The Sunday Leader

The TNA, Armed Forces And Tamils In North

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I thought of responding to the article published in The Sunday Leader on 16th Dec 2012 titled “Plight of resettled IDP’s, striving make ends meet” which mentions the “concerns” of the TNA MP’s Sumanthiran and Premachandran. What has been implied by their allegations was that IDP’s in North are not properly looked after, continuous harassment of Tamils by the Army, land mine story is a bluff, presence of “unnecessary” large cantonments of army in the north etc.
As an officer who was in service from the beginning to the end of war and now a Member of Parliament representing East, I view the above “concerns” of the TNA as contemptuous if not hilarious. With my experience I do not think that the TNA, today, has any moral right to speak about the Tamils or to grumble about their welfare. In the absence of that moral right, one can easily understand that their consistent treacherous attempt to paint a wrong picture in the eyes of the international community as above is to undermine the economy of Sri Lanka, to dissuade investment, persuade tourists to boycott the country, reduce volumes of international trade and to strike at the root of the economy in Sri Lanka which is at the moment vibrant.
It is interesting to ask a few questions from the TNA members who cry their hearts out about the plight of the Tamils in the Northern peninsula. Did they ever condemn, whenever the LTTE killed the reputed Tamils like Neelan Thiruchelvam, Amirthalingam, Thangathurai, Lakshman Kadirgamar? Did they ever protest against, when the Tamil MP Yogeswaran was killed and his wife who became the Mayor too was assassinated? What was their response when the LTTE systematically destroyed the entire democratic leadership of Tamils as above?   None! They always stood by the LTTE and consequently the reputation of being a ‘proxy” of that terrorist organization.
The TNA today is very critical about the Army who had entered the Jaffna University to prevent certain elements commemorating Prabhakaran / LTTE cadres killed during the war. It should be remembered that during the “Peace accord” how the LTTE regularly entered all the schools in Jaffna and forcibly took away students for protest marches during school hours. When some school principals objected to it, they were brutally assaulted in front of the school children and some were even killed. Where were Sumanthiran and Premachandran at that time? What was their response towards those innocent Tamil children whose education was consistently disrupted by the LTTE in the above manner?
The Army entered Jaffna University to prevent certain elements, backed by TNA, instigating the students to commemorate the ruthless killer Prabhakaran, who was responsible for the devastation of the country including the Tamil nation. A terrorist is a terrorist whether he appears as a beggar, businessman, lecturer or a student. LTTE is banned in many countries and even the FBI has branded LTTE as amongst the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. Hence commemorating those who were killed in that organization is also an act related to terrorism. Army went in to stop that. Would the US President Barak Obama or Secretary of State Hilary Clinton allow students to light lamps to commemorate Bin Laden and his Al Qaida members inside the Washington University? It should be reminded that in Germany, since World War II, no German commemorates Hitler, who killed millions of innocent Jews, even though he was the Head of the State at one time.
During the final phase of the war, what was the response of the TNA when LTTE opened fire and killed many Tamils, mostly the aged and women, who were trying to escape into government controlled area? What has Sumanthiran got to say about the innocent 12 year old Tamil boy, whose legs were both chopped off by the terrorists when he was running into the arms of his parents? Only a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer could abstain from condemning such a barbaric act, and we know Sumanthiran and Premachandran did abstain.
On the other hand it was the army who rescued hundreds of Tamils including pregnant women risking their own lives. Many women army soldiers were killed whilst trying to save genuine innocent Tamil women, knowing that there were suicide cadres among them. During the last stage at Nandikadal, when Prabhakaran was keeping hundreds of Tamils around him as a human shield, our army advanced to the target across the mine field, knowing that they would lose their legs/lives, in order to prevent civilian casualties. They could have easily fired Arty shells or mortars and destroyed Prabhakaran together with the civilians without entering the mine field. That supreme sacrifice on the part of the soldiers, which has no parallel in any part of the world, was for the sake of their Tamil brethren.
