No survey of Eelam War IV — especially its last phase from late 2008 to May 2009 — can be pursued without some comprehension of the unfolding geographical context and some attention to illustrative pictorial details of the LTTE ditch-and-bund system of defense as well as the defensive deployment of a congealed mass of people and Tiger personnel from circa mid-February to mid-May 2009 within what is best referred to as the “Last Redoubt.” Attention to pictorial evidence must obviously embrace evidence of shelling and casualties (both injured and dead) as well as prima facie instances suggestive of extra-judicial execution by both sides. These in their turn must sit alongside the graphic photographs of clusters of people streaming or struggling across the Nandikadal Lagoon or crossing sand and scrub terrain in April and May 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army infiltrated and penetrated the Tiger arena in the Last Redoubt…. and released them from their corralled situation.
The specifications for submissions to the OISL investigation did not permit such illustrations, but it is hoped that this UNHCR team will incorporate these essential tools (plus satellite technology) when they get down to the minutiae of assessment. It is because I attach considerable significance to such forms of contextualisation and elaboration of the circumstances of the battle theatre that my book on Tamil Person and State (Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014) backed up its anthology of essays with numerous photographs — to the point that a separate volume contained most of these images and maps in 164 pages plus another 8, making up 172 pages presenting over 280 visual aids.
So, here, in this separate post you will see supplements to the thuppahi reproduction of the Memorandum sent in mid-October to the OCHCR team conducting the OISL investigation. They have been kept separate because packing them into the internet version of the Memorandum would have resulted in overcrowding. Moreover, the computer screen can be split readily into two so that careful readers can place the illustrations alongside the points at which they make the most sense.
Those who consider this an useful exercise may wish to locate Tamil Person and State. Pictorial in some library and take their time absorbing the descriptive details clarifying each of the photographic illustrations within that book. Space limits, as well as sagging energy, constrained similar elaboration within this site.
 This term is equivalent to the area demarcated as the “Second No Fire Zone” (and also referred to as a “Safe Zone”) by the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) on 12th February 2009 at the behest of international pressure. I refuse to use that terminology for two reasons. Firstly, because it was a unilateral act and not agreed to by the other warring party, namely the LTTE. It is therefore not binding legally (see Marga 2011 An Analysis and Evaluation of The Report of the Advisory Panel to the UNSG on the Final Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, https://www.dropbox.com/s/ 0eybj1ynej6spaa/The%20Darusman%20Report-%20Final%20doc-2.doc and IDAG “The Numbers Game,” 2011). Secondly, and more vitally, because the Sea Tiger forces operated along this stretch of coast throughout this period, while mobile LTTE mortars and artillery were fired from this arena and the rusting hulk of the SS Farrah served as an observation post and housed some camouflaged cannons.
 While a considerable proportion of the civilian Tamil people began to doubt the promises and propaganda of the LTTE from circa January, there remained a considerable core of individuals and families who were attached to the LTTE and its objectives. Thus, when the SL Army penetrated the Last Redoubt on 19-23 April (see Pics 18-24 below) some residents in the north and central sections moved south to join the people residing in tents and bunkers in the south at Vellamullivaykkal, thereby constituting a mass of some 80-90,000 civilians, fighters and Tiger functionaries (rough estimate). See Figs 104a and 104b in Robert, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014, page 149).
Pic 3: Situation Map, 6 January 2009 (from Ministry of Defence site) after the LTTE abandoned Kilinochchi on 1-2 January 2009. The pink area denotes what can be called the “Vanni Pocket,” the dwindling terrain of Thamilīlam. See Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: 121-23 for fuller elaboration.
Pic 4: Situation Map, 23 January 2009 (from MoD site) showing the space demarcated as a “No Fire Zone” by the Government of Sri Lanka (hereafter GSL), circa 21 January 2009. I am still in the dark regarding the origin of this concept and suspect that it was an idea invented and pressed by the Western and UN agencies which, from humanitarian considerations, were constantly knocking on GSL doors so to speak (see Roberts, “Ball-by-Ball Wikileaks,” 2014).
Pic 5: Vanni Pocket in late February or early March — Pic in UN PoE Report, p. 23, showing the “Second No Fire Zone, a strip of some 12 by 2 (or 3 in some spots) km, where most of the citizens of Thamilīlam seem to have been herded by the LTTE, thereby serving as a defensive formation that would thwart a potential amphibious operation that could have boxed their fighting forces into a situation of no hope. Though the GSL ministers had initially baulked at this suggestion, viz. this particular arena for the Second NFZ, they obviously relented because they demarcated the area on 12th February (see Roberts, “Ball-by-Ball Wikileaks,” 2014). Also see Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: 133.
