This is translation of my Tamil article with few addition and Edited version appeared in Ceylon daily news in 2 parts
Dr. Noel Nadesan, EX Editor of Melbourne-based UTHAYAM newspaper
After my recent visit to Mullativu I came away with the distinct feeling that the Tamil leadership is playing the same old game of the three proverbial monkeys: see no Tamil evil, hear no Tamil evil and speak no Tamil evil. It is as if the Tamils are living in the land of Amnesia. As usual they are playing the same old games of pointing the finger at the others with the sole objective of trying to pass the buck to others. The latest victim of Tamil blame game is Erik Solheim. No other figure in the international community went out of their way to defend the Tamils better than Solheim. He faced a barrage from Sri Lankan media and political establishment for siding with the Tamils. He did everything within his power, with the advice and consent of India, to save the Jaffna Tamils bogged down in futile war.
Now, when he is pointing the finger at the Tamil leadership, namely Prabhakaran, for refusing to accept the advice of the international community to surrender — a humanitarian act that would have thousands of Tamil lives in the last days of the war — all those Tamils who hero-worshipped him have turned against him. Solheim’s criticism goes to the heart of the Tamil politics. The Tamils do not want to accept blame for their stupid mistakes. They believe that all the mistakes were made by others and the whole world should sympathize with them and give them their demands. Their refusal to analyse and understand the realities of the day, combined with intransigence and arrogance, has ruined all the opportunities that were offered on a plate to the Tamils.
They also believe that they can win the hearts and minds of the world by pointing the finger at “the Sinhala state”. They have done that from day one and where has it taken them? The time has come for the Tamils to acknowledge publicly the war crimes and the crimes against the Tamils — let alone the others. Unless they are honest enough to face the realities of their criminal past they can never find their way ahead. Their blindness to their evil past will prevent them from seeing the future clearly.
Though the Tamil leadership is pretending that they are pure the Tamil victims of Sinhala violence know the truth. How can they ever forget what happened to them and their children under Prabhakaran’s regime? The list of crimes committed by LTTE records some of horrendous evil that occurred in the war.
Consider the following which does not amount to even a minute fraction of the totality of the crimes committed by the Tamils against the Tamils and non-Tamils.
* During 1981-1982 fishermen from Negambo were transported by Lorries to jungles off Nayaru and Kokilai and shot dead. They were Sinhala-speaking Catholics. One of their rituals was to go annual pilgrimage to Madhu. Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph would vouch for this fact. After killing the elders, Tigers smeared the tongues of boys with cyanide and killed the boys. During that era , Tigers did not want to waste the bullets. I could produce people who have witnessed the massacre and many who helped bury the victims.
* At the crack of dawn on July 18th, 1996, the LTTE launched an attack on the Army base in Mullaitivu and, after four days of heavy fighting, the LTTE overran the base. At the time of attack there were around twelve hundred soldiers of the Vijayabahu Regiment, out of whom only eight escaped death by hiding in a water tank. Four hundred or so soldiers who surrendered to the LTTE at Vattuvaikal were put to death following Prabhakaran’s policy of not keeping surrendees as prisoners of war.
Vattuvaikal straddles the borders of Wanni and Mullaitivu. By a strange quirk of history, LTTE cadres surrendered to the army in May 2009. Special forces of the Vijayabahu Regiment claimed that they had shot Prabhakaran dead during early hours of 19th May 2009. Isn’t it ironic that the soldiers who finally liquidated the LTTE hierarchy in Nandikdal also came from the same regiment that was massacred by Prabhakaran’s cadres in 1996 in Mullativu?
Velupillai Prabhakaran sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind. He had only one policy and that was to kill. In the end he was killed by his own policy. There are no regrets.
But questions remain haunting the memories of the victims of Prabhakaran’s war. Was the war necessary? If the war ended in Tamils gaining nothing why did the Tamils have to die for nothing? Were the Tamils obsessed with the war because they have a death wish? Is this death wish still driving Tamil politics into the next Nandikadal?
