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Wretched of the Wanni earth break free of bondage

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Latest developments on the Wanni war front have brought much relief to all people yearning for the safety of entrapped civilians in the coastal strip of northern Mullaitivu district currently controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The long awaited military operation to break through Tiger defences and facilitate the evacuation of civilians that began at midnight on Sunday April 19 has been a success in terms of numbers.

By Thursday April 24 around 103,000 people from Palammaathalan, Ambalavanpokkanai and Puthumaathalan areas had been freed from what was in reality an open prison.

Since the Government had not geared itself up to handle such large numbers the officials both military and civil are struggling to cope with the large influx.

[Manic Farm-Zone 3-pic by Doctorandus Sarajevo]

PROBLEMS

Apart from infra-structural problems there is also the security dimension as most people except for the very old and very young have to be screened before being provided shelter in hastily set up camps for the internally displaced.

As a result only a fraction of the people have been brought to Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna and Trincomalee districts and classified officially as IDP’s. The rest were being kept in various places north of Omanthai in the Vavuniya district and in some places within Kilinochchi and MulMullaitivu districts.

Though more than 100,000 have “exited” Tiger territory only around 15,000 of these have been designated officially as IDP’s so far. The rest are yet to be screened and cleared.

They remain in the custody of the security forces and no one else has access to them at present.

This great escape has not come without a price. Hundreds of civilians were killed and injured during the course of this rescue operation. Many were literally caught in the crossfire. There are allegations that the soldiers used some civilians as human shields. These have been officially denied.

SAFETY

As time progresses and more information comes to light the manner and mode in which the evacuation of civilians was executed would no doubt receive wide publicity. But the crux of the matter is that despite death and injury to some a large number of civilians have reached safety.

It is also a matter of record that soldiers involved in the evacuation have been deeply touched by the tragic situation of civilians. The sorrow and misery of these wretched souls would melt even stony hearts. The Army and Navy have gone out of their way to help these IDP’s as far as possible.

When these same civilians were in Tiger territory they were subjected to a lot of attacks by the armed forces. Though civilians were not the intended targets; many innocent people were killed or injured due to aerial bombardment and artillery shelling. It would be reasonable to presume that many of these people would have had a very negative image of the armed forces.

But now the very same armed forces projected as the enemy were being helpful and providing “asylum” to people fleeing their one-time protectors and liberators. This no doubt would help dispel fear and insecurity in the long run. A pleasant irony indeed!

Needless to say the state of these IDP’s is far from being satisfactory. The conditions under which they are being housed leave much to be desired. Their freedom of movement is restricted. Some fear that they have fallen into the fire from the boiling pot.

RELIEF

Their future too is bleak and uncertain as there are doubts as to whether or when they would be re-settled in their former places of habitation. Of course there are official pronouncements that they would be re-settled as soon as possible but many are skeptical as the credibility of this regime is so low on many matters.

Notwithstanding these problems the overwhelming emotion of those who came out this week and those who came out earlier is that of thankful relief.

Despite their living conditions and the vague future they are indeed thankful that they have escaped a living hell and reached relative safety. Having suffered greatly they are thankful for small mercies.

It is this mindset which manifested itself when Tamil National Alliance MP Vinoharathalingam visited an IDP camp recently. The inmates told him that living conditions were bad. However they were better off when compared to what they had undergone earlier

Most importantly they had a greater guarantee of the most important human right namely the right to life. All other rights are meaningless without the fundamental right of life.

Life in the Wanni was “short, nasty and brutish”. Here it was better and despite the problems and uncertainty their chances of preserving their lives was higher. Above all they had hope of a better life tomorrow.

CRITICISM

Many of these people were vehemently critical of the LTTE. Some would opine that this was all a drama or set-up and that the people were bad-mouthing the LTTE to either curry favour with the authorities or because they were being forced to say these things as a “captive” audience.

While this charge may not be entirely without merit it did seem apparent to many that the IDP’s were being very truthful in their criticism of the tigers.

But to most people who knew of the appalling manner in which these civilians were treated by the LTTE in recent times this criticism of the Tigers would not be surprising. The LTTE has kept them in bondage like slaves and have suppressed basic freedom in a callous and cruel manner.

