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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2613

LTTE-sponsored Rally in Washington: Rallying the West to reverse territorial loss in Sri Lanka

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune – A Political Memo

Washington, DC. 23 January ( LTTE professionals, operatives, acolytes and sympathizers in the Western World especially in the United States have stepped up their psychological warfare against the Sri Lankan state to induce policy-makers in the West that Sri Lanka government’s current battle is nothing but a genocidal onslaught against the country’s Tamil minority in the guise of combating terrorism in holding a rally in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington on Friday, January 23.

The Westerners including American lawmakers, policy-makers and US-based rights groups shiver in their boots when they confront, see or hear the word ‘Genocide’. As much as the Indian diplomats in Washington the State Department officials, who reports to Obama’s White House and to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will not only hear the world ‘Genocide’ they will see for themselves in life-size bill boards the participants of the rally are carrying ‘Tamils Against Genocide’.

To American diplomats in Colombo who still believe that the ‘Sinhalese Army is killing the Tamils’ the ‘Genocide’ banners will undoubtedly psychologically affect making Sri Lanka state’s struggle to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the democratic system a secondary issue exactly what the LTTE operatives want.

This is call strategic communication which the Sri Lanka state lacks.

Succumbed to this LTTE psychological warfare to step-up its claim that the Sri Lankan state is engaged in genocide, and increasing its call through professionals, operatives and acolytes in the Western World about human rights abuses and harassment to civilians while alleging that the GSL is not sending adequate food and medicine to the north the United States completely struck Sri Lanka from its Millennium Challenge Corporation grant, reduced or stopped giving military assistance on the directive of US Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy other than maritime surveillance to block LTTE arms smuggling and drastically reducing economic assistance for the past two years and for FY 2009.

While losing precious territory in the north and east of Sri Lanka the LTTE using its world-wide network is now defeating the Sri Lanka state bringing this South Asian nation which is battling a vicious terrorist group closer to being declared a nation that has a genocidal regime for the United Nations to interfere and impose Responsibility To Protect (R2P) doctrine.

In the midst of this propaganda (shall we call it a strategic communication on the part of the LTTE) the Tamil Tigers have taken to the streets in front of the Indian Embassy, and before that in New York before the United Nations.

And this public diplomacy and strategic communication of the LTTE seem to have buried the real nature of the outfit which practiced genocide to persecute, harass and finally remove members of the other two ethnic groups Sinhalese and Muslims from the LTTE-controlled North in the late eighties and early nineties, ejected the permanent residents of this two communities from the once-LTTE-controlled East of the country, massacred Buddhist monks in the sacred Buddhist city of Anuradhapura while engaged in prayers, massacred Muslims in several Mosques while they are praying. A fair number of Sinhalese and Muslims are still in government-managed refugee camps.

The international community is forced to forget that 54% of minority Tamils are now domiciled in predominantly majority Sinhalese districts in fear to live in the LTTE controlled areas and that these minority Tamils are peacefully getting about their business in these areas having close dealings with the majority Sinhalese community.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) made these remarks about the LTTE last year and the full statement is still found in their web site:

(Begin Quote): Needless to say, the Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. For more than three decades, the group has launched a campaign of violence and bloodshed in Sri Lanka, the island republic off the southern coast of India.

Its ultimate goal: to seize control of the country from the Sinhalese ethnic majority and create an independent Tamil state. Along the way, it has launched suicide attacks, assassinated politicians (including a government minister this week and even the Sri Lankan President), taken hostages, and committed all of kinds of crimes to finance its operations. The resulting civil war has taken the lives of nearly 70,000 Sri Lankans on both sides of the conflict since 1983 alone.

Why should you care? Certainly because of the suffering and bloodshed that the Tamil Tigers have caused. And because its ruthless tactics have inspired terrorist networks worldwide, including al Qaeda in Iraq. But also because the group has placed operatives right here in our own backyard, discreetly raising money to fund its bloody terrorist campaign overseas, including purchases of weapons and explosives. (End Quote)

The US-based Human Rights Watch in a report released December 14 last year was critical of the manner in which the LTTE is harassing the civilians.

Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers are subjecting ethnic Tamils in their northern stronghold, the Vanni, to forced recruitment, abusive forced labor, and restrictions on movement that place their lives at risk, Human Rights Watch said in a report released December 14.

The 17-page report, "Trapped and Mistreated: LTTE Abuses against Civilians in the Vanni," details how the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which have been fighting for an independent Tamil state for 25 years, are brutally abusing the Tamil population in areas under their control.

"The LTTE claims to be fighting for the Tamil people, but it is responsible for much of the suffering of civilians in the Vanni," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "As the LTTE loses ground to advancing government forces, their treatment of the very people they say they are fighting for is getting worse."

