It was the most gruesome of visual feasts and it when it ended, the most disorienting sense followed. One is struck, not by the extremity of human suffering; but by stillness, by the insouciance of the pools of blood. They appear on screen as almost as if they are the everyday aftermath of one of the island’s heavier monsoon rains. Excepting, of course, the fact that happy children do not float paper boats in these pools, nor is the water that comfortable colour of milky tea. The children are dead; the water runs red with blood. And it is simply, understatedly there.

“Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” is a damning indictment of the various parties involved in the last few months of the civil war. It must be watched critically, and to do so, it is necessary to separate Jon Snow’s narration and open your eyes to the story that you must yourself piece together. Image upon images plays towards you, reminiscent of Goya’s exceptional set of prints “Disasters of War”. Then an illustration of the brutality of the Napoleonic Wars, it now feels like an incredible case of precognition.  War is brutal; our modern sensibilities, created in the aftermath of a bloody Reformation and a succession of world and civil wars accept this fact as part of our cognitive DNA.  As creatures of such knowledge structuring, it is unremarkable that, in the final analysis, we are somehow able to excuse the existence of the dead.  In ‘Killing Fields’, however, it is not the high rate of death that overwhelms you, it is the ease with which life loses its value. It becomes nothing to the SLA forces leering gleefully over the bodies of dead cadres; to the LTTE leadership who gunned down their own in the final struggle for Eelam; to the frontline doctors fighting a losing battle; to the thousands of Tamil civilians themselves, as they surrendered to attack from one side and betrayal by the other.

Channel 4 is to be commended for airing a documentary which provides a great degree of visual confirmation of the atrocities that occurred during the final months of physical hostilities between the Rajapaksa Government and the LTTE. While the story told is emotionally and mentally distressing, the first thirty minutes do not   raise issues that those who followed the army‘s advances closely were not aware of.   Within these several minutes, we are provided with detail of the SLA’s march upon LTTE territory, and the latter’s increasing struggle to hold its ground. Caught between the two, are the tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, sandwiched into increasingly small pockets of land. Reports of the thousands trapped and dying in Putthukidyrippu, Mullaivaikul, and the infamous No Fire Zones reached the ears of Sri Lanka’s local and internationally led civil society via the text messages and communications from priests, nuns and Tamil NGO personnel trapped within these areas. As the documentary confirms, the Tamil government doctors were in constant communication with the ICRC and the GoSL medical authorities as they requested aid and supplies. To their credit, various organisations attempted to make the local and international public aware of the rising numbers of the dead, and insisted on asking hard-hitting questions from all parties said to be ‘responsible’ for the high civilian count. These reports provided facts about the scale and the magnitude of death, but the human face of the civilian that was missing.

Reports typed up by NGOs and International bodies are often factsheets that proclaim statistics- and statistics are open to interpretation and easily dismissed- academics, politicians and policy makers do this every day. It is the visceral emotion of a grown woman moaning “Amma; it was from this hand that you fed me” that provides the jolt to your consciousness. Arguably, media today is well versed in the art of emotional manipulation and the Channel 4 documentary quite consciously imposes each image and story upon you in a sequence that deliberately wishes to evoke the maximum effect. The camera freeze frames on the bodies of babies, and children. A hospital administrator is shown being interviewed one moment; still and dead the next. The primary eyewitness story is from an attractive young woman. They are, perhaps, overused devices. It is imperative for the viewer to separate the production of the narrative from its external trappings. Yet, even with such ‘deconstruction’, you will still find that the videos and photographs speak entirely for themselves, and that your final conclusions are grim ones.

Visuals are a more effective method of concretising truth. Images of the LTTE’s attacks on public areas , and the subsequent broken bodies littering the streets of Colombo and Kandy cities  confirmed the ruthlessness of the ‘Tigers’ in their struggle for Eelam.  The LTTE deliberately used Tamil civilians as a human shield during the last few months of physical hostilities against the Sri Lankan government. They also funded their struggle through both legal and illegitimate concerns; grocery stores in Western suburbs and international heroin trafficking rings. Perhaps in strategy, the LTTE moved far and away from the nobility of a battle for self-determination and equality; but it is impossible not to consider that, in the face of the Sinhala chauvinism that made the national agenda in early postcolonial years, there was no path to follow but one that was volatile, ceaseless and increasingly violent. It should not be forgotten, as the new narratives being written in post-conflict Sri Lanka are attempting to do, that the LTTE’s eventually disastrous acts were political entrapment engendered by the harshness of the Sinhala Raj; they were freedom fighters once. The narratives created post-conflict are dangerous and must be interrupted, as the entrapment of the conflict by discourse is also responsible for its eventual end.

