President Said Use White Flags – Nambiar
- The White Flag Fiasco
Three years after the military defeat of the LTTE, the UN has confirmed that there was an attempt by some top LTTE officials to surrender during the final stages of the war.
Former UN Chief of Staff and now a special UN envoy to Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar said that British journalist Marie Colvin had communicated to him the offer by senior LTTE officials to surrender in May 2009.
The top LTTE officials including former LTTE police chief B. Nadesan and LTTE peace secretariat head S. Pullidevan were reportedly killed when they surrendered while carrying white flags in their hands together with several other LTTE cadres in May 2009.
“She (Colvin) talked to me, you know that,” Nambiar told Inner City Press. Asked if Colvin urged Nambiar to go witness the surrenders Nambiar said yes.
“I was asked to go, twice I contacted [US diplomat] Bob Blake, the two of us were planning to go… the ICRC was not able to go by sea route. The Government refused to give us permission. There was no way we could just force our way in,” Inner City Press quoted Nambiar as saying.
Nambiar said “in the middle of the night, Marie called me, the two people, I’ve forgotten the names, one was on the Peace Commission, they wanted to surrender. We need to get assurance, free passage. I said Ok, I’ll do it. I took it up with the Foreign Minister, the defense minister and the president. They would be treated like any surrendering prisoner.”
Inner City Press asked Nambiar if he passed on the assurances to the LTTE that they can surrender and if he was blocked from going to witness the surrender why he hadn’t spoken out on the incident.
Nambiar said the LTTE cadres could have been shot by their own people and this was mentioned to him even by Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
Marie Colvin, a reporter with The Times of London, who was killed in Syria last week, earlier wrote that on Monday, May 18, 2009 she personally called Nambiar in Colombo to relay a message she had received from members of the LTTE leadership, who were surrounded in a bunker with 300 loyalists including women and children. They were ready to give themselves up to government troops. According to Colvin the leaders wanted “Nambiar to be present to guarantee the Tigers’ safety.”
Nambiar told Colvin that he had been assured by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that those who gave themselves up would be safe if they were to “hoist a white flag high.”
When Colvin suggested that Nambiar go personally to witness the surrender he told her it would not “be necessary” and that “the president’s assurances were enough.”