Sri Lanka’s Conflict: Response to proponents of the ‘Both sides must take blame’ theory
Posted on September 29th, 2018

A few days back I wrote an article titled Shouldn’t the UN & World give priority to the Victims of LTTE killings first” to which the following comment has been circulated to me & a host of others. In case there are others peddling the notion that both sides must take equal blame, I would like to pose some questions for which I hope the proponents of this theory can answer validating their logic for putting a national army & a terrorist organization on par & treating them both equally and present the rationale in not highlighting all of the crimes the LTTE has committed which are in far excess than that which are being attributed to the army, on the premise that it is ‘blind loyalty’.

This is the link to my article

& this is the comment received.

Who is this ‘knowledgeable’ audience? Can we ignore LTTE carnage since 1980s upon innocent villages initially & then entering towns & cities to carry out bombs & suicide missions. Shouldn’t our empathy go to these dead victims & their families? Are we not lucky not to be in their place? Then what about the living injured how many of these are still suffering? Many of them cannot even earn their own living because of LTTE. This past cannot be swept aside by anybody. Only the victim’s families & the living victims know what they suffered from LTTE.

How can we ask them to forget over 300 murderous attacks by LTTE – virtually every day, every month, every year for 3 decades? When LTTE were involved in these murderous acts, were the soldiers doing the same to us, the citizens? Therefore, can we put this part of the past aside because it does not belong to the ‘both sides to blame theory”? Who are we to tell the victims, to let bygones be bygones simple because we want to strike a deal of compromise.

As for the fair outcome for the people involved” after May 2009, the lives of innocent civilians are now saved from LTTE bombs & suicide missions, poor & low caste Tamil children are saved from being kidnapped & turned into child soldiers & the soldiers too are not at risk of getting blown to pieces from landmines & other LTTE bombs. It is only those who benefitted by LTTE Inc who are angry & upset & wish to seek revenge.

Is this ‘knowledgeable’ audience also aware & able to link the LTTE demands being connected to the original self-determination started in Tamil Nadu, borrowed by Sri Lankan Tamil leaders as they needed a slogan to hold the Tamil people together & hijacked by the LTTE to legitimize their armed struggle which initially had the backing of the Tamil political leaders. Has it not occurred to this ‘knowledgeable’ audience that this entire homeland & separatist propaganda is simply a cover to masquerade their illegal international network that brings in millions to their kitty from human smuggling, illegal drug smuggling, credit card scams, money laundering etc. The issue has also a ruse for geopolitical agendas of West & India. If none of these factors are taken to consideration in any discussion or negotiation, no wonder they think us fools & easily gullible.

It is agreed that the LTTE when it took up the armed struggle were like the JVP hyped up youth that could easily be brainwashed by an ideology fed into their system. Many of these young cadres would have been put on drugs given that LTTE were versatile drug/narcotic smugglers. We are also aware that many of these young children kidnapped from poor & low caste Tamil homes were traumatized in many ways through gruesome training to kill & hate Sinhalese whom they had not even met or seen. Our hearts do melt when hearing these individual stories related by the 594 child soldiers who were given a presidential pardon & turned into ordinary children by the previous government – the story of Gokulan the cadre turned singer is one that will melt any heart. But, the fact remains many of these cadres were willing killers while others were forced to kill. These willing killers were among the surrendered LTTE cadres who refused to be rehabilitated some of whom the TNA are now asking to be released claiming them to be political prisoners. Are the ‘knowledgeable’ audience aware of this? We cannot sympathize with willing killers.

Then we have the members of the armed forces the bulk of whom come from rural, poor Sinhala Buddhist homes. Every home, every workplace, everywhere you find a black sheep & there is no denying that some soldiers would not have functioned to the military code of conduct but the military has enough of records of removing such soldiers that have been found guilty and there is a system that the military follows in removing such soldiers/officers.

However, the tactics adopted by a national army in defense of the country cannot be compared to the tactics carried out by an illegitimate terrorist group. The tactics the armed forces carry out should remain confidential & no one can demand these to be shared with any party (the disclosure of this we know led to the Millennium City debacle & the killing of 44 armed forces personnel). In the case of the LTTE – anyone going against the LTTE leader was simply shot dead, any child not willing to undergo training & crying to return home also got shot dead. We all know what happened to Mahaththaya who turned out to be a spy for India. So where do we place this in the ‘both sides to blame’ theory?