The massacre of soldiers at Vattuvaikal, a sandy area dotted with shrubs, had nothing to do with the survival of the Tamils, though it was projected as such at the time. I am revisiting Vattuuvaikal as there is a reason for it. To me it represents the conscience of the Tamils. If we brush Vattuvaikal under the carpet then we lose our humanity and our responsibility to our people who have suffered enough.
Contrary to what Tamil Nadu poets and writers say, this was not the first instance when blood was shed at Vatuvaikal. Soil of Vatuvaikal was muddied with blood prior to May 2009 as well. The Tamils have survived many massacres executed by their own leaders in our history and battles fought with non-Tamils. Sinhala blood is no different from others. The Sinhala youths who shed their blood carried arms for a salary so as to support their families. They fought against the LTTE no doubt. But they also rescued the Tamils when the IDPs running away from Prabhakaran had nowhere to go except into the arms of the Sinhala soldiers. The human rights activists in Geneva should also take into account the 300,000 Tamils who were given food, water, shelter, medical aid — none of which was available when they were on the run with Prabhakaran. Some soldiers offered their rice packets to the Tamil IDPs. They also made sacrifices. Are we to remember vindictively only their violence against the Tamils? Are their sacrifices and services any less important than those of the Tamils?
During the reign of the LTTE there was a big prison at Vattuvaikal. In Tamil Nadu there is a popular slogan which refers to their notorious place for punishment: ” Have you been to Vellore prison?” The equivalent of Vellore prison to the Tamils in Mullaitivu was Vattuvaikal. Tamils who refused to bow down to the dictates of LTTE were asked : “Do you want to go to Vattuvaikal ?”
The answer is not difficult to fathom. Not only people who were labeled as ‘traitors’ by the LTTE, but also those who assaulted their wives during family disputes, petty thieves and small time crooks were imprisoned at Vattuvaikal prison. Around three thousand inmates of the Vattuvaikal prison and another at Thunukai disappeared without a trace . What happened to these prisoners? Why are there no questions about their disappearances? Surely they could not have evaporated into thin air?
Where are the pens and papers of Tamil poets and writers who cry only for one set of Tamils and not the others? Would not the blood of those who were killed by the LTTE muddy the soil of Vatuvaikal ? Are you blind to the blood of the victims of the LTTE because you believe that they deserved to die for a cause that served no one — not even the Tamils?
To top it all, forty or so LTTE disabled cadres were transported in a bus under the pretext of handing them over to their relatives. But those disabled cadres died a horrible death when it was blasted with explosives. The corroding carcass of this bus is still there at the place where final battles were fought. There are still witnesses who could give details about this mindless massacre of the LTTE
During my last visit to Mullativu in June 2012, I saw an unusual small cannon in a munitions’ dump. It was used to fire chemical bombs. Clay mixed with cyanide and enclosed in a metal casing would explode on firing and slowly emit cyanide gas. Although the Army High Command was aware of this chemical bomb, they did not divulge this fact to soldiers at the battlefield as the former feared that the soldiers would get demoralized.
This is is not the only time that the Tigers use d chemical weapons. When they withdrew from Jaffna in 1994, they poisoned wells with cyanide. Fortunately, the quantity used was not enough to harm anyone seriously. In 1990 they used chlorine gas to attack the Army base at Palaly. But the winds saved the soldiers as it blew back in the direction of the LTTE cadres , stinging their eyes .
There are number of pro-LTTE writers and activists around the world moaning demise of LTTE and Vellupillai Prabhakaran. They can be categorized into groups
1 Some expatriate Tamil poets and writers who got close to the LTTE after the signing of Ceasefire Agreement believing that the LTTE has come to stay and that they could benefit from Prabhakaran’s regime.
2 – Pseudo intellectuals, mainly from the Maoist wing of N. Shamugathasan, backed Prabhakaran.
3. UK – based Yamuna Rajendran, who is a prolific writer on politics in Sri Lanka ,
Their excuses and justifications for Tamils killing Tamils and other non-Tamils cannot be accepted on any moral grounds. Besides, killings have not solved any of the problems of the Tamils. Tigers did not become terrorists because of the Sinhalese or any other circumstances. Nor did they start killing Tamils because of state terrorism. From the very beginning they had tendency to mindless violence. They had no intellectual or moral background to lead the Tamil people through rational, non-violent, or democratic politics. Tamils worshipped his violence and forgot all about human values. In any case, where has his violence taken the Tamils except into the wilderness. This fact has not been understood by Tamils, or some Sinhalese and western academics .
