By Michael Roberts –
ONE: Saving Private Ryan
Stephen Spielberg’s blockbuster film “Saving Private Ryan” was a fictional war film that was as dramatic as effective because of its realistic portrayal of the horrors of war, notably the D-Day landings. The realism was rendered feasible by the availability of solid accounts of the D-Day invasion that included film footage. In contrast any review of the efforts made to save the LTTE leader, or talaivar, Velupillai Pirapāharan (also presented as Prabhākaran) has to negotiate the murky world of international politics and its whispers.
TWO: Declining LTTE Fortunes, 2008
Let me set up the context leading to these efforts in point form.
(A) Having set a course towards securing Eelam through war by initiating the ‘final struggle’ in July 2006 at Māvil Aru, the LTTE’s first major setback was the loss of their guerilla bases and political power in the Eastern Province by July-August 2007.
(B) This situation was aggravated by the SL Navy’s success in destroying its seven rogue warehouse ships on the high seas in the course of 2006/07.
(C) Nevertheless, the state of Thamilīlam remained a viable entity in late 2007/08 (Roberts, “Citizens,” 2013). It was only when the SL Army broke through on the western section of the southern front circa March 2008 and advanced northwards along the coast from Wilpattu to take control of the western coast by November 2008 that Thamilīlam was imperiled. The supply route from Tamilnadu in India was the LTTE’s chief military lifeline. This path of advance also enabled the SL Army to press eastwards from the Mannar-Madhu area from about April 2008. So, by mid-2008 the LTTE would have realized that they were in dire straits.
Way back, Sivaram alias Taraki taught us that one dimension of talaivar Pirapāharan’s military genius was his “scenario planning” (2004a and Roberts 2006: 83). It is this vision and his uncompromising fascist inclinations that guided him towards fashioning a diabolical international act of blackmail in 2008/09. The plan was summed up neatly by the Tiger political chief Pulidēvan speaking on the phone to a friend in Europe in early 2009: “Just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” (quoted in Harrison 2012: 63).
(D) Any review must attend to the fact that the majority of the Tamil civilians were pro-Tiger and closely linked to their order via kinship, ideological faith, jobs and dependency. A significant number had also been trained in basic military action in the makkal padai (civilian auxiliary force) in the years 2005-08. It was not till the LTTE regime became draconian from early 2009 that segments of this population turned against their supremo, the talaivar as he was called. But even in late April 2009, as TamilNet pictures show, a significant number moved south to the Tiger command area rather than joining others who seized the opportunity to escape.
(E) As a first step, in early 2008 the LTTE responded to the situation they faced by persuading and pressing their civilian populace to retreat well ahead of the SLA advance – in effect enforcing multiple displacements and considerable privation on their people. This was a central element in a grand strategy involving the creation of a spectre, namely that of “an impending humanitarian crisis.”
(F) This dire picture was perpetuated by the Tiger’s many propaganda arms abroad and quickly recruited support in the West from gullible radicals and humanists as well as those already pro-Tamil; while many channels within the Western media readily fell in with this line of thinking (aggravated as they were in the course of 2008/09 by the intimidation and killing of local journalists in Sri Lanka).
(G) The LTTE succeeded in slowing down the SL Army advance eastwards from Mannar and northwards from Omanthai by deploying a berm defense system (impregnated with mines and booby traps: Fig. 04) and the considerable skills and bravery of its fighters. The “berm” is an age-old tactic, a method which the Indian military refer to as the “ditch cum bund” and a defence system which is said to stretch for miles in the North-West Frontier with Pakistan. Thus, by way of illustration, a 25 kilometre berm-and-ditch line snaked from north to south several miles to the west of the arterial A9 road and the administrative capital of Kilinochchi (see in de Silva Ranasinghe 2009a: 7). It held the SLA back for some time in October-November 2008.
(H) However, the LTTE were outgunned and outnumbered and this resistance eventually came to no avail so that Kilinochchi fell at the end of the year. The process, as witnessed dimly from the rear of the SL Army’s advance, can be gleaned from a review of the Al-Jazeera videos on the war in October 2008, January 2009 and February 2009 and also from Bryson Hull’s report on behalf of Reuters of 23rd February 2009.
THREE: A Grand Strategy to meet the Crisis
It was at this point, around December 2008 and the months which followed, that two dimensions of the talaivar Pirapāharan’s grand strategy came into sharper focus. The mass of (mostly) Tamil civilians were not only conceived as hostages servicing the spectre of an impending catastrophe. Rather they were to be (i) part of the defensive structures of the LTTE as the terrain that they held declined into a cage-like pocket; and (ii) to be strategically located on the coastal shores between Nandhikadal Lagoon and the sea so as to foil a potential operation mounted by the Sri Lankan security forces in combination that would have caged them from all sides.
The LTTE regiments may have been increasingly caged in, but the pressure in early-mid 2008 was from three sides (Map 1). Any military operation mounted by GSL forces that secured the north-eastern coastal area would square the cage. It would, worse still, prevent escape via the sea with the help of American forces marshaled by the Norwegians, the UN bureaucracy and other sympathizers egged on by KP in Malaysia (see below).
Two critical pieces of evidence support this thesis. First: in December 2008 the Tigers induced about 20,000 people from their HQ locality of Mullaitivu to move to the Nandhikadal coastal strip between Vellamullivaikkal and Puttumattalan (Jeyaraj, “Fraudulent,” 2009). Second: on the 31st December – at a point where the LTTE had decided to abandon the capital of Kilinochchi – Pirapāharan phoned the former head of the LTTE’s International operations, Selvarāsa Pathmanāthan, alias “KP,” and asked him to “re-join the movement” and start purchasing and transporting supplies again (Jeyaraj 2011: 23-24). It was during this conversation that Pirapāharan was persuaded by KP to allow him (KP) to focus on securing a ceasefire and helping the Tiger command to escape if the situation deteriorated severely. That objective became KP’s principal role. It was to be the critical “first step for a negotiated peace” (KP’s words in Jeyaraj 2011: 29).
FOUR: Issues and Tracks
There are, now, two tracks in the historical unravelling of this tale: one being KP’s subsequent account via DBS Jeyaraj and the other being the details revealed by Mark Salter in his book on the Norwegian diplomatic endeavour vis a vis Sri Lanka, details that bear a heavy imprint from Eric Solheim. The latter track has to be complemented by the information on international interventions spearheaded by the US Embassy in Colombo that one can glean from media reports and the corpus of despatches disclosed by Wikileaks.
Unravelling the events and processes is a mean task. We enter the shady world of international diplomacy where governments pursue different paths with left hand and right hand; and gloss their activity in subsequent reportage. Transcending these problems is rendered doubly difficult because key temporal moments are not always specified with clarity. One has to navigate a field of smoke and mirrors.
FIVE: KP, Norway and USA to the Rescue
KP’s account via David Jeyaraj (with my emphasis inserted) provides the central details about his efforts to rescue the LTTE leadership with international help
Q: Did you not try to save the civilians by getting the LTTE to release them?
A: I did try at the start. There was even an offer by the Americans to transport them by sea to Trincomalee. But the LTTE hierarchy was not agreeable. This attitude was most unfortunate and may appear as inhuman. I am not trying to condone or justify this action but when I reflect upon the past I think the LTTE leadership also had no choice. If they released the people first, then only the tigers would be left there. Thereafter all of them could have been wiped out.
…. In March 2009 I thought I had made a breakthrough but sadly Prabhakaran rejected the proposal.
Q: Was this the “lock-off” plan that was rejected by Prabhakaran in just three words? Could you elaborate please?
A: Well Yes. I had a tentative plan with international endorsement. The LTTE was to lay down arms by hoarding them in specific locations. The words used were “lock –off”. That is arms particularly heavy weapons were to be locked off in specific places. They were to be handed over to representatives of the UN. Afterwards there was to be a cessation of hostilities in which the people were to be kept in specific “no firing zones”. Negotiations were to be conducted between the Govt and LTTE with Norwegian facilitation.
Tentatively about 25 to 50 top leaders with their families were to be transported to a foreign country if necessary. The middle level leaders and cadres were to be detained, charged in courts and given relatively minor sentences. The low level junior cadres were to be given a general amnesty. The scheme was to [be] endorsed by the west including Norway, EU and the USA. The Americans were ready to send their naval fleet in to do evacuation if necessary.
The countries that KP had in mind and was negotiating with for one can identify as ‘safe recuperation rights’ were Eritrea, South Africa and East Timor. But, as it happened, the plans did not progress that far because the talaivar Pirapāharan would not have a bar of it. A lock-out of their guns was not negotiable: ithai etrukkola mudiyathu … “this is unacceptable” … he said on reading KP’s sixteen-page memorandum on the subject (Jeyaraj 2011: 31-32). KP’s memo had been faxed and the talaivar’s rejection in three words was also by fax (email from Jeyaraj).
The Norwegian version of this plan relayed in Mark Salter’s To End the War (2015) is different in some details. Solheim has told Salter that
The primary focus was on rescuing the civilians trapped in the war zone and facilitating the surrender of LTTE cadres who wished to do so. This would be achieved by sending a large ship under international supervision to the Vanni coast. Civilians would be taken to Colombo and set free. LTTE cadres would hand in their weapons, be registered and have their photos taken to ensure that their identities were known in order to protect them from government harm. A general amnesty would apply for everyone other than Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman (2015: 365, emphasis added).