Many officials and volunteers interacting with the IDP’s felt that the critical views of the LTTE were being expressed and was genuine. The greatest debacle of the LTTE was not on the military front but in losing the hearts and minds of the people.

WRETCHED

Personally I am both relieved and thankful that so many people were able to come out within a few days. I hope and pray that the other civilians who want to come out can also do so without a major bloodbath as feared.

The tragic plight of civilians caught up in the war has been a matter of great concern and worry for me. I have written many articles on civilian plight in the past.

In fact my first column for “Daily Mirror” I wrote about the pathetic plight of these civilians. It appeared on October 4, 2008 under the heading “Civilians of Wanni are Wretched of Lankan earth”.

It would be appropriate I think to excerpt some paragraphs from that article here.

“Franz Fanon’s famous phrase “wretched of the earth” is quite applicable in the Sri Lanka of today to the civilian population inhabiting the northern mainland known as the “Wanni”. More than 200,000 internally displaced persons trapped in territory that was/is controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are in existential terms the wretched of the Sri Lankan “Wanni” earth.

It is this plight faced by the wretched of the Wanni earth that this writer would be focusing on today in what is formally an inaugural column for the “Daily Mirror”.After spotlighting much of the troubles and travails undergone by the civilians in that article, I openly appealed to the LTTE that they should “let my people go”. I was critical of the Tigers for preventing those who wanted to leave from doing so.

OPTION

Let me reproduce some relevant paragraphs here:

“What then is the best option available to alleviate the suffering and ensure safety of the civilians? Obviously it is an end to the war!

But realistically it is not possible at this point of time when both the Government and LTTE are embroiled in a “make or break” war.

Under such circumstances the second best option is for the beleaguered Wanni civilians to move out from the conflict-ridden areas to the relatively safer areas under Government control.

For this safe passage must be guaranteed through the setting up of a viable civilian corridor. Temporary ceasefires should also be declared and honoured.

The hitch (and one hell of a one at that) is the self-styled protectors and self-imposed sole representatives of the Tamil people. The LTTE will not allow the people to move out from areas under its control.

The draconian pass system will prevent people from moving out. Besides, decades of totalitarian control have conditioned the people into submission. Moreover the vast distance from Vavuniya to the areas where IDP’s are concentrated is also a deterrent.

Likewise there is some reluctance by the people in moving to Vavuniya. This is due to fear that they would be penalised as people with LTTE links. Also they would be kept in “camps” like in the cases of existing ones at Kalimoddai and Sirukkandal. While acknowledging the fact that certain segments of the Wanni population would prefer to stay put in the Wanni rather than moving out to Government controlled areas it must also be emphasised that those desiring to leave LTTE areas should be permitted to do so.

APPEAL

It was this writer who first wrote in another newspaper during the first week of August about the growing IDP predicament in the Wanni and urged the LTTE publicly to allow the people to leave saying “Let my People Go”.

This column reiterates that position and appeals to the LTTE that it must grant those among the wretched of the Wanni earth who want to leave Tiger territory, an opportunity to do so.

The easiest way is for the LTTE to relax its controls and allow “exit” to those who want to move out to government areas.

The lack of care and concern displayed by this government to those civilians living in the arena of war deserves condemnation.

Likewise the callous conduct of the LTTE towards displaced Tamil civilians in the Wanni is reprehensible too.

IDP’s are entitled to the right of movement. They should be allowed to move to areas of safety if they want to do so.

While the government increases the burden on civilians in the name of security the LTTE adds to their woes in the name of liberation. The IDP’s are caught in the middle.

The UNHCR drafted guiding principles regarding IDP’s emphasise that the displaced be allowed freedom of movement. Principles 14 and 15 are particularly explicit on this aspect.

The LTTE is violating the spirit and letter of UNHCR principles by restricting movement of IDP’s.

“Let my people go” was the poignant plea made by Moses to the Egyptian despot of yore.

That was a demand made to an alien ruler by the representative of an oppressed people.

Today the same cry “Let my people go” can be articulated on behalf of the Wanni IDP’s to the LTTE hierarchy.

Sadly the LTTE and the Wanni civilians are all of the same ethnicity. Ironically the LTTE claims to be fighting for the Tamil cause.

This then is the tragedy of the Tamils, particularly those “wretched of the Wanni earth.”

PHENOMENON

Now a very large number of entrapped civilians are out and there is every chance that more would come out before this month ends.

