Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Sooka’s latest report to UNHRC: Glaring omissions



By Shamindra Ferdinando

An expensive survey carried out by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), affiliated to the Foundation of Human Rights in South Africa, recently released ‘Forgotten Sri Lanka’s exiled victims.’

The release of the report coincided with the commencement of the on-going 32 sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The report inadvertently revealed the existence of clandestine networks, facilitating Sri Lankans of Tamil origin, including former members of the LTTE, reaching Europe, through illegal means.

The study disclosed that LTTE personnel, including those who had been with Shanmugalingam Sivashankar alias Pottu Amman’s dreaded intelligence service, having secured citizenship in European countries, including the UK.

Obviously, the report was meant to intensify pressure on Sri Lanka on the Geneva front, justify hybrid war crimes court on the basis of exaggerated and unsubstantiated accusations directed at the Sri Lankan military.

The report dealt with information acquired from 75 Tamils, living in the UK, France, Switzerland and Norway. Almost all of them had fled Sri Lanka after the conclusion of the war, in May, 2009. The vast majority of interviews had been conducted in London. However, an ITJP bid to include some of those ex-LTTE cadres, based in Germany, in the project, had gone awry. The report claimed that the targeted group declined to participate, in protest against the role of the international community in supporting the transitional justice process in Sri Lanka.

Surprisingly, ITJP didn’t bother about those who had taken refuge in India during the conflict and post-conflict period. Perhaps, those funding the ITJP project felt that a survey in India will not be so advantageous to their overall objectives in Geneva.

A group of human rights experts, international prosecutors, investigators and transitional justice experts, who had previously served the United Nations (UN) International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), produced the report under the guidance of Yasmin Sooka, one of the three persons on UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s panel of experts. Sooka teamed up with Marzuki Darusman and Steven R. Ratner to produce Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.

Sooka functions as the executive director of the foundation as well as ITJP. The report: "She is a former member of the South African & the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and was a legal advisor to Ban Ki-moon on Sri Lanka. She was the Soros inaugural Chair at the School of Public Policy and recently sat on the Panel investigating sexual violence by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic."

The writer sought a clarification from UNSG’s deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, regarding Sooka’s tenure as a Legal Advisor to UNSG on Sri Lanka. The Island received the following response from Haq: "Yasmin Sooka has been on high level panels, including on Sri Lanka, but she has not been the legal adviser to the Secretary-General."

On the basis of the interviews conducted, with the help of Sri Lankan Tamil interpreters, who had either worked for the UN or other International NGOs, in the Vanni, during eelam war IV, the report estimated that 72 per cent of the 75 interviewed had served various LTTE units. The report named those combat and support units as Radha, Sothiya, Imran Pandiyan and Malathy regiments as well as the Intelligence Wing. The non-combat units included the LTTE Media Unit, the TV station, the Political Wing, the Peace Secretariat, the International Secretariat, the Medical Wing, the Transport Unit, the Computer section and the Education Section. 

Those who had been interviewed, but not members of the LTTE, were either at school or university, or were in some cases housewives, photographers, teachers, accountants, office administrators, farmers, businessmen, or fishermen, during the conflict. Eighty per cent of the interviewed had survived the last phase of the war on the Vanni east front.

Sooka’s team claimed having unhindered access to those who had fled Sri Lanka during eelam war and post-war period as well as the largest collection of witness testimony and other evidence, outside Sri Lanka, pertaining to the final phase of the conflict and post-war torture and sexual violence. (The claim as regards having the largest collection of witness testimony and other evidence outside Sri Lanka should be closely examined against the backdrop of UNSG Panel of Experts declaration that it received 4,000 submissions from 2,300 persons. Interestingly, Sooka also served the Panel of Experts which released its report on March 31, 2011).

Now that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government has declared its intention to establish an Office for Missing Persons (OMP), in accordance with a Geneva resolution adopted last Sept/Oct, 2015, Sri Lanka shouldn’t hesitate to solicit the expertise of Sooka and her team. Their assistance is required to establish the whereabouts of the missing, estimated by the Foreign Ministry to be around 65,000, on the basis of various presidential commissions, since 1994. However, the Paranagama Commission placed the number of missing, since 1983, between19,000-20,000. Sri Lanka should seek Sooka’s immediate intervention to locate those who had been categorized missing here while living overseas under assumed names.

Sooka appreciated the support extended by wartime BBC correspondent in Sri Lanka, Frances Harrison, to the ITJP project. Declaring that the project couldn’t have been brought to a successful conclusion without Frances’ support, Sooka referred to the role played by lawyers in facilitating interviews with those who had clandestinely left Sri Lanka. (Obviously, they had repeated to Sooka’s team what they told their lawyers engaged in the lucrative business of obtaining asylum for aliens.)

Without revealing identities of any, Sooka also thanked those who had funded the project. 

Thanks to Sooka, the OMP, and those wanting to know the truth, now have an opportunity to verify the situation in the wartime Vanni with the help of former UN and INGO workers living overseas. In fact, no other INGO had so far claimed to have access to former UN and INGO workers who had experienced war and were lucky to survive the final assault on the Vanni east front. They can help establish the circumstances under which the LTTE forced the population in the Vanni west to cross the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road and move towards the Vanni east coast. The LTTE imposed severe restrictions to prevent civilians fleeing the war zone to secure refuge in army-held areas. The LTTE went to the extent of detaining UN workers responsible for helping some civilians to escape.

It would be pertinent to ask Sooka why her team totally ignored one of the most significant incidents during the conflict. She cannot be unaware as the issue had been raised at the UN.

