How does a sovereign nation respond when terrorists and supporters make accusations?

United Nations Human Rights Council

– By Shenali Waduge –

Sri Lanka lands itself in a precarious situation. Where have anyone heard of terrorists making accusations of human rights violations? The terrorists and their fronts make the accusations because they need to exist. The countries accepting these accusations do so because they can then use these as leverages to advance their agendas while the international organizations are mere puppets simply facilitating the masquerade Bizarre but true and this is the situation Sri Lanka finds itself in. So where do we go from here? Moreover, how much of these realities are the member nations of the UNHRC aware of in deciding how they vote?

Sri Lanka has several options.

Firstly, we can follow the strategy of the external affairs minister – Appeasement eternally on the backfoot. That is to go apologizing for everything without making any effort to passionately defend the nation and most of all its soldiers. We can agree to everything that these nations are proposing disregarding the knowledge that they are having agendas that are being camouflaged by human rights accusations/war crimes given that many of these nations were directly associated with LTTE questioning its credibility before our eyes. The external affairs minister’s record itself is questionable. We know his role in the 2002 ceasefire and the praises that he sang all over the world on this agreement that virtually handed over to the LTTE territory of Sri Lanka and humiliated our soldiers eventually even the former President wanted to have no association with him as he was promising things without strategy that she could not deliver. Does this appeasement policy mean that our officials avoid spending time to gather the atrocities committed by other nations especially the ones making the accusations to be used whenever allegations are being made against us and not just be confined to the ministry shelf? Anyone with some sense of patriotism would not simply listen to baseless accusations by people ignoring the crimes of terrorists and their own. Shouldn’t they be put on the dock first given that these terrorist mouthpieces are all living on foreign shores and committing crimes in the form of credit card scams, human smuggling, narcotics, illegal weapons smuggling etc?

How many countries in the world can say they do not have troubles?

America: In 2009, 88,097 rapes were committed in the US. Hate crimes for 2011 were 6222, 49% racially oriented (source: FBI) In 2011, the FBI reported that “72 law enforcement officers from around the nation were killed in the line of duty, while another 53 officers died in accidents while performing their duties”. There are 2.2.million prisoners in the US all run by private companies. Cities of America are not safe either, Detroit Michigan is ranked as the most dangerous city in the US. Out of a population of 713,239, its violet crime rate is 2137 per 100,000 residents. As of December 31, 2011, the FBI records reveal 85,158 missing persons in the US. In the UK, 8.9million crimes were reported in 2011/12.

The number of Iraqi’s slaughtered by US occupation and strikes is close to 1.5million while the number of US military personnel sacrificed to satisfy corporate America stands at 4883 and the cost of war since 2001 is a staggering $1,432,371,503,798. There are 2.2million Iraqi IDPs and there are no Resolutions question the US or NATO for its “pace” of resettlement or reconstruction owing to tons of bombs it dropped.  There are said to be 150,000 Libyan IDPs too.

As for corruption according to Transparency International United States has more public sector corruption than do many other developed economies. The amount of money laundered through the UK each year is estimated to be £48 billion (2% of UK GDP). Fraud is costing the UK around £73bn a year. 38,000 people are involved in organised crime in the UK and as for India a separate article is needed to list its human rights violations and crimes. Just as India is concerned about self-determination for Tamils in Sri Lanka we urge India to give the Kashmiri’s their self-determination.

Our next option and one that we must ideally follow is to say YES, we eliminated the LTTE, so what – is it not a terrorist organization banned in 32 nations! Does the world really want the LTTE to continue to kill the people of Sri Lanka? We want to know America’s answer? Forget all these “accountability” ruses – we want to know from every nation that is planning to vote for the Resolution whether they would be happy if the LTTE remained to kill the people of Sri Lanka – whether it is in eliminating the LTTE that Sri Lanka has to suffer their wrath? We would like to have answers.

