Monthly Archives: June 2011

Channel 4 – Still Trying to Corner Sri Lanka: The Truth Has No Place in Its Strategy

Response by the Sri Lanka Mission to the United Nations

  • The documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” was screened at the UN Churches Centre today. The event was sponsored by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, who claimed that the documentary “corroborated” the findings of the discredited Darusman report.  The screening was attended by about 40, mainly interns from NGOs, and no senior diplomatic representation was visible.
  • During their initial statements, Amnesty International claimed that the documentary presented “very strong evidence of war crimes” and that there was a “consistent pattern of human rights violations by the Sri Lankan forces.” Human Rights Watch also alleged that this documentary proved that war crimes were committed and that “the Sri Lanka Government cannot be relied upon for justice”. There was a consistent suggestion that the Government forces had deliberately targeted the Tamil community.  The purpose of this screening, they asserted, was to urge the international community to conduct an independent investigation.  They expressed disappointment that this had not happened.
  • Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona and Major General Shavendra Silva challenged the assertions and suggestions in the documentary.
  • The video had spliced together disturbing footage and added Jon Snow’s heart wrenching narration to encourage a sense of outrage.  This was a deliberate ploy, including the title “Killing Fields”, plagiarized from John Pilger’s 1970 documentary on the Khemer Rouge. The emotional impact of this title was clear.
  • The narration is clearly designed to create an impression of the Government of Sri Lanka deliberately targeting the Tamil population.  This was a blatant lie.
  • Although the suggestion is made that thousands, possibly 40,000 Tamil civilians, had been killed, it takes a vivid imagination to jump to that conclusion even though the images shown are disturbing.  The footage of the dead, in the absence of the narration does not lead to the conclusion that thousand had died.
  • Had the Government deliberately intended to attack the Tamil population, it would suggest that the Government had learned nothing from the experiences of other military forces fighting terrorists in distant lands. (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya)  The deliberate targeting of civilians only creates more martyrs and volunteers for the rebels.  The Government’s objective was to win over the Tamil civilian population and not to create more volunteers for the LTTE.
  • On the other hand, The LTTE used hundreds of thousands of civilians as human shields, having forcibly herded them together as it retreated, and then it had located its fighting units and heavy guns in the midst of the civilians, as was evident even from some of the footage itself.  International law and practice permits retaliatory strikes when fired upon subject to the principle of proportionality and reasonableness, which is also acknowledged in the video.  At no stage could it be said that government fire breached this rule.
  • Wars are ugly things and civilians do get hurt.  This war was brought upon Sri Lanka by the LTTE.  The LTTE controlled territory, had an air capability and a naval force.  They recruited over 5,700 child combatants according to the UNICEF, invented the suicide vest and deployed it more than 236 times successfully, bombed UNESCO protected places of religious worship, massacred civilians endlessly, including in temples and mosques and ethnically cleansed the Northern Province of all non Tamils.   The government was forced to use force only after a series of efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict was rebuffed by the LTTE. The government acted responsibly.
  • A democratically elected Government had the responsibility to take appropriate action to counter a menace of this nature.
  • The scene where Tamil civilians were filmed pleading with the UN not to leave; suggested at the time that this was a staged demonstration by the LTTE. At the time the UN had said that the demonstration was not genuine.  In any event while the expatriate staff that are in jeans and 4WDs of the UN left, thousands or even hundreds of locally recruited staff remained on the ground.  They were also UN staff. It was mischievous to suggest that the UN was forced to leave to hide the evil plan of the government.
  • It is malicious to suggest that the media was excluded.  There were journalists who were in the front, including Al Jazeera.  The BBC operated out of Colombo.  Perhaps it was because Channel 4 was kicked out that it has decided to seek vengeance from Sri Lanka.  In fact, the scene where thousands of civilians are filmed crossing the lagoon, escaping from the LTTE, was filmed by Al Jazeera.  Many NGOs stayed within the conflict zone and the ICRC was present till the very end.  When it became impossible to transport food and medicine by land to the civilians held hostage by the LTTE, the ICRC began transporting these items by sea with the assistance of the Government.
  • The ICRC continued to transport the sick and the wounded, out of the LTTE area, including pregnant mothers, until the very end, by sea.  It transported approximately 7000 sick and wounded and over 8,000 friends, relatives and carers.  It is highly unlikely that a responsible organization like the ICRC would have transported 8,000 people who were not sick or wounded, if there had been sick and injured awaiting transportation.
  • It was the responsibility of the sovereign state to deal with any infractions of international standards on its own.  This is the law.  Sri Lanka has established the LLRC for this purpose and the Attorney-General’s Department has created a special unit to deal with the relevant recommendations of the LLRC.  In addition the military has also said that it would investigate specific instances where soldiers may have broken the law.
  • Dr. Kohona concluded by saying that it is one thing to present facts to be judged by viewers but it was something else for the malicious misrepresentation of facts to create an unreal and exaggerated picture with an ulterior motive.