While the differences between KP’s package and Solheim’s deal are not inconsequential, there is one point of agreement in both stories: the rejection of the scheme by the LTTE arose from the fantasy world in which Pirapāharan and his key advisors dwelt. As KP told the Norwegians, “the LTTE leadership was living in a surreal world, believing in miracles” (Solheim’s words in Salter 2015: 361). The impracticality at this point arose from Pirapāharan’s inflexibility about his final goal: a separate state. He “wanted all or nothing” …. so that [for him] the masses were mere clockwork toys, cannon fodder” (Jayatilleka 2014: 55, 54).
To End the War provides crucial details of the evolving process that are missing in KP’s account. A team of Norwegians and SL Tamils met with KP secretly in Kuala Lumpur at some point in late February. Jon Westborg and Tomas Stangeland (two senior Norwegian functionaries) and Tore Hattrem, the Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo, represented Norway; while KP, V. Rudrakumāran (from USA) and Jay Maheswaran (from Australia) represented the LTTE (Salter 2015: 348-49). We can regard them as the initial planning team.
No rescue mission could be mounted without US naval support and it seems that Ambassador Hattrem brought the US embassy in Colombo into the tentative plans that were being hatched. If Salter’s account can be relied upon, Norway and USA were seeking “a negotiated end to the hostilities” through this intervention (Salter 2015: 364ff). Thus, in late February the Co-Chairs in Colombo mulled over the possibility of mounting “a sea-directed rescue mission” and “a high-level team from the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) headquarters in Hawaii” visited [Sri Lanka] to evaluate the logistics of such an exercise.” This was because such an operation demanded long-term planning: US naval forces in the Philippines, the Gulf States and/or Diego Garcia needed at least five days to reach the eastern reaches of Sri Lanka.
In American minds the scheme was tentative at best. As a well-informed American media man who became privy to the tentative scheme later in the day told me, the US officials believed that they faced “a non-permissive environment” – a form of American-speak which is as precise as pin-point accurate. USA had learnt a lesson from the disastrous international consequences and humiliations arising from its military sortie in Somalia in October 1993 – since immortalized in the film Black Hawk Down. Given the fierceness of the ongoing military battle and given the obduracy of both the LTTE and GSL commands even the almighty USA would have had its work cut out in mounting such an exercise.
Nor could USA just march in. Such a massive operation was not feasible without the consent of the government of Sri Lanka (GSL). From Salter’s account it seems that Basil Rajapaksa was the conduit through whom this international cabal explored such options. But Solheim and Salter – perhaps deliberately – do not tell us WHEN Rajapaksa or some other Sri Lankan dignitary was approached. This is a critical gap in my present stock of information. It is my surmise that Sri Lanka was only approached with this scheme late in the day, say mid-April or late April.
We confront yet another uncertainty in our information. There is a stark discrepancy as to when precisely the deal was placed before Pirapāharan by fax and subject to his decisive rejection. KP’s account indicates that this rejection took place in early March (confirmed by Jeyaraj’s recent indication that this exchange occurred in late February or early March). However, late April is the date which the Norwegian account in Salter’s book points to (see pp. 364-65 in particular).
We must allow for the possibility that Pirapāharan was presented with rescue/surrender/amnesty plans on two occasions, first in early March and then again in late April. This set of question-marks is of consequence. The battlefield situation was different on the dates in question, while the cadences of international pressure on GSL were sharper by April than those earlier in the year 2009 or early March. It is to the clarification of these background conditions that we must now proceed.
SIX: Pressures from the West, January-March 2009
As the account above indicates, KP’s diplomatic engagements did not reach fruition and take shape as a concrete plan till early March (and maybe till late April). However, the Western international consortium led by USA was a powerful element in island politics throughout the war and especially from late 2008. The “West” was embodied in a coterie of ambassadors known as the “Co-Chairs” who met regularly and were engaged in the ongoing events in the political arena in Sri Lanka. One of their principal imperatives from 2008 was humanitarian concern for the fate of the numerous Tamil civilians trapped in the declining space of war because of the LTTE’s grand strategy of blackmail.
This humanitarian activity was not a new area of action. Here one needs to emphasise a remarkable aspect of the war between GSL and Thamilīlam over the extended period 1990-2009 – an aspect that the general Western readership probably has no inkling of. With substantial material aid from the West, GSL continued to supply the Sri Lankan people living under LTTE rule with essential supplies. The flow of material via land convoys or ships had been maintained both in peacetime and war time. In other words, GSL was feeding the enemy (while also sending salary payments and pensions to officials in that insurgent state).
The flow of supplies (especially essential foods, medical supplies and kerosene) to the Tiger-ruled areas of the Vanni had been sustained throughout Eelam War IV from mid-2006. A logistics hub at Vavuniya and a fleet of lorries were central to this task as also the services of GSL personnel and staff from specific INGOs and NGOs. The Co-Chairs were a key force in this endeavour because they generated the monies and goods required for this monumental set of tasks, with the World Food Programme (an INGO) at the centre of such operations. Thus, from 2006 through to the end of January 2009 supplies of food, medicine and other necessities were sent to the beleaguered people of Thamilīlam by land convoys. Thereafter ships chartered by the ICRC (supported and supervised by the SL Navy) took up this task and made at least 31 voyages from Trincomalee to the war zone – returning with at least 13,794 injured and sick people and their “carers”.
This massive task was feasible because of the monetary aid from USA and other governments. The Co-Chairs also supported the GSL’s efforts to house and sustain the Tamil peoples who escaped from their trapped “hell hole” (Reddy’s words) in the detention centres that were being set up on the run from late 2008 – indeed, the international consortium harangued GSL persistently on this front in a manner that deserves praise.
On the political front, however, the tale is different: the interventions sometimes amounted to brow-beating and breached the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. In January 2009 one sees several international initiatives that seem to predate the intervention sponsored by KP with the Norwegians as go-betweens. Ambassador Blake’s secret despatch No. 33 of 9th January not only reiterated the fixed US policy of fashioning “a political solution” to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka (see below for more evidence), but even noted: “we should also be prepared to help locate, detain and hand over to Sri Lanka or India Prabhakaran and other senior LTTE leaders should they leave the country.” Parenthetically, one should note that at this stage in January 2009 the US Ambassador Blake’s reading of the battle situation was as flawed as asinine: on several occasions he intimated to Washington that the LTTE could return to its old programme of insurgency.
India was also a player in the firmament. On the 25th January 2009 India made a symbolic move which gathered US support. Mukherjee, the Minister of External Affairs, flew to Colombo, where he “registered deep concern over the current humanitarian crisis in the Vanni, where Tamil civilians are caught in the crossfire between military forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [and] insisted that the military ensure that medical supplies reach the safe zone, that exit routes for civilians be clearly marked and communicated, and that every effort be taken to avoid civilian casualties.” This was a line of demand that Blake endorsed wholeheartedly.
We do not know if Blake and USA were alive to grandstanding bluff guiding the Indian hand in Delhi. PK Balachandran (2015) tells us that a troika in Delhi was in regular touch with a troika (Gotabaya & Basil Rajapaksa and Lalith Weeratunga) within the heart of Colombo’s regime; and that at no stage did Delhi wish the LTTE leadership to be let off the hook. Likewise, GSL sometimes had Basil Rajapaksa and the Foreign Minister Bogollagama presenting an amenable listening face to the imperial pressures of the international consortium, while Gotabaya Rajapaksa played hard ball.
We must be attentive to the possibility that USA too adhered to a dual track policy, but I leave consideration of this possibility for the final summing up. What needs emphasis at this temporal point in our review, in late January/early February 2009, is that USA does not seem to have been cognizant of KP’s rescue plan as yet – in part because the scheme was still being moulded.
SEVEN: The LTTE Strategy comprehended … and yet supported
During the months of February and March the Western international consortium at the centre of diplomatic politics in Sri Lanka — with several UN agencies as their handmaidens — were quite exasperated by the LTTE’s refusal to countenance their appeals to release the civilians held in the war theatre. When Tamarat Samuel, an UN special envoy, visited Colombo in February he was “struck by two things: a general feeling of helplessness among the ambassadors he talked to and the government’s confidence that the end was near” (quoted in Salter 2015: 345). The hopelessness derived in large part from the fact that Pirapāharan and his commanders rejected their advice and refused to consider a ceasefire or a release of the civilians.
The civilians were not “trapped” by accident. They were a “central element in a grand LTTE strategy.” Ambassador Robert Blake had comprehended this clearly. In early February 2009 he presented this cogent reading to his superiors in Washington: “the LTTE had refused to allow civilians to leave because the LTTE needs the civilians as human shields, as a pool for forced conscription, and as a means to try to persuade the international community to force a cease-fire upon the government, since that is the LTTE’s only hope” (Secret Despatch 133 of 5 Feb. 2009).
Having comprehended the situation in insightful fashion but getting no cooperation from the LTTE, Blake then proceeded to meet the LTTE’s expectations. With the Co-Chair ambassadors and various UN bureaucrats as his cohorts at different moments, he exerted heavy pressure on the GSL authorities in March and April to institute ceasefires and even to halt their military operations.
