Humanitarian operation: Defence Ministry report tomorrow

By Our Political Editor

The Ministry of Defence is to release a 161-page report titled 'Humanitarian Operation - Factual Analysis' at a formal ceremony tomorrow justifying the use of military force to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009.

It is a unified effort by a number of state agencies and individuals to project the situation in the country before, during and after the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas.

Though expressly not stated, it would also be the government's answer to the UN Secretary General's Advisory Panel's report on allegations of human rights violations in Sri Lanka during that period. The Government expects to make available copies of the report to all countries and diplomatic missions in Colombo, the UN agencies as well as Non Government agencies and the media, a Defence Ministry official said yesterday.

The Sunday Times learns that the report will detail the capabilities that the LTTE had, and how it grew from a small rag-tag military outfit to an almost conventional army with a sea and air wing as well. It refers to the atrocities committed by the LTTE, the list of civilian killings, the assassinations of democratic leaders and how the LTTE disturbed normal civilian life.

It contains details of the LTTE having dominated 100 per cent of the North and 50 per cent of the East, where the Police and even the Army could not enter; that a de-facto separate state was already in existence.

The report refers to the efforts by successive governments to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table from Thimpu onwards. It also contains details of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of 1987, the peace talks with Norwegian facilitation etc.

There is a reference to the Mavil Aru anicut incident and what happened. The report states that more than 30,000 civilians were affected by the LTTE capturing this anicut when their water supply for their paddy fields and normal drinking water were cut off. The report states that there was "no other option" but to launch a limited military operation to recapture the irrigation works, but then the LTTE had simultaneously attacked military positions in Trincomalee which triggered a much larger confrontation with the Security Forces.

The report refers to the resumption of hostilities, the Wanni Operation, General Operational Procedures to safe guard civilians, among other matters. It will contain the tactics that were used by the Security Forces, and how measures were taken to minimise civilian casualties during the final phase of the war to defeat the LTTE; how a 'No Fire Zone' was declared; how corridors were opened for civilians trapped in the fighting to leave; and the rescue operations that were put in place.

There are chapters on the humanitarian assistance that was provided during this period together with the ICRC (Red Cross) with a cross reference to the Presidential Task Force that had prepared a separate report on the matter. There are also chapters on the preparation of the military; teaching officers and soldiers humanitarian and international law in relation to conflicts, and how to protect the rights of civilians. It states that a special branch in the Army was created to promote these values at field level as well. According to Defence Ministry officials the data that went into the report had to be tracked down from different departments and was not available at one source explaining the delay in finalising the report.

Among the other items in the report, the Sunday Times learns are an overview of the LTTE; the use of child soldiers by the LTTE; ethnic cleansing by the LTTE; the global threat and criminal network of the LTTE. In the concluding part of the report, there are references to the consequences of the military operation which were the eradication of terrorism, the restoration of democracy, de-mining, rehabilitation, freedom of movement, economic development in the north and the rest of the country, communal harmony and also, accountability.

A separate report to counter the specific charges made in the UN Secretary General's three member Advisory Panel of Experts report is also under consideration, the Sunday Times learns.

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