21 June, 2021

Of Human Shields

Can one of the largest and most disciplined armies of the world use human shields?

Of Human Shields

At Kilinochhi, then stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velu­pillai Prabhakaran’s deputy, S.P. Thamilselvan, gave me an interview in Nov­ember 2007. The interview was in a modern, two-storeyed building with tin­ted glass windows, which the LTTE called its Peace HQ but was really the War HQ. I had this nagging feeling that Prabhakaran was somewhere upst­airs, standing behind an opaque glass window, looking down at us. The most curious aspect of this building was its neighbourhood. Virtually hugging Prabhakaran’s headquarters was a crèche. Yes, a place for infants. Can there be a more eff­ective human shield than a home for infants next to a terrorist army chief’s HQ? The moment a shell falls in the neighbourhood, the LTTE propaganda machine could go on an overkill to wail over the ruthless massacre of infants. In fact, the LTTE had always fought behind human shields, against the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the Sri Lankan army. But finally the Sri Lankan army decided to ignore the hum­an shields and bombard the...

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