EIGHT: The Battle Situation in March … and Thereafter
One must now attend to the context by addressing the progress of the unfolding military struggle in summary fashion. If talaivar Pirapāharan rejected KP’s carefully formulated proposal in early March rather than in late April, he did so in military circumstances that were dire but not desperate (as they were in late April). By early March, indeed by late February, the vast majority of the civilian population, perhaps numbering anything from 260-270,000, had been deployed by the LTTE on the Nandhikadal coastal strip as a defensive formation of so many sandbags and the main plank in their appeal for international intervention (Roberts, “Realities,” 2015). The LTTE, moreover, still retained the little town and stronghold of PTK in early-mid March; and had considerable fighting and assault capacity. Indeed, they even launched a counter attack on the 7/8th March (Salter 2015: 351).
However, PTK town was lost in mid/late-March after the only vestige of urban fighting seen in the last phase of the war. The Tiger military responded in the manner typical: they assembled their best fighters in order to counter-attack. But their assembly point in the locality Aanandapuram was rumbled by the GSL forces on the 31st April and in the next 4-6 days was subject to withering shellfire and infantry assault from all sides. Jeyaraj was way ahead of the international media in his monitoring of events and told the world that the LTTE lost 623 fighters, including several outstanding male and female commanders, in this battle.
After this debacle the circumstance of the LTTE and the civilian mass (now reduced to about 220,000 people because of escapes and death) serving as hostages/supporters/labour-force/defensive-barrier was desperate. From mid-April they were restrained to a coastal strip abutting the elongated Nandhikadal Lagoon running north-south (see Map 2) beside the coast. This arena was roughly 24 square kilometres and had been delimited as a “No Fire Zone” (also called “Safe Zone”) by GSL in mid-February.
This terminology, a diplomatic sop, was, in fact, legally invalid because (1) there was no agreement with the LTTE on this score and (2) because the LTTE and its Sea Tigers retained their military emplacements in the area and eventually assembled its HQ therein; while using the hulk of the “SS Farrah” as observation post and RPG emplacement. It is a measure of bureaucratic inertia – and its relentless power – that international agencies as well as GSL and journalists have deployed this designation in mechanical fashion…. And that they continue to do so. I have consistently avoided this misleading phrase. In my conceptualization this arena is described as the “Last Redoubt” — with the understanding that GSL had every right to direct its fire within/into this space because the mass of hostage-people was an integral pillar in the Tiger defense mechanisms and thus their responsibility.
NINE: The American Sword of Damocles
Before these battlefield misfortunes weakened the LTTE still further, the US Ambassador proceeded to ratchet up his pressure on GSL in ways that would have shored up the LTTE military dispensation. At a meeting on the 18th March 2009 he threatened the Foreign Minister Bogollagama. His report to Washington runs thus: “the Ambassador noted that he was hearing credible reports that many in the military and elsewhere favor entering the safe zone and finishing off the conflict. The Ambassador warned the Minister that Sri Lanka needed to understand that the deaths of thousands or even tens of thousands of civilians from such an action would cause an international outcry, likely subject the GSL to war crime charges, and almost certainly undermine public support in the U.S. and other donor countries for future reconstruction efforts in the north.”
“War Crimes.” This heavy human rights weapon had been explicitly deployed by Navy Pillai (the UN Human Rights Commissioner) in a widely-publicized statement five days earlier – one that levelled accusations and threats at both the LTTE and GSL (Salter 2015: 352-53). Blake was now wielding the sword over the Sri Lankan government in circumstances where the international consortium was reconciled to the fact that they their appeals would receive no mileage from the LTTE.
In other words, the international cabal was working within the framework of LTTE strategy. They were in effect encouraging the Tigers to sustain their use of the civilians as a defensive formation and a raison d’etre for international intervention. The Sword of Damocles in the form of “war crimes,” therefore, was held over the head of one party to the conflict in a manner that slotted in neatly with the grand strategy of the other party, the LTTE. In other words, in blithely positioning itself as international arbiter, and wrapping itself with a “humanitarian cloak,” USA, the UN bureaucrats working as American agents and its other international allies (embracing AI, HRW and ICG) were aiding and abetting the LTTE.
The Western international cabal, therefore, seems to have been deliberately blind to the structured circumstances that I have outlined. It follows that their earnest exploration of KP’s valiant (and understandable) efforts to save the Tiger leadership was a path that would also have materially helped the LTTE.
TEN: Approaching Climax, mid-late April 2009
Our tale is now placed in mid-April with the LTTE in dire straits and its territory confined to the Last Redoubt. As an observer from outside who happened to fly in to Colombo in mid-April just when a “humanitarian pause” declared unilaterally by GSL on the 13/14th April had brought no beneficial results, I anticipated a blood-bath. I also felt that the sacrificial devotion to their cause displayed over the years by the Tigers could translate into a mass act of civilian/Tiger suicide in the manner seen among the Japanese people in 1944 at Saipan.
As an ordinary citizen of course, I was unaware of the flurry of political activity taking place at this moment – with USA and the UN, India, the TNA leaders and various representatives of GSL pressing their views and seeking to gain advantage in every which way. Blake had met the Foreign Minister (Bogollagama) once again on the 11th April and expressed concerns about GSL “shelling of the civilian safe zone.” He had broached the idea of an UN envoy being inserted into the LTTE terrain to talk directly to Pirapāharan so as to negotiate a surrender. Quite ominously, he observed that “the alternative of sending the army into the safe zone would be disastrous for Sri Lanka.” This was nothing less than a polite threat, yet another one.
The threat was underlined a few days later when Blake met the Secretary of Defense, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and “pressed” him “to exercise restraint [so as] to ensure civilian casualties are minimized in the safe zone.” This was a critical political push-and-deflect encounter. Its implications can only be grasped in the light of (a) the US government’s earlier indication that they could institute war crimes charges against Sri Lanka and (b) a previous meeting with Rajapaksa on the 12th March where Blake had insisted that (once the SL Army captured PTK) the GSL forces should not enter the “safe zone.” On that occasion in March Gotabhaya Rajapaksa blandly played poker: he “repeated his pledge to not enter the safe zone and stated that the Army would take a passive stance on its boundary once the other areas were secured.”
With retrospective advantage we know, now, that neither Rajapaksa nor the military forces had any intention of stopping their advance. In this intent they were secure in their awareness that India supported this goal in clandestine voice (Balachandran 2015). With the Indian General Elections looming in late April and early May, with a final date on the 13th May, their goal was to gain control of rump-Thamilīlam before then. After the triumph at Aanandapuram the SL Army’s special forces spent time practicing methods of breaching the berm defences. Suitable circumstances for attack were also prepared by aerial drops of leaflets in Tamil among the corralled civilian people augmented by loudspeaker announcements across the waters of Nandhikadal Lagoon.
On the night of 19th April commando forces “blasted through a massive earthen wall built by the LTTE” at a point near Pokkanai (Map 2) and secured a beachhead within the Last Redoubt that soon expanded and enabled them to split the LTTE domain — so that the Tigers and remaining populace were confined to about 5 square kilometres in the southern segment of the Last Redoubt (Hull & Sirilal 2009a).
The SL Army exercise over 19-22 April was a remarkable military operation – assisted by the extent to which some Tiger fighters discarded their weapons and joined the refugee streams that marched and/or waded westwards to safety along the “safe corridors” developed by the infantry. Some 39,845 people reached safety on the 20th April; and by the 22nd a total of about 103,000 Tamil civilians and (deserting) troops had exited the battle theatre on foot. Others got away in fishing boats heading north or south along the coast guided by marker buoys set up by the SL Navy. The mixture of photographs provided by Reuters are essential viewing for all students of this event.
The figures of those who survived by reaching GSL hands are not easy to compute with certainty, but an UNHCR report on 25th April indicated that some 120,000 had escaped (Salter 2015, fn. 102 on page 516). Needless to say, the number of Tamils who died from crossfire, shellfire and/or Tiger killings by gun or suicide bomber are difficult to work out, but one computation places the figure for the period 20-31 April at roughly 2,500 (IDAG 2013: section 4.4.4) — surprisingly low given the circumstances.
The operational activity and the outcome of streams of escaping people was followed by aerial footage provided by UAVs of the SL Air Force. President Rajapaksa was shown real time footage at the SLAF headquarters in Colombo on Monday morning 20th April. Thereafter a number of ambassadors and foreign dignitaries as well as some journalists were invited to watch this real-life drama unfolding slowly in real-time. While Bryson Hull filed a brief account of this momentous real-life show, I have not been able to secure a list of the personnel who were privileged to witness these scenes – a mark of governmental inefficiency on this front (also see Roberts, “Reuters,” 2016).
Without such vital evidence one cannot plot the identity of reporters who did NOT provide the world with accounts of this remarkable moment in world history. We can be certain, however, that US embassy officials were among those present. In this circumstance the ignorance and arrogance displayed at this moment by their Secretary of State, no less than Hilary Clinton, speaks volumes. On Wednesday the 22nd April she told the world that “a terrible humanitarian tragedy” was taking place in Sri Lanka, referred to “genocide” and demanded – yes demanded — a halt to fighting so that “we could secure a safe passage for so many of the trapped civilians as possible.” Notice the arrogant “we.” USA was to call the shots. However, such arrogance pales into insignificance when set beside the imperial Cardinal Pell manner in which she ignored the graphic pictures of thousands of Tamil civilians (some 120,000 people no less) fleeing across water and land to safety.
