their gang of human rights activists from organizing memorials to say never to the rise of a future Prabhakaran? In commemorating ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ are they saying that violence comes only from the south against the Tamils? Isn’t blaming the south the standard ruse for diverting attention from the perennial peninsular violence of the Jaffna Tamil leadership that treated their own people as despicable pariahs not fit for the pure Vellahla society? Whatƒ”š‚  is the dignity, respect and freedom that the Sampanthans and his kind gave the low-castes in Jaffna? Isn’t it a fact that the Jaffna Tamil man blossomed, with whatever rights that were available, only in the democratic south? Wasn’t Jaffna the Stygian hell-hole where the oppressed and the persecuted minorities were denied the basicƒ”š‚  right ƒ¢¢”š¬- forget the universal human rights –ƒ”š‚  to live and walk in the daylight? What dignity and respect did the Jaffna man have under the leadership of the Vellahlas and Prabhakaran?

Didn’t Sampanthan, Sumanthiram, Wigneswaran and ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Pakiƒ¢¢”š¬‚ Saravanamuttu find their full potential to be human, with all its limitations, only in the south and not in the north ruled by Prabhakaran? Even in ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1983ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ didn’t the Sinhalese risk their lives to save the Tamils? Also when the tsunamai hit Mullativu wasn’t it the Sinhala village folk who took essentials to the displaced Tamils? Finally, where did the desperate Tamils running away from Prabhakaran go for safety? Didn’t they go runningƒ”š‚  into the arms of a vilified Sinhala leader, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to save them?

What did President Mahinda Rajapaksa get in return? When the homeless, hungry, thirsty, exhausted Tamils were saved the Tamil leadership, which has never ceased to blame the Sinhalese forƒ”š‚  their sins, blamed President Rajapaksa for saving them from the clutchesƒ”š‚  of savage Prabhakaran. Their logic is bizarre. Joining hands with the West they blame him for the way he saved the helpless Tamils. But they never pointƒ”š‚  out how 300,000 Tamil held asƒ”š‚  hostage by ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Thambyƒ¢¢”š¬‚ could have been saved except by fighting to a finish in the battlefield. They insist that President Rajapaksa should have follow the rules of engagement that no one else had followed ever before. Rules and morality are only for Sri Lanka. America, for instance, which engaged in biological and chemical warfare can get away with no pressure from outside sources. The Yankeesƒ”š‚  destroyed the fauna, flora and homo sapiens in Vietnam with Agent Orange and delivered small pox infested blankets to unsuspecting Redƒ”š‚  Indians to wipe them out. Now they are threatening to bomb Syria for using sarin gas.

Incidentally, as pointed out by Prof. Peter Chalk of Queensland University, Prabhakaran is the only known terrorist to have engaged in chemical warfare. He has documented that the Tamil Tigers hurled a poisonous chemical on an army camp in the north, which, incidentally blew back on fell on the Tigers. The enormity of the crimes committed by the Tamil Tigers against the Tamil civilians was never going to end under Prabhakaran. The only way to save the Tamils was to end the war once and for all. Taking Prabhakaran out of the political equation was an act of mercy, both for him and the Tamil people. If the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama sits with his apparatchiks every Tuesday and decides which human being should be eliminated to protect and preserve the security of America why is wrong for President Rajapaksa to fight, face-to-face, the worst political criminal of the Tamils and save peace? It is against this moral mis-en-scene that Ms. Pillay, TNA, NGOs and the West say that President Rajapaksaƒ”š‚  should have followed the laws of war that no one else had followed ever before.

Not having any valid argument for ending the war and saving 300,000 Tamils they find fault with President Rajapaksa for the way he ended the war. They throw at him a fictitious figure of 40,000 dead ƒ¢¢”š¬- no one has yet counted the dead ƒ¢¢”š¬- and dismiss the counted figure of 300,000 saved. As usual the Tamil narrative rides on fiction than on reality. They disguise their vindictive ethnic politics as a fight for human rights. The TNA has forfeited the right to speak for the Tamil people after their heartless collaborationƒ”š‚  with the killer of countless Tamils. The time to stand up for Tamils was when Prabhakaran forcibly dragged Tamil children into a futile while his children were swimmingƒ”š‚  in a pool in Vanni. Why did TNA fail to stand up at least to protect the Tamil children who were forcibly dragged into a futile war? Why didn’t ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Pakiƒ¢¢”š¬‚ Saravanamuttu who ran to the Supreme Court raising complex constitutional issues to pin down GOSL refuse to take up the simple issue of the violations of the rights of Tamil children in Prabhakaran’s courts?

