15 April, 2024


Total Destruction Of The Tamil Tigers: The Rare Victory Of Sri Lanka’s Long War

By Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

Paul Moorcraft, ‘Total Destruction of the Tamil Tigers: The Rare Victory of Sri Lanka’s Long War, UK, 2012.

The author, a visiting professor of Journalism at Cardiff, has written several books on recent wars. This work (hereafter, TDTT) is short but contains a wealth of information and detail. Moorcraft has read on Sri Lanka, visited sites, and conducted interviews including with army commanders, the Permanent Secretary (Defence), the President, Kumaran Pathmanathan (“K.P.”), Colonel Karuna and others.

“To see beauty in victory is to rejoice in the killing of others” (The ‘Art of War’ by Sun-tzu, BCE 380-316). Altering words from Gray’s ‘Elegy’ (1751), one should not “wade through slaughter” to power and domination, shutting the gates of compassion on humanity. But TDTT is “not a moral tract” (page xviii) and, therefore, it cannot be reproached for not dealing with issues such as ethics and human-rights. For example, when he says the government acted “correctly” (page 165) he means it in military and political (not in ethical or humane) terms. Objectively and dispassionately, Moorcraft records that the government and its army functioned like a steamroller (page 168) flattening everything before it. TDTT, therefore, is a Machiavellian work. “Machiavellian” is used here not pejoratively but neutrally. ‘The Prince’ (circa 1515) focuses on how power can be secured and retained: When and how should one be cruel? In politics, it is better to be feared than loved, and so on. (Cf. Kautilya’s ‘The Arthashastra’ written over 1500 years ago.)

With objective circumspection, Moorcraft reports, rarely adding his personal opinion. For example:

Many Sri Lankans think the charges against General Fonseka “were trumped up”.

Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan said that the persecution and disappearance of Sri Lankan “human rights activists, journalists and political opponents” was horrific.

International critics claimed that “the rights of the defeated Tamils in the north and east were being ignored”, etc.

A very ugly war was waged in a geographically beautiful island. “The air force […] dropped leaflets telling civilians to seek shelter in places of worship. Jets bombed St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church at Navali” (page 35). The author does not express an opinion as to whether this was deliberate or accidental. As with all modern conflicts (see Daniel Goldhagen’s ‘Worse Than War’, 2009) by far the greater number of those killed or wounded consists of civilians. Concentrating on the “end”, and indifferent to the impact on civilians of the “means” chosen, a “Go to hell” attitude (page 78) was adopted to internal and international humanitarian concerns. The foreign press was excluded, and “the government controlled much of the [local] press” (page 85).

In tracing events that led to conflict, Moorcraft (page 7) notes that to Tamils the early example and inspiration was Gandhi and his non-violent campaign (satyagrapha = the force of truth), and so Tamils tried “periods of mourning and fasts” (page 15). There followed “Tamil suffering [in] 1958, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1979 and 1981, culminating in the horrific pogrom of 1983” (page 90). All this leads to the book’s title. The conclusion of the war was a “rare victory” because in the modern period internal armed conflicts have been settled not on the battlefield but through negotiation.  That the Tigers could never be defeated militarily had become a “mantra”, believed in by many – disastrously, by Prabhakaran himself. The sudden and total collapse of the Tigers was a surprise: “victory was far from certain […] even late into 2008” (page 126), even though by the end of the war, government forces, including Civil Defence personnel were around 471,000 (page 77) while Tiger cadres were down to their hundreds. (With reference to Sri Lanka’s heavy militarisation, army officers, when asked by the author to “guesstimate” the size of the UK armed forces, “all opined that it was much larger than theirs. They were stunned to discover that it was just over 100,000 and being reduced to 80,000: page 49.)

Moorcraft impartially takes cognizance of both Tiger positives and negatives. In reading his observations one must bear in mind that he is also a senior instructor at the prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

On the positive side, he states that the Tigers were disciplined and effective. Prabhakarn “built up probably the most effective and disciplined insurgent force to appear in the world since 1945” (page 91). Towards the end of their campaign against the Tigers, the Indians had 160,000 soldiers (page 24), and their failure was “a major humiliation for a power which had one of the world’s largest armies” (page 22). The “attack-defence ratio is reckoned to be 3:1” but during what is known as the Second Eelam War (1990-95), a maximum of 5,000 insurgents almost defeated a defending force of 10,000 (page 31). Small units of female Tigers are said to have driven away army units “ten times their size” (page 37). Tiger boats were “a triumph of ingenuity, often built in jungle workshops using off-the-shelf materials” (page 97).  The same can be said of the planes they assembled. Prabhakaran refused the offer to send his wife and two younger children to a safe western country (page 145), insisting they share the common lot. They were wiped out. Some will compare the last stand of the Tigers with that of the Spartan-led Battle of Thermopylae (BCE 480), “except that the Greeks triumphed” after their defeat (page 142). Within Tiger-controlled territory, the pernicious caste system did not exist; women feared no sexual molestation, were emancipated and free. Three paragraphs further down, I take up Moorcraft on Tiger negatives and errors.

So why did they fail? In my article, “A great military victory?’ (25 October 2009), I suggested, inter alia, the great numerical asymmetry, and the fact that the Tigers did not have a single jet fighter or helicopter. My specialisation was not history, much less military history: Moorcraft explores with expertise. (I thank him for his communication of 17 May 2013.) The ‘case’ he makes can be divided into (a) government attitude and conduct (already mentioned), (b) external factors, and most importantly (c) Tiger negatives and mistakes. These are not watertight but mutually influencing factors.

