The Sunday Leader

LLRC Report On Sri Lanka’s War (Highlights)

By Indi Samarajiva

LTTE’s Use Of Human Shields

LLRC report handed over to the President

It was basically a strategic necessity, but near the end of the war the LTTE’s actions were to herd civilians around them and essentially play chicken with the Sri Lankan military, hoping that the international community would bail them out. This is the strategy their international wing(s) are continuing now, using the deaths they effectively caused to put pressure on the GoSL. It is extremely cynical and evil even. If anything was a war crime, this was it.
A civilian who had been displaced with his family since August 2006 stated that the LTTE always mingled with the people even in the NFZs. Civilians therefore had tried to escape and move out of the NFZs into safe areas during the night. He further explained that when this happened, the LTTE fired and then the Army returned fire to the place where the LTTE firing came from.

While it is important to remember that the LTTE were the bad guys, it is also important to remember that ‘proportionality’ means nothing if you are the one being bombed.
‘We cannot digest and we cannot forget the untold sufferings that we have experienced during the last stages. The Government announced a security area. The first security area was declared at Udayakattu by the Government. So we went there; we got caught there and we went through a lot of difficulties in that area. We started getting displaced from place to place. Whenever the Government announces certain areas we went to take shelter there and we went through difficulties. And we cannot forget the people who died in that security area. I could have taken a photograph but the situation was not that conducive to take photographs. We were trying to save our lives.’

Civilian Casualties

The military is admitting that civilian casualties did occur (code for ‘we did kill innocent people’), something that Mahinda Rajapaksa falsely and callously denied.
4.112 During the Commission’s sittings in Mullaittivu the Commission was briefed by a Military Official on the final phase of the conflict. He stated that in the midst of battle, civilians were trying to cross over to Army lines and the LTTE were firing at them to prevent the civilians from crossing over. The Army too had returned fire, using small arms and during the exchanges of fire, civilians were caught in the cross fire and casualties did occur.

Hospital Shelling

They are also admitting that hospitals were shelled, because the LTTE had set up artillery nearby.
4.128 A Government official who was interviewed by the Commission stated that on 3rd February 2009, shells had fallen on the PTK hospital where he was receiving treatment. He further stated that he had been taken in for a dressing and as soon as he was brought out a shell had landed on the theatre and the entire theatre had been damaged. He added that all who could run away had fled screaming.

Food And Supply Shortages

After listing how the government did all it could to supply affected areas (I think they did do a lot), they admitted that the situation was still pretty hellish. The LTTE was siphoning off supplies that did come, and the supplies could not possibly be enough.
4.179 A Government Doctor who had served in the Wanni until the final days of the conflict during the course of his representations to the Commission stated that the hospital staff with a few medical people went to Puthumatthalan and Mullaivaikkal. He further elaborated:
‘ …thinking in retrospect I cannot help concluding that we all managed to survive under deplorable conditions, unfit even for animals, fear, suffering, loss of life or limbs and the surrounding areas littered with dead bodies and carcasses of dying animals was all that the poor people had to bear with. Many did not have access to a square meal a day and most importantly and pathetically water was a hard to get commodity for many. Absent were toilets and even the most conservative women folk had to go in the open…’

Civilian Detentions

With the usual covering intro (Army did what they could, LTTE was mixing cynically), the commission also highlights a wrong. Perhaps a necessary one, but this a big thing, admitting uncomfortable realities.
4.227 The Commission on its visits to the detention centres heard from detainees that, due to the conditions not being conducive at the time of surrender, to obtain all the details of their involvement with the LTTE, they were languishing in detention/rehabilitation centres, even though at the time of surrender they had not been with the LTTE.
Essentially, innocent people were detained. They justify, but there is a small justice in simply acknowledging reality.
The White Flag surrendering people being killed issue is largely denied. What’s more interesting is that they report multiple cases of disappearances.
4.227 The Commission on its visits to the detention centres heard from detainees that, due to the conditions not being conducive at the time of surrender, to obtain all the details of their involvement with the LTTE, they were languishing in detention/rehabilitation centres, even though at the time of surrender they had not been with the LTTE.