The moral ofƒ”š‚  this tale is quite plain: only the Sinhalese commit crimes. The Tamils are pure. They don’t commit crimes. They only provide human shields to hide the crimes of their political leaders and make them look like the greatest defenders of human rights.

What is equally reprehensible is that Ms. Pillay, who should know her law inside out and, consequently, the criminal liability of the TNA MPs also, did not raise these issues with the TNA delegation that met her. They were willing partners of Prabhakaran, working hand in glove with him, and the Chief Executive Officer appointed by UN to protect and promote human rights never raised the issue of TNA’s culpability as collaborators in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Of course, she was quick to raise issues of human rights with government officials. But when it came to the TNA leaders who collaborated with ƒ¢¢”š¬…”the murderous organizationƒ¢¢”š¬‚ she forgot her law and morals. ƒ”š‚ How come? Was it ignorance or a case of turning a blind eye?

The role of TNA now as defenders of Tamil rights is laughable. It is as credible as the Neo-Nazis claiming to be the defenders of the Jews. They are the neo-Prabhakaranists who are waiting for the return of the mummy of Prabhakaran. Their leaders (example: Suresh Premachandra)ƒ”š‚  have expressed publicly a willingness to go along with the next militant movement which they hope to create and strengthen when they win power in the coming Provincial Council election in the north. The Tamil leadership had never been shy of using Tamil people, on the one hand, and Prabhakaran, on the other, to keep themselves in power. They are now emboldened by the visit of Ms. Pillay to kick start their Vadukoddai violence.

To be fair by all sides, even at this late stage, Ms. Pillay has an opportunity in her forthcomingƒ”š‚  report to the Council to question the criminal role of TNA collaborators who went along with Prabhakaran who was never tired of killing Tamils ƒ¢¢”š¬- from Neelan Tiruchelvam to the helpless Tamils running away into the safety of the Sri Lankan Forces? But will she find enough courage in her conscience to face up to her own moral and legal obligations? Or will she confine her comments only to denigrate GOSL which is in keepingƒ”š‚  with her past political agenda?

All doubts about TNA’s separatist/violent political agenda have been removed by the declarations in the election manifesto which takes Jaffna Tamil politics back to Vadukoddai politics of 1976. In their latest manifesto the TNA has deliberately chosen to go down the Vadukoddai path which will inescapably take them to Tamil extremism, Tamil fascism and Tamil militarism. They are the bogus Gandhians who distributed wooden pistols at their satyagraha sit-ins. Their ƒ¢¢”š¬…”trousered Gandhiƒ¢¢”š¬‚, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, proudly carried on his forehead a ƒ¢¢”š¬…”tilakaƒ¢¢”š¬‚ (red pottu) drawn with the blood oozing from a cut vein of a Vadukoddian committed to violence. In keeping with this bloody tradition the TNA is reviving and recycling the Vadukoddai Resolution to signal that they are ready to pursue Vadukoddai violence which they know will lead to gross violations of human rights. Once again they are preparing to commit the worst crime in international law ƒ¢¢”š¬- the crime of aggression which leads to war.

The decision of the Tamil leadership to drag the Tamil people back to Vadukoddai is inexcusable. At least in 1976 they did not know the outcome of their calculated decision to seek a military solution. This time they are returning to square one knowing that it is a gamble without any guarantees of success. Nor can they claim now that they were under compulsion from Prabhakaran’s terror. Also, the threadbare arguments of discrimination, and denial of admissions to universities, or job opportunities are no longer there for them to take up arms or call for a separate state. The reality is that they are hoisted by their own petard laid in Vadukoddai and do not know how to get outƒ”š‚  of it except by playing the usual blame game of accusing the Sinhala-Buddhist majority. Their delusional politics has made them believe that the tide has turned in their favour and the time is ripe for them strike after the elections. They are blindly refusing to look at the plain reality of their own history: if Prabhakaran could not, with the best of military force, backed also by David Milliband and Richard Kouchner and Tamil diaspora, could not save them what are their chances without Prabhakaran?

They are buoyed by the likes of Ms. Pillay whose partisan politics is seen as encouragement to pursue Vadukoddai violence. They are banking, as usual on the international forces. If they have eyes to see and brains to analyse the way the international forces are swinging they would think twice before jumpingƒ”š‚  into another Nandikadal. Besides, the blame gameƒ”š‚  played by Ms. Pillay, TNA and I/NGOs can only go thus far and no further. There is a strong resistance gathering momentum against Western interventions ƒ¢¢”š¬- including tools of the West like UNHRC. Ms. Pillay, no doubt, will damn Sri Lanka in her report and the NGOs will go to town with it. And how many time before have they danced in the streets arguing that this is going to be the end for Sri Lanka. In short, isn’t Navy Pillai, whose respect for human rights can be measured by her silent acceptance of the collaborators of Prabhakaran as defenders of human rights, a spent force? If she accepts TNA as defenders of Tamil human rights then she must also accept Prabhakaran as a substitute for Gandhi.

