No civilians were killed - Dy. Minister Muralitharan
Former bodyguard of the late Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of
the defunct LTTE, and the present Deputy Minister of Resettlement
Vinayagamoothi Muralitharan has vehemently refuted allegations that the
military had killed civilians during the final stages of the victory,
two years ago.
"The government adopted more measures, such as zero civilian casualty
policy in keeping with international humanitarian laws to protect
civilians in a warring situation," he said adding the United Nation's
report to be released is "fundamentally flawed in many respects" and as
being based on "patently biased" and unverified material.
In an interview with the Sunday Observer Minister Muralitharan said
that the UN or those such as Robert O Blake, the U.S. Assistant
Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, don't have any right to
interfere in Sri Lankan issues as the government could resolve them in a
"The government fought not against the civilians but ruthless
terrorists. What is happening now in Libya, where civilians are being
killed did not happen in Sri Lanka two years ago, Muralitharan alias
Karuna Amman, who was with the LTTE for over 15 years said.
Minister, Muralitharan who visited his 82-year-old mother,
Puwaneshwari in Batticaloa to present her new year gifts, said that the,
entire country celebrated the Sinhala and Tamil New year without fear.
"I never had time to be with my children during those days. We were
always ordered to attack military targets rather than celebrating the
traditional new year of similar cultural events", he said.
He said the LTTE, never respected Tamil traditions, and did not allow
the people to celebrate any events but put them on alert to tight even
at auspicious times.
Muralitharan said the entire nation should be grateful to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa for restoring peace in the country and ensuring a
better future for Sri Lanka.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: The UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon panel has released its
report on alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the
victory in May 2009. What is your comment?
A: I wish to say clearly that the government troops did not
kill any civilians during those days. While the LTTE was killing the
civilians who were fleeing, it was the military which rescued them and
saved them. We maintained a zero casualty policy throughout the battle
and the world has forgotten that it was a battle against ruthless
terrorists. The military had never harmed civilians. All those who
surrendered have been rehabilitated. Nearly 7,000 of them who have been
reintegrated into the mainstream society are leading normal lives today.
Q: Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne had said recently that some
of the rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres were involved in violence. Does this
mean that they are not rehabilitated well?
A: The government's rehabilitation process has been commended
by the local and international experts. It is a success story. They are
well rehabilitated and doing well to earn a living to rebuild their
The vocational training given to them is very useful for them to find
jobs. Some are working in the private sector. In some areas they have
started their own businesses as they are given loans by the State banks.
There are no such complaints reported from the East.
A very few incidents have keen reported from the North, where some
people had committed thefts. What I would say is that there is no
possibility at all for the LTTE to raise its head again as the
government is fully alerted.
Especially the people of the North and the East don't want LTTE to
reappear. They want nothing else but peace and a bright future for their
The problem is with the Tamil Diaspora, which is still engaged in a
failed mission to show that the LTTE still exists. They try to project
some pro-LTTE activity to get international exposure.
Q: Two years have almost elapsed after the complete defeat of
the LTTE. Can we continue to blame the Tamil Diaspora for propagating
the LTTE ideology?
A: No, all Sri Lankan Tamils in the Diaspora should not be
blamed. They have a right to have their own agendas but they should not
harm the image of the country and also fuel the attempts to bring the
defunct LTTE back to life.
Except for those in pro-LTTE groups, many Tamils have been
enlightened and would like to share President Rajapaksa's efforts to
rebuild Sri Lanka.
It is sad that the LTTEers such as Rudrakumar and Nadiyawaran are
still misleading the Tamils abroad. They are not still convinced that
there is a failed mission as the Tamils do not recognize them.
However, the government will not leave room for the LTTE to make a
come back. That is why the emergency is being extended every month to
maintain law and order. That does not mean that the North and the East
is militarized but I think emergency is needed to maintain peace and to
give maximum protection to the Tamils. People have now realized that the
government has extended the emergency for their own safety.
Q: The government has been talking about getting the support
of Tamil Diaspora for the country's development and has allowed it to
visit the North and the East to explore opportunities to invest. What is
A: Yes, it is a successful endeavourer and there is more room
to bring more people to government fold. I think our foreign missions
should get in touch with Tamils in their respective countries.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canada is doing a good job.
Doors are open for anyone to meet her. She holds discussions with
Tamils in Canada and solves their problems. I have lots of contacts
there and they appreciate her work. Tamils in Canada are happy and they
are gradually getting convinced of the ground realities.