Violence Was Proportional

From the reports they jump a bit to the conclusion, that the violence and civilian suffering was proportional. In essence, was it worth it in terms of the military objective. I have to agree. The military objective was ending a 30 year war that could have crippled the country for another 30, until Prabhakaran died of diabetes. So yes I think it was proportional, though emotionally that is still a messed up thing to say.
4.283 Having reached the above conclusions, it is also incumbent on the Commission to consider the question, while there was no deliberate targeting of civilians by the Security Forces, whether the action of the Security Forces of returning fire into the NFZs was excessive in the context of the Principle of Proportionality. Given the complexity of the situation that presented itself as described above, the Commission after most careful consideration of all aspects, is of the view that the Security Forces were confronted with an unprecedented situation when no other choice was possible and all “feasible precautions” that were practicable in the circumstances had been taken.

Accountability

The real issues in all the hype have been A) why cannot the government admit that civilians were killed and B) why cannot they take responsibility. I think the report goes very far towards A, and addresses B. Not to the satisfaction of people who want Mahinda and Gotabhaya in jail, but many of those people who I think did notwant Sri Lanka to win the war, which is ultimately a positive outcome. I simply think a punitive commission is a waste of time and bad for the nation. Accountability, however, is a good thing and supports a better future for us all. Anyways, the report acknowledges wrongs and calls for rectification (to the limited extent that is mortally possible).
4.286 … the material nevertheless points towards possible implications of the Security Forces for the resulting death or injury to civilians, even though this may not have been with an intent to cause harm. In these circumstances the Commission stresses that there is a duty on the part of the State to ascertain more fully, the circumstances under which such incidents could have occurred, and if such investigations disclose wrongful conduct, to prosecute and punish the wrong doers. Consideration should also be given to providing appropriate redress to the next of kin of those killed and those injured as a humanitarian gesture that would help the victims to come to terms with personal tragedy, both in relation to the incidents referred to above and any other incidents which further investigations may reveal.

So

I think this is rather long and I have stopped here. The report is really not dull and I recommend reading it for yourself (http://t.co/
GdEsLD9q). At the least, this LLRC report has way more information than the UN Report, which is essentially a reading of TamilNet. There is actually a lot of meat and direct testimony in what the LLRC has produced. I went to a bunch of sessions and I thought the conclusion was pre-determined and that they were playing up to Gotabhaya rather shamelessly. The final report, however, has surprised me. For me the biggest issues have been admitting death and supporting life. I think the report addresses both well.
Honestly, the best war is one that never starts. It is better if a bunch of uniformed troops line up, kill each other in a field and go home. Beyond that, war is just differing degrees of bad. The just war that commentators often demand (no civilian casualties) is not even present in international law, because it is not real. War is really bad. I think the only good war is one that ends. This war did end, after 30 years, and that is a relative good. And it happened. Now we can talk about it with some honesty. I think this is a start.

20 Comments for “LLRC Report On Sri Lanka’s War (Highlights)”

  1. War for peace. was the war time slogan of the Singhala government. Two and a half years after the war won by this government, the north and east is packed
    with the army and forcibly planted army camps in almost all the displaced peoples lands both in the vanni and HSZ areas of Valikamam and Palaly areas.

    Could the goverment give over these lands back to the owners, and retract
    the army to the barracks, giving peace of mind to those who have suffered
    both at the hands of the LTTE and the State infiltration. Or is there a hidden agenda of the government of Sri lanka in militarisation of these areas ???????

  2. Jan Smit

    The LLRC is just a tactic for the government to gain time but time has run out now for the Rajapaksa’s. Not a single word mentioned in the report that the main tamil tiger Karuna was responsible for 80% of recruited child soldiers and suicidebombers used during the last war. this war criminal and terrorist is now a minister? There will hopefully be some sinhalese and Tamil people left in Sri lanka who do care about their freedom and their children’s future, but then again reconcilliation will not be gained by a report that doesn’t mention anything about the armies atrocities against civilians. it’s sad really!

  3. Patriot

    It’s fantastic that the GOSL bowed to international pressure and was forced to make the LLRC report public. It proves once again that non-violent activism does work. With the release of the report, the GOSL can no longer say that a domestic mechanism is ongoing. That mechanism is over, it has handed over it’s report, which has been made public, and it clearly and unambigously abosolves the military of any wrong doing.

