Friday, October 07, 2005

TULF wants LTTE ban lifted

COLOMBO, Monday- (AFP) - A moderate Sri Lankan Tamil party today called for the government to lift a ban on the Tamil Tigers before a Norwegian-backed peace bid in the island gets underway."

It is absolutely essential that the ban is lifted for the talks to be successful," said M. Sivasithamparam, president of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), which is the main political party for the Tamil minority."

Which militant group will want to talk with a gun at its head?" he added.
Sri Lanka banned the rebels, who are fighting for an independent homeland in the north and east of the island, in January 1998 after they attacked Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth. The US, Britain, India and Canada have also outlawed the organisation.

In recent days both the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have asked the government of Norway to facilitate a peace process to end the island's long drawn out ethnic bloodshed that has left more than 60,000 dead since 1983.Both sides are currently observing a month-long truce which is expected to clear the way for talks.

The government has also eased an economic embargo which was in force on goods sent to rebel-controlled areas in the war-torn north and east provinces. The lifting of the embargo was a key demand by the rebels.

Any demand to lift the ban could prove politically troublesome for the new government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as it could lead to opposition in the south, which is dominated by the majority Sinhalese community.The Prime Minister Wickremesinghe told reporters last month that rebel de-proscription was "a bridge we will cross when we get there".

Wickremesinghe's United National Party won elections in December with a pledge to pursue the peace effort, which has been stalled since June last year.
The TULF contested the election in alliance with pro-rebel parties demanding that the rebel ban be lifted.The alliance won 15 seats in Sri Lanka's parliament from constituencies in the north and east.


'Tiger boats not engaged for the sake of peace' By Sunimalee Dias

Impending peace initiatives and a ceasefire in the offing overrode decisions of the government to confront the LTTE during the alleged December 19 Tiger terrorist shipment of arms and ammunition.

Minister Marapana told the Daily Mirror "if we engaged them without being one hundred per cent sure it wouldn't have contributed to the peace initiative."
He also said since the Tigers had announced the ceasefire the Government was not willing to engage them without absolute certainty.

The LTTE announced its ceasefire a couple of days earlier and it was reciprocated by the UNF government in view of the peace initiative that it hoped to undertake through discussions and negotiations. The ceasefire came into effect on December 24 midnight.
Meanwhile, despite intelligence reports received as early as September that a Tiger shipment of arms and ammunitions would be sent across the Government was unable to target them without confirmation.

He said that due to bad weather and poor visibility it could not be confirmed whether they were hostile boats or not. "We could not get any visuals on them," he said.He said at a time when cloudy conditions prevailed the "Navy didn't want to get involved in this" and that the security forces had not been negligent on their part in assessing the situation they were confronted with at the time.

The Navy had attempted to move into the area following the detection of five boats by the Air Force. The Navy had tried to get through to the location but had not been directed by the Air Force which had reported the boats were 70 miles off Mullaitivu.


Probe on safe house, arms cache by Peter Casie Chitty

Defence Minister Tilak Marapana has ordered two separate investigations into the safe house and the arms cache found at the Millennium Housing Scheme in Athurugiriya last week.

Mr. Marapana told the Daily Mirror yesterday that there were two versions given as to the purpose of the location and the arms found there. "One was that the Army used it for counter terrorist purposes while the other explanation is that it was used as a base for election violence. I am keeping an open mind and waiting for both reports from the police and the military police" he said.

Several Army personnel surrendered or were taken into custody after ten Muslim youth were ambushed and killed in the village of Pallethalawinna on general election day.
Earlier that day it was alleged that men belonging to the Presidential Security Division had destroyed a polling booth at Udathalawinna and then been attacked by the villagers who seriously wounded a number of them.

In the course of the investigations the address of the safe house at Athurugiriya in which arms and ammunition were found, was revealed. The Army which allegedly had been implicated in election violence has claimed that the safe house was used by men of the "Deep Penetration Unit" a unit used to target leading terrorists in LTTE held areas.


'Eelam' - whatever is it for? And who wants 'Eelam' anyway? by E.A.V. Naganathan

Are the Tamil people of this country a people with a history? That was the question Dr. Naganathan addressed himself to when composing his presidential address on the occasion of the Federal Party's annual convention at Trincomalee in 1951.