It is indeed sad that the media focus on this phenomenon is mainly from a predominantly militaristic perspective. The evacuation is portrayed as a military victory for the Government and a defeat for the LTTE.

This of course is true to a very great extent but I would prefer to perceive this as a humanitarian triumph rather than militaristic success. The LTTE did not let “our people go” voluntarily but a predominantly “Sinhala” Army depicted as an alien force has helped bring “our people out”.

This act of civilians leaving Tiger-controlled territory is of enormous significance. The people are defying Tiger diktat. The wretched of the Wanni earth are breaking free of bondage. It is a triumph of the human spirit.

This does not mean that everything is going to be hunky-dory for these IDP’s in particular and Tamils in general. There are many problems to be faced in the future.

Realistically, the community is thoroughly demoralized and disillusioned. There are many elements ensconced in the realms of power who would like to push Tamils further down.

Nevertheless the safe exit of these people and the probable evacuation of more people are happenings to be thankful about. These are silver linings in a dark cloud and one is thankful for small mercies. As long as there is life there is hope.

IMPERATIVE

The need of the hour is to ensure that these IDP’s coming out are screened and cleared as quickly as possible. Thereafter they must be housed in camps and welfare centers with reasonable facilities. The next stage to be implemented without undue delay is to re-settle and rehabilitate them in their former villages.

It is imperative that Colombo allows accredited international agencies access to the IDP’s as early as possible. It is clear that the Government which meticulously planned the military operation has not paid attention to the humanitarian task of adequately catering to the evacuated civilians. The task at hand is gigantic.

Presently there is much gratitude and goodwill on the part of most rescued IDP’s towards the Government. But if their immediate needs are not addressed properly and on time, these feelings could sour because such is human nature. It would be a political calamity for the Government to “win” the IDP’s physically and “lose” them emotionally.

Meanwhile what of the others? The LTTE area of control has shrunk further. The people are crammed into that shrinking littoral. Once again there are assertions “reducing” the number of civilians.

Earlier the Government had “unofficially” stated that the number of civilians was only about 70,000. After its announcement that more than a 100,000 civilians have been “rescued” the government had a lot of egg on its face.

Foreign secretary Palitha Kohona when questioned by the BBC on this discrepancy sheepishly replied that his earlier figure was only an “estimate”. But his minister Rohitha Bogollagama rushes in where Angels fear to tread by saying only 15-20,000 civilians are now left in Tiger territory. Apparently some people never learn.

CRUCIAL

It is crucial that the next phase of humanitarian evacuation is implemented as far as possible with minimum loss of life and limb. Though the temptation to go in with brute force would be tremendous it is advisable and humane to practice restraint as far as possible. Otherwise there could be a humanitarian catastrophe of massive proportions.

What is sad in this scenario is that the LTTE has been reduced to a state where it is holding a section of its “own” people as hostages. Though pro-Tiger elements have argued otherwise the bitter reality is that the current state of affairs being akin to a hostage situation.

The International community is firmly of the opinion that the Tigers should release the IDP’s they are holding by force as human shields and hostages. The UN Security Council which met informally was tough on the Tigers. But the Government too received flak.

“We demand that the LTTE immediately lay down arms, renounce terrorism, allow a UN-assisted evacuation of the remaining civilians in the conflict area, and join the political process,” Claude Heller, of Mexico, told journalists after an informal Security Council meeting.

The council president, speaking on behalf of the 15 members, said they “strongly condemned the LTTE, a terrorist organization, for the use of civilians as human shields and for not allowing them to leave the area.” He said that council members also insisted that the Sri Lankan government abide by international humanitarian law on allowing aid access to refugees.

OPPROBRIUM

While international opprobrium is mainly directed at the LTTE the Sri Lankan government is also being criticized. The International community has advocated a “humanitarian pause” to enable negotiations aimed at getting the people out.

The government is paranoid that such a “pause” would help the LTTE extricate itself from its current debacle. Some hawks suspect an international conspiracy to let the tigers off the hook.

This however seems an unfounded fear as the International community wants a “pause” and “talks” only to get the people out and not to throw a lifeline to the drowning tiger.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress: “This is such a terrible humanitarian tragedy. And we have been pressing the Sri Lankan government for a halt in the fighting so that we could secure a safe passage for as many of the trapped civilians as possible.