In fact, the LTTE revealed its readiness to hold civilian hostage at the onset on the Vanni battle, in early 2007. But, the UN never inquired into the failure of its mission in Colombo to intervene on behalf of the trapped civilians. The UN mission in Colombo refused to act; even after the LTTE detained Tamil UN workers for helping Tamils to escape (LTTE detains UN workers-The Island, April 20th, 2007). The revelation was made a year before the 57 Division fought its way into Madhu. Would you be surprised that there hadn’t been a single follow-up story in both the print and electronic media other than The Island? The Colombo-based diplomatic community maintained silence. The international media, including the Colombo-based Indian media, never took up that issue. Those who had been accusing the government of abuses, at the drop of a hat, had turned a blind eye to what was happening, though The Island vigorously followed-up the story (UN had talks with Tigers, with strap line: UN workers in LTTE custody -The Island, April 23, 2007), (Sri Lanka urges UN not to shield Tigers-The Island, April 25, 2007), (UN HQ admits Colombo office kept it in the dark-The Island, April 28, 2008). The much talked about Narrative III, too, ignored the UN complicity. 

Sooka’s report revealed that one of those who had been interviewed by experts, with the help of former UN/INGO workers, admitted that he refrained from informing his mother of her other son being killed during fighting in Sri Lanka. The interviewee claimed that he withheld the truth from his mother as it would have been too painful for her to accept the truth. There can be many similar cases. Those who had been demanding the truth should appeal to ex-LTTE cadres, living here or overseas, to reveal the truth as Sri Lanka cannot explain alleged disappearance of men and women killed in combat. 

Sooka repeated allegations of rape, abductions, torture and general mistreatment of the Vanni civilians and LTTE personnel. Sooka obviously didn’t take into consideration the release of nearly 300,000 civilians, held by the army, and 12,000 LTTE personnel within a few years after the conclusion of the war. Sooka can easily obtain the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government’s approval to carry out a survey in the Vanni region, Jaffna peninsula, as well as the East. Those genuinely happy to be freed from the LTTE will be able to tell Sooka real wartime conditions in the Vanni. Western countries should not take lies propagated by those seeking political asylum at the expense of Sri Lanka.

Sooka’s blind allegations exposed her intention to paint an extremely negative picture of the previous administration. But, in her haste to blame Sri Lanka of depriving war wounded of required treatment, the NGO guru had exposed herself.  Let me reproduce verbatim a section headlined ‘War Injuries Untreated’ "Half of those surveyed in this study had been injured in the war. Many of those said they are still in physical pain. Interviewees described a plethora of problems including blood pressure issues, amputated limbs, nerve damage and scar tissue. At times it seemed absurd to be asking people about their views on transitional justice mechanisms when they were still carrying pieces of shrapnel inside their bodies causing them suffering. 

"What emerged from the interviewees is a large number of family members, still in Sri Lanka have not had adequate treatment for war injuries yet. Sixty per cent of this group had family members injured in the final phase of the war. Some said they, or their close family members, have been too frightened to seek medical help from government clinics in Sri Lanka for war injuries lest it arouse the suspicion of the authorities and identify them as connected to the LTTE. They are also nervous about the presence of Sinhalese medical staff in the hospitals because they fear they will report on them to the security agencies resulting in interrogations or detention."

Sooka and her experts had totally ignored an elaborate plan carried out by the previous government of Sri Lanka to evacuate the wounded, both overland and then by sea, until May 9, 2009. The military brought the war to a successful conclusion on May 19, 2009. Sri Lanka could never have carried out such large scale relief operation, amidst heavy fighting, without the express support of the international community. India played a significant role in the operation. Under ICRC facilitation, Sri Lanka evacuated over 14,000 wounded persons and their relatives from Puthumathalan, the last point of evacuation from the Vanni east to Pulmoddai, north of Trincomalee, between Feb 10, 2009 and May 9, 2009. In spite of Sri Lanka’s readiness to accept all wounded, regardless of their status, the LTTE prevented its wounded cadres leaving the war zone under ICRC supervision. The Panel of Experts report, released on March 31, 2011, declared that all those evacuated were civilians, as the LTTE didn’t allow its cadres to leave the war zone (page 32/108 paragraph). On the invitation of the then Sri Lankan government, Indian personnel treated the wounded at Pulmoddai, before being transferred to government hospitals. The ITJP should get in touch with New Delhi for a comprehensive briefing in respect of Indian medical assistance provided to those arriving at Pulmoddai and subsequently at Menik Farm where over 300,000 were held by the army. 

The writer had an opportunity to visit Chalai seas and then Indian manned medical facility, at Pulmoddai, in April, 2009.

Sooka and her experts also conveniently neglected to mention substantial amount of food and other essential supplies shipped to Puthumathalan, from February 10, 2009, to May 9, 2009, in accordance with a joint plan implemented by Sri Lanka and the international community. Had Sooka being so interested in Sri Lanka, she couldn’t have been unaware of the existence of powerful Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA), chaired by the then Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe. In an unprecedented move, the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa included the following in CCHA:  the US (Ambassador Robert Blake), EU (Ambassador Julian Wilson), EU Representative (German Ambassador Juergen Weerth and UK High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott), Japan (Kiyoshi Araki), UN (Frederick Lyons and Neil Bhune), UNHCR (Joanna Van Gerpen and Philippe Duamelle), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Valentin Gatzinski, Zola Dowell), WHO (Dr. Agnostic Borra), WFP  (Taft Dick, Mohamed Salaheen and Adhnan Khan), Food and Agriculture Organization (Marc Bellemans), ILO (Tine Staermose), Country Security Advisor, UN Department of Safety and Security (Chris du Toit), European Community Humanitarian Office (David Verboom) and ICRC (Toon Vandenhove and Paul Castella). In addition to foreign representatives, CCHA accommodated Jeevan Thiagarajah and Firzan Hashim, both executive directors of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies to ensure much important local participation.

Sooka and her team of experts can and should get in touch with those foreign and local representatives of CCHA if they are genuinely keen to establish the wartime ground situation. If Sooka and her team, comprising ex-UN, ICTY and ICC experts, bothered to ask CCHA members, they would hear the circumstances under which the LTTE prevented local UN staff and their families leaving the war zone.  The writer extensively dealt with the issue, during eelam war IV, though both other local media and Colombo-based international news agencies, giving coverage totally ignored it. Forgotten Sri Lanka’s exiled victims totally ignored atrocities committed by the LTTE during the conflict. The report also refrained from mentioning the despicable role played by the then five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in clearing the way for an all-out war which the grouping obviously believed the LTTE could somehow win.