He answered with a decided affirmative, as expressed in the Four Points of his Trincomalee Declaration, which are the progenitors of the Vaddukoddai Resolutions of 1978 and the Thimpu Principles of 1985. It was a tour de force for a man who was educated in the Bio sciences and took his degree in Medicine, who was born in Madras and extensively educated in England, to have put his finger on the crux of the problem facing the Tamils in this country.

The problem: Tamils were yet a submerged nation, in an era which may well be termed the Age of the Liberation of Nationalities, and which has seen so many new nations emerging from obscurity in the Balkans, Africa, the Pacific etc. But, as one of the best G.P.s of his time, he has diagnosed the patient's condition correctly.

His Four Points serve today as the Credo of the Tamil people of this country, where-so-ever in the world they may be. They constitute the bottom line of the Tamil people's perception of their rights of nationality and self-determination, as a people with a history in this country.At this point I must lock horns with a generation-long fictionalisation of the history of this country, which has had as its sole objective- the authentication and justification of the present Unitarianism and centralist structure of government and politics as a legitimate, historically-determined phenomenon.

But this interpretation, as I propose to expatiate on more fully, is fraught with deliberate distortions of fact and faulty non-sequiturs! Why we cannot be a nation state is, simply, because we are not one, but a cluster of nations. The Tamils today do not recognise the term "Sri Lankan" or its predecessor "Ceylonese" as having a significant political connotation. To us it is simply a geographical expression. There is an implicit ethnic, linguistic and religious hegemonies in the term "Sri Lankan." We, Tamils, have been facing its cutting edge too long to be any long deceived by the semantic ambiguity and duplicity of its surreptitious, dichotomous usage as the synonym of "Sinhala."

Lakshman Kadiragamar sometime back commented that the question of who came first or last, or who was in a majority or a minority and so on was not germane, but what mattered was that all were "Sri Lankan." The first thought that struck me was, "But which 'Sri Lankan' - Tamil or Sinhala? For isn't that where the rub is?
Historically, however, it has not been necessarily so.

Therein lies "the pity of it", as Othello said. The aborigines or indigenous of the country, previously known as Nagas, Yakkhas etc., did not simply depart the scene when the Dravidian-speaking immigrations from Dravida took place from ancient times, or the Prakrit-speaking immigrations from Lata (Bengal) and Lada (Gujerat) occurred, as we are told, to coincide with the passing away of Gautama the Buddha in or around 504 BC. Constant interaction of all forms, friendly and hostile, beneficent and maleficent, cooperative and disputative between successive waves of such immigrants and the Nagas, Yakkhas and other, "Gothric" clans were the norm.

This places, incidentally, in correct perspective, the Elara-Gemunu episode for it is hardly credible that a horse-trader could have seized and exercised power, for the not inconsiderable period of 40 years, over the whole country. Before Elara, there were a Sena and a Guttika and the interesting feature is that it all took place, not improbably, in the lifetime of Mahinda Thero, himself, who, we are told lived to the ripe old age of 80 years. Having arrived in his 38th year - with no let or hindrance to his evangelical ministry.

All this goes to substantiate the thesis that the "epic" was simply a "feudal power game" where the ruler of the Tissamaharama "region" toppled the ruler of the Anuradhapura "region" in a setting where there were several other such regional powers co-existing e.g. Kelaniya. They identified themselves by reference to their respective clans by such regional powers co-existing e.g. Kelaniya, and identifying themselves by reference to their respective clans by such names as Lambakarna, Moriya etc. - and no other. If there were "Sinhala-Buddhists" at this or any other point of time, as some aver, then literally and logically, there should have been "Non-Sinhala Buddhists." "Non-Buddhist Sinahalas" and "Non-Sinhala Non-Buddhists." The said Elara, Sena, Guttika etc. could have belonged to any of these categories without being "invaders".

It may be well to note at this point that much-vaunted hydraulic system of the Dry Zone is not unique to the island. It is quite in common with the older, bigger and more intricate systems everywhere in the South Indian Deccan of which the island forms a mere extension, with a topography offering identical conditions for such development, in theft of a context of a similar climatology.

Likewise, are the hunchbacked, mis-shapen, top-heavy women of Sigiriya, about which so many misplaced raves have been written, but copies unworthy of the prototypes of the Ajanta, Ellora, Sittannavasal and Pappadakkal cave-paintings in South India from which they were drawn. Here is a common shared experience traceable in both cases, which has been sadly overlooked by our scholars, whose paranoia in these instances is not second to our politicians'.

