Monthly Archives: November 2011
BY:GREG SHERIDAN, FOREIGN EDITOR – The Australian
THE criticism of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he visited Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, left the key Sri Lankan villain out of the story.
The criticism was that the Sri Lankan government engaged in serious human rights abuses, shelling areas where civilians were present, at the end of its civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in May last year.
Both sides committed atrocities in this war, but the defeat of the Tamil Tigers was a decisive defeat of perhaps the bloodiest and most murderous terrorist group the world has seen.
Alexander Downer, Australia’s foreign minister for 11 years of the war, tells me: “I know the Sri Lankan government played very hard ball and committed some human rights abuses, but it’s a wonderful thing the Sri Lankan government won that war. I have always regarded the Tamil Tigers as absolutely a terrorist organisation.”
It is easy to forget how bloody the Tamil Tigers were. In their 2 1/2-decade campaign, perhaps 70,000 people died. The Tamil Tigers pioneered the suicide bomber, conducting hundreds of such attacks and using a woman with a suicide vest to murder India’s prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. They also murdered a Sri Lankan president. Rohan Gunaratna, an authority on terrorism based in Singapore, tells me the Tamil Tigers also pioneered suicide attacks at sea. The sinking of the USS Cole was an imitation of a Tiger operation.
The Tigers were authoritarian under the leadership of Vellupillai Prabakaran. They murdered Tamil and Sinhalese civilians, within the areas they controlled and within Sri Lanka generally. They used civilians as human shields, engaged in forced recruitment, routinely bombed civilian targets, used child soldiers and refused to let civilians leave the combat zone. They also engaged in sectarian attacks against Muslims.
They were connected with Islamist terror groups, having received early training from Palestinian extremists and became involved in the illicit arms trade.
They got funds from Tamil Tiger support networks across the world, especially Canada, the US, Britain and Australia. Downer says: “I have no doubt the Tamil Tigers raised a lot of money in Australia.”
Gunaratna says: “After the conflict ended and the LTTE was decimated in Sri Lanka, they still had a presence overseas. They have been involved in bank fraud and people-smuggling to get their members overseas, especially to Canada and Australia.
“Australia should not permit anyone who is connected to any terrorist organisation to settle in Australia because that will affect Australia’s security.”
Gunaratna stresses, no doubt rightly, that the vast majority of Tamils are law-abiding people.
Since Labor changed border protection policy in 2008, more than 1400 Sri Lankans have arrived, unauthorised, by boat, though the rate has declined this year. There is no reason to assume any particular individual has a connection with the Tigers and each case must be judged on its merits. But membership of the Tamil Tigers is not just support for Tamil self-determination. By any measure, the Tamil Tigers were as deadly, unscrupulous, murderous and committed to terrorist attacks on innocent civilians as al-Qa’ida or the Taliban are.
In 2007, several Sydney and Melbourne men were arrested for providing funds to the Tamil Tigers. They were charged with terrorism offences but, because Canberra had not listed the Tigers as a terrorist organisation, the charges were downgraded to supplying funds to a UN-proscribed organisation. The courts heard evidence that more than $1 million had gone to the Tigers from Australia, and electronic components that were used in terrorist bombings had also come from here.
The men were convicted of the lesser charges and given suspended sentences. The prosecutions occurred as similar charges were laid against other men of Tamil background in several other Western nations. The Sri Lankan government in 2005 provided Western governments with intelligence and urged them to act to stop the flow of funds to the Tigers. These funds, though billed as humanitarian relief, were essential to the Tigers’ ability to continue their terrorist campaign.
The inside story of the Howard government’s failure to get the Tigers proscribed under Australian legislation has never been told. The Tigers were on a list of terrorist organisations proscribed by the UN. It was because of this that it remained a crime to supply funds to them. More than 30 countries explicitly banned the Tigers and listed them as a terrorist organisation under their own laws. Australia failed to do this.
This is not because the Howard government did not regard the Tigers as terrorists. But the inside bureaucratic story is complex and reflects poorly on Australia as an episode where ethnic politics impeded serious counter-terrorism.