“I think that the Sri Lankan government knows that the entire world is very disappointed, that in its efforts to end what it sees as 25 years of conflict, it is causing such untold suffering.” She stressed:

“We have made it clear that, as soon as there is some lull in the fighting or an end to the fighting, that there has to be not only massive humanitarian aid, but a political resolution.”

But she also criticized the Tigers saying: “There seems to be very little openness on the part of the Tamil Tiger leadership to cease their efforts so that we could try to get in and help the people.” The United States is already “beginning intensive post-conflict planning,” she said.

DEFIANCE

At the United Nations British ambassador John Sawers said after council talks that the Tigers should “stop using civilians as human shields” and “allow UN-assisted evacuation.” He added that the Sri Lankan authorities must “abide by Their obligations under international humanitarian law to take the steps necessary to save civilian lives and to allow international monitors. The situation would be vastly better if there were a pause in the fighting.”

Sawers’s US counterpart, Susan Rice, called the situation “dire” and said it was absolutely imperative that both sides cease the fighting and the heavy shelling.” We’re frankly appalled by the fact that many who have been able to leave are unable to receive life saving assistance,” she said.

Colombo’s persistent refusal to comply is earning itself a bad name. This is likely to worsen if and when more details of the human cost of the humanitarian rescue operation become public.

Against this backdrop the Government would do well to pay heed to international concerns and act accordingly. In the current triumphal frame of mind there would be many within the corridors of power who would want to defy international opinion.

That would be a grave error. It may bring short-term gains but invite much harm in the long-term. It is this myopic defiance of the world at large that has brought the LTTE to this perilous state. It would be a monumental folly to follow the same path.

D.B.S.Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com

This article appears in the COLUMNS section of Daily Mirror dated April 25th 2009

32 Comments

  1. Gloria Abraham says:

    You made many appeals to the LTTE to release the people who wanted to leave. But they didn’t listen.Even now they want to keep people with them as hostages

  2. David says:

    your warnings clearly fell on deaf ears.

  3. Metha says:

    Appeals to wrong side -a Terrorist Group. But no hard Appeal to a Demorative Govt. If Govt stop war for few days can LTTE re assemble and become a Big Force. First responce shoud come from SL Govt.
    I don’t defend LTTE here.

  4. Puvaneswari says:

    I think Metha hasn’t understood DBS article. He made appeal to LTTE many times last year. The appeal words in article reproduced from last year October article. DBS didn’t make appeal now as Metha suggests

  5. ragu says:

    What puvanswari says is absolutely correct. DBS appealed to LTTE long time ago not now. But tigers dont listen.Not even now

  6. Selvin says:

    I can understand the pain you felt about civilians being held as hostages by the LTTE. I can also understand the relief you feel about some at least being able to get away from bondage. But tiger supporters are liable to misunderstand you DBS

  7. Nihal says:

    I regret loss of civilian life. But its better to lose some and save more. That’s what the army is doing

  8. Bandarage says:

    It’s good that some civilians at least are safe now. Govt must suspend war and let International community negotiate with LTTE and get others also out

  9. Shiranee K says:

    Aney Jayaraj

    Like you we also happy that some civilians are saved. let’s pray that all will be saved without bloodshed.Even the misguided tiger boys and girls too.

  10. harindra says:

    DBS, Thanks for your effort.

    We all hope that roses will bloom tomorrow!
    But,
    Like it or not, this war will not end within our life span.
    Both your son and my daughter will suffer from that.
    Thats,
    If they are able to survive through that!

    We cheers when (my) one kills (your) one.
    But,
    We will not see the pain on the peoples hart. No matter Sinhala or Tamil. Suffering is only for the people standing on Lanka on their feet. Suffering will not come to people staying abroad.

    Lets cheer as (my) one is killing (your) one.

    I feel sorry for my mother land.

  11. rasika says:

    Very true DBS, couldn’t agree with you more, the gov is tunled in to destroy the LTTE and has become short sighted, I still have faith in them, and hope that they will take care of IDP’s and win their hearts and minds. they know its important.

  12. Seelan says:

    Dear DBS,

    I have been repeatedly asking you to throw some lights on Karuna – Pillayan factor.

    We easterners, not much bothered about what is going on in the north. They are awful dominance people.

