Elections, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

DO WE NEED A CHANGE?

At a time when so many urgent tasks are pending – not least that of rebuilding the war-ravaged areas of the country and resettling lakhs of IDPs in proper homes with proper facilities – colossal expenditure on a premature election could be seen as criminally irresponsible. Why, then, was it undertaken? Clearly, the incumbent president sought to reinstate himself and his family in power while post-war euphoria was still high, and before the inevitable disenchantment with his regime gripped the majority of the population.

However, given that we are encumbered with this election, it certainly becomes more interesting with the prospect of a real challenge. It is true there are several candidates, but only two can realistically be expected to win: Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka. Do they offer us any choice at all?

When we remember that not so long ago Fonseka declared that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese, and that he played a major role not only in defeating the LTTE but in inflicting the enormous civilian casualties which accompanied that defeat, it comes as a surprise to find that Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs are supporting him. These MPs have betrayed their constituents in the past, acting at the behest of the LTTE rather than in the interests of their constituents. But now that the tyranny of their erstwhile armed master no longer rules them, it is likely that they have to represent their electorate more honestly in order to survive. So what possible reasons could they have for preferring Fonseka to Rajapaksa? The latter never expressed Sinhala supremacism in quite such a crass manner, though his actions showed him to be no less committed to it. Both were responsible for massive civilian casualties inflicted during the war; perhaps Rajapaksa was slightly more responsible, as the ultimate commander-in-chief, but Fonseka displayed no reluctance to carry out his orders. At first sight, there seems to be no reason why Tamils of the North and East should vote for either of them.

However, when we consider that some of the other minority parties have also thrown their weight behind Fonseka, and even anti-LTTE Tamils have observed that it was only after Fonseka joined the fray that the Vanni IDPs were released from detention, two interesting hypotheses emerge. One is that just as much as the carnage at the end of the war, it is the events that preceded and followed it which are responsible for the disenchantment of minorities with Rajapaksa. Fonseka has promised an end to the state of Emergency and the ‘white van’ culture of disappearances and extrajuducial killings, but makes no mention of a political settlement. His promises are minimal, and there is no guarantee that he will deliver on them. What is guaranteed, however, is that if Rajapaksa comes back to power, there will be no political settlement, nor an end to the culture of impunity for gross abuses of human rights. He has had plenty of opportunities to achieve these things, and has failed to do so. Even if he claims it was impossible to bring about a just political settlement and reconciliation between communities during the war, he could have achieved these goals in the two-and-a-half years of his incumbency remaining after the war ended. The cruel treatment of Tamil IDPs after the war is simply one indication that he had no such agenda in mind. Partial restoration of freedom of movement in the North started only after it became clear that he could no longer count on overwhelming support from Sinhalese voters.

As Namini Wijedasa pointed out, the fact that the TNA could be won over to support Fonseka by a written commitment from him to restore basic democratic rights and civil liberties to Tamils should make us ask: why were these not restored earlier? President Rajapaksa gave us the answer when he said at an election rally that he would abrogate this agreement (!) if he were re-elected: i.e., he gave us a commitment that minorities would continue to be deprived of basic democratic rights and civil liberties if he came to power. His ‘Mahinda Chintanaya 2010’ promises to ‘accord Buddhism pride of place as the state religion,’ and to retain the ‘Unitary state’. His attempt to woo Sinhalese Buddhist voters by projecting himself as the most hardline Sinhala supremacist in the fray disregards the risk that carrying out his promises would re-create precisely the conditions that led to the war in the first place. Genuine Buddhists would not want their great and noble religion to be hijacked thus by a corrupt, unjust and brutal state.

The second hypothesis is that Tamils and Muslims are no less concerned about general issues of democracy and governance than their Sinhalese compatriots. For the majority of Sinhalese, Rajapaksa’s strongest recommendation is that he presided over the demise of the LTTE. But just as Fonseka shares the blame for crimes committed at the end of the war, he shares the glory for ending the threat of terrorist separatism. Again, perhaps Rajapaksa is more responsible for the victory because he was ultimate commander-in-chief, yet it should be obvious that he could not have achieved the victory without Fonseka. On this count, therefore, there is not much to choose between them.

The foremost grievance of Sinhalese opponents of the incumbent seems to be the mind-boggling levels of nepotism and corruption that have engulfed the country during his rule. According to Ven. Dhambara Amila Thero, 391 members of the Rajapaksa family have been installed as heads in various government institutions. If this is anywhere near the truth, it must surely be unprecedented in the thousands of years of Sri Lanka’s history! That one family should monopolise so much power and wealth while the majority are struggling to survive is an understandable source of bitterness.

This is exacerbated by the shameful abuse of this power. A recent example is the use of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), a public body, to order all mobile operators to send a free SMS to their subscribers on 1 January supporting the president’s re-election bid. As an irate subscriber commented on Groundviews, ‘However much Mr Rajapakse and his humungous extended family believe that anything called an institution in this country – from every branch of government to the media, the arts, sports, and civil society, to St Thomas’ College – is theirs for the taking, invading and populating, I am sorry to say it is not so; and if we value our dignity and democratic citizenship, we should tell them that very clearly.’

The ugly face of this abuse of power is illustrated by the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga a year ago. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s responses in a BBC interview made it clear that this was in reprisal for his criticisms of the regime, which allegedly put him in the camp of the terrorists. The fact that the self-confessed killer, Mervyn Silva, remains at large and continues to be close to the president fuels the suspicion that he was acting as the Rajapaksa brothers’ hit-man. No one can feel safe under such mafia-like conditions unless they are part of the president’s coterie.

Fonseka has promised to abolish the Executive Presidency, implement the 17th Amendment and end the state of Emergency: measures which would go some way towards re-establishing the rule of law and checking the corruption, nepotism and abuse of absolute power that mires the present regime. Again, there is no guarantee that he will keep his promises if elected to power. But the fact that these measures have not already been taken by the incumbent president is evidence that if Rajapaksa were re-elected, this would merely enable his regime to ‘consolidate its stranglehold on power,’ to quote Lasantha’s widow, Sonali Samarasinghe Wickramatunga, and make the further subversion of democracy and looting of our country inevitable.

It is important to note that even if Rajapaksa was the right leader to win the war against the LTTE, this does not make him the right leader in peace-time. Churchill, a great leader during World War II and immensely popular at its end, nonetheless lost in the 1945 elections. Clearly, the qualities that are necessary for winning a war are not the same as the qualities required in a peace-time leader. The British electorate was wise enough not to allow their gratitude to Churchill blind them to the fact that he was not the best leader for the post-war period. Rajapaksa may have the ruthlessness required to eliminate the LTTE, but the demise of the Constitutional Council, vicious attacks on freedom of expression, and discriminatory treatment of Tamils and Muslims have resulted in the inexorable shrinking of democratic space during his term as president. This has continued even after the end of the war. It should be clear that he lacks the qualities of a good peace-time leader. Perhaps he is aware of this fact, which is why he keeps trumpeting the debt owed to him on account of his success in wiping out the LTTE.

It would be a tragic irony indeed if the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka express their gratitude to Rajapaksa for ending the war by re-electing him, and thereby allow him to create the conditions for a new terrorist separatist war! There is no doubt whatsoever that our country is better off without the LTTE. But if Rajapaksa’s only positive achievement is that he has eliminated it (and it is impossible to think of any others), then it most emphatically means that he does not deserve our votes, even as a second preference.

It remains to be seen whether the unlikely consortium which has assembled to support the common opposition presidential candidate will actually deliver in terms of votes. If it does, that would suggest that a large section of Sri Lanka’s population finds the present dispensation intolerable. As one despairing citizen put it, ‘When you are in a frying pan, you have to jump!’ There is, of course, a serious risk that you will land in the fire and perish anyway, but there is also a slim chance that you will jump clear of the fire and escape. It looks as if many of those who vote for Fonseka will do so not because they have any illusions in him, but because they are grasping at the fragile hope that a change of president will open up some democratic space, whereas a return of the incumbent will mean that we remain in the frying pan and get fried.

  • Observer

    Oh Rohini, I see you also subscribing to the template that is being over used in the last few articles. The standard template now goes a little something like this.. Pretend both candidates are unworthy and try to create a false sense of objectivity. Then make speculative, unsubstantiated allegations against you know who 😉 Then BOOM go for the kill – beg for the SF vote. Pathetic really!

    It would be a tragic irony indeed if the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka express their gratitude to Rajapaksa for ending the war by re-electing him

    Oh what a master stroke Rohini! btw,

    According to Ven. Dhambara Amila Thero, 391 members of the Rajapaksa family have been installed as heads in various government institutions. If this is anywhere near the truth, it must surely be unprecedented in the thousands of years of Sri Lanka’s history!

