Amnesty International head to join M’vaikkal commemoration



Callamard and Weerasekara

15th anniversary of defeat of LTTE:

War veteran MP warns of LTTE rump, sympathizers exploiting situation

By Shamindra Ferdinando

General Secretary of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, is scheduled to visit Mullivaikkal, in the Mullaithivu District, where the combined security forces defeated the LTTE.

The visit is scheduled to take place on 18 May, the day before the military killed LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, 15 years ago.

Amnesty International yesterday confirmed the visit. The London headquartered group said that its Secretary General would join thousands of war-affected Tamils commemorating all those lost to the Sri Lankan civil war at an event in Mullivaikkal, Sri Lanka. According to the AI, Callamard would begin her first tour of South Asia tomorrow (16).

French woman Callamard received appointment as Secretary General of Amnesty International in 2021, having previously worked as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Serving and retired military sources told The Island that though they found nothing wrong in commemorating the war dead, such an event shouldn’t be used to tarnish the image of the war-winning military or to boost unsubstantiated war crimes allegations against it.

Sources said that events were being planned in several countries, including Canada where the Parliament in 2022 declared 18 May as the Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day. Canadian groups, affiliated to various political parties, have made arrangements to gather at the Walter Baker Sports Center on May 18.

The Mullivaikkal Commemoration Committee recently held a media briefing at the Mullaithivu press club, where they urged Tamil people from all parts of the country to gather at the commemoration grounds on 18 May.

Former Public Security Minister and SLPP Colombo District MP Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera said that the military paid a huge price to bring the war to a successful conclusion 15 years ago. Those who had been shedding tears for the war dead were conveniently silent about the disgraceful practice of using child soldiers or the violence unleashed by the LTTE on other Tamil groups, Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security told The Island.

Weerasekera alleged that the LTTE had been given ample opportunities to surrender, but Prabhakaran remained adamant as he firmly believed the Western powers would intervene to rescue him.

The former Navy Chief of Staff said that the TNA continued to propagate lies both in and outside Parliament after having recognized the LTTE as the sole representative of Tamil speaking people. That recognition made probably under duress, way back in 2001, remained until Prabhakaran was shot dead on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, the ex-Minister said, adding that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK)-led political grouping should be grateful to the military for paving the way for them to re-enter democratic politics.

MP Weerasekera recalled the circumstances under which the Yahapalana administration cancelled the annual armed forces victory day parade in 2001. That was done to appease the LTTE rump and those who sympathize with the separatist cause, MP Weerasekera said, urging the people to be mindful of huge sacrifices made by the armed forces. The Army alone lost over 5,000 officers and men during the fourth phase of the Eelam war (June/July 2006 to May 2009).

Responding to another query, MP Weerasekera asked whether any other country would allow Amnesty International or any other international organization to participate in such commemorative events.

TNA MPs are expected to join the event.

MP Weerasekera said that obviously there wouldn’t be any mention of those killed by the LTTE or the people who perished during the Indian Army deployment in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the 1980s.