Thursday, October 07, 2004

Time for a post ISGA strategy by Jayantha Pitivahala

In an interview, Sri Lankan CEO of a multinational organisation attributed a number of characteristics as essential criteria for the success of organisations such as the one he is engaged in, and said ‘You have to be like Velupillai Prabhakaran’.

The Sri Lankan government is blamed for its inability to gain from the split between Karuna and Prabhakaran. Particularly, its failure to respond to Prabhakaran’s swift movements preventing Karuna from establishing his dominance in the east.

Recent UTHR report also referred to this matter. The truth is that the LTTE (V) activated its cadres so fast that the government and military had to let it go while being engaged in inconclusive procedural consultations and also in the fear that the LTTE will strike elsewhere, jeopardising possible future talks.

Karuna himself was baffled that Vanni knew his terrain better than him.

The bottom line is that taking a courageous decision such as establishing Karuna in the east whether it will backfire or not, is no longer practicable despite the massive presence of three State security forces in Sri Lanka.

The LTTE could do this tomorrow and the government will do nothing but be passive as the hierarchy of authority, chains of communication and political implications are far too complex in the South. The CFA continues with no additions or deletions to its clauses. The Norwegians are back. The JVP is signaling that they are opposed to the Norwegian involvement and ISGA. The LTTE said exactly the opposite. The government is once again helpless. What is inevitable is happening.

The LTTE’s parade moves on uninterrupted. The attempts of the past PA and UNF governments to break its drive towards its goal have ended in a muddle. Short-term, ad hoc approaches were not adequate to tame the LTTE. New political parties in Sri Lanka are unripe and cannot understand the present LTTE and its military and multinational dimensions that we see, being away from Sri Lanka. It is ignorance of one party representative to express the view that if the LTTE is not willing to come in line, the subject will be handed over to the three forces. Haven’t they done that on several occasions before, including the proclamation of a head of state in the 1980s to eliminate terrorism in the north in three months?

It is time they saw the veracity of the situation. Political tactics to capitalise on errors of others is no longer of interest to the public and the country. One party member said something optimistic in a debate. ‘We need to reorganise the entire system’. Interesting indeed, but he needs to elaborate how. Charity begins at home. We read a news item that prison authorities in Sri Lanka are building a magistrate court inside the Colombo prison premises as a remedial measure in response to the series of underworld killings of key witnesses in court cases.

Authorities have in other words officially accepted the inability to apprehend the underworld killers. Taking on the giant LTTE should be then`85 what?

To those who know the LTTE well, it is imprudent on the part of Prabhakaran to settle for anything less. The LTTE cadres who ambushed the Army wearing half sarongs and worn out rubber slippers with locally made explosives and galkatas years ago, are now marching in ceremonial uniforms offering the guard of honour to the national leader of the Tamils. Pallai defence and the airport raid have shown the South their muscle. Several shiploads of sophisticated weapons have been cleared by them from their own ships afterwards with no additional payments to commission agents in between. Some time ago they had an exhibition displaying the weapons captured from the Army. We too saw that on Tamilnet. LTTE has almost completed setting up institutions necessary for self-administration in areas held by them and these institutions are functioning far more efficiently than the government.

LTTE Police Chief Nadesan said ‘there is no corruption, mismanagement or bribery in our system’. Naturally there are no unresolved cases, law delays, red tape, underworld operators, bribery, traffic offenders or sex perverts in LTTE-held areas. True enough, the LTTE does this at gun-point. But this is a society that the underprivileged people in Sri Lanka were dreaming of since Independence. If Prabhakaran hadn’t killed innocent civilians in the south he would have been a model administrator for the whole country. Provided the south converts the gun-point culture to impartial implementation of existing laws.

The UNF government did what it was forced to do.

They took over at a time the state of affairs with the LTTE was at low ebb.

Before the formation of the UNF government, the international media had ‘praised the LTTE for its dazzling attack’ on the international airport as there were no civilian casualties compared to previous bomb attacks. Several Army camps and detachments had fallen and the forces had to donate most of their weapons to the LTTE. In spite of the assurance given by the Sri Lankan military leaders, ground forces were not ready for war again. When a detachment was attacked by the LTTE women cadres in the east, the inmates simply abandoned the camp leaving behind the weapons. This was before the Athurugiriya fiasco. At least the troops have become sensible not to stick their neck out and be called MIA.

So the LTTE was in a position of strength. The prospects for talks were open only on the LTTE’s terms. Appeasement was a way out for the government negotiators until such time, theoretically though, they could re-establish the apparatuses to meet LTTE challenges while kick starting the economy. The former was well in progress and the latter became a non-starter except for the efforts of the Sri Lankan private sector like the apparel and leisure industry giving a slight push to the ailing economy.

The UNF failed to take full advantage of the relatively peaceful two-year period. There were no Premadasa style go-getters in their party. Apart from political bungling, dependence of the UNF politicians on bureaucracy was far too heavy.

Regaining the position of strength if at all is probable with strategic, rational and honest thinkers in politics, bureaucracy and the military. Sri Lanka had a few such in these sectors and they have left the playground. The international community knows the basic weaknesses of Sri Lankan governments and so do the Norwegians. They know which party has the competitive advantage that will determine the outcome of the conflict. UNF, just as the PA ignored the need for overall organisation. The two-year period was good enough to illustrate sincerity for right and futuristic governance, indications of which would have passed on to the masses who would have then protected them at the elections.

The LTTE also smelt the rat when the UNF was trying to institute an international safety net as a short-term device. At the same time the process came to a point that the LTTE had nothing more to gain through negotiations.

The PA, before that, did no better except for allowing the war to become a lucrative business for cronies and being forced at the end to offer a cease-fire in a state of desperation after the airport attack. The LTTE’s repeated warnings against the air strikes were ignored as if the LTTE was frantically on the run for cover.

How the LTTE conducted itself demonstrating her operational strength while taking everyone for a ride politically is known.

After a period of honeymoon, during which they observe the precept ‘leave us alone and we will do the same’, they send the leader’s message. Demand for Eelam, and this time it came in writing. Thus the LTTE’s target from their leader’s vision remains unchanged. Only the devices will vary in their approaches with successive governments depending on situations and opportunities.

Authorities in the government, on the other hand, have not believed in fundamentals and basics. Basics that the LTTE in its own way secured from the day the movement was established.

Time and again it has been seen that numbers could not confront the LTTE as effectively as quality, right direction and long term planning could. Notwithstanding the magnitude of the problem, exploring these basic issues and finding long term remedies do not seem to be under contemplation in the present system in Sri Lanka.