By the time the Mahavamsa came to be written around 460 AD, about 900 years after the above episodes, the "streaming" of the population into a Prakrit (Sinhala)-speaking South and West, and a Dravidian (Tamil)-speaking North and East, seems to have been slowly proceeding apace. Meanwhile, the latter were more or less inhabiting their present areas, as a numerical majority, as now.

There is independent corroboration of this position from "Cosmo-Indicopleustes," an Egyptian, who relying on the reports of Sopater, a Greek trader, in 550AD says of the country. "There are two kings ruling the opposite sides of the Island..." The fact that Dravidian S. India, and hence, the Dravidian (Tamil)-speaking North and East were largely Jain and Buddhist i.e. 'Non-Sinhala Buddhists," in terms of the aforesaid categories, till the Saivite revival, centering round the "Bhakthi" cult of the 7th-12th century AD, accounts for the ruins of Buddhist temples dotting the entire area.

Everyone knows that the two Tamil Classics, the "Silambu Adikaram" and the "Manimekhala" of the 2nd Century AD are Jainist and Buddhist in philosophy, and their authors, Hanko Adigal and Sithalai Sattanar, Jain and Buddhist, respectively.
There was historically no conflict in the relations between the now "Sinhalas" and "Tamils." This explains how the last great immigrations from S. India of the Durawe, Karawe and Salagama and all the Achchari castes along the island's south-west coast-line, in the medieval period, were integrated into the 'Sinhalese' socio-poitico-economic fabric, through the mechanism of the caste system.

Sinhala 'Nationalism' has not yet closed the doors and put the shutters down on a process which could have otherwise ensured in the assimilation and acculturation of the "imported" S. Indian Tamils of the Centre in our own times. Such process has previously successfully indigenized into Radalas or "Rajakulayas," the hundreds of Nayakkars, e.g. Pilimitalawa, Keppitipola etc. who, due to the prevailing disturbances in S. India, settled in the Centre over the seven generations spanning the marriage of Rajasinghe II (1628 AD) and the last days of Sri Wickrama I (1815 AD) - a period of 187 years. There was no clash of nationalism in the modern sense.

The significant point, however, I wish to make is that on or around 1275 AD a distinctive Northern state was founded. It was not a "Tamil" state in the contemporary sense of the term, nor for that matter were the other contemporaneous states in the island, "Sinhala" in that same sense. Neither the people nor the rulers affixed these labels on themselves.

The founding ruler of the state was, as, indeed, were the rulers of the other co-existent states of "Kalinga" origin. Between themselves they formed a ruling, dynastic, family hierarchy, linked and cemented by repeated inter-marriages which lasted right down to the close of the Western states of Sitawake (1593 AD), Kotte (1598 AD) and the Central state of Kandy, via the Nayakkar succession, in 1815 AD.

An aspect of the present "majoritarianism" that prevails in the country, itself a pretty commonplace feature of parliamentary democracy in all pluralist societies, is the patronizing attitude of all Sinhala historians towards the Northern state. It is a parallel of the similarly snobbish attitude adopted by all English historians towards Ireland, English historians tend to regard the Irish as an aberration that had preferably not have happened. But, to quote Seamus Heancy, the Irish poet, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, "History is not a simple documentation of salient facts in a nations development, but a potent force that moves both a nation's view of itself and an individual's self-image."

Today's Tamils in this country would endorse Seamus Heaney's view and associate themselves heartily with its sentiments.Nissanka Wijewardena sums up the standard (official) Sinhala stance with regard to the Northern State when he referred to it recently as a "zamindari." One could equally pejoratively, and with greater veracity, refer to the Diyawadana Nilame as the "Kings bath-keeper," which in most oriental courts was a position held by eunuchs and the like. But, as I have demonstrated, vide my letter 'The Galle Trilingual Inscription' in "The Island" of 04th November, 2000, by reference to the Report submitted to King Philip IV of Spain, as King of Portugal, by his Vedor da Fazenda or Treasurer for the "Isle of Ceylon" in 1634, the revenues from the land taxes from the "Jaffna" Commandant exceeded those of the "Colombo" and "Galle"

Commandants. In fact, after 1619 AD when the Portuguese took over "Jaffna," returns from village revenues came greatly to exceed custom duties for the first time. Separately, there is Ibn Batuta's testimony, when visiting, the island in 1325 AD that "(he) saw in the possession of Arya Chakravartin, the Tamil overlord of Puttalam, a ruby dish as large as the palm of (his) hand, containing oil of aloes."

