– by Shenali Waduge –
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of LTTE had its ground militant force vanquished by the armed forces of Sri Lanka on 19th May 2009 after several appeals made by the Sri Lankan President to lay down their arms and surrender were ignored. Close to 12,000 LTTE fighters gave themselves in of which 594 were child soldiers and the Sri Lankan military ended up sacrificing close to 6000 military lives to save 294,000 Tamil civilians who had been herded by the LTTE to be used as civilian combatants or hostages.
That the world’s most brutal terrorist organization banned internationally by 32 nations had been finally defeated on its own home turf was a shock to all. Sri Lanka’s terrorism was categorized as an “unwinnable war” and it suited the world to allow Sri Lanka to be victim while it was happy to keep statistical figures on the number of peace talks, ceasefires, negotiations held. While it was always the Sri Lankan Government that had to offer the compromises the LTTE got away with countless crimes all of which the international community put into a bag terming it “both sides committed atrocities” yet it is always the Sri Lankan Government that continues to be hounded and questioned on accountability. Why are these questions not posed to Father Emmanuel, Rudrakumaran, TNA leaderships, Fathers Rayappu Joseph, Surendiran, Nediyavan a host of others in Tamil Nadu – all of whom have had close links with the LTTE and had indirectly and directly played a role in LTTE terror. They need to be all questioned and ask to prove their innocence because by association too they cannot escape their guilt.
We next come to the question of why some opine that Sri Lanka should not celebrate the victory over LTTE terrorism and are calling for the 19th May to be declared a Reconciliation Day? Mind you these opinions come from the very sources that are funded to tarnish Sri Lanka, destabilize it and groups that have also had ties with the LTTE over the years. Their names need to also be brought out into the open and they too need to be challenged on proving their innocence.
It was on 1st May 2011, that President Obama, his Secretary of State Clinton, the heads of the Armed Forces watched from the White House, US Navy Seals violate the sovereignty of Pakistan enter a compound in Abbottabad and shoot an unarmed Osama bin Laden and several others including his son. Leave aside Osama being a wanted terrorist, the issue was that there was no self-defense to shoot, it was no a war situation and moreover watching a murder makes one an accomplice to that crime. Nevertheless, after the official announcement thousands gathered to celebrate outside the White House, and similar gatherings were seen all over the US and the entire world, even sports events were interrupted to relay the national announcement as did mainstream television channels who interrupted scheduled broadcasts to relay the news to 56,5million Americans, people were shouting U-S-A, carrying slogans, carrying the American flag, jumping up and down in glee while former Presidents rang up President Obama to congratulate him on the victory. President Clintons message was that the death of Osama was “a profoundly important moment for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom and cooperation for our children”. While the New York City Mayor announced that he hoped the death of Bin Laden “would comfort those who lost loved one’s” in the 9/11 attacks. Condoleezza Rice the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State said that she was “overwhelmed with gratitude and continues to be amazed at what our military has achieved”. The former Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens said that “it was not merely to do justice and avenge September 11 but to remove an enemy who had been trying every day to attack the United States…I haven’t the slightest doubt it was entirely appropriate for American forces to act” as they did.
Why did then did Sri Lanka’s victory and celebration get the crucifix with the UN Chief Ban-Ki Moon asking Sri Lanka not to indulge in “triumphalism”. We know the speechwriter chose the word but on what grounds did the US have to celebrate a killing of an unarmed man and several others including his unarmed son by violating the territorial sovereignty of an independent country for just a single attack on the US in 2001 (though even that has yet to be proved) when there is sufficient evidence of LTTE atrocities over 3 decades and far more civilian deaths to count?
If former President Clinton is happy that the children are now safer without Bin Laden, shouldn’t Sri Lanka be happier without Prabakaran given that he kidnapped scores of poor and low-caste children and turned them into child soldiers?
If the New York City Mayor is happy that the death of Bin Laden has “comforted” those who lost their loved ones in 9/11, what about the Sri Lankan people whose loved one’s were lost since early 1980s by LTTE suicide missions numbering over 250, bombs and assassinations that ran into 3 decades targeting young clergy, border villages, 1 year old babies cut into pieces, pregnant women with their stomachs slit, students on their way to school, passengers traveling on buses, politicians and even Tamil leaders who were against the LTTE?
If Condoleezza Rice can be “overwhelmed with gratitude” and continue to be “amazed” at what the US military has achieved why cant Sri Lanka given that our tiny island remains the ONLY nation to have defeated and crushed the most deadliest terrorist movement on earth – far more dangerous than Al Qaeda. Bin Laden never ran terrorist aircrafts, Al Qaeda didn’t have its own fleet of ships to smuggle arms and engage in international rackets, Bin Laden didn’t have a terrorist naval unit that carried out specialized suicide missions. LTTE was far more sophisticated than any of the terrorist movements that prevail and that no one can deny.
