Friday, November 19, 2010

Instead of sounds of gun shots, today I hear tractors and bulldozers are working- Shavendra

Speech to LLRC on Thursday
I’m honored to be appeared again in the Committee of Lessons and reconciliation to give away, rather to add a little bit on the entire thing on matters related to the ‘aftermath of war scenario’ in the country where my involvements as the 58 Division Commander would be highlighted than any others commitments of many who were engaging in the supportive role. Since I’ve started answering queries in the nature related to so called war crimes, it has become a usual part in my itinerary in number of occasions when I see my entrances into public relations. That day I sat in front of you wearing pips on my shoulder but today I am a diplomat who is representing the country in United Nations headquarters.
Anyway Before I start up, I must say what I see today on the land where I fought as a field Commander. On the land I fought that day, instead of sounds of gun shots, today I hear tractors and bulldozers are working. I see men in uniform with no weapons in hand but civilians around them digging the land not to build trenches and bunkers, but to make paddy and cultivated lands. This is what I wanted to see after all.
Today I’m off the country and feel I have done the greatest job to its mankind. But still there are shadows of dark LTTE skeletons which manipulate total different story in front of international forum where I see it to my own eyes. I feel I still have something to do to save the good name of this precious motherland at any cost because for me, there is nothing worth than my country. Men in Diaspora now don’t have anything to say for their survival. After getting tired by targeting many things to destroy the image of Sri Lanka now they try the civilian factor which can attract the international attention. With that let me come to the subject matter.
Significantly the Division which I lead in the past humanitarian operation was having a superb theory behind every activity, solely formulated on salvation of innocent native civilians from the clutches of LTTE terrorists. The way how we did it had become a study matter today, and for your information, it was totally a new episode in the military history book of Sri Lanka. The way we together innovated new ground maneuvering methods, collection of information about the enemy and his terrain, precise planning, unorthodox implications in the battle front for mission execution and many more I can narrate, if this precious Committee allows me to narrate one after another which will take more and more time. But I know the Committee needs precisely to know what motive was behind my move in the front and how I did the salvation part of the poor civilians and surrenders, so that to answer hundreds of queries on alleged incidents and baseless accusations on fabricated crimes specially during the latter parts of the humanitarian operation. That itself may be the Lesson Learned aftermath of the operation.
At the outset I must make you aware of the most vital point about that we, in the 58 Division did an operation when the mass opinion was on the negative side. Two third of the men in the world said the simple Infantry men in the SL Army would not make it a success in the face of world most ruthless terrorist group and the Army would be defeated, never win. But we were well confident of the mission because we were equipped with all the necessary components of the war by the government such as machinery, medical, transport facilities, psychology to induct to the battle and trained strength of soldiers. Later we had most sophisticated electronic ways and means to the battle field by the Sec Def which I have told in early sessions.
Having kept this grave challenge as the most driving factor of us, we inducted troops to the ground in front which was commonly known as enemy controlled area. This area was found physically demarcate by LTTE as their homeland and they were found accumulated all the elements to be recognized as it a separate land which had their supreme control. They had a separate governing system in administration in their living areas, they were controlling people by their own police, they had maintained an Army, cadres in Navy and Air force. They even had a separate banking system in their areas of control. Schools of course according to their sinister preference had no prominence at all. Schooling was seemed abandoned due to forcible recruitment.
• If I’m not mistaken, there should be several components recognizing independence of a state such as a specific land with demarcations, a set of people in it, a leader to them and the autonomy to rule them including the total control over the land. Beforehand LTTE was to articulate that they were reaching towards this aspiration and wanted only the total control over the land they were occupying as a separate Ealam state. But primitively, people who were under them were the most deprived as all were undergoing enormous pressure for more than three decades. There were nothing but ruthless barbaric terrorism by LTTE leadership.
We saw and experienced this even before the Humanitarian operation. The worst thing that LTTE had done to their own people had emerged during the last humanitarian operation. We found schools had turned into Guerrilla hideouts, churches had been used by LTTE as mortar and bunker positions, hospitals were their artillery gun positions, we found baby suits, toys and playpens inside LTTE bunkers during the battle. How could anyone just simply forget what LTTE had done to the innocent Tamil people in northeast? That was the reason for LTTE to lose men from their grip. More than us, innocent Tamil people wanted Govt military entrance into their areas because they were starving and dying under LTTE. How many pathetic stories were elaborated during the past battle? How much stress and misery were being suffered by native Tamil people in those areas.
Boys in my Division were the first to rescue innocent civilians in numbers who were escaping the LTTE rule. I could have salvaged even LTTE cadres while fighting. Soldiers from start to the end scarified many things to ease civilians who were escaping. We wanted to salvage them and that was our prime aim of the operation. We could have won the hearts and mind of the civilians with two minutes of their arrival. This they informed to the outside world by means of communication. Civilians in those areas had means of communication via IDD phones and electronic satellite discs. You can remember the way we treated civilians throughout. In fact the GA of Mullaithivu, Mrs. …… I saw appearing in front of this committee and clearly telling her story as to how LTTE were mingling among civilians and launching their military activities. I saw Rev Archie Bishop of Colombo, most honorable Malcom Ranjith appearing in front of you for the testimony, what they say? All about total grave injustice of LTTE. But to see, today the same innocent civilian who escaped to this side are working hand in hand with military in their areas. This may be the reason to wage war again by the Diaspora outside.
Mind you Sir, now the conflict has taken another face with the strong support of one or two widely recognized media agencies in the world. Now we are being subjected to answer for the killings done by LTTE in their land. According to the lessons I learned about these media agencies, they were repeatedly lied about humanitarian operation in the country while it was progressing. I can explain with practical and logical examples as to how LTTE puppets still activate against the freedom of this precious land with the support of them.
I launched my part of operation to salvage entrapped civilians and my men also wanted to fulfill this as we were well informed of the entire battle procedure. War heroes were well aware of their cause and they knew the value of human lives. Many do not know that we had taken measures to incorporate with ICRC and several other agencies on human rights to educate soldiers on the values of Human rights well before operation was launched. Our men precisely knew where to shoot and how to preserve the value of lives.
There were lot of instances where we knew LTTE were hiding inside Kovils, Churches , Schools and hospitals and many more public places. It would have been so easier to finish this terrorism, well before hand if we had fired those places with our superior fire power. As for the direction of Hon Sec Def of the country, we highly maintained our policy on ZERO casualty to civilian and public property. This could have been verified over media simultaneously because he was the key figure of the govt to instruct to maintain fullest of the transparency of the battle. This is not new and the country is aware of the past battle. The country knows the due recognition for the soldier who fought at the last edges of the battle front had been given by the Media. It was a new thing in the country and the benefit was fully given to the men in war.
Coming on to the latest allegations, I can exactly tell that LTTE had gunned down innocent civilians. They killed all who were against them. Let me question where all the injured civilians that they showed in video footages during the last phase of the Humanitarian operation ? There were pictures of injured persons appeared in unethical websites said to be taken from the inside of no fire zones. Where are they now ? Civilians were continuously complaining of ill treatments inside their prisons in Vishvamadu, Dharmapuram and inside the jungles of Mullaithivu. According to revelations there were about 1000 civilians chained and some were butchered. Where are those captive civilians now? Why not recognized media agencies look for them? ( can put several video slides)
During the Tsunami devastation, none of the photograph of dead bodies had been released to media by LTTE. That they did purposely with having another sinister motive behind their minds. But today we see pictures of heaps of dead bodies on websites and some of the news clips flashing around all over the world. This is a well planed conspiracy against the military and the Govt of Sri Lanka.
In fact we had our courtesy and the generosity to tell the entire world that such and such LTTE figures were killed in action and we further displayed their pictures preserving our transparency. Today we can see those pictures are also among fabricated stories against us.
In many occasions I could see mass talking about LTTE’s Makkal Padai and Porani Force. These were armed civilian elements of LTTE who were fighting against the military of the country. They were wearing a simple sarong and a shirt but a T-56 in hand. What should we call these people? Anyone who was with a gun in hand and shot us for a separate piece of land was simply a terrorist. Majority of the LTTE cadre was in civil clothes, especially during the last phase of the war. For an example, the Jaffna Leader Theepan was in a civil trouser and a shirt. He was found killed in the battle field with a set of other cadres, all were in civilian clothes. But we saw their identity numbers and blood groups around necks.They all fought a battle and got killed. Were they not terrorists because they were in civilian clothes? What some of these media agencies repeatedly show and try to prove about the deaths of such notorious terrorists who have ruined the lives of mostly Tamil people in northeast?
During past battles we fought with this type of enemy. This was proved when we handed over their dead bodies to LTTE through ICRC. All civilian tupe corpses had identity maks and blood groups around necks and hands. Did LTTE refused to take over them ? No, because they were of LTTE cadres. Look at the bodies of LTTE women cadre Leadre Vidhusha, Artillery leader Bhanu and Charles Anthony. All were clad in civil clothes. Terrorist is a terrorist, even though he wears anything and for that matter nothing.
We in fact knew our legal frame of action. We took every measure to protect the value of human lives. All suspected and surrenders were treated in the manner as it should be. Government assistances had a such a potential to conduct the battle while maintaining aspects of winning such groups from the northern community.