    Even you glorified Theepan. I am sure you won’t do the same for a eastern fighter.

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Dear Seelan

    Your regionalism is repulsive and disgusting

    I write whenever possible o0n something which I think is important or what interests me. I began this blog to write mainly on non – political topics reflecting my diverse interests. But the situation in Sri Lanka is so bad that I am unable to write on other topics in the way I would like to write on

    Currently it is the situation in the Wanni that is most important to me. I have always been worried about the civilan plight and warned of a humanitarian catastrophe long before all others in the media

    I am therefore focusing whatever time, energy and space I have on that topic. The Karuna – Pillayan factor is less important to me now.

    I have written extensively on the Karuna split and later the Pillaiyan factor. I have urged the LTTE to patch up with Karuna because letting the split widen would increase the North – east divide and not be in the interests of the Tamil people. But I was only attacked and vilified by the tiger acolytes.

    Why have you forgotten the long series of articles I wrote about the Eastern province civilians being driven from place to place from Sampoor to Verugal to Vaaharai and later the Paduvaankarai displacement. How many articles would I have written about eastern displacement.

    But now can I not or should I not write about Wanni displacement?

    Are Northern civilians different from eastern civilians? Are they not human too?

    Your nasty innuendo about Theepan was unwarranted and only exposes your closed mind.

    I have written about so many people from the East both fighters and others. The brutal killing of TRO employees by the Karuna group that was ordered by Pillaiyan, the deaths of Chandranehru Ariyaratnam, Joseph Pararajasingham, Kingsley Rajanayagam, PLOTE MOhan, EPRLF Razeek,Ramanan,Kausalyan, the Kattankudi killings, Ashraff,Taraki and Nadesan the journalists etc………………………………..the list is l

    Your dirty remarks smacking of regional bias are unfair.

  13. Kumara says:

    Dear Jeyaraj
    Thanks for your comments.Same tima I would like to make an appel to the Tamil diaspora who is doing protests,fasts,rallies over the world against GOSL.Plese understand Thousands of you moathers,fatthers,brothers,sisters,relatives have saved from LTTE’s barberic hands by Sri Lanka army and they need our help.Please stop your protests and hel them by every possible means.I never seen any Tamil organisation so far doing anything to these poor people.Please act now.

  14. Ali says:

    Jeyraj

    You know the LTTE why bother with appeals to them when you know they will be ignored . The international community is mistaken . They are dumb enough to believe having a pause will allow the civis to escape . They dont know the LTTE .

    In the previous article you were pooh poohing the govts figures and stating only 4000 were released . Now you have to admit that the Govts figures are true .

    By the way the one of the most touching scenes I have seen is the youtube videos of how the army is interacting feeding and playing with the Civillians . These boys have paid a horrendous price to save these people . I hope this good will created now will continue and allow Sri Lanka to heal as a nation .

    My belief about MR and his brothers is that they will provide a good solution to the problem . even though this solution may be more important to the Diaspora my belief is the economic development will actually be more important to the wretched on the Wanni earth as you put it . And also security (to be free of the LTTE diktat).

  15. Compassion says:

    Few things.

    First Who is making sure that the people who have come to the Govenrment Controlled area are not being killed by the SL’n Forces?

    Out of the 100,000 came only 15,000 is being counted
    After a week. To say this is a concern is an understatement.

    I also know from some one who called had called directly from NFZ that they are down with chicken pox and unable to leave. The same way some people want to leave but are sick or don’t have the strength to walk even a mile.
    Then there are others who have children who are in there late teens or 20′s don’t want to leave because of fear that army will kill/Rape their children.

    This is why we need 3rd party to receive these people with the Army. If the army has nothing to hide why is it then the SL Gov’t is not allowing 3rd party?

    GOSL & SLA should realise that most of the young people teens and early 20′s were forced recruits. Then the rest who are under 35 didn’t have any other choice other than to join LTTE. So they should look at these people differently than they look at VP or Pottu or Soosai……..

    GOSL should open the door to rehabilate these young ones. It is not their fault. PLEASE DON’T KILL THEM. If GOSL kill these people then they are trying to wipe out the tamils in the name of fighting terrorism. GOSL should show us that they care. Other wise the problem is not going to go away and GOSL will be prooving to this people that VP & LTTE were right.