Ms. Pillay’s moves are predictable. She will slam Sri Lanka again in her next report to UNHRC.ƒ”š‚  She has done this before and she will continue to do it again. Before she arrived in Sri Lanka I predicted that she will not change because her agenda isƒ”š‚  tied to that of the West. Besides, she is noted for her partisan politics. The Geneva- based UN Watch, an independent NGO,ƒ”š‚  which has comprehensively researched all statements made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay between September 2008 and June 2010, reported that their findings ƒ¢¢”š¬…”show a questionable sense of prioritiesƒ¢¢”š¬‚.

Here is the relevant quote from its report: ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Ms. Pillay turned a blind eye to most of the world’s worst abusers. She made no statement on the human rights situations of 146 countries. She failed to voice any concern for victims in 34 countries rated ƒ¢¢”š¬…”Not Freeƒ¢¢”š¬‚ by Freedom House – meaning those with the worst records, and the most needy victims. She failed to criticize another 50 countries rated ƒ¢¢”š¬…”partly freeƒ¢¢”š¬‚ and 63 countries rated ƒ¢¢”š¬…”free.ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ Among the countries not criticized: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville), CƒÆ’‚´te d’Ivoire, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mauritania, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.ƒ¢¢”š¬‚

There is one item missing in this list: TNA. Noƒ”š‚  justice system, committed toƒ”š‚  international humanitarian law, can exonerate the TNA of its criminal liability. Nor can any system exempt India for its brutal persecution and suppression of Jaffna Tamils. If these two active collaborators with the LTTE ƒ¢¢”š¬- remember Indian intervention as a whole was to save the LTTE though it turned against them later — are allowed to escape the long arm of the law then on what legal or moral principle should any other party be held responsible?

And again, why did Ms. Pillay leap over all these abusers of human rights and pick on Sri Lanka within days of ending the wars? After spending the longest period of time in Sri Lanka more than in any of her peripatetic global meanderings why did she exonerate the TNA with her silence? Will she have the necessary objectivity and fairness to hold the scales evenly and insist that India and TNA too should be held responsible for the crimes they committed in Sri Lanka? But then we must pause and ask: Can a tigress change her stripes?

20 Responses to “Navy Pillay’s grim silence on Tamil war criminals”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    “Can a tigress change her stripes?”

    Well said HLDM.

    This woman is a tigress. Nothing more.

  2. AnuD Says:

    Indian Ocean Naval route and China dominating it is a big Problem. Finally, all these human rights ends there.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sri Lanka’s path to peace

    By Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor
    The Australian
    September 13, 2013

    GOTABAYA Rajapaksa and Selvarasa Pathmanathan used to be the deadliest of enemies. Now they have the same message.

    I meet the two within a period of 24 hours in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city.

    Pathmanathan, or KP as he’s widely known, was for several months in 2009 the supreme leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, for many years the world’s most ruthless and bloody terrorist group. For a long time before that he was effectively No 2 to the Tigers’ leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. When Prabhakaran was killed in May 2009, Pathmanathan took over the LTTE leadership until he was arrested in September of that year.

    You may not know much about the Tamil Tigers. They were the most supremely deadly and effective terrorist group to emerge at any time in the second half of the 20th century. They pioneered two terrorist innovations — suicide bombings, later copied by al-Qa’ida, and child soldiers and child terrorists.
    Digital Pass $1

    One of their signature gestures was the cyanide capsule each cadre was given to facilitate suicide in the event of capture.

    The long Tamil Tiger war against the Sri Lankan government ran from 1983 to 2009 and resulted in perhaps 70,000 dead. In the course of this bitter conflict some members of the Sri Lankan army certainly committed human rights abuses. But there is no overall moral equivalence between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tigers.

    The Tigers were ultimately defeated by a military campaign designed and run by Rajapaksa, secretary of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence. A brilliant career soldier, he had migrated to the US after retiring from the army but came back to help his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, become President. From 2005 to 2009, Gota, as he is popularly known, oversaw the military campaign that finally crushed the Tigers.

