LTTE Accountability & UN failure : 3 decades of UN inaction in Sri Lanka
The last phase of the war suddenly became a concern to the UN and its associated bodies and they were seen frantically trying to forge some sort of deal with the GOSL using ‘civilians’ as an excuse. The frantic appeals made on behalf of ‘civilians’ that the LTTE claimed were voluntarily joining the LTTE became of more concern to the UN and associate bodies than the civilians that LTTE attacked throughout 3 decades of terror. While, UN attempts to bury its inaction through a report claiming it has failed what needs to be highlighted is that the UN failed 20million people throughout 30 years.
UN’s inaction on LTTE
· LTTE’s forcible recruitment of Tamils as armed separatist terrorists
· LTTE’s kidnapping and indoctrination of Tamil low caste children (some as young as 10) via LTTE ‘orphanages’ – plenty of reports compiled, Special Rapporteur herself a Tamil received plenty of accolades for these reports but nothing was done against the LTTE
· LTTE training children to kill and forcing Tamil children to commit suicide by biting the cyanide capsule. Criminality of this was never taken up and the head trainer continues to live happily in the UK.
· LTTE denying Tamil children their fundamental right to education and inaction on the 350 plus ‘Eelam Madrassas’ in Europe.
· Denying Tamils freedom of movement with passes given to Tamils leaving Wanni and database kept on all Tamils so as to collect funds and intimidate those who refused.
· Forced unpaid Tamil labor to dig trenches and construct bunkers – violation of Geneva Convention
· Confiscating Tamil assets and property – how many lands and property has the LTTE taken over since running its defacto rule.
· UN and IC are chanting ‘demilitarize’ North of troops that belong to a sovereign Government but did not say a word against LTTErization of the North and parts of the East when it ran a defacto territory
· UN and IC are making statements on ‘colonization of Sinhalese’ without acknowledging that every citizen of Sri Lanka has the right or residence, right of movement and the UN and IC should be questioning why Sinhalese and Muslims should not purchase lands, reside and start businesses in the North. UN or IC has not made a single statement on the right of residence or right of movement on behalf of the Sinhalese and Muslims to live in the North.
· LTTE using Tamils as human shields throughout the final phase
· LTTE refusing to release civilians and keeping them hostage despite appeals by even the UN Secretary General.
· Powerlessness of UN humanitarian staff – None of the UN convoys could bring back a single injured, pregnant woman, elderly or children and adult who were malnourished and dehydrated.
· While GOSL not only facilitated the unimpeded access for relief aid, GOSL went a step further by actually spending on relief being sent and relief had been sent to LTTE defacto territory throughout the 3 decades. The law of access to humanitarian aid require BOTH PARTIES to ensure unimpeded access, how far LTTE honored and obliged is questionable in view of the relief not reaching the civilians in need except to go to LTTE, its cadres, its supporters and their families. This violation has yet to be acknowledged in any of the reports compiled. civilian figures were purposely inflated in order to secure buffer stocks for LTTE. LTTE ‘wilfully impeding relief supplies’
· LTTE killing its own cadres – incident of LTTE placing injured LTTE cadres inside a bus and setting it on fire.
· LTTE firing on Tamil civilians that attempted to flee LTTE – Annanthi Sasitharan’s husband, LTTE leader forcibly conscripted children from among the civilian hostages and fired at fleeing Tamils including shooting at point blank range a Tamil woman who wanted to cross over to Government controlled territory to give milk to her child.
· LTTE fronts posing as charities/humanitarian organizations and through kovils in foreign soil. Only a handful of these organizations have been investigated and charged with financing terror – far more needs to be done with facts at their disposal.
· LTTE’s crimes fall well within international laws in view of the fronts operating abroad to fund terror in Sri Lanka. This was never investigated and action taken against these LTTE foreign support bases.
· No Fire Zones are to be written and accepted by both parties – there was no such written demarcation thus the entire area is to be regarded as a military operation zone and under armed conflict laws that apply even civilians that take part in hostilities are culpable.
· Blur of distinction – ‘civilian’ how many of the Tamils inside the war zone were civilians who did not take part in hostilities, who took part in hostilities
· UN inaction - The LTTE committed a crime under Common Article 3/1949 Geneva Convention and 1977 Additional Protocol 11 – confrontation with the SL armed forces as a “dissident” armed force under a “command”, controlling part of Sri Lanka’s territory illegally.
· UN inaction - Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions/Additional Protocol 1/International Criminal Court declaration that “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations” constitutes a war crime
· UN inaction - Article 5 of IHL – “civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances” (protection of civilian population)
· UN inaction - Article 23 (Geneva Convention Three) – specifically states that a prisoner of war is not to be used “to render certain points or areas immune from military operation”. (Geneva Convention III)
· UN inaction - Article 28 declares illegal the practice of employing human shields under IHL (Geneva Convention IV) “the presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operation”.