Let me begin with a little bit of active military operation part where my battle tactics and ground factors were involved in, for better understanding. At the first instance, when I took over the 58 Division many feared to tread on Mannar Rice Bowl. But I walked across it with flying colors because we were well aware of the ultimate end result of the operation. How we got to know that we would win at last was not a question, because my officers and men trusted each other, they trusted their chain of command and they trusted the entire countrymen who were behind the true cause of action.
We then reported the first major victory on the ground by capturing the famous LTTE garrison, Pooneryn. There the Commander in tri services and police, HE the President issued a surrender call to all terrorists. Instead of lessons learning by ourselves, we taught a lesson to them diplomatically for the first time.
By now, you might have heard of thousands of personnel experiences and grievances of many whom you have met so far all around the country, many are displaced as a result of gun battles between LTTE terrorists and government forces. Had we as waged war against LTTE? Every time we went into ceasefire, who broke it? The world knows the truth behind the pro long battle in the country but aren’t these Diaspora guys know that we are well aware these things?
Today we demonstrating the native civilians a lesson to learn as to live a fruitful life. We assist them with our own resources to construct reasonable and decent houses to live their lives with dignity. As for our belief, most of the lessons are to be learned by the civilians who are physically on the ground. They have seen the war and tasted the bitter of it for more than thirty years. They were suppressed by their own people. Why can’t the salvation of them from LTTE be itself a lesson for them?
I must mention about the support of the Government, HE the President of the country as the Commander in Armed Forces during and aftermath of the Humanitarian operation. I can say without any hesitation that we, the military was untouchable during the operation. Because we were given the full freedom to complete our tasks as for the directions. The military was fully equipped for the mission. Contemporary assistances in the nature of training in modernize warfare allowed to invade the battle field by the auspicious of the Sec def of the govt. The becoming of Army man into War hero is a result of it. Many schemes to look after the welfare of soldiers were bloomed and benefits for warrior families were also implemented rapidly as for the lessons learned. Collective responsibility to bring up the living standards of salvaged civilians with the other sections in the list is also prominently allocated on the military as they are the best to do so.

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