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Two of Sri Lanka’s Foulest War Crimes

[MISC, Saturday, 25 February 2012 11:50 No Comment]

(Tim King Salem-News.com) If members of the UNHRC in Geneva haven’t heard this one, they certainly should… this government was willing to wound, kidnap, rape and slaughter journalists.

Marine Colvin - Sunday Times As we mourn the death of Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin, in Syria, we recall her dedicated work in Sri Lanka;

where a government soldier threw a hand grenade that cost her an eye in 2001, while she reported on the fighting between Sri Lanka Army forces, and LTTE rebels from the north.

Marie was targeted by soldiers after identifying herself as a reporter. Resistance fighters with the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) Tamil Tigers, said it was an act of deliberate targeting and cowardice.

"After she held up her press credentials, they lobbed a grenade at her," Marie’s mother Rosemary Colvin told the Oyster Bay Pilot.

"She was arrested and tied up for 10 hours without medical care before the US State Department could get her out." This deliberate attempt to kill a civilian reporter followed by ten hours without medical care, constitutes a foul crime of war.

Timing is Everything

Now Sri Lanka’s head hangs in a political guillotine as its leaders face the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, for war crime violations. Colvin’s death is tragic, and her name is added to a long list of reporters, photographers and other media representatives who have been killed covering war. Sadly one of the longest lists of reporters killed in war leads us back to Sri Lanka and as I noted in my article, Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide: Killing the Messenger, One sure way to keep a national genocide out of world view is to slay the journalists who would reveal the information.

Shoba, who used the name 'Isaippiriya', has become familiar to many as

Shoba, who used the name ‘Isaippiriya’, has become familiar to many as
a victim of the Sri Lanka Genocide. She was a journalist, singer & actor.

While going over material sent to the newsroom this morning, I realized that I needed a new photo from the Sri Lanka Genocide of Tamils, not that I don’t have several hundred, but I wanted something different, and in this process I ran into somebody I recognized. She isn’t someone I actually know or had the pleasure of meeting, in fact sadly, it was a photo of her abused corpse that caught my attention. It was the body of Shoba, the young reporter who was Murdered in the horrific Genocide that raged across the north of this island from 2005 to 2009.

I have written about her, I’ve seen her image alive and she was beautiful, and talented, but mostly I’ve come to know her as a victim of the Sri Lanka army who was not only Murdered as a part of this government’s ethnic cleansing program; she was raped, sexually brutalized, first.

This woman was only 27. Of course the government would tell you she was a "terrorist operative" because she worked for a television station operated by the famed Tamil Tigers. This resistance group officially known as the LTTE or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, protected the native population of Tamils, who account for only 15% to 20% of the population of Sri Lanka.

This is a shocking but extremely important video clip from
Channel-4 in London, producers of ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields

My question to all who support this war against the Tamil population is simple… was Shoba (and the tens of thousands of women killed) the real enemy, and did she deserve a bout of sexual depravity before being killed?

The argument drones on and on, Tamil Tigers are a terrorist group… in that they absolutely did commit terrorist acts, a long list of them; however the violence began after Tamils had suffered 30 years of injustice. For three decades, the Tamils, who are mostly Hindu and partly Christian, practiced only a Gandhi-style form of non-violent resistance.

They did not want anything but autonomy, the desire was to form the breakaway state of Tamil Eelam and had they been able to, the Tamils would have secured among other things, equal rights and the preservation of their very culture, which was under threat on several fronts from the Buddhist Sinhalese government. It would have bruised the Sinhalese ego, but life could have gone on in harmony, I always believed that was the Buddhist way, but it is not; in the end all are the same human beings, incapable of resolving political strife without over-controlling minority populations and too often resorting to violence..

While most Tamils live in India, Sri Lankan Tamils maintain words from the language that have been dropped in India. Tamils have lived on Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it was known for so many years under British occupation, for thousands of years. When the Tamils abandoned non-violent resistance, they struck government targets at first, but combat escalated greatly, and their culture became highly militaristic, that is a fact. The terrorist acts committed by the Tamil Tigers are horrific, but they were also an eventual, ultimate reaction.

A Life Cut Short

Shoba Isaippiriya Shoba’s nom de plume was Isaippiriya, she was loved by many.

The Sri Lanka military designated Isaippiriya a ‘Lieutenant Colonel’ in the LTTE. It is a promotion she never received, in fact this young woman suffered from health problems, she was a media specialist with the LTTE who produced reports for TamilNet. She never picked up a weapon, however she would die violently at the hands of Sri Lanka Army’s 53 Division, on 18 May 2009.