All objective historical evidence substantiates the existence of a strong Northern State stretching, on occasions, as far south as Wattala, party accounting for the Tamil-sounding and Tamil-derived names of many villages and administrative units (pattus) throughout the Puttalam and parts of the Kurunegala Districts, and the bilingualism of a fair proportion of the population down to Wattala. It was independent and sovereign and was recognised by neighboring as well as distant states, such as China and Persia, with the usual forms of diplomatic representation and exchange of courtesies.

Ibn Batuta attests to the fact that "the Arya Chakravartin was a cultured man, who conversed with him in Persian." The capture of the Northern state by Sapumal Kumaraya in no way derogates from its territorial integrity (Lakshman Kadi's pet phrase) as he settled down and governed there independently, till the death of Parakrama Bahu VI brought him back to Kotte in 1467 to take over its government as Bhuveneka Bahu VI (1470 - 78 AD).

In any case, he was of the, Alakeswara family of Kerala, and with his death the legitimate 'Kalinga' line re-asserted itself with the accession of Parakrama Bahu VI's grandson via Ulahakudaya Devi and Nannur Thunayan, Pandita Parakrama Bahu VII (Kaipura Pandaram) (1478-1484) followed by Parakrama Bahu VI's youngest son, Vira Parakrama Bahu VIII (Kadikumara Pandram) (1484-1504 AD). In the Northern state Kanagasuriam (Pararajasekaran 1) returned form exile and the status quo was restored.
A daughter, Padmasana Devi, was given in marriage polyandrously to Vira Prakrama Bahu VIII's sons, Dharma Parakrama Bahu IX (1505-19 AD) and Vijaya Bahu VII (1519-21 AD), becoming the mother of Bhuveneka Bahu VII, Mayadunne I and Parajasekaran I (named after the maternal grandfather).

A son Kaivaliya pandaram married Parakrama Bahu VIII's daughter, Chandravathi, and settled down in Madampe, where their sons Taniya Valla and Sakalakala Valla are gratefully remembered to this day for their construction of the Madampe and Mahawewa tanks. Vidiye Bandara, better known in his day by his Tamil title, 'Theruvile Pandaram' - hence the Portuguese reference to "Tribile Pandar", was a grandson.
(To be continued )


Putting India on the Spot by Jehan Perera

Jayalalitha opposes LTTE entering Tamil Nadu……. News item

The latest LTTE proposal that India should play host to forthcoming peace talks with the Sri Lankan Government comes close to being yet another one of its prerequisites for creating conditions conducive to peace talks.

The LTTE has made its case in terms of a humanitarian issue-its chief negotiator Dr Anton Balasingham's poor health condition and requirement of the best hospital attention.

It is only the hospital facilities available in India that could keep Dr Balasingham alive and well during the protracted negotiation process that would require him to keep in direct contact with the LTTE leadership in the Vanni.

The LTTE previously used the vocabulary of pre-requisites for negotiations to foil the former Government's efforts to sit with it at the negotiating table from a position of strength.The LTTE's present unexpected proposal that India should play willing or unwilling host brings a key LTTE characteristic into focus.

It reveals an LTTE frame of mind that is highly innovative and full of surprises. Time and again the LTTE has caught its opponents by surprise, catching them in ambushes at the most unexpected time, and this has stood it in good stead militarily. But military combat in which the unilateral destruction of the opponent is sought is very different from political negotiations in which the willing participation of the other is necessary.

Putting the opponent on the spot, or publicly embarrassing him into conforming to one's own agenda, is not the way forward, but is only likely to evoke further mistrust and hostility. In order to strengthen its proposal that India should play host to the peace talks, the LTTE has accused the Indian Government of having armed and trained Tamil militant organizations in the past, thereby incurring an obligation to put itself out for them in the present. But India is unlikely to oblige for two sets of reasons.

