Three decades of humanitarian operations in Sri Lanka
For more than three decades, the terrorist environment has had a very long history of the desperate desire to achieve a narrow goal of establishing a separate state in Sri Lanka.In fact, it was the era that brought death to some of the most powerful leaders of the country and destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians. These memories still haunt us today and bring pain to some.
There is much that we as a nation have lost in examining the history of thirty years of terrorism.
The LTTE kept civilians as a shield for their protection
The LTTE massacre near the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, massacre of innocent civilians in Gonagala village in Ampara, murder of the Aranthalawa prelate, killing of police officers, terrorist attack on the Central Bank, the air strike on the Inland Revenue Building, suicide bomber attack on then Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka near Army Headquarters, attack on Lakshman Kadirgamar, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, attack on Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was the Secretary of Defence at that time, are well illustrated by the aforementioned casualties.
Considering all these factors, the following inquiry will shed light on the reality of thirty years of humanitarian war and the cruelty of terrorism.
The brutal terrorism that began in the mid 70s has haunted Sri Lankans, since the assassination of Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duriappa.
Initially, Democratic Tamil political leaders nurtured the LTTE cadre ruled by Vellupillai Prabhakaran.
However, later they were unfortunate enough to be assassinated by him and the cruelty of terrorism is pointed out.
The gradually growing LTTE terrorists, launched plans to achieve their narrow goals, with the support from foreign powers. The result was the bombing of passenger trains and the killing of innocent civilians.
The US once stated that the LTTE were the most powerful terrorists in the world who had a huge organisational strength for face to face combat.
They were at the forefront of organising the construction of bombs, submarines, aircraft as well as large underground bunkers. In this way, the war waged by the terrorists for many years, inhumanely killing civilians, was globalised until the Rajapaksa regime came to power in 2005. As usual, the terrorists reached peace agreements with the Rajapaksa regime. However, the peace agreements failed to quench their blood thirst and as a result the terrorists closed the Mavil Aru sluice and resumed endangering the lives of the people by blocking access to water which was the basic need of the civilian population.
The government requested the LTTE terrorists to reopen the sluice gate, but they refused. The demands of the people without water increased and their impulse increased similarly. In the face of the LTTE rejection, the government had to use the necessary military force to rescue Mavil Aru. It was, in fact, a war aimed to protect civilians from dying of thirst, and it is extremely justifiable to say that it is a humanitarian operation by security forces.
Thus, with the liberation of the Thoppigala area from LTTE control, the entire Eastern Province came under control of our Security forces.
However, the LTTE terrorists did not retreat and continued with their brutal activities. They killed not only ordinary civilians but also the peace-loving, anti-terrorist Tamil leaders.
The Government was determined to continue the long-lasting battle until acquiring Nandikadal Lagoon, with the intention of fulfilling the promise made to the people of the country. Again, the terrorists had proven their brutality by using civilians as their last defensive ring.
In the face of the prevailing situation, the Government wanted to end the battle as soon as possible. However, since the government and the armed forces had the responsibility of ensuring and entrusting the lives of all civilians, they had to act with caution.
The civilians were able to escape from the LTTE and returned to the security forces. Then the government and security forces were ready to provide them with all the medical treatment and other essentials.
The war that lasted for many years ended on May 18, 2009 with the assassination of LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran by Sri Lankan security forces.
As the battle drew to a close, there were war crime allegations pointed out at the Sri Lankan government and Security Forces by some local as well as international leaders. An examination of this makes it clear that the battle against terrorism was in fact humanitarian.
Seeing the end of the thirty years of terrorism, some parties described the war as a massacre that simply violated the rights of the Tamil people.
These allegations continue to be made by some parties, including the international community, for their own personal agendas. But the following inquiry will show how unfair those allegations are.
Sri Lanka is a unitary state. The country is home to over 21 million people of various ethnicities. The LTTE wanted to establish a separate state in Sri Lanka. However, LTTE terrorism emerged in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s when the governments at that time opposed the decision. It is clear from the above examples that the terrorists have clearly carried out a massacre with the intention of achieving a narrow goal.
Are those murders invisible to the international community or some of the accused parties? Innocent civilians, not only Tamils but also Muslims, Sinhalese, and people from all communities, sacrificed their lives in their attacks. Don’t those people have human rights that the international community or some indigenous people ask for? Don’t they deserve justice? In addition, at an informal meeting held in conjunction with the UN Human Rights Council, a member of the Tamil Diaspora accused Sri Lanka for committing a massacre of Tamils during the war and killing around 300,000 Tamils during the war.
He also said that Balachandran and others who were arrested after the war should be brought into justice. In the meantime, the Sri Lankan security forces were accused of shooting and killing them.
Also, they have accused Sri Lanka through international media outlets such as Channel 4 and Al Jazeera. Where have they been when the Tamil people were resettled and rehabilitated after removing 450,000 mines? Even a UN special envoy said that not more than 700 Tamils had not lost their lives in the terrorist war. Hence, it is extremely futile to make such allegations, and it must be acknowledged that these allegations are being made for the narrow ends of some quarters.
During the last days of terrorism, the terrorists used civilians as their defensive shield. The end of the battle could have been expedited, but the security forces were more vigilant as the terrorists were still holding innocent civilians’ hostage.
Can these charges then justify the use of the Tamil people as a shield by the terrorists? If the security forces were not tactical, they could have destroyed the lives of other innocent civilians.
According to Brigadier Chagi Gallage, a leader on the front at that time, “In the first week of April, we were able to encircle the remaining LTTE armed leaders in the area known as AnandapuramIranapalai.
But the victory of the battle was postponed until May 18 and 19 for one reason; simply because the LTTE kept ordinary people as a shield for their protection.
If we attack, ordinary people will die. But it took us a long time to save the common people and carry out these attacks. If it is not for the civilians, we would have been able to end this battle by mid-April. In this way, the above evidence proves that what the government did along with the security forces were in fact a humanitarian war, and it is clear that all international allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka are baseless
BY B. KAVINDU M.H. PEIRIS
The writer is currently Reading for Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree at Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology, Sri Lanka in collaboration with Staffordshire University, United Kingdom; Diploma in Forensic Medicine and Toxicology in the Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura.
(Courtesy of The Sunday Observer)