21 August, 2019

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LTTE Cadres Surrender – Army Brigadier Atapattu Is Lying Through His Teeth

By Veluppillai Thangavelu

Veluppillai Thangavelu

The Sri Lankan army twice within a week has denied it received any surrendering LTTE cadres during the closing stages of the civil war that ended on May 18, 2019.

On 05 July, 2019 Responding to a Right To Information (RTI) Act request, the Information Officer of the Sri Lanka Military, Brigadier Sumith Atapattu claimed “LTTE members have not surrendered themselves to the Sri Lanka military during the last stages of the war and they have handed themselves over to the Sri Lankan government”. Ironically, Information Officer of the Sri Lanka Military, Brigadier Sumith Atapattu during the war was part of the Mechanised Infantry regiment himself.

“As the institution with authority to deal with matters regarding surrendered LTTE members is the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, you are kindly requested to obtain the required information from them,” said  Brigadier Sumith Atapattu.

The RTI request had been filed by Tamil Mirror Journalist, P Nirosh Kumar.

The stance of the military is in sharp contradiction to its earlier pronouncements that it did receive surrendering Tamil Tiger fighters and some of their family members.

Ramesh

JDS Lanka reported that there were several instances in which the military confirmed LTTE cadres had surrendered to the army. In 2012 when a Sri Lankan army Court of Inquiry (COI) acknowledged that the military captured LTTE cadres, in 2013 when Gotabaya Rajapaksa told journalists that 11,800 cadres had surrendered to the military, in 2016 when a senior military commander in the 58 Division said the army had kept a list of all those who surrendered. In 2018 two former Ministers from the Rajapaksa administration acknowledged that those who surrendered to the military had been killed while in protected military.

Ramesh

A senior Sri Lankan minister wittingly or otherwise has confirmed that some of the top Tamil Tiger leaders, including V. Balakumar and Yogaratnam Yogi, who had surrendered to the government troops during the final days of the war in May 2009, have been killed while in protected military custody.

Therefore, the present denial is a blatant lie and a futile attempt to hide a whole pumpkin in a plate of rice. The denial has dealt a devastating blow to the thousands of mothers and fathers searching for their loved ones who disappeared after surrendering to the army on May 17/18, 2009. 

The Sri Lankan armed forces which brag that it crushed the LTTE terrorists never to raise again has now got cold feet that it never, ever accepted LTTE surrenders.

What is worse the Information Officer Brigadier Atapattu says the LTTE cadres had not surrendered themselves to the Sri Lankan military during the last stages of the war and they have handed themselves over to the Sri Lankan government.  This is a blatant contradiction in that he is not denying the LTTE cadres surrendered to the army, only that they were handed over “to the Sri Lankan government after the surrender.”

Isaipriya

The Information Officer Brigadier Atapattu goes on to say “As the institution with authority to deal with matters regarding surrendered LTTE members is the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, you are kindly requested to obtain the required information from them.”

This new twist by the army has dealt a devastating blow to thousands of Tamils searching for their loved ones who disappeared after surrendering to the security forces.  Their protests campaigns are in search of the missing persons have gone well over two years now. They claim they have seen with their own eyes the army taking away their relatives who surrendered to the 58th division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva at Vadduvaakal on May 18, 2009.

Isaipriya’

The army through their public address system asked the people and the LTTE cadres to surrender at different locations at Vadduvaakal.

Apparently, this is the first time since the conclusion of the war ten years ago; the Sri Lanka army has claimed that no LTTE cadres surrendered to the Sri Lanka military, despite the country’s most senior wartime defence official and other officials saying otherwise.

In an interview General Fonseka, who was the commander of the armed forces during the final days of the war, gave to Sunday Leader newspaper, he alleged that extrajudicial killings had occurred on the orders of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He stated: “Basil Rajapaksa, (a senior government figure) had conveyed information to the defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who in turn spoke with Brigadier Shavendra Silva, commander of the Army’s 58th division, giving orders not to accommodate any [Tiger] leaders attempting surrender and that they must all be killed.”

Sri Lanka’s Office of Missing Persons (OMP) appointed by the President has acknowledged that a vast number of those who surrendered to the military had disappeared.