Prabhakaran had one Mission. The Sri Lankan governments had several. Building a well trained, ruthless and powerful force through which ‘the demands’ of the Tamils can be effectively conveyed to the governments and then to establish mono ethnic Eelam was his one and only Mission. Government Missions shifted from ‘killing the Tamils in the early 80s’, ‘crushing the terrorists in the late 80s’, ‘war for peace in the 90s’, ‘negotiated settlement in 2000’ and afterwards ‘appeasement at any cost’. The LTTE leader has come a long way, not only becoming the ‘national leader of the Tamils’ but also a successful chairman of a financially powerful international organisation. Analysts say that there was no magic to his success story. He only practiced what the leadership and management trainers preach in universities and business institutes and the state also offered him a smooth sail due to the malfunctions of the government and security machinery. Training, productivity, profitability, leadership, motivation, performance and even ruthlessness and deception to their highest degree that most companies practice in competition, hostile takeovers etc. are the pillars that are holding the LTTE undefeated. We learn management through theories from Max Webber to Peter Drucker and Prabhakaran learned all that through trial and error and sheer practice. Pragmatism is his religion and commitment is what brought him the title of the most successful and ruthless terrorist leader in the world. The Pallai operation was planned by the military and Prabhakaran defended that successfully. The airport raid was meticulously calculated over for a period of 2 years. He could now fight a conventional warfare without an effort. Black tigers are only a bonus to the organisation. There is more, but I have made the point.

Seeking international community support with repeated utterances back at home to the local galleries that the government will never allow the country to be divided, is a folk tale. The country is physically divided already. The SLMM, the Scandinavian monitoring mission was the eyewitness for demarcation of territories. All Prabhakaran needs is a mechanism to deal with the international community direct. This will also materialise with the advocacy of the tilting international opinion. It is a matter of time. It is also wrong to say that the Tamils abroad are being brainwashed or duped on the pretext that funds collected are for humanitarian work. There is no need for brainwashing. We being expatriates know this well. Prabhakaran has performed. Shown ROI in business terms. People have changed the Sri Lankan leadership several times with no ROI within a foreseeable future. Among the capital invested in LTTE was a considerable ‘ resource’ of Tamil youth now in their war graves. So there is no back- or side-tracking for Prabhakaran now

Recruitment of children as soldiers is a crime. We agree. Denunciations have come from many quarters including international entities. Another view, however ironic to the recent UTHR report, is that most Tamil parents in the north and east will silently bear the fact that it is perhaps better for them to be trained as fighters and have their meal on time than become unwanted, frustrated, hungry and drifting youth depending on parents’ pensions without a future. That would have been their fate even without the war considering the rate of growth of the country over the last few decades as well as the cast minded discriminating society that existed in the North and East. (I have excluded the children who are in slavery as ‘domestic servants’ at mansions in the South). All otherwise they have is a couple of statements issued by Olara Otunu that have not translated into real action in a language that LTTE will understand.

LTTE will in any event take anyone by surprise with the release all the juvenile cadres just before or at the time of realising the ISGA. By then a good part of them who are now given special training will be above the required age limit. The rest will be in their ‘junior cadet list’. A simple formulae taking care of the issue as well as the image.

International community has clearly expressed that funding will turn up only if the peace process continues. They need not say on whose terms. Why should they when the parliamentarians repeatedly announce that this is an internal problem? Countries including the ones that have banned them are willing to establish channels of communication towards what is called rehabilitation and development of North and East. Delegations after delegations have gone to Vanni and have had dialogues with the LTTE without a word on LTTE’s truce violations. Why blame the peace envoy Solheim for that. This is the current trend with the International community in the west. Looking for a slot in promising greener pastures in Asian countries. The listing of LTTE as terrorists will soon be a few lines on their state documents while informal recognition is gradually but surely surfacing. Listing does not mean acting. LTTE may be now regretting the omission of the word Eelam in the ISGA proposals at a time their next delegation is packing up to board the plane to Europe.

Americans have stated their position. ‘Negotiate and settle the problem’. They have too much on their plate with terrorism and now with the abuse of POWs. This position wouldn’t change even if Democrats take over. Unlike Al Quaeda, diaspora support to the LTTE is far too wider. I need not elaborate that to you. Then Sri Lanka wants India to play a role. India has requested major parties to join hands for them to play a role. Tomorrow they will have something else to say. Obviously India is not going to provide seaplanes for Balasingham’s travel nor will Congress go after Prabakaran against the tide of southern politics. Suffice to mention the recent comment of the new Indian Foreign Minister on the extradition of Prabakaran which, according to him, is not their priority at the moment. Indian bureaucracy has however made their people rest assured with its own plan to curtail any future threat to India (not Sri Lanka) emerging from the ISGA - with a simple destabilising policy for the North and East of Sri Lanka. But this will not have a direct positive bearing for a political or economic relief to the South (except for what is explicitly offered by India through bilateral arrangements and whatever benefits accrued from the FTA). Sri Lanka has never been futuristic as India.

All LTTE failures had been lessons that taught them how to succeed. The Governments too had occasional successes but more failures. The difference is that those who were responsible for failures are still around. Some were rewarded down the line. This is not tolerated in LTTE’s style of management. The commanders as well as other non-military leaders under Prabakaran have literally earned their positions. The Military officers resentment to LTTE’s use of self-styled titles by cadres has no positive implication or meaning when LTTE has secured a large part of the island and kept stand-by a massive conventional force ready to onslaught.

This is how the Monitoring Mission views this. Evaluating people and institutions on performance has been a cardinal rule for LTTE. Not for the Government. The present accepted norm that performance is not considered as a factor anywhere in the Government due to politicization or whatever, is well reflected in the economy. It is in fact unfair to expect the LTTE to enter a system which is also corrupt, malfunctioning and on the verge of coming to a complete standstill. But if the performance is not considered as the most vital principle in the overall approach towards dealing with LTTE, Administrators would rather give up now before facing more humiliation in the near future.

While this being the status quo, Sri Lanka’s valuable human resources that had the capacity to work with the Government in all sectors got off the convoy and watched it move slowly without steadily and a destination. Brave youth, who were unfortunately half trained and left unattended in bunkers, laid down their precious life mostly for politicised military blunders. LTTE has no fear of the remaining effective players as they are way ahead in their corporate plan. Balraja’s next move for the HSZ will be a ‘salami take over’ with the help of civilians while Thamilselvam has come of age in international affairs. Most of our opinion makers, both rational and patriotic, with due respect for their concerns, are wasting time.

Defense pact with India will not prevent Pottu Amman from infesting Colombo with suicide cadres nor can the country kick the 4.5 b dollars package away calling it a ransom at a time the Government does not have funds to repair a culvert or a discarded CTB bus. Neither the politicians nor people understand the patriots anymore. It also goes for those expatriates like you who were prepared to work with the Governments out side Sri Lanka. Many of them are no longer accessible. The only link they have with Sri Lanka is once a year visit to show their children the places of interest and to take a break from the rush world. They will soon have other attractive places to visit while the pro LTTE Sri Lankans abroad are multiplying the support to their movement and buying properties in Colombo and suburbs, some of which are operative safe houses for black tigers.

