A Tamil Diaspora Delegation Evaluates the Situation faced by the Northern Tamils in early April 2009

This tiny cluster of Tamil personnel came from Australia, Germany, UK and Dubai and were clearly not enmeshed in the tales predominant in the LTTE networks abroad.  Though Dr Narendran Rajasingham was working in Saudi Arabia at this point of time, note that he had a house in Colombo and stronger roots in the island than the others (as far as I can work out). This report, it seems, appeared first in German in ”LTTE watch” (see the Google reference —  https://lttewatch.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/ltte-ist-immun-gegen-internationalen-druck/). To stress this flavour’, the last section is also repeated in Deutsch.

Internally displaced people reach the camps in the hope of returning to their villages and homes soon. Photos from Rukmal Gamage

Manjula Fernando in April 13, 2009• lttewatch

Most issues that have plagued Tamils ​​thirty years ago have become irrelevant. Security, law and justice are the most important issues now. The people of the north are ready for political change. If you talk to people in Jaffna, they will tell you that they no longer want the LTTE in their vicinity.

A team of the Tamil Diaspora. Experts from all walks of life from nine countries, including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Switzerland, France and Germany, visited Sri Lanka during the last week.

The visit took place at the initiative of the Tamils ​​living in Australia. The Tamils ​​visited camps for internally displaced people in Vavuniya and the rehabilitation center for former LTTE fighters in Ambepussa. They also met with Presidential Adviser and Member of Parliament Basil Rajapaksa in Colombo, expressing their concern about the civilians being captured. 

 Please read an interview with some members of the delegation here.

Q: What was your mission here?

A: The mission was to find out the true situation, both locally and in the context of what the government is doing. We visited the rehabilitation camp for young LTTE cadres in Ambepussa who were captured or surrendered. We also visited the transit camp at Gamini Vidyalaya in Vavuniya where the internally displaced people are being detained, as well as the Lakshman Kadirgamar Camp.

 Yoganathan Putra, media and information expert from Germany. He was detained by the LTTE in 1991 when he returned to Sri Lanka to attend his wedding. He had to pay Rs 3.5 million for his release.

Q: Do you think these civilians are being treated in these camps?

A: I think they will be treated in the best possible way. You can always find mistakes. I was in a refugee camp in 1977 and I know how it was. I think they are doing their best.

Q: Do you think you can do something for the civilians being held by the LTTE?

A: That’s why we’re here. To find out if we can do anything to get her out there. First and foremost, our request is for the LTTE to let civilians go and the government must provide the humanitarian and security services to the people who come out.

Q: What is your opinion on a break in the ongoing operations to combat terrorism or a temporary ceasefire at this time?

A: We are not in a position to ask the government to stop the war at this point. That’s not our role, and that’s not our position. The government must act according to its goals. However, we feel that the government, as a responsible government on the winning road, should be prepared to take the risk of doing what is necessary to allow the civilian population to escape.

But that does not mean that we ask them to stop the war. That’s your decision. You – the government – should dare, even with the risk of the LTTE trying to do some tricks – we say: give these civilians a chance to get out.

  Rajeshwari Balasubramaniam – activist and journalist based in London

Q: Do you support the claim of the LTTE that it is the sole representative of the Tamils?

A: No way. This claim is not justified as they have achieved their position through coercion. Of course, there was support, but it was achieved through coercion and violence.

Q: Do you appreciate the support of the Tamil Diaspora for the LTTE? Is she going back?

A: I would say 40 percent are behind them unconditionally. It is very difficult to persuade these people until the problem is solved, and another 40 percent are in the middle, moving their positions according to circumstances. The rest, 20 percent, are clearly against it.

Even the people who oppose the LTTE have joined the protests in London and Canada. They went out to freedom for the Tamil people. They are not all LTTE followers.

The negative coverage by the LTTE makes people feel more emotional and they do not understand the true situation. Therefore, the Diaspora is still thinking that the Sri Lankan government is putting them in barbed-wire fence refugee camps and treating them very badly. That’s one of the reasons we came to see what’s really going on in the refugee camps.

In the camps, we saw that the allegations of the LTTE in the media are not true. What the people in the camps told us is the truth.

The entire Diaspora feels pity for the plight of the civilian population. This cannot be interpreted as supporting the LTTE.

 Dr. Rajasingham Narendran – veterinarian, former professor at Peradeniya University, now in Saudi Arabia. His family lives in Colombo.

Q: Has the LTTE’s fundraising, “fundraising” suffered from its military defeats?

On a. In that sense, they are masters. They know how to do it, and they are better at collecting money and mobilizing propaganda than the government.

They demonstrate abroad and say the Tamils ​​are being treated badly, but the ambassadors and the foreign officials know the truth. We met them in Colombo.

However, it is an advantage of the LTTE and may confuse the foreign embassies that the media never comes near the war zone. There is no independent reporting. That can turn out on two sides.

