Major General Shavendra Silva, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, tells Daily Mirror that despite repeated attempts by paid activists of the LTTE failing to discredit the government and the forces, the agenda will continue to block the path of development and peace on the ground.
‘Channel-4 or another LTTE funded media outlet may conceive similar fabrications. It’s latest film is not the answer to my questions. I would be seeking very factual evidence face to face without mine and the Defence Secretary’s wartime images, which were also found to be cunningly sucked from other channels and propaganda pieces taken from the internet since there really is nothing to make things colourful. All these things are baseless accusations which have no validity at all,’ he added.
The Channel 4.
‘Am I now to answer for those shadows as forced
Q: The witch hunt against the Sri Lankan government and the security personnel for ending three decades of war and killing by a terror group of the magnitude of the LTTE seem not to have stopped after two years. How would you respond to the latest charges levelled against you by Channel-4?
A – It is just an empty roar with no substance. This is yet another deliberate attempt to discredit the Government of Sri Lanka internationally and tarnish its good image and disrupt the peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. I think this is the kind of response by Channel-4 that I have challenged as an individual, while rising straight with a will to fight for the truth.
Channel 4’s latest film is not the answer to my questions. I would be seeking very factual evidence face to face without mine and the Defence Secretary’s wartime images, which were also found to be cunningly sucked from other channels and propaganda pieces taken from the internet since there really is nothing to make things colourful. All these things are baseless accusations which have no validity at all.
Q:The latest video contains shadowy figures of two people who can be anyone, with no real voices yet making some serious charges against orders that you are supposed to have received from the Defence Secretary. Can you account for such people having reportedly served under you and for the manner the orders came about?
A – I assure that nobody could have listened to that type of order from the Defence Secretary during the fight against terrorism because the Defence Secretary had never issued that type of orders. The final Wanni Humanitarian operation was designed to salvage not only civilians but also the LTTE cadres who fought against the military. If the conditions are such that onetime hardcore LTTE cadres are now happily back in their own society, I wonder who these shadowy figures telling stories of this nature are? And am I now to answer for those shadows as forced by Channel 4? Also, never in my military career, have I produced subordinates or whoever to become shadowy figures as shown in this particular video clip. These are commonly available cheap media tactics in these types of games.
Q: The video also levels charges against not honouring reported assurance given for two political cadres to surrender to the Government through international mediation. What is the truth behind this?
A – From the time we liberated Pooneryn, I felt it could be the turning point of the Wanni humanitarian operation, the LTTE was repeatedly asked, including by the President, to lay down its weapons and surrender. Anybody who wanted to surrender was welcomed to do so. Our concern was to rescue people and in that course we never had any discrimination. All were taken safely and treated equally. This is how more than 11,000 former LTTE cadres and 595 child soldiers were rehabilitated and the majority has been reunited with their families.
War crimes charges?
‘These desperate efforts of the LTTE will never have validity.’
Q:In view of the latest addition to the Channel-4 fiasco; given the discrepancy and inaccuracies, how concerned are you of the continued effort by these elements to build up a case for war crimes in the manner undertaken?
A– In Sri Lanka according to a very familiar saying, one should say hundred lies to cover up a single lie. I feel it is acutely necessary to eliminate ‘purposeful lying’ from this type of agendas of one or two individuals who deal with the interests of a little group of deteriorated men in the international community. Moreover, drastically the repercussions deal with the credibility that may pound thundering effects on the creator himself if he continues it further for various other interests. The desperate efforts of the LTTE and its shadow remnants including in Colombo against the government of Sri Lanka and her military by their millions of dollars may attract various segments in the international community, but will never have validity.
Q:September will prove a serious concern to the government in the human rights arena as these forces gather momentum to level various charges against the country and officers like you who led the humanitarian effort on the ground. How confident are you in meeting this situation?
A– Earlier this year our delegation reported a successful result in Geneva and we confidently appeared for the preservation of human rights in the country. However, the LTTE activists living in this part of the world and their sympathizers will attempt all possible means in September which is a crucial month of the calendar. Here in New York the Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona and I together with the staff of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka are confident that we can counter any allegations against our country as we did at the UN Churches Centre when they screened the movie “Killing Fields”.
I have no fear as I have solid evidence to prove we did a life risking service to protect the human rights of innocent Tamils living in northeast of our country. The factual analysis on to how we did the operation is now open to the public as the government released it couple of days ago. Nobody can change the history and you will see the transparency of it in many more occasions in future. The answers for many accusations and blind allegations are there and if interested future forums on human rights will find their task easier with it.