While calling the conflict as Sri Lanka’s internal problem, Sri Lanka acts as if it is too late now to go by the notion that the solution is to be found within themselves even if it is long term. If LTTE is adamant to stay on with their demands, rational thinker will say that despite our present feeble state of affairs the country should start gearing itself at least to an extent where an opportunity will be created for the next generation to deal with the LTTE with a position of strength. All they need is to take measures to produce effective and efficient individuals and institutions. This is the only justice for the country. Country’s fundamentals were in disarray for a long time.

Neither PA nor UNF made attempts to correct them because such measures have to be made for long-term benefits. Vision of the politicians is survival until the year ends. If they start setting examples as against their discourses, our people in Sri Lanka, not the affluent of the elite, will always tighten the belts for the future. This does not mean absolute preparation for war. It means achieving position of strength which everyone knows, is a deterrent factor in a war tensed environment and a ‘competitive edge’ when entering negotiations.

LTTE on the other hand has done an exceptional job with their establishments and human resources. From effective management of funds within the movement, excellent communication, recognising performance, remembering those who were killed in operations, looking after their kith and kin to keeping a close brotherhood relationship with its cadres in all fronts, they are way above the standard of the Sri Lankan Governments. The recent episodes in the parliament were so entertaining and LTTE would have had fun watching the show of our lawmakers. It was all ‘amusing’ but these events make LTTE’s life easier in convincing the international community ( donor countries are already convinced) that a genuine and lasting solution to the ‘ so called Tamil problem’ cannot possibly come from the politicians of this class.

Prabakaran has to honour his undertaking to the Tamils both in Sri Lanka and abroad. They have funded the war for years and Prabakaran is not going to let them down. He too is running out time. Age is catching up for him as well as Pottu, Balraj, Soosai and others who will not have the same dynamism in the battle front in years to come.

The next runners haven’t had much real life combat training. So the march towards his goal needs to be accelerated. The consignments of weapons acquired by the LTTE during the ceasefire are well in place. These were shipments that would have reached LTTE whether UNF negotiators took them up at the negotiating table or not. After all, the Navy succeeded sinking couple of their ships and LTTE stomached this. One year later the same Navy allowed LTTE gunboats to enter Kadiraveli.

Expressed or implied directions and guidelines of the CFA can no longer be exercised. Sornam and Banu, able lieutenants of Prabakaran with proven track records are reorganising the East, this time with better military apparatuses. That is LTTE’s way of moving ahead. LTTE is a serious organisation which, apart from successful leadership and management also believes in ruthlessness as a language understood by people in that part of the world. Bearing in mind that it is the ceasefire assured by the LTTE that has relived the country for politicians to emphasis so much on economic growth, LTTE has become a force that will determine the stability of the country. Tomorrow they will be the trend-setters in Sri Lanka’s other social and cultural spheres too. LTTE is now at the juncture to say ‘give us the ISGA or we will take it’.

Representatives of the International community has a duty. They have their countries to represent. Sri Lanka does not pay their salaries. Norwegians have seen a full cycle of activities. They, as well as donors and others know well the standard of politics and bureaucracy in Sri Lanka. Norwegians are continuously accused of being partial and pro LTTE etc. This is incorrect. Norwegians have only seen the reality and who is winning at the end. We all individually or in groups tend to be with the winners. That is the nature with human beings, organisations or even governments, particularly the west. It is pointless therefore to criticise the Norwegians or the EU before weeding out the non-performers and white elephants in the Government, as none of these foreigners are responsible for the security of the country or guarding the airport. We, expatriates are aware that Norwegians were holding the LTTE so far from making a few more thundering blows that would have brought the country, under whichever Government, to its knees. If that happened Sri Lanka would have opted to offer them Eelam much earlier to save whatever remaining in the South.

The way the country is moving particularly after what we saw yesterday in the Sri Lankan national assembly, LTTE’s achievement is assured from medium to short term now. Isn’t it therefore time to look at a consequential futuristic plan which does not seem to have crossed any Sri Lankan minds yet.

This will call for going back to fundamentals in management and drawing up a plan as to how the houses can be put in order for results in the long run. That is to organise effective and efficient sectors in the south that would also have the capacity to deal with the LTTE in all fronts in the event LTTE continues with its dictatorship. Such a plan should invariably have a justification to the international community that country needs to be re-united in the name of democracy. This is a better and practical position than try to capitalise on the Oslo declaration. In fairness to the LTTE, certainly not for their atrocities against innocent civilians and more recently the intelligence officers, they insisted on the ISGA before the talks with the UNF commenced. UNF tricked them into the committees without having the know-how to activate them.

The dead committees for whatever reasons invalidated the Oslo declaration. But Democracy, no one can question. The country however badly needs the USD 4.5 billion now to look after the mammoth bunch of unproductive people in the government, provincial councils, commission agents, brokers including henchmen and the grand oldies (who wouldn’t let their subordinates grow), the country cannot live without. Prabakaran is a fine pistol shooter himself without a formal training and Nadesan was only a police sergeant before being hand picked to lead the LTTE Police. The ISGA is therefore becoming a reality for LTTE while the South is just above the water struggling to survive.

But in the consideration of a long-term plan, having the right people in the right place does not cost the Government a cent. Evaluation on performance is not difficult. Ideas will come from all quarters free of charge that are presently blocked by advisors and officials half way. Equality and justice to society are not concepts that are difficult to understand and implement. Expatriates will volunteer in expertise and funds. All these may take a while. But the country will be in a position to confront the LTTE and talk what is right and wrong.

Young, educated and decent politicians, without involving their parties can get together and initiate modelling of the future so that it will not be a complicated task for a united effort whenever they hold responsible portfolios in the future. If LTTE disarms its cadres and embraces democracy after securing the ISGA, let this plan also have a provision to learn from the LTTE - from politics to management, as ISGA will soon be a flourishing state within Sri Lanka. (Vast land, hard working people and discipline are sufficient factors for Japanese to invest). To do that, one needs to take a hard look at the LTTE. Find out how they did it. Use the same fundamentals to strengthen the sectors in the Government. They need not execute the non-performers like LTTE does. They can sack them. Army does not need to recruit child soldiers. The present exodus will stop leaving a sufficient number within.

Country needs politicians who practice their discourses. They also need implements to overcome public service lethargy arising from the usual excuse of rules and procedures which have not in any event produced effective decision making, (be it a political or a Government tender), that are sensible, transparent or for the best interest of the country.

It is only a Government which has a position of strength that can fight or negotiate with a separatists movement such as the LTTE. Sri Lanka has one hope now. That LTTE will not accept democracy even after securing the ISGA. That will be the only cause for the struggle against LTTE in the future. Sri Lanka’s present polity and bureaucracy will not support this. They will continue to seek quick fixes as organising the basics will take years. Until then all the present attempts to drag the process and hold the ISGA will fail.

