Is it only in Sri Lanka’s case or does it happen elsewhere too that soldiers are treated as dirt by the supposed guardians of peace while internationally proscribed terrorists are white-washed at every stage? Ever since the military victory over LTTE following 30 years of failed attempts to bring peace, morning to night the GOSL has been virtually hounded by the UN, foreign envoys and the UNHRC calling for accountability when none of them were nowhere to be seen when the LTTE attacked villages, school children, public installations and politicians since 1980s. The chant ‘domestic inquiry’ for a ghost figure of 40,000 plus conveniently ignores the need to first inquire from the LTTE what they did with the 5000 soldiers still missing. Sri Lanka should demand a need to have a domestic inquiry to find out the whereabouts of 5000 missing soldiers first before commencing inquiries for ghost estimates without even a name!

Ever since May 2009 it has been a chorus of a new terminology referred to as ‘credible allegations’ without proof of what is credible about the allegations.

While factual data has been produced a panel personally appointed by the UN Secretary General which has no legal basis to be used as the foundation for UNHRC Resolutions or OHCHR’s reports claims that the figures given by the GOSL are too ‘small to accept’. Isn’t that fascinating! An international panel won’t accept a figure simple because they find it impossible to imagine that the figure is so little!

Taking that as a cue starting from the former UN spokesmen a whole line up of people ganged up to claim from overseas confines that 40,000 died as if they had been personally watching the soldiers kill each. The fantasy and sensationalism transferred to films and documentaries all of which took people away from the simple question of asking – who saw these 40,000 being killed, how on earth did the soldiers manage to dig trenches and bury them while shooting was taking place and if so where the hell are the skeletons of the dead, where are the families of these dead, why has no one come forward to even name the dead. Thus these credible allegations have extended from 40,000 to 100,000 and some have even gone to quote 225,000 … give them a few more years they might quote figures more than the Tamil population in the North!

Fitted to this is another bizarre claim of genocide. Now the only way genocide can be used is if we introduce a new terminology as ‘seasonal genocide’ for didn’t it occur to those making the ‘credible allegations’ that the armed forces took over 4 months to end the military operation and laid down the lives of over 2000 soldiers to save close to 300,000 Tamils (among whom were LTTE cadres and we really don’t know how many were real civilians and how many were actual cadres) In addition there were 12,000 LTTE cadres who surrendered and they all surrendered in civilian attire. Now if genocide was the order of the day why ever did the Armed Forces waste artillery, waste time rescuing Tamils through land and lagoon, carry them to safety, set up reception centres with Tamil speaking armed forces personnel, keep food and medicines to offer the hunger-struck and wounded Tamils when all that the army had to do was fire away and flatten the entire area.

So it’s a little tiring now to be thinking that we are such a daft nation and quite tiring that our officials are not demanding that those making ‘credible allegations’ forward ‘credible evidence’ to prove that 40,000 or more were killed. Without 100 names even presented it is a laughable matter that the UNSG/UNHRC and its High Commissioner continue to seek domestic inquiries when they have so far not produced a shred of EVIDENCE except sensationalized ALLEGATIONS…. Allegations do not qualify as Evidence… and this is what Sri Lanka should insist on.
Moreover, Ban Ki Moons panel only declared that it found that ‘as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final months of the civil war’. There is a major difference in MAY HAVE BEEN and actually been killed!!!

However, Sri Lanka now has the opportunity to turn the tables. We have 5000 missing soldiers whose parents, widowed wives and fatherless children continue to mourn the denial of their right to even see the corpse of their dead war hero!

We take as an example just one single attack. 22 April 2000 when LTTE attacked the Elephant Pass camp and took into custody 600 soldiers from the camp. All 600 were killed and none of their bodies were returned to the forces (as per statement sent to UNHRC by a father of a missing soldier). These 600 families are just a handful of many other families whose children/husband/fathers were captured and killed by the LTTE and whose bodies are still not found and they continue to be listed as soldiers missing in action.

Some of these missing soldiers wives/mothers & fathers have written to the UNHRC investigation team bemoaning the fact that while the LTTE are being rehabilitated and released to lead peaceful lives the families of the missing soldiers are still wondering what happened to their dear sons who went to defend the nation (not divide the nation) and when the State or the UN/UNHRC are showing no care about their whereabouts but going after ghost figures without names.

Some of these families are living in poverty, their wives are shunned by society, some newly married and now widowed without children are still wondering what happened to their missing soldiers.

However totally ignoring their plight, funds and foreign assistance are all pouring in all directed at only one ethnic group totally ignoring that Sinhalese and Muslims were the main targets of LTTE terror. Sinhalese did not attack the Tamils at any given time. If there have been incidents these were all perpetrated by the UNP Governments and their thugs and not the common masses. The world must apologize to the Sinhalese for unfairly tarnishing them instead of making the UNP answerable for their sins.

Let it also be made clear that LTTE even had a trained civilian force and we are yet to be told whom among the 300,000 saved by the military had combat training and actually engaged in hostilities while in civilian clothing. This is important for while considering them victims what cannot be forgotten is that they too shoulder accountability for soldier deaths. What an anti-climax for soldiers to be engaged in a military offensive while carrying out a humanitarian operation that rescued LTTE cadres as well and Ban Ki Moon asks us not to engage in triumphalism!

Returning to the key point. Preference has to be given to the men who defended the nation and not those who attempted to divide the nation. Anyone claiming 40,000 died must first produce the evidence that 40,000 actually died and then ask the GOSL to investigate to see how they died. As far as we are concerned 5000 soldiers are missing. Their names have all been lodge with the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons by their families/wives. So unlike the ghost 40,000 figures these 5000 have real names, addresses and details the only thing missing are their bodies and LTTE has to account for that because most of these soldiers were either captured and taken to custody never to return.

Therefore, if any investigation/inquiry should commence at all it must first start by finding out what happened to the 5000 missing soldiers and holding LTTE accountable for their deaths. Now is the UN & foreign agencies willing to fund this? We doubt because such an inquiry does not gel with their ulterior plan which is nothing about 40,000 or even 200,000 dead but to somehow get a foothold in Sri Lanka by establishing an office on the pretext of providing technical assistance and thereafter plotting to do what the Western imperialists have planned for Sri Lanka and greater Asia.

Without meekly accepting the allegations it is time Sri Lanka’s officials went on the offensive demanding OHCHR or any others to produce the evidence before agreeing to open any inquiry but if at all an inquiry is to be held it should be first to find the whereabouts of the missing 5000 soldiers first.

Shenali D Waduge