Sri Lanka is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean and still remains a paradise despite its violent past. During the separatist war when the country was teeming with International Non Governmental Organisations (INGO), the general conception was that getting an appointment in Sri Lanka was akin to being rewarded when compared to the arid plains of Afghanistan or Africa. War was after all the business of the day!
In the early hours of 18 September 1999 the Black Tiger women’s corps of the LTTE was having their passing out examination. Velupillai Prabhakaran’s orders were to massacre the villagers of Gonagala in the Ampara District for qualification. Under the supervision of a few male LTTE Cadres the Black Tiger women clad in black brassieres and black skirts each armed with a machete qualified with excellent gory results. Of the 54 civilians massacred 10 were children, 17 were women of which two were pregnant.
The atrocities committed by the LTTE were multitudinous. They were committed against the Tamils, the Muslims and the Sinhalese. The victims of these attacks are still suffering.
The world kept silent, the UN kept silent, Amnesty International kept silent all INGOs kept silent whispering in fear of offending Prabhakaran.
UNHCR is the United Nations High Commission for Refugees or better known as the UN Refugee Organisation: Here in Sri Lanka since 1987, they claim they work to protect the most vulnerable. They stand firmly by the principle of equity for all internally displaced persons (IDP). UNICEF also known as the UN Children’s Fund promotes the rights and well-being of every child in everything they do.
During the Separatist War LTTE controlled areas were demarcated by the No Man’s Land border. On either side of which landmines were buried. Of the few who could enter the LTTE controlled areas were the ICRC, Médecins sans frontiers (MSF) Doctors without borders, INGOs and UN Agencies albeit after toll payment to the LTTE.
The UN had the liberty of marching through to Prabhakaran and throwing a resolution in his face like they did to Sri Lanka. The UN had the liberty of giving Prabhakaran a piece of their mind and telling him off about violating human rights. The mammoth question which is anyone’s guess is what did the UN do during those 30 years to quell the LTTE? Did the UNHCR demand for the IDP’s the LTTE were using as human shields? Did UNICEF demand for the thousands of Tamil children who were sacrificing their lives as LTTE fodder? The answer is they did sweet nothing!
UN’s nightmare was Sri Lanka winning the war because through Sri Lanka’s spectacular victory UN’s inadequacies would come to the fore and that would be hard for them to bear. The bottom line is the UN failed Sri Lanka. They might have been able to have got away with it elsewhere but they realised too late that sitting on their laurels and being complacent was too lackadaisical an attitude to have been adopted here.
Rather than passing resolutions and fabricating factors the UN should review its inability to have delivered in Sri Lanka. The UN demands its pound of flesh but can they cut it without spilling blood?
Merchant of Venice
Portia: “A pound of this merchant’s flesh is yours. The Court awards it and the law authorises it. And you have to cut this flesh from his chest. The law allows it, and the Court awards it. But wait a moment. There’s something else. This contract doesn’t give you any blood at all. The words expressly specify “a pound of flesh.” So take your penalty of a pound of flesh, but if you shed one drop of Christian blood when you cut it, the State of Venice will confiscate your land and property under Venetian law.”
– William Shakespeare