That is an undeniable truth. TNA leaders remained tight-lipped until the very end. The TNA turned a blind eye to last minute recruitment of children and adults as the top LTTE leadership struggled to thwart the Army on the Vanni east front. Instead of urging the LTTE to stop further recruitment and give up its human shield, the LTTE engaged in a fruitless campaign in Europe and Canada to compel international intervention. 

Sooka and her team should obtain a copy of LTTE’s Subramanium Sivagami alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil. Thamilini’s memoirs will surely help people to realize the ground situation during the conflict and post-war events. Unfortunately, those fighting against proposed hybrid war crimes court are yet to peruse the Sinhala version of Thamilini book though they realize it could certainly help their efforts. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Unresolved Indo-Lanka issues




By Shamindra Ferdinando

One-time head of the Law Faculty, University of Colombo, Dr Nirmala Chandrahasan last Thursday (June 16) called for tangible action on the part of the Sri Lankan government to bring in Sri Lankan refugees, living in India, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu.

 Dr Chandrahasan estimated the number of Lankan refugees in India at the peak of the conflict at 200,000.

The appeal was made over seven years after the successful conclusion of the war with the annihilation of the LTTE leadership. 

The distinguished law academic insisted that special arrangements should be made to facilitate the return of refugees. Dr Chandrahasan was addressing a forum on India-Sri Lanka relations in the 21st century, organised by the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BSIS).

 The BCIS as well as the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) should at least now initiate a comprehensive study on the conflict and the circumstances under which it was brought to an end. Such a study is required, especially against the backdrop of the proposed war crimes probe, in accordance with a Geneva resolution, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, last October.

 Indian High Commissioner, Y.K. Sinha addressed the gathering at the onset of the forum. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was among the audience.

Dr Chandrahasan, the author of "Maritime Boundaries in the Indian Ocean" Sri Lanka and the Law of the Sea., explained a range of facilities provided by the Tamil Nadu administration to the Sri Lankans while underscoring the pivotal importance of bringing them back to post-war Sri Lanka. The internationally recognized academic stressed that those who had sought refuge in India didn’t have the means to seek sanctuary elsewhere. In addition to the refugee issue, Dr Chandrahasan discussed issues pertaining to Indo-Lanka maritime issues. She left out the simmering poaching, issue caused by Tamil Nadu fishing fleet.

 Dr Chandrahasan addressed the gathering after Sri Lanka’s former High Commissioner in New Delhi, Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne, delivered a brief lecture on some aspects of Indo-Lanka relations. However, Chandrahasan and Seneviratne, a former Professor of Archaeology and former Director General of Central Cultural Fund refrained from at least referring to India’s intervention here. Perhaps, they felt that it wasn’t the place to take up the issue. (The text of Prof. Seneviratne’s speech is on page 2 of Midweek)

 The Question and Answer session, too, essentially showed Sri Lanka in bad light in respect of Sri Lanka foreign policy, or lack of it.

J.N. Dixit, who had been Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, during eelam war I, in his memoirs blamed the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for military intervention here. (Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: Raja Ram Mohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha launched on January 1, 2004)

In fact, Dixit, who also functioned as Foreign Secretary, held Gandhi responsible for two major foreign policy blunders – namely the military intervention, in Sri Lanka, in the early 80s, and New Delhi’s ambiguous response to the then Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in Dec. 1979. 

 Strangely, Sri Lanka, or any major political party here has ever commented on Dixit’s assertions, though he launched his memoirs over a decade ago. There should be a full disclosure of Indian intervention here to facilitate post-war reconciliation process. New Delhi can never absolve itself of its culpability for death and destruction here as well as the assassination of one time Premier Rajiv Gandhi on the night of May 21, 1991.

 Indo-Sri Lanka relations, in the 21st century, cannot be dealt with leaving out unprecedented Indian intervention in Sri Lanka during the previous century. A bloody war caused by Indian interference was brought to an end in early this century. Sri Lanka sustained a massive combined security forces campaign until troops, on the Vanni east front shot dead LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon.

 While academics discuss Indo-Lanka relations, the latter is facing a UN war crimes probe under the supervision of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).  IT WOULD BE IMPORTANT TO STRESS THAT THE ALLEGATION ON THE BASIS OF WHICH UNHRC ADOPTED RESOLUTION HAD NEVER BEEN VERIFIED IN ANY COURT OF LAW AND STILL REMAIN UNSUBSTANTIATED.

Interestingly, India, responsible for causing war here today represents the UNHRC comprising 47 countries. While high profile push for war crimes probe gathers momentum, Sri Lanka is depicted as a country hell-bent on driving Tamils out, over seven years after the end of the conflict. Unfortunately, the government seems not to be interested in countering propaganda efforts meant to deceive the world. Those loyal to former war-winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa have pathetically failed to promote Sri Lanka’s interests though they routinely referred to the Geneva issue at various media briefings.

India needs to be told that it couldn’t forgive herself for plunging Sri Lanka into a crisis by various investments such as recent restoration of Alfred Duraiappa stadium. 

It would be pertinent to examine the recent incident, in Indonesian waters, involving a group of persons claiming to be Sri Lankan Tamil refugees against the backdrop of Dr Chandrahasan calling for a stepped up government efforts to bring back refugees from India. Contrary to Dr Chandrahasan’s assertions, at least a section of the Sri Lankans, domiciled in India, are seeking to reach Australia by boat. The recent incident in the Indonesian waters is a case in point.

Indonesia late last week dropped a plan to escort the trawler carrying 44 Australia-bound asylum seekers back to international waters after repairing the vessel.

The group had been stranded for about a week at the waters off Lhoknga coast in Aceh Besar, Aceh, following engine failure. Indonesia declared that it would be up to the asylum seekers to decide where they wanted to go.

