Deaths of Prabhakaran’s son and Osama’s son
by Shenali Waduge on 12 Apr 2013 3 Comments

There is little doubt that both Prabhakaran and Osama were leaders of two terrorist groups, and feared and abhorred. Prabhakaran headed the Liberation of Tamil Tiger Eelam whilst Osama headed the Al Qaeda. Prabhakaran’s death was announced on 18 May 2009 while Osama was killed on 2 May 2011.


Sri Lanka is currently facing a plethora of allegations following its decision to apply a Just War situation and take on the armed non-State actor – LTTE – after suffering thirty years of terror attacks. The photograph of Prabhakaran’s son with bullet wounds but without blood, and a film documentary funded to be screened annually every time there are Geneva sessions, have taken center stage of the UNHRC.


But there was no film when 23 US Navy Seals invaded a sovereign nation and killed Osama, the unarmed Al Qaeda leader and his unarmed son, and watched by the US President, his Vice President, the US Secretary of State and the US military heads.


The killing of Prabhakaran’s son is only an allegation – the killing of Osama’s unarmed son was watched by the entire US military and State establishment. So we would like to know the reason behind the double standards for Sri Lanka. Was killing an unarmed man not an assassination whose accomplices include those in the White House watching the murder, even though the world is a better place without both Prabhakaran and Osama bin Laden?


Osama’s son was 18 years old while Prabhakaran’s son was 12; both were sons of terrorists. Prabhakaran’s son’s death is plagued by intrigue and whatever forensic evidence is made looking at a photograph, or stories relayed looking at a picture of him munching a biscuit in a fortified bunker, cannot attribute his death to the Sri Lankan forces. Looking at two pictures and determining that the Sri Lankan army killed the child is untenable in any court of law.


In the case of Osama bin Laden, the raid by the US Navy seals was undertaken in secret and several persons killed whilst unarmed and whilst the President of the US and his colleagues watched the event live. These clippings would be available with them, though classified. Osama was hiding in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan.


“Geronimo EKIA” was the message to confirm Osama’s killing. The orders were to kill Osama not capture him, but the excuse given was “some threatening moves were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that’s the reason they fired”. In the case of Prabhakaran, the LTTE was offered several opportunities to lay down arms and surrender, which were refused. Even the UN Panel of Expert report says the “Tigers kept on fighting even when it became clear they had lost in order to save the lives of its leaders. This futile prolonging of the conflict resulted in many civilians dying unnecessarily”.


Sri Lanka’s military did not flout international laws by invading a sovereign nation; the US Navy seals entered Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani Government. When Sri Lanka announced the elimination of the LTTE ground force and declared the country was free from terrorism, the UN Secretary General demanded that Sri Lanka refrain from “triumphalism”; when Osama’s death was announced there were celebrations worldwide and cries of “We are the champions”. “The bin Laden operation was a landmark achievement by our country, by our military, by our Intelligence Community, and by our Agency,” said the acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell.


Ironically, both Prabhakaran and Osama were almost the same age at the time of their deaths – Prabhakaran was born on 24 November 1954 while Osama was born on 10 March 1957.


A year after the US President said Osama’s killing was “the most important single day” of his time in the White House, he said the daring Navy SEAL raid that ended the al-Qaida chief's life was “the longest 40 minutes of my life.” (2 May 2012).


Whilst the US President was all the while worried about US troops “I really want to get those guys back home safe”, Sri Lanka’s President is being questioned about allegations of civilian deaths where four years on, other than 600 or so people claiming that 3000 are missing, Sri Lanka is ordered to take responsibility for the deaths of some 40,000 to 125,000 civilians when there is no kith to even come forward to name these so called “executed” civilians. Can those making these allegations at least produce evidence that the “missing” 40,000 to 125,000 were born in Sri Lanka?


The Sri Lankan army declared it was militarily taking on the LTTE but gave the LTTE the opportunity to lay down arms and surrender, which it refused, hence the Sri Lankan army cannot be faulted for proceeding with war. The Sri Lankan President would have wanted to see “his guys” back home safe too.


It needs to be clearly stated that on each occasion that the LTTE was asked to release civilians in its custody, the LTTE and its fronts overseas claimed the people were with them voluntarily. When IHL is in force in an armed conflict, all civilians taking part in hostilities lose their right to protection as civilians; despite this the Sri Lankan army saved nearly 295,000 civilians who had not eaten for days, evidence of how well their LTTE saviors had looked after them!


If Charles Wolf whose wife died in the Twin Towers rejoiced at the death of Osama, “I am really glad that man’s evil is off this earth forever… his death was long overdue” – is it wrong for the people of Sri Lanka to voice the same jubilation having suffered three decades of LTTE terror?


-        The US says it was on a War with Al Qaeda; Sri Lanka feels the same about the LTTE.

-        If the US views Osama as a combatant, so does Sri Lanka view Prabhakaran.

-        If the US views Osama a mass murderer, Sri Lanka has far more right to view Prabhakaran and the LTTE as such. We have 30 years of terrorism and deaths to prove so.

-        US argues that whether Osama had a gun or not, it was lawful to kill a combatant. Where is Sri Lanka’s case different?

-        If US Attorney General Eric Holder can tell the US Senate Committee that the US Navy Seal operation was legal, can Sri Lanka’s Attorney General say the same?

-        For 9/11 which was not carried out by any Afghans, Afghanistan was attacked and US invaded Pakistan’s sovereignty and killed an unarmed enemy commander citing Yamamoto in World War II who was shot down. What should Sri Lanka’s position be?


What would Callum MacRae, Channel 4, HRW, Gordon Weiss, Frances Harrison and scores of others have to say about a White House official saying “we have been happy just to get the son. It’s a real bonus to get them both”. Prabhakaran’s son’s death being attributed to the Sri Lankan army based on a photograph is nowhere alarming as that of an 18-year old unarmed Osama’s son being killed in a sting operation that invaded the sovereignty of a nation and was carried out whilst being relayed live to the US President and all of his national security team.


There is something amiss here. We would like to know why all these double standards are being set on Sri Lanka.


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