The media can distort and upset the true situation. But right now, the lack of media coverage has caused confusion. The messages do not see the truth. Small things are to be portrayed as big, but there are no clear reports about it. The media should act responsibly and report on the real situation in the war zone, not damage the image of the country.

Q: But there are opinions that the government’s anti-terrorist propaganda has been successful against the LTTE.

A: We have seen presentations, especially about the development in the East, and what happened there with the internally displaced people. I do not think they marketed that well. That would have had a wide impact if they sold it properly to bring the Diaspora to their side.

The issues surrounding the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution have also not been properly communicated in the Sinhalese and Tamil media.

The media has really failed in this regard. They did not teach the masses what the 13th appendix is. Therefore, the extremists are free to lead the masses astray. Most issues that have plagued Tamils ​​30 years ago are now irrelevant. Safety, law and the law have become the main topics.

Q: What should be done?

A: We need to unify and restructure our country.

There should be no more riots in our country in the future. But at the same time, if anyone says, if you do not like it here, go back to India, it’s absolutely offensive. I may be a minority here, but we are a fundamental part of the country.

The internally displaced people we met in the camps are the poorest of the poor. You have no voice. The people who can raise their voices have gone into exile and paint a bad picture of our country.

Q: Do you trust the APRC process of government for a political solution to the issue of the North and East?

A: The intentions are there, and I’m sure they’re good. Prof. Vitarana is doing his best to get something done. But we all realize that the current constitution has something in it for itself. As JR Jayewardene has planned, the Constitution leaves little room for attachments and changes. Nor do I think that the Sinhalese majority has the political will to go through the process, as happened in 1972 and 1977. That’s why we say, let’s start with the 13th appendix and apply it honestly.

We can get some out of the process. Redistribution of power must happen on the basis of equality. Without regard to the JVP, JHU or UNP, they must support peace in the country. They may have political differences, but on this point they need to support the government.

Q: The government said the civilian liberation operations and the reconquest of LTTE areas will soon be over. What role do you plan to play in the north after the conflict?

A: We want to be the bridge.

Q: Human rights minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has said that the LTTE may not be listening to the international community, but the voice of the Tamil diaspora could be an effective power to liberate captured civilians.

A: Holmes, with the help of the Norwegian government, has met with LTTE’s Mr. Pathmanathan, and has made it clear that the LTTE will not release the civilians. I think the LTTE is immune to international pressure.

The Americans have put pressure. India and Norway may be putting pressure. It is obvious, however, that the LTTE is holding civilians for their own safety. Under these circumstances, no one can convince them unless they choose to let them go, because they know they will be over once the civilian shield is gone. This is a hopeless situation for her.

Q: Can not the Diaspora do anything?

A: No, we can appeal to the LTTE, but the decision lies with the LTTE. I do not think that they still respond to moral address.

Q: Is Prabhakaran still worshiped in the Diaspora as a hero?

A: For some, he is a divine figure, someone who came to save the Tamils. According to Hindu beliefs, there is Avathara pursusha, someone born to defend and save. This image has been created at some point and it will be very hard to get rid of it again. I think with time, and when the truth comes to light, it will change.

Q: Did you visit the East as well?

On a. We had a very tight schedule. We wanted to go there, but it was not possible. But we were very impressed by the presentations about the East. It became clear that they had done a lot. The only disappointment was that it was a work of the central government, not the province.

The electoral process in the East was basically cosmetic to impress the international community. It is right to appoint a council for the meantime, but elections should be held if the conditions are right when the violence has completely left the scene.

Under the Indo-Lanka peace agreement, arrangements were made for interim councils. Do that now, with the right people from the north. Jaffna is already building a leadership, and Jaffna’s former government agent, Lionel Fernando, should be made head of this interim council, with two other members, a Tamil and a Muslim, and elections could be held after two or three years.

Q: Do you think the people of the North are ready for a political change after being in the grip of the LTTE for so long?

A political change, yes. If you meet people from Jaffna, everyone will tell you that you do not even want the LTTE anywhere near you. But the conditions for a political process are not there, because some have been expelled, some live in Colombo or nearby cities. You should return home. The internally displaced people have to return. You should not live in fear of the LTTE or any other group.

The majority of diasporas support the LTTE and other groups because there is no other democratic alternative. The government needs to change that.

Q: What is your message to the TNA?

Open your eyes now!


Q: Denken Sie, die Menschen im Norden sind bereit für einen politischen Wechsel, nachdem sie jetzt so lange im Griff der LTTE waren?

Ein politischer Wechsel, ja. Wenn Sie auf Menschen aus Jaffna treffen, werden alle  Ihnen sagen, dass man die LTTE nicht mehr auch nur in der Nähe haben will.

Aber die Bedingungen für einen politischen Prozess sind nicht da, weil einige vertrieben worden sind, einige in Colombo oder Städten in der Nähe leben. Sie sollten nach Hause zurückkehren. Die Binnenflüchtlinge müssen zurückkehren. Sie sollten nicht in Angst vor der LTTE oder irgendeiner anderen Gruppe leben.