Clinton’s vitriolic broadside is a platform for reflection. If she had not read her embassy staff’s reports from Sri Lanka, she was not up to her job. However, it is more likely that she swept the events under the carpet in order to publicly birch a little Asian country that refused to abide by American bidding. That country, moreover, had leaned towards China in the recent past. Geo-political issues may have been one of the factors guiding her rhetoric.
ELEVEN: American Political Dreams
Within this overarching US interest, however, there nestled another American programme. The schemes of international intervention under consideration were not only focused on saving the civilians held as bargaining chips by the LTTE. They were designed to whisk the Tiger leaders to safety in another country where, in effect, they would be without weaponry and be in “international” pockets. Here, “international” reads as “American” or “Euro-American.”
This line of wishful thinking on the part of USA came to light (inadvertently perhaps) in May. To understand that moment one must procced step by step to that month and the LTTE’s final denouement in mid-May. Albeit highly successful, the SL army operation launched on 19/20th April had not overwhelmed the LTTE as yet. The LTTE still held a stub of territory, perhaps five sq. kilometres in extent, in the southern segment of the Last Redoubt where its remnant command and fighters were among the 80,000 or so persons hemmed in all sides by government forces.
Thus, the humanitarian concerns of liberals in the world order and the humanitarian-cum-strategic concerns of the Western powers remained. Indeed, agitation in the Western countries continued at high-octane levels. Sri Lanka remained the target of adverse media reportage and still very much in the spotlight.
It was in the midst of continuing Western pressure on the government in early May 2009 that Michael Owen, the Political Attache at the US Embassy (Fig. 00), told the world on the 6th May 2009 that one had “to find a way for the LTTE to surrender arms possibly to a third party in the context of a pause in the fighting, to surrender their arms in exchange for some sort of limited amnesty to at least some members of the LTTE and the beginning of a political process.” Admitting that the plans were “vague,” he said “but that is something that is under way behind the scenes.”
This piece of information fits neatly with KP’s disclosures earlier. It also lets the American cat out of the bag. What cat? Answer: their political schemes for Sri Lanka, well-intended schemes that had been formulated in the 1980s, but which were quite unsuited to the new circumstances arising from the establishment and consolidation of Thamilīlam under a fascist ruler.
Owen’s presentation included a note to the effect that the “Tamils had legitimate grievances.” Thus, it seems that USA was keen on returning to programmes that it had sketched out for Sri Lanka during the 1970s and 1980s: they wished to negotiate a devolutionary federal solution (Gamage 2014, Roberts 2015). The Tiger leadership parked in some neutral country, one surmises, was to be an instrument of this future settlement. One can surmise that the reshaped LTTE would then have been headed by, say, Rudrakumāran, Pulidēvan, Nadēsan, Bishop SJ Emmanuel and Arjuna Sivanandan rather than the military men.
These are sketchy contentions. Subject to this caveat, it seems that the Tamil National Alliance in Sri Lanka was to remain in the shadow of the LTTE in this future dispensation. As critically, and fatally, the fascist character of the LTTE was glossed over…. and remains glossed over today in the agenda of USA and its handmaidens in the UN bureaucracy. How devolution can be rendered feasible within a political arrangement involving a fascist sub-unit does not seem to have entered the minds of the liberal-arts simpletons designing American policy.
TWELVE: The SL Armed Forces’ Achievement
If there were any reservations about the remarkable success of the SL Army and its supporting arms in the Navy and Air Force in overcoming that formidable foe, the LTTE, it should be dispelled by the evaluation provided by the retired SAS officer, Major General JT Holmes:
“the SLA did not rush in, but instead took its time to plan and adapt its tactics to take account of the civilian presence. It was, in the view of the author, an entirely unique situation and the fact that 290,000 people escaped alive is in itself remarkable…. In my military opinion, faced with a determined enemy that were deploying the most ruthless of tactics and which involved endangering the Tamil civilian population, SLA had limited options with regard to the battle strategy they could deploy.…The SLA had either to continue taking casualties and allow the LTTE to continue preying upon its own civilians, or take the battle to the LTTE, albeit with an increase in civilian casualties. The tactical options were stark, but in my military opinion, justifiable and proportionate given the unique situation SLA faced in the last phase.”
This evaluation supports my bold assertion previously from the position of a raw amateur: that the penetration and capture of the Tiger’s Last Redoubt in April-May 2009 must rank as one of the outstanding military operations in recent world history (Roberts, “Winning the War,” 1 Sept. 2014).
These appraisals can be placed alongside the misleading directions and bombast in the account presented by Gordon Weiss in The Cage and the comic ‘interludes’ within the assessments peddled by Solheim through Salter. Take the latter’s illustration of the “brutality” of the SL Army in mid-May: “from 13 May advancing [SLA] soldiers fired or threw grenades into civilian bunkers as a ‘precaution’ against the possibility of the LTTE using them to launch attacks” (Salter 2015: 371). In circumstances where many Tiger fighters were not wearing uniforms and where some of the fighting occurred at night, the criteria deployed by Solheim and Salter underline their infantile military intelligence. Soldiers can hardly peep into every foxhole/bunker and inquire in Tamil “who goes there?” In any event, the standard infantry tactics in the face of numerous foxholes in their path is directed by the importance of speed of advance so as to deny the enemy time for redeployment.
What should be clear, however, is that considered evaluations do not always carry weight in the world of international politics. Media clout varies and big-powers drown out little minnows. General Holmes’s evaluation lies buried in a document in little Sri Lanka. Western institutions such as the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Sydney and the Greens Party of Australia chose to be guided by Gordon Weiss and simply ignored documentary data and bodies of reportage that could undermine their goals in surveying the war outcomes in Sri Lanka. When one dominates the oceans, those located in little backwaters can be ignored.
THIRTEEN: Quod Erat Demonstrandum
However, Talaivar Pirapāharan was not saved.
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UTHR 2009 Let Them Speak: Truth about Sri Lanka’s Victims of War. Special Report No. 34, http://www.uthr.org/SpecialReports/Special%20rep34/Uthr-sp.rp34.htm.
Video Image [GSL] 2014 “A balanced insight into the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict – “Common Differences” (HD),” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L8QfZw0XUo
Washington Post 2009 “Clinton & self-styled peacemakers obstructing Tiger defeat,” 27 April 2009,http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/Current_Affairs/ca200904/20090427clinton_self_styled_peacemakers_obstructing_tiger_defeat.htm
Wax, Emily 2009 “Without Me, They Couldn’t Win the War’ — Former Tamil Tiger Commander Says He Helped Weaken Rebellion”, 11 February 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/10/AR2009021003343.html
Weiss, Gordon 2011a The Cage, Sydney: Picador..
Weiss, Gordon 2012 “New Evidence — The Death of Colonel Ramesh,” 21 March 2012, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/newevidencethe-death-of-colonel-ramesh-warning-disturbing-images/
You Tube Video [GSL] 2013 “The Last Phase,” http://www.youtube.com/embed/RQmn4ubPy5A.
 This long essay was sent to The editor of Groundviews in late March. After a reminder I was told on 4th April that GV had decided not to present it.
 It has taken me years to develop the capacity to present the distillation that follows (as any study of my writings would reveal). Perhaps the best support for the summary that follows will be found in Roberts, Tamil Person and State, 2 vols. (2014) and in “The Realities of Eelam War IV,” 27 October 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/the-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/
 The LTTE commercial transport ships did not carry internationally recognized insignia when carrying arms illegally, though they may have had some Panama registration.
 See Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014, pp. 112-14; Jane’s Naval Intelligence 2009; De Silva-Ranasinghe, “Maritime Counter-Terrorism,” 2009; and Chandradasa n. d. Note: Pirapāharan “told me in 2000 that in the coming years the outcome of the war would be decided at sea” (KP speaking – in Jeyaraj, KP speaks out, 2011: 20).
 Pirapāharan’s biographers have indicated that in his youthful days. he carefully digested the works of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu in translation or through interpreters. Dayan Jayatilleka has rightly noted that Pirapāharan’s programme was guided by “the twinning of tactical flexibility with strategic implacability” ((2013: 49). The latter principle eventually led to his demise.
 See the characterization from within SL Tamil society in Bavinck, 2014 and Hoole 2001. Supplement this reading with the insightful analysis in Jayatilleka 2013: 38-59.
 See Figs. 62-64 in Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014, pp. 106-08.
 A point dinned into me in 2009 by Muralidhar Reddy on the basis of his interviews with Tamils who managed to escape. Note that he conducted interviews with about 80-90 of those who slipped out of the LTTE corral in the last eight months of the war in the course of his frequent visits to the rear battle front. A careful reading of the detailed recounting of the tales retailed by the Tigress identified by the pseudonym Mugil in Rohini Mohan’s The Seasons of Trouble (2014) will indicate both facets of this story of continued loyalty to the Tigers and growing disenchantment.
 See especially the two images numbered 104a and 104b – taken from TamilNet, 1 May 2009 – in Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014 which show people moving southwards along the ocean waterline on foot and with tractor and bicycle
 As Murali Reddy indicated to me in several conversations over the years, at this stage the Tamil people had little reason to trust the Sinhala dominated Rajapaksa government and their exodus eastwards and northwards was mostly willing. It was not till early 2009 and the implementation of draconian demands by the LTTE that considerable segments of the populace jettisoned their loyalty to the Tiger cause (see Roberts, “Towards Citizenship in Thamilīlam,” 2013).