    What’s especially noteworthy was the acceptance in the report that the GOSL declared No Fire Zones during the height of the war. It uses the term NFZ repeatedly, and even accepts as fact, that the SLA dropped fliers to civilians requesting them to go into the NFZ, thus making a solemn promise that if they heeded the GOSL’s instructions they would find safety. What’s even more shocking is that the LLRC report also agrees that this solemn promise made to the Tamil civilians was deliberately violated by the GOSL by shelling into the NFZ. What’s even worse is that the LLRC actually agrees with GOSL claim that the civillians were held hostage by the LTTE and could not leave. Thus the innocence of the Tamil civilians is unquestioned and unchallenged. They followed the instructions of their government and proceeded into the NFZ as instructed. At that point they were prevented from leaving by a ruthless terrorist group that even shot at the civilians when they tried to leave. The remarkable solution implemented by their own government, the GOSL, for this desperate situation, was to deliberately fire into it’s own NFZ, killing many men, women and childred for no crime or fault of their own. Therefore, the LLRC report despite is conclusion, is prima facie documentation of a crime against humanity. Extraordinary. Because of the LLRC report, the following are now facts that have complete acceptance both within SL and by the UN, Diaspora groups and the IC at large

    1) The GOSL declared a NFZ (No Fire Zone) and instructed civilians to move to these areas.
    2) The Tamil civilians obeyed the GOSL instructions and proceeded into the NFZ.
    3) The Tamil civilians could not leave the NFZ because the LTTE would not let them.
    4) The GOSL instructed it’s army to fire into the NFZ while Tamil civillians were still present in them.

    Thus, the LLRC report will make it impossible for any country to support the GOSL in international fora. International intervention is now imminent. It is inescapable. Let’s try to make the most of it, and more importantly, hope that the souls of the slaughtered civilians forgive us for our crimes.

  4. P.W.

    Its like asking “Horage ammagen Peena”

  5. Anonymous

    What about the banning of outsiders – journalist etc. and making it a war without
    witnesses, as you mention that someone was expected to photograph some occurance?

  6. Gemba

    Crime exposed by LLRC is just a tip of the iceberg. Sri Lankan war criminal government is willing to admit only these crime inorder to coverup their henious act of crime which is beyond imagination including using “rape” as a weapon against civilians. SL government is using this LLRC to admit minimum amount of crime which was already been exposed by international community inorder coverup the extent of their war crime and genocide. Criminal shouldn’t be allowed to get away from their crime.

  7. sanjay

    “Sri Lankan commission says military didn’t intentionally target civilians in civil war” Hahahahaha what a Joke. As Many Tamils here were Saying hundreds of time this Biased , Flawed at every level LLRC is a Joke, Sri Lanka Proved That Tamils are right. hehehehehe…..Thank you Sri lanka! The Sri Lankan Genocidal Government is Fully Responsible for the Mass murders of More than 154000 Tamil Civilians including Todlers. All Know that this War against the Innocent Tamils were well planned one. ” War is often used to mask or cover up a genocide. ” “Planning genocide ,encouraging or persuading others to commit genocide are also crimes.” During the Genocide , more than 40,000 innocent tamil women/girls were captured and taken to military camps and they were gang raped by the sri lankan genocidal militaries. This kind of Gang rapes are still taking place in Sri lankan genocidal government militaries occupied Tamils area (North and East). Many thousands Of the gang raped victims are dead and few thousands of survivors do not want to share their experience because of the fear that they will be blamed or even rejected in the communties.
    The mass killing of Innocent tamil civilians including todlers , gang raping innocent tamil women / girls as little as 14 years old still continuing right this second. No body can deny this.

  8. sanjay

    If you do not accept dissent voice then Why are you publishing it on the internet?
    Are you brainwashing/misleading the public by not allowing any dissent voice?

  9. Shiva

    What about the government’s forces used tamil civilians as human shield?

    Rajapakse regime is the worst criminal regime of the 21st century.

  10. Shiva

    This LLRS report is full of Jokes and lies.

    It is quoting Murders and torture as a “tragedy”. It shows that these members of the LLRC not only a anti-Tamil but also biased on their findings as they are trying to cover up the crimes committed by the Rajapakse regime

  11. Ksarath

    Mr Patriot,
    Are you from this world?
    In a War situation there are always civilian casualties.
    Only in “The Terminator” Arnold was able to fire 1000’s shots at police and said loss of human life is ZERO, if you remember.

    You expected SL forces could have run the war like that to safe guard all civilians?

    Insisted ask hoe many civilians (including LTTE active and side supporters) saved by the SL forces during the WAR?

    I do not like to write more and wast my time in this.

  12. Glaringly obvious truth with the lawyers and judges in Sri Lanka(SL) is that even when they know the law they do not seem to know justice. Justice requires wisdom.

    A priveleged class, created not on merit but on unearned legal privilege, controls the writing of rules and how they are applied in SL.

