Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sri Lanka - war heroes and war crimes

By Andrew Buncombe - Earlier this year, I wrote a story from Sri Lanka about the efforts of several senior LTTE members to surrender in the very final stages of the war and how they were shot dead - apparently while walking towards government troops and carrying a white flag. My sources were pretty good - I had spoken with the Norwegian foreign ministry which confirmed that a senior minister had acted as an intermediary as the men tried to give themselves up. I also spoke with the Sri Lankan foreign secretary, Palitha Kahona, who confirmed that he had personally been in contact with the two LTTE members - whom he had met at ceasefire talks - and advised them how to surrender.

Of course, the quality of the sources did not stop the usual flurry of comments and insults that get hurled at journalists every time they write anything about Sri Lanka, from both the Tamil and Sinhala camps. You kind of get used to it.

But it did make me smile to read over the weekend, an interview in which former army chief Sarath Fonseka, now contesting President Mahinda Rajapaksa in next month's election, has claimed that Mr Rajapaksa's brother, who serves as the defence minister, had given the order to kill all the LTTE leadership. Mr Fonseka claimed that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, ordered that "they must all be killed" and that he rejected attempts to surrender. Mr Fonseka conveniently says that he was not involved in the decision and had been out of the country at the time.

The Sri Lankan government has hit back angrily, turning on the man who was once an ally and even threatening to bring charges against him. One thing's for sure: this coming electoral show-down between the two men who were once friends and allies is going to be very bitter and very ugly. The other certainty is that once the election is over, all this talk of Tamil rebels being shot as they sought to surrender will be conveniently forgotten. Whoever wins.

© The Independent

Related Links:
As killing of the surrendered is alleged, will UN investigate? - Inner City Press

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