    A. He is a partisan source! So cannot give weight to what he says. Also you can’t say IF it’s true and then go on about it as if it was true. Please only talk about what you’re sure about.

    B. 391 members in his family?? Gosh isn’t that an unrealistic number even if you count Rajapksa’s dead ancestors? Common sense would surely alert you to the outrages lie he is spreading. 391 LOL! At least say 91 for believability’s sake.

  • Belle

    Observer,
    Common sense tells me that there is clear corruption when there are four brothers helming government, of which one is Executive President (and surely doesn’t need any more reinforcement of his power, but employs his brother as special adviser anyway), another is Defence Secretary in a time of war, and yet another is Minister of Ports & Aviation and Irrigation & Water Management (all the money-making sectors).

    Common sense also tells me that when a long-retired army man is brought back by his brother to be Defence Secretary after 17 years of non-service, and during a crucial time of war, that the appointment was required to cover up a lot of dirt.

    Common sense also suggests that a man who can so shamelessly appoint his brothers to top ministerial positions will not demur at giving every single one of his family members some position in government. Whether this is 391, or 91, or 30 is immaterial.

    You certainly appear to have a strong stomach for corruption to judge others as “partisan” while ignoring the President’s own partialities.

  • Observer

    Brilliant belle, let’s apply your common sense to our justice systems as well.
    Next time a man is on murder trial, let’s use claims like your father was a convicted murder, your brother was a convicted murder, so clearly you’re also a murderer. Judgement cast, justice served!

    How about this Belle, since you’re so confident name 91 Rajapaksa family members in State positions. 3 Columns will do. 1st column the names. 2nd column the relationship to Pres. Rajapaksa. 3rd column their position and the state institution. You owe me that much. I think Rohini should help out Belle in this task, since she takes these things as gospel as well.

    If you can’t I’ll understand why. Otherwise let’s take this from there shall we? Thank you!

  • Observer

    As for the appointment of defense secretary I’ll tell you this much Belle,
    All the previous non nepotistic appointments failed to successful carry out the war! So if the capable man was his own brother, is there anything wrong in appointing him?
    Did he not achieve the task of winning the war? Did he not appoint the right man for the war strategy – SF? Especially against his brother’s wishes! Which goes to show he wasn’t just there to please MR. Did he not coordinate all armed forces and intelligence effectively? Did he not procure all necessary weapons for the war effort? I think regardless him being MR’s brother, he did his job very well!

  • Belle

    Observer,
    You don’t really read what others write, do you? Didn’t I just finish saying that I didn’t need 391, or 91 or 30 family members to prove to me that corruption is happening? Just four brothers, all in top positions and appointed by their own Executive President brother, is enough to tell me that corruption is happening.

    I have no idea how my viewing the appointment of multiple brothers to the top of government as a sign of corruption relates to the analogy of crime as genetically determined. It just shows your desperation in standing up for corruption.

  • subasinghe

    Change for the sake of change and for kicks at what cost! It is a luxury that we can ill afford for political experimentation. I can understand the mindset of some for a change and discipline. There is a lot to be desired in the present regime. But I doubt the “other” candiadte can live upto the expectations going by his tantrums and the very low choice of language (Balla, buruwa,e yaka, kenahila). We do not use such words even for our worst enemy in the civilized world, let alone in public There are yet others who want to identify themselves with a “macho” character in military fatigue as against a”Godaya” wearing the national dress. What we need is to get the work done for the betterment of the country. MR would have learn the pulse of the people the hardway, by now. Let us use him to finish the rest of the job, in a selfish way. We can easily replace him if he fails. Even JR had to go with a 2/3 majority and all the smartness!

  • Belle

    Observer,
    So, what are you saying? That nepotistic appointments should be preferred above non-nepotistic ones, where people have actually earned the credentials to do the job.

    Also, unlike you, I don’t think SL could have won this war without all the very necessary and highly significant help it got from other key powers. This was basically an international war, and it is typical SL dishonesty that it claims credit for it. If SL had that capacity, it would have defeated the Tigers ages ago. And I doubt very much the Defence Secretary had very much to do with winning the war.

  • The General has publicly declared his assets which has NOT been done by any politician upto now. Why does not the president do so? What is his problem?
    The General has promised to appoint the Constitutional Council soon, and this by itself will go a long way to establish good governance.
    I beleive that he will carry out all of what he has promised and that he will not try to establish a military dictatership – which even now exists under the guise of provincial councils, in the north and east.
    This murderous corrupt regime has to be replaced. Else, there will be no hope for sri lanka which will sink deeper into the morass of this family rule over the next six years.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    SL was thwarted of ending the war earlier during JR’s time when the LTTE was cornered in Vadamarachchi. It was inept foreign policy that caused India to intervene with a threatening Air drop of food.

    This time round it was the combination of MR, GR, SF, Roshan Goonetileke and Karannagoda who led the war effort and each had their own part to play and they did so exceptionally well. All of them were crucial. The Police did their part in identifying LTTE cells in the South and neutralizing most. Without either one, winning the war would have been difficult.

    True there was outside help possibly in inteligence and of course the action started by the USA to cut off funds was immensely helpful. That did not just happen. Luxshman Kadirgamer played a crucial role in that.

    At the same time procurement of war materials from the west (including spares for western manufactured equipment) were cut off and alternate sources had to be found.

    There were many obstacles on the Diplomatic front and the Diplomats who represented SL and faced those challenges did a fine job.

    It was a concerted effort and credit must go to them all

    On a lighter note I am sincerely glad to see you active again on GV

  • Najib

    Dear Rohini, I understand where you come from and the reasons why you have decided to support SF. I agree that SL’s voters are between 2 devils. However unlike yourself, I would prefer the known to the unknown devil. Without doubt the MR Presidency has been tainted by nepotism and corruption. However the hallmark of this presidency has been the military defeat of the LTTE. As someone who for years argued for a negotiated settlement with the LTTE. I reluctantly came around to the view that there was no likelihood of the war ending without Prabakharan’s death and this meant the military defeat of the LTTE. We all know the consequences of this in terms of civilian deaths. However I believe that any lesser military campaign would have been more prolonged and resulted in more civilian deaths.
    It is also an indictment of the Opposition parties that if they wanted a common candidate that they could not find anybody else other than a recent ex-military man. If SF wins does anyone think that he is going to relinquish the Executive power that he has just gained. Or if he does so can you imagine the chaos that would result? There would be jockeying for power between the UNP and JVP apart from all the other hangers on. And the TNA? And does anyone think that corruption will be any lesser if SF wins, looking at the lot standing on his platforms.
    I believe that is in the interest of all the people of SL, whether Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim to vote for MR. Despite all the limitations of his Presidency, I believe a strong win for MR is more likely to enable him to sideline elements like the JHU and bring about he constitutional changes needed to devolve powers to the provinces including the North and East.

  • Amused

    Dear Subasinghe:

    “But I doubt the “other” candiadte can live upto the expectations going by his tantrums and the very low choice of language (Balla, buruwa,e yaka, kenahila). We do not use such words even for our worst enemy in the civilized world, let alone in public”

    Better to use words than send white vans. There is a saying in English:

    “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words cannot hurt me.”

  • Shaad

    Dear Justitia my friend,
    I wish I could agree with you this time.. unfortunately, SF, to me comes across as someone with a score to settle.. he is motivated by vengeance and not his values.. now I know what you are thinking… please don’t respond with “you think Mahinda has any values?” because I am not really trying to promote anyone here… but I think the belief that SF is the man to usher us into the promised land is only but wishful thinking…

  • sumane

    After criticizing the decision of the Sambanthan wing of the TNA, the writer ended up with the same conclusion. Her criticism on MR is very valid; MR is not different from his predecessors. The corruption of politicians at this scale is a post 1977 phenomenon and JR initiated it although he himself was not corrupt. The only difference between MR and his predecessors is that MR was able to defeat the LTTE in spite of or because of corruption, violation of HR etc. The option at this election is NOT democracy, it is between civil rule and military rule. Are we taking the path taken by Pakistan and Bangladesh after independence? Or are we staying on the path taken by India and Sri Lanka? I believe that civil rule whatever its weaknesses offers more options. What do we expect from SF + rank and file army guys + JVP (potential Fascist brigade)? My friend Newton Gunasinghe once said the LTTE and JVP are twins.