Pic 6: “IDP settlement near Putumattalan Hospital in Second No Fire Zone, March 2009” — UNPoE Report, p. 27. Also see Fig. 103b in Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014. What one finds, therefore, are a number of tent ‘suburbs’.
Pic 7: Congested Road & Settlements in the Last Redoubt –– Pic from TamilNet, 29 March 2009. Also see Fig. 92b in Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, (2014) and Roberts, 2013 “Congestion in the “Vanni Pocket” January-May 2009: Appendix IV for “BBC Blind,” http://thuppahis.com/2013/12/09/ congestion-in-the-vanni-pocket-january-may-2009-appendix-iv-for-bbc-blind/
Pic 9: The Anguish of Kin Folk as People die or are injured — from Human Rights Watch. See Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: Figs. 85-87 & 88a for more illustrations. A whole raft of such images will be found in TamilNet and other Tamil web sites. These images and the telephoned reports that were being conveyed to the Western media personnel in Colombo and abroad by the Tamil medical men (both Tiger appointees and GSL appointees) fed the picture of “carnage” and “genocide” that were the strident catchcries of the agit-prop tactics adopted by the LTTE and its extensive arms abroad. This verbal and pictorial imagery was meant to service the grand LTTE strategy directed towards encouraging Western pressure to install a “ceasefire” and/or forcible intervention that could, hopefully, lead to an evacuation of the Tiger high command. For all that, my survey of the TamilNet photographs has left me with a query: why are there so few images of heaps of corpses? The relative absence of photographs showing corpses in mass is therefore an issue. Given the efficiency of the LTTE propaganda units, this lacunae seems significant [unless my review is deficient, which it well may be].
Affidavit Signature of Dr. V. Shanmugarajah, dated 19 Sept 2011, in the City of Jaffna, from Engage Sri Lanka, Corrupted Journalism, 2013, p, 203. For an online version of the Shanmugarajah report, dated 10 May 2012, and printed in the book above (pp. 204-4), see Shanmugarajah 2014 in Thuppahi. This is a vital source which most of the more recent reviews of the Sri Lankan war by human rights agencies have consistently neglected.
Pic 11: A Tamil Demonstration in London — no date/source was noted in my files, so this may be from a subsequent year, but stands here as a symbolic representation of the many vociferous demonstrations, often with large masses of people, mounted from late 2008 onwards in England, Canada, Germany, Geneva and elsewhere by ardent Tamil nationalists and/or LTTE personnel; and again at symbolic moments (e.g. 19th May and 27th November) in the years thereafter. See Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, Figs. 135 & 161 and Pics 47 and 48 below.
Pic 12: Tiger Corpses collected after the Capture of Puthukkudiyirippu (PTK) in March 2009 — from MoD web site. Also see Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014, Figs. 99-100 and http://defence.lk/ picturegallery/ picc.asp?tfile=20090306Chalai&cat=ACHI for scenes after Chalai was captured. It is possible that some of these images were deployed by Tamil propaganda networks as their own “evidence” of the “carnage” wrought by GSL shelling. If any reader can provide data to this effect I would be grateful.
Pics 13 & 14: A Palmyrah Tree Bunker and an Armour-plated Bunker within the bund fences that confronted the 55th Division as it advanced southwards from Elephant Pass –– Pics by Tammita-Delgoda. Tammita-Delgoda was embedded with the 55th Division in late March 2009 and his masterful Manekshaw Paper (2009) as well as his other accounts (2014,a, b, c) are essential background material for those seeking to comprehend the war, the more so for those of bourgeois armchair background.