Initially, the bureaucracy was hesitant about designating the Tigers as a terrorist organisation because it might lead to retaliation against Australians in Sri Lanka. It was important to upgrade security for the Australian High Commission in Colombo.
The attorney-general at the time, Philip Ruddock, declines to discuss the matter. However, sources tell Inquirer that Ruddock required the agreement of state governments to proscribe the Tigers. He wrote to state governments seeking that agreement. But within Australia the Tamils were a well-established lobby, with strong support from numerous non-government organisations and some human rights lobbies. The Sri Lankan community is politically divided: the Sinhalese vote Liberal, the Tamils vote Labor.
Sources tell Inquirer that at least one Labor state refused to agree to the Tigers being listed as a terrorist organisation. This was against Ruddock’s assessment, the assessment of Australia’s security agencies and the assessments and actions of the UN and dozens of foreign national governments, including friends and allies of Australia. Later, the court case itself inhibited proscription.
Gunaratna says: “Australia’s response was not very decisive.”
The Tamil war in Sri Lanka is over for the moment. Overwhelmingly, the priority for foreign governments should be to assist Sri Lanka in economic development, which is the dynamic most likely to aid reconciliation.
At the Perth demonstrations against Rajapaksa, some Tamil Tiger flags were displayed. It would be poor policy for Australia to allow the development of a Tamil Tiger network on its shores.
A documentary about unspoken ground realities of Sri Lanka’s war
A group of young filmmakers travels once forbidden area of their motherland. They meet their brethren who had been separated from them by 30 years of brutal terrorism. They exchange their mournful experiences about the war and discover a shocking truth behind the misery that ripped their lives apart. “Freedom speaks” is a documentary based on their experience.
“Freedom Speaks” is about the people who incredibly endured more than two decades of horror and hardships and emerged with hope and dignity. It speaks about the fears they have for their future knowing that the forces profited from their sufferings still striving to recreate what they hate most.
“Freedom Speaks” is for the ignorant world that unknowingly supported terrorism in Sri Lanka. It is against the malicious lies spread around the world about our country by vicious individuals and organizations wanting us back in war. It is to ease the agitated minds of all Sri Lankans watching this unholy campaign against them helplessly.
This documentary is done at the personal cost of the young filmmakers behind it for free distribution. If you wish to obtain a HD copy of the documentary please contact Isuru Wakkumbura on 01194 777 873 589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch “Freedom Speaks” (Part 1)
“Freedom Speaks” (Part 2)
The latest round of international LTTE misinformation and derogation propaganda against President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lanka armed forces, a cooked up documentary on the ABC TV channel, Australia to coincide with the visit of the President to that country, has proved a hoax.
The truth behind the ABC Channel’s recent documentary over alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka has been exposed. The documentary by the ABC was based on an alleged eyewitness Meena, who says that she witnessed the massacre of civilians and armed forces attacking hospitals with cannon fire. It has levelled war crime charges against the President, Permanent Representative for UN Dr. Palitha Kohona and the Lanka High Commissioner for Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe.
Meena was an LTTE cadre who is portrayed in the documentary as a civilian Australian national who had come to Sri Lanka during the war to learn Tamil which happens to be her mother tongue.
A number of defence personnel and political commentators are of the view that it was diabolically fabricated and designed as propaganda for the defeated LTTE terrorist outfit. Sri Lankan military has information to prove that she was a LTTE cadre who served in Castro’s office and that she had undergone military training.
Defence Intelligence sources said they believed that the documentary had been produced aiming at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Western Australia, from October 28, which President Rajapaksa will attend.
Military sources have found all the details of the so-called eye witness proving Meena was not an innocent civilian but an identified LTTE cadre who actively worked for the terror outfit. At the final phase of the humanitarian operation by the Sri Lankan forces, she had managed to get shelter at an IDP camp in Vavuniya and later had left for Australia as she had connections there.