 See Roberts, “Blackmail,” 2012 and “Generating Calamity,” 2014.
 Roberts, “Fourth Estate,” 2009, http://www.groundviews.org/2009/12/08/the-rajapakse-regime-and-the-fourth-estate/
 See Figs.73-75 in Roberts, Tamil Person and State, Pictorial, 2014: 117-19.
 Note video report of Al-Jazeera 2008 and de Silva-Ranasinghe, “Victory, 2009a.
 In typical military bluster Brigadier Shavendra Silva responded to Bryson Hull’s query about a final victory thus: “How long it will take is not in weeks. I am talking in days” (Hull, 23 Feb. 2009). One has to consider why his assessment was wrong in its detail amidst the validity of his general thrust.
 The likelihood was that the 55th Division would advance down the coastal line from the Jaffna Peninsula, while the 59th would head for Mullaitivu and then push up the coast. Indeed, Jeyaraj indicates that the SL Army had such a plan (“Fraudulent Concept,” 2009). There was the additional option of an amphibious landing with naval vessels in support. Bryson Hull’s news report of 23rd February notes that most of the people were now located in the second NFZ on the coast. (Hull 2009).
 The displacing of KP and the appointment of Castro in his place in 2001/02, arguably, was one of the cardinal errors in Pirapāharan’s life story.
 Even at this stage, a dire situation, KP’s tasks in 2009 seem to have been restrained and even thwarted by jealousies in the LTTE’s international circuits. As some observers would say, in these internal back-stabbings the Tamil Tigers were not different from the majority of Sri Lankans.
 Email note from David Jeyaraj to Roberts, 24 November 2015. Also see Jeyaraj 2011: 34.
 An infuriating shortcoming in the Norwegian account ghosted via Mark Salter is the failure, whether by design or carelessness, to specify dates in several critical instances. This is compounded by an absence of documentation on occasions.
 Salter 2015: 354. Remarkably, the Minister of Defence (Gotabaya Rajapaksa) was not aware of this visit and suggested that the American officials could have slipped in through other diplomatic channels (Roberts, “Speaking to Gotabaya,I,” 2016). While it is conceivable that he was playing poker with me, we must mull over the implications of this statement.
 I am not free to divulge this source.
 See BBC 2013; Pflanz 2011 and Bowden 1999.
 My informant (fn. 13) tells me that “the [US] diplomats had few illusions that the conditions to create a permissive environment would be met.” S/he also indicated that David Miliband (British Foreign Minister) was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of a rescue intervention – an indication of the impractical doctrinaire cocoon in which Miliband was residing and further proof that rescue plan was placed before Pirapāharan in late April and not in early March – for the reason that the Miliband-Kouchner visit to Sri Lanka was in late April.
 The assault assassination of Osama bin Laden may well have been with the assent of the Pakistan military; but in any event it was a less complicated job than any evacuation plan for the LTTE and civilians in north east Sri Lanka.
 At some point the Sri Lankan military leaked information about the plans afoot to the media – a deliberate act that agitated the US embassy officials and a step that must surely have been approved by both Gotabhaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa. PK Balachandran tells me that this was in late April – in which case we are considering a second international effort to devise a workable rescue plan.
 Email note from David Jeyaraj to Roberts, 24 November 2015.
 The British scholar Rajesh Venugopal spent some time in Thamiilam in the 200s in the course of his researches and he told me that one pillar of the insurgent state’s economy was the pool of monies sent as salary or pension.
 See Presidential Task Force 2011, chap. 2, especially the images of the logistics hub and fleets of lorries on pp. 11 & 15.
 See Roberts, “US Action,” 2015 and Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014, p. 140 where Fig. 95 shows one of the medivac operations. The number of ICRC convoys is an underestimate and is derived from Citizen Silva’s (aka IDAG) remarkable cataloguing (the ICRC stonewalled when I called).
 See Roberts, “IDP Camps,” 2011 and TPS. Pictorial, 2014: Figs. 140-159.
 This important reservation was not referred to again in subsequent despatches, but Salter’s book indicates that Pirapaharan and Pottu Amman would not have been granted any amnesty (2015: 365).
 See Blake Des. No. 33 of 9 January and Secret Despatch No. 133 of 5th February 209. The latter observed “Without a credible political settlement, the LTTE might be able to carry on a guerilla insurgency with the support of the Diaspora…”. An insurgency depends on a supporting population. There were no people in the portions of the northern Vanni to the west of the A9 road; while the Eastern Province had been pacified. The thinking of the American liberal arts personnel in Colombo on this issue seems quite stupid and one wonders if they had any conversations with their very own Military Attache.
 [Blake] Despatch No. 106 0f 29 Jan 2009. The next sentence says: “President Rajapaksa was receptive to these concerns.” Blake did not refer to Mukherjee’s crystal clear denunciation of the LTTE as “terrorists.” See You-Tube presentation of Pranab Mukherjee’s rushed visit to Sri Lanka circa 25 January 2009 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4zJKIWGT2Q.
 See Roberts, “Generating Calamity” 2014 and “The Realities of Eelam War IV,” 2015.
 Note that at one point in early 2009 a leading LTTE official, Pulidevan, told a friend in Europe that “Just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” (quoted in Harrison 2012: 63).
Such a refusal must surely have been conveyed immediately to the Norwegians and USA.
 This guestimate is worked out thus: GSL figures indicate that 3,484, 31,694 and 24,619 persons fled the rump Thamilīlam terrain in January, February and March respectively. So I have subtracted this total of 59,791 from the rough estimate (mine) of 320,000-330,000 in the Last Redoubt in early January.
 See De Silva-Ranasinghe 2009 and Tammita-Delgoda 2014.
 See Jeyaraj 2009a “Theepan,” and 2009b “Anatomy.” Theepan, Vidusha, Kamalini, Mohanna, Durga, Keerthi, Nagesh were among the commanders who died. There is an account of this incident in the Sunday Times by Fuard (2009) which also embraces the land and sea battles around Chalai on the northern boundary of Tiger territory. USA too was aware of this unfolding event – see Blake’s despatch BBB of 2nd April. Also note Salter 2015: 000.
 Blake to Washington, Despatch No. 308 of 19th March 2009 (also see despatch No. 307 of same date).
 I expressed this fear on the phone to Kumari Jayawardena in mid-April when I reached Wellawatte from Adelaide. On 21 April 2019 DBS Jeyaraj also spoke of a “massive bloodbath” as likely (quoted in Salter 2915: 363).
 I stepped out on a limb and wrote four essays on this line of possibility for the web site transcurrents beginning with one on2 April 2009. The articles have since been amalgamated into one essay, entitled “LTTE and Tamil People,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm, 2010: 239-62. That’ this idea was/is not fanciful is seen in the weight given to this possibility by General Holmes (Military Expert Opinion by Major General (Retd) John Holmes, in Paranagama Commission Report, 2015. pp. 243-44).
 See Despatch No 413 of 13 April – “Ambassador pointed out that it was common knowledge the Tamil Tigers won’t let the civilians go. A better alternative, he said, would be for the GSL to allow a UN envoy to go into the safe zone during the pause to talk directly to LTTE supremo Prabhakaran about terms for letting the civilians go and surrender of those LTTE cadres still in the safe zone. 9. (SBU) Bogollagama countered that the GSL was worried that the LTTE would seek to generate public relations capital from a visit, or try to string out the discussions. Ambassador explained that the UN and others could make clear publicly what the parameters of the visit were. Ambassador said the UN would have to be clear that the urgency of getting civilians out of harm’s way would not permit lengthy negotiations. He observed the alternative of sending th army into the safe zone would be disastrous for Sri Lanka. The GSL’s own Unmanned Aerial Vehicle footage confirmed the LTTE is building a berm, bunkers and trenches in anticipation of an attack. The bunkers will shelter cadres so it is the civilians who will be killed, Ambassador noted. The LTTE would like nothing more than to see 10,000 or more civilians killed which would give them a new 1983-style massacre around which they could rejuvenate the LTTE after its military defeat. Large civilian casualties would also have serious longer-term consequences for the GSL. Ambassador sought Bogollagama’s personal intervention in raising these issues in the National Security Council meeting.”
 Blake Despatch 418 of 15th April. Rajapaksa met this demand by reiterating the “GSL offer of amnesty to all LTTE fighters, except LTTE leader Prabakharan and Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman.”
 Blake Despatch No. 283 of 12 March 2009.
 The LTTE leadership saw the Indian elections as a potential lifeline because they hoped that a hung Parliament would enable the Tamilnadu political parties to enter a coalition government and sway policy towards Sri Lanka. This was widely known. The Tiger deadline therefore became a mark for the SL armed forces.
 A translation of a leaflet was placed on web by DBS Jeyaraj and is now reproduced in Salter (2015: 364); while reference to the loudspeaker usage occur in accounts from Tamils who escaped (for e.g. in “The Last Phase,” (You Tube Video).
 See bottom of Hull & Sirilal 2009a and follow http://www.reuters.com/news/picture/sri-lankan-war-in-endgame-100000-escape?articleId=USTRE53J0IZ20090422&slideId=9807410. The pictures are now reproduced in Roberts, “Reuters,” 2016. Also see Roberts, Tamil Person and State, Pictorial, 2014: Figs. 102-03.
