Teaching Tamil Tigers Medicine While Learning Their Propaganda War!

Dilrook Kannangara

The Editor

Australian Medical Journal,

Dear Sir/Madam,

The recent article in the AMJ titled “Teaching Tamil Tigers” MJA 2007; 187 (11/12): 703-705 by John S Whitehall is completely misleading and has all the hallmarks of LTTE propaganda. In fact the writer John Whitehall himself admits that the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) had requested him to provide maximum publicity and nothing else! If they genuinely need medical support their request would have been quite different.

John’s article is highly misleading to an unassuming reader. In wide contrast to what the article tries to purport, there are dozens of hospitals functioning without any problem in the LTTE controlled North of Sri Lanka including the Killinochchi Hospital and Mullaitivu Hospital that are massive hospitals in size. Salaries of hospital staff, free medicines, free consumables, free meals, capital expenditure, maintenance, etc. are all provided by the government of Sri Lanka free of charge. Free immunisation programs are also launched by the government with immense hardships. The polio eradication programme that was a success story elsewhere in the country faced stiff resistance from the LTTE when implemented in Vanni. It is no secret that the LTTE has heavily used polio victims as suicide bombers including the 2007 November suicide attack and the 1994 October suicide attack carried out by polio affected women. The government also provide freely, vital vitamins, regular check-ups, free nutritional meals and all other necessities to pregnant mothers in Vanni. However, the LTTE uses them as suicide bombers exploiting the wide respect Sri Lankan society has for pregnant females of any race and species. The 2006 April suicide attack on the Army Commander was carried out by a pregnant woman. Had she not been pregnant she would never have had the opportunity to pass through so many barricades! Those who want John to publicize cooked stories never had any sympathy for the poor Tamil mother and her unborn child; all in the name of liberation.

An additional allowance provided by the government of Sri Lanka for all medical practitioners serving in the North and the East also boosts the medical facilities in LTTE controlled areas. There is no country in the whole wide world that provides free medication to its enemies as much as Sri Lanka does. May be this is an excessive effort, and, faced with severe ungratefulness on the part of the tigers, this generous policy may be in need of a revision.

The Sri Lankan health system is highly infested with trade unionism and at least 30 days a year are lost due to strikes that affect all hospitals except those in the North-East where trade unions are banned by the dictatorial LTTE! All Sri Lankan government hospitals lack many things including medicines, etc. due to lack of funds but provide a reasonable service to the public and there has never been any complain that the hospitals in LTTE controlled areas were any different. Even insulin vials required by the LTTE leader Parabakaran is supplied free-of-charge by the government every month knowing too well that there aren’t many diabetic cases in poverty stricken Vanni (LTTE controlled area)! Contrast this with how the western media reported on Osama Bin Laden’s death due to a stomach problem early this year instead of rushing medications!

On top of this every week the government sends free food and other necessities for 350,000 civilians in Vanni out of taxpayers’ money. As a matter of practice the LTTE robs all of this and first uses it for their cadres and the remainder is distributed based on a preferential system that favours families of fallen LTTE cadres. Rice and other crops are grown in Vanni amidst severe LTTE threats by unfortunate dwellers whose fertiliser needs are also supplied free of charge by the government of Sri Lanka.

Foreign aid groups including Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Red Cross (ICRC) and a host of others are allowed to function in Vanni despite the fact that they have been highly sympathetic towards the tigers in their acts of terror. On the other hand, had these organisations not supported the tigers, they simply would not be allowed by these ruthless terrorists to function in their area. A compelling true story about a university lecturer was turned to a film named “No More Tears Sister” by an international filmmaker is a case in point. The lady university lecturer – Dr Rajini Thiranagama – who was once a terrorist herself along with her sister later defected. They argued that the LTTE has no regard for the human race. She was heavily involved in safeguarding the university education in the North which is once again provided free-of-charge by the government of Sri Lanka. She was appointed vice chancellor and head of the science faculty. She treated civilians who were shut out from medication by the LTTE and by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). The IPKF (though forced to leave Sri Lanka in 1990) still sends shockwaves among Jaffna citizenry due to their conduct involving mass rape, gang rape and other sexual offences committed on the Tamil people. The LTTE found this in favour as rape victims were easily brainwashed to become suicide bombers. Sensing the danger Rajini started a rehabilitation campaign for those women and as a result, the LTTE gunned her down. She and her work were indeed silenced contrary to the widespread belief that violence cannot silence good work. It is also relevant to note that the Sri Lanka security forces have conducted themselves exceptionally decent; the number of sexual offenses committed or alleged by the Sri Lankan troopers is insignificant for the past 24 years war. It is also a fact that the LTTE comprises mostly of women and children! This is a very rare achievement by the Lankan forces in a world where conflicts necessarily involves large scale sexual assaults may it Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay or Serbia/Bosnia.