Pics 15, 16: Embankments and Ditches as Defence –– Pics from MoD web site. This defensive system was designed to prevent tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from advancing. The bunds were mined and booby-trapped so that there were “death traps” at every turn (Tammita-Delgoda 2009: 8). Thus, the 55th Division of the SL Army advancing southwards towards Mullaitivu “confronted 14 earth bunds, sometimes with large tank trap ditches or water filled moats in front” (de Silva-Ranasinghe, “Downfall,” 2010b). For further details on the defence system, see de Silva-Ranasinghe “Good Education,” 2009e and Tammita-Delgoda 2009. These two images are from terrain west of the arterial road through Kilinochchi and were obviously snapped after the SL Army had surmounted the LTTE in these areas in mid-late 2008. For a vivid account of the battle theatre at that stage, listen to Tony Birtley in Al Jazeera (2014)
Pic 18: Analytic Graphic Map revealing how SL Army brigades penetrated the Last Redoubt, 19-22 April 2009 — from Daily Mirror, 24 April 2009. This is a critical tool illustrating a remarkable military operation unparalleled in world history (see Tammita-Delgoda 2009 and Roberts, “Winning the War,” 2014c ). The initial attacks were night operations and quite intricate in nature. “The defences around and within the LTTE pocket consisted of a series of earth bunds, which were reinforced by bunkers every 30-50 metres and linked to a series of subsidiary trench systems and strong points. The bunds were mined and booby-trapped…. The Army launched its final offensive at 2am on April 19 and after hours of heavy fighting penetrated and bisected the northern LTTE defences. …. rescue points were established and loud speakers used to direct the movement of civilians towards Army lines” (de Silva-Ranasinghe: “Downfall,” 2010b). Note that some 103,000 Tamil civilians and Tiger personnel who had discarded their weapons survived the crossfire and fighting and streamed out over shallow water and land from the 19th to 23rd (see Pics 20-22 below). This was a result that was way beyond my expectations — located as I was then in Colombo and fearing a huge bloodbath (as I told Kumari Jayawardena on the phone). Other IDPs trickled out in the following week or so, while I know of two families who sneaked out at night on boats crewed by fishermen that were then escorted to the Jaffna Peninsula by the SL Navy.
Pic 19: Some of the corralled Tamil populace move south into Karayeyimullivaikkal and Velleyimullivaikkal in the Last Redoubt as the SL Army offensive of 19th April made inroads into the Last Redoubt — Pic from TamilNet, 1 May 2009. One can safely assume that these families were diehard LTTE supporters and/or those who feared the SL Army. Needless to say, the congestion in the southern pockets increased (see Pic 24 below and Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: Pics 107 & 109. Citizen Silva estimates that in early May the number of people, inclusive of LTTE personnel, located in this remnant Thamilīlam amounted to 135,00-146,000 (email communication) – an appraisal which should rectify the TamilNet claim of 165,000 people. Remarkably the LTTE state organisation remained functional and efficient and serviced the food supply and medical needs of this mass of civilians, while still retaining mortar artillery and fighting capacity; while ICRC ships continued with their medivac rescue operations (with SL Navy cooperation) from the Vellamullivaikkal beach till 9th February. For pictorial evidence of these aspects, see Roberts, TPS. Pictorial 2014: Figs.95, 97 and 111-14.
Pic 20: “Wretched of the Earth break Free of Bondage” – DBS Jeyaraj’s Caption for the Exodus from the northern sections of the Last Redoubt — Pic from MoD, but one that was widely depicted in several media outlets. For other images of a similar character, see Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014: Figs. 102-03 and absorb the riveting live video documentation in the recent GSL documentary “The Last Phase,” http://www.youtube.com/embed/RQmn4ubPy5A.
Pic 23: Graphic Map of the Second Stage of the SL Army Offensive directed at the Last Redoubt — Map from Daily Mirror. Also see Fig. 126a in Roberts, TPS Pictorial 2014. At this point the propaganda campaign of the LTTE moved into strident top-gear with claims of “carnage” (see TamilNet or any British newspaper from the 10th May onwards and for one illustration the CBS news item of 10th May at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/doctor-sri-lanka-artillery-kills-hundreds/); while KP Pathmanathan in Malaysia sought frantically to secure interventions from the West. Note that “the Sea Tigers operated extensively along the coastline and the Navy claimed that it destroyed 17 Sea Tiger boats and killed over 100 Sea Tigers in the last four weeks of the conflict” (de Silva-Ranasinghe, “Downfall,” 2010b). Eventually, the SL Army’s 59th Division launched an amphibious assault from the south on the 14th May and established a bridgehead within the last remnant of Thamililam. These troops had to beat off several counter-attacks. They eventually linked up with the 58th Division on the 16th May. “On the night of May 17, the LTTE attempted to breakthrough Army lines in a desperate attack with over 400 fighters, which reportedly saw over 30 suicide attacks.” By the 18th May, however, this resistance had been mostly overcome (de Silva-Ranasinghe, “Downfall,” 2010b). The talaivar Pirapāharan and the last remnant of armed Tigers were not flushed out till the night of the 18-19th in swamp terrain of the Nandikadal Lagoon (see details and images in Mahindapala 2009 & Roberts, “Veera Maranam,” 2013).