We cannot change everything overnight but will take time. As the
pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora is still active I think foreign missions have a
greater responsibility to enlighten them.
The LTTE had appointed remaining LTTE cadres as leaders to revive its
ideology in the respective countries. They are issuing Eelam identity
cards among pro-LTTE Tamils under the Trans National government led by
Rudrakumar. I don't think their attempts would be successful as the
Tamils don't accept them.
It is a joke for many Tamils.
But as a responsible government we cannot neglect them as they are
also Sri Lankans. We will continue to talk to them and explain to them
that the so-called pro-LTTE groups which cry for the Tamils, have never
invested at least a cent to build a house for a Tamil or to educate a
child in Wanni. They are shedding crocodile tears only for their
survival and also to make their pockets fat. It is time for the Tamils
to experience the change and come forward to create a better future.
Q: But Rudrakumar has met Robert O Blake to explain about
their Trans National Government. Will this kind of meetings have an
impact globally to recognize pro-LTTE attempts?
A: It is their freedom to meet any person or group. But the
question is will these meetings help the pro-LTTE groups. No, I don't
think it is too late to convince the Tamils. On the other hand Blake is
getting too much involved in Sri Lankan affairs. I think these are
These people cannot do anything to bring back LTTE or get the support
of the Tamils. UN agencies are closely working with the government and
they have commended the progress made in the post-conflict era.
No human rights violations have been reported since the defeat of
terrorism. We have a good record on improving human rights. The UN
agencies are the best to judge our human rights but not those such as
Blake. I think he is trying too much to involve in Sri Lankan affairs.
Q: However, the human rights groups still accuse the
government for the alleged human rights violations during the last days
of the battle.
What do you have to say?
A: The LTTE had become more ruthless and continued to kill
thousands of innocent people. They failed to reach a peaceful
The war against LTTE terrorism reached a stage where even the UN
wanted the government to conclude the fighting to save lives. The UPFA
government brought an end to the 30-year-old war against terrorism.
After the defeats of terrorism, the NGO based HR groups were making
allegations about human rights violations. Take Libya, where civilians
are getting killed. But in Sri Lanka there was no such situation and the
government saved over 300,000 lives.
I personally think even the UN is getting too much involved in Sri
Lanka's internal issues, which we can solve ourselves. We cannot allow
this trend to continue as we are a sovereign nation.
We refute all these false allegations made against us in keeping with
the pro-LTTE interests.
Q: Sonia Gandhi wants the government to amend the Sri Lanka
Constitution to guarantee the rights of Tamils. Do you think it should
be done soon?
A: I too personally appreciate her views. But remember the
Indian politicians always talk about the rights of Sri Lankan Tamils
during their election time. Once the polls are over the issues will not
surface until the next election. Now their elections are nearing and
they want to talk more about Tamils to grab the Tamil votes. They will
become more concerned with our Tamils in the coming days to attract more
votes. I think people are well aware of these tactics and also the
progress achieved by Sri Lanka to secure a better future for Sri Lankan
I think we are very much more concerned about our Tamils than them.
Q: You said your personal view is that you favour amendments
to the Constitution.
A: Yes, we need to amend the 13th Amendment and even President
Rajapaksa wants to do so. But at the same time I believe problems of
Tamils can be solved through the consent of the Sinhalese, who are the
majority of this country. We are only 18 percent and the majority
Sinhalese play a vital role in solving our problems. We have to be a
part of the government to achieve our goals- development, economic
stability and education.
Q: The talks between the government and the Tamil National
Alliance (TNA) are going on. How do you see the progress of these
A: Yes, it is progressing and is a good sign that the TNA has
realised the truth. It is democracy. The two parties in two different
folds are discussing how to work on the same platform to develop the
country. They have gradually understood the views of President
Rajapaksa, who always listen to their plight and resolve the problems
immediately. Whatever the TNA asked, the President showed his concern
and did his best to provide them redress.
Some have asked for police powers for the two provinces. This is not
practical for a country like Sri Lanka. And the TNA needs to have a
practical approach in their demands.
Q: Indian fishermen, who have intruded into Sri Lankan waters,
have created unrest among the fishermen. How do you think the government
can stop this?
