This is a continuation from yesterday’s article;
THE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE
Another critical factor in this regard was formalising the Civil Defence Force. This was initially a loose organisation of civilians who had been given only shotguns to protect the villages under threat from the LTTE. When the decision to once again engage the LTTE militarily was made, it was clear that the LTTE would try to distract the operations by attacking more innocent civilians in these villages. Therefore, it was necessary to formally organise these civilians into a proper paramilitary force capable of protecting vulnerable villages. 42,000 able-bodied men were recruited from the villages and given proper training as well as equipment. They played a significant role in protecting their villages from LTTE attacks during the Humanitarian Operations. The credit should go to Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Admiral Sarath Weerasekara and Admiral Ananda Pieris and if not for their commitment, the Civil Defence Force would have been not in existence today.
SPLIT OF THE LTTE OR THE KARUNA FACTOR
Meanwhile, in March 2004 there had been a major split between the northern and eastern wings of the LTTE. Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Col. Karuna, the Eastern commander of the LTTE and one of Prabhakaran’s trusted lieutenants, pulled 5,000 eastern cadres out of the LTTE, claiming insufficient resources and power were being given to Tamils of the eastern part of the island. It was the biggest expression of dissension in the history of the LTTE and a clash within the LTTE seemed imminent. After the parliamentary elections, brief fighting south of Trincomalee led to a rapid retreat and capitulation of Karuna’s group, their leaders eventually going into hiding including Karuna himself. However, the “Karuna faction” maintained a significant presence in the east and continued to launch attacks against the LTTE and breakaway of Karuna was a death blow to LTTE.
Defence EXPENDITURE INVESTMENT IN PEACE
Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal who spoke on “Nation Building” said that in the four years between 2006-2009, the Government spent US $ 5.5 billion or four per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence expenditure.
However, he said, this was an investment in peace and its dividends were now paying off with the country’s economy recovering well with the end of the war. The expenditure included the costs of aircraft, ships, tanks, ammunition, and other equipment as well as food and uniforms for troops, he said.
Mr Cabraal said the amount spent by Sri Lanka was small compared to heavy military expenditure by other countries and made a comparison with the United States which he said spent the US $ 910 billion on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Governor said that the end of the war had fast-tracked development particularly in the northern and eastern provinces with thousands of bank loans granted to people to rebuild their lives after nearly three decades of war. “The government is putting money where its mouth is,” he said.
LTTE BANNED IN USA AND EUROPEAN UNION
The European Union and Canada have joined the United States, India, and Australia in labelling the LTTE a terrorist organization, which has made it more difficult for the group to get financing from abroad. The civil war has killed nearly seventy thousand, and watchdog groups have accused both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military of human rights violations, including abduction, extortion, and the use of child soldiers.
INDIA’s ROLE IN THE CONFLICT
During the 1970s, India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) helped to train and arm the LTTE, but after the group’s terrorist activities grew in the 1980s--including its alliances with separatist groups in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu--RAW withdrew this support. In 1987, India made a pact with the Sri Lankan government to send peacekeeping troops to the island. The Indian forces were unable to end the conflict and instead began fighting with the LTTE. India was forced to withdraw by Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1990. Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India at the time of the peacekeeping force deployment, was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber in 1991. Premadasa met a similar fate in 1993.
India remains concerned about the conditions of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, as it stirs protests and tensions among its Tamil population in the south. In February 2009, India’s foreign minister expressed concern over the safety of civilians in Sri Lanka and said the only way forward would be the devolution of power from the centre to the provinces. Under the 1987 accord with India, which was followed by the thirteenth amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution, Colombo agreed to devolve some authority to the provinces and make Tamil an official language of the state. But no government has fully implemented the provisions, say experts.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided more than $3.6 billion to Sri Lanka since its independence in 1948, most of it in the form of food aid. Military aid was suspended in December 2007 because of Sri Lanka’s human rights violations, which are catalogued in the U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights practices. Since 2008, the United States has also been working with the Sri Lankan government through the U.S. Agency for International Development on programs focused on democracy, governance, humanitarian assistance, and economic growth. It also awarded a five year, $12 million contract to support the regional government in Sri Lanka’s eastern and north-central provinces.
