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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Professor Margaret Trawick comments: "Sri Lanka is trying to kill or terrorise as many Tamil people as possible" and urges: "make the facts of the war public"
Margaret Trawick, Professor of Social Anthropology, Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand was moved to comment on 28 April 1996:
"I have been reading reports about the SLA's northward march with mounting despair. At first, the reports coming from the SL military and from the LTTE appeared diametrically opposed.
The military said that displaced Tamils were returning north to their homes voluntarily; the LTTE said they were fleeing across the lagoon to the mainland.
The military reported that there were bodies lying around that the LTTE hadn't picked up, and the Tigers were chastised for being so disrespectful of their own dead. The LTTE responded with a brief silence.
Then the reports began to converge. The LTTE also reported that there were bodies lying around that, indeed, it had not had the capacity to bury properly. Not only LTTE bodies, but civilian bodies. Now according to the Reuters report, the military says it has captured the key lagoon crossing, "to halt the flow of hundreds of Tamil civilians fleeing the peninsula."
The Defense Ministry appears to admit that the people travelling north were trapped and forced in that direction by the advancing army. The LTTE has reported that fleeing Tamil civilians have been subject to strafing and shelling by the army; military officials say that "hundreds of Tamil civilians are risking being shot at" to flee to safety across the lagoon. One may well ask these military officials who exactly is shooting at these fleeing civilians?
Meanwhile those who travel north into the Valigamam area are, according to the military, "screened to ensure there is no LTTE infiltration," while the LTTE reports that all young Tamil men and women entering Valigamam are being arrested and being taken in for questioning, which is the only thing (in this context, and in my view) that "screening" could mean.
No journalists or outside reporters or observers of any kind are allowed into the north. No aid of any kind is allowed into areas that are not "controlled by the military." Such areas are being shelled as enemy territory...
I have been struggling in my mind against the conclusion that the SL government is trying to kill or terrorize as many Tamil people as possible; that the government is trying to keep the conditions of the war unreported internationally, because if those conditions were reported, the actions of the military would be perceived as so deplorable that foreign nations would have no choice but to condemn them. And this would be embarrassing to everybody. But it seems now that no other conclusion is possible...
A ray of hope (alas - I am always looking for rays of hope!) consists in the fact that the SL government has revealed one easily targeted weak spot. It does not want the conditions of the war in the north to be made public. It fears that if its means of carrying out the war were known, it might have to stop doing whatever it's doing.
Some of the members of that government are among those who profit from the war, and I think they would like to have it continue for a long time, in just the way that it is continuing now. I for one would prefer that the war not continue. I would like the killing and torture, the terrorization, extortion and oppression to stop. There is an obvious way to help make these things stop. The warmakers themselves have shown us the way. MAKE THE FACTS OF THE WAR PUBLIC."