“Families and civil society representatives in the districts made a number of recommendations that the OMP will take forward, including the use of mobile offices for more remote areas, prioritisation of the cases of persons who have reported to have surrendered to the military in May 2009 and then disappeared, and the need for immediate relief,” OMP announced in its interim report in August 2018.

OMP chair Saliya Peiris has said that he requested the list of surrenders from the authorities, but he never received any list.  In 2016, a senior military commander revealed in courts that the 58th Division, which is accused of committing war crimes, is in possession of a list of those who surrendered to the security forces. The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 58th Division of the Sri Lanka Army, Major General Kavinda Chanakya Gunawardena told Mullaitivu Magistrate Court that his division holds a list of all the LTTE cadres who surrendered to the military.

However, the commander failed to provide the document in court.

An Army Court of Inquiry (COI) established by post-war military Commander Jagath Jayasuriya in 2012 also acknowledged that the military did indeed capture LTTE cadres.

“The Sri Lanka Army had acted in a very professional manner taking very elaborate measures to avoid civilian casualties and all persons, including captured/surrendered LTTE cadres,” said the COI report.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by Sri Lanka’s wartime president registered in 2011 a total of 53 LTTE cadres who surrendered during the final days of the war and were alleged to have disappeared.

The OMP estimates that at least 21,000 have disappeared from the predominantly Tamil north and east.

A UN investigation into serious violations and abuses of human rights in Sri Lanka’s war (OISL) concluded in 2015 that there are reasonable grounds to believe that captured LTTE members were unlawfully killed.

“On the basis of the available information, there are reasonable grounds to believe that a number of military cadres, who had laid down arms and were thus hors de combat, were unlawfully killed after having surrendered unarmed to the security forces,” said the OISL report.

Based on the findings, Sri Lanka committed itself at the UN to establish a judicial inquiry involving foreign judges, but the government now says it is opposed to any foreign judges and other personnel participating in such judicial inquiry.  Almost five years later the transitional justice process is in splendid limbo thanks to President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

The UTHR-J report mentioned the names of top leaders who surrendered to the army.  Karikalan (former eastern province political wing leader and subsequently in charge of the economic division), Yogaratnam Yogi (former spokesman of the LTTE), Lawrence Thilakar (a former spokesman of the LTTE, a one time head of LTTE office in Paris and later in charge of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation), Thangkan (former Deputy political section leader), Ilamparithi (former head of the political section for Jaffna district), Elilan (former Trincomalee political wing leader), Paappa (former head of the LTTE sports division), Puvannan (former head of the administrative division of the LTTE), Gnanam (deputy international head) and Tamilini head of the Women’s political wing.

On June 12, 2009, The Asian Tribune, a mouthpiece of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, reported that “LTTE Senior V. Balakumar and seven other hardcore Tigers are in the police net, Asian Tribune learns. They are Yogaratnam Yogi, former LTTE spokesman, Baby Subramanian, LTTE stalwart of long years, Lawrence Thilakar, a former head of the LTTE’s International Secretariat, Ilamparithi, Jaffna political leader, Karikalan of the Eastern Province and three others whose names are not immediately available.”

On August 06, the Lanka Guardian published a photograph taken in the army controlled area detention centre showing V. Balakumar and his son seated on a bunk under a tree.  The background of the photograph shows army soldiers moving around the area. According to Lanka Guardian, V. Balakumar came to surrender to the Army with white flags together with other senior leaders of the LTTE.  The photograph was taken in the army-controlled area.

LTTE cadres surrendered to the army in two batches some few hours apart. The first batch was on the night of 17 May 2009 led by B.Nadesan, Head of the LTTE Political Department, along with Seevaratnam Pulithevan of the Peace Secretariat and his Deputy Col. Ramesh and Nadesan’s wife Vineetha surrendered carrying white flags. In addition, 60 other LTTE cadres and 40 civilian relatives of LTTE cadres also surrendered. 

Prior to the surrender on 14 May, 2009 Nadesan contacted the United Nations, the governments of Norway, United Kingdom, United States and also ICRC and was assured by Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa to surrender to the army with white flags.  Nadesan’s request for a third party witness to oversee the surrender was denied.