  • Belle

    Off the Cuff,
    That is the story that you were told. In a country where journalists are killed or beaten for dissidence, I tend not to believe the ‘facts’ as told by the government. If you think that the aid of Pakistan, India and China, and American intelligence were not crucial in winning the war, you’re just deluding yourself. No doubt, these countries don’t want to claim credit for their role in it, given likely prosecution for war crimes, so SL government is in a position to take all the credit. But a claim of SL war competence must be seen against the whole history of SL combat against the LTTE. The LTTE grew over the years instead of getting smaller. Where was all this SL military competence then? Does a national army transform from incompetence to total competence within a matter of months? How do the Police suddenly grow wings in identifying LTTE cells when they couldn’t before? Does SF, whining like a petulant child about being played out by MR, frightened about not having sufficient security, strike you as a brilliant and courageous general? Not me. He’s no General Petraeus. You don’t mention Karuna’s defection–was that not significant to the victory? People have also been talking about the sudden, dramatic improvement in SL flying skills during the last leg of the war.

    I think there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Perhaps sometime in the future, it will all emerge, when there is less government control of information. Until then, we can only speculate.

  • sumane

    After criticizing the decision of the Sambanthan wing of the TNA, the writer ended up with the same conclusion. Her criticism of MR is valid. MR is not different from his predecessors, JR, Premadasa or Chandrika in terms of nepotism and corruption. May be difference is quantitative. The issue in this election is NOT democracy, it is between civil rule and military rule. Like Pakistan and Bangladesh after independence , are we going for a military rule? Or are we staying, like India, on our usual path of civil rule. I believe civil rule whatever its weaknesses offer more options. I can understand people on frying pan want to jump. To fire? What could we expect from SF+ rank and file army guys + youth brigade of JVP? Let me suggest re-reading some writings in which we both are familiar. Trotsky’s writings on Germany and whither France.

  • Observer

    Also, unlike you, I don’t think SL could have won this war without all the very necessary and highly significant help it got from other key powers. This was basically an international war, and it is typical SL dishonesty that it claims credit for it. If SL had that capacity, it would have defeated the Tigers ages ago. And I doubt very much the Defence Secretary had very much to do with winning the war.

    You’re so confused you’re not even coherent!
    Oh right Belle, the world loves us! Our small island that no gives a damn about. I guess our soldiers just sat in comfy couches while foreign troops sacrifised life & limb in the war for us. I guess we were given weapons for charity.
    SL had to buy weapons from somewhere, but that was paid for by our money. It was president’s uncompromising stance & the winning momentum of the armed forces that motivated more young blood to join. When the UK & Europe were trying to get in the way, we had to play diplomatic chess games to get the Eastern block on our side.
    If this was such an easy war why was it classified as one of the longest, unwinnable civil wars in history?

    I do not claim it was the defense secretary alone, but he played a crucial role.
    Winning this war had everything to do with following factors.

    * President
    * Defense secretary
    * Then general SF and his top brigadiers
    * All 3 forces and their subsequent ranks and people behind them
    * Intelligence units
    * The people of this country
    * Shift in geopolitics & the Eastern block, our neighbours.

    It was not the international factors alone. Let’s go by your argument, it was just the key powers backing that won the war. Even then which government got them on our side? You walked right into that one.

  • Observer

    I have no idea how my viewing the appointment of multiple brothers to the top of government as a sign of corruption relates to the analogy of crime as genetically determined. It just shows your desperation in standing up for corruption.

    Because you judge guilt by association. That’s why! Duh!

    Point is, MR is not to blame the capable soul for the defense secretary position was his own brother, ex army guy who knows the army well! Who demonstrated the capability by successfully completing the momentous task at hand. Which no previous guy in the same seat managed till he came along! You can’t call it nepotism when the facts are like that!

    For you it’s corruption because he was his brother… OOO SPOOKAAY! Prove me he stole a cent and you may have an argument! Until then… happy propaganding (don’t think it’s a word)!

  • Nicolai

    Rohini your article was a good read, unlike most of what I have been reading these days. Interestingly today, during my usual morning read of the daily mirror and along with my caffeine fix at the Cinnamon grand coffee stop, your article was cut-off at the end of paragraph 6.
    “On this count, therefore, there is not much to choose between them.”
    This leaves us unclear about who is your favorite. It is amazing how the media can manipulate how an article is perceived.

    Clearly though as Observer observed (ha ha), you subsequently worked your magic on us and went for the kill in SF’s favour. Manipulated or not, you provided some good food for thought.

    I have to say though, this is a tough one. I don’t know how both Observer and Belle, each reasonably having the ability to argue his case pretty well, could each be so one-sided.
    Both sides clearly have their strengths and weaknesses and I agree with many of you that we are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place when asked for whom to vote. A president with 3 brothers, who hold so much power in their hands or a power hungry ex army leader who proclaimed in the National Post that Sri Lanka is a country for the Sinhalese? Tough call folks and tough to take a side. I think I will pass.
    On the other hand, I can hope that SF wins and that quickly dies (tongue-in-cheek alert!) soon after due to his war injuries and let Ranil take over (yes I do realize that this cannot happen constitutionally, but work with me). If that happens, now we are talking business.
    But anything else seems ominous.

  • Heshan

    “This was basically an international war, and it is typical SL dishonesty that it claims credit for it.”

    I agree with that assessment. Sonia Gandhi and her Congress friends basically provided unlimited weapons, money, satellite intelligence, and diplomatic cover to SL. All the protests in Tamil Nadu amounted to zilch. Chinese support was another major factor. Probably the most decisive factor was the ruthlessness of the Royal Brothers themselves, who kept the media in total darkness, and ignored every humanitarian dictum that applies to modern warfare. In other words, bomb hospitals, drop phosphorous bombs, take no prisoners, create the illusion of no-fire zones (when in fact there are none), starve the civilian population out in order to get to the enemy, unprecedented aerial strikes to terrorize the civilian population into submission, and the total hijacking of practically every civil institution in order to promote the cause of the war. Rajapakse is definitely the most brutal of Sri Lankan Presidents; after vanquishing the Tigers, he locked up the Tamil civilians and declared himself King; now he is having an election to “legalize” and further extend his ill-gotten status for God knows how long.

  • Belle

    Observer,
    You said:
    “Because you judge guilt by association. That’s why! Duh!”

    No, it had nothing to do with association. When three brothers suddenly head government without having been anywhere near a top position before, then you know their appointment was not based on merit. Your precious defense secretary who so inspires you was retired in 1992 at the age of 43! What happened? Couldn’t the army find use for him even during a time of war? If he took such quick control of the army as you claim, may I assume then that the SL Army remained unchanged from 1992 to 2005?

    You said:
    “Let’s go by your argument, it was just the key powers backing that won the war. Even then which government got them on our side?”

    I reckon it didn’t take much powers of persuasion to get China into the fray, given SL’s strategic location and China’s geopolitical ambitions. Neither the President nor his brothers were responsible for SL’s location in the Indian Ocean, and between East and West, are they? Once China is in, India will be begging to get in the game. Then with India there, how could Pakistan say no?

    The question is, what price will SL pay going to bed with rogues? I reckon we will know that pretty soon.

    There was probably someone or someones who were relatively smart there in government. But I’m sure it wasn’t Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. That guy couldn’t even dodge verbal bullets fired at him by some minor British journalist, let alone real bullets. After that interview, everyone knew the government (not to mention, himself) was involved in the murder of Lasantha.

    You said:
    “SL had to buy weapons from somewhere, but that was paid for by our money.”

    HAHAHA!!! Good joke!!!! You guys need to decide whether you are rich or poor–you can’t claim both as and when it suits you. Part of the reason the Tigers were in business for so long was because you guys had no money.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Heshan,

    Sonia Gandhi and her Congress friends basically provided unlimited weapons,

    Can you give an example of the weapons they provided? How come Tamilnet did not expose this?

  • wijayapala

    Dear Belle,

    I reckon it didn’t take much powers of persuasion to get China into the fray, given SL’s strategic location and China’s geopolitical ambitions….Once China is in, India will be begging to get in the game. Then with India there, how could Pakistan say no?

    How many Chinese, Indian, and/or Pakistani troops fought in the Wanni?

  • Sampah

    It is okay – let Tamils like Heshan and Belle think that the international community won the war for Sri Lanka. Then their anger might be directed at outsiders and they can spend their energy on more constructive things. Everyone else knows that it was SL and SL itself that played the decisive role in crushing the Tamil Tigers. But it would make strategic sense to let the more extreme sections of the Tamil community, including the vociferous diaspora believe that the defeat of the LTTE was all due to Sonia Gandhi/China/Brahmins/North Indians etc.

  • Southernvoice

    what I will never realize is why MR appoint uneducated guys for the positions like – srilanken ambassador to the US today ? can anybody explain me here why ? If MR´s policies are said to that intelligent why is that he cant forsee before appointing them.