Pic 24: Extreme Congestion in VellaMullivaikkal, My 2009 — Pic from TamilNet, early May 2009. This image is alongside another image described as a “Close-up view of congested road in Mu’l’li-vaaykkal” by the LTTE propaganda voice of TamilNet, on 1st May 2009. The several images in early May reveal the congealed mass of tents, houses and people in the segments of the Last Redoubt remaining under LTTE control. Observe the number of red-tiled roofs in the background of this picture and also the trees and tents remaining intact. Also dwell on Roberts, “Congestion in the “Vanni Pocket…,” http://thuppahis.com/2013/12/09/congestion-in-the-vanni-pocket-january-may-2009-appendix-iv-for-bbc-blind/. These scenes raise doubts about the “shelling every day around the clock” and the “relentless onslaught ” depicted by Frances Harrison (2012: 118, 106) on the basis of information conveyed by her Tamil informants – at least up to this point of time.
Pics 25- 28: Four Images of the Makeshift Hospital ‘complex’ at Karayamullivaikkal — Pics by Kanchan Prasad taken circa 15/17th May 2009. This hospital was at the centre of the concentrated outrage expressed in prestigious & powerful Western media circuits — from The Times to The Guardian, New York Times and the voice of Associated Press — from the 10th and 11th May onwards as their reporters gullibly accepted the tales of severe bombardment and huge casualties conveyed by the medical men and Tamil informants (including Tamil INGO functionaries) within the ‘stamp-size’ rump of territory in LTTE hands. The bombing of this hospital was highlighted in these reports and was a prominent feature in the tales purveyed by Tamilnet to anxious Tamil migrants of the diaspora. Aware of this focus through internet coverage, Muralidhar Reddy and Prasad made it a point to head for this hospital during one of their daily trips (each day 14th-18th May inclusive) to the areas that had been captured by the SL Army during its final offensive (needless to say, these tours were facilitated by the Army, but no conditions were attached to this privilege)..The full range of pictures snapped by Prasad can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626797848747/. Here I present four — with one depicting Murali at the entrance to a bunker ward. Readers can also get some impressions of the debris, damages and desolation of the scenery within the Last Redoubt from Prasad’s other camerawork at http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626797805167/
Pic 29: Captured Tiger fighters stripped bare,with Col Vasanthan singled out, circa 18th May 2009 — Pic from http://white-flags.org/ The scene is obviously at one of the embankment-and-ditch defenses in the Last Redoubt. The stripping of these fighters would have been a precautionary measure against suicide belts or, alternatively, the use of cyanide capsules to commit suicide. The issue, however, is whether this was a prelude to extra-judicial executions of selected personnel. Vasanthan is among those commanders who surrendered and who are presumed dead — that is executed (see http://white-flags.org/ and Thangavelu 2013).
Pic 30: A Female Tiger (still attired) is picked out — Pic from http://white-flags.org/. The question, then, is why? It would seem to be the same young woman who is next to Isaipriya in the following photograph.
Pic 31: Isaipriya and another in captivity, c. 18th May 2009 — Pic from http://white-flags.org/. This note is attached: “Tamil TV newsreader Isaipriya was taken into army custody on 18 May 2009. First pictures of her dead body emerged . Then several photographs and a videos emerged showing her alive and in army custody.”
Pic 33: SL Army Officers and Men study a Row of Tiger Corpses, while General Shavendra Silva points to one —- Pic from http://white-flags.org/. This web site notes that General Silva is flanked by “Army Commander, Jagath Jayasuriya in camouflage and on his other side Major General Jagath Dias (later to be deputy Ambassador to Germany).”
Pic 34: An Officer gives the thumbs up to the Army Guy behind the Camera — Pic from http://white-flags.org/. The plausible presumption and message behind the Pics 33 and 34 is that the SL Army commanders had presided over the execution of the personnel on display as corpses. However, it is also possible that the Army had collected corpses in the standard fashion seen at Chalai, PTK and elsewhere (see Pic 12 above) and was in the process of identifying specific personnel of rank. That noted, the photo-essay in http://white-flags.org/ makes a strong case for the allegation that the political commissars Puleedevan and Nadesan were executed. The evidence re the killing of Commander Ramesh had already been conclusively demonstrated by Gordon Weiss (2012) — see Pics 35-37 below.