The HRW says in the face of an ongoing government military offensive, the LTTE has increased the pressure on the civilian population under its control. Having long used a coercive pass system to prevent civilians from leaving areas it controls, the LTTE has now completely prohibited movement out of the Vanni, except for some medical emergencies. By refusing to allow displaced persons to leave for government-held territory, the group has severely restricted their access to essential humanitarian relief. Only about a thousand people have managed to flee the conflict zone since March 2008.

"By refusing to allow people their basic rights to freedom of movement, the LTTE has trapped hundreds of thousands of civilians in a dangerous war zone," said Adams.

The LTTE has a long history of forced recruitment. There has been a dramatic increase in the practice of compelling young men and women, including children, to join their forces. The group has recently gone beyond its long-standing "one person per family" forced recruitment policy in the territory it controls and now sometimes requires two or more family members to join its ranks, the HRW continues to observe in its report.

"Trapped in the LTTE's iron fist, ordinary Tamils are forcibly recruited as fighters and forced to engage in dangerous labor near the front lines," said Adams.

The HRW further states “While increased international pressure and other factors had led to a decrease in its recruitment of children, recent reports indicate that the group has stepped up child recruitment in the Vanni. LTTE cadres have urged 14- to 18-year-olds at schools to join. The group often sends 17-year-olds for military training, apparently calculating that by the time such cases are reported to protection agencies, the youths will have turned 18 and no longer be considered child soldiers.”

"Last year they were taking the people born in 1990 - now those born in 1991," a humanitarian official from the Vanni told Human Rights Watch. "They look at the family identity cards and take the young ones. If people of military age go into hiding, they will take younger children or the father, until they get the boys or girls they want."

During the past 25 years, the LTTE has killed large numbers of civilians, committed political assassinations in Sri Lanka and abroad, and carried out suicide bombings. It has systematically eliminated most political opposition within the minority Tamil community and is responsible for killing many journalists and members of rival organizations. In the areas under its control, the LTTE has ruled through fear, denying basic freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and movement, observed HRW.

In "Trapped and Mistreated," Human Rights Watch calls upon the LTTE to:

* Stop preventing civilians from leaving areas under its control; respect the right to freedom of movement of civilians, including the right of civilians to move to government-controlled territory for safety;

* Stop all forced recruitment into the LTTE; end all abductions and coercion;

End all recruitment of children under the age of 18; cease the use of children in military operations; release all child combatants currently in its ranks, as well as all persons who were recruited when children but are now over the age of 18;

* Stop all abusive or unpaid forced labor, including labor it characterizes as "voluntary"; cease demanding that all families provide labor to the LTTE; stop forcing civilians to engage in labor directly related to the conduct of military operations, such as constructing trenches and bunkers;

* Provide humanitarian agencies and UN agencies safe and unhindered access to areas under the LTTE's control, and guarantee the security of all humanitarian and UN workers, including Vanni residents working as humanitarian or UN staff. (End Quote HRW)

Despite the dismal record of the Tamil Tigers it seems that their world-wide strategy in convincing the international community, western states, their governments and policy-makers is working to some extent when one sees that these Western states pressure on the Sri Lankan state while reducing economic assistance and military aid. When the ‘Genocide’ banner is hoisted on their face the West for a moment forget the struggle the Sri Lankan state is waging against a ruthless terrorist movement to safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty while endeavoring to strike a balance between safeguarding human rights and protecting national security, an exercise the United States was engaged in since 9/11 attack.

The question is whether the Sri Lankan state would seriously ponder as to how a micro group like the LTTE has a macro effect to put this South Asian nation on the international dock for the West to question her actions amidst a counter-terrorist war rather than helping to eradicate the terrorist menace. Or does the Sri Lankan state needs to take a stock of her communication strategy to the international community whether it has so far sent the correct message to negate the Tamil Tiger ‘macro effect’ and if not why.

Will the Sri Lankan state be capable of redefining its strategic communication for the international community to be convinced that the LTTE is hiding its own genocide on the all three ethnic communities in Sri Lanka behind that ‘Genocide’ banner it’s hoisting in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington on Friday, January 23? Or, will that ‘re-defined’ strategic communication of the Sri Lankan state convince the international community that the democratically elected legitimate Government of Sri Lanka represents all three ethnic communities convincing the West that the annihilation of the Tamil Tigers is not the annihilation of the minority Tamils but the restoration of the long lost socio-economic rights of the approximately 65 percent of the economically handicapped rural masses of the people of the three communities and the 5% Indian plantation Tamils who have been long neglected.

It is behind that “genocide’ banner hoisted before the Indian Embassy in Washington that lays LTTE’s macro effect.

- Asian Tribune -

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