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Framing bogus War Crime charges: WHO are the ‘civilians’ who died in Sri Lanka’s Final War?

The efforts to frame war crimes changes has been an ongoing affair for the past 6 years. Other than emotionally charged outbursts, ridiculous guestimates not a single name has been given for the dead. As of 9 April 2015 only 16,179 civilian ‘missing’ have been logged with the Presidential Missing Person’s Commission (with a mandate to investigate between 1983-2009). In the meanwhile from UNSG downwards a very concerted campaign is taking place to make Sri Lanka’s leaders the guilty party by propaganda campaigns and framed ‘evidence’. Therefore US envoy may walk up and down Mullaitivu beach but he first needs to prove who the dead were first before asking Sri Lanka to admit accountability for the supposed dead. When an LTTE-cadre recruited by TNA was caught collecting signatures on blank war crimes forms to be filled and sent to the UNHRC investigators it highlights the mischief taking place and the hypocrisy inside international organizations (the UN & UNHRC). It must be noted that details of 5000 missing soldiers have been lodged with the Presidential Commission.

What needs to be exposed?

  • Anyone can claim a figure as dead but there needs to be bodies, the bodies must have names, relations, a home, school records, employment records or in the least a birth certificate or some sort of identity.
  • The allegations of 40,000 dead extended to even 125,000 and some cases 200,000 have not come with any names or details of the dead. How can Sri Lanka be deemed guilty of killing an ‘x’ number of people if those making allegations cannot produce names or details of the dead? The key argument in favour of Sri Lanka is to refuse to accept allegations without proof of bodies, names or even that the numbers being quoted actually existed. Why should Sri Lanka waste money, energy and time on investigating allegations if they are not substantiated with credible evidence? Sri Lanka should not fear the international ganging up scare tactics being adopted without sticking to their guns and demanding answers first.
  • Therefore anyone is welcome to make allegations but these allegations must be accompanied with solid evidence.
    • Names of dead with proper ID
    • Where are the dead bodies (at least the skeletons – by 18th May 2009 entire military operation against LTTE was completed. How did SL military kill between 40,000 to 125,000 between 13th – 18th May and save 295,000 people too?
    • Where did the dead live – their addresses
    • Who are the kith and kin of the dead
    • Answers as to how Sri Lanka’s armed forces managed to dig graves to put ’40,000 to 125,000 dead’ while firing was taking place and if C4 had been given mobile footage of ‘crimes’ by SL troops why has no footage been taken of soldiers digging mass graves and putting the dead! To dig graves to put 125,000 or even 40,000 it takes more than a few hours! How many dead bodies can fit into a grave? A standard grave is 2 ½ feet wide and 8ft in length and 4ft deep. How many adult bodies can fit into such a grave? Where are the mobile footage of soldiers digging graves, shoving dead bodies – if footage can be given to make documentaries surely there must be footage of graves being dug!
  • The background to the international tarnishing campaign began with the illegal and questionable appointment of the Darusman Panel by the United Nations Secretary General (outside of UN General Assembly and UNSC mandate) Thus the title of the report being ‘The Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts’. What was to be a panel appointed in his personal capacity for personal appraisal ended up being quoted as if it was an internationally mandated panel? Yasushi Akashi, Senior Advisor on Foreign Policy in Japan refers to the Darusman Panel as ‘though intended only to be an advisory report to the Secretary General of the UN is IMPROPER’.
  • The Darusman Panel not surprisingly refers to LTTE as a ‘disciplined group’ – that may be why 32 countries have proscribed it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization including US, UK, EU and India!
  • Darusman Panel in its 2011 report too concluded that 40,000 ‘may have been killed’ (are they implying murder – where is the evidence?)
  • US former envoy Robert Blake quoted 40,000 dead to the US Congressional Hearing – how can he prove it
  • LTTE supporter Siobhain McDonagh (UK Labor MP for Mitcham and Morden) declared 100,000 dead and 40,000 as civilians. (she must have counted the dead from England!)
  • Amnesty International in a report titled ‘When will they get justice? Failures of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ published in 2011 quoted 10,000 civilian deaths late to extensively quote 40,000.
  • Gordon Weiss former UN official originally quoted 7000 dead, then when he found money was to be made selling books he adjusted the dead figure to 40,000 which he again changed to 10,000 at his book launch and when cornered at the book release launch placed the error in numbers to the printers fault! Other author’s entering the scene too began quoting the ‘dead’ and selling books like hot cakes! Quoting the ‘dead’ had become a very lucrative venture!
