"Aiyoh...they are killing us who is going to save us?"
By Satheesan Kumaaran
Mar 8, 2008

"Aiyoh...They are killing us!! Who is going to save us?" is the sound of the regular screaming in the Vanni region by the displaced Tamils as the Sri Lankan armed forces intensify their military aggression in the guise of destroying the LTTE. They are killing thousands of Tamils with no consideration to humanity as the Tamils try to seek international help to secure their freedom. The International Community (IC), however, does not seem hear their voices as they scream out: "Aiyoh the Sri Lankan armed forces are killing us!"

Both the IC and neighbouring India remain mute and unmoved spectators as the Sri Lankan armed forces increasingly target civilians in the war-torn northern Vanni region with impunity. Some countries, however, including the European Union, Canada, Britain, and the U.S., have begun to speak out on the plight of the displaced civilians trapped in the war zone through discussions as to how to protect the suffering humanity within their organized conclaves and suggest strategies to evacuate the trapped civilians from the LTTE-held areas.

Plight of civilians in camps
They, however, fail to examine as to what would be the consequences to the evacuees who are taken to designated camps, which are glorified 'concentration camps'. The question is -- why has the IC has turned a deaf ear to the pathetic and desperate screams of the displaced civilians who have already been transferred to these concentration camps? These camps are described as the modern Sri Lankan versions of the camps of Adolf Hitler in the 1940s used for Jews in preparation of their annihilation. Just as Hitler massacred the inmates of the camps thereafter, the Sri Lankan government is planning to massacre the civilians sheltered in these concentration camps. The civilians harboured in the camps already cry for help without much help from the outside world.

The displaced people, while describing the situation that prevails in the concentration camps, shared their plight with this writer on condition of anonymity for fear of facing grave hardships and severe reprisals in the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces. They are in dire need to expose what is happening to them including the forced abortions by the t Sri Lankan armed forces, violent rape of women, beating up of the youth, torture of the elders, and kidnapping of other individuals as suspects belonging to the LTTE and taken to secret locations with their whereabouts unknown.

When this writer inquired about why the displaced people did not make these complaints known when the diplomats and NGO officials visited the camps, they stated that whenever the diplomats and other foreigners visited the camps, they were accompanied by Sri Lankan military personnel in civilian clothes, and therefore they were scared to complain as they would be killed without doubt. This is the reality on the ground in the camps described as a "safe zone" in the areas in the control of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Diplomats in Colombo, however, find it convenient to report to their governments that the civilians living in the camps enjoy freedom and good food. Either they do not take the trouble to verify the facts or they are also afraid of backlashes from the defence and foreign ministries.

This being the case the question arises: who then are the protectors of the Tamils suffering in such manner? One need not be a rocket scientist to answer this simple question. It is the LTTE by default. When the Tamils lived in the LTTE-held areas, the civilians lived in peace with freedom except when the Sri Lankan armed forces began military offensives and aerial attacks on the LTTE-held Vanni.

Conduct of aerial attacks on a country's own unsuspecting citizens is as shameful as attacking another country unprovoked. However, the world community raises no concerns when the Sri Lankan state has been launching attacks on its own citizens for the last three decades. Rather, they encourage the Sri Lankan government with monetary and military aid to crush the LTTE. The global community also sees, quite short-sightedly, the LTTE as a terrorist organization without making any study of their aspirations. The world community fails to understand that these freedom fighters who sacrifice their lives on a daily basis are fighting not for any monetary gain, power or as a shortcut to heaven but doing so for the freedom of the Tamils.

A good number of countries compare the LTTE to the Al Qaeda without ever bothering to study the marked differences between these two organizations. Unlike the Al Qaeda, the LTTE is fighting for their rights and freedom in their homeland and they do not carry out attacks against any other nations or cultures. The LTTE entered into negotiations with the Sri Lankan state with the facilitation of India and Norway, but the negotiations were exercises in futility.

To discover the truth as to whether the Tamils support the LTTE, the IC should hold a census among the Eelam Tamil people living throughout the world and to uncover the truth about the treatment of civilians when they were in the LTTE-held areas and to find out how the LTTE treated them. The simple answer would be that the LTTE treated the Tamils who lived in their controlled areas with dignity and respect. A female could walk the streets at midnight without fear of robbery or molestation. In contrast is the pathetic situation in the Sri Lankan government-controlled areas where the Tamils, regardless of age, cannot walk even in broad daylight for fear of being abducted and killed, abducted and raped, abducted and demanded ransom or abducted and later claimed as "taken for investigation" if and when the story comes to light. For example, the Sri Lankan armed forces kidnapped a senior editor of two Tamil newspapers Nadesapillai Vithyatharan in Colombo on February 26, 2008, but when the owner of the newspapers, Saravanapavan, approached President Mahinda Rajapaksa and after heavy criticisms from the media and foreign countries, Rajapaksa told Saravanapavan that the armed forces arrested him for interrogations. However, Vithyatharan's wife screamed 'Aiyoh...someone is kidnapping my husband!'

The Sri Lankan government is trying to hoodwink the entire world, while many countries around the world remain mute spectators of their criminality.

Time for UN to intervene
The Sri Lankan-Tamil issue has reached a crisis point where the conflict cannot be otherwise resolved or controlled. The IC could help force Sri Lanka to improve the evacuees living conditions and secure safety inside the dangerous camps. The camps' operations are as secret and subversive as those under Hitler's Nazis. The IC needs to enter the scene with the view to securing the safety of the trapped Tamil civilians.

The IC should be aware that the conflict will never end without satisfying the just and fair demands of the Tamils.

If left unsettled the LTTE will bounce back with the fullest military capability or they will undoubtedly return to their former military tactic, resorting to guerrilla warfare. The LTTE fighters have been active since the 1970s, and they were even active in the government-controlled areas. Further, the LTTE fighters had the expertise of fighting the world's third largest military while the Indian armed forces were serving to "bring peace" from 1987 to 1990, but the Indian armed forces had to be withdrawn after three years in the North and East of Sri Lanka as they could not subdue the LTTE through military means.

A peaceful settlement of the dispute under international law should be followed through. The following two levels -- negotiations and mediation -- have failed. The question is whether the UN will intervene to resolve the conflict through peaceful means by using the second two levels -- enquiry & reconciliation and adjudication & settlement -- or does the international community feel that the conflict has reached the point where the conflict cannot be resolved because it has fallen into disarray and the crisis cannot be resolved by negotiations because all of peaceful avenues have been exhausted.

The Tamils believe that the conflict in Sri Lanka cannot be resolved by any internal or external factors other than the United Nations, and the UN can attempt adjudication and settlement, but it would be an utter waste of time to put both the parties into negotiations, as the conflict is a crisis. Therefore, collective resolutions should be taken by the UN, after giving a final chance for both warring parties to reach a meaningful solution to the conflict by fulfilling the demands of Tamils. Otherwise, the Tamils the world over will anticipate that the world community should recognize Tamil Eelam as an independent State just as it was done to East Timor, Montenegro, and Kosovo.

In any event, the Tamils cry:"Aiyoh…who is going to save us?" -- should not fall on deaf ears. Rather, the global community should hear their pleas and the world community should collectively make wise decisions immediately in order to save the crying civilians from being completely destroyed to silence them.

(The author can be reached at: satheessan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)