The Sri Lankan asylum seekers travelled for nearly three weeks in the trawler bearing an Indian flag.

An influential section of the media reported the group of asylum seekers leaving Sri Lankan shores though the trawler actually left Tamil Nadu. Those who had been in it were certainly not Sri Lankan refugees of recent origin. Sri Lanka Navy headquarters confirmed the voyage certainly did not begin in Sri Lanka.

The London headquartered Amnesty International issued a statement urging Indonesia to accommodate the refugees. Indonesia ignored the plea. Indonesia went to the extent of firing warning shots to force some persons who had disembarked to return to the trawler before it was escorted back to international waters.

Those who had been forced back to international waters could be among Sri Lankans categorized as missing during the conflict. As they had been in India before undertaking the recent hazardous journey to Australia, New Delhi would be able to shed light on their identities. It would be of pivotal importance to establish their date of arrival in India, particularly whether they moved across the Palk Strait after the conclusion of the conflict, in May, 2009.

Amnesty International, in a statement, suggested that the latest batch of asylum seekers might have fled Sri Lanka in the wake of a spate of arrests carried out last April under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The human rights watchdog made no reference to the arrests made close on the heels of recovery of explosives including a suicide jacket in Chavakachcheri, Jaffna, during the last week of March.

The writer has earned the wrath of the government for his reportage of the Chavakachcheri explosives haul leading to a spate of arrests in both northern and eastern provinces and the possibility of former members of the LTTE planning to cause mayhem. Both Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) recorded statements from the writer close on the heels of the government closing down the Police Media Spokesman’s Office. The unit remains closed.

 The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which recognized the LTTE as the sole representative of Tamil speaking people in the run up to Eelam War IV (August 2006 to May 2009) and remained committed to the LTTE macabre cause, until the very end, reiterated the call for a hybrid war crimes court in accordance with the Geneva resolution, adopted last October. The four-party TNA comprises the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi and three former terrorist groups, sponsored by India, namely the TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.

Jaffna District MP and attorney at law, M.A. Sumanthiran, made representations on behalf of the TNA at the Congressional caucus briefing on June 14. Obviously, Sumanthiran’s opinion tallied with that of UK based Suren Surendiran, spokesperson for the influential Global Tamil Forum (GTF). The Island received Sumanthiran’s statement on the night of June 16, hours after the forum on India-Sri Lanka relations in the 21st century ended. MP Sumanthiran dealt separately with several critical issues. Let me reproduce MP Sumanthiran verbatim to highlight Sri Lanka’s predicament as the UNHRC prepares to receive an oral statement on the situation in Sri Lanka next week.

On the role of the Government of India: "This particular Indian Government has also reiterated to us their role in exercising those good offices that brought them to sign the (Indo-Lanka) Accord continues. India in a sense signed the Accord on behalf of the Tamil people. It was not necessary for a neighbouring country to sign an accord with Sri Lanka providing for power sharing and one unit of devolution and so on. It’s in the context of serious violence that was being perpetrated against the Tamils in Sri Lanka and that also had a long history culminating in the very serious one that happened in 1983 and the fleeing of refugees to India. Even today there are 168,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who are living in South India. So it’s a legitimate concern of India – that India under-wrote this agreement on behalf of the Tamil people. But international politics - what it is today - may not show India directly dictating as what it were, what should happen in Sri Lanka. That is not how things are done. But India’s legitimate concern continues to remain in enforcing all of the provisions of the Indo-Lanka Accord."

On the role of the US: "I think the US has played a very significant role already in the resolutions that it mooted in the UN Human Rights Council encouraging changes, and therefore must continue to play that role. It is true that there has been a significant change, a monumental change as described by the Ambassador, but the foot must not be taken off the pedal too early. For the simple reason that we have seen change, as a result of some pressure, some encouragement, some nudging and those must continue... Our plea to the US Government would be don’t express satisfaction too early as there is still a lot to do during that phase."

On international involvement in the accountability process: "If you ask me about international involvement in the accountability process, as far as I know the Government has not said ‘no’ to international involvement. All the multiple voices that you talk about say ‘international involvement - yes, but not judges’. Now I take great exception to that, because as I said at the beginning, the text of the 2015 Resolution is a negotiated text. We asked for (an) international inquiry, and we settled for a hybrid model. So that was negotiated with the Government of Sri Lanka. And having compromised and settled to a model which in the Resolution doesn’t merely say hybrid but explains in detail judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys and investigators, it obviously means judge qua judges, prosecutors qua prosecutors, so on and so forth. So it does not mean (for) judges to be advisors or judges to be involved in some other capacity. And that was well understood. I was personally involved in the negotiations, with the United States of America also participating in that particular process. There were some doubts created, as to whether the Constitution of Sri Lanka would allow for foreign nationals to function as judges and we went into that question, clarified it, and said yes they can and that is how that phraseology was agreed upon. And so, to us having negotiated and compromised and agreed that there would be a hybrid tribunal to try these mass atrocities, it is not open for the Government now to shift its stance and say ‘well, international involvement yes, but it’s in a different form, now...’. That is not acceptable to us at all. And we have said this. Quite openly I have spoken in Parliament at least two or three times and the Government has not contested me on that. We have said it to the President when he called for an all party conference on the implementation on the UN resolution, and he has not contested us on that. But as you say, in the public there are different voices that we hear. So we are concerned as much as people are, with regard to this particular issue, wondering if the Government is shifting its stance. However, such a mechanism has not been brought about as yet. So we will wait until we reach that particular point of setting up a court of the Special Counsel’s office and so on and so forth and insist that every word, and spirit, in that resolution will be complied with."

 Of course, MP Sumanthiran conveniently forgot that India had caused a hellish situation on the ground here in the 80s to pave the way for the Indo-Lanka Accord, in July, 1987. New Delhi transformed several Tamil armed outfits to deadly fighting machines in the 80s before one of them (the LTTE) eradicated the rest to emerge as the single most powerful organization here. India forced the Indo-Lanka Accord on Sri Lanka to thwart the then JRJ government eradicating the group. Having deployed the Indian Army (July 1987-March 1990) here, India established an illegal Tamil National Army (TNA) to protect EPRLF-led puppet North-Eastern provincial administration before quitting North-East Sri Lanka. The rest is history.