Channel-4 or another LTTE funded media outlet may conceive similar fabrications. This could be expected in future because the originators may be the funding agents of the latest clip and may find that the goal was not achieved once again. Therefore we all might have to be mindful of this situation as especially these elements may target Geneva in September.
How the victims were treated.
‘The actual victims of the LTTE who sought refuge in the forces know the truth.’
Q:The fact remains that 11,000 former LTTE cadres have been rehabilitated and the extreme care with which the civilians were looked after by the forces remain accounted for right to the end of the humanitarian exercise. What would you see as the real force behind these charges and the resultant agenda against the government and the forces?
A – The term I always use is that the ‘LTTE Corporation’ is the only driving force behind all. I must put it this way. LTTE was the richest terrorist outfit in the world. Fighting against the government was the business they maintained to collect loads of dollars and euros for the past three decades. This whole business was in the hands of a few men who actually had influences to make wonders in the political systems inside certain countries. Anyhow we managed to overcome the controversy defeating LTTE physically inside the country two years back but I feel not similarly overseas. The latest being the alleged accusations from Channel-4. It is also a part of the survival game of the LTTE Diaspora in other countries.
Q:It is fact that the families of several senior dead leaders of the LTTE continue to enjoy the hospitality of the Sri Lankan government, as well as Prabhakaran’s parents who both died under normal conditions in government care. What in your opinion is the rationale for the accusations you are directed against today of ill-treating those who were victims of the LTTE and sought refuge in the forces during the last stages of the war?
A – Whoever is born in this country is a citizen of this country. At birth no one is labelled as a terrorist or anybody.
We were launched into battle with broader aspects and even the last private soldier in battle was well aware of all primitive areas of the society that hinder the motive of the course of action.
Once a female LTTE cadre was apprehended and she revealed that she was a Government teacher, her salary was paid by the government of Sri Lanka at the time we apprehended her. But, she was fighting as a terrorist. Later she got all her doubts cleared when I said to her that she was a terrorist till she was holding a weapon in hand and from the time she dropped it she made herself recognised as yet another citizen of this country.
So I think your question needs an answer beyond many areas of our interest along with practical examples which we have already demonstrated two years back. Anybody can now walk into the areas where Tamil civilians are living in the country and have a look into the way they are enjoying freedom.
You must meet the actual victims of the LTTE who sought refuge in the forces during the last stages of the war and listen to their views as to what the military did and are presently doing with them.
‘Their propaganda arm is on overdrive on this matter.’
Q:Do you believe there is still insufficient understanding of the depths to which the terror and atrocities of the LTTE went in to, for certain sections within the West to continue to remain susceptible to these falsehoods?
A – The full extent of the terror unleashed by the LTTE for three decades may not necessarily be appreciated by all sections of the political leadership of the West. One of the key reasons for this is the effective disinformation and propaganda campaign continuously carried out by the LTTE and its off-shoots over the years using friendly media and gullible policy makers. The facts are being distorted and twisted to suit the LTTE objectives. I would like to meet personalities who know the depth of the country’s one time biggest problem which went to the extent to have the most inhumane terrorists within Tamil community.
Q:What would you attribute to the duplicity with which certain sections of the international community continue to treat the LTTE as opposed to the threat posed by other terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda?
A –- We have to remember that the LTTE has been proscribed by the European Union, the United States, Canada and India. We need to be alert to the efforts being made by the LTTE to resurrect themselves using all possible means. Their propaganda arm is on overdrive on this matter.
Q:Needless to say LTTE international is considerably strong and accounts for a large business enterprise which is the real agenda behind the moves to discredit the country in this continued manner. How much of a threat do you weigh the LTTE to continue to pose out of the country?
A – The LTTE continues to pose a threat to the country’s image because it has not ceased its activities in the West to discredit Sri Lanka. For this purpose, it has mobilized extensive funds and there is evidence that it continues to raise funds. The shadow LTTE is quite active even in Colombo targeting Western diplomatic missions at all levels. Their influence in Colombo is pernicious. LTTE propagandists have redoubled their efforts in the West targeting political leaders, NGOs, religious leaders, community groups and policy makers. There is a clear agenda to win in the international arena what the terrorist organisation failed to realize in the battle front. Sri Lanka needs to be constantly watchful and mobilize its friends as much as possible to counter this threat.