  • Charles Petrie reviewing UNSG’s report 2012 came up with another figure 70,000 totally ignoring the UN Representative office figure of 7721.
  • Tamilnet the LTTE propaganda channel reported 7398 deaths in its report.
  • UN country team in Sri Lanka placed the dead as 7721 (how can Ban Ki’s panel brush this figure aside by saying the figures are ‘too low to accept’ or Charles Petrie claim 70,000 as dead?
  • Survey by the Government in the North at the end of the conflict done by Tamils placed the number of dead and missing at 7400 dead (included LTTE killed in combat) and 2600 missing (of this 1600 had been with LTTE whereas only 438 had disappeared in areas under military control).
  • The satellite analyst report by the American Association for the Advancement of Scienceidentified 3 graveyards of which one had 1346, and one of the 3 was a LTTE graveyard with 960 bodies. No satellite images detected 40,000 – 125,000 or even 200,000 dead!
  • In July 2011 Tamil teachers of the North did a population survey of the North covering migration, deaths, untraceable persons from 2005 to 2009 – their report revealed 7896 dead including LTTE while the dead from natural illness and sickness was 1102.www.statistics.gov.lk
  • UNICEF-sponsored Family Tracing & Verification and Verification Unit 2011 compilation listed 2564 untraceable persons out of which 676 were children (64% of them were kidnapped by LTTE)
  • Reports by organizations such a UN, Government Agents, WFP, doctors & civilians indicate figure of 300,000 responds with figure SL military saved and the anomaly matches numbers quoted by UN country team as being dead – 7721.
  • The University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna in a Special Report no. 32 of 10 June 2009 and Special Report No 34 of 13 December 2009 placed the dead between 20,000-40,000
  • Dr. V. Shanmugarajah – says the death toll is closer to 1000 (thousand)
  • The Times of London – 20,000
  • Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph – claims 147,000 as missing (It is strange that he has not placed one single name of the missing with the Commission though he can rally numerous priests to sign letters and sent to the UNHRC calling for international investigations against Sri Lanka.
  • Alan Keenan the Project Director of International Crisis Group Sri Lanka placed civilians killed in the Vanni between 40,000 – 147,000
  • The Institute of Conflict Management, Delhi – 11,111
  • Independent Diaspora Analysis Group-Sri Lanka – 15,000-18,000
  • Rajasingham Narendran – ‘My estimate is that the deaths — cadres, forced labour and civilians — were very likely around 10,000 and did not exceed 15,000 at most’
  • Muttukrishna Sarvananthan of the Point Pedro Institute said “[approximately] 12,000 [without counting armed Tiger personnel] “.
  • Dr. Noel Nadesan: “”roughly 16,000 including LTTE, natural, and civilians”.
  • Data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, data “primarily based on figures released by the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net”, put the casualty figure for civilians inside Mullaithivu at 2,972 until 5 April 2009.
  • 13 March 2009 – UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s press release said that ‘as many as 2800 civilians ‘may have been killed’.
  • The Guardian editorial ( Sri Lanka: Evidence that won’t be buried (June 15, 2011),) – 40,000
  • Editorials by The Times and The Sunday Times in late May 2009 related investigations the papers had conducted that revealed more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final
  • Publication titled “Genocidio: (Primera entrega) – La masacre de los Tamils en Sri Lanka,” [Genocide: (First Delivery) The Slaughter of Tamils in Sri Lanka], the Argentinean periodical La Tarde (diario) in a Spanish language article – 146,679 Tamils disappeared or killed between 2008 and 2009, of which 40,000 deaths occurred in the 48 hours of the final assault
  • Arundhati Roy, Indian commentator – “Government of Sri Lanka is on the verge of committing what could end up being genocide” and described the Sri Lankan IDP camps where Tamil civilians are being held as concentration camps. April 2009
  • Prof. Michael Roberts based his estimates between 10,000 and 18,000
  • ICRC press statement of 21 April 2009 declared that their estimates of Tamil civilians inside the no fire zone was 50,000 (In other words upto 21st April 2009, the ICRC did not know that LTTE had 300,000 people with them.  www.dailynews.lk
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in November 2008 claimed there were 230,000 IDPs in the Vanni (Sri Lankan forces saved close to 300,000 – this continues to raise the question of how can we differentiate civilians and LTTE)
  • The International Crisis Group quoting ICRC says 150,000 were in the NFZ in early March 2009.
  • UN estimated on 13 May 2009 that about 50,000 civilians were trapped by the conflict, in a 300sq.km strip of land www.dailynews.lk
  • Indian embedded journalist Murali Reddy reported that from 13 May 2009 there were no civilians in the 1.5sq.km strip LTTE was restricted to.

    What cannot be ignored?