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The Ramifications of the Channel 4 Documentary

The recently telecast Channel 4 documentary on ‘Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ sheds no new light (despite claims to the contrary), in terms of groundbreaking evidence, regarding the incidents related to the end of the war in Sri Lanka.  If anything, it will seek to entrench already hardened attitudes and decrease the ever reducing space for dialogue and reconciliation.

 

From the government’s perspective, it will seek to discredit the documentary as fake as it feeds into the insecurity that it surrounds itself with, of a perception that the west has been influenced by a highly successful pro LTTE lobby.  The end result will be the securing of its ‘credibility’ especially as a ‘victim of an external conspiracy’ consequently rallying the people’s sympathy, thereby making any genuine attempt to hold the government accountable for anything fruitless.

 

On the other side, for the pro LTTE lobby (largely represented by their supporters in the UK, US and Canada) this will be a ‘vindication’ of their claims regarding the Government and its conduct of the war, thereby serving to boost their movement and support whilst ignoring the part that they have played in fund raising and supporting the LTTE (despite the proscription of the LTTE as a terrorist group). This has been helped by a fairly sympathetic media (angered at being excluded from the front lines by the Sri Lankan Government) which so far has tended to focus on the government’s part in the end of the war rather than also holding these representatives in the West, accountable for the crimes committed by the LTTE.

 

It is this decrease in the space to explore mutual understandings that lie at the heart of most people’s disapproval of moves like Channel 4 or the UN to talk about War Crimes. At the end of the day, the repercussions will not be felt by the Diaspora in the Global North or even by the Government.  It will be felt by the ordinary people in Sri Lanka who have to live with the consequences.  For those of us who are active in trying to work on post conflict reconciliation, it is not about defending the indefensible.   We are not here to deny or justify abuses. War is never just or civil, even when it is fought against a proscribed terrorist organisation.  There is no excuse for abuses to be meted out. But the question remains how, who and when should accountability take place?  Is it when the wounds are still fresh or is it when there has been enough time for healing to have taken place? Equally when accountability is demanded it has to be done against allresponsible and for all crimes.  Whilst blame is very often vociferously laid at the feet of the Sri Lankan government for its actions, nothing is said with the same intensity about the atrocities committed by the LTTE such as: the ethnic cleansing of 100,000 Muslims from the north (who still live in refugee camps today in the north west of Sri Lanka, with no one voicing any concern about them); the assassination of key political and intellectual leaders (of all ethnicities)  or the forcible recruitment of child soldiers.  The reports do not carry any discussion of how the LTTE combatants mingled with civilians and forcibly conscripted them to fight in the final stages, as has been documented in an interview given by a former Tamil National Parliamentarian who was trapped inside the war zone during this period.  This former Member of Parliament said that he saw people being shot and killed by the LTTE.  No explanation is given about the fact that during the heaviest of fighting, the LTTE also moved its heavy artillery by positions near the no fire zones and within the hospital compounds and used them. The Tamils who objected to this move were brutally shot dead which has been corroborated by the war victims and even former LTTE cadres and can be viewed on You Tube.  Nor do they discuss the phenomenon that Mark Meadow’s 2010 book ‘Tea Time with Terrorists’, describes of how  former LTTE fighters have explained LTTE tactics such as “LTTE cadres dressing up in Sri Lankan army uniforms, then firing at unarmed civilians to put false blame on the army”.