During the officially recognised thirty year period when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fought the forces of the Government of Sri Lanka, the developments of the conflict came to mirror and link themselves with several external phenomena being played out in the international sphere.  Specific ideas of freedom, equality and human rights; discourses which were made concrete and hegemonic in the years following the Cold War were thrown into the language of the Tamil freedom struggle,  but also framed the general logic for the GoSL in its approach to seeking international succour.  The ‘war’ absorbed other discourses as it, unwittingly, moved with the course of history.  The regime of George.W.Bush, for example, switched Velupillai Prabhakaran’s label effectively from guerrilla leader to terrorist; and as America solidified the rhetoric of the ‘Global War on Terror’, the GoSL was lent legitimacy for its final, devastating advance upon the depleted ranks of the LTTE, ending physical hostilities in the summer of 2009, and, in the words of exultant commentators worldwide, ending Sri Lanka’s ‘terrorist problem’. Significantly, the LTTE were pioneered and refined the art of suicide; a method of attack that would prove important during the events of September 11th.   Many observers note that the end to the war in Sri Lanka was a result of a more superior army, the possession of efficient fighting tools, the ruthlessness of the new army leadership and, more often than not, the regime of the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress party in India.  A less positivist driven argument would be to consider that the ability of the Sri Lankan government to make the final push; and to eviscerate the LTTE leadership in the manner that they did was made possible because the defeat of terrorism and the death of a terrorist had by then become a valid part of the moral fabric of  modern discourse.  The image of the lifeless Prabhakaran, shown widely on the international news in a manner that recalled Achilles’ ransoming of the body of Hector, was met with an abundance of joy and relief. Almost two years later, the same fate would await Osama Bin Laden- sans the public display. The importance of the example is this; discourse and knowledge authorizes the morality of what were, in both cases, extra judicial murders.  The manner of both executions were made possible because the death of a terrorist, a figure impossible to view from any other lens as a feared ‘Other’, has become a moral ‘good’.

The LTTE’s own activities in the extra-judicial world lent credence to such labelling, and there is no moral court in any system or society that will be able to easily exonerate such crimes. However, as Sanjana Hattotuwa notes in his review of Gordon Weiss’ The Cage (incidentally a tome that reads very much as the  book of this film) therein lies the rub, there is no one left of the LTTE leadership to be held accountable.  The bodies of several of the senior leadership were last seen lying, stripped, tortured and summarily executed on the very land they fought to claim. In a most macabre way, some of the many photographs and news clips of the dead Prabhakaran show members of the SLA posing for a group shot alongside the corpse. In one memorable news clip ( not shown in the documentary) there was even the whooping and raucous Sinhala commentary of an ITV presenter;  a man whose lack of professionalism was only matched by his undoubtedly diminutive wit.

While this presenter is certainly an excellent representation of the status quo that Sri Lanka has slid toward under the guidance of Mahinda and his Merry Men, his behaviour is overshadowed by the crudity of the SLA personnel we see in the last fifteen minutes of ‘Killing Fields’? Leers, vulgarisms and chauvinistic bravado abound as female cadres are thrown like dead cattle into the back of a truck and bound and gagged young men are executed in cold blood. This is not the behaviour of glorious war heroes, but the hysterical and brutish violence that has been engendered by the Rajapaksa regime.  In a style of execution that violates any subscription to judicial proceedings or necessary war tribunal, these soldiers- undoubtedly with permission from their Generals and the powers that be- have taken matters into their own hands. Not only the LTTE leadership easily identified in these images, but seemingly any person singled out as a ‘Kotiya’, were murdered, and a photograph taken for posterity; SLA forces pose with their trophies as if displaying a fascinating curio bought during a particularly exotic holiday. The inhumanity of the military personnel is shocking. Aren’t these supposed to be ‘our boys’, fighting an ‘enemy’ that threatened the bedrock of our national ‘peace’? Admittedly, Weiss’ book and the C4 documentary note the compassion of  many SLA soldiers, moved by the plight of  the civilians they met, sharing their military rations and assisting women and children to safety.  Many of these personnel; ranking officials and regular soldiers alike turned a blind eye when internees at IDP camps attempted escape. Weiss notes the story of a staff officer who unlocked the gates of the enclosure he supervised and encouraged people to leave.  Such actions are remarkable; not because they were made in the heat of war but because many of these soldiers were Sinhala persons hailing from the deep South; a place in which a number of  individuals you encounter will confess to having had little or no familiarity with their Tamil ‘Other’.  Such Samaritan like actions are, unfortunately, countered by the cold blooded executions carried out by their colleagues and what is the undeniably deliberate genocide  orchestrated by the Rajapaksa government.

Genocide is a strong word and usually reserved for Rwanda, Serbia, and other incidents where the world has sanctioned the fact that horrendous crimes took place. It is perhaps not incorrect to use it here. Perhaps in their removal of their own staff from the conflict area, and their continued vague silence on the ‘Sri Lanka’ issue, the UN itself has sanctioned the mass genocide that occurred in the last few months of Sri Lanka’s war?  The Channel 4 documentary is quite insistent in pointing the finger of blame at the UN; saying that it did not do enough- and that, even after the Darusman Report, it continues an eerie disengagement with regards to Sri Lanka. Ban- Ki Moon is shown happily walking through an IDP camp on a whistle stop tour; he did not stop to allow himself to see what really happened. Moon and the international community have been, oddly, unable to bring any real pressure on the GoSL.  The placing of blame on the UN, while quite correct within the situation is also, obviously bound up in Western hysteria regarding the growing strength of China and other non-Western powers. Moon’s strange inactivity will be ( and is) called into question, and China’s own activity on the UNSC builds not so much an anti-UN case but the usual refrain of Western commentators warning us of the dangers of allowing the international predominance of an ‘Other’. It is important to acknowledge the argument, but equally necessary to dismiss the hegemony of its discourse.