There are also the elements of chance and Tiger failed attempts. The tsunami (26 December 2004) killed over 2,000 Tiger cadres (page 44). If the Tigers had succeeded in assassinating “Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa” (page 165), or if they had succeeded in sinking the ‘Jetliner’ laden with over one thousand troops, then the war effort may [emphasised] have also been sunk.

Where external relations are concerned, the government with great skill and care brought on board countries such as China, India and the US: no mean achievement when one considers that two of them see the third as a competitor, if not a potential threat. Indian support was most important; indeed, decisive: the Defence Secretary acknowledged to the author, “Unless we had won the support of the Indian government, we couldn’t have won this war” (page 78). In contrast, the Tigers killed nearly 1,200 Indian soldiers (page 22) and assassinated Rajiv Gandhi on Indian soil. “9/11” (11 September 2001) fundamentally changed attitudes to groups using violence as a means but, fatally, Prabhakaran did not grasp ‘the wider picture’ and immense significance of “9/11”. Darwin (‘On the Origin of Species’, 1859) drew attention to the survival of the fittest – “fitness” includes adaptability. The world had changed but Prabhakaran didn’t.

Moorcraft succinctly states that the Tigers were the architects of their own downfall. Paulo Frere in his ‘The Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ (dedicated to the oppressed) says that in fighting oppression, one must be careful not to become like the oppressor – Nelson Mandela comes to mind –  but Tiger ferocity was unleashed even against the people they claimed to champion and defend. Sinhalese villagers were massacred and, as a part of “ethnic cleansing”, Muslims living in Jaffna were ordered to quit (page 28): “At least 30,000 were driven out at just three hours’ notice”. (As elsewhere, I merely report from TDTT.) Prabhakaran built a Stalin-like cult of personality (page 167), one which brooked no divergence of opinion, let alone opposition. As with Napoleon and Hitler, early military success proved fatal. He had “humbled a superpower”, India (page 24), and so could take on the Sri Lankan army. He “overestimated his own resources and underestimated his new rivals, the Rajapaksas” (page 168). If Prabhakaran had read ‘Art of War’, he certainly did not profit by it. Self-confidence shaded into over-confidence. “Mahinda Rajapaksa won the November 2005 presidential election – in the closest margin in the country’s history – partly because the LTTE had ordered its people not to vote” (page 109). It was one of Prabhakaran’s “biggest strategic errors, perhaps on a par with killing Rajiv Gandhi”. (General Carl von Clausewitz, author of the famous treatise ‘On War’, in a less well-known work, ‘The Campaign of 1812 in Russia’, notes that Napoleon’s military defeat was due more to non-military miscalculations.) The assassination of President Premadasa, 1993, was “another strategic error” (page 33) because Premadasa was “probably the most accommodating leader the LTTE was likely to face”. (As with much else, I leave this assessment of President Premadasa to the reader.) Whatever the opinion Sri Lankans may have of  Lakshman Kadirgamar; whether it was indeed the Tigers or some other murky force which killed him, the Oxford-educated, suave and persuasive Foreign Minister was known and liked internationally, and his murder increased the “international marginalization of the Tigers” (page 45). It appears to me that many of these murders were prompted by the personal pique of Prabhakaran, rather than being based on careful, political, long-term calculation.  He was no chess-player weighing up different choices and their consequence – consequences both immediate and eventual. He may have been brilliant in tactics but seems to have been poor in strategy. Colonel Karuna who had led several successful attacks against the army broke away from Prabhakaran, taking “around 5,000 to 6,000” (page 42) of his fighters. Whatever his grievance, they should have been recognised, addressed and the Colonel retained within the fold. His departure and the information he was able to give the government were a severe blow to the Tigers, albeit unacknowledged by them. In summary, the “LTTE’s defeat was the result of cumulative internal and external forces” (page 165).

As I have written elsewhere, negative peace is merely the absence of war; positive peace, the presence of harmony. Should Prabakaran, as Moorcraft suggests, have settled for some form of devolution (page 167)? To answer that question, one must ask whether inclusion and equality were ever seriously and sincerely on offer. Under the majoritarian system obtaining in Sri Lanka, the main Sinhalese political parties appeal to the Sinhalese electorate; and the parties being prime enemies of each other (page 40), they misrepresent and sabotage any attempt at a just political settlement.