Had the LTTE survived the war on the Vanni east front and somehow reached an understanding with the government of Sri Lanka, it wouldn’t have been subject of discussion at Geneva. The TNA wouldn’t have had an opportunity to participate in the Congressional caucus briefing on June 14. In fact, the TNA would have remained under the LTTE’s firm control and the GTF not formed at all. The GTF came into being in February, 2010, in the wake of the LTTE annihilation. Prabhakaran wouldn’t have seen a requirement for such a groping if he wielded military power and the TNA-GTF combination would never have become a reality.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

SL faces daunting task of probing disappearances




By Shamindra Ferdinando

Close on the heels of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on the night of May 21, 1991, in Tamil Nadu, the then government of India sought Sri Lanka’s assistance to verify the identity of the woman suicide bomber Dhanu (not her real name) as well as that of Pakiachandran alias Sivarasan, the leader of joint LTTE-Indian team tasked to carry out the operation.

Then President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s government swiftly responded to India’s request for assistance. Sri Lanka fully cooperated with India in spite of the absence of a formal agreement on such matters.

It would be pertinent to examine Sri Lanka’s support in respect of India’s efforts against the backdrop of Sri Lanka deciding to establish Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in accordance with a resolution adopted at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Oct 1, 2015.  Sri Lanka’s efforts cannot succeed unless foreign governments shared information in respect of those who had secured citizenship after having entered respective countries both through legal and illegal means.

The Foreign Ministry on behalf of the government on June 7, 2016 declared that various Presidential Commissions had received over 65,000 complaints in respect of missing persons. The FM statement dealt with complaints received since 1994.

The post-cabinet media briefing was told of the decision to amend the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 19 of 2010 to enable the issuance of Certificates of Absence.

The FM said: "The suffering and distress of the families of those missing is exacerbated as, at this point in time, the government does not recognize the status of missing persons. This means that the families of missing persons face a range of practical issues including inability or difficulty in facilitation of property transfer and ownership, applying for compensation, qualifying for social welfare payments and pensions and accessing frozen assets. Although a number of ad hoc measures have been attempted in the recent past, they have failed to successfully address issues faced by the families of the missing."

The FM added: "Certificates of Absence have been used in a number of countries with a high incidence of missing persons and has been considered as an effective interim measure that balances the psychological and practical needs of family members and loved ones without dismissing the need for active investigation into cases of missing persons."

However, the Paranagama Commission placed the number of persons categorized as missing since 1983 at over 19,000. Retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama politely declined to comment on the sharp discrepancy in the numbers quoted by his commission and the government. The Island raised the same issue with the National Peace Council (NPC) as the prominent NGO recently placed the number of missing at 20,000. Responding to The Island query in respect of varying figures propagated by interested parties, Dr Jehan Perera on behalf of the NPC said: "The NPC quoted the most reliable and recent figure which was given by the Paranagama Commission on Missing Persons, and which is about 19,000 complaints. It is very important to ascertain what the correct number is.  This is why we need a Truth Commission with persons who are credible and trusted by all sides. This is also why we may need to bring in international persons or third parties whom all sides find acceptable.  Whether the number is 20,000 or 65,000 or less than that it is important to find a number that people can accept on all sides. Or else we will be arguing about numbers and not dealing with the issues of accountability, responsibility why these disappearances occurred at all."

Having destabilized Sri Lanka through terrorism in accordance with New Delhi’s objectives, the regional power had no option but to seek Sri Lanka’s help to investigate Gandhi assassination. Confirming the identities of key players involved in the assassination plot required Sri Lanka’s assistance.

Soon after the assassination, India sent a group of personnel from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Colombo. The Indian team included no less a person than D.R. Kaarthikeyan, head of the investigation. India made available photographs of the suspected assassin as well as kurta pyjama clad man to Sri Lankan police as the two governments cooperated closely in a bid to establish the LTTE’s role in the assassination. SIT personnel were flown to Palaly and from there escorted to a house where Sri Lankan authorities believed the suicide bomber lived. Although, information provided by the then government of Sri Lanka in respect of the suicide cadre whom the Sri Lankan police identified as Sundari had proved wrong, Sri Lanka cooperated fully with the Indian investigation.

Sri Lanka confirmed the identity of kurta pyjama clad man as one-eyed Sivaraja Master alias Sivarasan of the LTTE. His LTTE name was Raghuvaran. Sri Lanka provided a range of information regarding LTTE operations in Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka never hesitated in providing the required assistance to India whenever the SIT got in touch with authorities in Colombo. In early 1992, President Premadasa’s government facilitated India’s efforts to establish Sivarasan’s identity through DNA testing. Sri Lanka obtained blood samples of Sivarasan’s mother, Sivapackiyam Chandrasekeran and brother, Ravichandran and passed them over to India. India successfully matched DNA profiles of one-eyed Jack prepared from blood and tissue collected from his body with those of his mother and brother. Sri Lanka also provided SIT photographs of Sivarasan and other documents available with the Registration of Persons, Colombo.

 Sri Lanka also facilitated Indian government pronouncements in respect of Velupillai Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman as accused in the Gandhi assassination. The international community never acknowledged the pivotal role played by Sri Lanka in the successful Indian investigation into the first suicide attack on its soil. The probe and the subsequent prosecution of LTTE personnel and their Indian associates cleared possible foreign government involvement in the conspiracy.

In addition to Sri Lankan government backing, India also received assistance from various armed Tamil groups operating in Colombo and Tamil Nadu to establish the LTTE’s involvement in the assassination. Sivarasan had been an employee of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and initially served the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) before switching allegiance to the LTTE. Sivarasan had been among those who received combat training in India in the early 80s. Having lost an eye in early 1987 during a confrontation with the military, he was among those airlifted to India by the IPKF soon after the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in July 1987.