First is that mainstream political opinion in Tamil Nadu has been opposed to an LTTE re entry into the state. The underground activities of the LTTE, the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the state and the war with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka have deprived the LTTE of much of the sympathy they once enjoyed in Tamil Nadu.

It is also likely that the political leadership of Tamil Nadu is not keen to host a rival claimant for the leadership of the world Tamil movement.The Indian Government is likely to be deferential to Tamil Nadu's political leadership when it decides on the LTTE's proposal. India was the first country to ban the LTTE-in 1992, a year after the assassination of its former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his comeback trail in Tamil Nadu. India has a second reason to view the LTTE in an unfavourable light. This is the reverse of what the LTTE argues.

The organization that India once nurtured and provided sanctuary to turned on it with fury in 1987 after the signing of the Indo-Lanka peace accord, and battled the Indian army, for two years, to a standstill. Individuals may practice the politics of forgiveness as Pope John Paul exhorted in his New Year message on peace. But Governments and governmental institutions, which are worldly creations, are less forgiving.

By making its request of the Indian Government, the LTTE may have demonstrated to its support base that it is prepared to let bygones be bygones and not nurture a grudge for too long. But from India's perspective the LTTE has done little as yet to merit it being hosted as a potential peacemaker.

If India does accept the LTTE's proposal it will come under pressure to take the LTTE off its list of banned terrorist organizations. This would pave the way for a renewal of the LTTE's legitimacy within the international community, which has recently been taking steps to ban the LTTE. Most importantly, by involving India at a very early stage of the peace process, the LTTE may be seeking to protect its leader who is on the Indian list of wanted men and has an Indian extradition warrant to reckon with in a post-conflict scenario.

While the LTTE's request makes sense from its own perspective it neglects some of the requirements of diplomacy and might even be counter-productive in terms of restoring its relationship with India. There is a need to do a great deal of spadework before a great diplomatic prize is won. Audacity in international politics is generally not appreciated. No one, and certainly not a Government of India's stature, would wish to be put publicly on the spot and be coerced either materially or morally to do what it would rather not do.

It appears that the LTTE's initial suggestion of India as a suitable venue for peace talks was not canvassed first with the India Government. Rather it appears to have been first aired through the media. This accounts for the Indian position that since no formal request had been made to them, there was no need to respond with a formal Government statement.

If a request is made to India it might be more reasonable that hospital facilities for Dr Balasingham alone be asked for, as this would be a purely humanitarian request, rather than to ask India to play host to the peace talks themselves.
There are, however, some important reasons why India would wish to play a bigger role in the Sri Lankan peace process, with or without the LTTE's invitation to them to play host.

The first would be to reaffirm India's diplomatic dominance over the South Asian region. The active diplomatic role currently being played by Norway in the Sri Lankan peace process could herald an increased western role in intervening in conflict resolution processes in South Asia as a whole. In fact due to heightened India-Pakistan tensions over the Kashmir issue, and the tragic inability of the two South Asian giants to resolve their problems by themselves, the United States is playing a conflict resolution role between those two countries.

It would be in India's longer-term interests to obtain some positive role in the Sri Lankan peace process. A Norwegian-led success in Sri Lanka would assuredly raise an interest in similar western third party initiatives to resolve India's internal and external conflicts, which show little signs of abating. On the other hand, if India could claim joint ownership to a successful peace process in Sri Lanka, its credibility for conflict resolution would be enhanced within its own polity.

However, the very costly and futile Indian effort to intervene directly in Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict from the period 1985 to 1989 will probably deter any further such initiatives. It is likely that a great deal more of diplomatic and tripartite relationship building will be necessary before India gets itself involved in a direct manner again. Therefore, in the present phase of the Sri Lankan peace process, it is likely that Norway will play the lead third party role, as it did with much sensitivity in the Israel-Palestine conflict also.
This would include obtaining a stable ceasefire, building in humanitarian and human rights protections into the ceasefire agreement, and getting an interim council underway.

It is in the subsequent phase, which may be several years down the road that India may wish to play a more leading role. It is likely that in the subsequent phase Norway will step aside for the greater power to come in. This is also what happened in the Israel Palestine peace process. The Norwegians commenced it but the United States took charge of it subsequently.