When anyone accuses that I am highlighting only the fault of the other party”, can this person show me cases where the armed forces have entered Tamil villages cut up pregnant mothers, sleeping babies & men farming? Can these accusers show me examples of our armed forces entering mosques & murdering Muslims in prayer? Can these accusers show me examples where our armed forces have entered Buddhist temples or Kovils & shot dead people meditating & praying? Can these accusers show me examples of our armed forces carrying out suicide attacks & bombs on passenger buses, trains & in public places? Can these accusers show me how many children our soldiers have kidnapped & turned into child soldiers? So whoever comes up with this ‘highlighting only the fault of the other party’ needs to be more sensible than making barren statements which they cannot substantiate with facts.

In claiming that I am highlighting only the fault of the other party the next allegation is that my loyalty often seems quite blind & insensitive”are we to be loyal to an internationally banned terrorist movement? Are we clap at all of the murders committed by the LTTE over the decades and credit these murders to ‘oh they were simply going against the bad policies of the State & armed forces”, how can we be so heartless to these innocent victims, majority are from rural & poor homes and these victims are not just Sinhalese, Muslims but foreigners & Tamils too? Where are we blind or insensitive?

Can those proponents wishing to increase ‘credibility in the eyes of a discerning & knowledgeable reading audience’ give explanations for some examples given below which have increased since the new government took over in January 2015

  • Jaffna mayor attending LTTE commemoration
  • Jaffna University holding LTTE commemorations including unveiling a plaque for LTTE homeland quest
  • Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran claiming no Sinhalese to be allowed in the North & East to live or Tamils to marry Sinhalese
  • Members of the TNA supervising the bulldozing of ancient archaeological sites
  • Pro-LTTE groups demolishing ancient Buddhist sites in the North & East
  • Weapons suddenly emerging from hideouts across the North & East
  • Armed groups also roaming the North some even attacking members of the armed forces.
  • Tamil diaspora & TNA claiming LTTE cadres to be political prisoners & demanding their release
  • Tamil diaspora & TNA demanding demilitarization & removal of military camps & soldiers from the North
  • Tamil diaspora groups lobbying foreign governments, foreign MPs & even UN to continue their claim for a separate Tamil homeland & continuing bogus propaganda campaign
  • Foreign Intelligence confirming that despite the LTTE leader & ground leadership being eliminated the LTTE ideology & international support network remains alive & functioning
  • Foreign Arrests & judgements against LTTE in foreign courts for LTTE killing
  • The President of Sri Lanka at the UN claiming that the LTTE financiers must be dealt with

Those that want to present the scenario of taking the supposed middle path & simply claiming both sides committed wrongs must next explain what should happen thereafter. What are they proposing beyond the acceptance that both sides committed crimes? Have they forgotten that even the legally questionable Ban Ki Moon’s 3 member panel report also faulted both sides but the War Crimes Tribunal is only against the Armed Forces that too without evidence of having killed 40,000 people – 9 years on we still do not have 40,000 dead names, there are no skeletons even!

While on the subject of treating both parties equally – can we have examples of LTTE saving close to 300,000 as the Sri Lanka Armed Forces did in May 2009?

Win for whoever is mightier” – every game has a winner & a loser. Both world wars ended up victor’s justice. We continue to seek accountability for over 500 years of colonial crimes perpetrated by the very countries that are self-appointed world’s policemen but continuing to commit every crime they accuse others of. Can anyone show where UN or these Western nations have been unbiased & impartial? Where has the West’s war on terror landed – every nation the West wants to conquer & take over their resources has some terrorist trouble! It is those peddling these new notions that are now even asking not to honor the fallen heroes with a minutes silence probably because LTTE cadres are not included in the honor! And the West is still going after the Nazi’s – men who are in their 90s are still being arrested!

We are living in times when the self-appointed custodians of peace & human rights are bombing countries, illegally invading & occupying them & even manufacturing conflicts & creating terrorists to justify their presence & enabling the sale of arms & ammunition to both the State army & the terrorists they have trained. We have a UN that has silently approved these supposedly ‘humanitarian R2P interventions” & even nodding their heads to sanctions knowing the victims are the common public. Anyone seeing the suffering of the people in Yemen will demand to close down the UN, the international NGOs & charities that are supposed to save people – can this ‘both sides must take blame’ be applicable to Yemen too?

It is unacceptable to put a legitimate national army on par with & equate it with an internationally banned terrorist movement (even if they are called insurgents or freedom fighters)

In an internal conflict as in Sri Lanka the rules of war apply to both sides & if such is the case we do not see the application of IHL & their violations by LTTE being used to demand criminal action against LTTE.

