Reflections: Interpreting the Gash Files IV

Michael Roberts

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[1] 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.”

This is a critical observation. It identifies the grand design of the LTTE when they persuaded and/or pushed the civilian population living in the western areas of Mannar, and Kilinochchi Districts to move lock, stock and barrel eastwards. It is possible to describe this action unsympathetically thus: “the sharks took the sea with them.”[2] But that aphorism can be questioned: in parenthesis, I refer here to the experienced Indian journalist Muralidhar Reddy’s view that such a step was accepted readily at the outset because the Tamil peoples had little reason to trust the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL).[3]

Be that as it may, the Tiger leadership saw the body of civilians as an essential pillar in the picture of “an impending humanitarian catastrophe” which they were building up from mid-2008 – a picture underlined further by also speaking of [potential] “genocide.”[4] In brief, the civilians were not mere “hostages” (a common term in Western news reports and official-speak)[5]) nor “sandbags in their defensive formation” (my language); but a strategic pillar in a grand LTTE strategy seeking to spark Western international intervention.[6]

Through this deployment the key humanitarian agencies in the West, namely, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group, as well as similar agencies within Sri Lanka (e.g. Centre for Policy Alternatives and the National Peace Council), were drawn willy-nilly into this LTTE cartel. So, too, were some of the powerful Western governments and the UN bureaucratic agencies in their pocket.[7]

So, by 2009, if not earlier, one had a grand alliance. As I have argued consistently, “the Western nations, both individually and collectively, were complicit in one of the most outstanding acts of blackmail the world has seen in recent centuries.”[8] This was not an instance of post facto reading. It was a challenge indicated in early February 2009 in Groundviews and The Island when I argued that “emotion and humanitarian concern have eclipsed realism and factuality.”[9]

As a pertinent adjunct, we should also pay heed to a passing line in the same despatch from Gash after he presented details on the casualties at that point of time: It is not possible to distinguish civilians from LTTE cadres, as few cadres are now in military uniform.

B. TamilNet is Unreliabl

Gash’s despatch of the 22nd April ends with this note: “TamilNet allegations continue along the familiar themes of attacks on orphanages, hospitals, cluster munitions, chemical weapons. These are no longer credible, albeit there clearly have been heavy civilian casualties from small arms and mortar fire.” ••••• line blacked out

This reading was plain common sense.[10] It is supported by a statement within the lengthy “Affidavit” from the Medical Superintendent in the heart of the Vanni Pocket in 2009, Dr. Veerakanthipillai Shanmugarajah: “I was on several occasions put under pressure by the LTTE International co-ordinator to give false death and casualty figures to the International Media.  On one occasion, the death toll that day had been 34 but I was instructed to tell the media that the death toll was 534.”[11]

This measure of scepticism and caution revealed by Gash, however, was not evident in much of the reportage from journalists attached to powerful Western media engines. One can comprehend how her radical ideological commitments led the world-renowned Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times in London to be an extension of the Tiger propaganda machinery while ‘reporting’ from an office desk in London rather than the war front.[12] But the gullibility of a wide range of Western media personnel is puzzling.

 Nessman (with cap) on SLAF flight to warfront –Pic from Kanchan Prasad

The gullibility displayed by two Western media-men located in Colombo closer to the battle theatre is more than puzzling: it is (was) mind-boggling. I refer here to Ravi Nessman of Associated Press and Gordon Weiss, the Media Officer in the local UN office.[13] They seem to have accepted the casualty figures and tales peddled by the Tamil personnel in the NGOs in the NFZ and/or the doctors under Tiger rule. They went on air in early May 2009 telling the world via Associated Press of a “war without witnesses,” while outlining a potential Armageddon (or end of the world scenario). Nessman reiterated his claims on the 13th and 14th May — asserting in one widely disseminated news message that a “wave of artillery bombardments has pummelled the war zone since the weekend, health workers said. Weekend attacks alone may have killed as many as 1000 people, doctors said.”[14]

In these presentations in May, these Western media-men were not only aligning themselves with US Sec-of-State Hillary Clinton’s sharp denunciation of the GSL on 22nd April 2009 (see below), but also by-passing (a) the balanced pictorially-supported reportage from Reuters that depicted the SL Army’s breakthrough assault on the LTTE’s last bastion on the 19th April,[15] and (b) the video footage in the local TV stations and the local news reports showing Tamil civilians streaming out of their cage en masse in droves.[16] Here, I surmise: Weiss and Nessman may have been inspired by their Jewish ancestry to buy into the Tamil intelligentsia’s vision of themselves as latter-day equivalents of the people depicted in The Exodus (1958) by Leon Uris.[17]

C. Dire Humanitarian Situation, 12 March 2009

Gash’s “Sitrep” of the 12th March concluded thus: “The humanitarian situation: in the NFZ is unpleasant. Little space, little food or medical facilities, and a brutal LTTE regime. Deaths from all causes (combat and illness) are increasing and malnutrition is being seen. The SLA is confident that once it reached the edge of the NFZ the civilian population will spontaneously rush out, overwhelming the LTTE if necessary. … a line blacked out

For the civilian population — whether non-combatant or those forcefully recruited for Tiger logistical and/or fighting work – the situation was indeed grim. Yes, indeed, the Tiger regime was fascist brutal. However, neither the opinion conveyed here about the capacities/sentiments by some SL Army officers nor Gash’s assessments can be accepted wholesale.

Take the SL Army claim that civilians would rush out. It is true that (a) Gash records one instance of civilian opposition to LTTE demands;[18] and that (b) a careful search of the UTHR Reports No. 32 and No, 34 will yield some other instances.[19] But a few swallows do not a summer make. We need careful historical work that collects examples of such action before summing up this dimension of the assessment.

It is pertinent that at least 35,178 civilians had defied the LTTE and sneaked out on foot or by sea in January-February 2009 — with a few losing their lives in cross-fire or by misadventure during these endeavours. And we do have the subsequent evidence – striking evidence – of civilians fleeing their trapped and grim conditions in droves in late April 2009 (see images in Gash IV and my presentation “Reuters in Word and Image,” 2016).

However, (as we know now) a large number — anything from 100,000-to-160,000 personnel (mostly civilian) — remained with the LTTE[20] after the SL Army breached the “Last Redoubt” on 19th April 2009. TamilNet images in early May reveal civilians moving south along the foreshore to Vellamullivaikkal and Karayamullivaikkal where the Tiger High Command was entrenched.

Before these latter-day events unfolded, moreover, there were concerned voices that envisaged the prospect of the Tamil civilians participating in a massive suicide act of the horrendous sort seen among Japanese civilians at Saipan in mid-1944.[21] Among those expressing such speculations was one Michael Roberts;[22] and Gash himself in another despatch.[23] My fears then were guided by my own research work on the “sacrificial devotion” of the Tiger fighters and by the indication way back in year 2001 from a Jaffna Tamil, no less than Sumathy Mohan, that “the Tigers have a death wish.”[24]

Indeed, we now have the striking witness of a Tamil civilian survivor, a lady named Rasamalar, who indicated that “the organisation said we were going to die anyway if we crossed to the army-controlled area and told us to die with them.”[25] Again, evidence from the war zone then and subsequent tales also indicate that the LTTE shot at escaping civilians and even deployed individuals with suicide bombs as a deterrent on a few occasions.[26] However, there does not seem to have been any systematic imposition of collective massacres or suicides.

