“The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) should be made accountable for its actions during the last stages of the Eelam VI war”. That is the mantra that is being chanted incessantly today at gatherings in the rich countries, irrespective of whether the members of such groups are those who have the licence to meet in the hallowed precincts of the UN in Geneva or banner-carrying or tiger flag-waving Tamils who left Sri Lanka on various pretexts.
The saddest aspect of all these demands to pillory the so-called violators of human rights – the political leadership of GOSL and the men and women in uniform – is that all the attention in the near three decade-old conflict is on the last phase of the war. Surprisingly, all that the human rights crusaders see in this stage of the war – whether they have evidence or not – is that “40,000 innocent Tamil civilians were massacred” by – whom else? – Sri Lankan armed forces.
As far as all the peace-loving Sri Lankans are concerned – whether they are of Tamil, Sinhala, Moor, Malay, Burgher or of any other ethnicity – the final phase of the Eelam War IV has to be written in letters of gold when the history of the country is recorded: after a period of nearly three decades of mayhem, destruction, massacres, bomb blasts and living in continuous fear not knowing whether one could return home alive after venturing out in the morning, these few months constitute the period during which the terrorist leaders were annihilated, which resulted in Sri Lanka enjoying a period of almost three years of peace since. It is during May 2009 that the LTTE leader and his top-rung henchmen got their dues at the hands of the armed forces of Sri Lanka in the lagoons of Nandikadal.
Incidentally the human rights guardians, led by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International (AI) and International Crisis Group, the UN Human Rights Commissioner and the political bigwigs in the US and in many EU countries conveniently forget, or were blind to, the live video images relayed by the Sri Lanka defence authorities in the final phase of the war that showed a mass of humanity running towards the armed forces to escape from the LTTE cadres shooting them.
A news item that had appeared in many media, which would seriously question the true motives of the prominent human rights crusaders is that Amnesty International had received $50,000 dollars from the Canadian Tamil Congress. Instead of appreciating the humanitarian act undertaken by the armed forces of Sri Lanka,, which gave nearly 300,000 Tamils living in the North of the country their freedom, plotting to haul its valiant armed forces before the International Court of Justice or manoeuvring to enter Sri Lanka on the pretext of an international intervention to deal with alleged human rights violation is despicable.
If Human Rights Watch and other such champions of human rights, as well as the members of the Canadian Tamil Congress that held walkathons to support of AI, were really concerned about the violation of human rights in Sri Lanka, the deafening silence they exhibited and their lack of intervention when the LTTE herded 300,000 Tamil civilians from the North West to the North East of Sri Lanka during the last stages of the war are surprising.
The entire Sri Lankan nation will support the human rights guardians and the rich West when they call for accountability if their motives are genuine. The starting point then for all these laudable moves would be the violation of human rights of an entire nation by the LTTE and its moral and financial supporters that spanned a number of years prior to the incidents that came about in 2009.
Among the long list of massacres of the innocents by the LTTE, the more prominent as regards the ferocity or the absence of humaneness are: Kebithigollewa civilian bus massacre, June 15, 2006: Death toll 68 including 15 school children, with 78 others injured; Gonagala massacre, Amapara District, September 18, 1999: Massacre of at least 50 Sinhalese civilians; Explosion at Temple of the Holy Tooth Relic (Dalada Maligawa), Kandy, January 25 1998: Death toll seven with 25 injured; Dehiwala train bombing, July 24, 1996: Death toll over 60 civilians; Central Bank bombing, Colombo, January 31, 1996: Death toll 91 and injuries to further 1,400 civilians; Bomb explosion in Colombo, October 24, 1994; Assassination of Sri Lankan presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake and 50 others with a further 75 seriously hurt; Massacre at Palliyagodella, Polonnaruwa, October 15, 1992: Attack on a Muslim village, with 182 civilians shot and hacked to death; Car bomb explosion in Colombo, March 2, 1991: Death toll 19, including Sri Lanka’s Deputy Defence Minister, Ranjan Wijeratne, with a further 73 injured; Forced evacuation of civilians, October 1990: Expulsion of 80,000 Muslims within 48 hours from the northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, and Mannar; Killing of 600 police officers who had surrendered, North and East of Sri Lanka: June 10, 1990; Massacre at mosque, Kattankudi, August 4, 1990: Death toll 147 Muslims at prayer; Bomb explosion in bus in Maradana, Colombo, November 9, 1987: Death toll 23 civilians killed, 106 injured, 15 shot dead; Massacre of monks, Aranthalawa, July 2, 1987: Death toll 35; Bomb explosion at Central Bus Stand, Colombo, April 21, 1987: Death toll 113 civilians and 298 others injured; Massacre at Kent Farm, Mullaitivu, November 30, 1984: Death toll 29 civilians, including women and children; Massacre at Dollar Farm, Mullaitivu, November 11, 1984: Death toll 33 civilians including children and women; Land mine explosion on civilian bus,Mammaduwa, July 22, 1986: Death toll 32 Sinhalese civilians and injuring 20 others; Massacre of devotees at Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura, May 14, 1985: Death toll 146; Massacre at Kokilai fishing village, Mullaitivu, December 1, 1984: Death toll 29 civilians.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner, the numerous human rights guardians, spokespersons of the US State Department and its nominees based in various geographical locations and the representatives of the governments of Canada and many EU countries are dead right in their demand for accountability for human rights violations committed in Sri Lanka. Haul the LTTE supporters in Sri Lanka and abroad before the International Court of Justice. Although the key figures in the military wing of the LTTE are no more, many of its supporters who were actively involved in fund raising and buying and arranging the shipping of military hardware are comfortably living in Western countries at your very door step.
A nurse – for many a symbol of kindness and compassion – from Australia who ceremonially gave a garland of a suicide capsule to young Tamil girls when they ‘graduated’ as suicide bombers is based in the UK. Yet, there is so much talk of preventing violence against women and children and punishing those responsible for perpetrating such crimes. A Catholic priest, pretending to be a man of God, is heading a worldwide Tamil Forum and perpetuating the ideals and aspirations of the LTTE while based in a European country. A high priest in the same group, based in Mannar, is reported to have turned a Catholic religious festival held a few days back in the Katchativu Island off Mannar into an anti-Sri Lankan, pro-LTTE political parade in collaboration with visiting Catholic priests from Tamil Nadu,
The callers for accountability should demand the arrest of the LTTE supporters for aiding and abetting in violence against women and children and for violation of human rights of a whole nation.