When Isaippiriya’s body was found, she had been stripped naked, with her hands tied behind her back. She had been sexually assaulted and shot dead, as seen in a video released Channel-4 in London.

She was TamilNet’s Vanni correspondent. The LTTE did confirm that she had never taken part in military operations.

Shoba, a non-combatant, also lost her 6-month-old baby girl Akal

Shoba, a non-combatant, also lost her 6-month-old baby girl Akal

A source told TamilNet:

I am able to learn through those who have been at Mu’l'livaaykkaal in the final days of war, that Shoba remained unarmed and did not take part in combat.

Isaippiriya, who was born in 1982, graduated from Veampadi Girls High School in Jaffna in 1996. After the outbreak of war, she continued her studies in Vanni until joining the LTTE’s media division. Her family says she was a gifted dancer.

She never took a life, yet in addition to losing her own life in the war, Shoba lost her 6-month-old baby girl Akal, this happened in the last stage of the war as Sri Lanka’s politicians directed the indiscriminate bombardments of civilians. Akal suffered aspiration while in a bunker during a bombing at Kfir, TamilNet reports, she was taken to a hospital and died on 15 March 2009.

Of her death, TamilNet wrote:

Isaippriyaa’s case is a clear instance, raising many pertinent questions on behalf of thousands of victims like her, pointing at not only towards the Rajapaksa regime for the war crimes, but also towards the war crimes responsibility of the international system, the UN and the administrations of several countries.

The loss of Isaippiriya is especially significant because she was a well-known media personality.

Yet her fate was the same as so many tens of thousands who perished violently and against their will, often in front of their parents and children, far before their earthly time was through. The intentional grenade wounding of Marie Colvin in 2001, and the terrible ethnic cleansing Murder and sex abuse of Isaippiriya, are two of Sri Lanka’s foulest and most disgusting war crimes, not just targeting journalists, but women. That is the bottom of the barrel for any country.

Terrorism and Genocide

Regarding the acts of the Tamil Tigers, I am often asked by Sinhalese Sri Lankans if I am aware of the history of the LTTE and the suicide missions they carried out over the years. I would venture to think that literally any writer who studies and researches this subject, would learn immediately that the Tigers are truly synonymous with the inception of suicide bombing.

However these acts listed below do not justify the mass slaughter of up to 160,000 people, that is the number of Tamils who ceased to exist after the summer of 2009. It is true that many are being held in captivity, and also that the status a large number of these political prisoners of war, remains a mystery.

This information is from IRIN, humanitarian news and analysis – a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, published as the conflict was still raging, on 28 April 2009: SRI LANKA: Conflict timeline, and Sri Lanka profile last updated by The BBC 25 January 2012.

A chronology of key events

1971 – Sinhalese Marxist uprising led by students and activists.

1972 – Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka and Buddhism given primary place as country’s religion, further antagonising Tamil minority.

1972: Velupillai Prabhakaran forms a militant group called the Tamil New Tigers (TNT).

1976: TNT changes its name to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

1977 – Separatist Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) party wins all seats in Tamil areas. Anti-Tamil riots leave more than 100 Tamils dead.

1981 Sinhala policemen accused of burning the Jaffna Public Library, causing further resentment in Tamil community.

1983, 23 July: LTTE attacks an army patrol in Jaffna, killing 13 soldiers and sparking anti-Tamil riots around the country, leaving several hundred dead.

1985, 8 July: Talks held between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE for the first time in Thimpu, Bhutan.

1987, 29 July: Indo-Sri Lanka pact signed between President JR Jayawardena and Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. India deploys peace-keeping force to north and east Sri Lanka.

1987 – Government forces push LTTE back into northern city of Jaffna. Government signs accords creating new councils for Tamil areas in north and east and reaches agreement with India on deployment of Indian peace-keeping force.

1988 – Left-wing and nationalist Sinhalese JVP begins campaign against Indo-Sri Lankan agreement.

1990, 24 March: India withdraws troops due to clashes with the LTTE killing more than 1,200 Indian troops. Violence between Sri Lankan army and separatists escalates. "Second Eelam War" begins.

1990 June: LTTE kills hundreds of policemen in the east following breakdown of talks between the Tigers and the government of President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Thousands of Muslims are expelled from northern areas by the LTTE.

1991, 21 May: Gandhi killed, an LTTE suicide bomber is implicated in this attack.