To place blame on the UN also further distances us from the accountability of the GoSL, and we will stop seeing them as significantly responsible. It also provides for the blossoming of a rather spurious counter argument from the GoSL’s favourite talking heads, Dayan Jayatilleka and Rajiva Wijesinha, who are manipulating a nuance of the thinking on hegemonic discourse to build a rude counter-rhetoric of ‘us’ versus ‘them’- spinning the image of the GoSL as the innocent victim of a Western conspiracy. It is, very simply, blatant exploitation of the oft dragged out colonizer/colonized dichotomy that both gentlemen have also managed to conflate with a similar dialectic that existed during the Cold War. To do so indicates a desperate scrabble to hide the truth behind a tissue of easily dismissible arguments, and to do a rather serious disservice to the complexities of the post-colonial analysis and the theoretical discussion of alterity.   Further to this, various members of the international community have been vocal but inactive with regards to the Sri Lankan conflict- damning neither the GoSL’s sixty years of state –led violence or the extra-legal activities that the LTTE leadership indulged in for three decades, that the UN continues in this vein is, in the final analysis, hardly remarkable.

The most eerie moment in the documentary is a sequence in which Gotabhaya greets his brother Mahinda. The two  men, smile, nod and acknowledge each other- the look that passes between the two of them speaks volumes and one cannot but wonder. Gotabhaya’s guilt is palpable in the hysteria he brings to any non-Rupavahini interview. To return to the point on genocide-  as ‘Killing Fields’, The Cage, and several others have pointed out,  the evidence of eyewitnesses, doctors, the UN and other non-governmental personnel make it abundantly clear that the SLA leadership was quite aware that when it sent fire and dropped shells into certain areas, they were clearly killing civilians as much as they were LTTE cadres. The ICRC, in fact, handed them bodies on a plate when it broadcast the coordinates of the various frontline hospitals. The government issued its own coordinates for a No Fire Zone, and as the testimony of Brig. Harun Khan demonstrates, fired directly into it. Like the schoolgirls at Sencholai, civilian deaths are dismissed in this easy manner; they must all be ‘Koti’. We know they were not. Such labelling by the government is a thin excuse for the deliberate genocide that led to the deaths of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians. The LTTE murdered some as part of their guerrilla warfare and cynical strategy; but the SLA and the Rajapakse government murdered civilians because they were, simply, Tamil.  This is genocide for it was obviously deliberate and moreover because it was a race crime; intending to obliterate as many Tamil persons as possible, subsuming action under the blanket of the ‘fog of war’.  Why else remove the witnesses from the media and the UN, unless you wanted to clear the scene for a premeditated crime?  This, overall is the question that the C4 documentary, Weiss’ book and other voices, many of whom have been featured here on Groundviews, have raised. It is a question that we must not stop asking the Rajapaksa’s. Surely, Mahinda Rajapaksa, lawyer and vociferous campaigner for human rights, knew quite well the crime he was about to become party to?

The Channel 4 documentary misses a fourth, and equally complicit party. To lay a j’accuse here is difficult but necessary. The Sinhala public, in Colombo and Kandy and other cities have always known, on some level, of the atrocities carried out by successive Sri Lankan governments, and the Rajapaksa’s in particular. The LTTE abducted little boys from school and made them cadres; the Rajapaksa government accosts journalists on the streets and makes them cadavers or exiles. Young Tamil men are abducted too; Sri Lankans live in a society where true freedom of speech is a fond and mostly forgotten memory, and where a 21 year old lost his life when protesting for his simple right to a fairer pension.  We are all, this author included, complicit in this genocide and we must be held accountable because we have preferred to remain silent and un-dissenting.  With the exception of a few voices, we have shook our heads and simply accepted what this government and its predecessors have done; we have either been as vaguely inactive as the UN and the international community or we have not done enough. In this way, we have lent and continue to give succour to  mass genocide and a future of oppression. The Channel 4 documentary and the roused international middle classes will, for the short time that it holds their interest, ask the UN, David Cameron and Barack Obama to intervene; will ask them what they are going to do about Sri Lanka. It is necessary to  ask the Sinhalese – and their middle classes in particular- what will you do? The evidence is mounting; will you remain silent and inactive yet again? It is time that head shaking and the bearing of witness was translated into real action. Free yourselves from the bounds of  that modern instinct that asks you to preserve yourself and your society; and look to a struggle that can truly initiate a just and free society.

  • Janaki Perumal

    /It is necessary to ask the Sinhalese – and their middle classes in particular- what will you do?/

    1. Colonize more Tamil areas
    2. Point Tamils are in wellawatte
    3. Parrort, “Luxman Kadigamar & Neelan Thiruchelvam were Tamils”
    4. Go pleasure trip to devastated Tamil areas
    5. Rewrite Archeology and build Dagobas in Tamil areas
    6. More Militarization, please
    7. Start the issues in sri lanka from LTTE
    8. congratulate yourselves for everything

    • Bonchi Baba

      Dear Janakiii,

      1. Colonize more tamil areas? …there are no areas in SL that says “only tamils allowed!”, people can now move around as they please, just like the many thousands of tamils that have made it there choice to live in CMB.