Of all the world's great powers it is India that has the biggest interest in Sri Lanka. Keeping out western powers from the South Asian region is only one of its interests. Another reason would be in respect of the final settlement arrived at in Sri Lanka.
There is no doubt that what happens in Sri Lanka will be closely studied in India by those who wish to forge a new polity in India. So far India has attempted to resolve all its own internal disputes within the framework of its own constitution, which offers its states a form of semi-federal autonomy.

If Sri Lanka were to go further than this to resolve its own ethnic conflict, India will have reason to be concerned. The peace settlement in Sri Lanka could be proposed as a model for India itself, or at least for some of its conflicts. For these reasons a future Indian role in the Sri Lankan peace process can be anticipated, even if it is not forthcoming at present.
- (Courtesy EelamNation)


Vavuniya - revisited by Indrani Iriyagolle

(President Sinhala Kanthabhivurdi Sangvidanaya, former Chairperson, National Committee on Women, M/WA, former Vice President, International Alliance of Women and Civil and Political Rights Commission)

Re-visiting Vavuniya after nearly four and a half years by members of the Sinhala Kanthabhivurdi Sangvidanaya - popularly known as SKS was an awakening experience. The visit was in response to a positive invitation from Vavuniya.

It was both expected and unexpected. Expected, due to the past performance of SKS members who pioneered masonry and carpentry training projects for women to build and repair the houses ravaged by the war, from 1989 onwards, the widows' black gram cultivation project etc.

During the period 1989-1999 SKS successfully implemented several welfare and rehabilitation projects in the North and East.

In the early period it received support from the Sri Lanka-Canadian Development Fund. Such services got disrupted due to a number of factors that prevented facilitation and dialogue with the Vavuniya people.

Backed by State obligation the recent Ceasefire has ensured achieve basic conducive conditions to bring about family and community life to some kind of normalcy.

Yet, in general, the problems encountered by the people of Vavuniya and especially the Internally Displaced Persons, are numerous and conditions are not in adherence with international human rights norms.

As we entered the Vavuniya town last November 2004, we witnessed the 'new look' Vavuniya was much alive in comparison with the scenario of 1989.

We drove up and down to identify people, places, shops, schools etc. A new 'facelift' to Gamini Maha Vidyalaya and Tamil Maha Vidyalaya in the town. Colour washed buildings, green gardens, groups of students in uniform and the pleasant mummer of the school population. At last, the innocent students seemed assured of a future.

Broken down black soot covered buildings with myriads of bullet marks (we remembered of our past visits) had disappeared. The town seemed "alive and kicking".

The ghost town of the past no longer existed. Well clad men, women, and their families moved about in the most normal manner (devoid of surreptitious glances) attending to their daily needs.

Several Commercial Banks, Cargils Food City, real estate business centres, private shops filled with TVs', computers and a range of electrical goods, agricultural equipment, tractors' harvesters and other utensils provided a new message of hope for the future.

Global communication centres, textiles and fashions well displayed and food outlets reflected the opportunities of movement and social interaction. It seemed as if the restriction of rights, suffocation and humiliation of the IDPs and the resident villagers were over.

Vavuniya also seemed saturated with NGO activity. Commencing with UNHCR, and other UN agencies, a large number of local NGOs such as Youth Development Centres, vocational training institutes, rehabilitation oriented NGOs, women's development organisations, HIV-AIDS centres and others displayed their nameboards very conspicuously.

No doubt State aid had given a new complexion and new dimension to education in these once abandoned district, at a minimum level.

However when subjected to intense scrutiny much remains to be done for the schools. We spent much time talking to school principals, teachers and students and teacher-monks. they seemed happy to communicate with the visitors.

Here is what they had to say -

1. Students' basic school needs (excluding uniforms and text books) were insufficient. There was a lack of reference books and reading material, for examination classes.

2. The poor economic conditions of parents who had lost their livelihoods, and had been displaced were non-active to the needs of children.

3. Thereby counselling was an imminent need for many school children also as well as teachers.

Requests were made to us for a workshop on counselling and the services of counsellors, to train the teachers for useful services in this field.

4. A small number of schools had received computers from the education offices and NGOs but faced a severe shortage of IT trained teachers; two or three teachers available provided their services on a rotation basis.

5. Scarcity of teachers for teaching of English as a subject. A request was made for a few competent teachers in English to visit Vavuniya and train teachers to improve their competency or create a pool of teachers of English to visit the less developed district schools in the island, on a regular basis.

