What John Kerry, Pillay and HRW et al have now proven beyond doubt is that a ‘human shield’ is a great weapon for terroristsPosted on March 26th, 2009 No comments
Ramanie de Zoysa
26 March 2009
According to those ‘civilians’, of whom the world is so ‘gravely concerned’ about, that have run away from the clutches of the Tiger terrorist to the care of the Sri Lankan Government Forces, the terrorist leaders are freely moving around in the ‘no fire zones’ declared by the Sri Lankan Government. The purpose of declaring the no fire zones was so that the ‘civilians’ would be able to seek safety in the area. Then again, what’s good for the civilian is even better for the terrorists. The racist killer from Velvettithurai now residing in the Wanni jungles- Prabhakaran and the ex-common cop from Kirullapone- Nadesan know for certain that the Sri Lankan Government will not directly fire into the zone for fear of harming civilians. When Prabhakaran and Nadesan moved the ‘civilians’ from their villages into the jungle they were just a group of people held hostage; the group was collectively turned into a ‘human shield’ by the international ‘humanitarian industry’ which started braying like donkeys demanding that the Sri Lankan Government ceases military action on account of the presence of these people. Cornered, toothless and exposed, the LTTE was quick indeed to realise that the ‘people’ were the most effective body armour that now guaranteed their safety. In fact they are the most impregnable shield they could have ever wished for.
The Wanni ‘civilians’ are obviously a mixed bunch of people trapped in a situation mostly beyond their control due to various reasons. Some are family members of the ex- cadres who have been anointed as ‘Maveerar’ families; some of these families may have parted with precious family members to a ‘cause’ they were taught was going to bring them the Dravidastan that the Cholas of yesteryear lost. Some may have had their family members taken by force and have nothing much else left except to be around the tombstones that still remind them they once had loved ones. Then there are others who have family members presently fighting for the LTTE. Some others are cooks, seamstresses, builders, carpenters, barbers and menial labourers or provide some sort of services for the LTTE. Then there are those who remain only due to fear who will escape at the first opportunity. Those with the guns have most likely been told to shoot even their families if they had any ideas about escaping. According to the people who have now escaped Tiger clutches, there were instances where some cadres were crying and shooting at the same time at people who were running away. According to other reports from the escapees the Tigers are grabbing the free food and medicines sent to these areas for the civilians by the Sri Lankan Government and are re-selling them at black market prices- a kilo of black pepper is said to be going for Rs 4,000 in the jungle.
The thing is, it was a ‘human catastrophe’ all this time- for 25 long years- not only when the Sri Lankan Government Forces have come this close to eliminating the terrorist. Simple villagers living a subsistence life were brainwashed by a group of rabid radicals whose tendency to violence was on par with their racist ideology. Then the villagers had their children, fathers and brothers given arms training and deployed in the most gruesome acts of violence. Then it was the women’s’ turn. Young women were enlisted and taught to kill instead of nurturing. Family lives were shattered. There were now orphans and widows by the thousands and there were people with severe mental illness. Some orphaned girls ended up being raped and turned into suicide cadres or ended up as sex slaves for the fighters. Food production in the area became a thing of the past as the Tiger terrorists claimed every able bodied person to fight. Food supplies became even more limited as the terrorists started charging prohibitive ‘kappang’ they called taxes on goods that were being transported to the area. Slowly but surely Tigers themselves were running the shops selling the basic goods at black market prices. Malnutrition was now rife. Then there were NGOs/ INGOs coming into help. Some NGO/ INGOs converted non-Christians into Christianity for the promise of a plate of free food or for getting a family member out of ‘trouble’ with the terrorists. Others provided people with sanitary buckets with green lids and other useless paraphernalia but not a single school, clinic, road or a house was built for the people. People continued to live in crowded mud huts with no spiritual or material development. Without fail all the NGO/ INGO workers who were non-foreigners were Tamils, mostly from the area. Among them were LTTE cadres and spies operating in the guise of NGO/ INGO workers. Any civilian disobeying were tortured or murdered- most of the spies being the ‘humanitarian workers’ working for NGOs/ INGOs. Gruesome torture chambers were built in the villages where those who were suspected of being ‘traitors’ were tortured in the most inhumane ways. Children stopped going to school- some for fear of being enlisted. It was only the free electricity, water and medical facilities that continued to be provided by the Sri Lankan Government to the LTTE captive areas that sustained the villagers’ lives even to the present pitiful standard.