· UN inaction - Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Convention – Article 51(7) says “the presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations”. This clearly applies to passive and active human shields whether they are voluntary human shields or not.
· UN inaction throughout 3 decades, GOSL eliminated LTTE in 3 years.
· UN inaction on 27.5m IDPs worldwide and 62m refugees over 10 years, GOSL resettled all 295,873 IDPs in 3 years.
· Sri Lanka completed 5000sq.km of land in 3 years
· Sri Lanka rehabilitated and reintegrated 11989 surrendered LTTE cadres and offered 594 child soldiers a Presidential Pardon. All these children are now either engaged in studies or employed.
· Sri Lankan troops partnered the development drive by restoring irrigation infrastructure destroyed by LTTE, revived agriculture and farming, restored over 1000 schools and healthcare facilities, renovated and even built kovils.
So we ask – for what should Sri Lanka apologize for? The UN didn’t stop LTTE’s killing in 3 decades and now suddenly they wake up and cry ‘what about the civilians’ in the last phase. All we can say is ‘what about the civilians’ that LTTE targeted every day, every month and every year for 30 odd years? Why was there no Resolutions and demands for LTTE to be stopped?
Do we apologize for defeating one of the world’s most feared terrorist organizations?
Do we apologize because the West can no longer use LTTE as a forward to advance their agendas in Sri Lanka and the rest of South Asia?
Do we apologize because we have angered many an NGO who now have no reason to remain in Sri Lanka and whose livelihood is at stake?
Do we apologize because those who stood to gain offering political solutions can no longer enjoy additional perks and privileges?
Do we apologize because a handful of Tamils using the Sri Lankan situation as a plank to obtain refugee status now find themselves called “economic refugees” and are being sent home?
Do we also apologize because those that made merry out of the troubles in Sri Lanka pocketing from the USD300million LTTE kitty are now having to devise other ways to keep the show running?
Do we apologize for creating an indigenous rehabilitation program and reintegrating close to 12,000 former LTTE combatants who now lead a life of normalcy.
Do we also apologize for giving a Presidential Pardon to 594 former child soldiers because the Sri Lankan state considered them victims rather than perpetrators?
Do we also apologize for putting these surrendered former LTTErs through proper education and vocational programs and allowing them to sit for the O/L and A/L examination and embarking on their careers or further education?
Do we also apologize for introducing these former Tiger combatants to society just as some laughed at the manner the female former tigers were modeling clothes on the catwalk? Would those that laughed at these girls prefer them to be holding guns? Are these people laughing because these former combatants were married in a marriage ceremony organized by the army, are these people envious that these former combatants are now singing, dancing and some involved in even acting?
Do we apologize for ending the war and ending the manner in which LTTE kidnapped poor and low-caste Tamils and turned them into LTTE child soldiers? The reason why these children never made the news was because of the rigid Tamil caste system and because NOT a single Tamil politician, NOT a single member of the Tamil Diaspora cared what happened to these child soldiers because they were not only poor they were LOW-CASTE – thus outcasts of Tamil society!
Do we apologize for taking vast amounts of loans some of which were supposed to be for development of the South and instead went to develop the entire infrastructure framework of the North that had been totally neglected by the LTTE and their stooges?
Do we apologize for giving electricity to Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu – areas where for 3 decades the people were denied electricity because the LTTE blew up the transformers wanting to keep the people in the “dark”?
Do we apologize for maintaining military presence in the North while not a word was said about LTTE forcibly taking territory and running its own law, with LTTE courts, LTTE police, LTTE currency?
Do we also apologize for bringing normalcy to the entire country? For bringing peace, for making sure not a single bomb has gone off, for ensuring not a single assassination has taken place by LTTE in 5 years?
The millions of IDPs and refugees the UN has yet to solve suffer because of military interventions by powerful nations. Sri Lanka’s IDPs are a result of LTTE forcibly keeping the people as human shields, hostages and civilian cadres conscripted when needed.
Today, the North enjoys a life they never had. The entire area has seen a facelift it never had. Countries that poured money to NGOs and organizations while LTTE prevailed should question these organizations because they had done absolutely nothing until Sri Lanka and the Armed Forces led the way to create a rejuvenated North.
UN action should come by at least now roping in the LTTE remnants scheming away from overseas on how to revive the LTTE. They role in aiding and abetting terror should now be legally taken to task. The ban by Sri Lanka giving list of names is a start for the world to take action against them.
Sri Lanka is not the one to be apologizing. Our victory is a salute to our war heroes – all those who are now no more, all those who suffer loss of limb and confined to wheelchairs and suffering other traumas and to the armed forces and police personnel living who played a major role in that victory, to the Defense Secretary who showed tremendous resolve in giving the backing to all the armed forces heads and to the Sri Lankan President who weathered the diplomatic battle surrounded by the friends (China, Russia, Pakistan) who helped conclude the war.
Sri Lanka stands proud of every one of you.
Shenali D Waduge