By Malin Abeyatunge

Human Rights Watch latest 17 page reports titled “Trapped and Mistreated” (as per extract reproduced by print media) shows at last they now see LTTE terrorist outfit in its true colors. It is pleased to learn that HRW has at last made some endeavour to see the LTTE’s human rights violation in its true perspective. If one peruses HRW’s previous Media Releases or reports, there was tendency of showing complacency on LTTE’s gross human rights violation but was only critical of the operations of GoSL against LTTE. GoSL. It became a norm to place LTTE Tamil Tiger Terrorists on par with GoSL when it reported the terrorist conflict in Sri Lanka. Certain HRW reports were targeted in tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka whilst totaling ignoring the atrocities and human rights violations committed by LTTE. There had been instances that HRW was very critical of GoSL when one or two civilians getting called in cross fires (collateral damage) but dumb founded when 74 innocent Afghan civilians who were having a wedding ceremony were killed by the Allied forces. That was HRW’s stance up to most recent times.

This is what HRW said in their last annual report “says thus re Sri Lanka “More than 1100 new disappearances or abductions were reported in Sri Lanka between January 2006 and 2007 with the vast majority of victims being Tamils. In the continuing conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) both sides show little regard for the safety and well being of civilians”.

And this is what HRW reports today in their 17 page report titled “Trapped and Mistreated”.

" In the report "Trapped and Mistreated," the HRW called upon the LTTE to allow civilians leave areas under its control; to respect the right to freedom of movement and the right to move to government-controlled territory for safety; Stop all forced recruitment; end all abductions and coercion; end all recruitment of children under the age of 18; cease the use of children in military operations; release all its child combatants including those recruited when children but were now over the age of 18; to stop all abusive or unpaid forced labor, including what it characterizes as voluntary; cease demanding that all families provide labor to the LTTE; stop forcing civilians to engage in labor directly related to the conduct of military operations, such as constructing trenches and bunkers; Provide humanitarian agencies and UN agencies safe and unhindered access to areas under its control, and guarantee the security of all humanitarian and UN workers, including Wanni residents working as humanitarian or UN staff."

The recent trend in seeing things in its true perspective is pleasing and most welcome and hope that HRW will continue to issue balanced reports in future without just quoting crap information extracted from Tamil NET or other LTTE propaganda websites.

There were hundreds of letters, articles, media releases by various organizations and individuals both in Sri Lanka and outside, continuous editorials in local papers (not all) have been written about the atrocities and human rights violations committed by LTTE over the last 25 years but the so called humanitarian monitors and observers never paid any attention to them but instead relied only on false propaganda disseminated by LTTE ‘s global propaganda network in preparing their reports.

The atrocities and human rights violations committed by LTTE were brought to the notice of the HRW, Amnesty International, UN Bodies and other humanitarian organizations in the world, heads of countries not once but umpteen number of times by the above mentioned groups and thro various government sources. It’s heartening to note that almost the same human rights violations committed over the years by LTTE and brought to the notice of the International Community have finally come to the light of HRW’s latest report “Trapped and Mistreated” report appearing to look like their newest findings...

Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process comments in Daily News (17/12/2008) in respect of HRW’s report thus;.

“ Human Rights Watch, though it had been critical of the LTTE previously, had seemed over the last twelve months to aim for some sort of spurious balance in soft-pedalling its criticism of the LTTE whilst engaging in emotional and sometimes totally fraudulent attacks on the Sri Lankan Forces.

Now however the suffering to which the LTTE is subjecting Tamils seems to have got the better even of HRW’s ambiguities. The latest pronouncement on Sri Lanka says ‘Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil Tigers are subjecting ethnic Tamils in their northern stronghold, the Vanni, to forced recruitment, abusive forced labour, and restrictions on movement that place their lives at risk... The LTTE has a long history of forced recruitment”

It is also pleasing to note that the latest HRW reports emphasized the latest human rights violation by LTTE on the trapped innocent Tamil civilians in the Wanni by holding them back forcibly and placing restrictions on their free movement into government-held territory. However HRW has also missed one point here that LTTE is using older men as human shield by forcibly conscripting them and prohibiting their move to safer areas under government control. Whether HRW has mentioned in their 17 page report of LTTE’s looting of essential foods, medicines and other basic material meant for the IDP’s I don’t know.

However, it’s never too late than never. HRW has finally come to learn the true nature of LTTE and its brutal human rights violations and it will be appreciated if HRW continues to report balanced view on the whole issue in future.


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