 

The truth of the matter is that the conflict in Sri Lanka is not black and white. The truth is somewhat blurred in between. Unfortunately, in the midst of this flurry of interest once again in what happened in Sri Lanka in 2009, the real discussion is becoming sidelined, for whilst it is important to look at the past, it is vital that an eye is placed towards the future at all levels, not just political.  How can Sri Lanka learn from the mistakes of the past that sidelined the minorities and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians? Successive governments have always hid behind the pretext of winning the war and defeating the LTTE militarily without addressing some of the fundamental key issues concerning minorities. Now with the defeat of the LTTE, there is a real opportunity to address the legitimate grievances of the minorities to ensure that the country is not subject to a repeat of the conflict ever again.  The questions becomes, how can  Sri Lanka, despite more than sixty years of independence, develop a constitutional framework that will satisfy the aspirations of all its citizens and deliver an environment of peace and harmony? Moreover at a grass roots levels, how can people work towards reconciliation between polarised communities (growing increasingly suspicious of each other thereby encouraging inward looking clannish tendencies)  and ensure an environment of peace, justice and equity that can hold politicians accountable for good governance?  Like it or not, it is at the grass roots level where ideologies take root and prosper or fester and also where consequences are felt, either way.

 

Those involved in conflict resolution and peace building will often talk about a period of healing in order for accountability to take place.  The Bloody Sunday acknowledgement by the British Government took 38 years after a 12 year investigation.  Poland and Germany still have strained relations incurred during the Second World War.  The period of healing for Sri Lanka is still in a baby stage of 2 years yet is not being addressed. As it stands it is doubtless felt that such endeavours will in fact damage efforts being undertaken to achieve reconciliation.

What is critical for Sri Lanka is the rebuilding of trust which can only be rebuilt when a space is created for effective dialogue and understanding.  Rebuilding trust is about honouring unity and celebrating diversity, working towards equity and justice and ensuring the eradication of social prejudices in building a collective identity.  Sri Lanka needs the space for this to happen.  It needs time for its people to go through the healing process.  Its people need to come up with their own locally developed solutions.

 

Transparency, accountability and social justice are the pillars of a mature democratic society.  Sri Lanka’s journey is still very early in trying to achieve this, but nevertheless it has started.  Accountability will come in time once people are ready to not allow the past to become a ball and chain for the future.  The release of this documentary and other reports provides unwarranted distraction from the main issues that the government (and any government in a post conflict country) should be held accountable for including: steps taken towards reconciliation, stemming the rising cost of living, tackling corruption and trying to ensure law and order.   By demanding it from outside, it also abrogates responsibility from all the stakeholders at all levels within Sri Lanka to ensure that seeds are planted at the grass roots that will not fester into another conflict. This is possibly the biggest disservice we do to those people who died (on both sides) of the conflict for something they believed in or were forced into due to other’s selfishness.

 

Amjad Mohamed-Saleem

CO-TRUSTEE

WE ARE ONE SRI LANKA

 

 

 

 

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Daily News – Journalist Depicted in Channel 4 Show an LTTE Officer

Sri Lanka Security News | Online edition of Daily News – Lakehouse Newspapers.

When Channel 4 showed the gruesome corpse of “journalist” Issipriya, in their controversial program, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields,” the implication was obvious–here is another Tamil civilian “murdered” by government forces. What they forgot to mention was that Issipriya was an officer in the LTTE. This is one of many omissions of fact and glossing over of the truth to be found in this sensationalized piece of “journalism.”

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Answering the Lies : paths2people

Answering the Lies : paths2people.

The following link provides a rebuttal to the recent Channel 4 TV special, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”  from a Sri Lankan Tamil living in London.

