Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Response to Dr. Rajasingham Jayadevan’s letter in the Sri Lanka Guardian

By Jagathvijaya Lekam

It is unfortunate that Dr. Jayadevan, under a facile facade of impartiality and objectivity, has sought to continue a debate that can only keep the wounds of racial acrimony festering well into the future in Sri Lanka . In addition, there is a not so subtle effort to somehow whitewash the LTTE and portray the security forces in the worst light. This of course will not contribute in any form to heal the wounds or move forward. Dr. Kohona’s defence of major General Shavendra Silva was based on published facts while Dr. Jayadevan relies on figments of his imagination, emotional outbursts, allegations traceable to the Tamil Net and innuendoes.

Dr. Jayadevan says that Shavendra Silva will remain accused until evidence backed by a transparent judicial inquiry discharges him. It is a strangely contorted view of the legal framework familiar to us all in the common law system to suggest that anyone remains guilty until he proves his innocence. Sheer convenience and a hypocritical mental agility readily contorts hollowed legal principles to advantage. Dr. Jayadevan suggests that the manifestations of the so called barbaric LTTE is the product of the uncivilized conduct of the Government forces against the Tamil civilian population. Of course, he forgets that this is the same Government that fed the civilian population of the Vanni for twenty seven years while the LTTE held it under its jackboot and diverted government supplied food for its own use, even using bags of rice to strengthen bunkers (photos available); it is the same Government that funded all the schools and teachers, the hospitals, the doctors and nurses and government servants in the Vanni for 27 long years while the LTTE, which Dr. Jayadevan now tries to whitewash, held the population of the Vanni in the grip of fascist terror, recruited thousands of children to be sacrificed in battle to attain the ambitions of a blood thirsty megalomaniac (UNICEF has recorded over 5,700 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE while Human Rights Watch records suggest over 20,000), forced parents, first to handover one child and then two for the same purpose, high-jacked oceangoing vessels in blatant acts of piracy and looted them (Farah II was the latest victim), held 300,000 civilians as hostages and bargaining chips as its scampered for cover escaping from the security forces, placed heavy weapons in the midst of the same civilians in order to deliberately attract retaliatory fire from government forces, killed almost all moderate Tamil leaders, starting with Jaffna Mayor Duraiappa, and including Thiruchelvem and Loganathan, at one point, refused the ICRC permission to evacuate the injured from Pudumatalan, invented the suicide jacket which is now widely used in the Middle-East and deployed women suicide bombers, etc. I am sure that Dr. Jayadevan is aware all of these but is cynical enough not to worry about them.

Today, the civilians in the North have not been heard to complain about the military presence in the North, particularly since the military is helping with demining and reconstruction. In a land where the youth had been sacrificed in poorly defended trenches, the military is building the schools, the clinics, the roads, the irrigation canals, etc. Where thousands of civilians, including children, had been trained to carry weapons and engage in acts of violence, security needs demand the presence of the security forces in the North. Buried weapons and explosives are still being uncovered on a regular basis in large quantities. A country that suffered daily LTTE’s bombings, drive-by shootings for 27 years, etc. is not going to easily forgive a Government that will relax security simply to satisfy the contorted manipulations of the likes of Dr. Jayadevan and his fickle minded Western friends.

Despite Dr. Jayadevan’s claim, the Government for its part has not prevented the facts from coming to light. In fact, if one took the trouble to examine the evidence provided before the Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) by individuals in Colombo , in Kilinochchi, in Vavuniya and in Jaffna , it will become obvious that it has been very liberal in the way it has entertained evidence. The LLRC has made a number of interim recommendations which are now being implemented. The pathetic efforts of the people like Dr. Jayadevan to stir up doubts and suspicions does not appear to be shared even by the Western diplomatic representatives who are almost always present at the hearings of the Commission.

Dr. Jayadevan refers to the substantive evidence of killings of thousands of civilians in the war. As to where this evidence comes from will remain a mystery to individual observers. (He is free to provide this evidence to the LLRC.) Sadly, it may not be a mystery to those who are hell bent on besmirching the reputation of the one security establishment in the world that has succeeded in defeating a terrorist group long believed to be invincible, especially by Western analysts. Again Dr. Jayadevan wants Sri Lanka to be “guilty of an allegation” until it proves itself innocent of 7,000 civilians allegedly killed. The UN, at the level of an Under Secretary-General, dismissed this figure as unverified on the ground. It is a fact though, that the ICRC evacuated approximately 7,000 injured and their carers by sea from Pudumatalan. The fact that many of the dead were in sarongs, jeans and shorts does not mean that they were civilians. There is adequate evidence, in published material showing LTTE cadres manning gun positions, firing guns, carrying supplies etc., while attired in sarongs, jeans and shorts. In fact, I am certain that Dr. Jayadevan would have seen the LTTE’s own propaganda material shot in training camps where this is clearly evident. As to the allegation that white flag carrying LTTE leaders and their family members were killed is nothing but a figment of a wild imagination. As to why these leaders did not come out with white flags in time, like Daya master and George, until the final hours of the bloody shootout in the middle of the night is a mystery and as to why they decided to come out while simultaneously a group of LTTE fighters were desperately trying to shoot their way out from their encircled position is even a bigger mystery. To imagine that any sensible person would want to walk out through that hail of lead during the final clash defies logic.

Dr. Jayadevan is obviously a clever propagandist pathetically seeking to keep the LTTE dream alive. The LTTE accumulated enough weapons not only to realize its goal of a mythical Tamil homeland in the North and the East of Sri Lanka, approximately 1/3 of the country and 2/3 of its coastline, but to pose a threat across the border as well. Perhaps the dream was to resuscitate the Chola Tamil empire of the 12th century (refer to continuous propaganda pieces by the LTTE hailing this glorious Tamil past). Unfortunately, like in the 12th century when a prince from Polonnaruwa repeatedly assailed the Chola heartland causing the empire to collapse (see, Majumdar, Dutt and Chaudhury), again a leader from the South of Sri Lanka crushed the egg shells of Prabhakaran’s chauvinist dream. You may now be reassured that this dream, nay the delusion, is well and truly buried.

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