Let us also not forget & hope the ‘knowledgeable’ audience has also not forgotten that there would have been no requirement to call for a military defeat of the LTTE had India not threatened Sri Lanka not to capture a cornered Prabakaran in 1987 & instead whisked him off to India in an Indian helicopter, thousands of people would have been alive if the foreign governments aware of LTTE offices in their countries stopped these fronts from operating & materially supporting the LTTE over the years, thousands of property would not have been damaged if foreign governments did not knowingly sell their sophisticated equipment & communication and post-LTTE defeat when the UNSC Resolution 1373 was incorporated to ban 15 LTTE fronts operating from US, Canada, Norway, UK, Australia & other EU countries & India, if these governments had taken the interest to at least investigate these fronts operating from their countries there would not be any need to say LTTE international networks are alive but expect Sri Lanka to remove the Prevention of Terrorism Act & other terrorist counter measures that deal with likely terror scenarios repeating in Sri Lanka.

LTTE did not give us peace – LTTE gave us blood & tears. However, 27,000 soldiers sacrificed their lives to give us peace and an equal number lie injured some unable to even move a limb & they are not even 30 years old & they will continue to suffer like this for life. We cannot forget these sacrifices.

Moreover the co-sponsorship of the UNHRC resolution lays blame on the Sri Lankan Armed Forces & the demands for a new constitution, a war crimes tribunal by en bloc Western nations in the UN with their satellite states clearly reveal a bias. The both sides to blame theory can be applicable only to the last stages of the conflict in the application of IHL rules of war. However, the international terrorist experts tasked to look into the various allegations that had been made have clearly established that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces have not committed war crimes.

The comment ends by claiming Sri Lankans should become more mature in their attitude & approach” – the simple answer to this is so long as there is no level playing field, we see no reason why there should be crocodile tears for a terrorist movement with restorative justice for LTTE & retributive justice for the national army. In such a scenario, we must defend the under dogs which in this case is the National Army while the power of money has enabled the LTTE to purchase the mouths of foreign parliamentarians, foreign NGOs, foreign human rights groups, foreign lawyers on retainer payroll & even members of the UN.

Anyone promoting the theory of ‘both sides must take equal blame’ are welcome to counter any of the arguments made above with facts & evidence.

Loyalty for the country & national army cannot be termed bias simply because I do not share the same feelings for an internationally banned terrorist movement. I see no reason to change this simply to strike a deal because deals cannot compromise the truth that LTTE killed people in cold blood under orders.

Prabakaran, LTTE cadres, LTTE linked TNA, separatist elements, LTTE fronts & anyone that has benefitted by the LTTE Inc must all take blame for prematurely ending the lives of thousands of people & there is no ‘both parties must take equal blame’ theory here.

Shenali D Waduge

9 Responses to “Sri Lanka’s Conflict: Response to proponents of the ‘Both sides must take blame’ theory”

  1. nilwala Says:

    If the conflict is to be considered and insurrection in which the LTTE is an insurgent, non-state actor, the consequences will be as follows per current International Law that comes under the purview of the UNHRC:
    1. The LTTE will be permitted per current International Law, to adopt whatever tactics they used, including terrorism to achieve its goal.
    2. The SL Defense Forces will be held to higher standards of HUMAN RIGHTS than the LTTE who would be considered to be a ‘non-state actor’ and this would continue without end, via unrelenting Diaspora efforts to pressure their own legislators as well as the UNHRC against the GoSL’s Defense Services.
    3. The UNHRC will continue to have jurisdiction on the conflict and all its calls for Accountability, Foreign Govt. oversight of SL legal processes, etc. will be pursued for many years to come by a persistent Diaspora via legislators in their adopted countries.

    If the Eelam War is to be considered an “Armed Conflict” the consequences would be:
    1. A legal position, in which the LTTE would be given some equal recognition, since it had an Army, Navy and Air Force as well as territory under the CFA, it would also be held to the same Humanitarian and Human Rights standards as the SL Defense Forces for the conduct of the war.
    2. All the abuses of civilians by the LTTE including its final hostage-taking for a “human shield”, of >300,000 people and forcing them them to participate in battle as well as to provide for the LTTE cadres, and be shot and killed for non-compliance, can be brought as charges against the LTTE hierarchy. The Gash communiques as well as plenty of other evidence exists as to the cruelty and ruthlessness of the LTTE.
    3. Much evidence exists of the way in which the SL Defense Forces took care of civilians, such as is quoted above in the letter by Sir Desmond de Silva Q.C.. to Ms. Shenali Waduge as well as the Gash communiques, etc..
    4. The UNHRC will not have the mandate to investigate or pass judgment on situations involving Humanitarian Law.
    5. Closure to Resolution 30/1 or at least an Amendment could be pressed for and positive responses expected.