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UK’s Channel 4: Still Obsessed With Finding Sri Lanka Guilty Of Defeating Terrorism

In a cynical and deliberate attempt to upset the peace and progress in post-war Sri Lanka, British TV station Channel 4 premiered a dubious “documentary” entitled “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields,” which purports to show evidence of war crimes committed by Sri Lankan soldiers at the conclusion of the long conflict with the terrorist group the LTTE in May 2009. The strongest and most controversial footage, a two-minute clip of very poor quality, shows two persons clad in camouflage executing several naked and bound men on the ground. Channel 4’s Foreign Affairs correspondent, Jon Snow, describes these as Sinhalese soldiers killing Tamil captives. But the evidence used to back these claims is far from conclusive.

“Authentic” but Inconsistent?

The video, which first surfaced in August 2009, 3 months after the conclusion of the conflict, was purportedly taken on a mobile phone, according to Journalists For Democracy In Sri Lanka, the group that procured it (and supposedly had to “smuggle it out of the country,” says Snow).

While the testimony of two paid experts—Americans Jeff Spivak, founder of Covert Sciences and Grant Fredericks, another forensic video expert—agrees that the footage is authentic, they also introduce several inconsistencies.

The fact that it is shot out of sequence and using an optical zoom suggests both the use of a video camera and editing, says Fredericks, since mobile phones do not have this capability. There are also several layers to the video and the soundtrack is out of sync, which further opens up the possibility of tampering. The experts disagree as to where and when the footage might have been taken as well.

Speaking of authenticity, Channel 4 fails to divulge that there are actually two versions of this video—an older one in which people speak in Tamil in the background and the extended one they use whose commentary is in Sinhalese. If such inconsistencies exist, how could this video possibly be labeled authentic?

More Questions Need To be Asked

Coming just a few weeks after the highly critical Darusman Report, the timing, tone, and motives behind Channel 4’s presentation begs examination. It is no secret that Channel 4 has a history of broadcasting distorted and misleading news about Sri Lanka. In their heavy-handed, one-sided, sensationalist approach, they omit any reference to Tiger atrocities or even the mention of the word “terrorist.” For them, the Tigers are just a guerilla army.

How about the Journalists For Democracy In Sri Lanka, the group who procured the footage? Ostensibly a group of exiled journalists, who list Berlin as their headquarters– though in reality they have none—nothing is known. Their blog, however, is prolific–especially in its distaste of the government

http://jdsrilanka.blogspot.com/

Another important question that needs to be asked is, ‘Who has the most to gain from the release of this footage, which is severe blow to the delicate reconciliation process? None other than the LTTE, or what remains of it. Defeated on the battlefield they exist only as an organized movement outside the country, within the Tamil Diaspora. But they still wield enough financial might to influence the media and, apparently, policy.

The Sri Lankan Army’s Defense

While Channel 4 speculates on what the Sri Lankan Army did, they completely ignore the facts. If Sri Lankan troops did adopt a summary execution policy as Channel 4 alleges, it belies the fact that 11,700 identified former LTTE combatants, were captured, rehabilitated and released.

The sad reality of war also demonstrates that civilians pay the highest price, and Sri Lanka was no different. Countless innocent lives were lost in suicide attacks and other bombings, which Channel 4 does not consider in their report. But claims of genocide hold no water, when the Sri Lankan armed forces liberated more than 275,000 Tamil civilians held as human shields by the LTTE.

As the Asian Tribune (6/2/11) said, “If government soldiers did it, they would have to have been absolutely stupid, driven by mania to disregard all their training, and their responsibilities towards national laws and international conventions, and act like inhuman demons. Such material would discredit the Sri Lankan Army and the government, putting the onus on the government and the Army to prove that either the video is a fake, or the perpetrators were not Army soldiers.” Right now it seems like that is how the battle is shaping up to be.

LTTE Atrocities Well Documented

The FBI did not proscribe the LTTE as “The most notorious terrorist outfit” for no reason. People within Sri Lanka have known how cunning and ruthless these assassins have been over 26 years, and the rest of the world needs to get up to speed on these matters.

The Asian Tribune (of 9/18/09) documents only a few of the atrocities committed by the LTTE, which establishes their well known practice of killing their enemies and Sri Lankan soldiers from 1987 onwards.

