Tag Archives: Mahinda Rajapakse

Take US, UK to war crime tribunals before Sri Lanka, says the Defence Secretary

In an interview with NDTV:

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Casualty Figures

Reuters has a report. In summary,

  • More than 6,200 soldiers killed and nearly 30,000 wounded (Source: Defence Secretary interview with ITN)
  • More than 15,000 LTTE cardres killed according to the Military several months ago. No final tally.
  • Around 7,000 civilians killed since January according to unverified, unofficial U.N. estimates. Around 280,000 displaced according to aid agencies.
  • Overall, according to the UN, the conflict has killed from about 80,000 -100,000 people.


Update (23/05/2009): According to Army Chief speaking to NDTV, a total of 22,000 LTTE cardres were killed by the Army alone. He also puts the casualty figures of the Sri Lanka troops lower.

The Rajapakse Doctrine

Move over Bush, the TIME has a new piece on the Rajapakse doctrine of counterinsurgency. The whole thing is worth a read. Below is a key excerpt:

The main principles [of the Rajapakse doctrine of counterinsurgency] are:

Brute Force Works
Modern military wisdom says sheer force doesn’t quell insurgencies, and that in the long run political and economic power-sharing along with social reconciliation are the only ways to end the fighting. But the Sri Lankan army eventually broke down the Tigers in an unrelenting military campaign, the final phase of which lasted more than two years. That sort of sustained offensive hasn’t been tried anywhere, in decades.

Negotiations Don’t
After numerous attempts at mediation — most notably by Norway — led to nothing, Rajapaksa basically abandoned the pursuit of a negotiated solution. Once the military had the upper hand, there was little effort to treaty with the Tigers.

Collateral Damage Is Acceptable
In the final months of fighting, the Sri Lankan military offensive hardly differentiated between civilian and Tiger targets. Refugees fleeing the fighting said thousands of innocents were being killed in the army’s bombardments. Modern militaries typically halt hostilities when large numbers of civilians are killed. The Sri Lankan army barely paused. Reva Bhalla, director of analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm, says Rajapaksa’s “disregard for civilian casualties” was a key to the success of the military operation.

Critics Should Shut Up — Or Else
For a democracy, Sri Lanka’s recent record on press freedom is an embarrassment. Journalists who dared question the government (and not just over the military campaign) have been threatened, roughed up, or worse. The Jan. 8 murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, a crusading editor — and TIME contributor — was an especially low point. In recent months, as the fighting intensified, journalists and international observers were kept well away, ensuring very little reporting on the military’s harsh tactics and the civilian casualties.

Lack of accurate reporting from the war front was one reason why the international outcry against the military’s heavy-handedness was so muted — especially in the U.S. Rajapaksa also benefited from the post-9/11 global consensus that insurgent groups using terror tactics “can no longer call themselves freedom fighters,” according to Daniel Markey, a South Asia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The Tigers didn’t understand this, and paid a significant price.”

That may be one lesson insurgencies worldwide can learn from the Tigers’ downfall.

The whole thing on TIME.

On a somewhat related note, and if you are into this sort of thing, take a look at this superb article on Tehelka on Prabhakaran’s rise and fall.

[video - English] Sri Lankan President Addresses the Nation

Youtube has the speech given by President Mahinda Rajapakse declaring the victory in the war against the LTTE.  The full speech is available in six parts. 

Part 1:

Part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

PRABHAKARAN KILLED

Confirming earlier rumors, MoD website and state media confirms the death of LTTE cheif Prabhakarn’s death along with his confidants Soosai and Pottu Amman. from MoD,

The latest reports from battlefront reveal that LTTE leader V. Prabhakran, has been killed this morning (May 18). The sources further say that LTTE’s intelligence wing leader Pottu Amman and Sea Tiger wing leader Soosai were also killed.

As usual, fireworks going off in the streets everywhere in the country.  State media is playing patriotic songs and profiling the three decades of terror perpetrated by the LTTE and it’s leadership. The entire Tiger leadership has now been eliminated.

[VIDEO] SRI LANKA CELEBRATES VICTORY

Video in Sinhala

President Mahinda Rajapakse was given a hero’s welcome as he arrives in the country after the military delcared all civillians have been rescued and the LTTE cornered to a tiny stretch of land.  The streets of Colombo and around Sri Lanka are jubilant with the celebrations of an impending victory and a complete anhiliation of the LTTE.  There is talk that the LTTE leadership will commit mass suicide. The Sri Lankans expect a complete victory in the coming hours.

Update : Aljazera has a report on the celebrations

UN Briefing on the Humanitarian situation (1 May 2009)

Video:

Trascript:

United Nations, New York, 1 May 2009 – Daily Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. Over Sri Lanka, security forces continue their operations in the northern conflict zone. Heavy fighting is reported.
The United Nations Office of the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs says as of today, more than 172,000 people have crossed out of the conflict zone, mostly in the last 10 days. 170,000 are accommodated at temporary camps in 38 sites in four districts of the north and east of the country, while around 2,000 wounded and their caregivers are in hospitals.
There have been no new arrivals at the Omanthai screening point in the last 48 hours, and the Government of Sri Lanka informs us that none are in transit.
We believe that 50,000 people remain in the conflict zone.

Congestion in the camps remains one of the most serious concerns, as shelter in the camps remains inadequate. In Trincomalee, the UN refugee agency has started setting up tents, while UNICEF has been working on the provision of sanitation there, while also started building wells.
Despite repeated calls by the United Nations and the International Red Cross, they still have no access to the screening point at Kilinochchi.
The UN Refugee Agency also says a second team of UNHCR emergency experts is scheduled to arrive today in Sri Lanka. The team of four includes specialists on community services, protection and other essential field functions. This follows the earlier deployment of five UNHCR experts to Sri Lankas north in February and March.
While thousands of displaced people continue to arrive to Vavuniya, Jaffna and Trincomalee, others are returning to their homes in the first Government organized return operation in northern Sri Lanka in years. The area to where they are returning was for a long time the frontline in the fighting between Government forces and LTTE rebels.

UNHCR says it welcomes these returns as a positive development. While the number of those returning to their homes is still small it is an important starting point, it says. The United Nations hopes that returns to other areas in northern Sri Lanka will also be possible soon.