  • samuelj

    Dear Rohini,
    thanks for this article. For once you haveended up promoting an alliance associated with the capitalistic UNP. So ther is possibility of change!
    But it is still a very difficult choice for a neutral voter.
    Dear commenters; We are still arguing as to who was responsible for the defeat of the LTTE. We are still not discussing as to how to bring reconciliation, and how to prevent another civil war.
    Ho can we move forward? .

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    I never rely on tamilnet as my primary source. Anyway, here is the answer to your query:

    New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) India played a critical, albeit covert, role in the success of Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil Tigers, with the Indian Navy providing vital intelligence in locating and destroying at least a dozen LTTE rogue vessels laden with arms, says the first such detailed account of the operation.
    India’s covert support to Sri Lanka in the war against the LTTE assumed many forms, ranging from back-channel talks and a tacit endorsement of Colombo’s destroy-LTTE mission to supply of military hardware and sharing of real-time intelligence, says Nitin A. Gokhale in his book “Sri Lanka – From War to Peace” (Har-Anand Publications).

    New Delhi helped Colombo in myriad ways despite its public hands-off posture and denial of offensive weapons to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) due to domestic political compulsions, contends Gokhale.

    The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi was dependent upon the DMK party from Tamil Nadu, perceived to be sympathetic to the LTTE, for its survival in parliament.

    “Publicly, India maintained that it would not give Sri Lanka any offensive weapons. Yet, in early 2006 India quietly gifted five Mi-17 helicopters to the Sri Lankan Air Force,” Gokhale writes. “The only Indian condition was: these helicopters would fly under Sri Lankan Air Force colours. New Delhi clearly did not want to annoy UPA’s Tamil Nadu allies like the DMK unnecessarily,” he says.

    The author singles out the Indian Navy for special praise. The Indian Coast Guard gifted a Sukanya Class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to the Sri Lankan Navy in 2002, which played a major role in several daring missions launched by the Sri Lankan Air Force to rescue the Army’s Deep Penetration Units when they were surrounded by LTTE’s counter-infiltration units.

    The OPVs also helped when injured soldiers had to be airlifted from deep inside LTTE-held territory.

    The author quotes Sri Lanka’s Navy Chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda to underline the Indian Navy’s contribution in locating and destroying at least 10 ‘floating warehouses’ owned and used by the LTTE for storing arms, ammunition and even armoured personnel carriers.

    According to Indian and Sri Lankan Navy sources quoted by the author in his book, well-coordinated operations by the two navies between 2006 and 2009 actually broke the backbone of the LTTE’s Sea Tigers.

    Intelligence-sharing also proved crucial. The Indian Navy’s Dorniers, fitted with powerful radars, based at Ramnad in Tamil Nadu flew regular reconnaissance missions over the seas around Sri Lanka.

    “Whenever a suspicious ship was detected, the Indian Navy passed on the information to the Sri Lankans. The real time intelligence helped Sri Lankan Navy to track and then destroy the LTTE arms consignments,” says Gokhale, who covered the last phase of Sri Lanka’s battle against Tamil Tigers for NDTV.

    The book also recounts vividly the last days of LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran, who pioneered the cult of suicide bombers and tormented the Sri Lankan state and people for three decades.

    Ordering the assassination of former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi proved to be a major strategic error on the part of the charismatic guerrilla leader, the author writes.

    Gokhale also provides an insight into the Sri Lankan government’s winning strategy for the decimation of the LTTE that ended Asia’s longest-running insurgency.

    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/new-book-reveals-indias-hidden-hand-in-sri-lanka-war_100236342.html

  • wijayapala

    Heshan, nothing in your post shows that India provided “unlimited weapons.”

  • sumane

    Samuelj has raised a very valid point. reconciliation needs a leader who can get support of all communities. also who would be in a position to mobilize people for a program of reconciliation. as far we are concerned, we all have to move away from our positions to find a middle path. unfortunately the options at the election are limited. in my opinion among the available option, MR is much better than SF.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    You say
    That is the story that you were told. In a country where journalists are killed or beaten for dissidence, I tend not to believe the ‘facts’ as told by the government.
    Unquote

    We have access to the Internet so I do not depend on Govt Info. We have access to ALL the news that you have access to.

    A good site is Strategy page amongst many others.

    You asked why SL could not finish the war earlier. I just reminded you that if not for India’s intervention Prabakaran and his leaders would have either been caught or killed at Vadamarachchi during JRJ’s time.

    Of course Karuna’s defection was a big blow to the LTTE who thought Karuna could be neutralized like Mahaththya. That probably was one of their greatest miscalculations along with the Rajiv killing. But whether the Govt had anything to do with that is a moot point.

    End of the day it was SL forces that outwitted, out maneuvered and out fought the LTTE on the ground, Sea or Air

  • Do we need of a change? No.
    MR Bros Co. can rule Sri Lanka for the next 20yrs with or without corruption as long as they give ppl a decent peaceful living. Compared to war mongers who lived on military commisions for the last 30yrs, so called MR’s Corruption is nothing.

  • Belle

    Off the Cuff,
    You said:
    “You asked why SL could not finish the war earlier. I just reminded you that if not for India’s intervention Prabakaran and his leaders would have either been caught or killed at Vadamarachchi during JRJ’s time.”

    That’s desperate argument, relying on something that never happened to prove SL’s capacity! “Would have either” is not good enough! And why did India intervene? Not due to bad SL foreign policy?

    You also said:
    “We have access to the Internet so I do not depend on Govt Info. We have access to ALL the news that you have access to.”

    When a government controls information and doesn’t allow entry to people for investigation purposes, even the Internet is of no use in giving reliable information.

    You said:
    “End of the day it was SL forces that outwitted, out maneuvered and out fought the LTTE on the ground, Sea or Air”

    There is at present no such available information, except government propaganda, that can allow anyone to believe that.

  • Belle

    Sampah,
    Nobody knows what happened during the war as much as the Tamil civilians do. They happened to be there on the ground. So please don’t sit back in your Southern armchair and pontificate about what happened during the war and the glorious way the army, navy, air force behaved. You have no clue except government propaganda to guide you. Luckily for you, all attempt is being made to stop the Tamil civilians from speaking.

    One day, that will all change. One day, we will have real access to info. Until then, as I have said, we can only speculate.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Belle,

    There is at present no such available information, except government propaganda, that can allow anyone to believe that.

    You’re absolutely correct, the SL forces never outwitted, out maneuvered nor out fought the LTTE. In fact, the LTTE was never defeated and Prabakaran is still alive. I’m glad there are people like you here to expose the GSL’s total lie that the LTTE was destroyed last year.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    You said
    That’s desperate argument, relying on something that never happened to prove SL’s capacity! “Would have either” is not good enough!
    Unquote

    I just stated a fact and did not make any argument. Surely you have more sense than to deny that India intervened when the LTTE was cornered in Vadamarachchi during JRJ’s time?

    If you say so, India did not intervene, Thimpu never happened, 13the amendment was never drafted by India and the IPKF never was in SL.
    The phrase “would have either” means that one or the other would have happened.
    Viz if not for Indian intervention, ONE of the following events would have definitely taken place
    1. Prabakaran and his leaders decimated
    2. Prabakaran and his leaders caught

    You say
    And why did India intervene? Not due to bad SL foreign policy?
    Unquote

    Don’t you read what people write before going in for Knee jerk replies?

    This is what I wrote on January 17, 2010 @ 9:59 pm
    “It was inept foreign policy that caused India to intervene with a threatening Air drop of food.”

    Isn’t that pathetic? Why do you have to be always on the attack?

    You state
    When a government controls information and doesn’t allow entry to people for investigation purposes,
    Unquote

    Even assuming that the govt controls info and such control is tighter than in Singapore, the second statement you made cannot be reasoned out from the first.

    They are two different things and the reasons for each is as far apart as the sky and the earth.

    By the way regarding Govt control of info can you give examples of sources that we can’t access from SL that you have access to from Singapore?

    You state
    There is at present no such available information, except government propaganda, that can allow anyone to believe that.
    Unquote

    The above statement of yours denying the fact that at the End of the day it was SL forces that outwitted, out maneuvered and out fought the LTTE on the ground, Sea or Air and attributing the win to Govt propaganda is the best reason I have read so far from any source why the LTTE was decimated in SL.

    Keep it up Belle, keep it up

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    Nice try. You are a fan of semantics, but I am a fan of logic. Let me rephrase the question: which weapons did India NOT provide (deliberately refuse) when asked? If the answer is “none”, then it is equivalent to saying they (India) provided unlimited weapons.

    P.S: Don’t mention nuclear weapons, since we can safely assume those were not requested.