In short, the prediction conveyed by some SL Army officers to Gash about the civilians overwhelming the Tiger fighters and rushing out was a tad optimistic if not wishful. That at least 110,000 struggled out (mostly on foot: but note a photograph in Frontline of escape by boat) is nevertheless in partial support for this position …. An indication that also decimates the Western imperialist position embodied in the threats of Ambassador Robert Blake (see below).

Nor should we accept Gash’s assertion regarding “little medical facilities” in the space occupied by the Tamils and LTTE and his intimation of rising malnutrition. While malnutrition would have appeared, then in 2009, to have been a logical possibility, the categorical pronouncement on the 11th May 2009 by the UN media officer in Colombo, namely, Gordon Weiss, that “malnutrition levels [were] extremely high”[27] turned out — as we shall see below– to be way off the mark.

We now have the detailed evidence provided by Dr V. Shanmugarajah, the Medical Superintendent overseeing the medical services in the areas controlled by the LTTE from way back in the mid-2000s to May 2009.[28] In early 2008, with the cooperation of relevant authorities in the government of Sri Lanka (in Colombo), “a disaster plan” had been set in motion and they had stockpiled essential supplies.in the Vanni. They had 30 fridges in which to keep their stock – though these were reduced to 14 during moves to various makeshift hospitals in school buildings between December 2008 and May 2009.

They also had six generators initially, though “by the end of the conflict we only had three that were still working.” Again, they “had ample supplies of surgical instruments and used separate (sic) surgical blades on each patient. We had a stockpile of 5,000 surgical blades as of January 2009. We also had the full range of instruments, including bone-cutters.”

Furthermore, affirms Shanmugarajah, we had more than ten doctors …. about 15 trained theatre nurses [and] maintained as much of a medical and surgical presence as possible all the way through the crisis up to 14th and 15th May 2009 ….. We stopped operating on the evening of the 13th May and for 14th and 15th May we were only able to offer first-aid services.

The summary review provided by Shanmugarajah is an amazing tale of foresight, careful planning, administrative capacity and humanitarian endeavour — a tale that has been passed over by numerous media personnel, investigative UN agencies and moral crusaders blinded by their one-eyed goals.

Shanmugarajah’s review sums up the situation in the war theatre of trapped Tamil people in 2009 thus: “On some days there would be no casualties, and on others one or two but this escalated and toward the end of the crisis we were receiving as many as one hundred casualties per day. but the figures fluctuated with the ebb and flow of the fighting.  Of these, perhaps thirty percent would be LTTE combatants, and the rest civilians.

Our computerised records were lost in the last days of the fighting, but I would say that there were between 500-600 deaths in March 2009 and in all about 2,500 deaths up to the end of the crisis that I was aware of.”

Elsewhere, en passant, he reveals that amidst the blood and thunder of warring mayhem his Tamil people went through the normal processes of death and birth that takes place among any large collection of people. One of the tasks he personally was engaged in was the delivery of babies – one type of process amidst “a range of routine medical matters.”

This brings one to Gash’s assertion that “malnutrition is being seen” and Weiss’ bombast on this topic. Shanmugarajah’s dismissal of this surmise and allegation is categorical: I can say that I saw very few cases of malnutrition. They were mild to moderate in nature.”

In this sphere, then, game. set and match goes to Dr. Shanmugarajah.

D. Measured & Restrained Military Action by the Sri Lankan Army

A quotation already presented above in the despatch of 28th January includes this note from t.t. Col. Gash: “The LTTE appear to have no options left, …. The SLA is exercising restraint but, without a change in political mood, will not hold back entirely” (emphasis added). As it happens, when Lord Michael Naseby visited Sri Lankan in early 2009 and had conversations with Gash, the latter had stressed that the government’s military forces were proceeding in a measured way, while indicating his surprise that such a course was being adopted.[29

Further indication of such a restrained course of military action is seen within a passing note in the despatch of the 12th March: when mentioning the creation of the [Second] NFZ along the east coast, Gash says “All artillery is now a single brigade to ensure clarity of tasking.”

This was probably a necessity because the area of fighting was now limited and the manpower of the SL Army so immense that the artillery units as well as infantry regiments had to be deployed in serried formations. Nevertheless, the arrangement of the artillery in one brigade would have prevented overlaps and encouraged greater precision whenever artillery was deployed – a “clarity of tasking” as Gash presents it in more precise language.

To the best of my limited expertise, such “clarity of tasking” with heavy artillery and aerial bombardment came into play on one occasion and one locality in early April 2009. The UAV directed by the 58th Brigade[30] revealed Tiger troops assembling for a counter-attack in a locality that has been referred to as “Aanandapuram” by DBS Jeyaraj and which is identified as “Puthukkudurippu or PTK East” by Gash.[31] The SL Army proceeded to encircle the Tiger forces, while their artillery and the Air Force indulged in heavy bombardment of that arena. They were, as Gash indicates, “destroyed in detail. No prisoners were taken.”[32]

This event, I stress, took place in an area west of Nandikadal Lagoon where there were no civilians because the citizenry of Thamililam had previously assembled – or been assembled — in the coastal strip identified in officialise as a “Safe Zone” or  “No Fire Zone” from late February and mid-March – a terminology that had (has) no legal validity because the LTTE had not accepted the concept and had troops, mortars and artillery located within that space  (hence my resort to the tag “Last Redoubt”).

E. The LTTE’s Strategic Plan: Civilians as Bund Defence and Ploy for Western Intervention

The mass of Tamil civilians persuaded to retreat ahead of their own armies by the LTTE was not only a pool of labour and conscripts, but a kind of bund restraining massive bombardment and serving as a ploy for Western intervention. That ploy was, as I have insisted from way back, the central pillar in the LTTE’s military strategy. At one point in early 2009 Puleedevan, the Head of the LTTE Secretariat, let this cat out of the Tiger bag. He told a friend in Europe: “Just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka, the world would be forced to step in.”[33] 

 Puleedvan -from TamilNet

In keeping with this design, the various networks of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and abroad worked cleverly to disseminate a picture of heavy bombardment[34] and “carnage”[35] in the areas they held, with an emphasis not only on the. number of casualties, but on bombs hitting hospitals. These tales were readily swallowed by many Western media personnel (Nessman and Weiss included).[36] As Gerald Pieris has indicated, these lines of emphasis were central to the “multipronged human rights intervention …. in the Sri Lankan conflict[37] – a process that continued after the war ended and is still in progress.

