A day to recollect saving Tamil speaking women from Tigers says Arun T

Int’l women’s day:


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Arun Tambimuttu
Batticaloa District SLFP organiser, Arun Tambimuttu yesterday said that those who had been condoning the LTTE's use of females as cannon fodder during the conflict in Sri Lanka were now shamelessly using international women's day to accuse Sri Lanka of ill-treating Tamil speaking women.

Sri Lanka celebrated the international women's day on March 8.

Whatever those pushing for an international war crimes probe may say, Tamil speaking women were safer than ever today, Tambimuttu said in a brief interview with The Island, adding that since May 19, 2009 no woman had died due to the conflict.

Unfortunately, the government, too, had squandered a timely opportunity to remind the international community how it had saved Tamil women from the LTTE, which went to the extent of forming exclusive women fighting units for deployment in high intensity battles. None of those who had been shedding crocodile tears for Tamil speaking women since the conclusion of the conflict, had voiced concern when the LTTE used women in military operations, the SLFPer said, challenging them to produce at least a press release issued during the war critical of the use of females in combat and suicide missions.

Sri Lanka could rightfully be proud of having liberated all child soldiers from the clutches of terrorists and released them together with male and female fighters taken into custody during the final phase of the conflict, Tambimuttu said.

A section of the Tamil Diaspora as well as some members of the international community had taken up the cudgels for Northern Provincial Council member, Ananthi Sasitharan though they had looked the other way when the LTTE assassinated Sarojini Yogeswaran, the Mayoress of Jaffna on May 17, 1998, Tambimuttu said.

Responding to a query, Tambimuttu said that those promoting separatist sentiments wouldn't hesitate to exploit international events to step up pressure on Sri Lanka. Statements issued by various interested parties highlighted their strategy, he said, while acknowledging the need to effectively counter anti-Sri Lanka propaganda.

Referring to a statement issued by the UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) on the international women's day accusing the Sri Lankan military of raping of women Tamil speaking women during the conflict as well as during the post-conflict period and systematic continuing abuse of women by the military, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, Tambimuttu pointed out this was all part of its strategy to justify Channel 4 News allegations regarding the same. Had those now representing the GTF genuinely felt the need to protect Tamil speaking women, they should have opposed the use females in combat while Prabhakaran was alive. In fact, they should have urged the LTTE at least not to use women and children as human shields during the final phase of the conflict, Tambimuttu said.

Commenting on British High Commissioner, John Rankin statement also issued to mark the international women's day, Tambimuttu pointed out that Adele Balasingham publicly encouraged the use of women in combat and hung cyanide capsules around their necks was now living freely in the UK. Tambimuttu said that the bottom line was that the UK didn't feel the need to take up the issue of women in war zones until the LTTE had lost the war. Tambimuttu said that thousands of lives could have been saved if the international community had intervened earlier.

Tambimuttu said that it would be important to conduct a survey to establish the number of women killed fighting for the LTTE as well as those women killed by the LTTE. "My mother was one among many victims. She was killed along with my father."

Tambimuttu said that women and children wouldn't have been safe if the LTTE hadn’t been defeated. In fact, the international community had done nothing to prevent the LTTE from using women and children in combat and suicide missions in spite of having signed an agreement with the UN in May 1998 to stop the despicable practice of using children, Thambimuttu said.

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