Being a small country cannot change the fact that we are a member of the UN and equal before all nations. We did listen to the foreign Governments, we did accept their suggestions and agreed to ceasefires, peace agreements, and negotiations – but can they agree that these only led to fiercer battles with LTTE using these opportunities to regroup, to travel overseas and purchase more sophisticated arms and deliver far more lethal blows that blew people and soldiers to smithereens? So where is the justice for the innocent people? By virtue of taking to terror LTTE cannot be placed on par with a legitimate government. It is unethical for international organizations, foreign governments to follow the ugly practice of placing terrorists on par with a legitimate government. Terrorists are who they are because they kill – they sustain themselves by killing therefore killers cannot have justice, killers cannot have rights and killers cannot be treated humanely because would they treat the other in reverse? Would the Milibands, Navi Pillays, Bruce Haighs, Gordon Weiss, Harrissons et all please say whether LTTE would offer cups of tea and biscuits to those caught? The armed forces personnel caught by LTTE do not even have bones to identify them because LTTE used sugar to torture and burn them beyond recognition or identification – that’s how kind and considerate the LTTE was and what would the armed forces have to say to the children, wives and parents of these men killed as POWs? Does the world care a penny for the over 1000 armed forces personnel who are missing in action? Are these details not important enough for them to discuss in international podiums? Do the “Sinhalese” soldier deaths not matter or the non-Tamil deaths of civilians become irrelevant when Resolutions are being brought.

Why has the world forgotten LTTE terror?

These are no handful or irrelevant and insignificant numbers. The LTTE’s crimes lasted 30 years it includes the assassination of 2 world leaders one killed on Indian soil even though his mother helped create and form the LTTE on her country soil. LTTE has committed close to 400 suicide missions, it has killed over 2500 Tamil politicians, academics, educationists, clergy, members of civil society, public officials starting out with the Mayor of Jaffna. To its lists of killings include scores of Sri Lankan politicians and tens of thousands of civilians starting out with the killings on villages while they slept hacking to death pregnant mothers, babies, children and even student clergy – so all these tamashas over a terrorist’s son who himself could be a terrorist given that his brother and sister were also. Lets’ also not forget that LTTE were recruiting children as young as 7 years and there is enough UN documents to prove this. Many of these child combatants have died in battle so there is hardly any ground for crocodile tears for Balachandran. Tamil Nadu wailing away over “Prabakaran’s and India’s media may also like to add in their never ending debates that India refused to allow an ailing old woman – Prabakaran’s mother to descend from the plane and she was deported from India and the TNA politicians in mourning themselves may like to now ask themselves why they did not even care to give a dignified funeral to either of Prabakaran’s parents or care to pay their last respects! Moreover Prabakaran’s parents had to be taken to safety by the Sri Lankan soldiers because it came to a situation where the Tamil people were directing their anger at them.

Let the world also make note of all the LTTE crimes on the Tamil people – the monthly donations, the sacrifice of a Tamil child though that order was itself selective as can be seen by the fact that the LTTE cadres were all low caste impoverished Tamils from Mullaitivu/Kilinochchi or the Eastern Province where Jaffna Tamils have no regard for them because of the caste. To a great extent the only favorable thing LTTE did do was to break the caste rigidness though not completely however it diminished the pride of the Hindu culture in the manner it gave a walkover to the Christian organizations that were slowly converting the Hindus in the northern peninsula. Prabakaran himself became a Christian and many of its upper tier became Christians too. LTTE did not fight with stones and sticks it had a sophisticated weaponry as well as a naval and air attack.

Some of Sri Lanka’s public officials need to also be placed on the dock for their role in allowing illegal items to enter the country through official passage and all these need to now be brought out one by one. People cannot hide their crimes forever. If we are to bring out the LTTE crimes the crimes of others by association must also be brought to light whether they are local or international players. The public must know who these criminals are and criminal charges must be framed against them all.

