Translation of an article by Velavan that appeared in ThamilNatham (22 March 2005)
In December 1998 the Sri Lankan government published a poster (in color, printed at the government press, see above) which was distributed to all the police stations, military bases and sentry points in Colombo, notably those inside the Parliament complex.
The poster carried the photographs of 15 different types of aircrafts that the Sri Lankan air force had, and photographs of a helicopter and an airplane suspected to be in possession of the LTTE. The poster stated that LTTE had one helicopter and two light aircrafts.
This poster was published in case of an aerial attack by the LTTE, to distinguish the LTTE planes from those of the Sri Lankan air force, making it easier to identify the enemy aircraft. The display of this poster at all the military camps was legally mandated.
There is always the necessity for the chauvinistic Sinhala governments, racists and the media to slander the LTTE. The government needs this to hide from view its own appalling human rights record. It also serves to negate the growing favorable opinion about the LTTE internationally.
The newest weapon in this propaganda offensive is the story about an LTTE air force. It is evident from earlier pronouncements and news reports published by the media and the armed forces that this latest news about an LTTE air force is nothing new.
In 1998 President Chandrika installed anti-aircraft guns at the main entrance to, and all around, her Temple Trees residence. As a warning, anti-aircraft guns were installed at the Parliament complex and army bases also.
On November 02, 1998, a commando unit of the Akkaraipattu Special Task Force reported that, while moving from Akkaraipattu to Kanchikudichaaru, they heard the sounds of a helicopter landing in an area under Tiger control. A para-military group working with the Sri Lankan army also reported that a helicopter landed at Thanthamalai in Batticaloa.
In the same year, in October, The Sunday Times defence analyst Iqbal Athas wrote in an article that it has been confirmed that LTTE is in possession of one or more helicopters. He reported that, according to information from UAV reconnaissance photos, the Tigers had built an airstrip close to their Mullaitivu base and that the Tigers are in possession of helicopters.
At that time, the Sinhala daily Lankadeepa reported that, according to intelligence reports, the Tigers were making arrangements for the shipment of arms supplies to Mullaitivu via air. Lankadeepa also reported that, according to intelligence reports, an airstrip built by the Tigers was attacked and destroyed by the Sri Lanka air force.
It is noteworthy that in the early 1990s also, during the presidency of D.B. Wijetunge, army circles stated that the Tigers possessed a micro-lite aircraft. At that time it was to create a fear psychosis among the Sinhala people. The idea that, if the Tigers are not destroyed, their strength would gradually increase in this fashion and that they would eventually divide the country, was thus disseminated.
This disclosure was to emphasize that the war, which had steadily devastated the Sri Lankan economy, was necessary for the welfare of the Sinhala nation.
Today, the same racist rulers who had earlier published news about an LTTE air force are trying to use this in another fashion. They are trying to say that the Tigers never had aircraft, an air force or airstrips previously, and that these have all been built up since the ceasefire agreement. In other words, they are striving to create an impression that the Tigers are enemies of peace and that they are engaged in violations of the ceasefire agreement.
The Tigers made an announcement about their air force during the 1998 Heroes' Day ceremonies. Thereafter, they launched a major military action, i.e. Oyatha Alaihal III, and won a major victory, thereby proving their military might. They defeated the Sri Lankan armed forces' Agni-Kheela offensive. They rocked the Sri Lankan capital, destabilizing the Sri Lankan economy.
The LTTE proved that they are an equally strong force in Sri Lanka. The international community has accepted the fact that it is on the basis of this equality of strength that the conditions for peace were created. It is on the basis that this equality would be disrupted that the Sri Lankan rulers are continuing to refuse to dismantle the high security zones in Jaffna and other places, and to let the people resettle in their homes.
But the government is extremely busy, without hindrance, strengthening its own forces. It has not in any way reduced its defence spending.
Minister Lakshman Kadirgarmar is engaged in a huge effort to sign a defense pact with India. Troops have been sent to a variety of countries for training. Joint naval exercises are continuing in the seas all around Sri Lanka. Foreign experts are training the Sri Lankan forces in Palaly and other military bases. Recruitment efforts are going on on a grand scale. It is claimed that they have the right to do all these actions on the basis that they are a nation-state.
At the same time, the accusation that the Tigers are strengthening themselves militarily is being advanced.
Not only is there no progress in the peace efforts, but there are also increasing confrontations.
Attacks against the Tiger political workforce are continuing. The various arms of the government and the racist forces are continuing with their poisonous propaganda against the Tigers. All of this activity is not helping to create a positive impression about the government in the minds of the Tamil people.
It is in this context that the news reports about the LTTE air force fits in with the overall government propaganda against the Tigers.
The rescue efforts undertaken by the Tigers to alleviate the suffering of the Thamil victims of tsunami have earned them high praise of the international community.
The need to cover up the government's inefficiency, the refusal to allow world leaders - including the UN Secretary General - to inspect the greatly affected Tamil people, the disrepute arising from the shrieks of the government's partner, the JVP, against the European donor countries, etc., is the reason for today’s propaganda.
If today’s propaganda about an LTTE air force is true, then the falsity of the propaganda seven years ago about an LTTE air force to delude the Sinhala people is exposed. They had at that time taken several precautionary measures based on their fear of LTTE planes. If so, today’s complaints to the international community about Tiger planes as something new are designed to deceive the different countries. They are also trying to show that some foreign organizations are aiding and abetting the Tigers.
Like ‘think of aval to pound the mortar’ (a Tamil proverb), deriding the international NGOs as ‘terrorist-helpers,’ calling the World Bank ‘white-tigers’ and the Norwegians ‘tiger-supporters,’ in their attempts to malign the LTTE, the Sinhala nationalists will reap the results of their propaganda.
Posted March 29, 2005