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Latest comments

  • 1

    What a waste of tamil talents…

  • 1

    It is natural to say that whoever oppress people they will be punished some time: See what happened to all dictators. From Hitler to Sadam Hussan.. Probaharan is not exceptional to this natural rules: Once people are oppressed innocent make supplication and cursing. Sometime if those oppressors do not get punishment in this world what happen is that divine intervention come to earth. This may be different forms;
    it may though natural calamity
    it may be though another person in power
    it may be though means some other countries
    it may be finally by divine punishment
    This is human history; If you read history of wars in human history you can see how oppressors are punished
    what is true is that justice is unconditional in this world
    There is no one justice for father and another for son
    There is no one justice for kings and another for his subjects
    There is no one justice for president and another for his people
    one for boss and another for his workers. Compare likewise with all.
    There is no one justice for Singhalese and another for Tamil
    There is no one justice for Singhalese and another for Muslims
    There is no one justice for powerful and another justice for weak
    But what happening in the world is difference: Mighty is always right
    Look at all international politics or local politics at national levels:
    This is happening justice have not been done in many places and many countries; This follows destruction by one way or another. but stupidity of human beings and human desires do not allow them to know this truth and people with power become blind to this truth. yet, I’m sure one day all these weak and oppressed people will meet the justice.
    otherwise, what type of world is this we live in? what is difference between us and animals:

  • 0

    It is a very good analysis by Sarvan. Prabaharan commensurate his intellectual and academic attainments “overestimated his own resources and underestimated his new rivals… Self-confidence shaded into over-confidence”. Very true. What was more, even the LTTE stalwarts of the Diasporas believed that the LTTE was invincible and refused to entertain any advice from the sidelines. Another factor to be taken into consideration was the visit of Lord Patten on behalf of the NATO to meet Prabhaharan to assess the wisdom of lending support to the LTTE. After his interview with the LTTE leader he is said to have reported of the futility of doing so. Bensen

  • 0

    It is surprising that the author has left out the most important architect of the war victory, General Sarath Fonseka.

    • 0

      I can not believe it. IT looks the author is looking for some SANTHOSAM from the Rajapakses. That may be the reason he did not include General Fonseka’s Name. IT was during the war that LTTE tried to get rid of General Fonseka.

  • 1

    This appears to be the latest rant by another ‘pundit’ about the war which has been commented upon by many.
    Moorcraft appears to have forgotten to mention the 25,000 bombing missions boasted about by the SLAirforce,which killed civilians and combatants in almost equal proportions – bombs do not discriminate between persons.
    Sri Lanka has the distinction of being the only nation in history which bombed its own citizens confined to a small area of its own territory.
    Moorecraft should visit the north incognito and write about the aftermath of the war – this would be more useful to the state as it would be a perception from a neutral outside observer.
    Moorecraft also appears unaware of ‘ethnic cleansing’ which commenced soon after independence,in 1951 and culminated in the countrywide pogrom in July 1963.

    • 0

      The detail of the bombing of its own citizens freely in modern times
      cannot be over-emphazised than;-

      “Having dropped leaflets asking the people to move to places of worship the Sri Lanka air force there after attacked the places of worship where Tamil civilians had sought refuge at .St.Peters Church and St.Peters School in Navaly at a great distance away from the line of battle and where hundreds had sought shelter was deliberately bombed on 9 July 1995. On the day after the attack, 56 bodies were retrieved from the debris, many of whom were women and children. The death toll in this incident later increased to 120. 13 babies died in their mother’s arms. Rescue workers reported torn limbs and pieces of human flesh strewn over the area.
      “Thirteen babies were among the 65 dead found under the rubble of a Catholic church bombed by the Sri Lankan air force, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official said on Tuesday. ICRC field coordinator Dominique Henry said at least one bomb hit St Peter’s Church at Navali, north of Jaffna town, on Sunday, the day the armed forces launched their “Operation Leap Forward” against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The military, which said it was not aware of any church being bombed, had dropped leaflets warning civilians in the rebel-held peninsula to seek refuge in temples and churches to minimise the chance of death or injury in air strikes… `This is really a violation of humanitarian law if a civilian area has been deliberately targeted,” Henry said, adding that he had no information on whether the attack was deliberate or an accident. (Reuter 11 July 1995)
      (http://tamilnation.co/indictment/genocide95/gen95012.htm viewed on 28th April 2013)
      [28] On 22 September Nagerkoil Central School in the Jaffna peninsula was bombed. The intensified aerial bombing and shelling by Sri Lankan government forces came about within hours of the government’s imposition of Press Censorship midnight September 21. The bombing of the school happened at 12.50 p.m. during the school’s lunch break when several of the school children were gathered under a shade tree in the school compound. 25 school going children were among 40 Tamil civilians killed on the spot. Twelve were six and seven year olds. Nearly 200 others were injured, most of them students in the same school. Elsewhere in the area, 15 other civilians were also killed in the course of the same bombing raids. The scene of the attack was visited by the International Red Cross. Pieces of human flesh were strewn around the area including the tree branches, making identification impossible. The total death toll later increased to 71.Earlier, on the same day, Pucara bombers targeted Manalkadu and Katkovalam in the Vadamardchi area killing six persons. A small Catholic church was also damaged in the bombing. In another incident in the early hours of the same day, intense shelling from the Palaly army camp killed seven members of the same family including four children of varying ages, The shelling began at 3.00 a.m. and continued until 7.00 a.m. Medicines Sans Frontiers reported on 23 September that of 117 injured Tamil civilians admitted to hospital during the offensive on Thursday and Friday more than half had died from their wounds.
      Under strict new censorship rules imposed by the Sri Lankan government on Thursday, no information about the offensive was allowed to be published in that country. The Doctors Without Borders (Medicine Sans Frontier) relief group released a statement in Paris saying about 200 people were wounded when bombs fell on a school near Point Pedro on the northern coast Friday.Of some 150 children who were wounded, 15 died within three hours of being brought to hospital, the relief agency said. It said 42 children have died at the hospital since Thursday, but did not say how the other children received fatal injuries. The main rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, said 25 children were killed when the Nagerkoil Central School was bombed at lunch time Friday. More people were killed when planes bombed towns in the area, the rebel statement said. New censorship rules prohibit the publication or broadcast of information related to Sri Lanka’s 12-year civil war without approval from a military censor.” (Sri Lanka Bombs Civilians, 23 Sep 95 13:46 The Associated Press)
      [29] 61 children – all girls – students in GCE (O/L) and GCE (A/L) classes in different schools in Mullaitheevu have been killed as a result of heavy aerial bombardment by Kfir jet bombers of the Sri Lankan Air Force, around 7am this morning on the premises of the “Senchcholai” at Vallipunam, on the Paranthan – Mullaitheevu Road, at Mullaitheevu. Over 150 other children, all girls, also students in GCE O/L and GCE (A/L) classes in different schools in Mullaitheevu have been seriously injured in the course of the same aerial bombardment at the same place. It is feared that the number of deaths would increase.“Senchcholai” is an institution housing a girl’s home caring for children rendered orphans by war. The children were attending a seminar on First-Aid.
      These were all unarmed and innocent children engaged in an educational program related to humanitarian aid.
      tamilnet.com/art.html?artid=19229&catid=1 3(Viewed on 28th April 2013)
      [30] US Secretary of State Clinton made statement at the UN Security Council saying that rape had been used as a war weapon in Sri Lanka, srilankawatch.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=148&Itemid=2″

