17 June 2011/ By P C Vinoj Kumar
Not all Sinhalese are evil. Neither is every Tamil a saint. But the fact remains that every soldier in the Sri Lankan army who fought the war against the LTTE during 2008-2009 was a Sinhalese.
This background information is essential for any non-Tamil to understand how the Sri Lankan army can be so brutal against its own civilians. In Sri Lanka, Tamils are not treated on par with the Sinhalese.
They are not inducted into the army, which is almost a 100 percent Sinhalese force.
Are there any Tamils in the force at all? The then Sri Lankan deputy high commissioner in Chennai P M Amza refused to reveal the number of Tamils in the Lankan army when I sought the information from him in an email interview in 2007. I was a correspondent with Tehelka then.
Having reported on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue for many years, I have noticed the deep-seated prejudice that most Sinhalese harbour against Tamils.
In April 2009, Harinder Baweja, Tehelka’s Editor, Investigations, asked me to rush to Colombo to check out the ground situation as the war was entering its final stages.
I applied for a visa. They kept me on tenterhooks for over a week. Sri Lankan consulate officials in Chennai asked me to contact their foreign ministry office in Colombo. I spoke with many officials, but nothing worked.
Harinder did not understand what was happening. She kept saying that many Indian journalists had already landed in Colombo. Why then I was being denied a visa?
It was true that Colombo rolled out the red carpet to many Indian journalists, but most of them toed the army line. They flew in army helicopters to the war front, and reported what the Lankan officials told them.
My reporting on the Lankan issue had always been fair. I spoke to both sides – the Tamil militants and the army – which the Lankan officials did not apparently like. Was it the reason I was denied a visa? Or was it simply because I was a Tamil myself?
Forget that. The point is, Colombo is a spoilt brat. She only wants good things said about her. She wants to be caressed and fondled at all times. She has been fed and pampered by India and China, who have an eye on her assets – which includes her strategic geographical position. She lives on their money. Like overbearing mistresses she has now come to believe that she can get away with anything, even mass murder.
But Colombo has made a grave mistake in overestimating the influence of her friends. She has always been dim witted. India and China cannot go beyond a certain limit to save her.
There is mounting evidence of Colombo’s war crimes. Channel 4, a British TV channel, which has aired horrifying video footage of the brutal acts of Sinhalese soldiers in the past, recently showed more clips that provide fresh evidence to haul up Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa before the International Criminal Court on charges of war crime.
The new footages show naked bodies of Tamil women, who seem to have been sexually abused before being killed. Lewd remarks from the soldiers like, “I really want to cut her tits off, if no one was around,” bring out the beastly nature of the government forces.
International community is losing its patience with Colombo with each passing day.
Responding to the Channel 4 footage, Britain’s foreign office minister Alistair Burt has said: “Since the end of the conflict the UK has called for an independent, thorough and credible investigation of the allegations that war crimes were committed during the hostilities and the UK Government expects to see progress by the end of the year.
If the Sri Lankan government does not respond we will support the international community in revisiting all options available to press the Sri Lankan Government to fulfil its obligations.”
The Weekend Leader was first among the Indian media to forecast what was coming for Rajapaksa. In April, soon after the UN Panel submitted its indicting report on Sri Lanka, we wrote an article headlined, ‘Ground prepared for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tryst with destiny’.
We will continue to keep the spotlight on the issue till justice is rendered to the Tamils.