 The general public in Lanka saw snatches on some local television networks, or shellfire or but these presentations were clearly edited, itsy-bitsy and not in real time.
 See Gamage 2014 and Roberts, “American Action,” 2015.
 Those who have doubts on this point should digest the judgements as well as details in (a) Bavinck 2011 (b) Ben Bavinck’s diaries (Of Tamils and Tigers, 2014) and (b) Rajan Hoole, The Arrogance of Power, 2001.
 The TNA had consciously and willingly fallen at the feet of the LTTE from the late 1990s and displayed its total compliance during the Pongu Thamil pageants of the 2002-05 period. On this aspect, see especially Dayan Jayatilleka 2013: …. and Roberts, Tamil Person and State, Pictorial, 2014, Figs. 55 & 56. So there was historical logic in this arrangement.
 This is my charge in Roberts, “American Action,” 2015.
 Annex I – Military Expert Opinion by Major General (Retd) John Holmes, in Paranagama Commission Report, 2015. pp. 243-44.
 See The Cage 2011: 171-226, espec. 180, 183, 189, 192-93,212-13, 218-19. Weiss also berates the LTTE and does refer to humane acts by the SL Army with approval on occasions. It is the one-sided excess, misguided evaluation of possibilities in the circumstances prevailing, bloated estimates of the death toll that brings his presentations into question. In asserting that “the Sri Lankan government deliberately denied the besieged population food, medicine, shelter and medical aid” (p. 196), he also lied.
 What sees in these two instances is blatant dishonesty and chicanery in the public assessments of moral crusaders clothed in ethical garments. See Roberts, “Crunched In-between,” 2016d..………….… https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/crunched-in-between-the-sinha-le-activists-and-the-self-righteous-international-cabal/ for the documentation of these charges.
Rohan / April 5, 2016
Amarasiri / April 5, 2016
RE:Attempts To Rescue Pirapāharan Et Al In 2009
“It is this vision and his uncompromising fascist inclinations that guided him towards fashioning a diabolical international act of blackmail in 2008/09. The plan was summed up neatly by the Tiger political chief Pulidēvan speaking on the phone to a friend in Europe in early 2009: “Just as in Kosovo if enough civilians died in Sri Lanka the world would be forced to step in” (quoted in Harrison 2012: 63).”
“What should be clear, however, is that considered evaluations do not always carry weight in the world of international politics. Media clout varies and big-powers drown out little minnows. General Holmes’s evaluation lies buried in a document in little Sri Lanka.”
Q. What would have been achieved by Rescuing Pirapāharan Et Al In 2009?
Nothing. He had to be washed out, and move on.
Post 2009, the Problem was the serious bungling by Mahinda Rajapaksa in not getting the country together and forging a new nation.
Sri Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethhi Saga continues….
ravivararo / April 6, 2016
[Sri Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethhi Saga continues]
No use of such claim.
Change that slogan. Hybrids claim it as their land.
Big dog / April 7, 2016
Not per DNA evidence
Its better to be not part of the 5% hybrid as that is the criminal’s gene
Fathima Fukushima / April 6, 2016
Vibhushana / April 5, 2016
Under the doctrine of “Restorative Justice” a community can demand separation as it happened in Kosovo.
The Tamils had quite a problem. Despite all kinds of nuisance they were making the Sinhala people did not oblige them with the level of terror needed for the doctrine to kick-in.
So in the end they artificially created situations where Tamils will be beaten up or killed. They aimed to take full advantage running to western capitals complaining and demanding “Restorative Justice”.
The riots, the massacres and desecration of places of worship was ignited with this motive.
Its a macabre cannibalistic culture that would kill your own innocent people then try to deceive others with a fallout.
They had the same idea with the NFZ. I think what most do not know is that a no-fire-zone (NFZ) did not exist.
The govt allowed ICRC and UN to setup an area as the NFZ. However, the LTTE did not reciprocate. They wanted to hold onto their human-shield so that when civilians died a case for “Restorative Justice” can be made.
So the only party with a motive to fire at the NFZ was the LTTE. An ex-TNA parliamentarian also got stuck in there. In his affidavit 600 Tamils were shot by LTTE either when leaving the NFZ or arriving at the NFZ.
Keynes! / April 5, 2016
S. Kanagaratnam, who claimed that 600 Tamils were shot by the LTTE, was released on the condition that he would campaign in support of Mahinda. Now that Mahinda is no more in power, he will whistle another tune!
“I think what most do not know is that a no-fire-zone (NFZ) did not exist.”
Some need to see to believe it:
‘No fire zone’ declared further facilitating civilian safety – http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20090212_09
Vibhushana / April 5, 2016
That is one side deceleration only donkey. Where is the deceleration LTTE supporting it?
Keynes! / April 6, 2016
That’s like asking if Rajpal Abeynayake could have ever lost his wallet in a nightclub in Geneva.
A Sri Lanka Army soldier turned defence advisor, who has been deeply endorsed by Dayan Jayatilleka, has demonstrated that the NFZ was an area denial ploy by the Sri Lankan Army and was used to dupe the LTTE. The prime reason was not civilian protection.
A protégé of Rohan Gunaratna also has something interesting to say on this.
Celine / April 7, 2016
This old fart Vibhushana is famous for shooting repeated puss vedi, he runs away when challenged and most of the time he is caught with his pants down below his knees, nobody believes what he blabbers.
Siva Sankaran Sarma / April 5, 2016
As the old saying goes, We Thamizh will be We Thamizh :D
Keynes! / April 5, 2016
Siva Sankaran Sarma / April 6, 2016
Cool story, bro :D
jim softy / April 6, 2016
Tamils lost because Sinhala people had the buddhist mind set.
If It were christians or muslims, Tamils would have been terminated in Sri lanka.
Left over Tamils would have Jaffanisthan as their homeland.
Jaya / April 7, 2016
Emperors have to kill but no emperor killed so many of his own family than Asoka
And Buddhism made him Dharma-Asoka
Pol pot and Gengis khan were ‘Buddhist’.
Keynes! / April 6, 2016
Were you one of those chaps who coached the four doctors to recant the figures they had given during the last stage of the war?
Spring Koha / April 5, 2016
VP had the balls, but the brain was in safe keeping with Anton. VP’s face went the colour of a Palmyra fruit (they tell me) when the news of Anton’s terminal illness was broken. That was the time the LTTE goose was put into the oven.
When the time came, the aged answer was ready and waiting (as it had been for nearly thirty years). Change the rules of the game and lets play. So the ‘democratically’ elected government simply marked out a suitable playing field, say 100 square miles, and invited, lets say a generous 25 thou’ to come in, and take on some 150 thou'(with more in reserve), and soon it was GAME OVER.
Sadly, LTTE mathematics was never its strong point (surprising that!).
The ‘international’ community nodded and dithered and wondered. They were never going to be fooled into showing anything more that ‘concern’.
Romantic notions of ‘Saving Private Poobalan’ were just that. Notions.
Come May 2009, that goose was well and truly cooked.
BUT, who would have imagined then the fate of the GREAT LIBERATOR. With fresh satakaya he paraded, taking in the generous prostrations of adoring upasaka amma’s. The balls on the cut-outs alone, all the way down to the south, spoke of immortality. Without him knowing, fate was already preparing the GREAT LIBERATOR for the oven. Balls an’all. NOW that, doctor, that is an altogether more intriguing story.
Another time, ah!
Colgate / April 5, 2016
// but the brain was in safe keeping with Anton.//
Any particular reason for thinking thus?
shankar / April 6, 2016
because he got brain tumor.
Native Vedda / April 5, 2016
I am sorry I have to ask this question:
Have SF, MR, GR, ….. had the opportunity to meet VP when he was alive and in captivity?
If they had, where, when, why, how long, before or after hot iron rot treatment, …… ?
Do you think Dr Michael Roberts would be able (or want) to answer my question? Or your fragrant Dharshinie Iraththinavalli perhaps?
maalumiris / April 5, 2016
“Have SF, MR, GR, ….. had the opportunity to meet VP when he was alive and in captivity? “
Why would they want to ?
To legitimize Anna’s claims of being Thalaivar and National Leader ?
Did O’bama meet with O’sama ?
Native Vedda / April 5, 2016
“Why would they want to ?”
Possibly to obtain the map that shows the path to VP’s treasure island where he had hidden his cash, gold, detailed schedule of all his investments and foreign bank accounts.
“To legitimize Anna’s claims of being Thalaivar and National Leader ?
I agree with you, MR didn’t have to on theother hand he could get Tiren, Basil, …. and others to make deals with VP as he had done just before 2005 presidential elections.
“Did O’bama meet with O’sama ?”
Oh you follow foreigners as role models than your own.
Goodness gracious me.
maalumiris / April 5, 2016
“Oh you follow foreigners as role models than your own. “
Of course, same as you do.
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander
Native Vedda / April 5, 2016
“Of course, same as you do.”
No, I don’t. I haven’t and I will never.
Nature is the best role model. It would be too difficult for you to understand intricacies of it. I am not a guruwaraya hence I am not in a position to teach you. You will have to experience it yourself.
Only the vanavcin learn from nature, on the other hand, the city slickers need Obama to tell then how to run their life.