That suffering is no small suffering. Can member states imagine what it was like to leave one’s home not knowing whether one would return? When parents lived in anxiety until their children came home because LTTE had a habit of leaving parcels inside buses and these were blown by remote controls when they knew sufficient numbers of children had got on it? To go behind the last stages of a war totally ignoring the suffering that 20million people went through for 30 years is downright unfair.

The Government declared war on the LTTE, but it also allowed it several opportunities to lay down their arms and surrender. Appeals were made to the LTTE to release the civilians they were herding with them. The LTTE openly declared the civilians were with them voluntarily and there is sufficient evidence to prove they took part in hostilities. When war is declared in an armed conflict all rules of war are not in favor of a terrorist organization. The world must take heed of this reality. It is the LTTE that jeopardized the lives of the civilians without letting them go. Once a war is declared and when the enemy refuses the peace offerings given the forwarding forces cannot be faulted. US/NATO has not given a single warning and everything is attributed to collateral damage. Is it alright for the US to kill people and claim collateral damage? What would the US have done in such a situation? Would they have saved 295,000 civilians? Where are the civilians that the US has saved in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or even Syria? Did the West not openly arm rebels and continue to arm rebels and UN and Pillay is nicely watching this! Assad may be the worst enemy but how can democratic countries advocate the policy of openly arming rebels? Are these rebels not the one’s now causing mayhem in Iraq, Libya and Egypt?

Therefore, we do not know the extent to which the member nations have been apprised but these nations are well aware of the LTTE, its existed long enough and had its crimes spread across international and local news. Therefore, far more than any country-specific targeting at the UN, the member nations of the UNHRC in deciding their vote must first realize LTTE is a terrorist organization, it is banned by 32 nations, it continues scores of illegal activities that its front’s are responsible for but their money silences many, terrorism such as Sri Lanka’s was nothing that sprung but was genetically modified by India to suit its geopolitical agenda, since then LTTE has gone on to function as an international proxy and it is with time that the same organization can be tasked to commit similar atrocities in these nations too since countries today provide safe haven.

Let’s not kid ourselves that though the armed forces saved approximately 295,000 civilians but of the 11770 LTTE members most have been rehabilitated and reintegrated – many of these civilians voluntarily or not helped the LTTE. Yet, with all that now past the country is safe from bombs, people can travel freely and Tamils have to admit that they have got used to taking a bus and visiting a relative in Jaffna to return even the next day back to Colombo and there is no LTTE tax on them or the fear of being abducted. Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi where the bulk of these civilians were living amongst the LTTE never had electricity for 30 years and now within 3years 30% electricity has been provided. Children who had never gone to school now attend school and teachers have children to teach. Men and women are free to work instead of being forcibly taken and taught to kill. The differences in what life was with the LTTE and what life is like now is something all those pointing fingers from western climes should come and see and ask of the people who live in these areas not those who live abroad because it was they who funded the LTTE and watched them kill and they ideally become accomplices to murder.

We do not want to win the peace at any price and certainly not by giving a piece of Sri Lanka. The policy of giving in as practiced by successive Government will only diminish the victory achieved by our ranaviruwan. We do not believe this is the policy or strategy that H.E. the President wants to advocate. He showed true leadership during the conflict. However men who claimed that the war was unwinnable have been unfortunately tasked to carry out negotiations after the war and it has invariably diminished the charisma with which the President led. We have not made friends with the right people. Chavez is respected because he stood up and at his death many mourned. These are all good lessons. A leader is remembered for how he led and not how he could not.

Can the member countries voting against or deciding to vote against Sri Lanka please also consider that in voting for the Resolution they are simply showing they have not cared to understand how far Sri Lanka suffered for 30 years because of terrorism. The final months that the US and India are using against Sri Lanka has totally ignored the suffering by the rest of the country. It is these injustices that we are seeking to correct.

Sri Lanka declared war on the LTTE after 30 years of suffering LTTE. LTTE refused to lay down arms and surrender and declared it would fight to the last man and kept the civilians declaring they were voluntarily with them. Terrorists have no IHL rights and in an armed conflict by non-state actors civilians taking part in hostilities are combatants too.