LTTE is getting impatient. When the LTTE secedes with unilateral declaration of ISGA, most of the politicians, negotiators, advisors and other pundits will be out of this country with their families. The remaining politicians will hopefully have common sense, commitment, can live by examples, and show right ways of governance. The young politicians from all parties in the south could be the force to organise the post ISGA strategy. If they take the initiative now, some day with a single Government in the south, they could do the trick. After all, a period of 2 decades has gone down the drain and waiting for another 10 years can be taken as granted by the innocent people of Sri Lanka. Until then the price for the ‘sins committed’ is quite heavy. - That is the ISGA.

A paper presented by Dr Sarath Pitivahala, A retired Economist in Glasgow, to an audience of Sri Lankan professional expatriates in the UK on 9 June 2004.

Book review by Godwin Fernando

War or Peace in Sri Lanka - (International Edition) - Author- T. D. S. A. Dissanayaka

I clearly recollect a statement of optimism, but also of naivety when J. R. Jayewardene addressed Rotarians at a dinner at the Galadari Hotel shortly after he ceased to be the President of our country after a 12 year stint. - "Terrorism cannot go on forever. Terrorists will run out of their resources sooner than later. We may not have been very successful in the battle field, both guerilla and conventional. But we are more successful in thwarting their fund raising abroad and curbing the inflow of arms and ammunition. We will not have to wait for that long for this era of terrorism in our country to be confined into political history."

Despite my deep involvement at the analytical level on the ethnic conflict, the words of JRJ made me feel optimistic. Hope springs eternal in the human breast and JRJ kindled in me that deep down expectation and yearning of peace. After all, was he not a man of over 50 years political experience and 12 years as Head of State familiar with the cross-currents of ethnicity and its attendant ramifications on the power levers of the body-politic? The words I heard, I thought, cannot be dismissed lightly. I felt happy.

That JRJ somber articulation was in 1990. Almost 15 years have rolled by and at least in hindsight we are poorer but wiser. Even that man of immense political acumen got it all wrong.

On the other hand my classmate at the University of Ceylon and at 39 years of age an Ambassador had the audacity to question the all powerful President J. R. Jayewardene on many a decision on ethnicity and governance. That was T. D. S. A. Dissanayaka, known as ‘Jungle’ to his friends. He certainly was not a pliant Ambassador of the President. He raised many a thorny issue with his boss the President, on matters of ethnicity and Constitution, and the removing of civic rights of Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike and others through the thoroughly obnoxious retroactive legislation. As a professional diplomat who had also served the UN, he did not have to dilute the expressions of his views. Perhaps President JRJ knew that the analyzed political judgments of his young Ambassador had depth and vision. Probably that was the reason why he did not sack this youthful Ambassador whom JRJ, and many others may have considered as a diplomatic upstart. But JRJ was a political animal and everything that he did was subject to the perpetuation of his political power. He did not have any compunction to reject the advise of his young Ambassador who worked directly under him while being a Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after completing four years as Ambassador to Indonesia.

Tremendous knowledge

From the vantage point of being an Ambassador for a 15 year period, meeting Heads of State, Foreign Ministers and other key players in the international arena who had not only expressed deep concern but tremendous knowledge, ‘Jungle’ acquired a vast corpus of knowledge on the political issues and problems that were intrinsic and fundamental to the very stability and prosperity of the nation. These he distilled into the many books on ethnics and politics he wrote, 14 in all during the last three decades. His distinction as an authority on the historicity of ethnicity as well as a specialist on the current political and military issues has been recognized by an international book publisher, Popular Prakashan of Bombay, India. At their request ‘Jungle’ refined and condensed his six books on the ethnic problem into a single international edition that was launched at the International Book Fair at the BMICH this week. It will also be launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October this year.

I studied with interest the manuscript ‘Jungle’ gave me. In Chapter 1 - Sri Lanka: What went wrong - he traces in detail the historical evolution of the problem. He evaluates the myopic political visions of all our political leaders and, positioning their personal and political agendas ahead of the greater good of the nation. Through the earlier years of Colonial rule, the transition through the Donoughmore Constitution, Independence and the subsequent early years of self rule, the author with his acutely analytical mind shows how the horrendous head of the ethnic monster surfaced. In the immediate post-independence period, he assiduously demonstrates that politicians not only did nothing to quench the embers of ethnic strife, but indeed fanned them into the flames of conflagration.

In Chapter II - The Terrorist Movements - the author evaluates how the Sinhala political leadership naively, but literally fathered terrorism and how we have been inexorably drawn into open warfare. The prejudiced and jaundiced political evaluation of the ethnic problem, the stupid and dim-witted military strategies, the author shows had to inevitably lead to the holocaust that we witnessed in July 1983.

July 1983 was a paradigm shift in the politics of Sri Lanka, the civil war commenced. In Chapter III - The Civil War and in Chapter IV - The Indian Intervention - the author takes the reader through, the important events that took place towards the resolution of the conflict, the clumsy Indian intervention including the agreement that brought in the Indian Peace Keeping Force, and in the assassination of Rajiv Ghandi. Having brought on ourselves the horrors of terrorism and ethnic strife, the author in great and indeed interesting detail presents the minds and the actions of the leaders towards the resolution of this conflict.

Chapter V - The Protracted War - details the saga of a nation struggling to survive on the continued onslaughts of the most brutal terrorist movement in the world. Obviously the author had researched extensively the many details the battles that were lost, the strategies that failed - both materially and politically and the despondency of a nation in the grip of a civil war that could not clearly be won nor even sustained. The nation was clearly battle weary and reluctantly, certainly from a position of weakness - the nation was inexorably drawn into a quest for peace, as she was, due to very different reasons was drawn into a civil war earlier.

In Chapter VI - The Quest For Peace, is a superb but a very critical analysis of the new Prime Minister and his efforts towards peace subsequent to the General Election of December 2001. The Ceasefire Agreement, the active involvement of the Norwegians in the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and the amazing details that the author presents in the various conferences that took place between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government is indeed remarkable and startling.

Throughout the book the reader will be able to grasp the author’s mind in the overall assessment of the politics of the nation vis-a-vis the ethnic strife and the civil war. The author’s assessment spells out of how the horrendous JRJ Constitution with its unprecedented powers posited into the Presidency, unheard of and unseen in the recent annals of political history, which he was critical even with JRJ himself when it was being formulated, divided the body politic of the nation which augmented the terrorism of the LTTE.

Critical analysis

The author’s critical analysis has been possible due to his undergraduate studies in Physics at the University of Ceylon and post graduate work in International Relations at Harvard. The book is a must for every intellectual who loves his motherland and intends to contribute towards the alleviation of travails that besets our beloved nation. He with his vast knowledge and authorship experience has certainly presented facts and carried out his analysis with an even hand, the hallmark of a good author, with malice to none. He has presented facts and analyzed them as they are.

However I would have enjoyed reading more, had he ventured into his own analysis on the various alternatives of the resolution of the conflict. Perhaps I am asking the impossible, considering the fact that for 25 long years our politicians have failed, and failed miserably at that. Perchance what JRJ said in early 1990 at a Rotary dinner I have quoted above was right. The LTTE has run out of war options. What JRJ did not foresee was that the Sri Lankan Government also has run out of such options. War weary and exhausted, both the Government and the LTTE are now, struggling and groping towards that peace which has eluded all, over 25 long years.