    But in one of those remarkable quirks of history, Pathmanathan tells me it was Gota who ensured he was treated properly in captivity and rehabilitated him so that he can now play a role in the reconciliation process under way between the minority Tamil and majority Sinhalese communities.

    The Sinhalese-Tamil division is the central fault line of Sri Lankan history. They follow different religions — the Sinhalese are Buddhists, the Tamils are Hindus. They speak different languages. They are ethnically different.

    The situation is complicated by the presence of 50 million Tamils next door in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Some Tamils would like a separate nation in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, although most Tamils live in Colombo and the south, and don’t support separatism. The majority Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan state will never allow partition. So it’s best if they work out a way to get along.

    Meeting Pathmanathan is quite a business. It takes many days of arranging, lots of phone calls and lobbying of friends and acquaintances. A tall, straight-looking man, cool enough, he strolls into the lobby of a big Colombo hotel. The government provides him with a couple of bodyguards and I have been asked to arrange somewhere discreet for our interview. Lacking a better alternative, I take him up to a small coffee lounge on the hotel’s 18th floor.

    The lounge has two rooms and we choose the less densely populated one, but I notice that quite soon people have recognised him and we are left alone. The bodyguards wait outside. The hotel staff serve coffee and scurry away.

    Pathmanathan’s English is not bad, but over a long discussion I find it gets less good when I ask him about personal matters, or about some of the Tigers’ more controversial tactics.

    Where did the idea for suicide bombing, which the Tigers used to devastating effect, come from?

    “It was Prabhakaran’s own idea,” he says. “We used it first in the 1980s. Actually, I remember early in the 80s some people sat with us and we talked of the Japanese in World War II and the kamikaze bombers. Somehow that came from Prabhakaran’s mind. Also, in Tamil Nadu there was the tradition that people sometimes set themselves on fire (in protest).”

    Pathmanathan was in charge of procuring military supplies for the Tigers and for years lived in India, then Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, with periods in Singapore and Europe.

    “The state government of Tamil Nadu used to give us direct support for a period in the 80s,” he says. Before Rajiv Gandhi came to power, the national Indian government also gave the Tigers some support, he says.

    “When that stopped we raised money in Europe and North America. We raised some in Australia, but Europe and Canada were the main source of funds.”

    At one time Western intelligence believed the Tigers raised $200 million to $300m a year from the million-strong Tamil diaspora, and from a variety of illegal businesses. They used this money to buy heavy conventional weapons, artillery and heavy-duty guns, and even to buy ships. For many years the Tigers controlled a substantial swath of territory in the country’s east and north; they had a small but formidable navy and even a small air force.

    No other terrorist group has ever reached that degree of sophistication and Pathmanathan was its central organiser. For a time he was wanted not only by the Sri Lankan government but by the Indian authorities, who believed he played a role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, as well as by Interpol, MI6 and the CIA.

    “Prabhakaran made the decision to kill Rajiv Gandhi,” Pathmanathan says. After India sent a peacekeeping force into Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers and the Indian army became enemies.

    “Prabhakaran thought the Indians had tried to kill him, so he thought he’d kill Gandhi first.”

    Certainly the death of Gandhi, killed by a female suicide bomber, was a turning point, both in showing the world what the Tigers were really like and in turning India into an implacable enemy of the LTTE.

    Pathmanathan now admits much that the Tigers did was wrong, but he also lists a series of injustices and provocations that he believes the Tamil community suffered, such as a language policy that favoured Sinhalese. But he recites this list reluctantly. He wants his fellow Tamils to stop thinking always about the past, because that kind of thinking only leads to more bloodshed.

    When I ask him directly about Prabhakaran, he responds, but with some reluctance: “Prabhakaran was a very charismatic leader. When I met him he was a genuine, friendly character. He was always willing to die for the Tamil cause. From the first day when I met him, in 1974, to the last day when he died, in 2009, he never changed from his philosophy, his determination.

    “But also he was never flexible, never willing to change to accommodate the changed world.

    “He should have been more flexible. It was wrong for him to kill his own people. Prabhakaran became more like a dictator as the years went by.”

    There are two themes on which Pathmanathan and Defence Secretary Rajapaksa are strikingly in tune: the key role the Americans played in the final defeat of the Tigers, and the role they would both now like the Tamil diaspora to play for Sri Lanka.

    Pathmanathan believes the transformed international environment after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led directly to the Tigers’ defeat.

    But let’s have Rajapaksa take up that part of the story. Gota is a national hero in Sri Lanka and his office, next to the President’s compound in central Colombo, is crisply military. He is sharp and precise and very businesslike.

