Sunday, March 31, 2013

Non Sinhala Heroes Of “The Sinhala Army”

Back in the days of the war, there was a popular saying in the south; සිංහලයාට සති දෙකකින් සියල්ල අමතකය (Sinhalese tend to forget in two weeks). While we do not agree with this sentiment 100%, we as a nation do have a knack for forgetting the most important lessons taught to us by history. Velupille Prabhakaran used this to his gain, and judging by the way things are going, a common enemy will soon be able to spot and exploit this weakness in most Sri Lankans.

If you have listened to speeches or read blogs post, Facebook pages or forums maintained by so called patriots, you would have no doubt come across the following logic: “Sinhalese saved this country, therefore this country must be Sinhalese only”. The majority of soldiers in the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) were Sinhalese. Majority of the casualties in the war were Sinhalese soldiers. This is natural as it’s proportional to the total population of Sri Lanka, of which the majority are Sinhalese. However, that is not to say other races did not have a hand in defending Sri Lanka from oppressors. A small reminder to those that have forgotten :

Captain Shahul Hameed Nilam, Commanding Officer, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) – LRRP, also known as “The Mahasohon Brigade” was a deep penetration unit of SLA that operated behind enemy lines. The unit was classified and the SLA never officially acknowledged its existence. Under the leadership of Captain Nilam, it was responsible for the elimination of several high profile LTTE military leaders including the then air wing lead Colonel Shankar and deputy sea tiger commander Gangai Amaran. LRRP operations were a major factor in SLA victories throughout the Eelam wars as not only did they assassinate top leadership but their surprise attacks miles inside rebel held territory severely degraded the morale of LTTEs’ regular formations as well. Captain S. H. Nilam was the CO of LRRP back when the Millennium City raid happened. Due to classified information being revealed in the raid, Captain Nilam and his family were sent to Indonesia due to threats posed to his life by LTTE intelligence unit. Based in Indonesia, he worked to disrupt LTTE arms smuggling operations under the guidance of Major General Janaka Perera. Captain Nilam and his family once again disappeared following the removal of Janaka Perera as the Sri Lankan ambassador to Indonesia. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Colonel Tuan Nizam Muthaliff, Commanding Officer, Military Intelligence Corps – Col. Muthaliff served under captain Nilam and was technically the deputy commander of the LRRP. He was a mastermind behind many successful DPU operations including several ops in the eastern province. He was also a major influence in rallying Tamil support for SLA’s cause and had built a strong intelligence network backed by paramilitaries of all races and religions. It was through this network the MIC received plenty of vital information which aided the SLA especially in the eastern theatre of battle. Col Muthaliff was hunted by LTTE intelligence units for three years after the millennium city leak and was assassinated by gunmen on May 2005.
Medals : Rana Wickrama Padakkama, Purna Bhumi Padakkama,  North and East Operations Medal, Operation Wadamarachchi Medal, Riviresa Campaign Services Medal, Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal, 50th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal

Wing Commander T.D.S. Silvapulle, Sri Lanka Air Force – Wing Command Sivapulle was a SLAF Mi-24 gunship pilot attached to the 9th attack helicopter squadron. He is best known for his heroic attempts engaging a sea tiger flotilla while knowing his chopper could get shot out of the air any moment. Several sea tiger boats were reinforcing an attack on SLA forward defence line south east of Elephant Pass and SLAF had dispatched two Mi-24 ‘Hind’ gunships to assist the army (This was back in 1999 when the tigers were armed with surface to air missiles). Instead of backing out, Wing Commander Silvapulle instructed the other gunship to disengage and unleashed his Mi-24 on sea tigers. LTTE could not withstand the attack and the boats were soon retreating from the area. Unfortunately, Wing Commander Silvapulles’ Mi-24 was hit by what is believed to be a surface to air missile fired from one of the LTTE boats - it crashed into the Kilali lagoon, killing its pilot, co-pilot and two gunners on board.
Medals : Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, Rana Wickrama Padakkama, Rana Sura Padakkama