  • abc

    “By the way regarding Govt control of info can you give examples of sources that we can’t access from SL that you have access to from Singapore?”

    tamilnet.com (STILL blocked, although a proxy server or Google cache will do the trick. The 113 stooges have not figured it out yet)

  • Belle

    wijayapala,
    No hysterics, please. I didn’t say the decimation of the LTTE didn’t happen. I’m querying whether it occurred through SL army outwitting, outmaneuvering, etc. I suspect non-SL wits played a huge, crucial role.

    But then again, I don’t know. There’s no evidence of anything. At least, I merely remain sceptical rather than pretend I know everything when all one has is government propaganda to go on.

  • Observer

    Belle,

    Your precious defense secretary who so inspires you was retired in 1992 at the age of 43! What happened? Couldn’t the army find use for him even during a time of war? If he took such quick control of the army as you claim, may I assume then that the SL Army remained unchanged from 1992 to 2005?

    Are you saying with 20 years service he’s clueless about the army? Stop being so dishonest! There’s no rule a man must retire in the army after he join it. Many people leave service. And I wouldn’t blame anyone who left during periods where “certain administrations” were giving into the terrorists and poorly commanding the war effort demoralising them. Not only that, sending our soldiers to the slaughter house – Millenium city anyone? Even if I support SF in politics never Ranil because I still think he should be on death row for that. We lost some good men. In any case Gota had a considerable service time and a rank.

    He took such quick control because he knows the culture so damn well. And the army doesn’t change a lot. It has very strict seniority promotions and by the time Gota became DS, his ex-colleagues were in top command. You have to give him credit for picking SF overriding others eligible due to seniority and taking a gamble.

    I reckon it didn’t take much powers of persuasion to get China into the fray, given SL’s strategic location and China’s geopolitical ambitions. Neither the President nor his brothers were responsible for SL’s location in the Indian Ocean, and between East and West, are they? Once China is in, India will be begging to get in the game. Then with India there, how could Pakistan say no?

    Ok fine let’s hypothetically agree – China only helped us because of our location. Then for god’s sake why couldn’t all the intelligent predecessors use this fact and end the war? You still have to give MR administration credit for realising an advantageous strategy! So important that some don’t even acknowledge that 10,000+ of our soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice with sheer gut determination and grit!

    The question is, what price will SL pay going to bed with rogues? I reckon we will know that pretty soon.

    Well dear, we’re not in bed with “the rogue” alone. It’s a massive ORGY baby! Name one country that doesn’t deal or trade with China? May I remind you US is bankrolling its daily activities with China’s cheque book atm. Welcome to the party. I see you’re a bit late! I bet the computer you’re using, the clothes you’re wearing, and even the chair you’re sitting on is courtesy of China. Are you going to strip naked and throw away your clothes in disgust when you realise you have “the rogue” wrapped all over your body? Well, unless you pick the finer brands in life, then my apologies in advance. So I reckon we all already know the price we pay for getting in bed with “the rogue”. It’s called CHEAP! And Wal-Mart, Kmart said Hallelujah! Haha

    There was probably someone or someones who were relatively smart there in government. But I’m sure it wasn’t Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. That guy couldn’t even dodge verbal bullets fired at him by some minor British journalist, let alone real bullets.

    Let me tell you something, it takes a wise man to listen to and follow wise advice. What is wisdom? It is picking the right advice! So let’s give due credit even if it wasn’t their ideas that won the war, for having the wisdom to keep “those relatively smart folk” around at a crucial time. Most of all, listen to them!

    I’m not so sure how good he is with media, actually I agree. I saw him lose his cool on an interview which I can’t recall now. So you have a minor point there, but boy did he give an earful to Miliband & co. when they dropped by. Myth says that Miliband left with tears in his eyes, which brought a tear to my eye! haha

    Finally,

    HAHAHA!!! Good joke!!!! You guys need to decide whether you are rich or poor–you can’t claim both as and when it suits you.

    I never said we were a rich country. You tried to put that in my mouth. All I said was we did paid for the weapons we got from China! Doesn’t mean it was affordable! We have to make costly purchases during desperate times.

    So no confusions here, we are a poor nation – in fact SO DAMN POOR. And I see evidence of that every time I step out of the house and it breaks my heart! We will get there one day contrary to all the sledging we get, but we won’t get rich selling off this country! There are still some of us who are willing to miss a meal or two and not mind it so much in the name of true liberty. It’s easy for me to say that when I know it’s harder for mothers with hungry children to subscribe to that ideology. Anyway the day we lose that, I personally wouldn’t have much of an appetite anyway no matter what fancy food’s on our plates. So all the posters who like to rub that in as a great argument do keep in mind, MONEY AINT EVERYTHING!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear abc,

    You need to know the abc of the Internet.
    Apparently you do then why pose the question?
    Many more pro LTTE sites are blocked including Tamilnet and so is Porn. But even for Internet savvy Teens all these sites are accessible.

    GV has given the URL of many free proxy servers over time and many more can be found with a Google search.

    When you extract something from someone’s post it would be nice if you address your question to that person rather than pose it generally.

    I overlooked your comment several times as it was not addressed and just read it now and realized you have extracted it from one of my posts.

    January 20, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  • No Sri Lankans dont need a change. But EU does. Lets choose Mahinda Rajapakse again in 2010 or another 6 years.

    The European Union has decided to freeze Generalized Systems of Preferences (GSP allows Sri Lankan 7,200 products to enter EU markets free of taxes or duty free access) to Sri Lanka as a collective punishment for so called Human Rights Violations during war against LTTE separatist terrorism.

    LTTE terrorism has destroyed the tiny island, Sri Lanka both economically and socially. The present president of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse ended 30yr war by eliminating entire LTTE leadership and most of its members in 2years of his four year presidency. The West Europeans (especially EU) strongly condemned the President Mahinda Rajapakse’s war on LTTE and threatened to use economical sanctions if the war against LTTE was not stopped. President Mahinda Rajapakse continued his war against LTTE, and eliminated entire LTTE leadership and most of its members. EU is bit embarrassed of Mahinda Rajapakse and uses its resources to punish this war torn tiny nation collectively. EU’s accusations are war crimes during last phase of war against LTTE, human rights violations, 300,000 IDPs (Tamil refugees), media freedom, labour etc which have improved (investigations to deaths were done, 200,000 IDPs resettled etc) since the war over on 19th May 2009.

    Now, Sri Lanka has become again a focus point. The presidential Elections will be held on 26th January 2010, West Europeans use this golden opportunity and use their resources to influence Sri Lankans not to choose Mahinda Rajapakse because MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE defeated 30 year conflict on which they lived as a parasite letting Sri Lankan poor people suffer three decades. The cause of the conflict was not apparently genuine but initiated from a group of Eelam extremists who claim Tamils are discriminated and genocided by the majority Sinhalese while 58% of minority Tamils live among Sinhalese and Europeans used it as a weapon to carve out Sri Lanka and promote two states option as a solution to the conflict like they did in other conflict zones.

    The approach of Mahinda Rajapakse to the conflict is integration and democratization giving all citizens equal rights.

    Reference:

    Q & A with Head of EU delegation to Sri Lanka Bernard Savage: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49069

    Link to EU Press release on Commission statement on Sri Lanka GSP+ report 19 October 2009: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=466&serie=275&langId=en

    EU Final reprot on Invstigations: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2009/october/tradoc_145152.pdf

    NoEalamInSL

  • wijayapala

    Dear Heshan,

    Let me rephrase the question: which weapons did India NOT provide (deliberately refuse) when asked?

    Ammunition?

  • wijayapala

    Dear Belle,

    I didn’t say the decimation of the LTTE didn’t happen. I’m querying whether it occurred through SL army outwitting, outmaneuvering, etc. I suspect non-SL wits played a huge, crucial role.

    Sorry for the confusion. The LTTE disappeared after somebody waved a magic wand. SLA again had absolutely nothing to do with it. Your position remains firm.

  • Cengal

    Wijayapala:

    Please give a source for your claims.

  • Observer

    belle, you should watch this week’s rathu ira program which is on youtube featuring Ghotabaya Rajapaksa.

    http://channelslk.com/watch-rathu-ira-swarnavahini/

    If you don’t understand Sinhala don’t bother.

  • Observer

    Belle says

    “This was basically an international war, and it is typical SL dishonesty that it claims credit for it.”

    Then Heshan says

    “I agree with that assessment. Sonia Gandhi and her Congress friends basically provided unlimited weapons, money, satellite intelligence, and diplomatic cover to SL.”

    OMG this is SOOO GOLD! Why in the world are you BARKING at the wrong guy then? SRI LANKA???? Take your war crimes charges to India, China and the rest you blame for a made up “genocide”!!!