Nadesan and others surrendered to the 53rd 59th Division of the Sri Lanka army carrying White flags and were reportedly shot dead. Sarath Fonseka and the then Sri Lankan Army Chief said that they had been shot dead on the orders of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to Brigadier Shavendra Silva Commander of the 58 Division (Sri Lanka). 

Photographs and videos taken by soldiers appeared in the media showing bullet-ridden mutilated bodies of Nadesan, Pulithevan and Ramesh with burnt marks.  One video showed a frightened Ramesh being interrogated roughly by the army personnel.

On 18 May 2009 evening the second batch of LTTE cadres consisting of LTTE military and civilian administrative leaders surrendered to the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan army close to the Vadduvaakal Bridge. The vast majority of these people have subsequently disappeared and, according to eyewitnesses, were last seen in the custody of the Sri Lankan military.

Those who surrendered on 18 May 2009 were screened and mostly put in a barbed wire holding area just south of the Vadduvaakal Bridge, which was in the control of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Many surrendered with an elderly Catholic Priest, Father Francis Joseph, who recorded the names of surrenders in a list for the military. Many eyewitnesses saw the LTTE cadres and in some case, their family members, loaded in buses and taken away by the army. Among those who surrendered were Elilan, Poet Ratnathurai, Yogi, Balakumar and Thilakar.  They and the priest have not been seen since being taken into the custody of by the army.

A photograph appeared in the media showing Balakumar with his son seated on a bench inside an army camp. No other pictures appeared of those taken in buses by the army. A Catholic priest Francis Joseph who accompanied the LTTE cadres also went missing.

Another cowardly murder carried out by the army was that of Balachandran son of LTTE leader Prabhakaran who surrendered with his bodyguards. A photograph showed the 13-year-old kid seated on a bench inside an army bunker munching some short- eats oblivious of the imminent death lurking in the shadow around him. Later, a photo showed the bullet-ridden body of Balachchandran thrown to the ground. He was shot in the chest five times. 

A senior military officer we interviewed told Channel 4 news that the rebel leader’s 13-year-old son surrendered with his bodyguards. He claims the boy was interrogated about his father’s location, then shot.

In an explosive interview with The Sunday Leader General Fonseka, the then Army Commander said he had no information communicated to him in the final days of the war that three key LTTE leaders had opted to surrender to Sri Lanka’s armed forces as the battle drew to a bloody finish. He told Frederica Jansz that Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed a key ground commander in the north that all LTTE leaders must be killed and not allowed to surrender. Later, under pressure, Sarath Fonseka retracted his statement. (http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2009/12/13/%E2%80%9Cgota-ordered-them-to-be-shot%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-general-sarath-fonseka/)

Photos also showed  Isai Priya, the LTTE TV broadcaster, alive and in the custody of the Sri Lankan military. Footage obtained by Channel 4 News shows a number of dead bodies, including that of Isai Priya, which showed signs of possible sexual assault. These emerging eyewitness reports, photos, and videos are part of the mounting evidence of Sri Lankan soldiers summarily executing captured Tamils in the closing stages of the war. What crime did a 13-year boy commit other than born to the LTTE leader? (To read a detailed write-up and photographs about these killings please visit URL http://white-flags.org/)

Tamils are pointing  finger at Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who for all intents and purposes the de facto Defence Minister throughout the war from November 2005.  Incidentally, it was President Sirisena who was acting Defence Minister in the absence of Mahinda Rajapaksa who has gone abroad. Sirisena was bragging that the day he was sworn in over 1700 civilians were reported to have been killed and 3000 injured by Sri Lankan government shelling within the space of 48 hours. Thousands more were killed in the days that followed.

In 2011, Britain’s Channel 4 reported an interview with an army officer who served in Brigadier Shavendra Silva’s 58th Division that carried out the attack. The officer stated: “The defence secretary phoned Brigadier Shavendra Silva and ordered him not to take them prisoner, but to kill them. … I can confidently state that those who ordered the killings were Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Brigadier Shavendra Silva.”

