The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) which was deployed in Sri Lanka's troubled North and East between 1987 and 1990, was a victim of vile propaganda by the LTTE, an internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan Tamil human rights activist has said.
"We began our work in 1987 when the Indian Army took control of Jaffna. Apart from the callousness of an army, we saw that many instances of civilian tragedy were deliberately engineered by the LTTE for propaganda," said Dr Rajan Hoole, after receiving the Martin Ennals Award from the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on Tuesday.
"Our early work discussed the thwarting of the India-Sri Lanka Agreement by both the LTTE and the (Sri Lankan) government and how the Indian Peace Keeping Force was pushed to strong military action by the LTTE's calculated provocations, resulting in many violations by the IPKF," Hoole said in his acceptance speech.
For two decades, Hoole and the fellow award winner K Sritharan, have been meticulously documenting human rights violations by all armed groups, including the government, in the Tamil-speaking Sri Lankan North East, at grave risk to their lives.
Provoked Lankan forces too
Referring to the post 1990 or post IPKF situation, Hoole said, "It fell to us to record the LTTE's cynicism in deliberately inviting reprisals against civilians, the terrible reprisal of the government forces, and the LTTE's ideologically directed violence against the Muslims including the ethnic cleansing of the entire Northern Muslim population and the mosque massacres in the East."
According to Hoole, the LTTE's "simple programme is to undermine any healthy development in the Sinhalese south for a political settlement, and by some foul act of violence, provoke the State's inherent harshness towards the Tamils."
Referring to the December 2005 Presidential elections in which the LTTE is said to have helped Sinhala hardliner Mahinda Rajapaksa to win, Hoole said, " It was in character for the LTTE to abet the election of a President with nationalist leanings and then deliberately provoke war. It saw this as the most promising way to a separate state."
Lankan government blamed
Hoole blamed the Sri Lankan government too for the continuance of the bloody conflict, the lack of democracy in the Tamil areas, and the continuing hold of the LTTE on the Tamil population. The state had not given the Tamils an alternative to the militancy and separatism of the LTTE but had only been concentrating on the military elimination of the LTTE, and trampling on the basic rights of the Tamils in the process, he pointed out.
"Democratic institutions are fracturing beyond a point of repair while the leaders are blinded by the arrogance of power. Their short term political interest helps the LTTE to thrust and hold the Tamil civilians in a regime of war, claiming with some logic that there is no alternative," Hoole said.
On the current political situation in Sri Lanka, he said that in the Sri Lankan government's war on terror, there was only a token acknowledgement of the need for a political settlement. That was merely a device to buy time and satisfy the world.
And in all this, he added, the LTTE had become a "pretext for crushing the Tamil people in the interest of a Sinhalese hegemonic state."