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Sri Lankan Civil War History: Update for 20th February 2009

May 21, 2011

Sri Lankan Civil War: Update for 20th February 2009

First published February 20th 2009 03:21

Sri Lankan Civil War: Update for 20th February 2009

30,000 Refugees have made their way out of the war zone in the last two weeks.

The Current Situation
In the span of one week the territory held by the LTTE (Tamil Tiger) rebels has been nearly halved. Currently the Sri Lankan government claims that the LTTE are confined to an area of 100 km/sq. Earlier in the week the area was claimed to be over 170 km/sq. The LTTE have been losing about 8 km of territory a day even as fighting has intensified.

As a conventional armed force the LTTE are outnumbered and out gunned by a much larger Government force that has them surrounded them on all side. Commander of the Armed Force in Sri Lanka Lt Gen Fonseka has estimated that only 700 actual LTTE cadres remain.

Issues in Report
Misinformation and reporting errors have filled up the international media to the point that it was clouding the truth. Some of the big mistakes in reporting came from NGO and INGO’s that had not checked their facts and sources correctly before made press releases. The UN made a report that the Sri Lankan Armed forces were shelling a hospital with cluster bombs that made headlines around the world. They later retracted their statement after aerial photos showed that hospital in question was intact and undamaged. Amnesty International (AI) used the UN report as the basis of their own report and to date has not corrected the error.

Undamaged hospital image released that contradicted UN reports. The UN later retracted their statement.

International Media organizations have not been immune to making mistakes. The problem stems from three main issues: Reporters are banned from the warzone; Media are sourcing LTTE front groups for information without realizing that they are being fed propaganda; the assassination of the Sri Lankan newspaper editor for the Sunday Leader has had a damaging effect on the government press releases. Some news sources such as Associated Press (AP) are publishing reports that seem to favour the LTTE version of events whereas AFP seems to be more objective. Mainstream Canadian News in particular seems to favour the genocide myth that was started by the LTTE.

In the last week or so the media seems to have realized that they were being taken for a ride by the LTTE and have started reporting events as they occur rather than as they are filter by media lobby groups and activists.

More refugees pouring out. Some being shot as they escape.

The Humanitarian Situation
There is no doubt that civilians are being injured by both sides in the conflict. However many reports are rumours and false accusations designed to grab a headline and swing sympathy. The UN after being chastised for making poorly considered announcements have won the thanks of the Sri Lankan Government for cleaning up their act. INGO’s like HRW, Reporter without Border and AI are being treated with a degree of suspicion. The International Red Cross are still trusted enough to be involved war zone operations.

In the last few days the UN and UNICEF have both released reports condemning the LTTE for holding civilians as human shield and recruiting child soldiers. The LTTE has denied doing this through their front organizations like Tamilnet.

Bruce Fein

Former Reagan Administration Assistant Attorney General Bruce Fein has filed papers in the USA to have the Sri Lankan President and Lt Gen Fonseka charged with crimes against humanity and genocide. Bruce Fein is a paid representative for an organization call ‘Tamils against Genocide’ and draws its funds from LTTE front organizations. The 1000 page report lodged by Bruce Fein has no chance of success in the US but it has been used as propaganda by the LTTE.

The aftermath of a suicide attack

The Sri Lankan Government had declared a ‘no fire zone’ (NFZ) in the middle of the LTTE held territory. It was said to be a safe haven for civilians trapped in the battle field. However this zone became problematic when the LTTE claimed that the Army was intentionally shelling the zone. The Army denied this report and then claimed that the LTTE had station it heavy artillery in the zone. No independent reports could confirm either version of events but both versions were reported in the media as if they were true. As a result the Government moved the No Fire Zone to a strip of land on the East coast.

More than 30,000 Tamils civilians have poured out of the rebel territory to Government controlled areas. The civilians are currently being kept in camps as the government tries to sort out if any LTTE have come with them.

The UN has also reported that the LTTE have been shooting at civilians who try to escape. Many are arrive at government controlled areas with bullet wounds and some carrying bodies. One group of refugees have been lead Catholic Nuns, one of whom was shot in the led by the LTTE, confirmed report of people being herded around by the LTTE and prevented from leaving.

Shrinking by the day.

What Next for the Rebels?
It seems that the LTTE rebels lost their PR momentum after report of shooting civilians and a suicide attack at a refugee centre. Any talk of a negotiated end to the war has been firmly rejected by the Sri Lankan government. Any talks over the future direction of the ethnic issues in Sri Lanka will definitely exclude the LTTE.

The battle field is looking far worse for the LTTE with scores of armaments being captured and secret hideouts being discovered. Initial estimate of 250,000 civilians may have been inaccurate with some Indian newspaper claiming only 70,000 civilians remain in the war zone.

Rebels that have surrendered claim that their leader Prabhakaran is still in the area but his son is coordinating the operations. Rumours claim that he is planning a large scale mass suicide as a final protest. This rumour cannot be confirmed, but such a mass suicide did occur when the person who planned Rajiv Gandhi was cornered. The LTTE operative called One Eye Jack was discovered with around 40 dead terrorist who had taken their own lives.

There is a video available that show the full force of the aftermath with soldiers picking up dead children from the ground. However it is perhaps best it is not shown here.

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