  • That year [1987] in the month of October, some 17 LTTE cadres who were arrested and detained at the Palaly army camp committed suicide by swallowing cyanide capsules, which were smuggled to them by Anton Balasingham.
  • To take revenge, the LTTE killed nine Sri Lankan soldiers whom they had kidnapped and detained in their camp. The dead bodies were later dumped at the bus-stand in Jaffna city.
  • Earlier on 31 March 1987, when unidentified gunmen fired at and lobbed a powerful grenade at the vehicle carrying Kittu, LTTE’s powerful Jaffna Commander, he lost his right leg. Enraged at the attack, LTTE’s Major Aruna went on a killing spree. He had gunned down scores of EPRLF cadres held as prisoners at the infamous Kanthan Karunai camp.
  • On 10 June 1990, over 400 unarmed police officers who had surrendered to the LTTE were mercilessly shot dead and the bodies were dumped.
  • On 21 May 1991, at Sriperumbudur, India, an LTTE suicide bomber killed former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and 14 others. A breakthrough to the investigation came from a photographer. It also highlighted that LTTE had the habit of either photographing or video-graphing all their killings to provide confirmatory evidence to their boss, Velupillai Prabhakaran. It is The LTTE practice to shift the blame for all the killings on the Sri Lanka Government.
  • On 4 August 2006, LTTE cadres on the run shot and killed 15 Tamil workers from French international aid agency Action Contre la Faim who were trapped inside their Muthur branch office, close to Muthur Cultural Centre. But the LTTE propaganda machinery created the impression that the Sri Lankan soldiers were to be blamed for the carnage. The propaganda was so mischievous that it even made the French Aid Agency join the campaign against the Sri Lanka Government.
  • During it’s hey days, the LTTE had its own police, courts of justice, and jails in the Vanni. Dozens of Tamil dissidents were regularly rounded up by the LTTE police, convicted by the LTTE courts and held in the LTTE prisons. The convicts were held incommunicado in torture cells.
  • LTTE also held some Sri Lanka army soldiers in their torture cells. How and when they were arrested or disappeared is never explained officially with the army describing them as missing persons in action.

What Happens Next?

Christopher Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, described the killings shown on the video as “textbook examples of extrajudicial executions” in the Asian Tribune (6/2/11). The UN in Geneva has already been privy to a screening of the video, only weeks after the release of the controversial Darusman Report, and they have the means to press for a broader inquiry.

The Lanka Daily Mirror (Monday, June 13th) best summed up the situation, saying, “Ironically, two years after the war ended, a rump of the diaspora, assisted ably by a segment of the UN, supported by countries from the western hemisphere and leading human rights NGOs are giving life to the LTTE and fostering division in the name of accountability and human rights. In this process UN conventions, procedures and mandates have been jettisoned in the interests of politics.”

If there were ever an important lesson to learn from America’s Debacle in Iraq, it is that a lie repeated over and over has the power to displace the truth and masquerade as the same. But did it have to take countless lives and trillions of dollars to say, ‘So much for “weapons of mass destruction?”’ ‘So much for former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s very convincing, but completely misleading presentation before the United Nations Security Council on February 4, 2003, which provided justification for an unjust war.’ Where Iraq is concerned, faulty intelligence was presented as solid evidence, and decisions of the utmost importance hastily made. In the case of the Channel 4 video, hearsay is being boldly touted as fact. Before any witch hunt or further cries of “war crimes” ensue, a thorough and conclusive investigation of this video is the only due course. Unless the facts show otherwise, Sri Lanka must be presumed innocent. The only thing she is guilty of right now is defeating terrorism.

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Channel 4: Original Video of LTTE Killings

This is the original version of the footage aired by Channel 4, The “Fox News” of Britain. If you listen to the background voices they are all in Tamil.

YouTube – Channel 4 Original Video of LTTE Killings (Tamil Voices).

The latest version, however, played before the UN in Genenva, has Sinhalese voices overdubbed.

Something is definitely fishy in the state of Switzerland.