      2. We will keep pointing that tamils do live in wellawatte until you stop coming up ridiculous ideas like the colonization of tamil areas. Colonization of tamil areas would be Tamil Nadu, that hasn’t happened nor it is going to happen, but they were options hundreds of years ago…

      3. They were great tamils who should be admired by all, not some sun god and his cult.

      4. If those areas are so devastated why don’t you go and help rebuild those areas? All you people do is procrastinate and complain. Help your own people! If you haven’t noticed Sri Lankans regardless of ethnicity travel all over Sri Lanka, devastated or not!

      5. It has to be corrected because the versions that come up diaspora websites are false and misleading. Dagabas did exist before the war started even tamil areas, so they are either being built in those places or renovated, just like every other church, mosque or hindu temple that has been renovated.

      6. Wasn’t the LTTE functioning like a militarized state? ..and I don’t think they had plans of being democratic. Military’s everywhere in SL, its not going to go away right away, but gradually they will go back to their barracks.

      7. For the sinhalese, the issues started with the colonizers, then Chelvanayagam, then LTTE..and now the Diaspora.

      8. Who is demining in the north? who is providing them food, water, shelter, money? who is rebuilding the roads? who is rebuilding all the buildings? who sent a full train load of food to tamil people of the wanni just as the war ended? Sri Lankans regardless of ethnicity!!!
      All you tamil diasporas do is complain! cant even help your own people. You guys sent millions of dollars to the LTTE…did a single school or hospital get built? NO! So keep congratulating yourselves for not doing anything!

    • kadphises

      Janaki Perumal,

      1. Colonise Tamil Areas: When the Tamils claim such a large area (4 times as much land per capita as they are prepared to yield to the Sinhalese) as exclusively their own courtesy of the British defined boundaries of the North and East no wonder any settlement of a previously jungle area by a sinhalese will be seen as encroachment by the Tamils. Remember all of the Wanni and the Eastern Province were well within the Sinhalese kingdoms of the South.

      2. One cannot “rewrite” archaeology. It is there on the ground. There are stone inscriptions, most of them in the Pali language which is ancestral to the Sinhalese language and not Tamil. I know there is a movement to claim Nagadipa and Kantarodai as remnants of a Tamil Buddhist civilisation but before doing so they will first have to explain why the Vallipuram manuscript and the inscriptions at these sites are in the Pali language (which Sinhalese is derived from) and not Tamil. And also why the archaeological styles in Jaffna are the same as that found in Anuradhapura (rather than a unique Tamil or South Indian style). Also remember that it was the Tamil nationalists who objected to Anuradhapura being designated as an Archaeological reserve in their response to the Soulbury commision report. If you want to know who is trying to falsify history to justify an absurd claim please look in the mirror. The sinhalese will never destroy their archaeology because it is the one obstacle that stands in the way of the Tamil Nationalist claim that all the land in the Northern and Eastern provinces (plus the district of Puttalam) is the TRADITIONAL HOMELAND OF THE TAMILS ONLY. Tamil Nationalists hate Sri Lankan archaelogy for this same reason.

      If only the Tamil Nationalists had tempered their greed and asked for no more than a proportionate portion of the islands landmass as a federal state I feel this issue could have been settled decads ago..

  • ravana

    I bow my head to a deity who has the courage to speak in this way. All that needs to be said has been voiced in this article. A sinhala who is not moved by this must yet be sleeping.

    Reminds me of a Sinhala saying: “Horata nidaa ganna ekaa nagitannanam Kela Molen Aninna” (The one who is pretending to sleep must be prodded with the Rice Pestle).

    One of my friends made the comment about the sleeping middle class: “The army guys who did these things will next turn their pestles on the daughters of these people!”

    WRT to the disgusting behaviour by a Sinhala Journalist on seeing the dead body of Prabhakaran, I must say that such stupidity is not confined to the sinhalas. When Bin Laden was killed at least one Western journo was heard to call him a coward for using a woman as a shield. The idiot did not think to question “If a man holds his wife in front of him and he is unarmed, why shoot to kill her?” Much more likely scenario is that she lunged at them to protect her husband and was killed. One can imagine how a man like Bin Laden would then react. To call him a coward is the act of a coward.
    WRT Prabhakaran, I have seen the comment in another article that expatriate Tamils who hated Prabha was shown a video of him asking for forgiveness from an Army Officer before being killed. I also cannot believe that Prabhakaran would be a man who would ask for forgiveness unless it was to save the life of some one he valued more than Tamil Eelam. His young son. Well we know how that ended.

    WRT Sri Lankan Government or any member of the Sri Lankan political hierarchy going back in record for 1500 years, they did not need the West’s discourse to dehumanise the “other”. We have our own “proud” culture of doing that for centuries. In this context it is worth mentioning another “terrorist” dubbed so by GoSL. Rohana Wijeweera. The GoSL did not have any compunction about murdering him either.

