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Sunday, June 23, 2024

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Government Gazette

Blood, sweat and tears - Tigers’ sinister motives



Brigadier Shavendra Silva

Tarred roads, improved irrigation systems, cultivations and new buildings or human settlements with decent dwellings are some of the indicators to testify development in an area. They are the factors which show that people enjoy freedom as well as they are being looked after well.

But one who takes a tour around the newly liberated areas of Mannar will be amazed to see how the so-called saviours of the Tamils, the LTTE had treated their own flesh and blood for more than 20 years. How the outfit had exploited the funds and resources sent by the government to uplift the living standards of the people. The remaining human settlements there will testify the state of lives the innocent Tamil villagers were compelled to live in.

It is pathetic to see how these people - young and old - were chased from one village to another when the Security Forces are crushing the strongholds of the LTTE. With the troops on the Mannar front beginning their military offensives last September, these innocent civilians had become virtual prisoners of the outfit. Denying their rights to live with their decent lives were torn into pieces for decades.

The famous ‘Rice Bowl’, the most fertile patch of the land in the entire province was under the LTTE for the past two decades. If they really wanted to bring prosperity to their people, the LTTE could have cultivated thousands of fertile lands in the district. If the LTTE cultivates even a small patch of land it was done using forced labour and the ultimate financial benefits were derived by the outfit and the money was always credited to their ‘account’ and not to the innocent villagers who sweat under the scorching sun. Their labour was valued only for ration coupons, which were merely enough to feed several mouths of their families for a few days.

A tour around these villages will leave one with several unanswerd questions including what has happened to the allocations given by the government for health and infrastructure development in these areas. Where are the funds given by the NGOs and INGOs?.


LTTE cemetery to glorify the dead

In a piece of land where the terrorism controlled everything for over two decades, the answers for these questions were not that far.

It lies within terrorism. But one will surely expect to see at least a little development in these areas. But it was sad to see how the LTTE had exploited these people for their own good and to keep their terrorist organization going.

There was only one tarred road in the whole of Vedithalthivu, the main sea Tiger base in the north western coast, which leads to the jetty.

The area, with the heavily fortified base, came under the control of the LTTE since the departure of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1990. The fishing village with significant number of churches has not seen much development though it had lots of potential. The LTTE had converted several churches into their offices and also as artillery positions with bunkers.

The roads leads to the school and the hospital were not tarred. The hospital, now occupied by the army, was used by the LTTE to treat their cadres.

The drugs have been destroyed before they ran way and carried away other vital medical equipment with them.


Pix: Rukmal Gamage

The new hospital complex built under NECORD Funds and opened in October 2004 was basically a treatment centre for the LTTE cadres.

The 10 Km trench, which has been built two kilometers south of Vedithalthivu was the primary defence of the Sea Tiger Base. The eight feet high earth bund and the secondary defence lines - the trench show how the LTTE used forced labour for their own protection. The heavily fortified bunkers built using huge logs silently testify same. The areas around these defencelines are heavily mined violating all international norms.

“ Vedithalthivu had over 2,000 cadres and they had taken all their efforts to secure the base. This is one place to show how they had made use of innocent villagers to build bunkers and dig several kilo meter long trenches and earth bunds “, Brigadier Shavendra Silva, General Officer Commanding - 58 Division, said adding that the sheer dedication and commitment of the soldiers helped in the near impossible task of recapturing the area.

He said in other battlefields where the Western soldiers fight, they used heavy machinery to break into these battle grounds but our infantry soldiers beat all difficulties to defeat terrorism.*

“The LTTE had built a 13 kilometre long stretch of earth bunds of eight feet depth and had dug trenches of four feet as a supply route. You can see how they have used civilians to do most of the hard work. The LTTE had ordered the civilians what they called ‘makkal paddei’ to do this type of work free of charge. These they have not done within few days. They have used civilians to do the work for days and months”, he said.


A ‘shrine room’ existed inside the school for LTTE child soldiers

The places where the villagers lived can not be called even shanties. They were really cow sheds or fowl pen’s. No cover to protect them from the sun or rain and built with a two feet of clay bricks and the rest left open. With thatched roofs, these small houses with few square feet width.

But these saviors had occupied most of the houses built with bricks belonging to the civilians. Heavy bunkers have been built in and around these houses but the roofs are being removed from all the houses now by the fleeing Tigers.