Political commentators have repeatedly pointed out that knowingly or unknowingly international NGOs as well as some well known media organizations are still supporting the
LTTE overseas rump’s propaganda around the world. They also stressed that their ultimate effort is to badly tarnish Sri Lanka with such malicious propaganda.
It is opined that this is only another step of tarnishing the Sri Lanka government like ex LTTE cadre Ramesh’s wife Vathsala Devi filing a case against the Deputy Permanent Representative of UN Major General Shavendra Silva and former LTTE activist Vani Kumar’s false story on Channel 4 documentary which the Sri Lankan government debunked with another video named ‘Lies Agreed Upon’.
According to military intelligence, the so-called eye witness’s full name is Krishnamoorthy Navarangi Meena and Eelanadee is the code name given her by the LTTE terror outfit. She was born on October 30, 1982 at Velvettithurai, the hometown of Prabhakaran. She had received her education in Australia and has received citizenship also. She arrived in Sri Lanka in 2004 to conduct a research study.
During her visit, she had met LTTE’s International Propaganda, Procurement and Fundraising Unit Head Castro and joined the outfit and had undergone military training for six months in an LTTE base in Muthaiyankaddu. She was attached to the LTTE’s female infantry regiment Malithi and attached to the LTTE’s International Division functioning under Castro as she was fluent in English. She married LTTE cadre Kuberan (Irasarathnam Thayakaran) in 2007. The LTTE had sent her to South Africa to follow a course on law and again to Malaysia for some LTTE work.
She was pregnant in 2008 and registered for the delivery in Ponnambalam Hospital in Wanni used only for providing treatment for LTTE cadres. She had given birth to a still-born. ABC has insinuated that this unfortunate eventuality was an outcome of shelling in the area. At that time there were no military operations in the area, a fact well-known to UN agencies, INGOs and others working in the area.
When the humanitarian operations by Sri Lankan forces concluded, she had concealed her LTTE identity and moved to an IDP Centre in Vavuniya and later had left to Australia. Her husband Kuberan, a wanted senior LTTE cadre, had surrendered to the Sri Lanka Armed Forces on May 16, 2009 but had managed to escape from a rehabilitation centre.
Analysts who have thoroughly examined her statement in the documentary ask why she does not name the hospitals or at least the area which she witnessed attacks by the Government forces. She also fails to mention where she saw the massacre of civilians by Sri Lankan forces. . She says that she worked in an orphanage but the place or name of the orphanage is not given. Although she claims her husband was a civil administrator, but he has an identified LTTE combatant who participated in the LTTE Peace Talks Delegation too.
Courtesy: The Nation
U.S. Congressmen visiting Sri Lanka has said that Sri Lanka and its leader President Mahinda Rajapaksa who defeated the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization should receive more accolade than it was given by the international community.
They have made these comments after a visit they made to the Jaffna peninsula yesterday, and when they met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday..
A three member delegation of U.S. Congressmen led by Congressman Albert Benjamin is on a three day fact finding mission to Sri Lanka. Mr. Benjamin has told the President that he made a visit to Sri Lanka two years ago, and since his last visit he finds that Sri Lanka has made vast stride in developments in the country which was indeed amazing. The Congressmen have told the President that they traveled to several places in Sri Lanka including Colombo, Kandy and the Northern Province and they were amazed to see the developments taking place in these areas and the people belonging to various communities living in harmony and happily.
The President at this meeting has requested the U.S. Congressmen to explain to the International community about the true facts of Sri Lanka. They have also told the President that they are fully satisfied about the security situation in Sri Lanka. The President has also explained to the Congressmen about the development projects being implemented in the war ravaged Northern and Eastern Provinces and future projects being planned for implementation in these areas.
The delegation which is visiting Sri Lanka under the United States and Sri Lankan Parliament representative exchange programme, includes Congressmen Albert Benjamin, Jack Kingston and Joseph Shuler.
Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L.Peiris, and President Secretary Mr. Lalith Weeratunge also attended this meeting.
– Asian Tribune –