The International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka (ITJP) has compiled a list of names of those who disappeared last seen in the custody of the military. Please click the following link to see the full list of missing persons at URL (http://white-flags.org/)*

The list comprises the names of 142 LTTE cadres who surrendered to the military on 18 May 2009 by eyewitnesses. The list is by no means a complete one.  The ITJP   through a press release let known to family members and relatives of the surrenders that there are eyewitnesses to the surrender of their loved ones to the military on the 18 May 2009 now living abroad. These eyewitnesses live outside of Sri Lanka as they fear for their security and reprisals against family members. The ITJP further said it is cognisant of the fact that some of the people on the list may have been released from detention after many years, without the knowledge of our witnesses. Eyewitnesses inside Sri Lanka and family members have also registered complaints or filed court cases regarding the disappearance of additional people who surrendered on 18 May 2009.

There is a mountain of evidence, including eyewitnesses as well as visual evidence of the mass slaughter of those LTTE cadres who surrendered to the army. Now ten years after the war, the army has the temerity to claim that LTTE cadres surrendered to the government and not to the army. Obviously, the army spokesperson Brigadier Atapattu is lying through his teeth and he should be charged with perjury.

Even if what Brigadier Sumith Atapattu says is “true” then both the armed forces and the Sri Lankan government are guilty of committing war crimes. Needless to say, those concerned should be put on trial for war crimes before the International Court of Justice.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    The disappeared family members are victims of those who want to tarnish black the ITAK/TNA by foul means. They have not once but on many occasions burnt the effigies of Sampanthar and Sumanthiran in public. They have announced on numerous occasions that they have lost confidence in ITAK/TNA and seek help from others. They claimed they have confidence only in President Sirisena. They met him in Colombo and when Sumanthiran went to that meeting, they demanded Sumanthiran, whom they claimed they have no confidence, should leave, if not they will not take part in the talks. That was an insult to a peoples’ representative. Sumanthiran left the meeting as demanded by the family members present. So at every turn, they have been insulting the elected representatives of the Tamil people. They cannot eat the cake and have the cake. UNHRC Resolution 30/1 (2015) demanded the setting up a hybrid court to investigate war crimes committed by both the LTTE and Government forces during the war. The government is baulking at the idea of setting up a hybrid court.
    The Government has appointed a Commission to investigate those went missing during the war. It is not a perfect piece of legislation, yet we have to make use of it. Another Commission has been appointed to pay reparation to those affected. Majority of families of missing persons have appeared before these Commissions. Only a minority is holding out. Politics is the art of the possible, choosing the next best. “It’s not about what’s right or what’s best. It’s about what you can actually get done”. It’s associated with Realpolitik, a political philosophy of setting pragmatism over your ideological goals.

  • 3
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    The Tamil diaspora that financially supported the LTTE and helped it survive for 30 long year
    are to be blamed for the civilian casualties.

    They should have known that the LTTE doesn’t care two hoots abut the lives of Tamil Civilians

    This is demonstrated by the fact that the LTTE used the remaining poor civilians as a human shield.

    The LTTE forced the civilians not to leave the war zone at gun point and some of them were killed by the LTTE.

    Some Tamil civilians were killed by the LTTE to bring discredit to the armed forces who did every thing possible to rescue the civilians.

    This is proved by the footage showing Army personnel rescuing civilians at risk to their own lives.

    Those who suffered most in this civil war were the poor who could not migrate to greener pastures.

    Such as USA,UK,Canada,Australia,Norway

    Most of them did not have the means even to migrate to Colombo or Wellawatta (little Jaffana)

    IT is the POOR and helpless who suffered whether it was Thangamma in Jaffana or Sumanasiri in
    Weli Oya, or Riayaz in Akkarei Patthu.

    The pompous, shallow minded Tamil Diaspora did not think or care one bit about the plight of the Poor Tamils left behind.

    Even now they are not one bit bothered about lifting the living standards of the Tamils in the North and the East.

    The western countries and the right thinking (fair minded)Tamils should be enlightened about what is really happening in Sri Lanka.

  • 2
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    “Prior to the surrender on 14 May, 2009 Nadesan contacted the United Nations, the governments of Norway, United Kingdom, United States and also ICRC and was assured by Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa to surrender to the army with white flags.”