    There is one difference between Wijeweera and the other two as far as I have heard. Prabhakaran had a policy of using terror on civil society. Bin Laden never spoke against the Terror committed by proponents of Islamism.

    Wijeweera on the other hand had attempted to persuade his membership against taking up arms twice. He and those close to him certainly did not condone those who subsequently carried out violence on civilian targets. Even considering such crimes they pale into insignificance when one considers crimes against humanity committed by the Army and Police allied to Ranjan Wijeratne (1987-89).
    Wijeweera certainly left words for posterity pleading with his Party membership not to ever go down the path of violence again. I have heard of the full one hour recording of his last speech which was never shown. But those who were there have remembered. It would certainly be inappropriate to call Wijeweera a terrorist leader.

    All this has to be considered when one reads the author’s article and hear the fearsome words “Genocide”. Have we the courage to see the truth?

    • kadphises

      Ravana,

      You couldnt be more wrong. I think Wijeweera was the most cowardly of all of them and was also potentially the most dangerous to Sri Lankans. His killers killed for the most trivial of reasons. I know many many people who were dragged out of their houses and slaughtered in their front yards for the simple crime of violating the JVP’s never ending work bans. Wijeweera’s ideology was also closest to that of the Khmer Rouge. He wanted to destroy the “Western” education system, the “Western” economy, and go back to an agrarian utopia just like the Khmer Rouge tried to do. and no doubt with the same results. Sri Lanka was staring at another 2-3 million dead like in Cambodia if Wijeweera won. He was given one chance when he was released from prison by JR. He blew his terms of release and suffered the consequences. Of all the dead its for him that I have the least sympathy. I will readily put both him and Gamanayake in the same category as Prabakaran and Pottu Amman.

      • ravana

        @ kadphises,

        I used to think like you. But, during this war I began to have access to the other side of the story. Th whole truth has not yet been told. When I see today how the atrocities against the Tamils are been swept under the carpet as “fake” it is even more believable that the JVP spectre was stage-management by JR and co.

        I also thought of the JVP as the Khmer Rouge of Sri Lanka as you do. But the real picture might be far different to what I thought and what you prefer to believe. I have the courage to consider that I might have been mislead by a heinous Government.

        When you call Wijeweera a coward, you seem to think that I believe Prbhakaran and Bin Laden to be such. If you read my post you can see that I doubt that these men were cowards. I called those who portrayed Bin Laden that to be cowards themselves.
        Unfortunately, you had to go and label a man who died in the hands of the State Terror Merchants a coward. What does that make you?

      • ravana

        Saban,

        “because I have lived in Sri Lanka at the time when the LTTE was bombing and killing anybody, they could get hold of.”

        Oh really? So you must have been one of the guys who smiled and said “What can we do? Life goes on” when I visited Colombo and asked to do something concrete to take away the legitimacy of the LTTE .

        I clearly remember the denial of those living in Colombo. I never heard the complaint “we are afraid to get on a bus because of the LTTE”. Nobody tried to stop me when I got on buses.

        But, straight after the war I was amazed to see the patriots who came out of the woodwork, praising MR, and chanting the same line “We would leave home not knowing if we would return in the evening”. Sometimes such lines were uttered by SLFP ladies who would not have caught public transport in their lives.

        I am very aware of how many card-board heroes have been waving the patriot flag since the war. I also remember the “Jathi Alae” heroes climbing over each other to run south straight after July 1983, when a rumour went around that Tigers were at the gates of Colombo.

        Well sunna boy, you’ve survived the carnage. Be thankful that you and your family were not trying to shelter under a coconut tree in Mullivaikal. It is the height of arrogance and insensitivity to whinge about how dangerous Colombo was when the wretched of the Earth were suffering constantly for 30 odd years in the North. If you cannot show them the compassion they deserved, then you don’t deserve to demand they should act like citizens of the same land.

        When you insult the goddess who has written this article you should ask yourself if MR ever knew how a war is fought. Have you not heard that when Sarath was attacked by the suicide bomber and a delegation went to encourage him to retaliate he said [Edited out.]

        [Edited out.]

  • grateful

    Thank you [Anupama] [Edited] for your courageous writing on this disturbing documentary. Especially for the last paragraph of this article, which humbly and bravely implicates all of us in these now undeniable atrocities. We may not ourselves have raped and arbitrarily killed others but if we justify such actions or sweep them under the carpet – or even silently listen to others’ justifications – then whose conduct are we supporting and what becomes of our core values?

    Next step – and I know this is hard – can you tell what positive steps we can take as individuals and groups towards a just peace and reconciliation? How can we act to be true to the high values and true promise of the country? It is clearly inadequate to simply mutter disapproval of the killing fields in the company of like-minded friends, yet I sense a common loss of what else to do.

    Lastly, despite the inevitable accusations of unpatriotism and treachery that will be hurled at you – please know that you are not alone and surely are on the right side of history. I dare to believe that there is a silent majority of thoughtful and compassionate Sri Lankans, who deeply appreciate the bold and continued calls for the dignity of Sri Lanka and of all its inhabitants.