Colonel A.F Lafir, Commanding Officer, 1st Special Forces Regiment – Colonel Fazly Lafir was a key figure behind the evolution of SLA Special Forces, which played a key role until the very last minutes of the Eelam war. SF evolved from a small combat tracker team formed in 1985 and had grown into a fully fledged battle formation with 4 regiments, several LRRP teams and an urban fighting squadron by 2012. It achieved this feat through the sacrifices made by founding officers such as A.F. Lafir. Colonel Lafir is best known for his heroics in Operation Thrividha Pahara, where he and 275 other special forces units from 1SF volunteered to try and secure a beachhead near SLA’s Mullathivu base which was about to be overrun by an LTTE force numbering 4000. In the first step of the mission, Colonel Lafir and 137 other SF units helidropped amidst heavy enemy fire and continued fighting their way inside LTTE held area. Col Lafir continued leading the attack through the night even after receiving multiple gunshot wounds from small arms fire. He was KIA on 19th July 1996 after being hit by an LTTE mortar. For his heroic actions in the mission Col. Lafir was awarded the Parama Weera Vibhushana medal, the highest award given for gallantry in Sri Lanka Army.
Medals : Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, Rana Wickrama Padakkama, Rana Sura Padakkama

Inspector N.M. Nilabdeen, Sri Lanka Police – Inspector Nilabdeen is probably the best counter terrorism officer Sri Lanka has ever seen. A veteran at extracting intelligence and counter intelligence tactics, he arrested numerous LTTE operatives including black tigers and recovered large quantities of weapons and ammunition the LTTE had smuggled into Colombo. His actions without a doubt saved hundreds of innocent civilian lives and prevented millions of rupees worth of property damage. Inspector Nilabdeen had to leave the country due to threats to his life from LTTE intelligence units. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

These are not the only non Sinhala heroes that made sacrifices to save this country. This is just a small preview of a long list of names that should include the likes of Lakshman Kadiragamar, Brigadier A.W. Thambiraja and hundreds of nameless and faceless Tamil and Muslim informants that supplied critical information to the SLA risking their lives in the process.

The objective of this article was not to glorify or undermine a particular race or religion. This is just a reminder to racist organizations, blogs and social media pages that are trying to promote the flawed theory “Sinhalese saved this country, therefore this country must be Sinhalese only”. Soldiers of all races and religions gave their lives to defend Sri Lanka from oppressors. SLA did not care about the race or religion of its soldiers – why should you? What won us the war was not the army of a single race, it was the army of Sri Lanka.

While you keep up the infighting, a common enemy regroups in Tamil Nadu. Keep this in mind – “United as one, divided by zero”.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

DefenceNet ReArmed – War Against Racism

To anyone still reading this blog :

On 19th May 2009, we thought we had published the last post on DefenceNet. A war that plagued Sri Lanka for three decades ended that day. And back then, we hoped against hope we would never have to update this blog ever again. Sadly, a time has come to re-arm DefenceNet, this time to fight a much bigger enemy than the LTTE; racism.

It is no secret that a newfound set of heroes have taken it upon themselves to save the country yet again. Forward Defence Lines of these warriors are not located in Muhamalai or Nagarkovil. They are based on online forums such as Facebook. Through social media pages full of racism and religious hatred, these anti-heroes now trying to start another war; to “cleanse” the country of other religions and races than their own. These Facebook pages and blog posts shamelessly uses images of SLA soldiers to promote their selfish cause. In addition, these extremist groups have also descended to employing scare tactics to drive away people flocking to businesses managed by certain nationalities ( For example – Egg throwing threats against those who try to attend stores such as Nolimit). This in our opinion borderlines on terrorism.

Disclaimer: The writer of this article is a Sinhala Buddhist. As someone closer to the SLA than any of you can imagine, I can say this with pride; The Sri Lanka Army won this country for you. You had just one job; keep the peace. And you are now failing this task. If you have any questions as to where DefenceNets loyalties lie, just browse through our old posts and see how we reported on the war. We are not an NGO. We are not some foreign conspiracy. We were there when true heroes of the nation fought for this country and won it, and when we saw that it needs saving yet again from racists, we have risen again.

Before you share the next racist post on Facebook (or any other medium), ponder this : The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a racist organization. They wanted one country for one race. Where are they now?