    If you want to hold Sri Lanka accountable at least give enough credit for the war… This is an example of typical, blatant dishonesty I see over and over for weak arguments! You want to accuse Sri Lanka of various things due to the war but at the same time Sri Lanka virtually did nothing as well. WOW is all I can say.

  • Observer

    Heshan,

    “I agree with that assessment. Sonia Gandhi and her Congress friends basically provided unlimited weapons, ”

    False, India never provided offensive weapons for obvious sensitivities and they’re not that dumb even if they wanted LTTE gone.

    “money, satellite intelligence, and diplomatic cover to SL. ”

    Can you prove this? Especially money and satellite intelligence? India can’t even feed its own people. I’m sure they don’t have charity money to hand over to another country’s war. My understanding was that UAVs proved more useful in identifying areal targets. Most areal attacks were followed by UAV reconnaissance of which the videos were constantly uploaded to the defense web site. And not interfering in a sovereign state’s affairs is not diplomatic cover. It’s called staying out of others business.

    “All the protests in Tamil Nadu amounted to zilch. ”

    Because they were stirring Tamil nationalism to gain votes during an election. That’s all they cared for. Why would a sensible central government give into that and escalate racial disharmony in India?

    “Chinese support was another major factor. ”

    Aren’t we a lucky bunch. The whole of Asia loves us. Turns out after all this time, they realised we have prime real estate.

    “Probably the most decisive factor was the ruthlessness of the Royal Brothers themselves, who kept the media in total darkness, ”

    Front line operations are classified in any war for obvious reasons. Not even US allows total access to their sphere head missions. Nor did Russia in Georgia. Media that is allowed is their pickings. Essentially you don’t want the enemy to turn their TV on and find out which direction they’re coming from.

    “and ignored every humanitarian dictum that applies to modern warfare. ”

    Again proof?

    “In other words, bomb hospitals, drop phosphorous bombs, take no prisoners, ”

    LTTE has a habit of using that as an excuse to get breathing space. Can’t trust the sheep that cried wolf now can we? It’s funny you should say “take no prisoners” when even you have agreed there are LTTE carder as POW under SLA. Also keep in mind, suicide carder is harder to apprehend!

    “create the illusion of no-fire zones (when in fact there are none), ”

    No fire zones only works if the enemy corporates with the idea as well. Meaning not shooting the enemy from within the no fire zone, taking civilians as cover thus violating the whole idea.

    “starve the civilian population out in order to get to the enemy, ”

    Surely a group that cannot feed their hostages should not take them along as cannon fodder!

    “unprecedented aerial strikes to terrorize the civilian population into submission, ”

    I guess SLAF all of a sudden hitting all their targets accurately was “unprecedented”. Thamil Selvam, ammunition dumps, LTTE bases, etc. With no laser guides or heat seeking technology. Purely using vector calculations.

    “and the total hijacking of practically every civil institution in order to promote the cause of the war. ”

    How do you think US fear mongered the population against the communists?? And promoted the cold war and expansion of nuclear weapons. Which has become a massive threat to the humanity’s existence! Or use something like 9/11 to create an excuse to jump into Iraq? WMD! WMD!! WMD!!! WMD!!!! You get my point. Anyway war times require creating a war mentality so that the people understand the gravity of the situation they’re in.

    “Rajapakse is definitely the most brutal of Sri Lankan Presidents; after vanquishing the Tigers, he locked up the Tamil civilians and declared himself King; ”

    Locked up because LTTE mixed into the civilians. I’m not a huge fan of that action, but it was necessary. Considering they would have been locked with the LTTE otherwise, it wasn’t like being thrown from the pan to the fire right? If anything taken from the pan and put into a plate I suppose. I’ll let you have that one anyway.

    “now he is having an election to “legalize” and further extend his ill-gotten status for God knows how long.”

    That’s just great. Him having an election is also a negative for him. Lol what can poor MR get away with these days? What you say by “legalize” is seeking a “democratic endorsement”. If he gets that, then the country agrees with his actions. He has done what the people wanted. End of story!

  • Cengal

    Dear Wijayapala:

    “Ammunition?”

    More semantics!

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala

    Looks like Cengal beat me to it. You are all semantics, meaningless semantics at that. I hardly see the point of responding.

  • Heshan

    Observer:

    India provided every weapon under the sun to SL (except the nuclear kind). Personally, I don’t blame India. If I was Sonia Gandhi, I too would want revenge for Rajiv’s assassination. Before you dispute the involvement, you ought to explain why practically every top SL politician made a trip to India. Mahinda… Gothabaya… Basil… even SF went. In fact, they did not make single trips, but multiple trips. If you really think SL could have wiped out 30,000 Tamils in three months without the permission of India, you are smoking one too many make-believe cigars.

    As for the USA deciding who visits the war zone, of course you are totally wrong… you must have missed the beheading of Daniel Pearl, and the 16 yr old kid from Florida who made a trip to Iraq on his own. Of course you cannot go to the war zone and start randomly photographing battle tanks or checkpoints; nevertheless, you are still free to visit any war zone in Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan-Afghan border and speak freely to the civilians. You really need to stop watching those Vietnam war documentaries on PBS; the US military has evolved quite a bit since then.

  • wijayapala

    Cengal,

    Please give a source for your claims.

    Which ones? If Heshan wants to demonstrate that India supplied unlimited arms, the burden of proof falls on him.

    I asked for proof that India supplied ammunition, which should be fairly straightforward and easy given that ammunition is the basic consumable necessary for war, but Heshan has not answered that and instead has hidden behind the semantics that the SL govt had to have asked India for it.

    Do you agree that India provided “unlimited arms?” I hope you won’t fall into that pit that Heshan had dug for himself…

  • wijayapala

    Dear Heshan,

    If you really think SL could have wiped out 30,000 Tamils in three months without the permission of India, you are smoking one too many make-believe cigars.

    The Rajapakses went to India to request and receive permission to wipe out the killers of Rajiv Gandhi, not Tamil civilians. The Tigers understood that they had no chance of surviving unless they could **forcefully** employ civilians as human shields to pressure a sympathy intervention from India and/or the West. Without these human shields, the number of civilian casualties would have been greatly reduced and the LTTE would have been defeated months earlier. Even many one-time LTTE supporters acknowledge this.

    UTHR-J reported that the Tamil IDPs’ hatred right after the end of the war was overwhelmingly directed against the LTTE. That should give you a slight hint as to the culpability for the civilian deaths.

  • Dhiraj

    “You want to accuse Sri Lanka of various things due to the war but at the same time Sri Lanka virtually did nothing as well. WOW is all I can say.”

    I agree with this assessment. India did help, but only really in the latter stages of the war when it was pretty sure that SL was going to triumph. Pakistan and China, however helped Sri Lanka through thick and thin.

  • Heshan

    Nice try again, Wijayapala.

    UTHR also said the Sri Lankan Army is guilty of deliberately using chemical weapons, bombing hospitals, and indiscriminate shelling. Use of chemical weapons and bombing hospitals amounts to war crimes. Since UTHR is your new best friend, do you also agree that a war crimes investigation is in order? Unfortunately, if you say yes, then it totally contradicts your rather simplistic assessment that civilian casualties resulted mostly from the human shields. Alas, your selective quoting amounts to nothing… you might as well revert back to meaningless semantics.

    As for why Sri Lankan politicians went to India, they went to beg for money and weapons. Same reason why Rajapakse went to India, Iran, Libya, and Pakistan, and invited the Burmese leader to Sri Lanka (who actually invites the Burmese leader?), why Basil and Sarath went to India, why Sarath went to Pakistan, why religious delegations went to the UK to beg for GSP+ concessions, etc. etc. You see, the begging trips are endless.

  • Heshan

    Although, I would say that the Burmese leader was probably invited so that Rajapakse could beg for rice.

    What about that mysterious plane from North Korea, full of weapons, headed to Sri Lanka but intercepted in Thailand? The Royal Brothers are even begging from North Korea, does it get more desperate than that?!!!

  • Heshan

    Dhiraj:

    “India did help, but only really in the latter stages of the war when it was pretty sure that SL was going to triumph. Pakistan and China, however helped Sri Lanka through thick and thin.”

    Without Indian intelligence, LTTE supply lines could not have been cut off. The Indian hand was there from start to finish; look at the timing of “official” visits to India by SL politicians, you will see what I mean. Of course Sonia and her friends tried to keep a low profile, but they dropped one too many hints: the Sri Lankan pilots who were trained in India, the truck with weapons headed for Sri Lanka that was intercepted in Tamil Nadu by demonstrators, the 24-hr “ceasefire” that was arranged by India when the war had reached a climax, the so-called Indian “field hospitals” (who believes they were only hospitals?), … etc.