    One of the greatest problems the Sri Lankan military had, he tells me, was that the Tigers would bring in heavy-duty weaponry on big ships that would loiter outside Sri Lanka’s waters while flotillas of small craft would go out and collect the weapons from them.

    “Most of their weapons they bought on the open market,” Rajapaksa says. “Many of their artillery pieces were North Korean in origin. They even had anti-aircraft missiles. “Their artillery and mortar was often enough to match the Sri Lankan army, or even more than the Sri Lankan army had. Their artillery caused a lot of our casualties.”

    One turning point in the war came when the Sri Lankan navy was able to sink these Tiger supply ships: “Between 2006 and 2008 we destroyed 12 of these floating armouries.” What made this possible? “The Americans were very, very helpful. Most of the locations of these ships were given to us by the Americans,” Rajapaksa says.

    American satellite technology located the ships and enabled the Sri Lankans to hit them. Before that, the Americans had been somewhat ambivalent about the Sri Lankan struggle. They never remotely justified or approved of the Tigers, but nor would they supply weapons to the Sri Lankan forces. Yet throughout the conflict, Sri Lanka got most of its military hardware from Israel and Pakistan, two military allies of the US that would probably have been susceptible to American entreaties not to supply arms.

    Pathmanathan believes the transformation of American and international thinking generally after 9/11 meant the Tigers’ path of armed conflict was no longer a viable long-term strategy.

    “We couldn’t oppose the whole world,” he says. “But Prabhakaran was opposed to peace negotiations. He used peace negotiations only as time out to rebuild his army.” Pathmanathan says he constantly urged a negotiated settlement on Prabhakaran, but to no avail.

    The other issue on which Rajapaksa and Pathmanathan present an odd unity ticket is the role they would like the Tamil diaspora to play in Sri Lanka. Pathmanathan wants the diaspora groups to drop all ideas of separatism, to stop trying to stir up trouble, and instead come back and spend time in Sri Lanka, and above all invest and build there.

    Pathmanathan is now involved in running orphanages and vocational training centres.

    Rajapaksa makes the same point. He thinks there is a danger of the Tamil diaspora promoting extremism within Sri Lanka: “The diaspora should understand that they live in countries distant from Sri Lanka. Mostly they live in developed countries and enjoy all the facilities of developed countries. But some of them want the poor people of Sri Lanka in this difficult environment to take up arms to further their (the diaspora’s) ideology. They don’t send their own children, who go to university in developed countries, who enter the professions. But they will talk of the fight for a Tamil homeland — who is doing the fighting?

    “The diaspora can raise money and make propaganda, but who will suffer from their efforts?”

    Pathmanathan makes a similar case: the situation in Sri Lanka today, especially in the Tamil areas, is infinitely better than it was during the Tigers’ war. Who would want to go back to the killing and the suffering? What his people want now, Pathmanathan says, are jobs and development.

    Rajapaksa understands the challenge of reconciliation: “This is not an easy task, especially for the people of the north. More than 55 per cent of Tamils live outside the north and the east and have no issues of reconciliation.

    “They mingle with other communities all the time.

    “But people in the north were so long isolated from the rest of the community and brainwashed into separatist attitudes. Although we have built a lot of infrastructure in the north, reconciliation won’t take place fully overnight.

    “It will take time and the concentrated efforts of all the major parties involved.

    “The majority community also has to extend its hand to show that we can live as one nation.”

    Later this month, provincial council elections will take place in the Tamil north. They may be a positive political development, or conceivably an occasion of difficult polarisation.

    But if Rajapaksa and Pathmanathan can come together on the need for reconciliation and development, and given the booming economy all across Sri Lanka, there is surely a lot to be hopeful about.

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    After reading this article and others like this it is apparent that Nazi Pillay was rooting for the LITE and once the LITE lost she already had made up her mind about the issue of human rights violations. Like the Nazis this Nazi Tamil woman believes that a “superior” race as the Tamils have the right to kill or commit genocide of the “inferior” race of the Sinhalese.

    What the LITE did was justifiable and the only violations was done by the “inferior” Singhalese people who according to her line of thought should be wiped off the face of the earth. That to this Nazi woman is justified. Sri Lanka should be renamed “Eelam” and become part of Tamil Nadu.

    This woman should be banned from Sri Lanka along with the UNHRC or she should be assassinated.

  5. Sirih Says:

    Yanks gave us the intelligence due to having access to one of the muslim terror nasties in SL+nuclear monitoring in our ports.
    Govt. was smart enough to request shipping data in return.

  6. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    She is another house nigger…

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Sirih is right.