1993, 1 May: Premadasa killed by LTTE suicide cadres during a May Day rally in Colombo.

"Third Eelam War" begins

1995, January: Government of Chandrika Kumaratunge and LTTE agree to talks.

1995, April: Talks fail after the Tigers blow up two navy vessels.

1995, 2 December: Jaffna, the northern cultural and political nerve centre of the Tamils, falls under Sri Lanka army control.

1996, 31 January: Suicide bomb attack on the Central Bank building in the heart of Colombo kills more than 100 and injures 1,400.

1996, 24 July: Alleged LTTE bomb blast in a railway station in Dehiwela, south of Colombo, kills 70.

1996, 18 July: Army camp overrun by the LTTE near the northeastern town of Mullaitivu. More than 1,000 troops killed.

1998, 25 January: Suicide bomb attack on Sri Lanka’s holiest Buddhist shrine, Dhaladha Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), in the central town of Kandy, kills 17 people.

1998, 26 September: Tigers overrun Kilinochchi army camp, killing more than 1,000 government soldiers.

1999, December: LTTE attempts to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge; who survives.

2000, April: LTTE recaptures Elephant Pass, inflicting heavy damage on the Sri Lankan forces during the operation Unceasing Waves III.

2001, July: An LTTE suicide attack on Bandaranaike International airport kills 14.

2002, 22 February: Ceasefire agreement, brokered by Norway, signed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and LTTE leader Prabhakaran.

2002, December: Government and LTTE agree to share power at peace talks in Norway.

De-commissioning of weapons begins; the road linking the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka reopens after 12 years; passenger flights to Jaffna resume. Government lifts ban on Tamil Tigers. Rebels drop demand for separate state.

2003 April: LTTE pulls out of talks after six rounds of negotiations, citing inadequate steps taken to rebuild war-hit areas, however the cease fire holds.

2003 May: Country’s worst-ever floods leave more than 200 people dead and drive some 4,000 people from their homes.

2004, 3 March: LTTE eastern military head, Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman, splits from the LTTE.

2004 July – Suicide bomb blast in Colombo – the first such incident since 2001.

2004 December – More than 30,000 people are killed when a tsunami, massive waves generated by a powerful undersea earthquake, devastate coastal communities.

2005, 7 February: LTTE political head for the eastern Districts of Batticaloa and Ampara, E. Kousalyan, killed with three others in Batticaloa town.

2005 June – Row over deal reached with Tamil Tiger rebels to share nearly $3bn in tsunami aid among Sinhalas, Tamils and Muslims.

2005, 12 August: Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar killed by suspected LTTE snipers in Colombo.

2005 November – Mahinda Rajapaksa, prime minister at the time, wins presidential elections. Most Tamils in areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers do not vote.

Mounting Violence

2005, 4 December: The LTTE commences claymore and grenade attacks targeting the Sri Lankan troops in the Jaffna peninsula.

2006 April – Attacks begin to escalate again.

2006 May – Tamil Tiger rebels attack a naval convoy near Jaffna.

2006, 15 June: More than 60 civilians killed in claymore mine attack allegedly by LTTE, targeting a civilian bus in Kebithigollewa, nearly 200km from Colombo.

2006, 20 July: LTTE closes the sluice gates at Mavilaru, south of the eastern coastal town of Trincomalee. Clashes erupt as army launches operations to gain control and succeeds.

2006 August – Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces resume fighting in the north-east in worst clashes since 2002 ceasefire. Government steadily drives Tamil Tigers out of eastern strongholds over following year.

2006 October – Peace talks fail in Geneva

2007, 5 January: Bomb attacks on public transport begin in Nittambuwa, about 20km east of Colombo, killing six people. Several bombs target public transport in the following months. The government blames the LTTE for the attacks.

2007, 15 January: Military captures Vakarai, a coastal town in Batticaloa District in the Eastern province.

2007, March: LTTE carries out its first air raid on Katunayake air base, about 20km north of Colombo. The Tigers also conduct an air attack on 29 April during the Cricket World Cup Final. The attack targets two fuel-storage facilities on the outskirts of Colombo. The Tigers carry out at least nine air attacks before 20 February 2009.

2007 June – Police force hundreds of Tamils out of the capital, citing security concerns. A court orders an end to the expulsions.

2007, 11 July: military captures Thoppigala, the last of the LTTE strongholds in the east after 13 years, thereby regaining the entire eastern province from the LTTE.