    • 0

      “Moorecraft should visit the north incognito and write about blah blah

      Once more Justice comes up with suggestions about what others should write about. I wonder why he/she cannot ever write anything him/herself or comment on anything actually written.

      Justice, have you even read the book being reviewed here before holding forth on what has been “forgotten”? Unlike Chandrasena, Moorecraft hasn’t explored the origins of the war, or even the entire war, but focused on the final campaign. Actually reading the work before commenting might be helpful in saving yourself from looking foolish again, Justice.

      • 0

        *That should be Chandraprema, not Chandrasena

  • 0

    VP was wise enough to reject devolution.

    Devolution can never bring anything positive to such a small island nation.

  • 0

    ““The air force […] dropped leaflets telling civilians to seek shelter in places of worship. Jets bombed St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church at Navali” (page 35). The author does not express an opinion as to whether this was deliberate or accidental.”

    India’s IPKF came toprotect Tamils. Yet, IPKF shot and killed doctors and nurses inside the Jaffa Hospital.

    the reason was LTTE used every DIRTIEST TRIC in the book and sacrificed civilians, patients, children, preganent women and anything….you name it.

    • 0


      “India’s IPKF came toprotect Tamils”

      Jimmy where did you get the idea that IPKF came to protect. Didn’t they come to disarm LTTE and other Tamil terrorists?

      You must have been a thumb sucking little baby and still you are.

      • 0

        If their objective was to disarm the terrorists, why didn’t they allow the GoSL to do so after it had captured Jaffna? The IPKF came to keep the peace; disarming the separatists was just part of that. You seem to have a very poor picture of our recent history, Native.

        • 0

          David Blacker

          Sunday Sil Monday kill

          Now that you are back it must be Monday.

          “why didn’t they allow the GoSL to do so after it had captured Jaffna?”

          The IPKF was attempting to do exactly that until your armed forces rearmed and financed VP’s glorious LTTE.

          As you “correctly stated” in your earlier comments that Sri Lanka had already signed a treaty with India hence Sri Lankan armed forces were not allowed to even lift their two fingers.

          In addition IPKF herded them into army camps where they were confined and humiliated by Hindians. Then Army commander who attempted to enter Vavunia was turned back at check point.

          • 0

            Please don’t lie, native. Stupidity is one thing, but maliciousness is another. The IPKF arrived while JR Jayawardene was the president, in 1987. Premadasa, who gave arms to the Tigers (he didn’t arm them single-handedly — they already had enough of weapons) came into office only in 1989. So what did the IPKF for two years? Why couldn’t they disarm the Tigers for two years?

            Now, why don’t you answer my question instead of derailing the conversation to cover yourself? If the objective of the IPKF was disarmament of the separatists, they didn’t need to come to SL because the GoSL would have done that. So why did they come to SL if that was their objective, as you claim?

            The fact is that India’s policy was to stop the fighting, not disarm the separatists. Disarmament was necessary only as a means to peace, just as restricting the SL Army to barracks (since they couldn’t be disarmed). Whoever feels the SL Army was humiliated is an idiot incapable of understanding national expediency, and should excuse him/herself from debates that require a grasp of policy. An army is merely an instrument of government, and has no right to feelings.

            Perhaps you were not born until the ’90s and are therefore ignorant of everything that happened before the day you were born, but it’s been 25 years and plenty of time for you to educate yourself. Lying is a sign of supreme weakness, Native. Be an honest man at least in debate if you can’t be so in real life.

            • 0

              David Blacker

              Here is the full text of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.
              Please refer to article 2.9 which gives it away.

              No powers in this world gives a damn about peace and people. They act and react in their own interest or a perceived one.

              Not many analyst/historians bought the idea that Indian intervention was to maintain peace and protect Tamils. If it was the case India would not have bankrolled LTTE and other Tamil armed groups.

              Revisiting the original accord and ANNEXURE TO THE AGREEMENT would be a healthy intellectual exercise.