Sri Lankan and Indian authorities believed that the suicide cadre Dhanu was actually Kalaivani alias Akino, a daughter of Tamil nationalist Rajaratnam who passed away in Chennai way back in 1975. The SIT thoroughly investigated the possibility of the suicide bomber being Rajaratnam’s youngest daughter from his second marriage. However, Rajaratnam’s second wife and the second daughter (also a fighting cadre of the LTTE) maintained that Akino was killed in a confrontation with the Sri Lankan Army on Sept 8, 1991. Akino who had held the rank of ‘Captain’ was among seven female LTTE cadres killed on that day according to the LTTE’s ‘diary of heroes.’

 The LTTE never revealed the real identity of the woman suicide bomber. But, if Akino had actually carried out the suicide attack, Gandhi’s assassin was 23 at the time she gave her life for Prabhakaran’s macabre cause.

Now that India had endorsed the Geneva as a member of the 47-nation body, it would be New Delhi’s responsibility to assist Sri Lanka track down those who had been categorized as missing. The Indian High Commission in Colombo didn’t respond to The Island query whether New Delhi would share information available with her agencies with the proposed OMP. Can Sri Lanka be deprived of international assistance to help address a major accountability issue. The Report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances especially referred to foreign governments refusing to share information, thereby undermining its efforts.

Sri Lanka’s fresh efforts will certainly suffer a debilitating setback in case foreign governments continued to decline to share information citing domestic laws.

Let me briefly discuss three cases to highlight the pivotal importance of the OMP being given the much needed international assistance. One-time US Ambassador in Colombo Robert O Blake and several other international organizations and a section of the media accused the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) of killing Thayapararajah during the second week of September, 2009. Allegations persisted though Thayapararajah’s body was never found. Accusations persisted until Thayapararajah was taken into custody in May 2014 after entering Tamil Nadu illegally. The former head of Vanni Tech set up in Kilinochchi during Norway-arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) is still languishing in an Indian jail. Thayapararajah’s case is certainly not an isolated incident. Perhaps, Thayapararajah can help Sri Lanka to identify a network/s responsible for facilitating clandestine entries into India. Thayapararajah had never been wanted in Sri Lanka on terrorism charges though he chose to flee the country clandestinely with his wife and children. Had they died on their way to Tamil Nadu by boat due to some mishap, they, too, would have been in the list of the disappeared.

 Sri Lanka should seek an opportunity to interview Thayapararajah without further delay. In spite of defeating the LTTE in May 2009, Sri Lanka never made a genuine effort to examine accountability issue until former President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed an International Advisory Council (IAC) headed by Sir Desmond Silva, QC to assist the Paranagama Commission.

Case No. II is equally interesting. Australia admitting that it issued a new passport to leader of the Frontline Socialist Party Kumar Gunaratnam in the name of Noel Mudalige. Although a large scale issuance of passports bearing new identities to those seeking political asylum on various grounds is common knowledge, the admission by former Australian High Commissioner in respect of Kumar Gunaratnam now behind bars in Sri Lanka surprised many. But, she had no option but to acknowledge Australia’s role due to circumstances beyond her control. This was during 2013.

 The third example underscores the absurdity of some accusations pertaining to missing persons. Former LTTE combatant Jesuthasan Antonythasan who had been listed among the disappeared starred in Dheepan which won the Palme d’Or award at the 68th Cannes film festival in May 2015. Antonythasan was introduced there as a Sri Lankan novelist and former child soldier. Interestingly, Antonythasan played the role of a former LTTE cadre who had fled the country. The former LTTEer was portrayed as a person with battlefield experience. Antonythasan had reached France during 1993 using a fake passport via Thailand and was given political asylum.

The media quoted the award winning ex-LTTEer as having said: "I came to France because at the time I was able to only find a fake French passport and not a fake British or Canadian passport," Anthonythasan said, noting how difficult it had been to learn the French language. He declared that it would still be dangerous for him to return home.

Officially in 2009 the civil war came to an end. However even today there are still armed attacks against minorities in Sri Lanka," Antonythasan was quoted as having said.

"Even today, we don’t know how many prisoners of war were captured by the government, we have no real information."

Now that the government has placed the number of missing over 65,000 on the basis of complaints received by presidential commissions since 1994, for the first time the total number of missing is far more than the number allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan military during the final phase of the Vanni offensive (March 2007 to May 2009).

Anthonythasan refrained from mentioning who forcibly conscripted him at the age of 16 to fight for terrorists.

France subsequently experienced the folly of accommodating various undesirable elements within EU borders. Terrorists having citizenship of EU member states massacred 130 persons in coordinated attacks in Paris. Subsequently, terrorist struck in Belgium. In fact, LTTE operation directed against Rajiv Gandhi and Paris massacre can be compared.

The Paranagama Commission, in its second mandate report emphasized the requirement to inquire into specific complaints in respect of disappearances during the final phase of the war. The Commission recommended a judge-led investigation into this incident is necessary and indeed the Commission has already taken steps to appoint an Investigative team that has begun its work in relation to this incident. The Commission said: "We have made a finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe, having heard evidence on this issue, that these individuals may have been executed."

The Commission also referred to several other disappearances, including those levelled by Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa and former UN Adviser on Post-war Accountability issues in Sri Lanka alleging 110 disappearances on 18 May 2009

The Commission, too, referred to the Thayapararajah disappearance in Sept 2009 and re-emergence in Tamil Nadu in May 2014.

The Paranagama Commission alleged that foreign governments had declined to assist its efforts to locate missing persons due to their strict domestic laws.  

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Utilization of civilians by LTTE Intelligence admitted

Thamilini’s revelations reverberates



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Subramanium Sivagami, alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s book Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil  translated into Sinhala as Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), discussed an issue hitherto conveniently ignored by those who had been wanting the government to address the grievances of Tamil speaking people. Senior lecturer, Saminadan Wimal, translated Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil into Sinhala, free of charge.