  • It will only be a matter of time when a soldier who has the courage to bring his mobile phone pictures to the public fora, risking the expected denouncing as a traitor tell the world the truth about what actually happened in his case.

    Are we kidding when we say none of this took place. We all know it did. Similarly we also know we have a compassionate streak in us to share our only food with a tired and hungry family who is also fleeing tyranny.

    We are a very schizophrenic race and are prone to acts of barbarism and also heroism. We can’t help it. Just don’t try to pretend something we are not.

    • kadphises

      Patta,

      Three of the soldiers are clearly identifiable and possible could be called upon to give evidence. I wonder where they are if they are quivering in their boots. If they are even still alive or if they have become unfortunate victims of some hit and run incident.

      • sabbe laban

        kadphises

        Machang, I agree with what you say. Well, Wejeweera was given a second chance as well, when Lalith Athulathmudali was willing to lift the ban on the JVP, knowing very well that the mediator K.C.Senanayake was a mere conman. But, Wijeweera didn’t make use of that offer like any other self-confident rebel leader would do. He could have ‘gone public’ and made the JR administration look feeble, with the massive public support he mustered at that time. He didn’t want to risk his “pound of flesh”, by exploiting that situation.

        Similarly, Prabhakaran, in his grandiose dilution failed to make use of the situation, when Mahinda offered him a chance to surrender! Which fool would want to die in mud, knowing very well what his fate would be in all measures!

        Oh! those maniacs!(with apologies to Boney M!)See, I have forgotten them!

      • sabbe laban

        Anupama [Edited out],

        If you don’t know how a war is fought please learn about it, or ask the heroic soldiers of the US forces who fought in Vietnam or Iraq.

        In order to defeat a scoundrel like Prabhakaran, Sri Lanka has a legitimate right to employ ANY method under its belt, because I have lived in Sri Lanka at the time when the LTTE was bombing and killing anybody, they could get hold of. Ask your Obama and Cameron to go through their cupboards and claim “mama sudanaa”!

        Are you willing to take up the challenge [Edited out]?

        p.s. Don’t try to go for far reaching fields like Dali’s paintings etc! First try to make a ‘katta sambol’!

  • luxmy

    This is simply stunning.
    This has been overdue from us for decades.
    I don’t know how to thank you, Anupama.
    This is the first milestone in reconciliation – acknowledgement.

    Let us now concentrate on what has been going on in the East and the North after they have been ”liberated” – they have been ”liberated from the tigers” but now they have been subjugated by the paramilitaries and the army of occupation respectively.

    It may be difficult to undo what has been destroyed since the ”liberation”, leave alone since independence. In the previous regimes it might have been Sinhalisation of Northeast through ”agricultural development”.Now it is Sinhalisation through historical and archaeological Buddhism.

  • luxmy

    Sinhalese environmentalists, economists and sociologists must oppose the destruction by the Sinhalese politicians before it is too late – it may be already.

  • jagrr

    Anupama Ranawana, thank you for putting into words so succinctly the thoughts of so many. We are all complicit, every one of us. Silence or denial of the truth is tacit compliance with populist opinions.
    jagrr

  • renu

    ”It is necessary to ask the Sinhalese – and their middle classes in particular- what will you do?”

    Please go to:

    http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers46/paper4558.html
    “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.”

  • sabbe laban

    I am personally happy to be part of that nation-wide celebration which marked the end of the war. Those who were killed were killed. Those who are living are living. Most of us are living today as a result of that extermination of the LTTE. [Edited out]

  • Anupama

    Thank you all for reading/writing/sharing my little piece, and for your comments and reactions. Hopefully, we can find a way to translate these reactions into constructive forms of action.
    Sabbe Laban, There are many ways in which wars are fought, but there is a discourse within the ethics of war that has a tendency to silence/suppress its realities. It is important to acknowledge and expose these silences so that a more inclusive dialogue on reconciliation can begin.

    • yapa

      I think reconciliation should be built on the defeat of LTTE itself. Just irradiation of LTTE, the evil cause itself marks the reconciliation process. There is no reason again to listen to LTTE ideology or any other ideology coming in disguise or similar ideologies to that of LTTE. With the defeat of LTTE, all those ideologies too were defeated together. There should be no going back or looking back for reconciliation with those defeated cruel ideologies. Mansions of reconciliation should be built on victory. That is how things are being happened from the past. Especially it is true when an extremely evil and inhuman terrorist organization that had become a cancer to the society is defeated.

      They tried to annihilate us. Hunter was hunt. By doing so thousands of lives were already saved. No a single cry is deserved for the hunter. He got what he deserved or less, brutal killer, LTTE.

      Thanks!

      • yapa

        Correction……..

        Just [irradiation] of LTTE, the evil cause

        here [irradiation] should change as [eradication]

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        Britain is the biggest killer of the world who made the whole world a Killing Field during the last 600-700 years, who went hunting for treasure all over the world on the dead bodies of the almost all the nations of the world. Many ethnic groups they hunted until they were extinct from the earth. Their lands totaling to several continents have been robbed. Millions were enslaved. Millions were moved against their will in chains to change the demography to create thousands of time bombs to explode all over the world to disperse the flesh and bones and blood making the oceans red. The red water they show in their ironic movie, “Killing Fields” is just one of the seas became red as a result of their hunts. This “Killing Field” is just one they planned in the past. These killing fields they themselves made now have become their hunting grounds again. Wolves never shed their greed for flesh. They even make pleasure trips filming and making movies out of what they planned in the past and showing the tragic shows again in greed for money, marketing them again to the victims they created to fill their greedy big bellies.

