Conflicting claims surround Sri Lanka victory

It’s official: the shooting war between the LTTE and Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is over, and LTTE leader Prabhakaran is dead. GOSL killed an estimated 8,000 Tamil civilians getting the job done (some put the number far higher), and has incarcerated as many as a quarter million more in camps surrounded with razor wire.

Meanwhile, the EU has demanded a war crimes inquiry as accusations against GOSL and the Rajapakse administration mount.  TamilNet accuses GOSL of intentionally understating the number of civilians on the battlefield in ordder to minimize aid shipments.  The UN accuses GOSL of using heavy guns on civilians– even as GOSL claimed to the world that it was not doing so.

Now conflicting claims have arisen regarding the final hours of battle and the death of LTTE leader Prabhakaran.  Military officials claimed that he and several other leaders, including his son, had committed suicide on Sunday.  Now GOSL claims he was killed this morning in an ambush after he and a busload of cadres attacked the military and tried to escape– a much more satisfying conclusion to be sure.  And as with so many events in Sri Lanka, we may never know the truth.

But even more disturbing, news agencies around the world carried the offer of the remaining LTTE cadres to surrender.  Yet the government refused to accept that surrenderTamilNet says,

“Monday early hours around 3:00 a.m. Vanni local time, the LTTE Political Chief B. Nadesan and LTTE Peace Secretariat Director S. Puleedevan telephoned their contacts in Europe and informed them to tell the ICRC Head Office that only around 1,000 wounded cadres, civil officials of the LTTE and civilians remained in the so-called safety zone and there was no firing from the LTTE side. They urged the ICRC to evacuate the wounded.”

But that didn’t happen. Instead, says TamilNet, “initial reports indicate a determined massacre by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).”

Did the LTTE, led by its feared leader, attack the military and die in a blaze of glory?  Or, with its leaders dead, did the remaining LTTE (along with administrators and civilians) attempt to surrender and instead get massacred by the Army?  Again, we may never know.  But there’s no doubt a war crimes tribunal is in order.