Perhaps, Jungle in his next book may be able to prescribe the miraculous peace formulae!!

Relax security in East — LTTE

The LTTE wants security forces and police to relax security measures in the Ampara-Batticaloa region. The request was made at Vavunativu divisional secretariat where the security forces and LTTE delegations met under the supervision of the Scandinavian truce monitors to discuss a range of issues relating to the implementation of the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) in the region.

Ironically area leader Thambirajah Ramesh and his deputy Ram missed Tuesday’s meeting, authoritative security sources said. The LTTE delegation was led by Ramanan, the sources said. Their absence fuelled speculation that they had been sidelined by the group’s Kilinochchi leadership. The sources said the LTTE delegation did not respond to queries on the missing leaders and also the ongoing confrontations between them and Karuna loyalists in areas under LTTE control.

The government delegation led by Brigadier Vajira Wijegoonewardene, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) army’s 23 division included SSP Mahesh Samaradivakara, in charge of the Batticaloa police division and SP Upul Seneviratne of the STF.

The sources said the LTTE complained about what they described as heavy handed security checks at the Mankerni entry point. The government delegation pointed out that they implemented a special security programme in the region on repeated requests by the LTTE. Citing the presence of Karuna loyalists in the government-held areas, the group’s Kilinochchi leadership demanded stepped up security. The sources said these measures had also affected their own cadres mobility in the region, the sources said.

The government delegation has also raised the recent incident at Kadjuwatte where LTTE cadres fired in the air near an army sentry point, the abduction of a group of Muslims and the arrest of two armed LTTE cadres in the Valaichchnai area. (SF)

Prabhakaran demands for Palali Airport [2nd April 2002]

The leader of LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran has notified the Norway representatives that the Sri Lankan government must handover Palali Airport to the LTTE in order to facilitate Mr. Anton Balasingham, the LTTE theoretician who will represent LTTE in the peace talks.

The tiger leader has demanded that the Air force camp at Palali must be removed and the Airport should be given to the control of the LTTE since Mr. Balasingham will be traveling to Bangkok daily. LTTE leader has told the Norway representatives that Mr. Balasingham is ill and his daily tours must be facilitated as required and the SL government should handover the Airport before the peace talks. However the Lanka truth with Responsibility reveals that there are covert intentions in this proposed peace talks in Bangkok.

The first intention is to remove Palali Air Force Base. The next important intention is to find and easy mode of weapon transportation.LTTE has acknowledged peace talks be held in Bangkok, since their foremost weapon purchaser is in Thailand. This person A.K. Pathmanathan is one of the three persons who communicate with Prabhakaran via satellite communication.

Prabhaharan has collected a load of sophisticated weapons to be transported to northern Sri Lanka once the peace talks commence the weapon loads could be transported to Palali using the airplane which is used by Balasingham .


Child Conscription by LTTE - LTTE Teenager Speaks out

Rajendran Dayanandan aged 16 who was arrested in Kurukuttimurippukulam North of Puliyankulam is a young boy born in Muttur in theTrincomalee District to a family of seven. The statement made by him is as follows. "I am a boy who has never gone to school. About three months back when I went to buy bread, members of the LTTE approached me and forcefully took me into a camp. Although a 3-month training is given to the newly recruited cadres, I was only given one months training.

After I was forcibly taken to the organisation my father visited me and wanted to take me home. But when I informed the leader of the camp Karthikaran, he arrested me. The senior members of the camp never gave us sufficient food and clothing. They used to send us to the front and when we refuse we were assaulted. After the training I was sent on a recee mission with only one grenade where I was arrested by the Army."

When spoke to him he further said, " I had no intention of joining the organisation. But I was taken forcibly. There are lot of children like me who are being trained in the moment and they too are undergoing the same difficulties". He also said that "I do not want to go back to the organisation but if I am given a chance, I will go home. I hope the Security Forces will put an end to this war and rescue all the children who are being forcefully trained and put to the front. We only want peace and harmony. We do not want the LTTE. I humbly request all the youth not to join or get caught to the LTTE. From the day I was arrested by the army they have treated me and looked after me very well". It is observed child abuse in the LTTE organisation in continuing rapidly by recruiting children forcibly to put them in the war zone.


Children in South Asia - Amnesty International Index 04/01/98 (extract from page 38)

Recruitment as Fighters Fifteen year old Raja went to the Teaching Hospital in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, complaining of insomnia, aggressive outbursts and irrational abnormal behaviour in late 1994. He had joined the LTTE at the age of 11 and underwent extensive training. He told doctors that after one attack where he lost many friends he was shown a videos of dead women and children and told that his enemies had done this. Soon afterwards he was involved in attacks on several Muslim villages near Batticaloa. When recounting one attack, he described how he held a child by the legs and bashed its head against a wall and how he enjoyed hearing the mother’s screaming. He said they deserved to die.

Tamil Tigers stopped for picnic before raid on Sri Lanka airport (Wednesday, July 25 3:37 PM SGT)

COLOMBO, July 25 (AFP) A busload of Tiger Tamil rebels enjoyed a picnic near a tightly-guarded international airport and adjoining military air base before launching a devastating attack which left 21people dead, police sources said Wednesday.

The revelation that the guerrillas could gather right under the nose of a military checkpoint has compounded the embarrassment for the defence establishment, airport sources said.

At least 14 members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had what they knew was almost certainly their meal at a public park near the two facilities before breaking in and destroying military and civilian aircraft.

Press reports suggested local residents had alerted the authorities to the unusual gathering of the men near the airport, but they appeared to have not taken it seriously.

The suicide squad, including bombers with explosives strapped to their bodies, went on to sabotage the power supply in the area and then cut barbed wire fences to enter the supposedly high security area.

"We have found 13 pairs of boots and one pair of slippers worn by the Tigers," a police official conducting the investigation said. "We believed they came barefoot, cut a perimeter fence and crept in. It was a one-way journey for those who went in."

Police have issued an alert to track down the luxury 26-seat bus used by the suicide squad to get near the military and civilian aviation complex. As the devastated airport and the airbase were cleared Tuesday, the authorities were also dealing with the remains of the 14 men. Some blasted themselves to pieces as they set ablaze three civilian passenger jet liners.

Another suicide bomber's body was found near a cargo belt at the terminal building. "Although we suspect only 14 entered the complex, and we have accounted for all of them, it is possible there were a few others who remained outside to co-ordinate the attack," a police source said. It is believed the guerrillas may have planned the attack for several months and chose a time when half thefleet of Sri Lanka's national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, was at the

Air force chief Air Chief Marshall Jayalath Weerakkody has appointed a court of inquiry headed by an air vice marshal to investigate lapses. President Chandrika Kumaratunga has
also ordered a top level probe. The attack was not even totally unexpected.The government itself had said the Tigers might try to strike to mark the 18th anniversary of anti-Tamil riots in Colombo in July 1983, in which up to 600 people were killed.