    Lawyers with expertise in international law know with certainty that SL is an illegal country- like the former Southern Rhodesia of Ian Smith- declaring itself as a republic in 1972, making Tamil Eelam(TE) as its colony, at a period of decolonisation of coutries, following a UN resolution that all the colonies should be handed over to the native owners.

    Internal justice has become an impossibility in most of the former and present colonies, compelling affected citizens to seek external justice.

    During the third week of October 2011, the 9th US Court of Appeal in San Francisco, under a US law known as the Alien Tort Statute, decided to proceed with a lawsuit filed on behalf of 10,000 of present and former residents of the South Pacific island of Bougainhville, where a late 1980s uprising led to the use of military force and many deaths.

    In this litigation, non US residents have filed a lawsuit against a non US company based in Britain, without even an office in the US.

    Rio Tinto is accused of racial discrimination, crimes against humanity and covering up complicity in war crimes and genocide.

    The US appeal court Judge Mary Schroeder said “The complainant alleges purposeful conduct undertaken by Rio Tinto with the intent to assist in the commission of violence, injury and death, to the degree necessary to keep its mine open”.

    A lawsuit against the GOSL and its allies is imminent in the US courts, alleging the military, the GOSL and its allies of violence, injury and death of Tamils, with the intent to keep TE as its colony.

  13. Gotta the hero

    Anyone who thinks this report gives a true detail of what happened……they are living in a dream world. Do you really think someone can tell the truth, point the fingers at GOSL and the LTTE and live. Maybe two days they will be alive, then they will suddenly vanish without a trace. Look at GOSL ministers, 3rd rate thugs run the government. LLRC my foot that is.

  14. corrupt

    The LLRC report is not credible and no one will ever believe anything that comes out from this stupid garbage country. The war crimes investigation will commence and the thugs and murderers that run this country will rot in jail.

  15. Bruz

    Many people,mostly the victimized parties expected only an eye wash,humbug report from the LLRC,solely blaming LTTE for everything & safeguarding the most
    cruel perpetrators and the GoSL. Here is a sample of some observations which sounds genuine, believable & quotable..

    Excerpts from the article appeared in the Hindu news paper:

    The TNA insisted that the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both the Tamil Tigers and the government forces needed to be fully investigated. The U.N. Panel of Experts which investigated the last stages of the war had concluded that the LTTE had deliberately targeted civilians and used them as human shields, among other violations. The allegations against the Sri Lanka government include deliberately underestimating civilian numbers in the Vanni in order to deprive them of food and medical supplies, deliberately or recklessly endangering the lives of civilians in No-Fire Zones, targeting civilian objects including hospitals, and executing or causing the disappearance of those who had surrendered.

    “The LLRC concludes that, on these issues, the government is not responsible. Instead, it shifts blame onto individual soldiers and surmises that any violations that may have been committed were merely isolated incidents. For example, large numbers of disappearances that resulted from the surrender of unarmed persons to government forces have been cynically dismissed as isolated incidents perpetrated ‘by a few’. The LLRC unjustifiably rules out the possibility that these violations were systematic,” said Mr. Sampanthan.

    UN panel report and LLRC report are both are written with no proper investigation.
    UN did or couldn’t do any investigation but wrote a report anyway,by going through
    individual complaints and some interviews only. But LLRC did have island wide
    investigations,even if there were many short comings. Both reports are not up to the mark and served no useful purpose.While UN report is vague & not an in-depth one, LLRC’s is openly biased and one sided.

  16. suren soysa

    Whatever the LLRC has to say or not 85% Sinhalese & Muslims know better what the Tamil terrorists did for 30 years & what the terrorists were given in just two years by the Armed forces. Next time the 85% people also will join the forces to teach everlasting peace to future tamil terrorists! It is crystal clear that all terrorist minded tamils biggest problem is the forces in the North & East which prevent future terror activity. At least a dozen huge army camps having in each over 10000 soldiers should be established in these areas in addition to what is there now! Any GOSL should give peace only to peace loving people & not to terrorists of any race or religion.

  17. vichara

    1. LTTE did not release the hostages and dragged on the war without surrendering due to,
    a) the false hopes given by the Western Nations that there will be a rescue operation,
    b) the expectation created by the Tamilnadu LTTE sidekicks that the Congress will lose the elections and the new govt will come to their aid.
    2. If the military was intent on “genocide” the easiest way was to resort to aerial bombardment of the last NFZ and opening fire at the fleeing hostages.
    3. Disappearances- a distinction must made on ‘ made to disappear and disappearance on their own. The second category has surfaced in large numbers trying to get into Canada, Australia and many other countries.

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