To this picture of massive death being inflicted, the Tiger propaganda engines injected the stench of a dirty war by claiming that “cluster bombs”[38] and “chemical weapons” were being deployed.[39] Such attempts at blackening the Government of Sri Lanka seem to have been readily accepted by some media personnel and activists in the West both then and thereafter in the aftermath of the war.[40]

Later, in April 2012, an email from an UN mine clearing expert in Sri Lanka was picked up by Ravi Nessman of the Associated Press to suggest that there was evidence of “unexploded cluster bomblets” in the PTK East area. The articles purveying this picture were immediately deflated by Citizen Silva in an essay that demonstrated that “the two sets of images” on display were “a Russian “ODAB” series ‘Air-Fuel Explosive’ munition and not a Russian Cluster Bomb.” – both munitions that are not banned.[41]

Citizen Silva, an aeronautical engineer wholly-educated in Europe,[42] joined the debate in 2009 about satellite imagery purporting to display heavy bombardment and many graves when that line of ‘proof’ was attempted by various advocates. When Sanjana Hattotuwa presented a review of satellite imagery within Groundviews (GV) that purported to demonstrate the use of cluster bombs, Citizen Silva sent GV an article on the topic which was ignored. After he blogged a comment summarising his piece, “GV posted it and then took it down couple of hours later…. bizarre!!” (email from Citizen Silva). Citizen Silva then had recourse to a web presentation which can now be found at http://www.scribd.com/doc/92760423/The-Use-of-Cluster-Bombs-in-Sri-Lanka-Fact-or-Fiction.

Citizen Silva has the skills to address the pertinence of satellite imagery for appraisals of the war theatre and has in fact distinguished mortar craters from artillery craters in some of his illustrations.[43] This technology will be pertinent to balanced discussions of the raging debate on the death toll inflicted upon the Tamil populace (military personnel and civilians) in the war zone. The report provided by Maj-General Holmes for the Paranagama Commission (2015) also addresses this issue. We enter an intricate field here that is not within my investigative capacities.

However. I advocate a rough-and-ready test from the photographs of the so called “No Fire Zone’ east of the Nandikadal Lagoon where the Tamil civilians (and many elements in the Tiger war machine) were assembled from early March. I have two images of tents in cluster and several more depicting the congested scenario on and alongside the road that runs north-south across this land area of 16 sq. kilometres.

The congestion displayed in the latter is astonishing. So, too. is the absence of craters and the sort of devastation that one would expect if the scenario of heavy bombing painted by Tamilnet was valid. The critical point here is that the images along the central road in my files are derived from Tamilnet itself: two images are from the Ampalavanpokkanai area on the 29th March and 16th April respectively; while three are from the southern stub still in Tiger hands on 1st May.

 A scenario on 1 May 2009–From TamkilNet

I restrict myself to one illustration here – a picture from 1st May. The lack of bomb damage in the vehicles and roofs is striking. It is pertinent to note that this whole area had been flattened by the tsunami on 26th December 2004, so the houses were those recently built.[44]

This impressionistic survey can be rounded off by studying the on ground close-up images taken by Kanchan Prasad of the Indian outfit Prasar Bahrti when she visited the SLA controlled sector of the NFZ on the 14th-18th May and the aerial photographs taken by a cameraman/stringer on Ban Ki-Moon’s helicopter circa 22 May 2009.[45]

All these amateur readings are suggestive not conclusive. They are supported, too, by the absence in the TamilNet website of a series of photographs showing a mass of civilian bodies displayed. To be sure, one has scenes with some dead bodies, crowded hospital ‘wards’ and pictures of wailing relatives.[46] Given the efficiency of the LTTE propaganda network, however, I anticipated a quantity of images displaying a “carnage of corpses in heaps.” A negative, however, is not conclusive proof.

F. “Endgame” in Sight

As early as 12th March 2009, Gash has a sub-title with a significant term: “Endgame in the Wanni” – in the despatch which also refers to the “unpleasant humanitarian situation” therein (discussed above). This was just about the time that the SL Army was in the process of capturing the small town of PTK and its immediate environs, but before the Tigers suffered a major debacle at Aanandapuram (or “PTK East” in Gash’s terminology) in early April.[47]

It was not part of Lt. Col. Gash’s brief to direct the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Foreign Minister Bogollagama in the manner pursued by the US Ambassador Robert Blake in March and April: cease advancing and adhere to “a humanitarian pause.”[48] Blake’s threats were in pursuit of intentions foreshadowed at a secret meeting in Kuala Lumpur in February 2009 initiated by KP Pathmanathan that involved Tore Hattrem (the Norwegian ambassador in Colombo), two Norwegian officials (Westborg and Stangeland),  Rudrakumaran from USA and Jay Maheswaran from Australia.[49]

The plan hatched there was to mount “a sea-directed civilian rescue mission” through the agency of the US Pacific Command.[50] In a subsequent memo (no date) from Blake quoted verbatim by Mark Salter in 2015 Blake tells the world that the intention was “to use American ships to … pull a large percentage of the IDPs off the beach” after Eric Solhem and Blake himself went to LTTE terrain to “negotiate that [plan].” These hopes were so firm that Blake had “brought the Pacific Command in to send a whole team [to the island] to look at [the scheme and] they had detailed conversations with the military.”[51]

Mark Salter fails to provide a basic tool when conveying this information:he does not tell us when precisely all these events occurred. My weak efforts to garner information from Sri Lankan sources about these high-level plans have produced no result.[52]

But we know the outcome of this scheme. Blake tells us that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa expressed fears that Solheim and Blake would be taken hostage, but surmises that this was the latter’s ploy to stymie the international plan so that the SL forces could “put an end to the whole thing militarily.”[53]

In conjecture I suggest that these conversations occurred in early-mid April. I am aware that rumours about these American schemes surfaced in Colombo and that Bryson Hull of Reuters was immediately asked to visit the embassy when he phoned the mission about this possibility. His conversations at this juncture with embassy officials indicated that they were guided by the humiliating failure of such an intervention in Somalia in 1993 and considered the circumstances in the Vanni Pocket to be a “non-permissible exercise” (or words to that effect).[54]

I suspect that Col Lawrence Smith (Military Attache) may have been one of the embassy officials whom Hull met and that he was far better grounded in the military scenario than Robert Blake. However, Blake was correct in his suspicion that the GoSL leaders had no intention of allowing such an intervention (just as Pirapāharan had no intention of kow-towing to anyone and rejected KP’s schemes up to mid-May).

One aspect is crystal clear: the ‘humanitarian goal’ of saving Tamil civilians paraded up-front by this international cartel hid the ancillary project of rescuing the LTTE leaders and parking them in Eritrea so as to bring about an US directed political settlement on Sri Lanka in the near future – obviously with Norway, Rudrakumāran and other diasporic Tamil spokesmen in the party room (see below).