With regards to the alleged “plight” of the IDP’s, I would like to briefly mention the following. The important post conflict development challenges the government faced were, demining approx 5000 square kilometres, resettlement of 297,000 IDPs, rehabilitation of 12,000 LTTE carders and reintegrated into society and reconstruction and economic development.
As it retreated, the LTTE had laid a large quantity of anti tank mines, anti personnel mines, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Swiftly demining them was a big challenge. Army with a few NGOs have by now removed 469,000 anti personnel mines, 390,000 IEDs and 1400 anti tank mines. Did TNA, which says demining is a bluff, offer even a cup of tea or a glass of water to a soldier who worked on it for the Tamils to resettle and live safely? If the efforts of TNA is genuine and if TNA still says that demining is a bluff, they must spend a few days with the soldiers who still work in agro-areas, paddy fields, forests etc looking for mines for the sake of Tamil families.
No sooner the war was over, the Presidential Task Force was set up for Resettlement and Reconstruction in the North, headed by Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The government also launched a program titled “Northern Spring” to undertake large development projects in North.
As at today, 142,300 families have been settled, and the balance will be completed by mid 2013. TNA is collecting colossal amounts of funds from the Tamils living abroad and sympathetic front groups operating in Western soil to politicize, radicalize and mobilize Tamil youth in Sri Lanka to revive terrorism. It is considered prudent to inquire from TNA, who today cry for the welfare of Tamils, as to whether they have spent even 20 rupees from that money to give a cup of yoghurt to an innocent child in a refugee camp.  Instead of helping the government’s effort to serve the innocent Tamils, they still attempt to sabotage the same by various means for petty political gains and this time with a person called a Professor in Geology.
This professor says “every morning when the innocent Tamil in North wakes up what he sees is a gun/armed soldier…Army may seize the land not the hearts”. I wonder where this professor was before May 2009. What does he think, during that period, the innocent Tamil in North saw when he woke up in the morning? LTTE “boys” clad like angels, carrying coloured balloons and kites in hand, asking the children to come and play hide and seek? If he was in Europe in a lavish villa at that time, he must tell this sentiment to the Tamil people in Kilinochchi. They would definitely tell him to go somewhere and dig for minerals without wasting time. It is not hard to understand that this professor is trying to gain some “cheap” popularity among Tamils, after found himself to be a miserable failure as a lecturer.
Today in the North nine hundred schools are functioning, with 260,000 students and 13,967 teachers. It is said that when compared to other countries under similar circumstances, the achievements of SL government in restoring the damage done for 30 years in just 3-4 years is highly commendable. In that regard this was what, the UN special Adviser for counter terrorism, Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Dr. Douglas Stone, USA had to say at the last Defence Meeting held in Colombo, “I want to congratulate your country that has taken on an objective of 3 decades and then in 3 years done something that the rest of the globe needs to hear about. There are very few, less than a handful of other nations, who have done that and done it as well as you have.”
There is a considerable misunderstanding, deliberately created by TNA, on the nature of the armed forces and their relationship to the Sri Lankan community. There is no disparity of treatment meted out to Tamils in North. There is army presence in some form in every part of the country. Jaffna is no exemption.
The army’s role what the TNA is trying to paint in the eyes of the International Community, is far from truth. Like in any part in Sri Lanka, military is now a part of community in Jaffna whose role is to defend, protect and to help to build the nation. Sri Lanka military has been able to speed up development at a rapid pace to enable the area to “catch up” on the aspects that held her back due to terrorism.
The armed forces in Jaffna are fully committed to let the Tamils enjoy that “freedom” without any interruption. They will ensure that no one will regroup and engage in any terror activities in the area. The army has freed the people from terror, brought normalcy to the area, developed the infrastructure, resettled them and provided them with security. Hence they have more right to be in the North than anyone else including the TNA whose contribution to the freedom, security and welfare of the Tamils is disgracefully negligible or zero when compared to that of the army.

Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera
Member of Parliament

8 Comments for “The TNA, Armed Forces And Tamils In North”

  1. justitia

    The good MP does not know what is actually happening.
    What the LTTE did is NO EXCUSE for the State Terrorism in the northeast.

  2. Richard

    Don’t you get it? for the Tamils, the Sri Lankan state and the army are no different from the LTTE. Raising the crimes committed by the LTTE is not an excuse for the state to commit crimes. The TNA are not making these things up. The Tamils have repeatedly voted for the TNA in elections, they are the voice of the Tamils. It is no good for a Rtd. Read Admiral to claim that Tamils “enjoy” freedom. If they really do, they will be voting for the parties that provided them that supposed freedom instead of voting for the party (TNA) that is struggling for their freedom. Yes, the Tamils want to live in freedom, free of LTTE and state terror and only the Tamils or their representatives can truly speak for Tamils.

  3. tomsamusa

    Your response is an exercise in futility and under estimating the inteligence of Eelam Tamils.
    The ground reality is well known to all Eelam tamils. Forst STOP buiding vihares,a sacrilge to Hindu Buddha and stop colonosing Tamil Homeland with sinhala thugs and miitary.

  4. asanka de silva

    It is difficult to discuss anything sensible to a man from armed forces as he only knows the language of gun and loud talk. Admiral Sarath is no exception.

  5. Rajah

    The very beginning of the “Rear Admiral’s” reply is fraught with fallacies. The Admiral states:

    “With my experience I do not think that the TNA, today, has any moral right to speak about the Tamils or to grumble about their welfare. ”

    Yes they do. They have more right than you Admiral, and anyone all over the world, as they were voted in by landslide victories by the tamil people themselves. The TNA won 14 of the 17 Northern Councils, so it is they, and not you, who have the right to speak for the tamil people.

    “The Army entered Jaffna University to prevent certain elements, backed by TNA, instigating the students to commemorate the ruthless killer Prabhakaran, who was responsible for the devastation of the country including the Tamil nation.”

    Backed by the TNA? Do you have any proof? Or is this the same type of proof used against the CJ to impeach her?

    ” A terrorist is a terrorist whether he appears as a beggar, businessman, lecturer or a student. ”

    A terrorist is an individual that engages in terror and violence. Like the Sri-Lankan army soldiers that barged into the private TNA meeting and beat-up the TNA members and their bodyguards – that is terror.

    “The armed forces in Jaffna are fully committed to let the Tamils enjoy that “freedom” without any interruption. They will ensure that no one will regroup and engage in any terror activities in the area. The army has freed the people from terror, brought normalcy to the area, developed the infrastructure, resettled them and provided them with security. Hence they have more right to be in the North than anyone else including the TNA whose contribution to the freedom, security and welfare of the Tamils is disgracefully negligible or zero when compared to that of the army.”

    If such is the case, why did the tamils whom you say love the Sri-Lankan army, vote by landslides for the TNA and humiliate the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces(Rajapaksa)? Please answer this basic question as this is the question asked by the entire world. Let me give you a hint – don’t try to help the tamils in any way if they don’t want you to. If the tamils don’t want the army in the North, please get out. The tamils voted in the TNA unequivocally, and the TNA, thus representing the tamils wants the army out. If you want to help the tamils, then abide by their wishes. Don’t try to “liberate” us from anything including your perceived “terror” if we don’t want you to. Will you, Admiral, be fine if India invaded Sri-Lanka to “liberate” the country from the terror of the Rajapsaksas and stationed their armed forces all over the country?

  6. nadarajah rajendra

    Dear Dr.S.Weerasekera,
    Do you think that the world does not know about the Tamils love for Education?
    The Diaspora tamils and Eelam tamils are in hand in hand rebuilding the schools which were destroyed by the armed forces of Sri Lanka.Even during the war the schools were functioned under the Trees in many places.Every School had their own bunkers.to protect the children from the bombs of the Sri Lankan armed forces.
    the pupils spent a lot of their time in bunkers
    Please do not try to mislead the IC. They are not fools to belief you
    Thank you
    nadarajah rajendra
    germany

  7. Rajiv

    The TNA still propagates the “Sinhalaya Gonibilla” theory. That is the only way they can get re elected and enjoy the benefits provided to them as MP’s by the Sri Lankan tax payer. If they had any self respect, they would not accept these benefits. But, then again, we are asking for too much from these people who are hell bent on destroying this country and their own people for their own benefit.

  8. Piranha

    Contrary to what you say about the TNA’s right to complain let me point out to you the fact that the TNA was overwhelmingly elected by the tamil population to represent them and therefore have all the right to complain on their behalf.

    It looks like you are living on a different planet when you say the military does not interfere in civilian affairs. The military interference is into everything in the northeast and this has been reported by many independent visitors and observers. You should get out of your fixation with the LTTE and accept that the military presence in the northeast is oppressive and unnecessary.

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