  • Observer

    Heshan,

    India provided every weapon under the sun to SL (except the nuclear kind). Personally, I don’t blame India. If I was Sonia Gandhi, I too would want revenge for Rajiv’s assassination. Before you dispute the involvement, you ought to explain why practically every top SL politician made a trip to India. Mahinda… Gothabaya… Basil… even SF went.

    Umm because they’re our direct neighbour! Our big brother who once screwed us over! After Wadamaarachchi, when India prolonged our terrorist suffering for many years, another Indian intervention would have been a paramount fear. Therefore it was vital to ensure that this was not on the cards again especially when some people in Tamil Nadu were getting all agro.

    If you really think SL could have wiped out 30,000 Tamils in three months without the permission of India, you are smoking one too many make-believe cigars.

    So now you change from weapons to permission! haha. For the record 30,000 Tamils were not killed. India clearly would not have stood by that. If that was the case then US should withdraw it’s support to such a state. Since you insist that US is a saint that would make such things prerequisites in their allies. Since they haven’t what can we deduce? You can add in a series tight? Leave the math up to you.

    As for the USA deciding who visits the war zone, of course you are totally wrong… you must have missed the beheading of Daniel Pearl, and the 16 yr old kid from Florida who made a trip to Iraq on his own.

    Round of applause for the kid who visited Iraq. Tell him he can visit Sri Lanka too! I am more than happy to prepare an itinerary for his first solo trip to Sri Lanka! Actually, I’ll wait for him at the air port and take him around.

    Of course you cannot go to the war zone and start randomly photographing battle tanks or checkpoints; nevertheless, you are still free to visit any war zone in Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan-Afghan border and speak freely to the civilians.

    Duh! Of course not! What I’ve been saying all along and what the SL military objected to. Do keep in mind as LTTE withdrew, they fell back with civilians as human shields. SLA was entering ghosts towns as they marched forward. So what bloody civilians were the journalists gonna speak to? Anyone who wanted to speak to civilians should have made arrangements with the LTTE to get to the other side! On top of it last thing SLA would have loved is international journalists on LTTE side held as hostages. So clearly Gov SL was not going to facilitate that. It was up to the “fearless” journalists to smuggle them selves into the LTTE controlled areas.

    You really need to stop watching those Vietnam war documentaries on PBS; the US military has evolved quite a bit since then.

    I know people like you are quick to forget those sorry episodes! But why should we? When no one was prosecuted for those crimes against humanity? Never! How about this, forget PBS (publically funded fairly non-partisan channel, compared to say FOX!), watch Fog of War. That comes out of the mouth of a former US defense secretary!

  • Observer

    Before anyone questions or defends war, this is essential viewing..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgA98V1Ubk8
    http://www.sonyclassics.com/fogofwar/

    Go to your local video store, hire it! Make up your own mind about what war is.

    Hehsan, no matter what you say about US, what this man says and admits over rules all of it. Why? He was the architect and brains behind some of the most controversial wars of US.

  • Dhiraj

    “Without Indian intelligence, LTTE supply lines could not have been cut off. The Indian hand was there from start to finish; look at the timing of “official” visits to India by SL politicians, you will see what I mean. Of course Sonia and her friends tried to keep a low profile, but they dropped one too many hints: the Sri Lankan pilots who were trained in India, the truck with weapons headed for Sri Lanka that was intercepted in Tamil Nadu by demonstrators, the 24-hr “ceasefire” that was arranged by India when the war had reached a climax, the so-called Indian “field hospitals” (who believes they were only hospitals?), … etc.”

    Sonia was in power a long while ago; if the crushing of the LTTE was all due to India then it would have been done ages ago but that didn’t happen. When the IPKF was fighting the LTTE and India lost Rajiv Gandhi the country had all the reason to wipe out the LTTE but it never happened as well. It took Mahinda’s leadership to defeat the LTTE and this included trips to India to assuage Indian feelings ala Tamil Nadu. Like I said, India did help Sri Lanka militarily and diplomatically but that was only after it was pretty obvious the SL armed forces were heading towards victory. Infact, India had actually stood in the way of Sri Lanka acquiring superior defence equipment like radars from China, preferring to “donate” its crappier ones. That said, when images of the slain Vellupillai Prabhakaran flashed across TV screens in India I cannot help but think of Sonia Gandhi as having watched them with a smirk on her face and a strange feeling of satisfaction.

    Now I know it is galling for a Tamil nationalist such as yourself to accept that Sri Lanka (read “Sinhalese”) managed to destroy the LTTE, but the truth is Sri Lanka’s political and military leadership worked extremely well together to finish off the Tamil Tigers. You are free to believe that it was all the work of India, even though it was Sri Lankan soldiers who carried out the operations, held ground and laid down their lives for victory. Everyone is entitled to their opinion afterall.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Observer / GV Readers,

    Here is a Video Documentary about the Attack on USS Liberty by Israel.

    It will supplement Observer’s comment on January 23, 2010 @ 2:44 pm above and provide a Cross section Perspective of America as a whole.

    Listen to the commentary carefully and Eye Witness evidence of what went on. Form your own opinion from what you see and hear from American’s themselves.

    I wonder how many will jump up to defend “Liberty”.

  • Heshan

    Observer:

    “For the record 30,000 Tamils were not killed.”

    What is your proof that 30,000 Tamils were NOT killed? Why were journalists not allowed into where the final battle took place? How do you explain the giant craters at the sight of the last battle? Use your common sense here; you have hundreds of thousands of people clustered into a tiny space, and they are being shelled, aerially bombed, and shot at for months. It is not difficult to presume 30,000 of them will be killed.

    “So now you change from weapons to permission!”

    Weapons, permissions, everything. That is the price that Sri Lanka will pay for its ambitions of Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony – Sri Lanka will always be second to India. Ever since DS Senanayake said YES to the first colonization scheme, and Sarath Fonseka said Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese, India has been busy doing more productive things, like following a plan of state-by-state development according to the model of FEDERALISM it adopted in 1948, creating millions of engineers, etc. etc.

    “Round of applause for the kid who visited Iraq. Tell him he can visit Sri Lanka too!”

    He would need permission from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense. Too many foreigners act as LTTE agents and visit Mother Lanka only to disgrace it. 🙂 Have you heard of the LTTE agent Hillary Clinton? She is a clever one. First her husband raised money for the tsunami relief, then four years later she is making pro-LTTE statements. This is why every visitor to Mother Lanka should be hit on the head with a stick by the brave Lions in the MOD to see what they’re really up to.

    “So what bloody civilians were the journalists gonna speak to?”

    According to King Mahinda, the security forces did not harm a single civilian. So that would mean a couple hundred thousand bloody civilians.

    “I know people like you are quick to forget those sorry episodes! But why should we? When no one was prosecuted for those crimes against humanity? Never!”

    Did you actually watch the documentary or just read the back of the box?

  • Heshan

    Off the Cuff / Observer:

    Here is a video of US forces attacking a village in Iraq. Please be warned, it is very graphic:

  • Heshan

    Dhiraj:

    “Sonia was in power a long while ago; if the crushing of the LTTE was all due to India then it would have been done ages ago but that didn’t happen.”

    The first time India was in SL, it (IPKF) was there as a peacekeeping force. It’s objective was not to destroy the LTTE, but to enforce the terms of the Indo-Lanka Accord. India never prepared for an all-out offensive war against the LTTE; preparation was limited to what could be put together spontaneously. If India had prepared for an all-out offensive war, things might have been different, even the first time. On another note, the Indian Army has improved significantly since its IPKF fiasco days. To say that it could not now take on the LTTE is inaccurate. What is more, modern armies have evolved to the point that they can lend their expertise in limited form to other armies fighting in different conflict areas. That is why some Sri Lankan pilots were trained in India and many Sri Lankan Army generals receive training from Sandhurst/West Point, etc.

    “Like I said, India did help Sri Lanka militarily and diplomatically but that was only after it was pretty obvious the SL armed forces were heading towards victory.”

    Hahaha. If India had wanted to, it could have sent its own troops and forced Sri Lanka to sign a ceasefire. That is why Mahinda and his brothers made numerous begging trips; at every stage, they wanted a guarantee from India that it would provide weapons, diplomatic cover, and not personally intervene to save the LTTE.

    “Now I know it is galling for a Tamil nationalist such as yourself”

    Sorry, but I’m not a Tamil or a nationalist. Resorting to ad hominem attacks only shows your argument lacks substance, period.