The Rajapaksa administration was not deterred by the commands directed by USA. After preparing the ground with leaflets dropped by air, loudspeaker announcements and the infiltration of (Tamil-speaking) agents into the “Last Redoubt,” commando forces penetrated the formidable earth bund and bunker defences of the LTTE facing west on the banks of Nandikadal Lagoon in the dead of night at 2.00 am on the 19th April.[55] Over the next day or two the SL Army succeeded in splitting the Tiger forces and paved the way for the capture of two/thirds of the “Last Redoubt” in ways that enabled  a substantial proportion of the populace (including deserting Tiger personnel) to stream across on foot to the west — or flee in boats by sea.

Tamils in flight across Nandikadal Lagoon–ic Daily News

 

A video grab shows thousands of people the military said fled an area held controlled by the Tamil Tiger separatists in northeastern Sri Lanka on April 20, 2009. REUTERS/SLRC via Reuters TV

Images of these remarkable events should remain etched indelibly in the minds of those aware of the context physical and historical. DBS Jeyaraj in Canada thought so: his reading is etched in the title of his article “Wretched of the Wanni Earth break Free of Bondage” (2009). Indeed, for military aficianados the operation must rank with Dien Bien Phu, Alamein and a raft of World War I battles in the list of great battlefield achievements over the past century.[56]

But what else do we witness at this moment? On the 22nd April we witness Hillary Clinton’s explosive denunciation of the GoSL for pursuing a military course designed to eliminate the LTTE military capability – a denunciation (ostensibly) informed by the opinion that such a course was generating “a terrible humanitarian tragedy.”[57] Three days later, on the 25th April, President Obama intervened in less histrionic manner to urge both sides to cease fighting in order to save the civilians.[58]

Hillary Clinton had the balls to mount this scathing intervention even though explicit video evidence was unfolding in the daylight hours from the 20th April onwards of a mass of civilians (and deserting Tiger personnel) streaming out of their corralled situation in the “NFZ” aka “Last Redoubt.” In this stance USA seems to have paid no attention to the privileged display of the SL Army’s operation through aerial footage and other material at SLAF Headquarters at Slave Island Colombo to a select body of ambassadors and a select body of reporters during that week beginning 20th April.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara (2nd L) points to a diagram that he says shows the progress of the Sri Lankan army against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during a news conference at the media centre for national security in central Colombo April 22, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

Bryson Hull of Reuters

The world is indebted to Hull and Reuters for displaying a photograph of one of these gatherings amidst a wide-ranging selection of photographs of the war theatre and its environs that was supported by two other accounts from its reporters, with one from David Gray after a visit to the rear frontline on the 24th April.[59] A fundamental question arises here: how is it that Associated Press, The Guardian and other major media chains in Britain and elsewhere were either not privy to these showings of aerial footage and/or chose not to tell the world about the events taking place. Their apparent silence[60] may be revealing: it suggests dishonesty and partisanship.

Clinton was not alone in adhering to such a crass and simpleton position in late April 2009. The Foreign Ministers of Britain and France (David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner) rushed to Sri Lanka at the end of April to demand cessation of warfare from the country’s President.[61] This series of concerted diplomatic pressures make the Western powers position crystal clear: they were holding a threatening Sword of Damocles over Sri Lanka.

Behind this political blackmail was (A) a widespread and long-standing international belief that the war against the LTTE was unwinnable;[62] and (B) a long-standing and adamantine US belief that the divisions in Sri Lanka could only be resolved by a political settlement involving all parties, inclusive of the LTTE leadership.[63] But attached to this conviction was the hidden scheme hatched at Kuala Lumpur seeking (A) to save the LTTE leadership as well as the civilians and (B) to whisk the Tiger leaders away to Eritrea, South Africa or Timor courtesy of intervention by the long arm of the US Pacific Command. This cat was let out of the bag by Mike Owens, an US Under Secretary of State, in early May.[64]

mike-owens Mike Owen US Under Secy of State in Washington 2009

So, to sum up: lurking behind the angelic humanitarian gloss of these forceful interventions in Sri Lanka was an American/European power design — with several UN agencies in New York and Geneva as willing agents.[65]

Lt. Col. Gash was not privy to this line of action in 2009 … nor a party within the scheme of politics spelt out above. Alas, his despatch of the 25th April is mostly blacked out in the documents released. But the final assessment in his despatch of 26th April presents this “Assessment”: The question is what does the SLA do next? The lagoon obstacle makes it harder than before to mount a breaching operation or to attempt to bisect the NFZ again. It is likely that tactics will remain the same — patient assessment, infiltration, then sudden and decisive action at an identified weak point.

In brief, Gash remained firmly grounded in the pragmatic requirements of that day and did not move into the stratosphere or cloud cuckoo-land occupied by Miliband, Clinton and other Western agencies with their own ulterior concerns lurking behind the “moral headgear” emblazoned on their forehead.

G. AFTERTHOUGHT

As I struggled with this article a bright thought flashed through my mind when I was driving somewhere on a domestic errand. The episodes described here, and the aftermath of UN reports and witch-hunts, provide ample scope for an imaginative Asian playwright to produce an epic tale in the genre of the Mahābharatha or a wayang shadow play —  a theatre which could embrace Robert Blake, Ravi Nessman, Gordon Weiss, David Miliband, Hillary Clinton, Navy Pillai, Prince Zeid, Rudrakumaran, Hattrem, Solheim, Puleedevan, Yasmin Sooka and Frances Harrison in its pantomime cast.

    *** end  ****

SELECT REFERENCES

A NOTE: I have not consulted the 27 page-study by Major General John Holmes viz. “Expert Military Report,” being Annexure within Report of the Paranagama  Commission or Second Mandate of the Commission of Inquiry into Abductions and Disappearances,” 2015, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Paranagama-Report-.pdf  I await critical comparisons of my essay here in the light of the work by Holmes.

Balachandran, P. K. 2015 “PK Balachandran on Overt & Covert Paths in Indian and American Policies towards Sri Lanka, 2008-09,”26 September 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/pk-balachandran-on-overt-and-covert-faces-in-indian-and-american-policies-towards-the-sri-lankan-war-2008-09/

BBC [1993] “Black Hawk Down: The Somali battle that changed US policy in Africa,”http://www.bbc.com/news/av/magazine-38808175/black-hawk-down-the-somali-battle-that-changed-us-policy-in-africa

BBC 2009a  “Eyewitness: I thought I won’t surive,” 22 April 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8013016.stm

BBC 2009b “Outrage over Tamil deaths,” 11 May 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8044777.stm

BBC 2011 “Sri Lanka ‘war crimes’: Main allegations,” 5 July 2011, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-13158916

BBC n. d. “Sri Lanka: Satellite Imagery of Safe Zone,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8016965.stm

Bopage, Lionel 2009 Resonating the interests of chauvinism? – My response to the two articles by Prof. Michael Roberts,” 23 February 2009, http://groundviews.org/2009/02/23/resonating-the-interests-of-chauvinism-my-response-to-the-two-articles-by-prof-michael-roberts/

Chamberlain, Gethin 2009 “Makeshift Sri Lanka hospital is shelled, taking 47 lives,” 12 May 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/12/sri-lanka-hospital-shelling-tamil-tigers.