Die Mehrheit der Diaspora unterstützt die LTTE und andere Gruppen, weil es keine andere demokratische Alternative gibt. Die Regierung muss das ändern.

Q: Was ist ihre Botschaft an die TNA?

Öffnen Sie jetzt ihre Augen!

***  ***

A NOTE from MICHAEL ROBERTS, 15 September 2019:

This small cluster of diaspora Tamils were deeply concerned about the fate of the many Tamils civilians deployed by the LTTE as sandbags in their defensive formation and a ploy to instigate a forcible Western intervention that would assist the LTTE’s survival. We know from the Wikileaks exposure of the US embassy’s despatches in March and April 2009 that Robert Blake was pressurizing the SL leaders (Foreign Minister Bogollagama and Defence Secy Gotabaya Rajapaksa) to arrest their military operations.

In hindsight, we also know that a remarkable commando operation mounted by the SL Army on the night of the 19th April penetrated the Tiger bund defences  facing west across Nandhikadal Lagoon and enabled some 100-120,000 civilians and deserting Tiger fighters to steam to relative safety over the next three/four days. This huge transformation was not only monitored on satellite data, but was also captured on camera by various news reporters. The set of events was intelligently conveyed by Bryson Hull and his Reuters team in Colombo — though Associated Press, BBC, ABC  and other media engines in the West stayed mum or purveyed the disinformation and lies presented by Tamilnet and other pro-Tiger enterprises.

Those interested in this particular slice of earth-shattering history should not only STUDY the maps and photographs in the sites/references indicated here; but should trawl through Roberts, Tamil Person and State, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014 and http://www.thuppahi.wordpress.com

Select Bibliography for the NOTE

Bryson Hull 2009 “Sri Lanka opens eye in the sky on war zone,” 20 April 2009, http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSCOL450259

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009b “The Battle for the Vanni Pocket,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, March 2009, Vol. 35/2, pp. 17-19 — http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/aulimp/citations/gsa/2009_157395/ 156554.html

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009c “Tiger Trail. Strategic Defeat of the LTTE and its Implications,” Force, April 2009, pp. 50-54.

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010a “Information Warfare and the Endgame of the Civil War,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, May 2010, 30/4: 35-37, http://wwwasiapacificdefencereporter. com/articles/40/Sri-Lanka.

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010b “Downfall of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,” 6 June 2010, http://www.defstrat.com/exec/frmArticleDetails.aspx?DID=243\.

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010c “Civilian Casualties, IDP Camps and Asylum Seekers,” Sunday Leader, 28 Nov. 2010.

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010a “Information Warfare and the Endgame of the Civil War,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, May 2010, 30/4: 35-37, http://wwwasiapacificdefencereporter. com/articles/40/Sri-Lanka.

Hull, C. Bryson 2009 “Sri Lanka opens eye in the sky on war zone,” 20 April 2009, http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSCOL450259

Hull, C. Bryson & Ranga Sirilal 2009a “Sri Lankan War in Endgame, 100,000 escape rebel zone,” 23 April 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-srilanka-war-idUSTRE53J0IZ20090422

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2009c “Wretched of the Earth break Free of Bondage,” Daily Mirror, 25 April 2009, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/380.  

Narendran, Rajasingham, 2009 “Rise and Fall of the LTTE — An Overview,” Sri Lanka Guardian, 7 Feb. 2009.

Reddy, B. Muralidhar 2009a “An Escape from Hellhole,” http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/25/stories/ 2009042558390100.html.

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Generating Calamity, 2008-2014: An Overview of Tamil Nationalist Operations and Their Marvels,” 10 April 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/04/10/generating-calamity-2008-2014-an-overview-of-tamil-nationalist-operations-and-their-marvels/

Roberts, Michael 2015 “The Realities of Eelam War IV,” 27 October 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/10/27/the-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Saving Talaivar Pirapāharan,” 5 April 2016, https://thuppahis.com/2016/04/06/saving-talaivar-pirapaharan/

Roberts, Michael 2016 “The Western World’s Cumulous Clouds of Deception: Blanketing the Sharp Realities of Eelam War IV,” 16 October 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/10/16/the-western-worlds-cumulous-clouds-of-deception-blanketing-the-sharp-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2018Where USA sought to arm-wrestle Sri Lanka in March-April-May 2009,” 11 May 2018,  https://thuppahis.com/2018/05/11/where-usa-sought-to-arm-wrestle-sri-lanka-in-march-april-may-2009/

Vidura 2009 “The Great Escapes,” Sunday Leader, 17 May 2009.

Yatawara, Dhaneshi 2009 “Entrapped Civilians seek salvation in Force,” Sunday Observer, 17 May 2009, http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2009/05/17/fea05.asp

UTHR 2009 “A Marred Victory and a Defeat Pregnant with Foreboding,” Special Report No. 32, 10 June 2009, http://www.uthr.org/SpecialReports/spreport32.htm

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One response to “A Tamil Diaspora Delegation Evaluates the Situation faced by the Northern Tamils in early April 2009

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