Category Archives: trauma

Infantry Warfare and the Final Phase of Eelam War IV: Where Laymen Blunder into Infantile Assessments

Michael Roberts

 In his typically feisty style Mark Salter has taken issue with the characterization of a statement in his To End a Civil War as “infantile”  (within an article based on the Lt Col Gash files[1]). [This protest is now reproduced at the end of this essay as well]. Salter’s assertion is from an UTHR report which in turn is based on appraisals provided by Tamil civilians who survived the last stages of the war. Here I address both Salter and Rajan Hoole, a friend of mine and the central figure behind the exhaustive 2009 UTHR reports.

Sri Lankan Tamil civilians arrive to a government-controlled area after fleeing territory controlled by the LTTE separatist rebels in Puthukkudiyirippu…Sri Lankan Tamil civilians arrive to a government-controlled area after fleeing territory controlled by the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) separatist rebels in Puthukkudiyirippu, northeast Sri Lanka, March 26, 2009. Pictures taken March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer (SRI LANKA POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)

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Ehemai Deviyo!

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The Bogollagama Gem: Thoughts on the Threatening US Spectre in March-May 2009

Michael Roberts

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).[1]

two symbolic snaps 

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Maj-Genl Holmes deciphers the Eelam Wars

Major General John Holmes:  EXPERT MILITARY REPORT, 28 March 2015

  •  His page numbers are in RED on the left bottom of each page … followed by a line to indicate the end of that page
  • His FOOTNOTE REFERENCES at the bottom of some pages are presented in purple italics

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Piercing the LTTE’s Last Redoubt: THE HINDU Reportage, 21-30 April 2009

Michael Roberts

When the LTTE persuaded and/or forced their civilian population in Thamilīlam to retreat ahead of their defensive retreat in 2008, the grand strategy was to build up picture of “a humanitarian catastrophe” that would draw the Western nations and the HR lobbies in West and the island into the fray as active participant voices who would save the LTTE from total defeat – as I have argued from way back [i]

A Scene from Pokkanai in the Last redoubt , 9th March 2009 — Pic from TamilNet  SL Army Special Forces

  Schematic Map– from ICG

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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.”

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Douma: Terror from Many Sides and Confusing Tales. Hypoxia not Gas?

Robert Fisk, in The Independent, 15 April 2018with this titleThe search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack”

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.

an image from another source -viz. The Guardian

War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

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April 19, 2018 · 2:03 pm