Chater, David 2009 “Sri Lankan civilians ‘escape’ rebel stronghold,” 22 April 2009, https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=David+chater+of+AL+JAZEERA+on+Sri+Lanka+War+2009&&view=detail&mid=A1893420EC90212A3A3DA1893420EC90212A3A3D&&FORM=VDRVRV

Citizen Silva 2012  2013 “The Numbers Game: Politics of Retributive Justice,” http://www.scribd.com/doc/132499266/The-Numbers-Game-Politics-of-Retributive-Justice OR  http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/shrilanka/document/TheNG.pdf

Citizen Silva 2012  “The Use of Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka: Fact or Fiction,” http://www.scribd.com/doc/92760423/The-Use-of-Cluster-Bombs-in-Sri-Lanka-Fact-or-Fiction.

Colvin, Marie 2009a “Artillery pounds wounded Tamils trapped on beach,” Sunday Times, 22 March 2009, repr. in http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/03/ artillery_pounds_wounded_tamil.html

Colvin, Marie 2009b “Slain Tamil Chiefs were promised safety,” 25 May 2009, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/news/slain-tamil-chiefs-were-promised-safety/story-e6frg6t6-1225715467354

Colvin, Marie 2010 [Memorial Speech at St Brides’ Church London] http://sunandadeshapriya.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/marie-colvin-in-her-own-words-our-mission-is-to-report-the-horrors-of-war/

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009a “Victory at the Battle of Kilinochchi,” Defence Review, Jan. 2009, 2/6: 7-8.

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009b “Battle for Mullaitivu enters Final Stage,” Defence Review, Feb. 2009, 3/1: 10-12.

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009c “Political and Security Implications of Sri Lanka’s Armed Conflict,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, Feb. 2009, Vol. 35/1, pp. 20, 22-24.

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

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010b “Downfall of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,” South Asia Defence and Strategic Review, May-June 2010, pp. 10-15.

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 “Defeat of the LTTE and Its Significance,” Asia Defence News, May-June 2010, Vol. V/5, pp. 44-46.

Fisk, Robert 2018 “Douma: Terror from Many Sides and Confusing Tales. Hypoxia not Gas?” 19 April 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/douma-terror-from-many-sides-and-confusing-tales-hypoxia-not-gas/

Friedmann, George 2014 “Immaculate Intervention: Wars of Humanitarianism,” 5 April 2011 https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/immaculate-intervention-wars-humanitarianism ... Reprint in https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/immaculate-follies-the-contradictions-within-wars-of-humanitarian-intervention/

Gamage, Daya 2014 “The American Agenda for Sri Lanka’s National Issues, 1970s-2014,” 5 July 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-american-agenda-for-sri-lankas-national-issues-1970s-2014/

Gamage, Daya 2015 “U.S. clears Sri Lanka of Civilian Deaths: Faults Tiger Human Shield,” 14 August 2015, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/87659.

Gray, David 2009 “A Day at the Front Line in Sri Lanka (Photographer’s Blog),” 27 April 2009, http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2009/04/27/a-day-at-the-front-line-in-sri-lanka/

Groundviews 2010 “Did the SL Army use cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs against Civilians?” 24 September 2010,  http://groundviews.org/2010/09/24/did-the-sri-lankan-army-use-cluster-bombs-and-phosphorus-bombs-against-civilians/ 

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

Hull, C. Bryson & Ranga Sirilal 2009b “Sri Lanka’s long war in bloody final climax,” 17 May 2009, http://mg.co.za/article/2009-05-17-sri-lankas-long-war-in-bloody-final-climax

IDAG [i.e. Citizen Silva] 2013 “The Numbers Game: Politics of Retributive Justice,” http://www.scribd.com/doc/132499266/The-Numbers-Game-Politics-of-Retributive-Justice OR  http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/shrilanka/document/TheNG.pdf.

Jeyaraj, DBS 2009 “Wretched of the Wanni Earth break Free of Bondage,” Daily Mirror, 25 April 2009.

Jeyaraj D. B. S. 2012 [2009] “Theepan of the LTTE: Heroic Saga of a Northern Warrior,” orig, 4 April 2009, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/5381

Jeyaraj D. B. S. 2012 [2009] “Anatomy of the LTTE military debacle at Aanandapuram,” 10 April 2009, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/315

Jeyaraj D. B. S. 2011 “KP” Speaks Out,” Vavuniya: NERDO, Mum Pvt. Ltsd.

Marga 2011 An Analysis and Evaluation of The Report of the Advisory Panel to the UNSG nn the Final Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, https://www.dropbox.com/s/0eybj1ynej6spaa/The%20Darusman%20Report-%20Final%20doc-2.doc

Marga 2014 Issues of Truth and Accountability. The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, https://www.dropbox.com/s/tdxwntf7wu5andq/The%20Last%20Stages%20of%20the%20war%20in%20Sri%20Lanka.pdf?n=66191473.

Narayan Swamy, P. R. 1994 Tigers of Sri Lanka, Delhi, Konark Publishers.

Nessman, Ravi 2009a “Interview with Associated Press Writer Ravi Nessman: AP Sri Lanka Bureau Chief,” 18 February 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2ZqLlpuLBE.

Nessman, Ravi 2009b “Satellite shows Sri Lanka shelling, says rights group,” 13 May 2009, https://mg.co.za/article/2009-05-13-satellite-shows-sri-lanka-shelling-says-rights-group

Nessman, Ravi 2009c “Sri Lanka pushes on with war,” 14 May 2009, https://www.news24.com/World/News/Sri-Lanka-pushes-on-with-war-20090514

Nessman, Ravi 2012 “AP Newsbreak: UN finds cluster bombs in Sri Lanka,” 26 April 2012,  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/apnewsbreak-un-finds-cluster-bombs-in-sri-lanka/

Padraig Colman 2013 “Deadly Accountancy. Part II,”  http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/deadly-accountancy-part-2/

Peiris, Gerald 2014  “Striving for Evidence of War Crimes: “Cluster Bombs” and Other Dud Weaponry,” 30 Jan 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/striving-for-evidence-of-war-crimes-cluster-bombs-and-other-dud-weaponry/#more-11755.

Perera, Suvendrini 2015 “Visibility, Atrocity and the Subject of Postcolonial Justice,” Borderlands, Vol 14/1, http://www.borderlands.net.au/vol14no1_2015/perera_visibility.pdf

Prasad, Kanchan 2011 “Indian Reporter Pics at NFZ-14-to-18 May 2009,” http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626797805167/

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

Reddy, Muralidhar 2009b “Multiple Displacements, Total Loss of Identity.”The Hindu, 27 May 2009,  http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/27/stories/2009052755811500.htm

Padraig Colman & Michael  Roberts 2013 “The Fog of War envelopes the Last Phase of Eelam war IV,” 27 December 2013,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/the-fog-of-war-envelopes-the-last-phase-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2009 “Dilemmas at War’s End: Thoughts on Hard Realities,” 10 February 2009,  http://groundviews.org/2009/02/10/dilemmas-at-wars-end-thoughts-on-hard-realities/ … rep. in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo, 2010, pp. 265-74.