    Excellent work by Rajapakse & Co, putting an end to these terrorist parasites once and for all. Do not blame the soldiers for the executions, as a soldier is trained to follow orders from superiors without any questions. These high-ranking LTTE vermin thought they will surrender and get red carpet treatment. Something like going to another country and living the good life.

  • 1
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    In Westen Countries, LTTE boys and Girls , asking Asyl-, the mean time, they show the paper ( Srilankan police/ Sri-lankischen army ) release papers, to Westen police/ Asly- officers, how this ( Release papers gone to ex – LTTE, ) , now Brigadier- S,Attapathu, Tell no LTTE cardes, surrender to Army, how foolish report- Who gave him this job, and same time, if LTTE cardes surrender to government. Next. UNO, meeting, can Srilankan government officals( Ex-Government) , ready to face,? No, next , why In UNO meeting, Srilankan ( Ex, Army, Commanders , go to Speck about the past days?) , who is fools, ( army / Government), when Srilanka Prime Minister go. Deutschland, why Army Offiziers not going? Only UNYo, meeting, Ex. Army officers go, better to go to buy, weapons, and stay in other countries, ( Russland-one Officer still living), when lord Buddha (2500, years ) before , he came from India to Srilanka, with out army, ( that time Tamils living- Naga department and north Srilanka, Budda went to Naga depa Kovil, and entertaining to Jaffna, later south,why Army go with Budda to Nawa Kuli,? People ( westen people) laughing.

  • 0
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    Now this is one big lie that the LTTE cadres and leaders came with white flags and surrendered en mass. Right upto the end the LTTE was issuing media statements saying that they are going to fight unto death or their demand for a ceasefire has to be met. And that is exactly what they did too, since they didn’t get a ceasefire. Even if our army had shot and killed LTTE fighters, even if they came with with white flags no court can convict our army for killing LTTE fighters. LTTE is known for suicide bombings and it is highly unlikely that the LTTE leadership would surrender or let the cadres surrender since that would have been breaking their own rules and ideology of fighting unto death. And how is our army going to know that it is a genuine surrenderer and not a suicide-bomber pretending to surrender that is coming with a white flag?
     
    A surrender of the type described in the article would be to accept defeat and stop the fighting, i.e lay down the arms and surrender. Can the Tamil say when the LTTE issued a statement saying that they have laid down arms and are ready to surrender? All media reports show that LTTE leadership had categorically denied any help for an internationally mediated surrender – so your claim that surrender was either denied by the international parties concerned or by our government is also false. LTTE was demanding and dictating to the international parties too – LTTE just wanted the international parties to negotiate a ceasefire not a surrender. The involved parties especially Norway’s Solheim had stated clearly that Prabhakaran was not open for any negotiations for surrender.

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    Tamils’ love for words like “war crimes” and “genocide” and Tamils’ sick fantasies of getting our army convicted for war-crimes in an international court instead of seeking justice for any genuine victims locally, is what will ensure that nobody will ever get convicted for any crimes committed in the war-zone. The Tamil writes about a list with 142 names of surrenders, but he is not happy with just 142 and is fishing and speculating. After 10 years a list with 142 names! Wow! What an achievement considering the claim is that “thousands of surrendering LTTE cadres” were massacred by our army. I think anybody with a couple of brain cells can see what all the noise and circus about thousands of killed has been about, when they can only produce a list of 142. The question remains about why can’t criminal charges be brought for the murder of these 142? It is simply because justice is not what is sought in this game of numbers and bogus allegations, it is anti-Sinhalese propaganda consisting of hate speech, defamation and demonizing what matters. The huge propaganda campaign effected by the Tamils and their lackeys against the Sinhalese as people and nation amounts to crimes against humanity. Tamils are defeated and want revenge. They are not happy with the 30+ years of terror they have unleashed on the innocent Sinhalese people, they are on the hunt for more innocent Sinhalese blood…..

  • 0
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    Mr. Thangavelu has outlined the evidence already compiled by unhrc. Its Resolution need to be implemented. But gosl has publicly expressed that it will not prosecute anyone.
    It is important for unhrc to recommend Universal Jurisdiction to bring the perpetrators to be prosecuted. Without bringing those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity there can never be reconciliation.

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