        Can anybody tell the number of people that was killed, enslaved, tortured, displaced during their rampage of colonialism? Can any body say how much worth of treasures they transported to Britain during this period? At least anybody know how many thousand tons of “Human Bones” (Yes!, I mean human bones)of the dead in those wars they waged by them were transported to Britain to be used as fertilizer to nourish their lands?

        They are pointing a finger now at us. There are five fingers in a hand and there are millions and millions of people with hands. They must multiply that millions and millions by four to see how many fingers are pointed to them.

        Hunters have become saints and now become preachers. Some are convinced that single finger points to the hunter. No, more fingers show the truth. They are the real killers.

        Beware of hungry wolves! This is a message for all the victims, not just to Sinhalese or Tamils or Muslims, or burgers or Negros descendants living in this island. We must identify the common enemy.

        Thanks!

        Thanks!

    • sabbe laban

      I don’t see how it could aid reconcilliation, Anupama. It would definitely give ammunition to the lunatic diaspora and the elements who from the beginning, supported the terrorists, openly and tacitly!

  • Thambi

    Not a tear shed by me for LTTE’s supporters. If they can take up guns they can die from them.

    [Edited out]

  • BalangodaMan

    I cannot see what the fuss is about. The purpose of journalism is to bring issues that deserve or require public debate to be brought to public debate. C4 has achieved this quite well, judging by the interest it has aroused here and around the world.

    As for war crimes, an independent international inquiry seems to be the only way the evidence can be examined objectively in order to prove to the international community that war crimes did not take place in the closing stages of this war. Those who wish to protect the reputation of SL abroad should support this I feel. Isn’t that obvious?

    As for ‘fake’ reporting, this is irrelevant. In a war crimes inquiry proper evidence will be submitted; evidence that will stand up to scrutiny, cross-examination, expert witnesses. That is, if bodies are buried then the inquiry will look at exactly that, not a video of it. So let’s not waste time on whether C4 was in collusion with Hollywood.

    As for war crimes by the LTTE, sure – they too should be charged and punished, in a separate action.

    Isn’t that it?
    Or am I missing something?

    • yapa

      Dear BalangodaMan;

      Please read the following portion taken from Kalana Senarathna’s article. You will realize what you are missing.

      “Furthermore, the moving image can very conveniently and surreptitiously hide many other serious factors which often go unnoticed. And in this regard it may be noted that the law, in such circumstances, is a hopelessly weak tool to address very complex political choices and decisions, and it’s an illusion that justice and reconciliation can only dawn if a particular set of crimes are investigated, which were committed during a specific time period (in a conflict which went on for decades), with a set of laws contained in an international legal instrument which are considered to be pure, rational and coherent; that there is a law, it’s clear, apply it, and peace, justice and reconciliation will arrive.”

      Have you not heard the story of the “cat judge” who distributed the cheese ball equally between the hare and the bird? Are you sure the judge is not crooked or he is not ignorant at all?

      Thanks!

      • BalangodaMan

        Mr Yapa, whether you like it or not, international justice is all we have if we (SL) need a ‘clean bill of health’ to be bestowed upon us. NOT letting The Hague examine the evidence and clear SL of wrongdoing is depriving us of that. And you are delaying that process. (including those who write that other countries should be investigated first. Since when did we insist we join the back of the queue when something good can be gained? Duh!)

        It will be open. Transparent. I’m sure our lawyers will refute the ‘evidence’ and prove it wrong. In court.

        ‘In court’ is my point. In open view of the international community. On CNN, on BBC, on SkyNews. Then the whole world can decide.

        Unless of course you are suggesting that the whole world has a vendetta against SL and are biased against us.

      • yapa

        Dear BalangodaMan;

        When I put forward facts/counter arguments you are again writing neglecting them, just repeating your opinion.

        How do you justify your claim after Kalana Senaratne’s argument is submitted? Your argument is whether I accept or not…..blah!, blah!!
        This is not anything to do with my acceptance or not, but it is a case of justifying the view you put forward in a public forum.

        I also can turn down anybody’s any reasonable idea saying “whether you accept or not it is wrong…..blah!, blah!!.

        Your belief alone will not counter opposite arguments. Back them with reasons/facts/evidence. Don’t try to persuade us by repeating the same idea with different words.

        What counter arguments do you have against Kalana’s above argument? (It cannot again be “Mr Yapa, whether you like it or not,….blah! blah!!…)

        Thanks!

      • BalangodaMan

        I heard you Mr Yapa. Let’s try again.

        Saying ‘war crimes are admitted but see why it was necessary’ (which I think is what you’re saying) and ‘war crimes were not committed’ (as those who wish to prove that the videos are fake as saying) are two quite different arguments. They conflict with each other.