Pics 35 & 36: Commander Ramesh under Arrest in an APC … and as a Corpse — Pic from http://white-flags.org/. 2012. This site has this note: “LTTE Military Commander, Colonel Thambirasa Thurairasingam (Ramesh) also surrendered on 18 May 2009. On 22 May 2009 he was questioned, and died later that day.” These snaps and such detail could only have come from a defecting SL Army soldier (presumably motivated by monetary returns or entry rights into a Western nation) .
Pic 37: Another Graphic Image of Commander Ramesh’s Dead Body – Pic from Gordon Weiss, “New Evidence — The Death of Colonel Ramesh,” 21 March 2012, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/newevidencethe-death-of-colonel-ramesh-warning-disturbing-images/. A manifest instance of execution.
Pic 38: The Second Exodus, mid-May 2009: Civilians streaming across makeshift bridge at Wadduvakkal at the southern end of the Last Redoubt — Pic from http://white-flags.org/. as well as, ironically, MoDefence site … http://www.defence.lk/new.aspfname=Vigilance_vital_to_prevent_LTTE_resurgence_Major_General_Shavendra_Silva_20140518_02
Pics 41 & 42: Some Tamil civilians struggle across deeper waters of Nandikadal, May 2009 — Pics by Tilak Perera for Yatawara article in Sunday Observer, 17 May 2009. where two articles authored by Dhaneshi Yatawara and Shanika Sriyananda carried in the pro-government Lake House newspaper provided stories of the Tamil peoples’ escape and plight. The images are as revealing as striking (and, incidentally, indicate that some civilians may have drowned). Traumatic tales abound. “The LTTE block them from crossing the lagoon at its narrowest position. Hence, the people either wade or swim for more than one kilometre clinging on to some floating material to reach the cleared areas seeking the protection of the Sri Lanka Army. Troops cannot repulse the terrorists as the probability of hitting the civilians is high. Taking the risk of death troops who wait under cover receive these unfortunate people and take them to safety” (Yatawara 2009). The last sentence is not concoction. The UTHR reports provide testimonies from escapees that provide evidence that on occasions Army troops died from gunfire in the course of aiding escapees (see UTHR 2009a and 2009b).
Pic 44: Tamil Civilian Survivors trudge across terrain typical of the coastal hinterland in the Vanni Pocket –– Pic from Daily News. I do not have a date for this image. it is either late April or mid/late May. The scenery and logic suggests that this snap was taken west or south of the Last Redoubt. Also see http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/icrc-sri-lanka-during-final-phase-war
Pic 45: Surviving Tamil Civilians assembled in rear–– Pic from Frontline, 5 June 2009 but probably from MoD. For a selection of images depicting the considerate treatment of the Tamil civilians at the battle front or its immediate rear by men and women of the SL Army and SL Navy, see Waduge 2014.
Pic 47: Tamil Protest Demonstration blocks Gardiner Expressway before Moving to Queen’s Park in Toronto — Pic by Tarek Abdel Harim in The Star, 10 May 2009. For this specific account , see http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2009/05/10/tamil_protest_moves_off_gardiner_to_queens_park.htmlee.
Pic 48: Tamil Protests in Western Cities. From late 2008, as they saw the writing on the wall, the emotional turmoil of LTTE supporters and other Tamil nationalists grew exponentially. The inner turmoil was probably profound (e.g. see CNN 2009). The expressions of anger at public demonstrations were virulent at times and even frightening (for e.g. see Figs. 135a & b and 134 in Roberts, TPS Pictorial, 2014). Thus, “protests [were] an almost daily occurrence across Sydney in the past fortnight” said Dr Sam Pari in late April while standing in front of the PM’s Sydney residence. It was immediately after one such demo in Sydney on 16/17th May that a handful of young Tamils invaded the home of two Sinhalese young men in Westmead and assaulted them with sticks and acid (Roberts, “Lone Cell Assaults,” 2013). What is particularly significant in this development was the entry of several second and third generation Tamil migrants. Tamil nationalism received a major boost and the continuing agitation about the “war crimes” of the Sri Lankan government since then is one outcome, as well as one engine, of this phenomenon (see Roberts, TPS Pictorial, 2014: Figs. 161a,b & c).
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