Roberts, Michael 2009 “Dilemma’s at War’s End: Clarifications and Counter-offensive,” www.groundviews.org.

Roberts, Michael 2009 “Realities of War,” Frontline, vol. 26/10, May 02-20, 2009  … rep as  “Simpletons at the Worlds’ Peak: Sri Lankan Situation stumps the World,” in Roberts, Fire & Storm, 2010, pp. 289-302.

Roberts, Michael 2010 “Self-Annihilation for Political Cause: Cultural Premises in Tamil Tiger Selflessness,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm. Essays in Sri Lankan Politics. Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 161-201.

Roberts, Michael 2013 “BBC-Blind: Misreading the Tamil Tiger Strategy of International Blackmail, 2008-13,” 8 December 2013, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/bbc-blind-misreading-the-tamil-tiger-strategy-of-international-blackmail-2008-13/#more-1122

Roberts, Michael 2013 Witnesses to “the War without Witnesses” … Voiceless? Buried Foreign Reporters?” 30 December 2013, 2013 https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/11504/

Roberts, Michael 2013 “Introducing “Numbers Game” – A Detailed Study of the Last Stages of Eelam War IV,” 30 April 2013, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/introducing-numbers-game-a-detailed-study-of-the-last-stages-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Essaysl, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

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 2014 “The War in Sri Lanka: Ravi Nessman’s Slanted Story for USA on the Tavis Smiley Show, 18 February 2009,” 31 January 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/the-war-in-sri-lanka-ravi-nessmans-slanted-story-for-usa-on-the-tavis-smiley-show-18-february-200/

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Ball-by-Ball through Wikileaks: Us Embassy Despatahes from Colombo, 2009: ONE,” 27 August 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/ball-by-ball-through-wikileaks-us-embassy-despatches-from-colombo-2009-one/#more-13481

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Truth Journalism? Marie Colvin hoist on her Own Petard,” 5 November 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/targeting-lanka-by-playing-ball-with-tamil-extremism-2008-14/

Roberts, Michael 2014 “The Landscape of the LTTE’s Last Redoubt, May 2009,” in Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Essays, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 204-15.

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,” 24 July 2015,

Roberts, Michael 2015  “Lilliputs in a World of Giants: Marga and CHA bat for Lanka in the Propaganda War, 2009-14,” 18 November 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/lilliputs-in-a-world-of-giants-marga-and-cha-bat-for-lanka-in-the-propaganda-war-2009-14/#more-18467

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Reuters in Word and Image: Depicting the Penetration of the LTTE’s Last Redoubt, 19-22 April 2009,” 19 March 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/reuters-in-word-and-image-depicting-the-penetration-of-the-lttes-last-redoubt-19-22-april-2009/#more-20190

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Speaking to Gotabaya, I: Plans afoot to rescue Tiger Leadership,” 8 March 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/speaking-to-gotabaya-i-plans-afoot-in-2009-to-rescue-the-tiger-leadership/#more-20092

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Gotabaya Rajapaksa Clarifies, III: American Volte Face in 2008, 10 March 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/gotabaya-rajapaksa-clarifies-iii-american-volte-face-in-2008/

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Saving Talaivar Pirapāharan,” 6 April 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/saving-talaivar-pirapaharan/

Roberts, Michael 2016 David Miliband’s Imperious Intervention in Lanka left in Tatters,” 5 July 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/david-milibands-imperious-intervention-in-lanka-left-in-tatters/

Roberts, Michael 2017 Reporters struggling with Eelam War IV: Some Recollections and Reports,” 21 October 2017, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/reporters-struggling-with-eelam-war-iv-some-recollections-and-reports/

Salter, Mark 2015 To End a Civil War. Norway’s Peace Engagement in Sri Lanka, London: Hurst & Company.

Shanmugarajah, Dr. Veerakanthipillai 2014 Dr. Veerakanthipillai Shanmugarajah’s Affidavit Description of Conditions in the Vanni Pocket in Refutation of Channel Four,’5 January 2014,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/dr-veerakanthipillai-shanmugarajahs-affidavit-description-of-conditions-in-the-vanni-pocket-in-refutation-of-channel-four/ …. Also reprinted in Engage Sri Lanka Corrupted Journalism, London, 2014, pp. 204 -14

Tammita-Delgoda, S. 2014Reading Between the Lines in April 2009: Tammita-Delgoda takes apart Marie Colvin’s jaundiced propaganda article in British newspaper,” 26 September 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/rading-between-the-lines-in-april-2009-tammita-delgoda-takes-apart-marie-colvins-jaundiced-propanda-article-in-british-newspaper/

Thiagarajah, Jeevan 2015 Confronting the OCHR Investigation in Geneva, September 2014: Memorandum from Jeevan Thiagarajah,” 19 November 2015,

https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/confronting-the-ochr-investigation-in-geneva-september-2014-memorandum-from-jeevan-thiagarajah/#more-18481

Times 2011 “TIMES Aerial Images, NFZ Last Redoubt, 23 May 2009,” http://www.flickr.com/ photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626922360092/

Transconflict 2013 “The Fog of War in Sri Lanka,” http://www.transconflict.com/2013/12/fog-war-sri-lanka-182

UNPoE 2011 Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts Report Accountability in Sri Lanka, March 2011….http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/ POE_Report_Full.pdf.

UN Internal Panel Report 2012 “Internal Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka,” 20 November 2012, ……………………………………………………………. http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/The_Internal_Review_Panel_report_on_Sri_Lanka.pdf

UTHR 2009a “A Marred Victory and A Defeat Pregnant with Foreboding,” Report No. 32, 10 June 2009,

UTHR 2009b “Let Them Speak:  Truth about Sri Lanka’s Victims of War,” Report No. 34, 13 December 2009.

****

END NOTES

[1] From a seat in Perth Serge De Silva-Ranasinghe presented detailed articles on the ongoing battles in military or foreign affairs journals. These essays were remarkable studies of contemporary battlefield events.They seem to have been studiously ignored by UN investigation teams, Frances Harrison, Gordon Weiss and even by writers aligned towards the GoSL side. If my recollections are correct, some Tamil activists tried unsuccessfully to get him debarred from a conference in Canberra and then persuaded the Organisers to add Gordon Weiss to the participants.

[2] This is the rich aphorism used by a former EPRLF fighter (Pl de Silva during a chat in Amsterdam)  to describe the LTTE’s orders to the people of Jaffna town to retreat ahead of them when the SL Army moved forward in 1995 to occupy most of the Jaffna Peninsula.

[3] I interacted with Murali Reddy in Colombo in April-May 2009 when he approached me to write for Frontline. His guestimate for the substantial support for the LTTE among the people residing in Thamililam was subsequently seconded by Silan Kadirgamar. For more cautious appraisals by Rajesh Venugopal and Anoma Rajakaruna, see Roberts, “Towards Citizenship,” in TPS Essays, 2014: 152-55.