Eusense / April 6, 2016
Agreed, Nature took care of your hero!
Native Vedda / April 6, 2016
“Agreed, Nature took care of your hero!”
Of course it did in January 2015.
Eusense / April 6, 2016
If Tamils agitate MR may be back.
Your hero? never will be back!
JP / April 7, 2016
VP was not killed in that way
Our troops were disciplined and the leadership had more to gain from the theater if this VP who refused to surrender had both the opportunity and sudden change of heart
Other rumors, fears and wishful thinking expressed at the time was that VP was crying and pleading as his 9 year old son was killed in front of him
Eusense / April 7, 2016
Did vp cry and plead for the lives of other 9 year olds who were suicide bombers and who swallowed cyanide capsules?
Why did not he take the cyanide capsule?
JP / April 7, 2016
Until we have access to the autopsy there will be myths
maalumiris / April 6, 2016
By your logic then, O’Bama should have sent Kerry or Clinton or a host of other minions to talk with O’sama to get the details of his Grand Design, the location of his monies, latest haute-couture designs for suicide vests and so on
They did nothing of the sort
Instead, O’sama was despatched, along with all those around him, with little ceremony and fewer tears (just like your awesome Thalaivar, Velupillai Anna, Great Leader of All Tamils Everywhere Forever)
Why do you expect SL to conform to a different set of standards than the greatest democracy the world has ever known ? Sorry, no-can-do, too bad, how sad, never mind.
Or as usual will you do yet another volte-face and say you now support Sharia Law or some other thing that will shore up your argument-of-the-day ? It’s a pity you don’t actually have any kind of consistent position or point-of-view to defend
Native Vedda / April 7, 2016
This is Native Vedda and you are responding someone else.
You are going bonkers sooner than I thought.
I know it’s hard, but you got to get a grip on yourself.
I wish you well.
Eusense / April 6, 2016
Why do you always ask not so bright questions?
ranil / April 5, 2016
Great article. It shows the lengths GR,MR and the govt.at that time had to do to succeed against all odds. Blake is still fuming on his loss and GR out foxed him well. Hope the SL people never forget this part of history.
jansee / April 6, 2016
Well, the people seem to have forgotten, and for good reasons. They have already dumped the Rajapakse regime.
Eusense / April 6, 2016
Did you want people not to dump him in spite of his post war behavior?
jansee / April 6, 2016
“In spite of” or “because of”?? Are you confused or what?
Big dog / April 7, 2016
And must be thankful to India for being beside us in that endeavor
JeffK / April 5, 2016
It’s quite a miracle that the GoSL managed to crush the armed eelam struggle with this level of international support. But the political face of the eelam struggle will win since Sinhalese historically have been poor in understanding geo-political realities and political maneuvering in general.
Yankees lack a stooge in south asia. The self governing authority of tamil eelam will be the base yankees use to ward of Chinese authority in the Indian ocean. Tamils nor Sinhalese will win in the end of this geo-political war.
Keynes! / April 5, 2016
Some geo-political determinist you are.
Eelam Rise like pheonix / April 5, 2016
This article make my blood boiling. Seven years ago, heroic Eelam Black Tigers were paraded naked,humiliated sexually assaulted and genocided by the genocidal Sinhalod army. The national leader was caught, sodomized and then slaughtered in cold blood, as eye witness reports told then Tamil Net, while he was struggling in pain. This article by genocidal appologist trying to celebrate the pain of Eelam Tamils.
The writer should know we Tamils are eternally greatful to the Eelam Freedom fighters and folllow the teachings of the national leader Hon. Prabhakaran. His sodomizing murder will be avenge. Victorious Freedom Fighters of Eelam would soon build the peaceful prosperous Tamil Eelam.
Eusense / April 6, 2016
People like you are the reason why there can’t be any reconciliation, there will be no trust between the Sinhalese and Tamils and GOSL troupes be stationed permanently in the north and east.
What you describe here are all consequences of waging terror wars against innocent civilians.
jim softy / April 7, 2016
Can you believe, Sun god had orgasm before the death
Wickramasiri / April 5, 2016
A good summary by Michael Roberts. I think the comment by Maj Gen J.T.Holmes more or less sums it up. Let’s move on now.
jansee / April 5, 2016
It is easy to punch holes into the “remarkable” story enacted by this hoodlum.
” It was, in the view of the author, an entirely unique situation and the fact that 290,000 people escaped alive is in itself remarkable”
But the Rajapakse regime maintained and even insisted that only about 70,000 remained in no-fire-zone and supplies were only sent based on this figure. When queried, the regime declared that it was certain of the figures.
And then he writes this:
“After this debacle the circumstance of the LTTE and the civilian mass (now reduced to about 220,000 people because of escapes and death)”
He also writes that those western powers who were involved, including the co-chairs were, in fact, trying to support the LTTE narrative. He admits that despite the moves initiated by them to get the LTTE to release the civilians being held as human-shields, the LTTE had poured cold water on it. It was then that the focus has shifted to saving the civilians. While declaring zero civilian casualties, holding the human charter and no-fire zones, the regime duped everyone by just doing the opposite. There was no doubt that the LTTE was holding the civilians as human shields but Blake and the others had pointed out that high & disproportionate casualties as a result of the regime’s action may lead to war crimes accusations. There are rules for adversaries in a war to observe. Just because the LTTE did not observe those rules should not absolve a govt to behave in a similar manner. If what he claims is true, then who helped with the information on the weapons’ flotillas sunk in mid-sea. It was Blake who had suggested that Trincomalee should not be with the LTTE. Roberts is simply trying to twist the story. The concern expressed was for preventing high civilian casualties.
To donkeys like Roberts, the regime did all the right things and insinuates that it had been wrongly pointed to the dock. As sleazy as Mahinda/Basil/Gotabaya had been Roberts thinks the whole world is stupid to swallow what he writes. Is he expecting us to believe that without the help of those western govts and India the regime could have had its way to defeat the LTTE? It was only after that kind of support withered that the LTTE saw the beginning of its end.
Ken Dharmapala / April 6, 2016
This is an excellent article, with extensive and verifiable notes to support what the writer says. Dr Roberts is an academic and therefore this level of rigour is to be expected.
The sad part of this sorry tale is how the Tamil masses were duped in the ambitions of Tamil elite. On the one hand we have the Tamil Diaspora, largely a bourgeoisie professional class who used the pretext of July 1983 pogrom to gain residency in greener pastures. On the other, we have the languishing Tamil working classes and impoverished farmers and fisher-folk who were shanghaied and brainwashed into becoming the foot-soldiers of the LTTE – and paid the price with their lives.
The Tamil elite, in the safety of their adopted countries, used the Tamil lower castes/classes living in the North and the East to “fight” for a separate state, so as to boost the egoistic racism of the Tamil elite.
This is not to say that Tamils, in general, had (and still have) grievances. The foremost among them is the subtle, and undefined, lack of acceptance of Tamils (as much as Muslims) as equal citizens by the “Sinhala-Buddhists” – an appropriate name for the ethno-religious nationalism of the Sinhala-Buddhist communalists. This is by far the most important grievance and much more than any material disadvantage the Tamils suffer in Sri Lanka.
The war was fought on two fronts – on the ground using hapless Tamils and, on the outside, in the international propaganda domain. The ground war was lost but the propaganda war is still raging, spearheaded by the Tamil Diaspora.
Winning the international propaganda war is where the Rajapakse Brothers failed. And, which is being mishandled by the inept UNP-Ranil government.
As long as the International Propaganda War continues to be waged in Washington, London, Sydney and Toronto and ably assisted by the likes of the communalist Chief Minister Wigneswaran, there will be no resolution to the “Tamil Problem” in Sri Lanka and no sustainable peace.
It is time for all the good, peace-loving Tamils living in Sri Lanka and their counterparts among the Sinhalese and Muslims to work out a solution to communal issues and focus of economic and social development. The Tamil Diaspora should not have a say in such deliberations.
jansee / April 7, 2016
Thanks for trying o straighten the dog’s tail. More of wishful thinking, don’t you think so? If as much as people have half-a-brain, then crooks won’t be rulers. This is an endless game. You see, before UN, there was this League of Nations. You know for what – to prevent further wars and creating an understanding among nations. This happened after the devastating effects of WW1. This did not stop WW2 and then came the UN.
It has become a trite for men to choose hoodlums, blame him for the next 4 or 5 years and then again choose him and then go on grumbling about him for next 5 years. In short, the masses are donkeys who are not capable of even understanding what is democracy and this ignorance are tapped by rogues to rule over them. For you to invest your hope that suddenly tomorrow people will wake up to their senses is foolhardy. Even in “educated” USA, Trump’s rhetoric has ignited people in a way that makes many wonder whether any sense will prevail. We do hope laws are there to govern society and its conduct but with scant or nil regard to laws these days, it is now merely a tool to put the pants of someone on fire. Gods are mere eunuchs in the scheme of goons.
Whether the Tamil diaspora has a say in SL politics or should stop poking their nose will largely depend on how SL will manage itself. The past has been horrendous. As it is, it does not inspire that there will be any resolution any time sooner. We will have to look at alternatives in an objective manner. It is close to 70 years now. If at all, it is now worse than before and even the present leaders are sending confusing messages that insult our intelligence. It has come to an extent that foreign intervention keeps on knocking on the door. What more, did the conclusion of the war resolve the outstanding issues? It will be wishful thinking that the Sinhalese and Tamils will ever either compromise or concede anything. This nonsense has gone on for far too long and it has to be through foreign intervention to allow the parties to go their separate ways.