              To establish peace and normalcy in Sri Lanka the president of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, his excellency Mr. J.R. Jayawardene, and the Prime Minister of The Republic of India, His Excellency Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, having met at Colombo on July 29, 1987,

              Attaching utmost importance to nurturing, intensifying and strengthening the traditional friendship of Sri Lanka and India, and acknowledging the imperative need of resolving the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka, and the consequent violence, and for the safety, wellbeing and prosperity of people belonging to all communities of Sri Lanka,

              Have this day entered into the following agreement to fulfil this Objective.

              In this context,

              1.1 desiring to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka,

              1.2 acknowledging that Sri Lanka is a “multi-ethnic and multi-lingual plural society” consisting, inter-alia, of Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims (Moors) and Burgers,

              1.3 recognising that each ethnic group has a distinct cultural and linguistic identity, which has to be carefully nurtured,

              1.4 Also recognising that the northern and the eastern provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples, who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups,

              1.5 conscious of the necessity of strengthening the forces contributing to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, and preserving its character as a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi- religious plural society in which all citizens can live in equality, safety and harmony, and prosper and fulfil their aspirations,

              2.RESOLVE THAT:

              2.1 Since the Government of Sri Lanka proposes to permit adjoining provinces to join to form one administrative unit and also by a referendum to separate as may be permitted to the northern and eastern provinces as outlined below:

              2.2 During the period, which shall be considered an interim period (i.e. from the date of the elections to the provincial council, as specified in para 2.8 to the date of the referendum as specified in para 2.3), the northern and eastern provinces as now constituted, will form one administrative unit, having one elected provincial council. Such a unit will have one governor, one chief minister and one board of ministers.

              2.3 There will be a referendum on or before 31st December 1988 to enable the people of the eastern province to decide whether:

              a) The eastern province should remain linked with the northern province as one administrative unit, and continue to be governed together with the northern province as specified in para 2.2 or:

              b) The eastern province should constitute a separate administrative unit having its own distinct provincial council with a separate governor, chief minister and board of ministers. The president may, at his discretion, decide to postpone such a referendum.

              2.4 All persons, who have been displaced due to ethnic violence or other reasons, will have the right to vote in such a referendum. Necessary conditions to enable them to return to areas from where they were displaced will be created.

              2.5 The referendum, when held, will be monitored by a committee headed by the chief Justice, a member appointed by the President, nominated by the government of Sri Lanka, and a member appointed by the president, nominated by the representatives of the Tamil speaking people of the eastern province.

              2.6 A simple majority will be sufficient to determine the result of the referendum.

              2.7 Meetings and other forms of propaganda, permissible within the laws of the country, will be allowed before the referendum.

              2.8 Elections to provincial councils will be held within the next three months, in any event before 31st December 1987. Indian observers will be invited for elections to the provincial council of the north and east.

              2.9 The emergency will be lifted in the eastern and northern provinces by Aug. 15, 1987. A cessation of hostilities will come into effect all over the island within 48 hours of signing of this agreement. All arms presently held by militant groups will be surrendered in accordance with an agreed procedure to authorities to be designated by the government of Sri Lanka.

              Consequent to the cessation of hostilities and the surrender of arms by militant groups, the army and other security personnel will be confined to barracks in camps as on 25 May 1987. The process of surrendering arms and the confining of security personnel moving back to barracks shall be completed within 72 hours of the cessation of hostilities coming into effect.

              2.10 The government of Sri Lanka will utilise for the purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of security in the northern and eastern provinces same organisations and mechanisms of government as are used in the rest of the country.

              2.11 The President of Sri Lanka will grant a general amnesty to political and other prisoners now held in custody under The Prevention of Terrorism Act and other emergency laws, and to combatants, as well as to those persons accused, charged and/or convicted under these laws. The Government of Sri Lanka will make special efforts to rehabilitate militant youth with a view to bringing them back into the mainstream of national life. India will co-operate in the process.

              2.12 The government of Sri Lanka will accept and abide by the above provisions and expect all others to do likewise.

              2.13 If the framework for the resolutions is accepted, the Government of Sri Lanka will implement the relevant proposals forthwith.

              2.14 The government of India will underwrite and guarantee the resolutions, and co-operate in the implementation of these proposals.

              2.15 These proposals are conditional to an acceptance of the proposals negotiated from 4.5.1986 to 19.12.1986. Residual matters not finalised during the above negotiations shall be resolved between India and Sri Lanka within a period of six weeks of signing this agreement. These proposals are also conditional to the Government of India co-operating directly with the Government of Sri Lanka in their implementation.

              2.16 These proposals are also conditional to the Government of India taking the following actions if any militant groups operating in Sri Lanka do not accept this framework of proposals for a settlement, namely,

              a) India will take all necessary steps to ensure that Indian Territory is not used for activities prejudicial to the unity, integrity and security of Sri Lanka

              b) The Indian navy/coast guard will cooperate with the Sri Lankan navy in preventing Tamil militant activities from affecting Sri Lanka.

              c) In the event that the Government of Sri Lanka requests the Government of India to afford military assistance to implement these proposals the Government of India will co-operate by giving to the Government of Sri Lanka such military assistance as and when requested.

              d) The Government of India will expedite repatriation from Sri Lanka of Indian citizens to India who are resident here, concurrently with the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees from Tamil Nadu.

              e) The Governments of Sri Lanka and India will co-operate in ensuring the physical security and safety of all communities inhabiting the northern and eastern provinces.