More on this tommorrow.

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SL Government Counters Darusman Claims With “Sri Lanka’s Humanitarian Effort”

As the Darusman Report excoriates the government of Sri Lankan for its handling of the war against the terror—namely the defeat of the LTTE and the management of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) that ensued—the government fights back with a report of its own. An exhaustive 85-page survey supported by internal memos, statistics, and photos, “Sri Lanka’s Humanitarian Effort,” details the government’s very successful efforts in addressing and averting what could have been a major humanitarian crisis in the war’s aftermath.

Housing, feeding and ensuring healthcare for approximately 294,000 IDPs immediately following the conflict, after all, was no small task, and might have proved a logistical nightmare had not the government taken the necessary steps in advance of their victory on the battlefield—all of which is laid out in this report. In addition, it is noted that in the two years since the end of hostilities, 95% of those IDPs have been returned to their villages. Those who remain are only being held until the completion of de-mining efforts (the government estimates that there are over 402 square kilometers of mine fields still to be cleared since the LTTE laid more than 1.5 million mines). Contrast this massive relief effort with that of a wealthy country like the U.S., where some victims of Hurricane Katrina are still living in FEMA trailers 6 years later, and one can appreciate the full scope of what the SL government has accomplished—and largely on its own.

“Sri Lanka’s Humanitarian Effort” Report is available in its entirety at the following link:

http://www.slmission.com/news/news-from-other-sources/17-other-news/556-sls-humanitarian-effort-in-the-final-stages-of-the-conflict-report.html

I have also highlighted the following relevant passages within the report, which give great insight into the thoroughly ruthless motives and tactics of the LTTE, who actually sought to create a humanitarian crisis in order to bring about foreign intervention in the conflict, a point startlingly absent from this discussion of “war crimes.” The appended documents and internal government correspondences found in the “Annex” section of the report also show the Sri Lankan government as being transparent and forthcoming as possible in their attempts to combat the negative attacks against them.

From “Sri Lanka’s Humanitarian Effort”:

  • The GoSL [Government of Sri Lanka] in September 2006 established a consultative apex body (Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA) to provide humanitarian assistance to the conflict affected population in a centrally coordinated manner in response to a request made by the co-chairs to the peace process; i.e. Japan, United States, European Union and Norway. It convened from October 2006 on 28 occasions to deal with crucial policy and coordination issues.
  •  Throughout the conflict, all basic and essential services (including health and education) continued to be provided to all affected communities. The Government Agents of the Northern and Eastern districts ensured the presence of the GoSL and acted as an easy point of contact for civilians to access state services. This network was extensively used to identify and provide humanitarian assistance, ensure local level distribution and obtain feedback on the ground situation. Towards the end of the conflict, the LTTE forced the entire civilian population (villages in most instances) to accompany their fighting cadres and held the civilians as hostages to prevent the Government security forces attacking. The civilians so taken were also used as a human shield to launch attacks against GoSL forces. This necessitated the GoSL to put together and carryout a large-scale humanitarian rescue operation. At the end of the rescue operation over 275,000 civilians were freed, becoming dependent on the Government for security and basic essential services. As an immediate further institutional response, a Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development, and Security in the Northern Province (PTF) was created which continues to function primarily focusing on the Northern Province. GoSL made special efforts to ensure that education and medical services were supplied in an uninterrupted manner. The network of public officials in these sectors were continuously paid their salaries and pensions for retired public servants together with all other capital and recurrent expenditures associated with the infrastructure. The GoSL put in place a sophisticated and elaborate patient referral mechanism for patients needing further care utilizing local, district, provincial, and national level hospitals. Overall the measures adopted are categorized as humanitarian assistance to the Jaffna Peninsula.
  • During the period January 2008 to early May 2009, 58,393 metric tons of essential items were sent to Killinochchi and Mullaithivu districts alone. This was in addition to the excess paddy available in the districts, the buffer stocks maintained on location and 33,383 metric tons supplied to co-operative outlets during 2008 up to January 2009. Every month, five to six hundred thousand litres of fuel was sent to each district, knowing that it could fall into the hands of the LTTE. The fuel was to be used primarily for operation of hospitals and essential services such as transport. Fuel was also made available to operate vehicles of the UN, ICRC, and other agencies (including NGOs) engaged in humanitarian assistance. Supply of kerosene oil was ensured so that the civilians could cook, operate their farming equipment, and meet other household requirements.
  •  The LTTE in furtherance of its objective of changing the ethnic composition of the North and East and pressurizing the government to accede to their demands continued their terror campaign of targeting civilians. Shootings, suicide attacks and bombings of civilian targets became quite common during the conflict period. In the latter part of October 1990, the LTTE forcibly evicted approximately 75,000 Muslims within 48 hours from Jaffna resulting in an IDP situation of mega proportion. These IDPs added to the total number of IDPs already swelling due to civilians fleeing the areas where the LTTE engaged government security forces in a bloody conflict using a mixture of conventional warfare and guerrilla tactics. Periodically, the civilian population in the Northern District fled and escaped out of LTTE controlled areas due to constant fighting further reducing the resident population in these areas thus further increasing the IDP population. Approximately a 100,000 people have fled to India and a similar number left Killinochchi and Mullaithivu to Vavuniya.
  • The LTTE also had a strategy of murdering and eliminating persons of the Tamil ethnic group who opposed its terrorism and violence. This practice of killing Tamil citizens, whom the LTTE recognised as traitors and influential political moderates, drove a large number of Tamil civilians out of the Northern Province. The recurring wave of intimidation, threat and forceful recruitment of children as cadres also forced thousands of Tamil civilian families to flee the area.
  •  The nature and intensity of the conflict and also as large swathes of land being subject to de facto LTTE control during different periods of the conflict made it impossible to carry out regular census of any kind. Therefore the precise number of IDPs could not be arrived at. IDP related issues are handled and decisions made based on estimates arrived at after continuous analysis of different data sets submitted by government, non government, and international agencies working with IDPs.
  • Several attempts at peace talks by successive governments failed due to the LTTE unilaterally breaking ceasefire agreements and renewing its terror campaigns, at most times gaining the advantage of surprise attacks on government forces. Following the elections in 2005, the Government used its best endeavors to reinitiate the stalled 2002 peace process by trying to get the LTTE back to the negotiation table, in spite of sporadic acts of terrorisms and assassinations carried out by the LTTE.
  • In addition to attempting to disrupt food supplies, the LTTE made many attempts to disrupt civilian life in Jaffna by instilling a fear psychosis in the minds of the civilians. In its endeavors to bring life to a halt, the schools, public transport, fuel supplies, functioning of the hospitals, etc were closed under LTTE threats. This LTTE strategy was aimed at creating a humanitarian crisis in the Jaffna peninsula, and to instigate external intervention. The LTTE attempted to create a siege situation to force the peninsula into submission. Despite these challenges, the continued efforts of the GoSL resulted in restoring normalcy to Jaffna within a short space of time, providing the required food, medicine, non food needs of the population and ensuring the maintenance of essential services in Jaffna. Special attention was paid during this period to keep the Jaffna economy moving as usual. Subsidy fertilizer provided by the government was sent in two vessels for both seasons of the year. Animal feed required for cattle and poultry farming was also provided regularly. Large quantities of construction materials were regularly supplied to help ongoing housing construction in Jaffna. Arrangements were also made to transport Jaffna produce i.e. chillies, onions to Colombo by returning ships.

The government of Sri Lanka has been portrayed—by its detractors–as reckless in their pursuit of the Tigers in the final days of the conflict, but the evidence presented in “Sri Lanka’s Humanitarian Effort,” reveals quite the opposite. Every effort was taken to support the largely Tamil civilian population in the north, throughout the conflict, despite the challenges presented by the LTTE. In light of this information, claims of “genocide,” too, sound completely preposterous. The only genocide seems to be that to which the Tigers subjected their own community. Maybe the U.N. “panel of experts” should have been more attentive to the basic facts before putting together the Darusman Report, which looks more and more like a terribly flawed and biased document.

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