Sunday, 18 March 2012

Should India support the UN resolution on Sri Lanka?

I have in the past blogged many times about Sri Lanka and the LTTE, calling on international support for the Sri Lankan government as it fought the LTTE. I wrote open letters to Hilary Clinton in her role as the US Secretary of State and to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I even wrote to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa giving a few words of advice on how to defeat the LTTE. I wrote a short story inspired by my hatred for LTTE’s forced conscription of child soldiers. My anti-LTTE and pro-Sri Lankan government stance was motivated primarily by the thought that it was (and still is) important to maintain the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka. I also hated the LTTE for its suicide bombing tactics, for conscripting children, for having killed Indian soldiers on a peacekeeping mission and for having murdered Rajiv Gandhi.

I was happy when the Sri Lankan forces fought the LTTE to a bloody finish. I was happy that the megalomaniac LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed, though a bit uncomfortable by the thought that he might have been executed in cold blood. I wondered how Prabhakaran’s wife Mathivathani Erambu, his daughter Duwaraka and second son Balachandran who was then 12 years old, died. Did Prabhakaran kill his wife and children in order to prevent them from being captured by government soldiers and paraded in front of cameras, I had wondered. Or did they voluntarily commit suicide? The thought that any of them would have been killed in cold blood by Sri Lankan soldiers after being captured, did not even cross my mind. I even wrote an article opposing a call by the Times of London to boycott Sri Lanka.

My disquiet turned to unease when Channel IV came up with its first documentary on the killing fields of Sri Lanka. It became crystal clear that many of the accusations levied against the Sri Lankan government by the Tamil Diaspora and its other detractors were true. The Sri Lankan government had intentionally targeted civilians, when there was no military need to do so, using heavy caliber howitzers to concentrate fire on a no-fire zone where civilians had been instructed to gather. Then came the second part which not only reiterated all that had been proved beyond reasonable doubt in the first part, but also showed that Prabhakaran’s second son Balachandran, age 12, had been taken alive and then shot five times in the chest at very close range. Balachandran had been sent out with five bodyguards to surrender. Instead, he was taken prisoner, interrogated and forced to reveal his father’s whereabouts, made to watch the execution of those five bodyguards and then executed. Prabhakaran himself was later killed by a single shot to the back on his head from close range.

I refuse to believe that the soldiers who pulled the trigger on 12 year old Balachandran, his sister Duwaraka, his mother Mathivathani Erambu, and Prabhakaran himself would have done so without clear instructions from the top. And it had to be the very top, from President Mahinda Rajapaksa and/or his brother and the Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. No Sri Lankan soldier would have executed such important prisoners without direct orders from the top of the pyramid. Most probably, the Lankan government felt that if any of Prabhakaran’s children were left alive, they could be a rallying point for supports of Tamil Eelam sometime in the distant future. However, such cold blooded executions by a democratically elected government just cannot be condoned.

The UN resolution calling on Sri Lanka to probe abuses during the civil war will not be supported by many countries like China and Pakistan. If one looks at India’s recent track record in Sri Lankan matters, India too will not support this resolution, just to make sure that Sri Lanka doesn’t move any closer to China. If the UN resolution is passed for any reason, it will garner even more support for the Rajapakse brothers within the Sinhala community. Many years down the line, if the Rajapakse brothers lose power and if some other party comes to power, there is a possibility that those who ordered the execution of 12 year old Balachandran may be brought to book. However, this is a very remote possibility.

I can’t think of a single geo-political or strategic advantage India would gain by supporting this UN resolution. Despite that, there are certain things which just cannot be condoned and I earnestly hope that India supports this UN resolution and that sufficient votes are cast in its favour.


Azza said...

There continue to be many who hold your former opinions concerning SL government strategies both within and outside SL. I write this not to offend, but to point out the ignorance of those such as yourself on the reality of the SL situation greatly assisted the SL propaganda machine over the last 30 years. Only the recent spread of mobile phone cameras has allowed the world to see some of the atrocities of [any] war. The atrocities shown in the recent C4 videos are nothing new to any Tamil person from the war zone. The LTTE are also guilty of war crimes. Their leader was a great fighter but a political amateur. If he had read the global shift on liberation struggles properly, he would have realised that he was dragging the Tamils to their doom, not only because of his own hubris, but because of people such as yourself who bought hook, line and sinker the simple line "the war on terror". It's sad that people as erudite and obviously intelligent as yourself chose to ignore the root causes of this war for so long, cheering on an armed force more vicious and with even less regards for international law as those it fought, and you now react with horror because some images of dead children are shown to you. Use of shock to gain sympathy or votes is the way any government (or liberation force) has manipulated its most uneducated voters for centuries. Too little too late, friend.

Winnowed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winnowed said...

Azza, I do not regret my support for the Sri Lankan government in its fight against the LTTE. Not for a moment do I think the Sri Lankan goverenment should have been persuaded to make peace with the LTTE. Also, do not agree with you that the Sri Lankan goverenment was more callous or brutal than the LTTE. I am upset that a twelve year old boy was killed in cold blood. Period.