2007, 2 November: LTTE political wing leader SP Tamilselvan killed in an air raid by the Sri Lankan Air Force.

2008 January – Government pulls out of 2002 ceasefire agreement, launches massive offensive.

2008, 2 January: The government says it will withdraw from ceasefire agreement and does so on 14 January and intensifies attacks on the Tigers. The LTTE, however, states it will stick to the agreement.

2008 July – Sri Lankan military says it has captured the important Tamil Tiger naval base of Vidattaltivu in the north.

2008 October – Suicide bombing blamed by government on Tamil Tigers kills 27 people, including a former general, in the town of Anuradhpura.

2008 December – Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on each other in fierce fighting in the north

2009, 2 January: Government troops capture Kilinochchi, de-facto capital of the LTTE, after 10 years.

2009, 25 January: Mullaithivu town captured by government troops.

2009, 12 February: Government declares a 12km-long "no fire zone" (NFZ) along the Mullaitivu western coast and calls on civilians to move into it for their own safety.

2009, 20 February: The LTTE conducts a suicide air attack in Colombo.

2008, September: All international humanitarian agencies and their foreign staff operating in the LTTE-controlled Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts are ordered by the government to relocate to Vavuniya.

2008 March: Sri Lankan troops launch operations to regain areas in the Vanni from the western flank. The number of civilians in the NFZ continues to grow.

2009, 14 April: LTTE says it is ready for negotiations, but the government refuses the offer, insisting it should lay down arms.

2009, 20 April: Thousands of civilians trapped in the NFZ cross into government-controlled areas where they are screened and placed in camps. Government gives LTTE 24 hours to surrender.

2009, 22 April: Former LTTE media coordinator Velayutham Dayanidhi, alias Daya Master, and the translator of former LTTE political wing head SP Tamilselvan, Kumar Pancharathnam, alias George, surrender to the military.

2009, 26 April: The LTTE declares a unilateral ceasefire as government forces surround an ever-shrinking NFZ. The government rejects the declaration, calling it a "joke". The UN estimates 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the NFZ.

2009, 27 April: Facing with diplomatic pressure to declare a ceasefire, Sri Lanka says its military is no longer using heavy weaponry and aerial bombing against the remaining few hundred rebels still fighting in the NFZ.

2009, 28 April: With more than 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps in Vavuniya, Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes urges that civilians who have been screened be given the chance to leave the camps and to rely on friends and family elsewhere.

2009 May – Government declares Tamil Tigers defeated after army forces overrun last patch of rebel-held territory in the northeast. Military says rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed in the fighting. Tamil Tiger statement says the group will lay down its arms.

2009 August – New Tamil Tiger leader Selvarasa Pathmanathan captured overseas by Sri Lankan authorities.

First post-war local elections in north. Governing coalition wins in Jaffna but in Vavuniya voters back candidates who supported Tamil Tigers.

2009 October – Government announces early presidential and parliamentary elections.

2009 November – Opposition parties form alliance to fight elections. The new alliance includes Muslim and Tamil parties and is led by former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Government says 100,000 refugees released from camps.

2009 December – European Union says will suspend Sri Lanka’s preferential trade status over alleged human rights concerns.

Rajapaksa re-elected

2010 January – Incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa wins presidential election by a big margin but the outcome is rejected by his main rival Gen Sarath Fonseka.

2010 February – Gen Fonseka is arrested. The government says he will be court-martialled on conspiracy charges. President Rajapaksa dissolves parliament, clearing way for elections in April.

2010 April – President Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition wins landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

2010 August – Military court finds former army chief Sarath Fonseka guilty of involvement in politics while in uniform and sentences him to a dishonourable discharge.

2010 September – Parliament approves a constitutional change allowing President Rajapaksa to seek unlimited number of terms.

2011 April – UN says both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war committed atrocities against civilians and calls for an international investigation into possible war crimes. Sri Lanka says the report is biased.

2011 July – Sri Lanka’s largest ethnic Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance – wins two-thirds of local councils in the former war zone in the north and east.

2011 August – President Rajapaksa says his government will allow the expiry of state emergency laws which have been in place for most of the past 40 years.

Government introduces new legislation allowing the detention of people suspected of terror offences without charge.

2011 September – Parliament approves law allowing government to take over 37 businesses. Critics say they will be seized from opponents to reward supporters.

2012 January – 160 Islamic clerics expelled for violating visa regulations.

[Full Coverage]

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