The Tigers had damaged an IPKF monument built in memory of three of their soldiers who got killed at that junction. And the huge water tank just before entering the Vedithalaithi too had been destroyed by the fleeing terrorists.

The Security Forces ploughing through massive earth bunds and bunkers did not touch any of the religious places of worship on even the small statues found the along the road.

Brig. Silva said that the Army took extra care when capturing the Hospital at Pallemadu , which had several bunkers inside. “We have not damaged the hospital as we know that we can resettle people soon. The LTTE fired heavily but we wanted to capture the township with little damage to make resettlement easy”, he said.

The LTTE had tried their best to remove the iron girders of the Vallankulam Bridge.

Illuppakadawal was another massive LTTE base which housed 200 LTTE cadres. They used all the rations, given by the international NGOs to civilians, to feed their own cadres. The Army had found expensive cooking oil used for cooking and large number of coconut trees cut down for their bunkers.

“The coconut cultivations do not belong to the LTTE but to the civilians. The LTTE had taken them forcibly. They have given the food donated for the civilians by the NGOs for their cadres or for their sympathizers. Civilians were left to starve”, he added.

Brig. Silva claimed that the LTTE had not done anything for the civilians during the last two decades. “The LTTE knew that security forces would capture these areas one day and they were ready.

These fertile lands were not used for the benefit of the villagers and no cultivation was done for years. They can not say that they have done something good for their own people. The saddest part is that the LTTE did not allow the civilians to do even their farming”, he said.

Other than the few buildings put up by the government there are no new buildings in these areas. The cement and other lorry loads of stuff sent by the government following the requests by the state officials every year have been used by the LTTE to facilitate terror activities. The well built cemeteries with cement tomb stones for each cadre that will show the amount of cement that the LTTE had used for their own purposes.

“What we can see is that the LTTE did not allow people under their custody to live a decent life. They wanted them to drown in poverty. Not a single house or a building had come up during their control. They wanted people to starve and that is their way of ruling over these people”, Brig Silva claimed.

He said it is time to question the activities of the NGOs too as there are no other big projects for the people, other than a few water tanks built during the past several years. “I think that the motive behind the LTTE is to make people suffer and then it was easy for them to keep them quiet.

Because then people do not have any other option other than sticking to the LTTE which gives them food for the work that they do for the outfit”, he added.

The huge earth bunds around these areas show that people were only allowed to engage in this work but not in cultivation.

The prayer room at the Vellankulam School is a gross violation of children’s rights. It was used to motivate children educating terrorism. According to Brig. Silva the place was designated for worshipping the dead LTTE child soldiers. They have brainwashed schoolchildren from grade one onwards by telling them storeis about the Army and identifying the soldiers as killers. They had tried to put across heroism to the LTTE cadres to motivate the schoolchildren to join the LTTE and to sympathize the outfit.

It is time for the LTTE sympathisers here and abroad look through new glasses.

And it is time for them to question the LTTE on what they have done for their own people for the last two decades. It is time for them to believe the truth rather than misled by the LTTE propaganda which show a rosy pictures taken in Kilinochchi or pathetic pictures showing the war to ‘grab’ their hard earned money for an unworthy cause.

Liberation of the North is not far and as many critics say the Tamil Diaspora has a huge responsibility of knitting the shattered lives of thousands of people lived under the grips of the LTTE.

************************************

Bishop of Mannar clarifies...

Most Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, has written us the following letter:

“I am writing this letter regarding the publication of my interview with Ms. Shanika Sriyananda carried on Page 6 of Sunday Observer of the 10th of August, 2008. I am thankful to you for sending your correspondent to Mannar for interviewing civilians on the present situation. However, I was very much disheartened to read what you at the outset unreservedly mention falsely attributing to me as saying that the LTTE should be held responsible for the destruction unleashed during the past 25 years. I only said that the successive governments, the Security Forces, the people and the LTTE must take the responsibility for what is happening in the country.

“In another place in the same publication, I am misrepresented again as saying that “I am only hopeful that the LTTE will cooperate to hold Madhu feast.” I only expressed my hope that the LTTE will cooperate in the event of Madhu being declared a zone of peace or no conflict area by the Government.”

Editor’s note:

We would like to inform the Rt. Rev. Bishop that an intro (outset) is the starter of an article and the full content of the interview cannot be put in it. If the Sunday Observer has falsely attributed him, the Bishop is contradicting his own reply as he admitted later in his reply saying that the successive governments, security forces and the LTTE must take the responsibility for what is happening in the country.

 

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