Ken Dharmapala / April 7, 2016
I too believe that Eelam will come into existence in not too distant a future. A combination of factors will lead to this.
One is the obduracy of the Sinhala-Buddhist extremists – a middle and lower middle class grouping that came to existence and prominence out of Bandaranaike’s 1956 so-called social revolution and currently spearheaded by the Rajapakse family.
Two is the persistence of the Tamil Diaspora to lobby western governments with exaggerated and sometimes plainly untruthful claims of government’s wrong doing.
Three is the cunning machinations of Tamil politicians like Wigneswaran.
Four is the geopolitical interests of great powers in creating an Eelam for their own strategic interests – like US interest in breaking up Serbia and making Kosovo independent and reinforcing Camp Bondsteel in the process.
Yes, Eelam may become a reality in a couple of decades. But that reality will be a curse for both the Tamils and the Sinhalese – with constant bickering, skirmishes, ill-will, and greatly enhancing enmity between people.
Yes, sure enough, there will be a kind of euphoria among the Tamil Diaspora and some Tamil politicians in the short term. But it will undoubtedly be a curse for the future generations.
Enmities between people can run for centuries. We have seen what happened in Bosnia and around the world where wholesale massacres occur because people cannot settle their differences amicably.
The only solution for Sri Lanka is to dilute language based nationalism and embrace the more inclusive identity of Sri Lankan nationality. If we cannot do this now, future generations will suffer untold miseries.
We are smearing our hands now with the blood of the future generations.
jansee / April 7, 2016
Yes, what you have written is partly true.
When independence was achieved in 1948, there was all-round consensus to join hands in a unified approach towards seeking independence. It may then be assumed that the Tamils’ foremost thought was not Eelam. How this changed over the years much depended on the failure of the Sinhalese in maintaining the status quo.
In actuality, Sinhala politics destroyed the country. Those who fished for votes among the Sinhala masses started on this destructive path and majoritarianism was pitted against the minorities, in what would seem to be an almost sure path towards garnering victory. In short, Tamils became the punching bags for heinous Sinhala politicians and eroding the rights of Tamils gained widespread acceptanace among the Sinhala masses. There is no need to go through this lengthy history as that is public knowledge.
That the Tamils had sought peaceful resolution on the issues confronting them was drowned through deceitful majoritarian legislation and thuggery. Sinhala leaders knew that by championing on majoritarianism they had almost an assured path to victory. Why would they discard such a silver platter? But in that process they destroyed the amity in the country and now those screaming sovereignty should be whipped. Their selfish and self-centred politics had brought the country to where it is today.
You are not that right that the Tamil diaspora or Tamil politicians alone will be successful in achieving Eelam. Be it the USA or world opinion, there was practically nil interest in Eelam. If it happens, the Sinhala politicians should kick themselves from top to bottom for making this possible. I have explained elsewhere the Tamils need not have to initiate another war to gain Eelam. All they have to do is to patiently wait for the Sinhalese politicians to kick each other and slice each others throats. The more they recycle those horrid politics, the ultimate winners will be Tamils. For better or worse, you have to see the true nature of Sinhala politics when Tamils are given their Eelam.
An interesting development from such politics was the riding on religion – Buddhism. The Mahawamsa tragedy was the purposeful creation of the politicians to ride their way on to the top. Srimavo shamelessly and openly shopped for it and it is a pity that she died a shamed politician in true fashion of open sinhala warfare. It will be a shame if the Sinhalese continue to doze off while politicians burn Sri Lanka. What JJ believed and practised was given life to by Mahinda.
Blaming Wigneswaran would not hold water. MR told the world of the NPC elections. What happened next was a shameful sham with the Rajapakse regime appointed governor literally running the writ and what certainly looked like a puppet CM. Then his promises on the 13A plus was stripped of so much that calling it 13A minus did not do justice to 13A at all. Then commissions, committees, and then the wrangling among sinhala politicians. Do the Tamils need all these nonsensical behaviour and attitude towards them? Given an empty plate is bad enough but when you make it worse by putting sand on the plate and then start blaming Tamils is unwise.
Let us be honest here – heckling over such matters as land and police powers as concocting motives for separation is plainly stupid, at least after the war. In essence the national writ will ensure the loop but if sinhala politicians are hell-bent on destroying the country, then we are just seeing that.
Ken Dharmapala / April 8, 2016
True, the Sinhalese politicians used communal issues to compete for power. But Tamil politicians and activists are not blameless in this regard either. They too practiced communal politics.
Who started this first is a chicken and an egg issue – but if one wants to pin it on a single person, Bandaranaike in 1956 looms large.
My point is that as long as Sri Lankans consider themselves as Sinhalese or Tamil first, this issue will never go away.
We all need to check ourselves as to consider through which prism we are looking at this issue. The comments on this forum are revealing.
If we do this introspection honestly we will see where the tragedy lies.
Agnos / April 6, 2016
As someone who has been commissioned to whitewash grave crimes of the Rajapaksa regime, Roberts wrote in a recent article that the murders of journalists and other extrajudicial killings were “integral” to most warring conditions.
In other words, if someone were to abduct and murder Roberts on the grounds that his writings supported war criminals, people would need to dismiss that as ‘integral’ to most conflicts.
That is the kind of man this Roberts has become.
And while quoting retired British Army General Holmes, he conveniently ignores the fact that the GoSL under the Rajapaksas, faced with the UNHRC resolution on war crimes, went in search of foreign military people who could be paid to write in support of the Rajapaksa regime. What else would a man paid to defend a client do?
Moreover, if there is any truth in the claim that the GoSL was willing to give amnesty to everyone except VP and Pottu Amman, as asserted by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa publicly, then the question of why a great deal of extra effort wasn’t taken to target only the leadership, saving the civilians and low level conscripts, was not addressed by Holmes.
The fact that with the death of the LTTE leadership, there has been no violence from the Tamil side for nearly 7 years, makes that question all the more important.
But it never occurs to Roberts to raise such questions. What else would one expect from a guy who has been commissioned to write the victor’s story as “history”?
jim softy / April 6, 2016
AS Tamils were mostly pro -LTTE, helping Tamils after the war will never help Sri lanka. For 100 years, Tamils have proved it.
the best thing is ask them to go back to Tamilnadu.
ravivararo / April 6, 2016
[he best thing is ask them to go back to Tamilnadu.]
Veddhas and Tamils are demanding you hybrids to go back to Bengal Sundarban Forest, the hoemland.
iemerald / April 6, 2016
who gives a shite. the terrorist scumbag is dead. the only good terrorist is a DEAD one.
Plato. / April 6, 2016
Dr.Roberts has been hired by the Rajapakses to camouflage their role in the Eelam War.
With this long list of BIBLIOGRAPHY and the 57 Footnotes to boot [Anyway all this will be like Double-Dutch to the Rajapakses to read!] Dr.Roberts is at great pains to show that the Rajapakses are Bodhisatvas!
I am convinced that Money Talks and everyone has a Price!
Native Vedda / April 6, 2016
Dr.Roberts types to please whomsoever he wants to. Probably he wants to impress himself.
He forgot to mention how the Hindians in New Delhi treated the visiting Admiral twice when he proposed US plan to rescue the people from the war zone.
The then Hindian National Security Advisor told Washington establishment to p**s off (to put it mildly) when this rescue operation was discussed.
Hindians made sure it was a non-starter.
Amarasiri / April 6, 2016
“Hindians made sure it was a non-starter.”
Payback time for Rajiv Gandhi killers!
kanan / April 6, 2016
the things above totally not true, some media intelligent like DBS Jeyaraj work for money for countries. They write dreaming and creating ideas having some facts. LTTE fought until death, no top leaders arrested and they escaped or killed, but politivcal motive will continue as we tamils always support for the cause when geopolitical change we will winn
Native Vedda / April 6, 2016
“LTTE fought until death, no top leaders arrested and they escaped or killed”
Make up your mind.
Did the LTTE fight?
Were the top leaders arrested?
Did they escape?
Were they killed?
What did the Thesiath Thalaivaru do? Didn’t he surrender and later wasn’t he hacked to death?
” but politivcal motive will continue as we tamils always support for the cause when geopolitical change we will winn”
What was your political motive or cause?
Was it herding the people into a trap set by the Hindian military strategists who were on the ground and in the air directing every move by the armed forces eventually massacred by the brutal Sri Lankan armed forces? Were the innocent people VP’s sacrificial offering?
If it was a right cause and right strategy, how come you are still alive?
Plato. / April 6, 2016
The Indians had the last laugh!
Native Vedda / April 6, 2016
“Yup. The Indians had the last laugh!”
The Hindians played the endgame as well.
PROUDMAN / April 8, 2016
Hello Native Vedda
Who are Hindians?
Do you mean Indians or someone from outer space.As far as I know there is no country called Hindia on our planet.
Amarasiri / April 8, 2016
Hindia Obsolete spelling of Índia
Rajjeeva / April 8, 2016
LTTE should be very unpopular among Tamils going by this article. I wonder why the Tamils gave a landslide victory to their creation TNA in past elections