It would be pertinent to mention that many believed Thamilini had been killed during the last major LTTE offensive action at Anandapuram, Puthukudirippu, in April, 2009. In fact, a section of the Tamil, English and Sinhala media speculated about Thamilini’s fate against the backdrop of four top commanders, of Sothiya and Maalathy fighting formations, being among over 500 dead during three days of fighting. Veteran Canada-based journalist, D.B.S. Jeyaraj, in a special report, titled Top Tiger leaders killed in a major debacle for LTTE, posted on April 6, 2009, referred to an unconfirmed report, regarding Thamilini’s death.

Thamilini dealt with severe difficulties, experienced by those civilians, who had been used by the Intelligence Wing, of the LTTE, to facilitate operations in areas under government control. The LTTEer alleged that those who should have been concerned about persons, and families, involved with the Intelligence Wing, had forgotten them.

Those who had been demanding to know the truth were strangely silent on ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s revelations, though Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil was launched’ in Kilinochchi’ on March 19, 2016. The Sinhala version was launched at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on May 13, 2016.

Prem Dissanayake published the book.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s husband, Jeyakumaran Mahadevan, a British national, of Sri Lankan origin earned the wrath of an influential section of Tamil politicians, as well as the Tamil Diaspora for releasing controversial memoirs. Perhaps Mahadevan couldn’t have launched Thamilini’s memoirs if not for the support received from veteran film maker, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, one of the strongest critics of the Sri Lankan military. Dharmasiri Bandaranayake and Mahadevan had first met in London, in 2007, at the height of eelam war IV.

Mahadevan’s father had died, at the hands of the LTTE, in Jaffna, and he fled Sri Lanka, following the July 1983 violence, directed at Tamil civilians by the military as well as state backed mobs, in the wake of the Tinnaveli, Jaffna massacre which claimed the lives of 13 soldiers.

 The Island dealt with several aspects of Thamilini’s revelations on May 25, 2016, and June 1, 2016. Having perused the Sinhala version twice, the writer felt the Tamil media, as well as those hell bent on hauling Sri Lanka up before a hybrid court, as agreed in Geneva last Sept/Oct will not under any circumstances accept Thamilini’s version of events. Thamilini had been blunt in her assertions, revelations and claims. She convincingly contradicted others, in respect of the LTTE exploiting the Norway-arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), signed in Feb, 2002, to prepare for war, assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, on the night of August 12, 2005, as well as the utilization of civilians in operations carried out by the Intelligence Wing. However, Thamilini didn’t make reference to a single assassination carried out by the LTTE Intelligence Wing.

Thamilini’s admission that civilians, living in areas under government control, had been used by the Intelligence Wing should be examined against the backdrop of high profile assassinations carried out over the years in the South and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur, South India. The LTTE hit squad, responsible for Kadirgamar’s assassination, used his neighbour Lakshman Thalaisingham’s residence. Thalaisingham, a former Royal College cricketer, and company executive, claimed that he wasn’t aware of a hit squad using the unoccupied upstair room of his house.

There had been many instances of the LTTE Intelligence Wing utilizing Tamils, living in the south. Thamilini referred to many women being detained for supporting the LTTE. Having met many such detainees, during her detention in Colombo, she shared her experience.

Thamilini succumbed to cancer last October.

The New Indian Express quoted activist Thyagarajah Nirosh as having asserted that Thamilini had played into the hands of the international community which has been saying that both the armed forces and the Tigers committed war crimes.

Nirosh felt that Thamilini might have written the book, under duress, as she was in a Lankan prison and had undergone army-organised "rehabilitation" for four years. The activist wasn’t alone in propagating that the book was written under duress.

Nirosh also suspected that new material might have been inserted to suit the Lankan government’s interest, after her death. The New Indian Express interviewed Nirosh immediately after the launch of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil,’ in Kilinochchi, with the participation of over 100 rehabilitated LTTE personnel. The four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) boycotted the event. However, those casting aspersions on Thamilini had conveniently forgotten that she was dead at the time of the Kilinochchi launch. Even if she had been under pressure of the military and or for some other reason decided to expose the LTTE, she couldn’t have compelled Mahadevan to go ahead with the project. After having played a critical role, in the campaign against what they repeatedly called the Rajapaksas’ dictatorship, leading to the January, 2015 revolution, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake and his friends would never have cooperated with the military. In fact, such an allegation is an affront to Bandaranayake whose scathing attacks on the previous administration facilitated Maithripala Sirisena’s victory at the January, 2015, presidential polls.

Addressing the launch at the SLFI, Bandaranayke referred to various attempts meant to sabotage the project. Bandaranayake recalled, what he called, ‘Mahason Balakaya’ threatening him with death and severe criticism of him for over a month, after a decision was made to launch the Sinhala translation. Bandaranayake emphasized that they courageously campaigned against the war risking their lives. The film maker declared that they used both cinema and drama to campaign against the war. Bandaranayake recalled the circumstances under which they exploited the Norway-arranged CFA to show Trojan Kanthawo at Webmadi, Jaffna, in 2003. Bandaranayake had first met Saminadan Wimal during his visit to Jaffna, in 2003. Thamilini had been among those LTTEers at the showing of Trojan Kanthawo at a school at Wembadi. Subsequently, both Trojan Kanthawo and Maname had been shown in Trincomalee. An irate Bandaranayake said that he was called an LTTEer for many years.

 Bandaranayake revealed that he had not been aware of Mahadevan marrying Thamilini until the former sought his support to secure the best possible medical advice for his wife.

 Among the audience was Dr Mahendra Perera who caringly treated her. A section of the media, and racists, reacted angrily to Thamilini receiving treatment at the Maharagama cancer hospital. On the day, following her death, a section of the media reported her passing away in a derogatory manner, Bandaranayake complained. Thamilini’s body was taken to Kilinochchi without being embalmed.