[4] The catchword “genocide” was deployed often in the Tamilnet agitation during 2009 (see headlines of 26 April 2009 in https://www.tamilnet.com/cat.html?catid=13&year=2009&month=04&view=) as well as the agitation mounted in various capital cities in the West from London to Canberra, Toronto, Paris et cetera.

[5] It is one of the ironies of the war that Puleedevan of the LTTE turned this round on the 21st April 2009 and told the world through TamilNet: “SLA advances behind human shield, act fast to rescue civilians,” (see  https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=29111).

[6] This thesis has been spelt out in several of my articles. See Roberts, “Generating Calamity,” 2014 for one example.  Apart from the assassins who inhabit the internet circuit in such sites as Groundviews and Colombo Telegraph, my set of arguments on this front have not – as far as I know been challenged by the HR lobby, Gordon Weiss, the UNHCR organs or Tamil intellectuals. They do not need to of course. They occupy the heights of debate and can let little minnows speak in obscurity.

[7] Amongst the illustrations of the degree to which the UN Secretariat was (is) an adjunct of the US State department note that emissaries John Holmes and Vijay Nambiar visited Sri Lankan during the last phase of the war in 2009 to exert pressure on the government; while Bn Ki-Moon flew in immediately after the war ended in mid-May 2009. The United Nations Panel of Experts headed by Darusman appointed by Navy Pillai to review the conduct of the war was another such American-EU instrument.

[8] Roberts, “Blackmail,” in TPS. Essays, 2014: 184.

[9] See Roberts, “Dilemmas,” 2009 as rep. in 2011: 265.

[10] Alas, such common sense was not displayed by numerous journalists, political figures and institutions in the West or even by some activists in Sri Lanka.

[11] Shanmugarajah 2014 and within Engage Sri Lanka, Corrupted Journalism, 2013, p. 209

[12] Cf   Marie Colvin’s reportage [from London] in the Sunday Times of 22nd March 2009 (2009a) with Tammita-Delgoda ‘s report from the rear battlefield on the SL Army side in the same weeks (2014). On Marie Colvin’s history, see Roberts, “Truth Journalism?” 2014.

[13] Speaking to the Western world, Nessman went on air on several occasions to assert that it was “a war without witnesses.” I have contended that “a coterie of Western reporters in Colombo and some UN officials (including perhaps Gordon Weiss) had shut themselves off in some attic and were only on the look-out for news that would support a “ceasefire” and “humanitarian pause” (Roberts, “Nessman’s Slanted Story,” 2014).

[14] Nessman “Sri Lanka pushes on with war,” 2009

[15] See Bryson Hull 2009 and Gray 2009. Note Roberts, “Witnesses to the War without Witnesses,” and “Reuters in Word and Image,” 2016.

[16] It is, of course, possible that both Weiss and Nessman (and their local staff) chose not to watch the local TV channels in both the Sinhala and English languages which were reporting on the war.

[17] This book inspired some members of the Tamil middle class, among them several public servants, who went on to form a secret association known as the Pulip Padai (or Ärmy of Tigers”) in 1961 (Narayan Swamy 1994: 24). I suspect that the firebrand V. Navaratnam of the “Federal Party” would have been one of these men. Re Exodus, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_(Uris_novel).  ….. A tele-chat today ( 25 April 2018) with Thillainathan, a former mate at Ramanathan Hall and the Peradeniya University Staff, confirmed his recollection that several Tamils of his generation compared their people to the Jews.

[18] In his despatch of the 7th April 2009: “On 16 Mar 09 we saw the first signs of civilian resistance when IDPs fought back against a group of LTTE police who were attempting to forcibly recruit girls. LTTE vehicles were burnt as was a police building.”

[19] See UTHR 2009a and 2009b. These are extensive reports and call for careful searches. Caution: recent tales from Douma and stories from “witnesses” of fights that promote escaltions of violence should caution us: ordinary people sometimes concoct enormous lies by converting a tale they have heard into a witness statement of some horror

[20] In fact, on the 22nd April 2009 TamilNet claimed that “almost 200,000 civilians are still in the LTTE area.” Precise computations are difficult because (A) people were escaping even in late April; (b) the ICRC was evacuating people till about the 8th May; (c) the chaos that prevailed between 9/10 May and 19th May as the SL Army took control of the last sections of the LTTE space and the Tigers began to blow up their munitions and hardware on the 14/15th May and launched some infantry counterattacks in those last desperate days 14th to 18th May.

[21] During World War II when the American forces began to roll back the Japanese imperial  expansion in the Pacific, they invaded the large island of Saipan in June 1944. There were Japanese settlers in the island and towards the end of the battle “hundreds of Japanese civilians and soldiers jumped off the cliff to their deaths in the ocean and rocks below, to avoid being captured by the Americans.” This spot is now known as “Banzai Cliff.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banzai_Cliff.

[22] In April 2009 I presented a set of articles ön the theme of this possibility in the web site run by DBS Jeyaraj in Canada, viz, transcurrents. They have been amalgamated into one article entitled “Suicide for Political Cause,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2011, pp. 219-38.

[23] Gash indicated that the SL Army may opt “for a coup de main operation” against the remaining Tiger forces in the rump NFZ if there was compelling evidence that the LTTE was planning the elimination of the remaining civilians as part of mass suicide” (despatch of 6th April 2009).

[24] Sumathy Mohan’s assertion was at one of the Marga Workshops on Reconciliation around the year 2000. She is one of Rajini Thiranagama’s younger sisters. As for my work on the Tiger devotion to cause, see the website https://sacrificialdevotionnetwork.wordpress.com/ and deploy my article on “Self-Annihilation for Political Cause: Cultural Premises in Tamil Tiger Selflessness,” (2010 ) as the entry point to this theme.

[25]Quoted in de Silva Ranasinghe 2010: 14.

[26] For e. g. on the 19/20 April 2009 the LTTE shot at escaping civilians and even deployed three suicide bombers against the fleeing personnel (see De Silva-Ranasinghe, “Downfall,” 2010: 14). A careful search of UTHR report No. 32 will reveal some other instances.

[27] Conveyed to the BBC as one ‘bomb’ in a tale of doom and bloom (see BBC, “Outrage,” 2009).

[28] See Shanmugarajah 2014 –being an Affidavit guided by a British solicitor named Stephen Williams signed on the 15th March 2012 in the presence of JP in Colombo. This reprint is also available in Engage Sri Lanka Corrupted Journalism, London, 2014, pp. 204 -14

[29] I had spotted this information in one of Lord Naseby’s public statements in 2017 and he has confirmed my summary presentation (email dated 18 April 2009).

[30] Indicated by General Shavendra Silva in my interview with him, 19th August 2017.

[31] See Gash’s Despatch of 7 April 2009 and Jeyaraj , “Anatomy,” 2009 [2012].