              2.17 The government of Sri Lanka shall ensure free, full and fair participation of voters from all communities in the northern and eastern provinces in electoral processes envisaged in this agreement. The government of India will extend full co-operation to the government of Sri Lanka in this regard.

              2.18 The official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala. Tamil and English will also be official languages.

              3. This agreement and the Annexure thereto shall come into force upon signature.

              In witness whereof, we have set our hands and seals hereunto.

              Done in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on this the twenty-ninth day of July of the year one thousand nine hundred and eighty seven, in duplicate, both texts being equally authentic.

              Junius Richard Jayawardene
              President of the Democratic of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

              Rajiv Gandhi
              Prime Minister Republic of India


              1. His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agree that the referendum mentioned in paragraph 2 and its sub- paragraphs of the agreement will be observed by a representative of the election Commission of India to be invited by His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka.

              2. Similarly, both heads of Government agree that the elections to the provincial council mentioned in paragraph 2.8 of the agreement will be observed and all para-military personnel will be withdrawn from the eastern and northern provinces with a view to creating conditions conducive to fair elections to the council.

              3. The President, in his discretion shall absorb such para-military forces, which came into being due to ethnic violence, into the regular security forces of Sri Lanka.

              4. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agree that the Tamil militants shall surrender their arms to authorities agreed upon to be designated by the President of Sri Lanka. The surrender shall take place in the presence of one senior representative each of the Sri Lanka Red Cross and the Indian Red Cross.

              5. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agree that a joint Indo-Sri Lankan observer group consisting of qualified representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of India would monitor the cessation of hostilities from 31 July 1987.

              6. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India also agree that in the terms of paragraph 2.14 and paragraph 2.16(c) of the agreement, an Indian peace keeping contingent may be invited by the President of Sri Lanka to guarantee and enforce the cessation of hostilities, if so required.



              1. Conscious of the friendhsip between our two countries stretching over two millenia and more, and recognizing the importance of nurturing this traditional friendship, it is imperative that both Sri Lanka and India reaffirm the decision not to allow our respective territories to be used for activities prejudicial to each other’s unity, territorial integrity and security.

              2. In this spirit, you had, in the course of our discussions agreed to meet some of India’s concerns as follows:

              Your Excellency and myself will reach an early understanding about the relevance and employment of foreign military and intelligence personnel with a view to ensuring that such presences will not prejudice Indo-Sri Lankan relations.
              Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests.
              The work of resotoring and operating the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm will be undertaken as a joint venture between India and Sri Lanka.
              Sri Lanka’s agreements with foreign broadcasting organizations will be reviewed to ensure that any facilities set up by them in Sri Lanka
              3. In the same spirit India will:

              deport all Sri Lankan citizens who are found to be engaging in terrorist activities or advocating separatism or secessionism.
              provide training facilities and military supplies for Sri Lankan forces.
              4. India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a joint consultative mechanism to continuously review matters of common concern in the light of the objectives stated in paragraph 1 and specifically to monitor the implementation of other matters contained in this letter.

              5. Kindly confirm, Excellency, that the above correctly sets out the agreement reached between us.

              Please accept,Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

              Yours sincerely,

              Rajiv Gandhi

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              David Blacker

              “he didn’t arm them single-handedly — they already had enough of weapons)”

              LTTE didn’t have enough arms to sustain its war to free its cherished Tamil Eelam. If indeed they did have enough arms why would they run away from Vaddamarachci operation?

              LTTE was successful in selling a brand and LTTE sold it you as well.

              “So what did the IPKF for two years?”

              The IPKF was successful in confining the LTTE to thick jungle at a huge costs to civilian. If you care to look at the last 12 months of IPKF’s presence in Nrth East LTTE’s operations were fewer and far between.

              Further, according to one IPKF commander, the objective was to bend the tigers without breaking it. This was the insurance that the Indians were hoping for in case if the old fox JR reneged on his promises.

              IPKF left Sri Lanka for two main reasons:

              India was in the mids of political turmoil, weak government in the centre and was engulf by increasing foreign exchange crisis.

              India was not prepared to involve itself in a long drawn out guerrilla war knowing that it would bog down in the North East forever. Already US Premadasa VP axis had started paying dividend albeit at a small rate.

              “If the objective of the IPKF was disarmament of the separatists, they didn’t need to come to SL because the GoSL would have done that.”

              Indian intervention through Tamil groups in Sri Lanka was the classical tried and tested excuse. India didn’t give a damn about Tamils in Sri Lanka however Tamils were an excuse and a tool to intervene and establish its regional hegemony during the cold war period.

              Since you are not The Thinking Man’s Soldier it would be lot more difficult for you to understand Indian strategy in Sri Lanka since early 1980s whereas my elders tell me it was a simple, brutal,arms bending, stupid invasion. They also tell me JR asked for it.

              “The fact is that India’s policy was to stop the fighting, not disarm the separatists.”

              Indian objective was to keep Sri Lanka in its orbit around Mother India, not around Statue of Liberty.