    WHo is going to VOICE THESE to the IC/UN.

    DBS I hope you can take this to world. PLEASE .
    Because of VP we have come to this state.

    Like Hiroshima let North & East develope form the ruins.

  16. Hi DBSJ

    Please write an article on Indo-Srilankan Accord of 1989 – and under the then circumstances that is what the Tamils could have hoped for. Also, what are the political-administrative possibilities for the Tamils today in Srilanka. What is your take on the India-SL Accord, then and now?

    Regards

    DBSJ RESPONDS: Dear Vijay, I have written many articles of such nature . I recall one for FRrontline on 10th anniversary of I-L accord. Another one I wrote was on 15th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi for “The Sunday Leader”. I am sure you would come across these if you google & searcg

  17. Dinesh says:

    “The draconian pass system will prevent people from moving out. Besides, decades of totalitarian control have conditioned the people into submission. Moreover the vast distance from Vavuniya to the areas where IDP’s are concentrated is also a deterrent.”

    I always wonder at such statements. The Tamil Eelam as it existed during the CFA was flourishing. Everything was working. There were no “IDP” camps. There was a good exchange of commodities between the North and the South. Had the CFA gone on, perhaps there would have been an exchange of ideas as well. And with that, the Sinhalese South might have accepted the Tamil need for self-determination. Unfortunately, the Mahavamsa impulse was too strong and all hell came to break loose. Now we are back to square one.

  18. segaran says:

    remember:

    “I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people… now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion… the more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here… Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”

    J.R.Jayawardene, Former President of Sri Lanka – Daily Telegraph, 11th July 1983

    Have the Sinhala people changed or is just the leader that has changed?

    Is JR’s dream finally coming true?

  19. sridhar says:

    Dear
    readers
    I am hailing from Andhra pradesh . The srilanka still not end its operations. . Most of my fellow indians doesnot know wot is going in srilanka. I am writing for inncocent people cause. In India the maoist cadre and leaders are based in chhatisgarh forests. But we never use bombs on them . we have one of the worlds best armies in the world. In kashmir or in northeast our forces or our netas never use heavyguns. In mumbai terrorist attack also our valiant heroes fight in face to face manner. BUt in HOLYLAND Bombing on children , women , elder persons is justifiable?

    we given autonomous councils to bodoland gorkha hill council to respect ethinic groups , But where as in case of srilanka the majority people looking Tamils with suspicious . This trend is not good DO u know The Bangladesh is bornt with Indias effort. . Remember …

  20. RS Wickramasinghe says:

    DBSJ, it seems for you the conflict in Sri Lanka is a zero-sum morality, with both sides shameless in their willingness to allow civilians to suffer.

    It would seem that the lesser of two evils, at least in the short term is for the GoSL government to prevail.

  21. aratai says:

    .
    Today, Srilankan President agreed that he used WMD (heavy weapons) on Tamils.
    How can he order to stop using WMD, if they are not using WMD and denying all along.
    :-)

  22. Rushad ayad says:

    I have said this so many times, DBS articles should be carried as headlines in all newspaper

  23. Sathees says:

    Your are the finest columnist – writer I ever encountered!

    You are wasting your talents by writing truthful journalism on Lanka politics and getting lambasted by idiots who dont realise your value.

    Stop writing on Sri Lankan politics and start writing novels and stories which would suit your immense potential best. You may be another Leon Uris or Frederick Forsythe

  24. Ali says:

    DBSJ

    While you find seelans comment disgusting , I feel there is a lot of merit to his sentiments . When I was in uni two of my group mates were from jaffna and batti . They fell over them selves to find fault with each other all the time .

    So I question your judgement of Theepan was the great fighter/commander . My knowledge of the LTTE commanders is minimal but I think since karuna left LTTE has been on the run . So may be , just may be he was the best military man they had and not theepan ?

    DBSJ RESPONDS: I said Seelan’s comment was disgusting because he was harping about northern dominance and how as an easterner he was not interested in what was happening to northern civilians. Any person who trivialises or ignores suffering by a section of humanity for petty reasons is disgusting. You are now rushing into areas where Angels fear to tread. By the way I have never said Theepan or anyone else was the Best commander or otherwise. Please dont waste your and my time with assumptions.