The situation in Vanni is appalling owing to LTTE terror acts. Civilians are banned from seeking medical treatment in hospitals at times of large LTTE casualties. Even foreign medical practitioners are not allowed to treat civilians during these periods. Tigers enjoy full facilities of government hospitals while civilians are forced to put up with sub-standard tiger medical teams comprising seasoned killers! If tigers are studying ‘radiation biology’, make no mistake, they are after radiation emitting ‘Dirty Bombs’ to kill people!

Photos published in the AMJ report showed tiger terrorists in their uniform. Only LTTE fighters who are seasoned killers are allowed to don the striped “tiger” camouflage uniform. The others are sent to the battlefield in civilian clothes in barefoot.

The injured in one photo is not a civilian as he is wearing a fighters’ trouser and belt!

The LTTE sea-tiger wing leader colonel Susai leaving the Killinochchi Ponnambalam Hospital after adequate medical treatments on a government funded wheelchair while civilians are shut out from hospitals by the LTTE.

The LTTE declares that they are fighting for the liberation of Tamils in Sri Lanka in the same vein as the Al Qaeda is fighting for the liberation of Muslims. However, most Tamils have left tiger areas with millions living abroad. Even Tamil medical interns from the North-East refused to serve in the North-East which created a major rift with the Health Minister resulting in the interns filing a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court. Their dislike to go back to tigers is so intense. Tigers’ hate for schools and universities is not strange; most of their cadres are abducted children from schools in broad daylight! In 1997 a group of pro-LTTE university students killed a fellow student in Kandy (outside the North-East) solely because the victim’s father was a member of a Tamil democratic political party. The country lost a budding engineer and I lost a good friend.

Meanwhile the tiger leader’s children were educated free of charge by the government and presently they are studying in Ireland. Many more children of LTTE leaders live and study abroad utilising more than USD 300 million extorted by LTTE charities annually. Why can’t these ‘liberators’ finance the education and medication of their subjects for a start instead of amassing billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts?

The Sri Lankan government is faced with the world’s most ruthless terrorist organisation with the highest number of suicide bombers, the largest arsenal of mortars, the only terrorist navy in the world and the only terrorist air force in the world. However, experienced troopers are scoring unprecedented military victories, an endeavour amply supported by the world community.

Amidst this brutal war all successive governments of Sri Lanka have always extended unparalleled support to civilians under the LTTE jackboot and for the LTTE itself. A lopsided and ill-informed campaign against the government can only backfire. The government’s mercy mission should never be taken as a weakness or a submission to the demands for an illegitimate Tamil Elam nation. The ‘Tamil Elam Nation’ for which the LTTE is fighting for supposedly for 80 million Tamils the world over will not be a reality in Sri Lanka; those who seek it are barking up the wrong tree. South Indian state of Tamil Nadu with 70 million Tamils is more appropriate for the Tamil Nation.

Civilians in Northern Sri Lanka must have access to qualified government doctors, better equipped government hospitals and full benefits of free healthcare provided by the Sri Lankan government. Shoddy part-time ‘medical practitioners’ cum killers, terror camps and inhuman treatment should be only for LTTE terrorists.

Although all humans including terrorists must have access to medication, the LTTE must be forced to give up and leave hospitals that belong to the people.

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