            • 0

              Come, come, Jungle Boy, you’re now wriggling like a worm on a hook. Just answer the question. There is no need to cut and paste and paste the full wording of the accord if you have actually understood it :D Here is how it opens:

              To establish peace and normalcy in Sri Lanka…

              Not to disarm the terrorists as you foolishly claim. Let’s now move on to the rest of your usual arse-covering drivel.

              “LTTE didn’t have enough arms to sustain its war to free its cherished Tamil Eelam. If indeed they did have enough arms why would they run away from Vaddamarachci operation?”

              If you use that logic, why wasn’t the IPKF able to defeat the Tigers and secure the NE? Didn’t they have enough weapons either? :D If we follow your logic, why weren’t the Tigers able to defeat the IPKF by 1991? Why were they unable to capture even a single Indian camp? Didn’t Premadasa give them enough weapons? Only a child would think that mere weapons win wars.

              “LTTE was successful in selling a brand and LTTE sold it you as well.”

              Do elaborate what this brand means and what its relevance is to your claim that the IPKF’s mission was to disarm terrorists.

              “The IPKF was successful in confining the LTTE to thick jungle at a huge costs to civilian. If you care to look at the last 12 months of IPKF’s presence in Nrth East LTTE’s operations were fewer and far between.”

              I know you find English a bit of a challenge, but when I asked you what the IPKF was doing for two years, I was referring to the two years 1987-89 BEFORE Premadasa helped arm the Tigers. Why couldn’t the IPKF defeat the Tigers if the Tigers were waiting without weapons for Preme to help them? You also say that the Tigers’ ops in the last 12 months of IPKF presence reduced drastically. How can this be, Jungle Boy, if there were weapons pouring in from Premadasa; why weren’t they defeating the IPKF? You need to think your theories through before jumping on the keyboard.

              “Further, according to one IPKF commander, the objective was to bend the tigers without breaking it. This was the insurance that the Indians were hoping for in case if the old fox JR reneged on his promises.”

              Really? But didn’t you say that the IPKF mission was to disarm the terrorists? :D Are you now saying they only want to disarm them partially? Lol. The second part of your above claim is speculative and clearly ignorant. JRJ had long made it clear that he was stepping down, so there was little chance of his reneging, and in 1989 there was no likelihood of the IPKF having to leave. The fact is that defeat or disarmament of the separatists wasn’t the mission; peace was the mission, or perhaps prevention of a Tamil defeat; disarmament was only crucial to that mission. It’s funny, Native, that your claims actually don’t seem to support your original theory.

              “IPKF left Sri Lanka for two main reasons:”

              There are many reasons, but let’s not get distracted from the point of contention, which is your claim that the IPKF mission was to disarm the separatists. Let’s stick to the point, shall we ;)

              “Indian intervention through Tamil groups in Sri Lanka was the classical tried and tested excuse. India didn’t give a damn about Tamils in Sri Lanka however Tamils were an excuse and a tool to intervene and establish its regional hegemony during the cold war period.”

              Yes we all know that, Captain Obvious, but what has that to do with your claim that the IPKF mission was to disarm the separatists?

              “Since you are not The Thinking Man’s Soldier it would be lot more difficult for you to understand Indian strategy in Sri Lanka since early 1980s whereas my elders tell me it was a simple, brutal,arms bending, stupid invasion. They also tell me JR asked for it.”

              Lol, perhaps by “elders” you mean me, since I have explained this fact to you many times over the years we have argued online. So rather than congratulating yourself on remembering something you have been told, you should laugh at yourself for attempting to repeat my own points as if they were your own.

              “Indian objective was to keep Sri Lanka in its orbit around Mother India, not around Statue of Liberty.”

              Not at all. SL’s alliance with the US was mostly in JRJ’s head, and not in reality. The US wasn’t interested in supporting SL. The US was interested in Pakistan because of its usefulness in opposing the Soviets in Afghanistan, that is all. JRJ assumed that that interest would apply to all nations in conflict with India. India didn’t need to make that assumption given that its only conflict with the US was peripheral; over support for Pakistan and opposition to the Tibetan cause. India’s strategy with SL (as well as Pakistan and Bangladesh) was one of destabilization to ensure that these free market nations didn’t overtake its own closed market and become India’s Singapore or Hong Kong. Once India opened its market it needed the opposite — stability in its neighbours and that’s when it’s view of the Tigers changed. Rajiv’s assassination didn’t hurt that move either.

              Now, that we’ve waded through the muddy water you’re trying to stir up, can you explain how India’s mission was to disarm the separatists please :D

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            Native, I thought you were 37 but the vigour in your writing suggests you are a bit thick about 52. Let your elders wish you a long life.

  • 0

    Besides, Some churches, some priests supported and became a part of LTTE. Bishops Joseph Rayappu and Emmanuel and their affiliated churches and priests are example. Even at the end of the war, as civilians could not carry any explosive filled jackets to the south, Church priests did that and it was caught after a while.

  • 0

    Dear Jimsofty. Do not try to justify all wrong doing:

    • 0

      What is your suggestion ?

      Just get killed by LTTE ?

  • 0

    Sarvan says “For example, when he says the government acted “correctly” (page 165) he means it in military and political (not in ethical or humane) terms”.