Security throughout the country is generally stepped up in July, which is regarded as the most violent period.

But the question remains how the rebels managed to attack the airport, supposedly protected by the tightest possible security.

Normally even wallets are searched at the entrance to Bandaranaike

It has its own crack team of commandos trained in anti-hijacking
operations, but they were not deployed to guard the aircraft and the terminal even two hours after the neighbouring airbase was hit, police said.

The first attacks against commercial airliners started long after the
guerrillas destroyed eight military aircraft. The rebels crossed the airport runway and then fired rocket propelled
grenades at aircraft.

The arms they brought into the complex caused even more embarrassment. The cache included three general purpose machine guns, one 40-mm grenade launcher, three rocket propelled
grenades, nine T-56 assault rifles, eight explosive charges and six
shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons.

(Yahoo! Asia - News - Asia)

Grenade, ammo found in Mannar school [TamilNet, October 07, 2004 09:01 GMT]

A hand grenade and eighteen rounds of live ammunition were found in a plastic container by the compound wall of a school in Mannar town Wednesday evening, Police said. The grenade was exploded by a bomb disposal squad from the Sri Lanka army camp in Thallady around seven p.m.

Construction workers in the Siththivinayagar Tamil School in Mannar town found the plastic container by the wall and informed the Police through the uppukkulam village officer.

Police said they are investigating how the grenade and ammo came to be near the school.

On the look out Posted by Hello

Special forces strom a building Posted by Hello

Iraqi's Saddam's palace Posted by Hello

Bunker prose Posted by Hello

Clearing a Building Posted by Hello

Storming of the Air port Posted by Hello

Attending to an wounded Iraqi civilian Posted by Hello

Fire Fight on a roof top Posted by Hello

Memories of home  Posted by Hello

What the Iraq soldiers left behind... Posted by Hello

On patrol in the streets of Iraq Posted by Hello

A soldier stationed in Iraq looks at a drawing sent by a kid back home- potraying American GI's in the "War against terrorism".  Posted by Hello

Time magazine nominates "The american soldier" as the person of the yeaR 2003 Posted by Hello

A routine search in an iraqi house Posted by Hello

"Tomb Raiders" under fire Posted by Hello

"Tomb Raiders" on patrol in Iraq Posted by Hello

Diego Garcia: Paradise Cleansed by John Pilger

"The example of Diego Garcia can be used to help 250,000 Sinhelas deported from the north and north-east."

There are times when one tragedy, one crime tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us to understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments lie. To understand the catastrophe of Iraq, and all the other Iraqs along imperial history's trail of blood and tears, one need look no further than Diego Garcia.

The story of Diego Garcia is shocking, almost incredible. A British colony lying midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean, the island is one of 64 unique coral islands that form the Chagos Archipelago, a phenomenon of natural beauty, and once of peace. News readers refer to it in passing: "American B-52 and Stealth bombers last night took off from the uninhabited British island of Diego Garcia to bomb Iraq (or Afghanistan)." It is the word "uninhabited" that turns the key on the horror of what was done there. In the 1970s, the Ministry of Defense in London produced this epic lie: "There is nothing in our files about a population and an evacuation."

Diego Garcia was first settled in the late 18th century. At least 2,000 people lived there: a gentle Creole nation with thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a prison, a railway, docks, a copra plantation. Watching a film shot by missionaries in the 1960s, I can understand why every Chagos islander I have met calls it paradise; there is a grainy sequence where the islanders' beloved dogs are swimming in the sheltered, palm-fringed lagoon, catching fish.

All this began to end when an American rear admiral stepped ashore in 1961 and Diego Garcia was marked as the site of what is today one of the biggest American bases in the world. There are now more than 2,000 troops, anchorage for 30 warships, a nuclear dump, a satellite spy station, shopping malls, bars and a golf course. "Camp Justice," the Americans call it.

During the 1960s, in high secrecy, the Labor government of Harold Wilson conspired with two American administrations to "sweep" and "sanitize" the islands: the words used in American documents. Files found in the National Archives in Washington and the Public Record Office in London provide an astonishing narrative of official lying all too familiar to those who have chronicled the lies over Iraq.
To get rid of the population, the Foreign Office invented the fiction that the islanders were merely transient contract workers who could be "returned" to Mauritius, 1,000 miles away. In fact, many islanders traced their ancestry back five generations, as their cemeteries bore witness. The aim, wrote a Foreign Office official in January 1966, "is to convert all the existing residents ... into short-term, temporary residents."

What the files also reveal is an imperious attitude of brutality. In August 1966, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office, wrote: "We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks that will remain ours. There will be no indigenous population except seagulls." At the end of this is a handwritten note by D.H. Greenhill, later Baron Greenhill: "Along with the Birds go some Tarzans or Men Fridays ..." Under the heading, "Maintaining the fiction," another official urges his colleagues to reclassify the islanders as "a floating population" and to "make up the rules as we go along."

There is not a word of concern for their victims. Only one official appeared to worry about being caught, writing that it was "fairly unsatisfactory" that "we propose to certify the people, more or less fraudulently, as belonging somewhere else." The documents leave no doubt that the cover-up was approved by the prime minister and at least three cabinet ministers.

At first, the islanders were tricked and intimidated into leaving; those who had gone to Mauritius for urgent medical treatment were prevented from returning. As the Americans began to arrive and build the base, Sir Bruce Greatbatch, the governor of the Seychelles, who had been put in charge of the "sanitizing," ordered all the pet dogs on Diego Garcia to be killed. Almost 1,000 pets were rounded up and gassed, using the exhaust fumes from American military vehicles. "They put the dogs in a furnace where the people worked," says Lizette Tallatte, now in her 60s," ... and when their dogs were taken away in front of them, our children screamed and cried."

The islanders took this as a warning; and the remaining population were loaded on to ships, allowed to take only one suitcase. They left behind their homes and furniture, and their lives. On one journey in rough seas, the copra company's horses occupied the deck, while women and children were forced to sleep on a cargo of bird fertilizer. Arriving in the Seychelles, they were marched up the hill to a prison where they were held until they were transported to Mauritius. There, they were dumped on the docks.
In the first months of their exile, as they fought to survive, suicides and child deaths were common. Lizette lost two children. "The doctor said he cannot treat sadness," she recalls.

Rita Bancoult, now 79, lost two daughters and a son; she told me that when her husband was told the family could never return home, he suffered a stroke and died. Unemployment, drugs and prostitution, all of which had been alien to their society, ravaged them. Only after more than a decade did they receive any compensation from the British government: less than £3,000 each, which did not cover their debts.
The behavior of the Blair government is, in many respects, the worst. In 2000, the islanders won a historic victory in the high court, which ruled their expulsion illegal. Within hours of the judgment, the Foreign Office announced that it would not be possible for them to return to Diego Garcia because of a "treaty" with Washington – in truth, a deal concealed from parliament and the U.S. Congress. As for the other islands in the group, a "feasibility study" would determine whether these could be resettled. This has been described by Professor David Stoddart, a world authority on the Chagos, as "worthless" and "an elaborate charade." The "study" consulted not a single islander; it found that the islands were "sinking," which was news to the Americans who are building more and more base facilities; the U.S. Navy describes the living conditions as so outstanding that they are "unbelievable."