This human catastrophe was not noticed or reported on to the world at large by the NGOs/ INGOs that operated in these areas. In fact some of the oppressors worked for the NGO/ INGO themselves because the cover of NGO/ INGO status lavished on them the freedom of movement and logistical capability that the LTTE needed to operate its terror network. Ban ki Moon or his melancholy predecessor Kofi Annan never had any ‘concern’ expressed for either the destruction of civilian livelihoods or the lives; nor did they express any ‘concern’ on the complete absence of ‘development’ in these areas where so many ‘humanitarian’ groups worked so ‘tirelessly’ for such little output. UNHC for Human Rights did not know about these people then; nor did John Kerry, Hilary Clinton, Rev Desmond Tutu, Gordon Brown, Gareth Evans or Keith Vaz.
These ‘civilians’ had other VIP guests too. The Colombo based foreign Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers of some countries came in and out of these areas. The Americans, Norwegians, Germans, Japanese, Indians and Europeans came in and out of these areas for many a ‘peace manoeuvre’; but, none had a single bad word about the plight of the civilians then.
So, what then is different now? The ‘civilians’ are in exactly the same position. They have now had to leave their mud huts but they are the same tired, confused, grief stricken, bereaved, mentally ill, angry, hungry, destitute people they were for over a quarter of a century. The only thing that has now changed are the fortunes of the LTTE. The LTTE was ‘king’ before the battle of Mahaveli Oya (Mavil Aru) began. The LTTE supposedly ‘controlled’ ‘swathes’ of land and resources and ran a ‘de facto state’ then. Arms and ammunitions, air craft, sub marines were coming in ship loads and being delivered at the LTTE doors in Killinochchi with the compliments of the Tamil Diaspora. LTTE was dictating terms to the Sri Lankan Government through Sri Lanka’s foreign ambassadors or the Nordic Monitors while Anton Balasingham was making vile threats against the Sri Lankan Nation openly while living in England.
The international chorus of ‘concern for the civilians’ and the ‘impending human catastrophe’ started with the fall of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu. By then it was not the status of the civilians that had deteriorated markedly but that of the LTTE. May be I have a suspicious mind but I think that these howls are coming from interested parties to save the Tigers from elimination rather than to sane the ‘civilians’. It is these very same howls that have condemned these civilians to the status of a ‘human shield’; something that works well for the LTTE’s survival by ensuring that as long as the ‘civilians’ are there the Sri Lankan Government would not be able to fire at the LTTE. Had the international community stood by Sri Lanka in her battle against the LTTE may be the same number of ‘civilians’ as now could have died but Sri Lanka could have been cleared of terrorist occupation and well on the way to recovery weeks ago.
‘Civilian casualties’ is also known as ‘collateral damage’, when it suits those in Western societies. It was the US that first coined the now fashionable phrase “collateral damage” in relation to a situation of war- in specific, the then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, when quizzed by international media if the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to US sanctions could possibly be justified, referred to those lives as “collateral damage”. She answered “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” This is the same league of people who are worried sick about civilian casualties in the North of Sri Lanka today. For a small country that has suffered the agony of terrorism in its most ruthless form for 26 years which has claimed 70,000 lives under most brutish circumstances already, such collateral damage would have also been a very hard choice- but the price would have been worth it.
No one thought of human shields in Iraq- in fact nobody had the time to think of human shields in Iraq when aerial bombs fell invoking ‘shock and awe’ killing hundreds and thousands of civilians. Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted in August 12-19, 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War where 9% of that figure (or 92,970) were due to aerial bombardment. There were no calls for ceasefires then; no reconciliatory discussions, no envoys to mediate between the “warring parties” and no political solutions.
Even if you ignore what this embarrassing duplicity of the world’s most important power brokers has done to little Sri Lanka, what will come home to roost one day would be the very clear message that has been given to the international terror industry at large by the world powers. The message is that even when all is lost and it is crystal clear that one has lost the war it pays to hang on to as large a human shield as possible for survival rather than put down arms and surrender.
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