  • The decision to militarily defeat the LTTE was taken after weathering terrorism for 30 years when countless ceasefires, peacetalks at home and even abroad, foreign-brokered negotiations all failed to stop LTTE’s killing. During the 30 years a lukewarm stand was shown for victims of LTTE terror by foreign governments and the UN as well as international agencies – most of them actually had links to the LTTE including the Church!
  • President Rajapakse offered LTTE amnesty and appealed to them TWICE to give up arms and surrender. LTTE refused. They claimed that they would fight to the last man.
  • It was the LTTE who took civilians. Appeals were made to the LTTE by the President of Sri Lanka and internationally including the UNSG to release the civilians which were ignored. The LTTE claimed civilians chose to remain with them voluntarily. If civilians were compromised it was the LTTE that is to blame.
  • The distinction between combatants and non-combatants in an armed conflict is clear. Any civilian taking part in hostilities is denied legal protection as a non-combatant. We are yet to know how many civilians took part in hostilities (voluntarily or by force) thereby losing their legal right to protection? Sri Lanka must demand to know how many of those among the LTTE were actually ‘civilians’.
  • The Sri Lanka armed forces gave the Tamils the benefit of doubt by combining a military operation with a humanitarian operation to save people they presumed for civilians and not LTTE terrorists. Though close to 300,000 were saved how many of them were really civilians. Let it also not be forgotten that 11,000 LTTE cadres came out alive and unharmed and went through rehabilitation and were reintegrated into society as were 545 child soldiers!
  • The Vanni comprises the districts of Mullaitivu, Mannar, Kilinochchi & Vavuniya. Mullaitivu district is 2516.9(km2) it was the LTTE’s chosen hideout from where they recruited and trained the bulk of cadres from low caste impoverished Tamil homes. Mullaitivu population in 1981 was 77,512 of which Tamils were 69,670, Sinhalese were 3948 and Muslims 3777.  However, the 2007 population estimate placed Mullaitivu population as 220,311 (when areas was under LTTE rule) while the 2012 census gave Mullaitivu population as 91,947 (post-LTTE).
  • LTTE were guilty of firing at escaping Tamils and enough evidence prevails to prove so. No one gives numbers as to how many Tamils LTTE shot though!
  • On 10th February 2009 – LTTE fired and killed 19 Tamil civilians whilst the Army rescued 1046 civilians in Puthukkuduyiruppu. The dead included 2 children, 5 women and 12 males. The UN Panel of Experts also says that the “Tigers kept on fighting even when it became clear they had lost in order to save the lives of its leaders. This futile prolonging of the conflict resulted in many civilians dying unnecessarily” yet what never gets said is that the armed forces saved several LTTE leaders (Daya Master, George) while Soosai’s family were captured by the SL Navy while attempting to escape. Given the presumed notion that the SL armed forces are killers shouldn’t they have been killed too?www.youtube.com. “Tamil tigers refused to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone”, “forcibly recruited members during the whole civil war but this intensified during the final stages of the war. Some of the recruits were young as 14”, “tigers forced civilians to dig trenches, risking making them look like combatants” (UNSG Panel)
  • Ban Ki Moon’s Panel also says “Tigers shot at point blank any civilian trying to leave the conflict zone’ / ‘Tamil Tigers fired artillery from near civilians. They also stored military equipment near civilians and civilian structures such as hospitals’.  How many civilians did LTTE actually shoot? Sri Lankan Armed Forces cannot be accused of killing civilians without knowing how many civilians who were with LTTE were killed by LTTE when trying to escape? Why were they escaping when LTTE and Vany Kumar said they were staying voluntarily?
  • The LTTE has a well established international syndicate of legal and illegal ventures which provide to a lot of people and enable to propaganda campaign through well-greased hands that desire to continue an international campaign to promote ‘discrimination’ in order to sustain these livelihoods and cross-travel and foreign settlement for Tamils and others using bogus ‘human rights’ and denial of freedom chants.

Our demands

  • If we are talking about victims – victims should cover the very 1st person LTTE gunned down and include all the people LTTE killed over 3 decades and the peace of mind and emotional instability caused to those living in fear of LTTE terror. Victims cannot be confined to a period convenient to those now framing war bogus crimes charges influenced by money and political agendas.
  • 30 years is no small period of time – the world, the UN, were well aware of LTTE killings but other than standard statements and a paper proscription nothing happened to stop LTTE terror. It was OUR BRAVE soldiers who liberated the nation from LTTE and we thought that Tamils also wanted to be liberated from the LTTE. If not, we cannot help it. The country cannot suffer further terrorism to satisfy a handful of people who benefit from terrorism.
  • Reconciliation bogey is unacceptable. We fought a terrorist organization and not Tamils. There is no requirement for Sri Lanka to reconcile with terrorists. Why have the Government failed to get this message conveyed?
  • Statistics of Tamils who fled North from 2006 onwards either to live in Colombo and how many now live in foreign shores (legally and illegally)

Is it because Sri Lanka dented a very lucrative terrorist business that the elements that thrived on terrorism are wanting their pound of flesh in the form of revenge? Is it jealousy for becoming the only nation to end ground force terrorists and terrorist leader or is it anger that the cash cow LTTE was eliminated that provides the vengeance to draft resolutions, fund tarnishing campaigns, recruit officials to build a case against those that defeated the LTTE and possibly take them to The Hague?

Sri Lanka’s public say first prove all allegations before taking those that saved the nation and press bogus charges for crimes that have no evidence of proof.

The Sri Lankan Public remain indebted to the former Sri Lankan President, the former Defense Secretary, all the Armed Forces heads, the civil defense force head, the Police and all military and police personnel, public officials, the nationalists/patriots – the invisible lot who did much to help end terror.

Shenali D Waduge

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