In 2003, in a now notorious follow-up high court case, the islanders were denied compensation, with government counsel allowed by the judge to attack and humiliate them in the witness box, and with Justice Ousley referring to "we" as if the court and the Foreign Office were on the same side. Last June, the government invoked the archaic royal prerogative in order to crush the 2000 judgment. A decree was issued that the islanders were banned forever from returning home. These were the same totalitarian powers used to expel them in secret 40 years ago; Blair used them to authorize his illegal attack on Iraq.

Led by a remarkable man, Olivier Bancoult, an electrician, and supported by a tenacious and valiant London lawyer, Richard Gifford, the islanders are going to the European court of human rights, and perhaps beyond. Article 7 of the statute of the international criminal court describes the "deportation or forcible transfer of population ... by expulsion or other coercive acts" as a crime against humanity. As Bush's bombers take off from their paradise, the Chagos islanders, says Bancoult, "will not let this great crime stand. The world is changing; we will win."

This article first appeared in The Guardian.

Muslims warned to be wary of forces trying to divide the community by Franklin R. Satyapalan

While the SLMC's N. M. Shaheed faces disciplinary action, the SLMC leadership urged all true Muslims to be wary of forces who are carrying out a campaign to cause divisions among the Muslims thereby weakening the hand of a community fighting for its just rights, National Organizer SLMC MP K. A. Baiz said yesterday.MP Baiz made this comment in relation to one of SLMC deputy leaders N. M. Shaheed being invited to participate in the inaugural day's sessions of the government's National Advisory Council on Peace and Reconciliation on Monday. Baiz said this took place, despite Secretary General of Peace Secretariat Jayantha Dhanapala and Secretary to the President W. S. Karunatilleke knowing well that the SLMC leader awaited a meeting with President Kumaratunga to clarify matters in this connection as he had spoken to them as well as written to them.Baiz said this only proved beyond doubt that it was a planned move to sabotage and destroy the party. It was one of several attempts engineered by the UPFA government from the time the People's Alliance was in the opposition to bring down the SLMC and its leadership.Despite leader Rauf Hakeem welcoming the President's move and not rejecting in toto his participation at future sittings, Shaheed was admitted and how could the government feign they were ignorant that the MP did not have his leader's approval.The High Command is to meet and decide on what type of disciplinary action would be taken against Shaheed as there are several more charges of conspiring against the party and its leaders, MP Baiz said.

LTTE took up southern criticism with ISGA framers in Geneva meet

Daily Mirror (DM) - What was the purpose of your visit to Geneva and what was the outcome?

Thamilselvan (TS) - The ISGA proposals have already been formulated and submitted to the government and are subject to review vis-à-vis certain criticisms from the south. Our sole intention is to accelerate the peace process, to restart the peace talks as soon as possible and for which we expect a response from the government. On the premise that, that will be done very soon we are now getting ready to take forward the peace process.

DM - So are you considering reviewing the proposals?

TS - We do not see a necessity to review it, what we mean is, based on the criticisms, we are taking a multi-pronged approach of meeting the criticisms and making clarity of certain issues, which are misinterpreted. A campaign of misinformation appears to have been condoned in Colombo and so we are trying to make things clear. The commitment of course remains the same. But when the government is ready to sit down at the negotiating table of course the views of the government will be taken on board for discussion; nothing is final.

DM - What is your view on the government's response to these proposals?

TS - They are seriously proclaiming their intentions to sit down and negotiate but intentions do not mean anything when it comes to implementation. So what we feel is there has been no constructive move on the part of the government to make use of this opportunity and then sit down and negotiate.

DM - Do you see a difference between this government's approach to the peace process and that of the earlier government?

TS - It is true that the UNF government expressed its readiness and accepted these proposals as the basis for the re-commencement of the talks and immediately after that the government was dissolved and elections held, the President took over the new regime and from that day onwards nothing happened amidst nuances of positive changes. We are only anticipating a positive response from the government, we have told the facilitators that this is our position and the facilitators are waiting for the right response from the government saying 'yes we will proceed with this process.' So yes there is a vast difference between the last government and this government.

DM - Do you trust President Kumaratunga to push forward the peace process?

TS - Our commitment and yearning for peace dictates that we should not utter things that will disturb the process so we will refrain from making comments on personalities. We will only say the President should have exhibited greater yearning to take forward the peace process, which she has not.

DM - Do you believe the JVP's position within the government can become an obstacle to the peace process?

TS - Very much. Ahead of the ISGA proposals and the President joining hands with the JVP, the JVP had expressed dissatisfaction over the process and the facilitation process and even towards the entire Tamil national problem. On the whole the JVP has been cynical. Under the circumstances a person of Presidential stature, having known the premises of the JVP and the position the JVP holds, vis-à-vis the peace process, her joining hands for political expediency does not augur well for the peace process. There seems to be a contradictory position.

On the other hand she has a golden opportunity because the main opposition party has very clearly indicated to the President and to the general public and the TNA, another force to reckon with, to take forward the peace process but she does not seem to be using the opportunity.

DM - You constantly talk of the commitment the LTTE has made, could you point out some to prove it?

TS - On a general basis the fact that the LTTE entered the peace process on a very strong position and, prior to that, declaring an unilateral cease-fire agreement, concentrating all their attention on formulating a body of proposals for the first time in the history of the LTTE, preparing proposals on behalf of the Tamil people, realizing the urgent humanitarian needs of the people, in a post conflict situation, especially after nearly 20 years of war. That is the commitment. Commitment to the people's needs, and based on the people's needs our commitment gets stronger and despite the various provocations we have had in maintaining the cease-fire agreement, we have been steadily holding onto the agreement. And again our demonstration of commitment to the peace process is indicated clearly by inviting all the experts and diaspora, a serious proposal was formulated and submitted to the government and from the time these proposals were submitted we have been holding on to the cease-fire agreement. We have also been very receptive of the criticisms levelled against the ISGA and subject that to scrutiny with the same constitutional experts. It involves a lot of hard work doing this but, we are only doing this because of our commitment.

DM - But the LTTE continues to violate the cease-fire. International human rights groups are still blaming the LTTE for Human Rights abuses, including the continuing kidnapping of children and over that, you are involved in a killing spree wiping out Tamils opposed to the organization. There are two aspects to this question firstly your weak record on human rights and secondly your inability to face opposition.