[32] In his despatch of 7th April 2009.

 

[33] Harrison tells the world that Puleedevan “told European friends that just as in Kosovo if enough civilians dies in sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” (Harrison 2012: 63). To Harrison’s credit, she adds: “It was callous brinkmanship played with innocent lives.” Puleedevan was the Head of the LTTE Peace Secretariat and Harrison refers to him in familiar manner as “Puli.”

[34] Thus, on the 28th April the TamilNet headline stated that “SLA fired 5600 shells within 15 hours.”

[35] One example from TamilNet of 14th April 2009 is “Unprecedented carnage, SLA turns firepower on civilians” – https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=29048.

[36] Take one example: BBC 2009 “Outrage over Tamil deaths,” 11 May 2009.

[37] Peiris, Twilight, 2009, p. 232.

[38] The concept of “cluster bombs” has the same role as “chemical weapons” today in blackening the position of Assad and his Syrian government in the media war orchestrated in the West today (2018). See Robert Fisk 2018. For some angles.

[39] For instance the headline in TamilNet on the 7th April ran:  “Colombo uses chemical weapons: LTTE,” while reference was made to “cluster bombs” on the 20th and 21st April. See https://www.tamilnet.com/cat.html?catid=13&year=2009&month=04&view=

[40] For instance, see Frances Harrison 2012: 106-07 & 118.

[41] See Citizen Silva  “The Use of Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka: Fact or Fiction,” http://www.scribd.com/doc/92760423/The-Use-of-Cluster-Bombs-in-Sri-Lanka-Fact-or-Fiction, 2012.

[42] Citizen Silva’s identity, alas, has to be protected because his professional employment would be in jeopardy. Nor can he be certain that his life would not be endangered.

[43] See some of the “Appendices” in Citizen Silva, “The Numbers Game.”

[44] Attend to the notes clarifying Figs. 107a & 107b in Roberts, TPS. Pictorial (2014) .as well as the images and notes 105a & 105b… and 108a, b and c.

[45] See Prasad 2011 and Times 2011. Note a preliminary assessment by myself in Roberts TPS. Pictorial, 2014, Fig. G and my slashing criticism (2014: 4-6) of a Canadian journalist Rosie Di Manno for her reading of one photograph taken by the cameraman/stringer riding along with Ban Ki-Moon as well as the Secy-General Moon’s amateurish verdict: “complete devastation” (Roberts, “Landscape,” in TPS. Essays, 2014: 204-17).

[46] For some examples, see Figs. 85a ,85b, 86a, 86b, 87b, 88a, 88b and 88c; 120, 122 and 123 in Roberts, TPS. Pictorial, 2014. Mostly from TamilNet, each of these scenes have only a few corpses or just one in their frame.

[47] See Jeyaraj’s early accounts (remarkable in their speed and accuracy) in April 2009 itself – for e. g. http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/315 … as well as the details in Lt. col Gash’s despatch of 7 April 2009.

[48] See Blake Despatches No. 283 of 12 March 2009 and 418 of 15th April (Wikileaks) where his commands were directed at the Foreign Minister Bogollagama and the Minister of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa respectively.

[49] See Jeyaraj, KP, 2011, pp. 30-32 and Salter 2015, pp. 348-49 & 354.  It seems that Basil Rajapaksa was privy to the fact of such a meeting. It is unlikely that he was provided the full ’text’ of the designs carved out therein.

 

[50] The phrase is used by Mark Salter 2015: 354.

[51] Mark Salter 2015: 355-56.

[52]When I phoned Bogollagama a week ago (April 2018) from Australia, he wanted me to arrange an interview!! Much earlier in 2016, when I reached Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Skype phone with a series of other motifs in mind (see Roberts, 2016), he indicated that he knew of no PAC visit to the island.

[53] Salter 2015: 354-55.

[54] Hull is retired and is back in USA. I spoke to him on Skype phone in early 2016 I think. The events in Somalia can be found on internet under the title “Black Hawk Down.” See BBC 1993 andhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hawk_Down  It is probable that Hull met Col Lawrence Smith among others at the US embassy. Smith was probably more grounded in the existing scenario in the island than the opinionated Blake (who was not aware of his limitations according to senior naval officers in the GSol

[55] For details, see de Silva-Ranasinghe 2010: 14.  Greater detail will be found in Maj. Genl Holmes 2015 [not consulted].

[56] This is a grandiose call from an amateur and one should consult the Holmes Report (2015) or Lt Col Gash on this issue. But as I write today the Australian media has been marking the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the Somme in March-April 2018 – see http://www.awmlondon.gov.au/battles/villers-bretonneux.

[57] I was in Colombo at this moment and in taking up an unexpected invitation from Murali Reddy to write an article for Frontline, I focused on Clinton and criticised her in the strongest terms — see Roberts, “Simpletons,” 2000 {or rep, in 2010}.

[58] Reuters, “Obama White House urges halt to Sri Lankan fighting,” 25 April 2009,  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-srilanka-war-usa-sb/obama-white-house-urges-halt-to-sri-lanka-fighting-idUSTRE53O02M20090425

[59] See Bryson Hull 2009; Hull and Sirilal 2009 and David Gray 2009. Note my appreciative review of this coverage in “Reuters in Word and Image,” 19 March 2016.

[60] Careful and thorough research into the news items in print and on air is called for before finalizing our verdict. I have, today 287h April sought opinions from personnel in UK.

[61] They were cleverly outmanoeuvred and rejected by President Rajapaksa (see Roberts: “David Miliband’s Imperious Intervention,” 2016).

[62] See De Silva Ranasinghe, 2010.

[63] See Gamage 2014. Also see Roberts, “Saving Talaivar Pirapaharan,” 2015. Ironically, Lionel Bopage adhered to a rather similar position to Clinton’s a few months earlier in criticising me for a chauvinist stance (2009). His line of thinking came from a Leftist all island stance not international power politics. It was (and remains) a crass and simple-minded appraisal marked by a failure to grasp the fact that Pirapāharan would accept nothing less than Eelam.

[64] We are indebted to Daya Gamage for this revelation. See Gamage, “The American Agenda,” 2014. Gamage served in the US embassy in the 1970s and 1980s and tells us that  “the State Department and the FSOs who served in the Colombo diplomatic mission unofficially believed the LTTE was an organization that stood for long-denied Tamil rights and that the terrorist maneuvers and tactics were used to bring some sense to the Sri Lankan authorities who, in the opinion of the Americans, were too stubborn to accept the reality that there was substance to what the Tamil representative organizations emphasized on Tamil rights and their place in Sri Lankan society”.

[65] Hence a reading of Friedman’s 2011 article on “Immaculate Intervention” is a must.

15 Comments

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, atrocities, British imperialism, conspiracies, disparagement, doctoring evidence, Eelam, ethnicity, fundamentalism, gordon weiss, governance, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, nationalism, performance, politIcal discourse, power politics, propaganda, Rajapaksa regime, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, war crimes, wikileaks, world events & processes

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