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Tigers killed many top notch Tamil leaders

2013 Oct 24

by K.M.H.C.B. Kulatunga

Certain TNA parliamentarians are still attempting to spread the LTTE's separatist ideology by making controversial statements. It is a pity that they have forgotten how LTTE separatism took thousands of innocent lives during its three decades of terror.

The scene after the blast that killed Gamini Dissanayake

The LTTE not only killed Sinhalese by exploding bombs in the South, but also killed democratic Tamil leaders who were close to the people in the North and the East. That was because the Tigers wanted to prove its claim as the sole representative of Tamils. Hence, they eliminated Tamil leaders who reposed faith in democracy.

The 13th death anniversary of one such Tamil leader falls today. It was on October 20, 2000 that LTTE terrorists shot dead Batticaloa District TNA parliamentarian Kingsley Rasanayagam at Iruthayapuram, Batticaloa. He was one of the many moderate Tamil leaders killed by the LTTE. The Tigers showed no mercy to any leader who was close to the hearts of the Tamils. Hence, they eliminated all prominent Tami leaders who chose the democratic path and opposed gun culture.
Attack on oil refinery

It is still fresh in our minds how the Tiger terrorists attacked economic hubs in the city to cripple the country's economy. The 18th anniversary of the LTTE attack on Kolonnawa oil refinery falls today. On October 20, 1995, LTTE suicide bombers attacked Kolonnawa oil refinery and storage complex, destroying several tanks. In a battle that lasted for several hours, 22 security personnel were killed as the terrorists destroyed diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel and crude oil worth over US $ 10 million.

Such inhuman attacks prove that the LTTE had totally ignored human rights and the voice of democratic Tamil leaders. Hence, it is shocking that certain countries and international organisations now make a big noise over the human rights of the LTTE cadres killed in action.

Some countries and international bodies make a big hue and cry over the so-called civilians killed during the final phase of the battle against terrorism in May, 2009. Unlike a legitimate army of a sovereign state, LTTE cadres were not in military attire all the time.

In most of the attacks, they were in civilian clothes, making it extremely difficult to differentiate them from civilians. They did that with a purpose. The moment an LTTE terrorist, without military attire, throws his weapon after being attacked, he becomes a civilian for certain INGOs.

What most LTTE cadres did was to abandon their weapons once they are injured. The LTTE propaganda unit projected most of those cases as civilians killed by the Security Forces. But in actual terms, those bodies were that of LTTE cadres killed in the battle. Some countries and INGOs have added the bodies of Tiger terrorists killed in action to that of civilians killed in battle.

The Security Forces had been under strict instructions to maintain a zero civilian casualty rate and they did their utmost to avoid civilians when they launched attacks against the LTTE.

There had been many instances where the Security Forces had to pay a heavy price for taking undue precautions to avoid civilian casualty. Hence, it is unfair to level such baseless allegations and claim that a large number of civilians had died in the final phase of the battle. The huge figures that are being often stated by some international media are that of LTTE cadres killed in action and not actual civilians.

Civilians crossing to government controlled areas during the last stages of the battle against terrorism.

Alongside the return to normalcy, steps had to be taken by the Government to address the various allegations that were being made by various parties during and after the battle against terrorism about what took place in its last stages which not only liberated over half a million people forcibly held by the LTTE as a human shield but also protected lives over 21 million people.

The primary allegation concerned the number of civilian casualties that were supposed to have taken place during this period.

Various people started making contrasting claims about the number of casualties, which ranged from 7,000 to more than 40,000 people killed.

As Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa pointed out at this year's Defence seminar, hardly any of these estimates referred to any sources, and most completely ignored independent and credible sources that reported figures very much to the contrary. The Government was, therefore, keen on meeting this issue in a rigorous and transparent manner.

The Department of Census and Statistics carried out an 'Enumeration of Vital Events' for the Northern Province of Sri Lanka in 2011. The enumeration was conducted between June and August 2011, with field data being collected in July.

The enumerators were Government servants from the Northern Province, all 2,500 of whom were Tamil and Muslim officials.

Apart from the gathering of usual census data, the enumerators paid attention to the vital events that had taken place in the North from 2005 to 2009, with particular emphasis on the deaths that took place in the last stages of the war against terrorism.

