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Let war crimes investigations begin, now

The government’s taste for blood which gathered momentum in 1971 only increased their appetite and the need for holding on to power. Once enjoyed, successive governments’ greed blinded them to their duty of protecting their civilians. It killed dissenters.

by Pearl Thevanayagam

(June 19, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) There is compelling evidence that Channel 4 video Killing Fields is a fake. The strongest argument put forward and editorialised in Colombo is that the brave soldiers ended terrorism by rescuing 300,000 civilians cooped up in small patch of land.

It is also utter nonsense that British TV channels repeatedly aired reels of Tamil refugees arriving with bags at Heathrow in 1983. The July 1983 pogrom did not happen. It is the figment of imagination of a few Tamil economic migrants aka LTTE rump as our journalists in Colombo would describe Tamil refugees abroad.

I was among the 10,000 Tamils on that day of July 24, 1983 who were herded into an airless lorry packed like sardines and unloaded onto the tarmac of Ratmalana Airport. Peeping through a small hole I saw bodies strewn on pavements, some writhing and half-alive. Colombo was a blaze of fire and smoke. We had but 10 hurriedly dug-up holes for toilets and I stayed in this camp for five days beneath aluminum sheets and slept on the concrete floor in scorching July heat. I stood in the queue at 2.00 am to collect food packets for my mother and three sisters consisting of rice, parippu and an egg. Many others went without as the food ran out.

I was witnessing the re-enactment of Auschwitz Camp under Herr Hitler.

We dared not eat too much since we did not want to go to the over-flowing toilets. And we discarded our under-garments since there was no water to bathe and we were starting to come out in rashes. On the fifth day National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali visited this camp and asked us if we would like to return to Jaffna by ship. My family decided to go to Jaffna although we did not know where we were going to stay. Only six months previously we had bought a house in Nugegoda and brought all our belongings including 300 paintings of my late father.

We stood silently pretending to be Sinhalese when school boys still in uniform from Royal and Ananda Colleges set fire to our belongings on the lawn. The history of my ancestors disappeared in one puff of smoke along with my awards every year I received on English Day while at school. They meant the world to me since I was not good at anything else.

Much water had flowed under the bridge and I had taken to journalism when I had the rare privilege of visiting Jaffna in October 1994. I was among the 30 journalists who went by plane to cover the second round of peace talks President Kumaratunga was to have with the LTTE. I was shocked to see my town bereft of buildings from Jaffna Library to Holy Family Convent. It was a ghost town with hectares of just empty space and rubbles. I visited my neighbour under the escort of an LTTE cadre who never left my side and gave her torch batteries, pens and oranges which I had brought from Colombo. There was no electricity and there was a hurricane lantern on the table.

The lady who was always impeccably dressed took these little gifts with eagerness and showed me a bunker where they had to hide during air-raid warnings. The government stopped sending essential supplies to the North fearing the LTTE would use them to make weapons and feed their cadres. So civilians had to starve.

The house we grew up in still bore our childhood writings on the wall. On a pillar I had been practising maths. (x+y)(x-y) =....... The avocado fruits were plentiful and they filled the well nearby. There was no one in the house. It was deserted and the part of the front gates lay fallen.

The JVP insurrection of April 1971 is real. The government killed 10,000 of these youth. The government also killed Sinhalese youth numbering 30,000 or more in 89/90. I witnessed the bodies of at least five a day dumped at the bus-stop near my house. I heard the shootings, dogs howling and jeeps roaring past my house into the village in the early hours of the morning. I saw bodies floating in Kelani Ganga every day.

The government’s taste for blood which gathered momentum in 1971 only increased their appetite and the need for holding on to power. Once enjoyed, successive governments’ greed blinded them to their duty of protecting their civilians. It killed dissenters.

There is something, perhaps inherent hatred for Tamils which makes even ordinary law-abiding citizens to believe that the government only ended terrorism and did not harm civilians. The majority of the Sinhalese are in complete denial.

I will not go into what the LTTE did. It certainly has committed horrendous war crimes. The only difference is, it was not licensed to kill. They are the terrorists. But the government soldiers received the blessings of the leaders to kill Tamils and create a Sinhala only Sri Lanka.

Eugenics is what the government has in mind.

The international community was shrewdly kept out of the happenings in Sri Lanka. The media was strangled, stifled and journalists murdered.

Fast forward to 2009. The 300,000 Tamil civilians had suffered many displacements and losses of their families far worse than I have experienced. The government shooed them away like cattle and herded them in Mullivaikkal. And it bombed them indiscriminately. I have seen evidence of women being raped. I have seen their scars and heard their wails.

Now tell me Mr Sinha Ratnatunga, editor of Sunday Times and Mr Manik de Silva, editor of The Island whether you need any more proof the government soldiers killed Tamil civilians in their thousands and the government sanctioned this pogrom.

Channel 4 video is authentic and there is no way anyone can dispute it. It is that simple.

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