What I discovered in during my last visit to Mullaitivu revealed the depths to which Tamil violence had fallen.
While I was travelling in a vehicle, I saw a lady of a European origin defusing a bomb. These places had been used by the LTTE as munition dumps. LTTE had laid landmines around munition dumps in order to protect them. Now that peace has dawned, public are denied the right to entry into these mined areas. Although Tigers were stationed at Killinochi, Mullaitivu was their area of strategic importance. They had their vital installations such as naval bases, training centres and munition dumps all in Mullaitivu.
Since the end of war, I have been to Sri Lanka ten times but is was on the last occasion I got a chance to visit Mullaitivi.
I travelled from Paranthan to Mullaitivu by a CTB bus with my companion poet Karunakaran. I saw lush paddy fields and people moving around attending to their day – to – day chores. The bus I travelled was more or less full with teachers from Jaffna. The only inconvenience I had was the dust raised by the moving vehicles clouding my pair of glasses.
I was also reminded of what the LTTE stalwart in Australia , late Mr Thilai Jeyakumar used to say when asked: “How come I haven’t seen you for some time?” He would usually reply saying: “I have just returned from my soil. ” Around the time I was in India I remember EPRLF Pathmanaba telling me: “We love the people and not the soil. ”
I travelled from Puthukudiirruppu in a jeep owned by former parliamentarian Mr S Kanagaratnan and all along the way I saw scars of war such as walls of damaged houses and coconut palms without their top. The former MP, on his way spoke to people and attended to some jobs. I told him if he was with the TNA his tasks would be confined to issuing statements and granting interviews to radios in countries outside Sri Lanka. He laughed and in his laughter I could notice the genuineness of someone who was committed to serving the people and not political slogans. .
Then he said on the previous day he had been to Manal Aru (Veli Oya) and had seen the sufferings of displaced people adding that it was a heart rending experience. His place in the Tamil society, rising above narrow Tamil politics, has not been given due recognition by our society.
The house where Sea-Tiger Chief Soosai had lived is now a tourist attraction. The army has opened many shops to cater to the needs of people who throng that area. From there I went to the place where Prabhakaran had stayed. It was in a forest and resembled a military fortress with four basements. The doors were made out of cast iron. On seeing his dwelling, one could imagine the extent to which he had taken care of his life. On the other hand, he had not given the same concern for the lives of others, and it angered me very much.
In Prabhakaran ‘s last photograph, I was struck by the care he had taken to colour his hair and moustache jet black. It also made think that Prabhakaran had not given the same care to the lives of 300 , 000 Tamils who were left high and dry when they were herded as his human shield.
Earlier I could see Sinhala people only at Madhu and Nagadepa. Now one could see then in Mullaitivu as well. It was to me another sign of President Rajapakse breaking down communal fences and uniting the nation. I believe that whether we like it or not at the end of the day all communities have to live together. It is another sign of us belonging to the human race and not to this or that community.
As for Tamil leaders their achievement is nil and instead they had taken the Tamils to a dead – end with no end in sight. In this era that has spanned sixty years, what have we learnt? If one is to analyse about who is responsible for the events that have bedeviled Sri Lanka, no one can disagree with Dr. Colvin R. de Silva who said that we are all guilty. Tamils have to share a part of blame.
All races in Sri Lanka had shed blood because they were misled by politicians. Although losses suffered may vary between individuals or communities, all of shared the pain that was common to all. Our politicians and the Tigers scarified many lives in their pursuit of empty soil. Now LTTE fellow- travelers in foreign countries and opportunistic politicians like Sampanthan are hell-bent on wiping out remaining Tamils in Sri Lanka by reviving memories about dead Tamils.
The question we are confronted with now is who will come forward to build a country where there is equality among all racial and religious groups. The answer to this question cannot come from India or the US or even Geneva. The Messiah has to emerge for the people rising from the ashes of the futile war. Let us think good for the good of the country.