Unknown Author, Courtesy of Dushy Perera (a periodic migrant to Mannar)
We had eagerly awaited this moment. It was a little after sunrise on the Thirukketheecharam Temple road and the dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. We hurriedly got off our vehicles and started walking towards the mud flats and to our unbelief they were there. Our cameras clicked from a distance not knowing how long we would continue to see them. But they didn’t disappoint us and we moved closer and closer to them. There were nearly 200 of them.
A = The ethnographic gem on events in 2009 provided by former minister Rohitha Bogollagama in 2013 that is now clarified by Chandre Dharmawardana is startling news even for those aware of the exchanges taking place in the (i) ambassadorial despatches now accessible via Wikileaks and (ii) the bare details of the secret meeting held in Kuala Lumpur at KP’s ‘office’ in February 2009 between Norwegian diplomats and LTTE operatives (with US cognisance).
Chandre Dharma-wardana, an Item arising from our recent email exchanges and taken from his website …. http://dh-web.org/place.names/posts/blake.html ……….with emphasis in different colours added by me as Editor, Thuppahi
Rohitha Bogollagama was the Foreign Mininster (FM) in 2009, during the last days of the Eelam War-IV. On October 20, 2013 evening, I had a conversation with him in the presence of Mohanil Samarakoon (Address: 7 Rajapihilla Terrace, Kandy). We were at the Estate bungalow of the late Mrs. Sharmini Maththew, Korakaha Estate, Kurunegala. This was after dinner, when all other guests had moved out to the veranda. I was not personally known to Mr. Bogollagama until that afternoon. The three of us lingered further, seated around the dining table. I asked Mr. Bogollagama about the last days of the war. He spoke willingly, and with no further encouragement from me.
Later it occurred to me that many of the things stated by Mr. Bogollagama were of historical significance; hence I wrote down from memory a brief synopsis of our conversation the following day, after I returned to Colombo. What Mr. Bogollagama said was as follows.
I proceed, here, to extract motifs from the details on the happenings in 2009 within the principle theatre of war that have been summarized in Gash IV. This arena has been aptly identified as “the Vanni Pocket” by Serge de Silva-Ranasinghe and is in the north western corner of the island. My comments will be marked A, B, C, etc for ease of reference.
Situation Map, 2 February 2009
A= The Grand Strategy of the LTTE
In his secret situation report of the 28th January, Lt. Col. Gash notes: “The LTTE appear to have no options left, and the language on TamilNet and other similar platforms is clearly striving for international intervention to force a ceasefire on the GoSL. Further civilian casualties are now inevitable as they no longer have options to move away from the combat zone. Without the presence of the IDPs the LTTE would be subjected to unrestricted air and artillery strikes, so have no incentive to release them. The SLA is exercising restraint but, without a change in political mood, will not hold back entirely.”
In Despatch COL/2/08 of12 March 2009 Lt. Col Anton Gash has this summary appraisal for his superiors: “TheLTTE has been forcing the civilian population to move in accordance with their tactical requirements. The NFZ is rigorously policed and patrolled by LTTE cadres, who control access to food and medical facilities, ensuring that their own needs are met before any capacity is allowed for civilians.”
This is a critical observation pointing in the right direction. Nevertheless, it falls short of the mark. The mass of Tamil civilians was not merely a tactical element. They were a central pillar in the LTTE’s grand strategy. For one, they constituted a defensive formation: just so many sandbags restraining the full deployment of the government forces’ military weaponry. While the standard description of the civilians as “hostages” in HR and Western circles does point in this direction, the terminology is “weak” and does not fully capture the overarching strategic purpose of the corralled civilian mass. In addition to serving as a restrictive ‘bund’, the civilian mass provided an active incentive for Western interventionin favour of a ceasefire and some sort of “political solution.”
a tent citty in the Tigers’ last redoubt –-Pic from UNPoE circa February 2009
Shamindra Ferdinando,in The Island, 19 April 2017, where the title reads “AI’s longstanding ‘alliance’ with the LTTE”
Publicly declining to testify before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that has been tasked by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to inquire into war crimes allegations, London headquartered Amnesty International (AI) joined the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) to flay Sri Lanka.The LLRC commenced sittings in Aug 2010. In a joint statement issued on Oct 14, 2010, the three organizations called for a genuine, credible effort to pursue political reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. Declaring that the LLRC had failed to meet what they called minimum international standards for commissions of inquiry, they said: “There is little to be gained by appearing before such a fundamentally flawed commission.” “Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an independent international investigation.”
Editorial in The ISLAND, 17 January 2017, entitled “Obama’s Swansong”… with highlighting bing the Editor Thuppahi’s work.
President Barack Obama has, towards the latter part of his second term, shown a tendency to get increasingly maudlin. Tears welled up in his eyes the other day while making his farewell speech. Last year, he refused to speak at his daughter Malia’s graduation lest he should get too emotional. In 2015, he was seen wiping away tears during a fascinating performance by Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.
Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, where the title is different
The manner in which President Mahinda Rajapaksa withstood and totally deflated the imperialistic moves by Miliband and Kouchner, respective Foreign Ministers for Britain and France, in late April 2009 has been the stuff of salacious gossip in pro-Rajapaksa and Sri Lankan patriot circles. Any re-telling of this tale in solid detail on the foundations of direct witness will cast me into the same mould in the minds of those beyond that circle — whether sanctimonious, liberal and/or snooty. No matter: historical recording must trump popular polling and moral posturing. Meeting Lalith Weeratunga enables me to present the story in vivid detail.
In this handout picture released by The Sri Lankan Presidential Office, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (L) looks on as his British counterpart David Miliband (C) shakes hands with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (R) as they arrive for a meeting at Ambilipitiya Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.