        My advice is for those who state the latter, of which there are many commenting on GV and elsewhere. I repeat, if we say the accusations are false then we should like to challenge that in open court, and put an end to speculation.

        Your argument, and that of Mr Senavirathna, is the former. If I were to comment on that I would observe that few systems of justice in the world (if any) are founded on ‘I killed X because X killed Y and that makes it ok’. It would be a nice try but in the 21st century I doubt if it will work. The Hague adopt that? Nah!

      • yapa

        Dear BaangodaMan;

        “It would be a nice try but in the 21st century I doubt if it will work. The Hague adopt that? Nah!”

        What you are talking I don’t understand as ever. Why you are proposing what others think to them? See the above statement again, in a place you need to give counter argument you just say some nonsense like “NICE TRY” and you go to your dream world to think for others.

        All what you are arguing against again is your own ideas created for others. BalangodaMan, if you are bankrupt of ideas, at least don’t try to create ideas for others. Let your bankruptcy displayed through your own ideas. We are capable for creating our own ideas than you.

        Please try to argue to the points raised, to at least now to learn how to engage in a discussion, without running all over the world..

        Thanks!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Ms Ranawana writes that “Channel 4 is to be commended for airing a documentary which provides a great degree of visual confirmation of the atrocities that occurred during the final months of physical hostilities between the Rajapaksa Government and the LTTE.”

    She goes on to say that “the SLA and the Rajapakse government murdered civilians because they were, simply, Tamil. This is genocide for it was obviously deliberate and moreover because it was a race crime; intending to obliterate as many Tamil persons as possible…”

    Now who is sounding ‘hysterical’? What is the evidence of the latter charge, namely ‘ genocide’, given that several tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were seen on global TV as being rescued thanks to risky operations by the Sri Lankan armed forces? would ‘genocide’ be followed fairly swiftly by an election in which the adversarial TNA emerges as the main Tamil party despite the heavy presence of the troops of the “Sinhala Raj” and ample opportunity for a managed/ manipulated result?

    Back to the Ch 4 movie. The narration alleges rape, but there are no scenes of rape only dead female bodies. The narration and interviews allege bombing and shelling of hospitals and there are no such scenes, only those of dreadful suffering in field hospitals in the middle of the climax of a thirty year war. The narrative alleges deliberate killing of civilians and there are no such scenes. There ARE scenes of prisoner execution and possible torture, which if true would constitute crimes which require investigation and punishment, but even these do not prove deliberate policy and are definitely far more the exception, the aberrent, than the rule, given that there were 11,600 Tiger prisoners of war when the war ended!

    What is far more irksome is Ms Ranawana’s attempt at theorising or, more plainly whitewashing the LTTE’s fascism:”Perhaps in strategy, the LTTE moved far and away from the nobility of a battle for self-determination and equality; but it is impossible not to consider that, in the face of the Sinhala chauvinism that made the national agenda in early postcolonial years, there was no path to follow but one that was volatile, ceaseless and increasingly violent. It should not be forgotten, as the new narratives being written in post-conflict Sri Lanka are attempting to do, that the LTTE’s eventually disastrous acts were political entrapment engendered by the harshness of the Sinhala Raj…”

    Ms Ranawana must surely tell us why “there was no path to follow but one that was volatile ceaseless and increasingly violent” even AFTER and DESPITE the Indo-Lanka accord of 1987, and how Sinhala chauvinism, “the agenda in the early postcolonial years” and the “Sinhala Raj” were responsible for the murder of Sundaram in 1982, the internal execution of Kannady Pathmanathan even earlier, the decision to wage war against the Indian peacekeepers despite the Indo-Lanka accord and the resultant confining to barracks of the troops of the ‘Sinhala Raj’, the rejection of the Sept 1987 Interim Council which gave the Tigers 7 of 11 seats including the chairmanship of a body for the merged North and East, and the murders of Rajani Tiranagama, Appapillai Amirthalingam, K Pathmanabha and Neelan Tiruchelvam.

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  • puniselva

    Anupama

    Is there any more room for regression:

    Civil Military Coordination of Jaffna: http://www.cimicjaffna.com/main.php
    ”Mission: To be an effective instrument to the Government endeavour to cultivate national harmony in Jaffna Peninsula through uplifting the physical quality of life and spiritual values of the people. ………………..In a return to reconciliation, civilian life and in expediting the restoration of the traditional economic activities of the war affected populace, the military is now engaged in this transformational stage. A milestone was recently marked by the recent opening of a Civil Affairs and Public Relations Office in the city centre of Jaffna Town. It is now open to the public and the military personnel manning the office seek to aid by acting as a channel in obtaining institutional access for those in need of assistance and relief in many spheres.”

    2. Civil Security Department of Sri Lanka: Operations: Present/Future Role, http://www.csd.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20:operations&catid=11&Itemid=134&lang=en#present-future-role

    If the following happens in China, Russia and North Korea, the whole world will be up in arms:

    Hundreds of Tamil schools under Sri Lankan military administration, 27 April 2016, http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=17793

    Pre-school kid has to wear a T-shirt with CSD printed on it: http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=17840

    Pre-school teachers employed by the CSD cannot opt out of CSD function: http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=38250