The President presented ‘Virisara’ beneficial cards to war heroes and assured them he is not prepared to make any government soldier a suspect in the war crime charges leveled against the armed forces and the government on the alleged violations of human rights during the war against LTTE and killing of more than 40,000 Tamil civilians in May 2009.
More than 1000 LTTE Leaders and their family members who surrendered with White Flag after UN negociated the surrender were killed by the Sri Lankan forces leaving the UN embarrassed and damaging the image of the UN and its values.
The President, pointing out that it is the responsibility and duty of the government to protect the (sinhala) soldiers who fought against the LTTE and will not allow the suspects of War crimes to be punished.
While there is an unprecedented goodwill for Sri Lanka among the international community today due to Mahinda Rajapaksha loosing the presidential election and many Sinhala people question as to what benefit could be derived to the country from punishing the soldiers who committed war crime against the Tamil community.
President Sirisena said. “We are utilizing that goodwill and friendship for the protection of the honour and respect of our war heroes,”. He added that the most powerful world leaders (China and Russia…) have assured him that they would stand by Sri Lanka’s independence and democracy as well as on issues pertaining to the members of armed forces who had committed War crimes.
The President emphasize that he would always take the fullest responsibility on behalf of any problem face by the officers, staff members and war heroes who fought against the LTTE (and committed war crime?). However he said that, he was unable to protect those who are found guilty of acts that are not connected to the national security and those who are guilty of killing media persons or sportsmen.
The surrender of the political leaders of the LTTE – Pulidevan and Nadesan – is commonly known as “the white flag incident”. It involved approximately twelve people surrendering, including the leaders. Photographs of their dead bodies later appeared.
There was however more than one white flag incident. At least 103 other LTTE leaders and those associated with them were seen later that day surrendering while unarmed. Some were led by an elderly Catholic priest called Father Francis Joseph; witnesses saw them loaded onto a bus under army guard. They have not been seen since and are presumed to have been disappeared by the Sri Lanka security forces.
An analysis of the available evidence points to an organised government plan at the highest level not to accept the surrender of the top civilian, administrative and political leadership of the LTTE – but rather to execute them. In the immediate aftermath of the surrenders, the Sri Lankan government presented a number of contradictory explanations for the killings of the political wing leaders but none for the other people who disappeared.
Seven years on, the families of the disappeared and dead desperately need to know what happened to their loved ones and why.
The President’s brother, Basil Rajapaksa, allegedly took the lead in the negotiation of the surrender of the political leaders. He reportedly had the surrender deal approved by his siblings – President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The Permanent Representative to the UN mission, Palitha Kohona, who was then foreign secretary, is alleged to have played a key role, sending text messages to the LTTE with instructions on how to surrender safely.
An eyewitness saw Shavendra Silva accepting the surrender of the political leaders. Silva is now Mr Kohona’s deputy at the United Nations.
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