  25. Shan says:

    I enjoy your articles very much

  26. Nallavan says:

    Although most of the people of Wanni who had no association with the Tigers have ‘escaped’ the most of the remaining are people who are left might have had some association with the Tigers.
    How could you ask these people to leave, given their fear of torture and killings on the hands of the GOSL?. There is a genuine belief and proof that the GOSL would want to eliminate all Tiger carders and associates to prevent any future uprising. Saving these people is again left to the Tigers.
    I think it is time for LTTE leadership to publicly announce a plausible exit strategy (1) for their leadership (2) low ranked carders (3) forced recruits (4) associates (civil admin etc) to the IC and in particular that would appease India and hope they persuade the GOSL. This would be the only way to save thousands of lives which would otherwise be all lost in vain in the name of pride.
    The call to the Tigers is now not let my people go more of let your selves go.

  27. punitham says:

    When will the people all over Northeast Sri Lanka break free of bondage?

  28. PeaceDove says:

    The best way to end this stand off, I guess, is for the Tamil diaspora to bring enough pressure to bear on VP and Pottu A to release the innocent civilians. And these leaders can surrender to the Army. If karuna were made a minister after layimg down arms, I am sure the GoSL might consider making some of these thugs ministers, governers, chief minsters etc.

  29. sundaram says:

    Hi Sridhar,
    I appreciate your interest in our people. but I don’t agree that Indian army is one of the best in the world. we knew what they did for our people with the name of IPKF. I would say Indian army is one of the worst army in the world. but sri lankan army is one of best in the world. I am a tamil but I have to be honest with this.

  30. Ravimal Galappaththi says:

    I thought this was a very balanced critic of the current situation in vanni. LTTE indeed have lost the hearts of most Tamils. By the looks how LTTE is treating their own people gives clear note of a dictatorship rather than democracy. Should they have had a separate state I very much doubt about the democracy which would prevail in such a society.

    My first impression about the LTTE changed when they assassinated a number of Buddhist monks in Aranthalawa and when they attacked Sri Maha bodhiya and and Kandy. I personally experienced LTTEs brutality when I witnessed Maradana bomb blast form a couple of hundred meters. There was a gush of sand on my eyes and I fell out of my motorcycle. I had to bring a young Tamil women whose leg was half chard to accident service in Colombo. I witnessed most things there as a medical student. I can still remember how she asked me for some water, and what her eyes told us before she was taken for surgery. I met her 2 months down the line, with a leg amputated, having 3 children to care for.

    Right for life comes on top of every ethics. As western humanitarian agencies assert do we need to negotiate with LTTE psychopaths? Can moderate Tamil intellectuals open their mouth in the presence of these brutal extremists? So why do we need to negotiate with them?

    Some times one has to learn compassion from their own brutalities. I wonder if LTTE yet has achieved this. I would not know if the day will ever come.

    As government is taking a militaristic stance to the problem, rightfully they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to listen to the Tamil concerns and remedy this with a package which they would not feel further discriminated. These decisions should not be influenced by maniac south Indian politicians or some Diaspora who had lived abroad for donkeys years. We have to take personnel responsibility to what had happend in 1983 riots which changed the tamil perception on sinhalese. We should not support politicians who fueled the crisis who did not act rightfuly both in terms of politicaly and militarily at the inception of the LTTE brutalities. So many sad memories have added up along the 3 decades of war futher traumatising and mistrusting each other. Representation should come from Sri Lankan Tamils whose choice is to live in Sri Lanka. Every body should have respect for life and humanity to prevent sri lanka converting to another Iraq. When further traumatized and stressed, everybody tend to act like headless chickens. For the moment lets hope that rest of the civilians be rescued with minimum damage either by government or by an impartial agency with out giving further breath to LTTE.

  31. Sinhala boy says:

    My question to Mr Jeyaraj..

    Do you think Prabhakaran knows that innocent fleeing tamil people were shot by LTTE cadres?

    If he knows would he stop it?

  32. Samantha Jayawardena says:

    We all Sri lankans salute our war heroes for their sacrifices to bring a sustainable peace to this beautiful country.

    Now Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims Burgers and all other races can live in harmony in Sri Lanka.

    As president Mr said, there are no minorities here after,, only patriots and non patriots.

    Lets protect our motherland… Sri Lanka.

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