    “…to accept that Sri Lanka (read “Sinhalese”) managed to destroy the LTTE, but the truth is Sri Lanka’s political and military leadership worked extremely well together to finish off the Tamil Tigers.”

    The fact that it took 30 years for them to “work extremely well together” to realize their objective is an oxymoron in and of itself. Which nation needs 30 years to finish off an enemy that is grossly outnumbered and outpowered?

  • wijayapala

    Dear Heshan,

    The Indian hand was there from start to finish; look at the timing of “official” visits to India by SL politicians, you will see what I mean.

    Now you’re accusing Thol. Thirumavalagan of conspiring with the GSL against the LTTE????

  • Off the Cuff

    “This film should shock decent Americans, above all men and women who served in Americas Armed Forces” says Capt Richard Kiepher, the Ships Doctor.

    On June 8, 1967, Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats attacked a US navy ship. There were 840 American Naval personnel on board. A US aircraft carrier from the sixth fleet responded to the desperate call from the ship by launching attack aircraft. Robert McNamara recalled the aircraft at 2:35 p.m. allowing the attack to continue. The aim of the attack was to sink the ship leaving no witnesses as even Napalm was dropped on it. 34 Naval personnel died and 172 were injured.

    See and understand how American Politicians sacrifice even Americans to achieve political ends. See how they LIE when they try to cover up. In this case the witnesses are American, the victims are American and the ship is American. Only a fool will try to defend horrendous crimes of this nature. How can anyone believe in US INTERNAL investigations after watching this film?

    As the doctor states ONLY DECENT Americans will be shocked !!!!

  • Heshan

    Here is a picture of evil Americans building houses for Sri Lankans after the tsunami:

    http://fieldnotes.unicefusa.org/tsunamiUNI47438.jpg

    Pictures can be deceiving! Maybe the guys in the picture were really CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES ready to convert the proud Sons of the Deshaya. Only KING MAHINDA can build houses for the Sons of The Soil (of course, he might build a few for himself in the process).

    Here is a picture of LTTE supporter Hillary Clinton!

    http://sinhale.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/sec_state1.jpg

    Why does anyone listen to her? America is the biggest terrorist! According to my friend Observer, 5 billion Japanese were killed when the Americans dropped two bombs in 1945. Of course, if you ask him why there are any Japanese left, he might not give you an answer…

  • Observer

    Due to the poor commenting system in this forum I lose track of old discussions until I come across them accidently by featuring in the front page. So sorry for taking my time.

    “What is your proof that 30,000 Tamils were NOT killed?”

    The lack of proof!

    “Why were journalists not allowed into where the final battle took place? “

    Already explained this above & I won’t repeat my self. So read my lips ^^. You can however disagree with me.

    “How do you explain the giant craters at the sight of the last battle? “

    It was a hotly contested issue by both parties that the “crates” were the result of the other parties shelling. It’s one’s word against another. So you can’t form an argument from it.

    “Use your common sense here; you have hundreds of thousands of people clustered into a tiny space, and they are being shelled, aerially bombed, and shot at for months. It is not difficult to presume 30,000 of them will be killed.”

    SLA always maintained that they did not areal bomb the no fire zone. There is no credible proof of this to this date. Again just allegations & accusation. The artificial could cover doesn’t guarantee rain, if you catch my drift.

    “India has been busy doing more productive things, like following a plan of state-by-state development according to the model of FEDERALISM it adopted in 1948, creating millions of engineers, etc. etc.”

    Indeed so productive that millions have to live in conditions not even fit for humans so they can have enough funding for a space program and nuclear weapons. It’s all about how many people should suffer in order to maintain its security isn’t it? Can you blame them? Anyway I’ll keep measuring India’s standing in its citizens living conditions. FYI I am not against federalism. I am for practical federal solutions. For small islands, federalism is a joke! It is a solution for large countries, either geographically or population wise.

    “He would need permission from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense. “

    Of course, Sri Lanka has a sovereign right to screen all foreign visitors to the country. Like all other countries do. I’m sure a child would have no problems as such. Unlike when visiting US, he can be guaranteed that there will be no perverts at the air port with xray body scanners violating his rights.

    “Have you heard of the LTTE agent Hillary Clinton? “

    She is a politically ambitious woman in need of campaign funds. And money talks! You know how things work in Washington. Rajaratnam paid handsomely to her campaign which is no secret. And it is no secret he made his fortunes cheating other people – a criminal. So you probably do not want to dig too deep into this stuff. Anything goes in Washington, you of all people should not be so naive. It’s just business! That’s ok, we just have to make more money so we can make sure that we can outbid the other party. Political lobbying can be an addictive thing.

    “She is a clever one.”

    Not clever enough to beat Obama. And not clever enough to smell perfume 😉 They lady is ambitious nonetheless, she deserves credit.

    “This is why every visitor to Mother Lanka should be hit on the head with a stick by the brave Lions in the MOD to see what they’re really up to.”

    Well in your country, NSA, CIA screen them, here we do it the MOD, CID way. Just different acronyms, but the same ol’ sh1t.

    “According to King Mahinda, the security forces did not harm a single civilian. “

    Yes not a single civilian was harmed intentionally. However, unintended casualties do occur in urban fighting. You just had a slight misunderstanding in the interpretation of what he said.

    “So that would mean a couple hundred thousand bloody civilians.”

    According to you Heshan, according to you…. According to a large propaganda machine we’re aware of and we’re actively engaging.

    “Did you actually watch the documentary or just read the back of the box?”

    I have the DVD and I have seen it few times. There are some good life lessons. I actually have quite a bit of respect for Mr. MacNamara. He is a true patriot. I have similar views of war to him. It is a dirty business, but has to be done when all other options fail. At least he has the decency to admit they have done wrongs, unlike someone here who thinks he is more authoritative on the facts of wars from that era than the defence secretary himself. He admits that they just did what they had to in order to win the war. Quoting loosely… “In that single night, we burnt to death 100,000 civilians in Tokyo – men, women and children”. So they fire bombed bombed a wooden city into submission. And I just love the scene that follows that bit – numbers falling out of the sky. He makes a good point though, had they lost the war, they would have been most definitely tried for war crimes. Luckily the allies won and the Nazis got prosecuted – rightly so. But the Allies weren’t saints either. I know you won’t admit to it, because I understand your type. Haha

  • Observer

    Off the Cuff / Observer:

    Here is a video of US forces attacking a village in Iraq. Please be warned, it is very graphic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_1qdemp5eI

    Heshan, in all seriousness, I think this is the actual video you should watch. Food for thought…

    http://bit.ly/yWbFi

  • Observer

    Heshan said,
    January 31, 2010 @ 8:14 am

    Here is a picture of evil Americans building houses for Sri Lankans after the tsunami:

    http://fieldnotes.unicefusa.org/tsunamiUNI47438.jpg

    Pictures can be deceiving! Maybe the guys in the picture were really CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES ready to convert the proud Sons of the Deshaya. Only KING MAHINDA can build houses for the Sons of The Soil (of course, he might build a few for himself in the process).

    Here is a picture of LTTE supporter Hillary Clinton!

    http://sinhale.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/sec_state1.jpg

    The true colours of Hehsan always eventually comes to light towards the end of a discussion, resorting to DRIVEL. And you always miss the point. True generosity should come without strings attached don’t you think? 😉

    Most countries when they financially assist other nations they always have their interests as motivation. There was a time when Taliban was in the payroll of US through CIA.

    Yes US has immensely assisted Sri Lanka and is grateful when they did it with less insidious intentions. Since the LTTE lobbyists have made way into influencing foreign policy towards SL, we are more hesitant in accepting assistance and have partnered with nations that are more inclined to respect the administration’s own road map.

    “According to my friend Observer, 5 billion Japanese were killed when the Americans dropped two bombs in 1945. Of course, if you ask him why there are any Japanese left, he might not give you an answer…”

    If you want to get hung up on a number I didn’t say as your only feeble argument against atrocities in Japan, why don’t you watch Fog of War listen to what the architect says that they did there? Who the hell are you and why would anyone listen to you over the man him self? Do you think we’re idiots? We just swallow your ill-informed rubbish? Listen to how their daily incendiary and other bombing raids took out average of 50-60% of civilians towns before even dropping 2 nuclear bombs. Jesus!

  • Observer

    This is another sort of generosity you have to be careful about… Like I said not everyone’s intentions are good or do good just because they think they’re doing the right thing.

    http://news.google.com/news/more?pz=1&cf=all&ned=au&topic=w&ncl=dJMRGa0pkxzfvfM2KAMKikvlHRpUM

    Heshan says desperate people should bend over and open their behind for business just because they’re poor and beggars can’t be choosers. I’m simply saying NOT NECESSARILY!