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   The LTTE’s last act of terror


A child injured in the Safe Zone

The LTTE’s last act of terror is happening right now. They have herded and trapped non-combatants in a narrow strip of land to create fear and further their ideological goals. Those few kilometres are not normally home to hundreds of thousands of civilians. Innocent people were herded there, at gunpoint. This is terrifying, and this is terrorism. For this act alone, the LTTE should be internationally condemned.

Instead, however, the New York Times is calling for economic sanctions on Sri Lanka. They are right in their concern for civilians, but they’ve got the story wrong. The real story is that the LTTE fighters pointed their guns inwards and herded innocent people into a mobile human shield.

Terrorist innovation

This is probably the first time that terrorists have been able to hide among a civilian population by moving the population. Hamas and the Taliban operate in civilian areas, but they have never herded civilians in front of them to defend against Israeli or American attack. Perhaps this is another innovation they will copy, like the LTTE-style suicide bomb.

What makes this new terror so effective is that the international media buys it. They report that civilians are trapped or held hostage, but they rarely tell viewers how they got there in the first place. The LTTE herded them, like cattle. The LTTE releases photos and videos of their suffering like so much pornography, and the West broadcasts it without question. But they should question, they should see the obvious, and they should condemn.

Basic maths

The Safe Zone comprises towns like Palamattalam, Valayanmadam, and Karaiyamullivaikal. These are not big towns. The entire population of the Mullaithivu District is about 220,000 and the Mullaithivu Town is about 40,000. Yet there were initial reports of up to 200,000 people in the Safe Zone. How is this possible? Is this forced migration not a war crime?

For an idea of scale, Kandy is about 120,000 people. Galle is about 100,000. The LTTE has herded this range of people into a few kilometres of land and the world wonders why there’s a humanitarian crisis. The LTTE created it, they feed off if, and in a way it’s working.

The greatest trick

The greatest trick the LTTE ever pulled was convincing the world this forced migration didn’t exist. It is a war crime of catastrophic proportions, yet the term ‘hostage crisis’ is mentioned as a footnote. The story in the media is about army shelling and IDP ‘concentration camps.’ These are important stories, yes, but the big one is the city-sized mobile human shield. The LTTE should be condemned for this and the army encouraged to operate with much more compassion. But that’s not happening.

In many ways the LTTE is better at this game than Sri Lanka. Terrorism is a modern virus that lives in the media. Terrorist acts do not occupy land, they occupy airtime. They command not armies but attention. They demand not respect but fear. What is happening in the Safe Zone is absolutely fearsome. The human suffering is terrifying. People are dying. They are being amputated without anesthetic. They are hungry, even starving. I have been to the Vavuniya Hospital and seen the few that get that far. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I strongly encourage you to visit savevanni.blogspot.com to see how you can help.

Stuck in the middle

What the international media does not seem to realise, however, is that these people are not simply caught in the middle. The people who died in the No Limit (Nugegoda) suicide bomb were caught in the middle. The people who died in the train station (Fort) suicide bomb were caught in the middle. The people in the Safe Zone, however, were deliberately placed in the middle. By the LTTE.

This is the story. The world should unite to condemn what is obvious and cynical terrorism by the LTTE. You can’t forcibly migrate hundreds of thousands of people and hide behind them. It’s terrifying and insane. Only then should the international community demand much better from the Sri Lankan government. And then they could. With that obvious condemnation out of the way the government might actually listen.

Condemn to protect

Sri Lankans living here know the failings of our government, but we also know that villages like Palamattalam are not naturally bigger than Galle. We can see that the LTTE is practicing terrorism up to the last, this time herding innocent Tamils as human shields and living off the media fumes.

There are many things wrong with our government, but not this. Our government now has a huge responsibility to protect, but we must be clear from whom. On this act of terror we should all be united in condemning the LTTE.


 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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