The Enumeration Report shows that according of the reporting of the next of kin, 7,896 deaths occurred due to unnatural causes from January to May 2009.

This number includes LTTE cadres killed in action, civilians killed by the LTTE while trying to escape into Government controlled areas, civilians who were detained and killed by the LTTE for other reasons, civilians forcefully used for combat and related activities by the LTTE, civilians who died as a result of crossfire, civilians who had been reported as dead but who may have escaped or illegally migrated overseas, deaths reported but not during the humanitarian operation for the purpose of claiming compensation and false reporting.

It is also worth bearing in mind that at the start of the humanitarian operation, the LTTE had approximately 30,000 cadres. By its conclusion, nearly 12,000 had surrendered to the Armed Forces. LTTE transmissions intercepted, LTTE documents recovered, LTTE graveyards discovered, and LTTE publications and posters indicate a large number of cadres were killed in action during the early stages of the battle against terrorism.

It is also possible that many bodies were unrecoverable during this period. However, the most intense battles were fought after Puthukudiyirippu.

During this period, it was impossible for the LTTE to recover the bodies of its cadres or give any indication of its casualty figures. It is also worth nothing that unlike a conventional military, the LTTE was a terrorist group that did not have a proper procedure of recruiting and maintaining its cadres.
Six thousand perished

Most of the time, LTTE cadres used aliases instead of proper names. Some of them did not fight in uniform. As a result, it is difficult to establish with certainty the number of cadres killed. In this context, it is also worth bearing in mind that the military lost nearly 6,000 of its personnel in combat during the Humanitarian Operation. Close to 20,000 more were injured. This gives an indication of the intensity of the battles that took place during the period.

In addition to the deaths that were said to have occurred, the Enumeration of Vital Events shows that 2,635 persons were reported as untraceable. These numbers were reported because the parents and next of kin of the missing persons were not able to recover their bodies or obtain information about their whereabouts.

Further investigations have already been carried out with regard to 2,360 of these cases. These investigations have established beyond doubt that 1,625 were instances of forced recruitment by the LTTE. It is also a fact that an unknown number of persons left Sri Lanka through illegal means during the last stages of the war, and are presently resident in other countries. However these countries have not yet divulged their details to the Government. There are only 26 instances of people who are reported by the next of kin as having surrendered to Security Forces and subsequently disappeared.

In a completely independent effort to track the missing persons in the North, UNICEF, together with the Probation and Child Care Commissioner of the Northern Province and the Government Agent of Vavuniya, launched a family reunification project soon after the war. A total of 2,564 tracing applications were received by July 2011. 1,888 of these applications were about missing adults, and 676 about missing children. 64% of the parents of missing children reported that they had been recruited by the LTTE. This study independently confirms the official findings.

Hence, the allegations levelled against Sri Lanka on the number of civilians killed during the final phase of the battle are incorrect and baseless. What perturbs us the most is the manner in which a few Western countries and international organisations show undue worry over the human rights of terrorists killed in action. Isn't human rights of civilians much more important than that of armed terrorists?

Next month's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka (CHOGM 2013) too is being used to discredit the country with false allegations. The member countries of the Commonwealth should not mix Sri Lanka's internal matters with their participation of CHOGM 2013.

Some sinister elements are still making their level best to keep away at least one more Head of State to follow the Canadian Prime Minister to boycott CHOGM 2013. Fortunately, all Commonwealth nations, except for Canada, have reposed implicit faith on Sri Lanka and will be represented at CHOGM 2013 at the highest level.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 sovereign states and no member country has the right to pass judgement on others. Hence, none of the member countries has any right to abuse the CHOGM 2103 to exert undue pressure on the host nation, raising concocted stories on human rights or their so-called war crimes. Those are mere fabrications of a well-orchestrated media campaign by the LTTE rump.

However, the leaders of the Commonwealth have not been mislead by these false campaigns by the LTTE cohorts. Even those who have a shadow of doubt over what has been transpired by interested parties will get a golden opportunity to get a true and broader picture on Sri Lanka.The peaceful coexistence among all communities who enjoy the dividends of peace are sure to change thinking of the international community.

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