 Bandaranayake said that he didn’t care about media criticism, including Tamilweb attack, in India. The film maker strongly criticized Divaina for challenging his efforts to reveal the truth. The renowned director said that Thamilini’s memoirs would be the beginning of what he called literature on the eelam war. "Recently, my son, with the intervention of Rupavahini, did a book on a suicide cadre to highlight his experience,"

Bandaranayake denied any government involvement in his project.

Those who had been opposed to Thamilini’s book castigated Bandaranayake but they never bothered to peruse it. Thamilini had done much more than those opposed to the LTTE to counter Tamil Diaspora allegations. Bandaranayake strongly denied accusations by the LTTE rump, and LTTE sympathizes, that they had included information to tarnish the image of the LTTE. Saminadan Wimal and Gamini Viyangoda too addressed the gathering.

Thamilini discussed the life of those women who had been captured by the military during clashes, on ground, as well as sea.

Thamilini’s version of events exposed those who threw their weight behind the LTTE as long they felt the organisation could achieve its military objectives at any cost. They remained committed to the eelam cause until the very end. Obviously, they believed in a successful LTTE counter attack, on the Vanni east front, though the top LTTE leadership by January 2009, knew the imminent collapse of the organization. Thamilini expertly dealt with the rapid collapse of the group’s fighting capability.

Thamilini also exposed the very angry reaction of those who had backed the LTTE and represented its interests after they learnt of her surrender to the Army on May 16, 2009. Thamilini talked bitterly of them accusing her of surrendering to the Army with a large amount of money and then helping the military to identify many members of the organisation at welfare centres in Vavuniya. Thamilini explained how some Tamils hated her for not dying on the Vanni battlefields where many of her senior colleagues perished. Thamilini alleged that it’s those who couldn’t bear the LTTE’s humiliating defeat.

Having joined the LTTE, on July 29, 1991, Thamilini had served both combat and political units until her surrender on May 16, 2009. At the time of her surrender, she functioned as the head of the Women’s Political Wing. Thamilini revealed the circumstances where, under Velupillai Prabhakaran’s personal intervention, those engaged in political work were sent for weapons training. Thamilini had joined the 21 batch of women cadres sent to Sothiya Regiment in April 1992. Thamilini’s memoirs also dealt with her first meeting with Prabhakaran before she received weapons training.

Thamilini talked of the Directorate of the Military Intelligence (DMI) infiltrating the Vanni during CFA. The LTTEer discussed her chance meeting with an army officer whom she previously knew as a journalist from Colombo who had conversed with LTTEers in Tamil. Thamilini also bitterly commented on those Tamils who worked with the Army and especially one who mocked surrendered LTTE cadres by displaying newspapers announcing the death of Prabhakaran. Thamilini expressed shock at the behaviour of those who collaborated with the Army.

Thamilini has given the military an opportunity to examine some critically important events afresh. The arrest and execution of one-time Prabhakaran’s deputy, Mahattaya, on a charge of being an agent of India’s premier intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), should be re-examined against the backdrop of Thamilini’s revelations. Contrary to previous reports which dealt with the arrest of Mahattaya, Thamilini declared the top Tiger was taken in by Soosapillai Joseph Anthonydas, better known as Colonel Sornam. The arrest was made at Mahatatya’s camp, situated at Manipay, in the Jaffna peninsula.

Thamilini explained a series of changes implemented, at the behest of Prabhakaran, immediately after Mahattaya’s arrest. With the removal of Mahattaya, Prabhakahan brought in the then Jaffna District Special Commander, Dinesh (S.P. Thamilchelvam), as Mahattaya’s replacement. Thamilchelvam played a significant role in Prabhakaran’s strategy until the Air Force blasted his hideout, at Kilinochchi, on the morning of Nov 2, 2007. Following his death, the LTTE conferred its highest military rank Brigadier to Thamilchelvan.

Thamilini confirmed that members of the LTTE political wing had been directly engaged, even in high intensity battles. Thamilini herself had been involved in the devastating LTTE offensive directed at the Pooneryn-Nagathevanthurai bases, in early Nov. 1993. Her revaluation that LTTE Intelligence Wing leader, Pottu Amman, had been assigned by Prabhakaran to coordinate the operation underscored the significance of the intelligence leader’s capabilities. Thamilini discussed with administration Pottu Amman issuing instructions to those preparing to overrun the Pooneryn-Nagathevanthurai bases. Among those 1,000 wounded, during the three-day battle, were Sornam and Political Wing leader Thamilchelvan. Thamilini also revealed those assigned to the Political Wing receiving lectures at the Jaffna University. They had an opportunity to receive lectures on the LTTE’s history, liberation struggles in various parts of the world and various other relevant subjects.

 Thamilini also dealt with the contentious issue of rape and sexual harassment by the military. She unreservedly condemned those who had been propagating that almost all women, taken into custody by the military, had been raped or molested. She lashed out at those propagating lies at the expense of female cadres at all levels who risked their lives for the organization. She alleged that bodies of those who had been sexually abused were shown seeking political advantage.

 She complained bitterly about the women navy officer responsible for carrying out body checks at Welikada. She described the body check cruel and disrespectful whereas she basically commended the conduct of officers and men responsible for accepting surrendering LTTE cadres.

As pointed out by Gamini Viyangoda, those who fought against the LTTE, too, should have the courage to critically examine the past, accept wrongdoing on the part of the government and explore ways and means of taking remedial measures. Thamilini obviously had the strength to record her experience, during her 18-year long stay with an organization which was at one time considered militarily undefeatable. Mahadevan, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Saminadan Wimal, and all those who contributed to the release of Thamilini’s memoirs, should earn the respect of all for going ahead with the project knowing very well it will weaken war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka. Those who criticize the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government for not safeguarding the interests of the military should be ashamed of themselves for not forcefully taking up Thamilini’s revelations. None of those members of parliament, loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had referred to Thamilini’s revelations so far, much to the disappointment of patriotic people. They had so far ignored some of the most crucial post-war revelations, made by a person who had been on the front throughout the campaign.