The LTTE campaigns regularly to be taken off the U.S. State Department’s terrorist list. In August 2006, federal authorities arrested and charged eight suspects in New York with attempting to bribe U.S. officials to remove the LTTE from the list. The suspects said to have close ties with LTTE leaders like Prabhakaran, are also charged with trying to purchase surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers, AK-47s, and other weapons for the LTTE.
LTTE’s ATROCITIES AND STRATEGICAL MISTAKES
It must be understood that notwithstanding this, the LTTE was one of the deadliest terrorist organisations in the world. The list of the LTTE’s atrocities is long. Over the years, the LTTE carried out ethnic cleansing in the North and East, brutally driving out the Sinhalese and Muslim civilians who lived there. They carried out countless attacks on civilians. They attacked villages near the areas they occupied, massacring thousands. They attacked places of worship such as the Sri Maha Bhodiya and the Temple of the Tooth, the two most significant places of worship for Buddhists all over the world. They also carried out massacres at Mosques and attacked Churches.
The LTTE attacked vital national infrastructures such as the international airport, the central bus stand and the main railway station in Colombo. They attacked economic targets such as the Central Bank, the World Trade Centre, oil refineries and civilian harbours. They set off countless parcel bombs, car bombs, truck bombs and claymore mines in populated areas, killing thousands of innocent civilians, and they perfected the tactic of suicide bombing. The LTTE also carried out a vicious campaign of assassinations against political targets, killing the President of Sri Lanka, the former Prime Minister of India, the Defence Minister, the Foreign Minister, several cabinet ministers, leaders of political parties, and a large number of parliamentarians.
The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and attacking the Sri Maha Bhodiya and the Temple of the Tooth, the two most significant places of worship for Buddhists all over the world were strategic mistakes carried out by the LTTE. India specially the Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi didn’t show any mercy towards LTTE and entire country despite which party they belonged to supported whatever the party in power to annihilate terrorism from Sri Lankan soil.
IMPACTS of the USA’s WAR ON TERROR CAMPAIGN
The War on Terror, also known as the Global War on Terrorism, the international military campaign launched by the United States Government after the September 11 attacks was a blessing in disguise to defeat the LTTE.
The USA had to adopt a strict policy against terrorist organizations around the world. It helped to identify locate and demolish terrorists along with their organizations. Reject sponsorship, support and sanctuary to terrorists, End the state sponsorship of terrorism, Establish and maintain an international standard of responsibility concerning combating terrorism, Strengthen and maintain the international effort to combat terrorism, Function with willing and able states, Enable weak states, Persuade reluctant states, Compel unwilling states, Intervene and dismantle material support for terrorists, Abolish terrorist sanctuaries and havens, Reduce the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit, Establish partnerships with the international community to strengthen weak states and prevent (re)emergence of terrorism.
WINNING A WAR IS A TEAM EFFORT
Above events show that the professional Armed Forces together with police, Civil Defence Force, strong political leadership, bureaucrats, civilian societies like doctors, nurses , well wishers, taxpayers, external actors like war on terror campaign by superpower, provision of war material on credit basis and protecting Sri Lanka against the united nation organization by friendly countries and also the strategic mistakes committed by LTTE themselves including breakaway of Karuna were the vital factors to defeat the virulent enemy.
It is with great honour, I mention that 23962 soldiers, 1160 sailors, 443 airmen, 2568 policemen and 456 civil defence force personnel have sacrificed their lives on behalf of all the citizens so that a country’s citizens can live peacefully without allowing this nation to be divided. In saying so, the brave soldiers those who died, those who suffered injuries and those who are living should never be forgotten. They are the real heroes. A claim by one person that he single-handedly won the war is unrealistic.
Writer is the former security forces commander(Wanni), the Competent Authority for internally displaced Personnel in North, The Colonel Commandant of the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, World top ten in National Defence Studies (China), A Doctor in Economics and the Architect of Wanni Bogaswewa settlement with 36 years of Active Military Service, Presently working as International writer and International Researcher. The writer as an Infantryman fought the same war against the LTTE for more than 20 years.