    We caught HAMBALI and handed the swine to the Americans in 2003. It was foolish for a Muslim terrorist by the name HAMBALI to hide in SL. It is OBVIOUS!!

    The other point is also true. In addition we allowed Israel to use our sea to test fire a nuke missile (submarine or ship launched).

    It was not a HELP as such from USA but some payment for our services to them.

    The other reason was SOMALI PIRATES. IF tiger ships were allowed to float free it was a matter of time SOMALI PIRATES either ROBBED them or dealt with them to get weapons they have never seen before.

    So USA HAD TO help us.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    “Nalliah Thayabharan Says:
    September 12th, 2013 at 8:02 pm
    She is another house nigger…”


    Don’t use that word or similar. It is offensive to Tamils (as well). For instance as a Tamil from the north, I look like one and it is offensive.

  9. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Lorenzo – HOUSE NIGGER comes from a 1963 speech “Message to the Grass Roots” by African American activist Malcolm X,
    In New Zealand in 2012, Hone Harawira, a Member of Parliament and leader of the socialist Mana Party, aroused controversy after referring to Maori MPs from the ruling New Zealand National Party as “little house niggers” during a heated debate on electricity privatisation, and its potential effect on Waitangi Tribunal claims.
    HOUSE NIGGER is used against individuals, in critiques of attitudes within the African American community, and as a borrowed term for critiquing parallel situations.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Great summing up, HLD ! thank you.

    Ms Navi Pillai is committed to ‘removing Institutionalised Discrimination’ (ID). ID has been happening in Tamil Nadu, homeland of Ms Pillai’s father, for over 3,000 yrs in the form of Caste discrimination. Even today there are over 11 Million Tamil people under the Scheduled Castes category of Tamil Nadu.

    Root Cause of Tamil Problem :

    Tamil Caste Wars are being fought in Sri Lanka. Will fighting in Sri Lanka for a separate Tamil Eelam solve the Caste/poverty problems of Tamil Nadu, the staring point of the problem ? NEVER. There can be a dozen Eelams but they will not solve the roots of the problem.

    All sorts of acts of crimes, treachery, violence, and mischief have been thrown into Mother Lanka for over 30 yrs and continuing through the ltte proxy party, the TNA leaders, though now more deceptive & subtle. Now, at last, the country is awakening to the horrible reality of it all.

    Illegal Migrants & Buddhist Lanka :

    What can we learn from the tragic past ? One of the causes for the Sri Lankan problem is lack of awareness about Illegal Migrants, especially from Tamil Nadu.

    The question of illegal migrants has to be addressed very seriously in Sri Lanka. Our coastlines have always been vulnerable to illegal migrants, and were guarded in the ancient times through a garrison or ‘kotuwa’, but this practice got lost in the times of Colonists who did not care to guard our coastlines. Prabhakaran’s father or grandfather was an illegal migrant to Lanka from the Tamil Nadu area. So was the man, Abdulla Luthufi (illegal migrant from the Maldives), who carried out a coup in the Maldives in 1988 with the help of the Lanka Tamil group, PLOTE. This coup was thwarted by the Indian armed forces.

    Every Tom, Dick & Harry wants to use ‘kind & compassionate’ Buddhist Lanka as a nesting place to launch acts of revolution & terrorism. This image of Lanka has to stop. Buddhism is the religion of the country, not its Law. The Law of the Land is separate from Buddhism. To bring about social change, we have to use the Democratic norms and the Law of the Land along with peaceful demonstrations.

    At least at this late stage, we have to look at the Root Causes of our problems and hasten to correct the weak points before we get more and more embroiled in International intrigue. Deporting all ILLEGAL MIGRANTS and amending the SAARC rules (allows SAARC citizens to enter Lanka on a ‘visa on entry’ basis) to protect Lanka, would be a start. Currently, Tamil illegal migrants are all set to vote in the North with temporary IDs !

    Re how to keep Lanka Secure, we ought to take a tip from Singapore & Bhutan, both Buddhist countries with successful records re continued Security. GoSL & Gota inherited a horrendous problem and has done well, and now has to straighten out matters here even further.

  11. Ananda-USA Says:

    Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright in Open Daylight in TNA’s PC Election Propaganda for C.V. Wigneswaran!

    Four arrested in Sri Lanka for distributing a newspaper with Prabhakaran’s photo in Jaffna

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Sept 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka Police have arrested four people in the Northern Province city of Jaffna under suspicion of promoting subversion while distributing a newspaper with a photo of the slain Tamil Tiger terrorist leader.