  2. Christie Says:

    The so called conflict or war was in fact a war against The Indian Empire and its terrorist arm branded LTTE by the Sinhalese of the Indian Colony.

    It is India and Indian Colonial Parasites who

  3. Dilrook Says:

    We created this mess we are in. We should have done a comprehensive war crimes investigation into all parties domestically. It should have strictly followed international law as relates to armed conflict (war). What we had was a war, not just a terrorist problem or a humanitarian operation. Those words are good for public consumption. But for legal matters it was war. We followed tough war crimes laws. Some are not popular but are designed to save legitimate armies. This was not done to save Tamil votes. Now the whole country suffers.

    For instance, we did shell civilian positions which terrorists used to launch attacks, we did attack the No Fire Zone (aka Civilian Safety Zone) in which civilians were killed by our fire. But that is allowed in war crimes law. No war crimes were committed. Admitting these is important from the political hierarchy. Otherwise the blame falls on the army to have gone against politicians’ dictates and carried out these attacks. This is what we did. Politicians refused to take ownership and hope that this issue will simply go away. It does not.

    I agree with Sir Desmond de Silva’s concluding sentence. Read the notable omissions.

    Blaming the whole system and hoping for its disruption is unwise. It achieves nothing.

    Hopefully the government will do a war crimes investigation and clears its military (note the omissions). Do not trade concessions to Tamils in lieu of an investigation. They consume it and demand war crimes again.

  4. nilwala Says:

    Re Dilrook’s suggestion that another NEW war crimes investigation be initiated….
    How many are we going to have? The Army already had an investigation.
    Another investigation can go on for years as the Diaspora will not let go of its only chance of staying in the global media and political limelight. In the meantime, SL will be caught in the UNHRC trap and we will continue this recurring drama at Geneva, unable to move forward in reconciliation with so many players in the game out to make the most of it for themselves.

    Sri Lanka has to take some bold steps into asserting its SOVEREIGN RIGHTS THROUGH DEMOCRATIC MEANS of devolution to smaller units that cannot make independent calls for “separate states”, and find a viable Central Power Sharing solution within a UNITART state.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    “Sri Lanka has to take some bold steps into asserting its SOVEREIGN RIGHTS THROUGH DEMOCRATIC MEANS of devolution”

    Absolutely not!

    This is the mistake we did. After getting it, Tamils will again demand war crimes investigations. No more devolution.

    This also proves we have things to hide. The two matters are separate and they must be kept separate.

  6. nilwala Says:

    Dilrooks suggestion of “Absolutely not!”….i.e., no power devolution at all, is an extreme position that will not get the support necessary to have it accepted by Parliament or the established democratic procedures.
    He’ll have to come up with a better suggestion for debate, instead of simply decrying anything others come up with..

  7. Cerberus Says:

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa commissioned two separate inquiries into the Sri Lanka conflict with the LTTE. Here are the abbreviated versions of the reports.

    Udalagama, Paranagama Commission Reports explained
    The Udalagama and Paranagama Commission reports which were tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday will be taken up for debate on Thursday.

    The Paranagama and Udalagama Commissions which were both appointed by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa were mandated to investigate into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances, and to investigate and inquire into alleged serious violations of human rights respectively during certain periods of the armed conflict.

    The Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate and inquire into alleged serious violations of human rights arising since August 1, 2005, was tabled in Parliament.

    Chaired by late Retired Supreme Court Judge, N.K. Udalagama and appointed by former president Rajapaksa, the commission was mandated to inquire into and report on 15 incidents of alleged serious violations of human rights.

    Of these 15 incidents which the commission was mandated to inquire into, reports on seven of them have been concluded. They are:

    1. The killing of 17 aid workers of Action Against Hunger organization in early August 2006.

    2. The alleged execution of Muslim villagers in Muttur in August 2006, and the execution at Welikanda of 14 persons from Muttur who were being transported in ambulances.