A: I think this illegal poaching should be stopped as the
Indian fishermen are taking away our fish resources using their big
trawlers. The government has strongly protested to the Indian government
over this issue and discussions are going on. Tamils have realized that
the government had taken strong action against the Indian fishermen for
the benefit of the Tamils in the North and the East. People have
appreciated it. The TNA never talked about this issue. During the LTTE
period also the Indian fishermen encroached on Lankan waters and the
majority of them helped the LTTE in arms smuggling.
Q: Although you said that the people of the North have been
convinced they have still voted for the TNA, which you claim has done
nothing for the Tamil people.
How do you plan to get more people into the government fold?
A: Yes, though the TNA boasted that they had received the
highest number of votes in the North, more people have voted for the
UPFA this time. This is the first time after 30 years that the people in
the North have voted for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). During late
Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike's regime the SLFP had a vote-base
but later we lost it due to LTTE's influence. We are happy that we have
regained it under the leadership of President Rajapaksa.
If you go through the final results you can see the TNA has topped
the LG polls in the North but more than half of the people have not cast
their votes. LG bodies play a very crucial role in village development
and the TNA cannot spearhead development. The LG polls did not bestow
much power to the TNA.
The TNA still wants to propagate racism in the North and they called
the SLFP, a Sinhala dominated political party. If so how could Minister
Alavi Mowlana and I be Vice Presidents of that party. SLFP is a
multi-national party and the people of the North have gradually
understood that the TNA propaganda is false and revengeful. They can't
mislead the Northern people any more.
People know that the TNA could not deliver anything for the benefit
of the Tamils during the past so many years and they will fail to do so
even in the future. They together with the LTTE pushed people back to
the stone age and destroyed the future of the Tamils. Now they don't
want anything other than development and a secure future for their
They will not allow the TNA or any other movement to destroy these
hard-earned achievements. They have reposed their trust in President
Rajapaksa as he has a clear vision and a strong commitment to develop
The UPFA has won three seats in Manthai East Pradeshiya Sabha, which
was a totally LTTE dominated area. Is not this itself is enough to show
that people have begun reposing their trust in the government within a
short period of two years?
Q: When will the polls for the remaining areas be held and how
do you plan to win them?
A: Though an definite date is not fixed as yet, I think the
polls will be held by end of June. We are confident the UPFA will win
more seats as the UPFA is getting popular among the Wanni people. The
Muslims in the East who had been completely convinced of the development
and freedom heralded by the government had voted for the UPFA while the
UNP had lost their strongholds in the East. My appeal to the Tamils is
to support the UPFA to develop their areas. This is an important
election as the development starts from Pradeshiya Sabbhas. People have
realized this now.
Q: One defect observed in the recent polls was that the UPFA
did not have the experienced politicians as organisers. The other fact
is that they are from outside Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi. Do you have
plans to re-organize the system?
A: Yes. I agree these two factors had also contributed to the
recent polls. We are in the process of re-organizing the entire campaign
by appointing experienced Tamil politicians as SLFP organizers. We will
open more SLFP offices in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu. What we have
noticed was that the people in these areas want politicians from within
to represent them. We have enough experienced SLFP politicians to lead
the forthcoming polls campaign to get more votes. We will discuss these
matters with the President soon.
Q: What is the progress of resettling IDPs and also restoring
the livelihoods of the resettled families?
A: Resettlement is going on very well and only 16,000 IDPs
including those who are living in Jaffna welfare camps are remaining in
the camps at the moment. Over 52,000 people who were living in the high
security zone areas will be resettled and the government is gradually
releasing these lands to the people. This can be done depending on the
security situation. The other factor is de-mining and at the moment the
de-mining in the former battle fields in Mullathivu is progressing.
People are rebuilding their lives with the support of the government.
The State banks have come forward to offer loans. Livelihood projects
are on to restore the people's earning capacity. The government is doing
its maximum to help these people to rebuild their lives but I want to
tell them that the government can give them bananas but they have to
remove the shell to eat the fruit. The government cannot do that for
With the annihilation of the LTTE, not only the North and the East
but the entire country has been progressing towards development during
the last two years. Every sector is in progress. Children in the North
and the East are doing well in their education and over 80 percent have
passed the Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations. For example,
there is a school in Batticoloa where out of 128 children, 120 have
passed the Advanced Level examination. This itself is a record after 30
years. Children are not in a war mentality and free of stress. This has
influenced them to be mainly concerned with their education.