    The individuals were arrested at Kodikamam in Jaffna as they were distributing newspaper carrying a photo of late leader of rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) Velupillai Prabhakaran.

    Police say that the newspaper carried a title “How Prabhakaran became a great hero.” The newspaper also carried a photo of the Tamil National Alliance Chief Minister candidate C. Vigneswaran.

    Political sources say that the arrested persons were canvassing for the Tamil National Alliance Provincial Council election campaign.

    The newspaper named Veedu meant the electoral symbol of Tamil National Alliance.

  12. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lorenzo said: “She is another house nigger…” NOT GOOD. Don’t use that word or similar.

    Even I, who unlike Lorenzo does not look like one, but a twin brother to Governator Arnold Schwartznegger (!!), AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY.

    Let us not use disparaging communal insults. Let us judge others not by their BIRTH, that they cannot do ANYTHING about, but by their ACTIONS and content of their CHARACTER, which are COMPLETELY within their CONTROL!

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    “The Russian Navy intends to build its presence in the Mediterranean Sea – particularly in the area close to Syrian shores – to up to 10 battleships, announced Admiral of the Fleet Viktor Chirkov.”

    – RT

    SO FAR from Syrian developments, Russia has assumed WORLD POWER status, temporarily.

    ENFORCING the UN agreement through MILITARY POWER is essential and that is what Russia is doing.

    Kerry and Obama have to eat their words and pride (if any left).

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ms Navi Pillai did say to hold the TNA responsible for the crimes of the ltte. Will the TNA ever be taken to task on the crimes of the ltte ?

    Let not life be cheap any longer in Sri Lanka or anywhere else.



    Russia has a larger stake re Syria than USA in security issues. Russia want Assad to stay on as President of Syria in order to contain Chechniya, whilst removing the dangerous chemical weapons maybe under UN supervision.

    The ordinary Americans are only too glad to let the Syrian issue be handled by Russia mostly. We think Europeans feels the same. Life is going beyond ego shows to practical terms.

  15. jayasiri Says:

    Thank you sir, for this valuable insight….. We cannot or should NOT blame Tamils from lanka, India or anyother country WHEN the fault lies with us As SINHALESE. for generations we DID NOT CARE about our Govts were doing. The Euphoria of gaining independene & having a comfortable living MADE US forget that there are NUMEROUUS structural probelms in, our governing of Sri Lanka.

    The two major identifiable political parties were DEVIDED & always try to keep quiet about their parties problems. WE DID NOT ANALYSE why Tamils are agitating FIRST by Ponnambalam WHO WANTED 50-50. Knowing fully well they would not given a shade of that.

    OUR Govt. should have asked the simple QUESTION with a population of 12% Tamils (then) in Lanka, WHO in the world will grant any substantial concessions to a MINORITY. When Sinhalese accounted 70+. Singapore once said would they like to emulate Lanka & our politicians said we SHOULD the Switzerland of Asia.

    These are NOT matters of concern to sri lankan population THEN & even NOW. Their main concerns are JOBS, a place to call home, HIGH cost of living etc…….Our parties faught NOT for the good of the country,BUT ONLY to gain power & line their pockets. The situation is NOT Any better NOW, as you all can see by living in our paradise.

    TAMILS forsaw the weekness of Sinhalese & because we are BUDDHISTS we succumb to any SAD story and allowed TAMILS to have their way. WHY didn’t we SINHALESE GOIGAMA CASTE preferred a Tamil know as Ramanathan to be elected agaist a Sinhalese BUDDHIST named Zoysa or someone?. I forget now..NOW ARN”t WE just as bad as Tamils & Indians WHO have VARIOUS caste systems to kwep THEIR low caste people at the bottom.

    We at least elected Past President Premamdasa, I feel is UNIQUE gesture to SHOW the world that we treat people with UTMOST respect if & IF only they are in a position of power or approaching that status.

    NOW lets anlayse what is HAPPENING TODAY, after getting hit by a group of Tamils with the backing of INDIA, TODAY WE STILL curry favours to INDIA. No sooner a minister visits INDIA, he comes back with PLEASANT EGO to say after all India is not a bad to country to deal with. INDIA is the WORST COUNTRY to do TRADE, or have any deals with. They have shown TIME & AGAIN & we SOME HOW keep quiet. WE ARE APATHETIC about our country.

    NOW the Tamil population is around 4 or 5%. so WHAT RIGHTS are we talking about . If our Govt.. is HONEST say so, THE ONLY RIGHTS you have as aMINORITY AFTER MUSLIMS is just NOTHING. AASSIMILATE/ AMALGAMATE & be part of the Sri Lanka society. IF you can travel 3000 + miles in search of MILK & HONEY .. go to TAMIL NADU. That is the place for the Tamils to live in harmony. & praise their culture or do whatever they want. DO NOT GO TO UK, or other Europen countries or to USA….Remember you RUNNING AWAY from Lanka because we discriminate.