We next come to the topic of accountability and reconciliation. This is an opportune time to look at Hitler’s holocaust and the de-nazification that resulted after the defeat of the enemy by Allied troops. The term denazification was coined by the US Pentagon and became a legal term in 1943. Denazification Directives were on identified people/groups and outlined judicial procedures to handle them. Denazification meant the removal of all symbols associated with the Nazi regime. This included the swastika. Sri Lanka needs to immediately apply the denazification directive to all LTTE emblems, signages and take steps to demand all political parties using Eelam change their name and LTTE and everyone associated with the LTTE be put on trial no different to the trial for war crimes at Nuremberg Trials. Denazification meant that people were put into categories – major offenders, lesser offenders, followers and exonerated persons and America applied this to every German over the age of 18years. The punishment for the Major offenders was immediate arrest, death, imprisonment, the Offenders were those who were activists, militants, profiteers and they were subject to 10 years imprisonment, or reconstruction work, the lesser offenders were placed on probation for 2-3 years but no internment, the followers had to face restrictions on travel, employment, political rights and even fines while the exonerated persons did not face any sanctions. Perhaps the US State Department officials may like to go through these documents before pointing fingers at Sri Lanka.
When the very nations pointing fingers have yet to compensate the Third World nations that they plundered, the people they murdered, the environmental disasters that they now suffer because these nations were used to grow crops that were meant for their use and introduced administrative systems and legal systems that continue to divide people and legally protect the Western imperialists – why should Sri Lanka apologize?
Do we apologize for defeating one of the world’s most feared terrorist organizations?
Do we apologize because the West can no longer use LTTE as a forward to advance their agendas in Sri Lanka and the rest of South Asia?
Do we apologize because we have angered many an NGO who now have no reason to remain in Sri Lanka and whose livelihood is at stake?
Are we to apologize because a lot of other people who stood to gain while the LTTE prevailed and the discussions for political solutions meant that many were enjoying additional perks and privileges?
Do we apologize because a handful of Tamils using the Sri Lankan situation as a plank to obtain refugee status now find themselves called “economic refugees” and are being sent home?
Do we also apologize because those that made merry out of the troubles in Sri Lanka pocketing from the USD300million LTTE kitty are now having to devise other ways to keep the show running?
Do we apologize for creating an indigenous rehabilitation program and reintegrating close to 12,000 former LTTE combatants who now lead a life of normalcy.
Do we also apologize for giving a Presidential Pardon to 594 former child soldiers because the Sri Lankan state considered them victims rather than perpetrators?
Do we also apologize for putting these surrendered former LTTErs through proper education and vocational programs and allowing them to sit for the O/L and A/L examination and embarking on their careers or further education?
Do we also apologize for introducing these former Tiger combatants to society just as some laughed at the manner the female former tigers were modeling clothes on the catwalk? Would those that laughed at these girls prefer them to be holding guns? Are these people laughing because these former combatants were married in a marriage ceremony organized by the army, are these people envious that these former combatants are now singing, dancing and some involved in even acting?
Do we apologize for ending the war and ending the manner in which LTTE kidnapped poor and low-caste Tamils and turned them into LTTE child soldiers? The reason why these children never made the news was because of the rigid Tamil caste system and because NOT a single Tamil politician, NOT a single member of the Tamil Diaspora cared what happened to these child soldiers because they were not only poor they were LOW-CASTE – thus outcasts of Tamil society!
Do we apologize for taking vast amounts of loans some of which were supposed to be for development of the South and instead went to develop the entire infrastructure framework of the North that had been totally neglected by the LTTE and their stooges?
Do we apologize for giving electricity to Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu – areas where for 3 decades the people were denied electricity because the LTTE blew up the transformers wanting to keep the people in the “dark”?
Do we apologize for maintaining military presence in the North because we are well aware that the destabilizing operators are still hunting to carry out some type of covert operation? Are we insane to recall the military when we know the ground realities? And who says the military is not welcome in the North? The people of the North prefer the military amongst them far more than they want their own politicians and this is visibly clear in Mullaitivu. We are well aware what media campaigns are capable of doing and of media personnel who enjoy putting spins.
Do we also apologize for bringing normalcy to the entire country? For bringing peace, for making sure not a single bomb has gone off, for ensuring not a single assassination has taken place by LTTE in 4 years?
When not hundreds or thousands but MILLIONS languish as IDPs inside their own lands, or suffer as refugees in distant neighboring lands because Western forces forcibly invaded their nations on false allegations and turned their nations upside down and arm rebels to fight their own people – Sri Lanka did not invade another nation, Sri Lanka has resettled every Tamil civilian who were herded by the LTTE from their homes, Sri Lanka has virtually demined all areas that will now be declared safe for people to travel to and Sri Lanka’s success story deserves plaudits and not the bricks that are being thrown its way unfairly and unjustly.
Anyone visiting the North will see for themselves. It is not Sri Lanka that needs to do the apologizing but many people who include locals, local politicians, local businessmen, local public officials, even some military personnel who for money betrayed their own comrades and that list of apologists include foreign governments including neighbor India, foreign politicians, media personnel, elements of the clergy, NGOs and INGO heads and many others who have knowingly watched a terrorist movement to prevail.
No apology should come unless the international community neglects and ignores the scores of LTTE representatives who function from their nations openly under bogus charity names and associations and who have by association with the LTTE reveal their guilt.
It is this list of people who need to be rounded up and questioned and made to apologize for the soldiers who died unnecessarily for the civilians who became target practice and for the economy that was affected through 3 decades.
Sri Lanka is not the one to be apologizing. Our victory is a salute to our war heroes – all those who are now no more, all those who suffer loss of limb and confined to wheelchairs and suffering other traumas and to the armed forces and police personnel living who played a major role in that victory, to the Defense Secretary who showed tremendous resolve in giving the backing to all the armed forces heads and to the Sri Lankan President who weathered the diplomatic battle surrounded by the friends (China, Russia, Pakistan) who helped conclude the war.
Sri Lanka stands proud of every one of you.