TS - Part one of the answer. The cease-fire agreement has been very strictly adhered to and we never had any allegations of killing until the change of government, because the UNF government and its machine saw to it that clause 1.8 of the cease-fire agreement was adhered to. This was crafted into it, after much careful consideration, to avoid armed activities in the north and east because, that was a threat we foresaw earlier. The activities of the armed group during times of war are things we know off. We can name the EPRLF, EPDP, Karuna's group, Karuna was dismissed from the organization and he took along with him some elements and EPDP leader Douglas Devananda invited him over the radio and embraced all these people and tried to form a coalition against the LTTE. The LTTE has gained a place of prominence, first through international acceptance, for having entered in to the peace process and then buttressed by the people's mandate, giving a democratic face to the LTTE. There doesn't exist any reasons for the LTTE to start killing opponents, if we are to kill opponents we have several other opposing voices in Sri Lanka. Eliminating certain people who do not have a political standing does not mean the LTTE are the killers. Their killings are attributed and, political colour is given to them just because the people who arranged this want the LTTE's name tarnished and discredited in the international arena.

They were not allowed to enter into these areas and, after this government, with the use of the deep penetration team, some of them have gained access to it and on those occasions some of them have been killed. We have openly said that those who penetrated our areas, not under military control, and attempted to create chaos, have been dealt with in the way we deal with things normally. Apart from this we have nothing to do with the killings outside of the northeast.

DM - The killings did not start after the government changed the killings began after the LTTE split?

TS - We do admit there were killings (with the split) but they were minimal. The government should take action to ensure that the particular clause is adhered to it.
DM - But that is a case of passing the buck, even if you may argue that they have not implemented this clause you can't go around killing your opposition?

TS - Immediately when a killing takes place in the military areas everybody immediately blames the LTTE. On what basis is this conclusion made, how are the allegations substantiated? Is their evidence? Is there a case pending? Are investigations properly conducted?

DM - The LTTE is not blamed for every killing; accusations are made only because there appears to be targeted killings of LTTE opponents.

TS - The targets are selected in such a way by interested elements to make it appear that they are done by the LTTE. This is the modus operandi. Look at the number of killings that takes place elsewhere, underworld killings, all those killings are not resolved but, when it comes to a Tamil, immediately the LTTE is blamed. It is politically coloured.

DM - Could you comment on the accusations made against the LTTE for the continuous human rights violations?

TS - No such things take place at the moment (referring to abduction of children) things took place in a different way and they have been all rectified. We are an organization that started fighting against an oppressive regime based on human rights being denied to us and our children, when our children were denied human rights nobody cared about it. The mechanisms we have already put in place with UNICEF and TRO, of course they are all matters subject to evolution, it is an ongoing process, we keep improving our position.

DM - In many of your answers it appears that the LTTE is refusing to be accountable for their failures?

TS - There are various steps taken in this realm, all these things have been clearly addressed and the mechanisms set in place have brought results. The children identified as under age are transferred to a transit centre or a children's home. Vocational training centres have been set up .

DM - What has been the impact on the LTTE over the exit of Karuna?

TS - As a freedom fighting organization, with discipline as the basis of everything, we do take regular action, subjecting individuals who act against to discipline. This has taken place from the inception and, at no stage did anybody very much bother about such things. But, all of a sudden, this Karuna thing has been blown out of proportion because, some people thought that this could be exploited. There has been no impact at all on the organization but, there has been some confusion created, a bit of a chaotic situation prevails. The organisation never suffered any harm or any damage.

DM - But surely he was well respected by all of you seniors within the LTTE and popular in the East ?

TS - There are many leaders in the world who conduct themselves according to the book and then all of a sudden due to circumstances, may be beyond their control, they have changed and Karuna is one of those. The leadership found he committed certain offences for which he was asked to face a disciplinary inquiry. He refused to face the inquiry and then he availed himself of that opportunity and disobeyed the orders of the organisation. Had the respect been eternal and well-earned his reputation would have saved him to allow him stay in the Batticaloa, Amparai area itself. He need not have run away from the area and sought shelter.

DM - Is the LTTE enjoying peace or is the war alternative still imminent?

TS - Peace to us will be conditional to peace for all the people. We have entered the peace process, we have said many times that viable alternatives can be explored and, are now in the process of that. If the government takes this opportunity seriously and enter into negotiations then we will not be pushed again to take up arms. The onus is with the government to decide if the Tamil people will live in peace or not.

DM - But as of now, is the war option still existing?

TS - To the Tamil people and their leadership war is not an option. If war is unleashed on them, if there is a decision to wage war on the Tamil people, we have to face it.

Army downgrades delegation by Shamindra Ferdinando

Army Headquarters has downgraded its delegation for today’s meeting with the LTTE in response to their decision to withdraw ‘Colonel’ Bhanu in charge of the Ampara-Batticaloa region, from the discussions.

Brigadier Vajira Wijegoone-wardene, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 23 Division headquartered at Welikanda will not lead the government delegation. It will be led by Colonel Laksiri Amaratunga, in charge of the Batticaloa Brigade.

Bhanu avoided the previous meeting chaired by Maj. Gen. Trond Furuhovde, head of the Norwegian-led Scandinavian truce monitoring mission (on September 22) to discuss ways of curbing the ongoing wave of violence by LTTE factions.

Thambirajah Ramesh’s successor Bhanu and Ramanan of the group’s military wing skipped the meeting. In their absence, the LTTE delegation was led by its Ampara-Batticaloa political chief Kausalyan.

This prompted the security forces delegation to call for the presence of the military wing at today’s meeting.

As Kausalyan is on the LTTE delegation engaged in a three-week long foreign tour, the LTTE would be represented by their Ampara district political wing leader Kuyilinpan.

At the previous meeting, Furuhovde assured that he would take this up with the LTTE leadership in Kilinochchi.

The Island learns that at one point the army didn’t want to go ahead with the meeting as it wouldn’t serve any purpose.

The September meeting was the first since the LTTE suspended regular security talks with the army (in Batticaloa) over what the group said was a clandestine effort to weaken the group in the Ampara-Batticaloa region by taking advantage of the unprecedented crisis triggered by Karuna’s revolt.

The meeting will take place at the Vavunathivu Divisional Secretary’s office, about 5 kilometres southwest of Batticaloa town, in the no man’s land between areas controlled by the LTTE and the forces.

Meanwhile suspected LTTE gunmen on Sunday killed a 40-year-old farmer in the general LTTE-held area of Omadiyaamadu, Valaichchenai. A relative lodged a complaint with the local police in this regard, the military said.

The sit-on fast at Trincomalee, launched by next of kin of LTTE-detained Homeguards entered its 22nd day on Tuesday (5) as the number taking part in the fasting swelled.

Next of kin of those Home Guards started this fasting campaign on September 14 after the LTTE continued to refuse the release of their breadwinners who were caught while they were in the general area of Gomarankadawala on August 10 this year.

Six Indian fishing trawlers out of a fleet of about 80-90 trawlers, engaged in poaching in Sri Lankan waters off Talaimannar were arrested by naval troops with twenty Indian nationals aboard on Monday.