    But note that the government insisted that this was a war to free the vanni people from the “jackboot of the Tigers”. What if the government did not go ahead, and yielded to pressure and what if Prabhakaran prevailed? The would still be raging on for another 25 years, or till all the Tamil people got decimated. Looking at the daily killings even during the CFA, this decimation would ocur with an equal number of Singala people killed. But the tamils would be finished before the Sinhalese are there were about 5% Tamils in the Vanni, while 15 times more Sinhalese in the south.
    So the push to resolve this by bringing it to a conclusion SAVED mosted of the Vanni Tamils and many singhalese – say, 10% of the Sri Lankan population would have persihed if the war went on to attrition.

    There was a debate in the Groundviews between Lional Bopage (ex-JPV hit man who escaped to Australia), Kumar David on one side, and Michael Roberts on the other side. I think Roberts argued that the ending of the war by smashing the Tigers was justified and reduced future suffering for everybody, especially the Tamils. I agree. Sarvan is in the Bopage-KumarDavid camp.

    • 0

      Another 10 – 15 years vanni – eelam would have resulted negligible tamil population.

      • 0

        Interesting point of view, rather like the allies justifying Hiroshima and Nagasaki as they brought the last world war to a quick end.

      • 0

        The biggest mistake of Gota was to speed up the war. Had he dragged on we could see a solution to the ethnic problem.

    • 0

      I agree with your logic. It is obvious in a war of attrition the minority goes extinct.

      But what I don’t agree is why was the government so foolish?

      If you look at election results it is better for the government if there were fewer Tamil voters. JR realized this very well and acted upon it. Hot headed GR was too thick to realize it.

      Do you think JR, Premadaa, Wijetunga and CBK could not win the war? They could but they knew the numbers game and let the war continue. MR, GR, BR don’t understand numbers.

      • 0

        Govt can do every thing and anything to the upliftment of tamils and tamils will never acknowledge by voting that govt.

        It is always the Sinhala vote that get fooled by the govt.

        In that sense, the govt also should go with the Sinhala vote.

        Anyway, Tamil vote is about EIGHT PERCENT of the total population.

  • 0

    David Blacker is back again with his usual filthy language. It was only a few week ago he carried on an angry argument with a regular blogger denying he uses bad language. The other man said this was due to poor breeding and low culture. Now Blacker is back with his “arse-covering drivel” comment lowering the image of this decent blog. I have read many commentators here, including Blacker, and feel he is capable of stating what he has to in polite – avoiding embarrassment to other readers.

    R. Varathan

  • 0

    Only if we had a Statesman as our head of State, the current situation after winning the war would be completely different. We were so unfortunate that we had a power crazy lunatic who serve only the immediate and extended families and the criminals associated with them. The entire democratic World supported us to defeat the ruthless Terrorist outfit and all expected to see democracy return to the Country and redress to all civilians. What happened was the opposite, instead of providing redress they amended the constitution to make a life time President and brought more hardship to the civilians. Today there is no Law and Order in the Country and all civilians have lost all their rights. The Country is under a crazy family dictatorship and any one who opposes the corrupt Regime or expose the corruption will either disappear into thin air or end up in Jail on false charges.

  • 0

    Hey Namal pereraa, you woke up now?? all the leaders did the same,.This regime is the only one to accelarat development as they want the country to catch up the lost 30 yers.It s a hard pill to swollow for ponils .What to do??

  • 0

    war is war…it s not a peacefull place..see the history about another wars..but sri lankan forces is best and they try win the war with minor civil deths.and dont dream obout elam again…it canot be in sri lankan land and sri lankans dont care about this bullshit comments..and please go back this south indian refuge from sri lanka..we need to build up our contry as nice place for all..because of this cokroch we loss our 30 years of time..now we can..and go to hell LTTE lovers..we dont care ABOUT YOUR BULLSHIT and we always careing about our MOTHER LAND SRI LANKA…JAYA SRI……….

  • 0

    @ Native Vedhas and David Blacker

    From what i remember during that time as i was growing u in Jaffna the LTTE got a jolly good hiding in Vadamarachchi in 1987 and was about to be over-run in Jaffna as the army from the Dutch Fort were on the verge of breaking out but old man JR handled India in a wrong manner and they stopped the operation and yes its a true fact that the SL Army felt very humiliated and was stated by Gen Kobbekaduwa too who had apparently dashed his pitol on a rock (to be verified)

    The IPKF didnt have the intention of finishing off the LTTE for their own selfish reasons but they did contain them to the junlge for most part of their stay (ther were of course sporadic attacks on and off but small ones)

    The SL Govt in a very stupid move re-armed the LTTE big time and gave them accomadation in SLA camps too ,and even allowed them free access to Colombo to abduct rivals and take them past checkpoints to the Vanni

  • 0

    QUOTE “1.4 Also recognising that the northern and the eastern provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples,

    Also recognise the WEST as well as historically habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speking people.

    What a waste of tamil talents…j.mUTHTHU…. Need to tell that to all those tamils & Diaspora who contributed money to the war chest..YES MUTHTHU, IT HURTS WHEN U THINK OF IT.
    GTF, BTF, Toronto Tamils, EU Tamils, S.J.Emmanuels,Rayappus, TNA still have not thought about it. What a shame………………

    Peace Lover…… 89/90….with great loss to life, SL Forces were able to surrounded the 1-4 baseset explosives to blast it when orders received to retreat.The most number of commandoes were lost in this capture as the path was heavily booby trapped.

    Politicians ruined these efforts and demoralised the military.

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