    3. The killing of five youth in Trincomalee in January 2006.

    4. Death of 51 persons in Naddalamonttakulam, Sencholai in August 2006.

    5. Killing of 10 Muslim villagers in Pottuvil in September 2006.

    6. Killing of 68 persons in Kebithigollewa on 15th June 2006.

    7. Killing of 98 security forces personnel in Digampathana, Sigiriya on October 16, 2006.

    On the 15th of August 2013, Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed The Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons, headed by Retired High Court Judge Maxwell Paranagama.

    In July 2014, the mandate was exapanded to address facts and circumstances surrounding civilian loss of life, and responsibility for International Law violations during the conflict.

    A legal advisory council to the Paranagama Commission, comprising legal international experts and an expert military report by Maj. Gen. John Holmes was also appointed.

    The commission, consisting of 5 members, comprised of:
    1. Maxwell Paranagama
    2. Suranjana Vidyaratne
    3. Mano Ramanathan
    4. Tillekeratne Rathnayaka
    5. Hewahettige Sumanapala

    The Udalagama Commission report recommends:
    1. Further investigations into certain cases.
    2. A new Commission to be constituted and directed to compelete the balance pending cases before the Commission.
    3. Appropriate measures of reparation to the be provided to the victims of serious violations of human rights investigated and inquired into by the Commission of Inquiry and their next of kin.

    The Paranagama Commission recommends the implementation of several proposals, in order to bring about a measure of closure that will assist in peace and reconciliation, including:

    1. Creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a War Crimes Division of the High Court.
    2. That the Attorney General be empowered to place before a judge evidence in relation to any individual who may be criminally liable for violations of the laws of war.

    The Paranagama and Udalagama Reports were commissioned by Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during the tenure of the previous administration in order to look into

    The Commission was originally mandated to receive complaints and investigate abductions and disappearances in the Northern and Eastern Provinces during June 10, 1990 and May 19, 2009, in order to identify responsible persons, and initiate legal proceedings against them.

    Under the Justice N.K. Udalagama Commission, the cases set to be investigated were:

    1) The Assasination of the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar PC

    2) The killing of 17 aid workers of the International Non-Governmental Organization Action Contre Law Faim in early August 2006.

    3) The alleged execution of Muslim villagers in Muttur in early August 2006, and the execution at Welikanda of 14 persons from Muttur who were being transported in ambulances.

    4) The assasination of Joseph Pararajasingham, Member of Parlaiment on the 25th of December 2005.

    5) The killing of 5 youths in Trincomalee on or about the 2nd of January 2006.

    6) The assasination of the Deputy Director General of the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat, Ketheesh Loganathan, on the 12th of August 2006.

    7) Death of 51 persons in Sencholai in August 2006.

    8) Disappearance of Rev. Nihal Jim Brown of Philip Neri’s Church at Allaipidi on the 28th of August 2006.

    9) Killing of 5 fishermen and another at Pesalai beach and at the Pesalai Church in June 2006.

    10) Killing of 13 persons in Kayts Police area in May 2006.

    11) Killing of 10 Muslim villagers in Pottuvil police area in September 2006.

    12) Killing of 68 persons in Kebithigollewa on 15th June 2006.

    13) Incident relating to the finding of 5 headless bodies in Avissawella on 29th April 2006.

    14) Killing of 13 persons in Welikanda on 29th May 2005.

    15) Killing of 98 security forces personnel in Digampathana, Sigiriya on 16th October 2006.

  8. Dilrook Says:

    Devolution has nothing to do with war crimes or human rights matters.

    These two are different and must be kept apart.

    Sri Lanka has more than enough devolution today for such a small island and there is certainly no need for more.

    Mixing up war crimes and political solutions was a huge mistake by the two post-2009 governments.

    My suggestion is to do a comprehensive domestic war crimes investigation into the conduct of all parties – military, LTTE, India, LTTE Rump, Tamil political parties, NGOs, church, foreign governments, etc.

  9. Dilrook Says:

    The above two Commissions were mere fact finding commissions. What is required is an investigation with judicial powers. Only 15 cases were set to be investigated. There are hundreds of such cases. Last stages of the war is not included which is the main thrust of the war crimes camp.

    They didn’t cover LTTE Diaspora, India, NGOs, etc. involvement. This is a very serious deficiency as they did most war crimes along with the LTTE.

    [Quote] In July 2014, the mandate was exapanded to address facts and circumstances surrounding civilian loss of life, and responsibility for International Law violations during the conflict. [Unquote]

    It is impossible to complete any investigation in such a very short period of time (15 months).

    There are inconsistencies as well. For instance the LLRC report tabled in UNHRC dismissed Channel 4 allegations whereas one of above two reports recommended investigating into them!

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