    WE NEED TO CLAWBACK already given LANGUAGE rights, only to give consent that they can COMMUNICATE with the Govt. in Tamil. THATS ALL, nothing more. If they do not like LEAVE SRI LANKA. Citizenships will be taken away for good.

    IF we didn’t do THEN at least DO NOW, concentrate ON HOW TO DEPRIVE on the grounds that they are NOT a substantial community to win any rights. EVEN TO GET President’s audience THEY SHOULD FIRST CONSULT Muslim leadership in Lanka, and come with them to meet our President. THESE RULES MUST BE ENFORCED WITHOUT DELAY.

    Next, our silent majority NOW are very WELL QUALIFIED in Internationall scene, GIVE THEM IMPETUS to join hands with the MEN to present the PLIGHT of the poor, HIGH COST OF LIVING, EVERLASTING increasing cost just to live in Sri Lanka. Get that population involved in contrbuting to pass laws & MAKE SURE THESE LAWS ARE ENFORCED.

    So now you see that it is NOT the Tamils, IT US THE SINHALSESE who are gutless to do anything. Even NOW if we go to South or Colombo, TAMILS are treated with kindness & sympathy, BUT THEY the TAMILS really have no way of reciprocating WHY, because their leadership WOULD NOT ALLOW it.

    It is us & we have to solve our problems NOT INDIA, EU or USA it is WE & WE ALONE will have to do this. I know I dabbled in so many BUT after reading, I think YOU WILL AGREE the fault is mainly ours FOR REACTING TO SITUASTIONS by NOT being pro-active, TRYING to find solutions after the fact……Thank you all….GOD BLESS LANKA & ITS PEOPLE……….J

  16. Christie Says:

    First, Thanks Ananda for posting Greg Sheridan’s article from the Australian which comes from the Murdoch stable; News Ltd. News Ltd has been a supporter of non-Indians for a long long time.

    The writer says “then she must also accept Prabhakaran as a substitute for Gandhi. Navanathum Pillayan, Velupillai Parabkaran and Gandhi are all Indian colonial parasites who made their fortunes from the hapless and helpless subjects of the Indian colonies. As KP says it is India and Indians who are the cause.

    Please stop bashing the US, the West and Africans as they have always helped us. I know we have been brainwashed by the Indians to do that.

  17. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    Anyone calling Greg Sheridan’s posting noteworthy sounds deluded!
    “Gandhi a colonial parasite and the coming together of Gotabhaya and Pathmanathan on reconciliation hopeful for Sri Lanka !”
    He needs to get a life as this seems like an attempt to baffle with cowdung in the face of incapacity to dazzle with brilliance.A deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead !!!! .The Tamil Diaspora has no role to play in Sri Lanka~ they have overplayed their hand !
    Thank you HLDM ! brilliant overview and analysis as usual.

  18. AnuD Says:

    If Tamils are Sinhala – buddhists, IF Tamil political power is dwindled because they are diluted and no more ethnic enclaves exist. Tamils are more industrious. So get them to earn and pay taxes. SEe how things turn out.

    I think, At one time, we have to allow LTTE – diaspora also to come to Sri Lanka and establish businesses etc.,

  19. Sooriarachi Says:

    When Gordon Weiss released a statement from Colombo that 7000 civilians died during the last stages of the conflict with terrorists, it was immediately rejected by the UN, as it was only an imaginary figure of Weiss, who had absolutely no access to the conflict zone in the North. Since then, the doctors who were responsible for treating the injured in hospitals and clinics in the North during the conflict, had stated less than 1500 civilians may have died during this period. These deaths were also due to LTTE deliberately targeting civilians who were trying to escape. However, if one adds LTTE and Sri Lankan army casualties, then, it could be close to this 7000 figure. Gordon Weiss’s subsequent figure 40,000 could be to support the marketing of his book and also help the LTTE for their propaganda. However, UNSG’s Dharusman panel report strangely says this is a credible figure, without even bothering to investigate it. So who is behind all this?

  20. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Nay Pillai’s actions are like a driveway lantern girl’s action.. very similar to a house niggers actions..
    Lots of African-Americans are now calling Barack Hussein OSAMA who wants bomb Syria to bring Syria under Al-Qaeda’s rule – as a house nigger and a driveway lantern boy.

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