6. Students and teachers seemed to be aware of the numerous awareness raising and training workshops held in Colombo schools to improve skills, and capacities of youth out in Colombo.

Why could not Vavuniya have such benefits? SKS promised to conduct workshops for school prefects and students on community leadership and capacity building if arrangements could be made in the future. Students obviously realized that such training could motivate groups and communities and promote community integration.

7. The desire for more social interaction was highlighted. It was considered to be an effective instrument of social reform and a means to community strengthening.

The motivating speeches made by the visitors urging the students to knowledge based planning and development had obviously generated student enthusiasm, by the time the Colombo visitors departed.


On our visit much time was spent at Madukanda, Atambagaskada, Mamaduwa, Kachchikodiyar, Nelumkulam, Irattakulam, Puliyankulam, Neddikulam, Parikkapali etc. The last mentioned village did not contain the original Wanni people, so we were told.

Families brought from the plantations sector under former state policy, had been settled on crown land allotments.

Going past Pullukulam we had a good view of the LTTE burial grounds. Adjacent to Echchamkulam the LTTE burial grounds glowed under a myriad electric tube lights and globe lights bringing into focus thousands of white tomb stones erected for the dead.

The imposing entrance designed in the form of a colourful kovil pandal attracted public interest. A group of LTTE members kept guard day and night. They conversed in Tamil with the S. L. army officers expressing a note of goodwill in response to the questions put to them by the officers.

Welfare goods in the form of clothing, cooking utensils, crockery etc were distributed by SKS to one of the most poverty stricken villages known as Parikkapali.

A well clad lass of 24 years from the village read out a list of names that identified the poorest of the poor, a list provided by the Grama Sewaka. She did so with poise and confidence.

We talked with women about their living conditions and needs, about war and peace." No! Never again the word 'war'" they said. "Tell the leaders we do not want war not any more." "We want to live, to cultivate and enjoy our children."

The names of the villagers were interesting. A few had unusual prefixes. They spoke Sinhalese with a Tamil mixed dialect. Names such as - Pula, Velathi, Bandaththige Piyadasa, Rajasinghe, Menikrala, Thunhamine, etc. One old woman, hagged and hunched pleaded for an extra family pack from those brought for distribution.

A child of nearly 2 years was suckling the old woman's skinny breasts. "Why" I asked her, "Whose child?" "Not mine, his 'Mo' has left him to me. She has gone away with a young Tamil man." 'Mo' referred to the mother of the child. She got an extra family pack plus financial contributions from the visitors for being a surrogate mother. Cohabitation was common in these villages.

Malayaparichchikulam village held a new history. It was also known as the junction where the head was chopped off. Here the burial ground had been set up on crown land, where many LTTE ambushes had taken place. This is the place visited by ghosts where an LTTE member had chopped off the head of a soldier.

The head had been placed at the junction, for the public to take notice. Members of the S.L. army and the Civil commissioner did their best to help the villagers interact with the visitors.

Vavuniya re-visited revealed new stories and warnings to a struggling nation. In retrospect and by comparison the face of the district showed a positive change for the better.

Yet it appear that the present development levels would be unable to satisfy better the needs and yearnings of the different communities. Conducive conditions for the basic enjoyment of human rights appears to be far away.

The large sums of aid promised and flowing from foreign countries is bewildering. Human resource management, co-ordinating programmes, accountability and transparency being the bedrock of good government cannot be achieved if government plans are chopped and changed according to biased political agenda.

Welfare and rehabilitation is not mere distribution of goods and building structures, it encompasses creative and imaginative roles and programmes positively contributing to uphold equity and opportunity, sustainability and improved administration of justice and law.

The Government must now be aware of the harm that the ethnic conflict has inflicted on the nation. If not properly tackled, the recent tsunami disaster too would wreak vengeance once again in the form of a break up of the country. Political behaviour with private party agenda should be denounced. With less talk and more work, the country must take pride of place.

The intensity of involvement of political parties, NGOs and civil society is challenging.

The entire civil society should be vigilant about all activities and even challenge any injustice perpetrated in the name of reconstruction and re-habilitation in the interest of the people of the country. Partisan politics, divisiveness and carving out political empires must come to an end. Vavuniya reborn is a small lesson by itself.


British government owes "Meaculpa Meaculpa Meamaximaculpa" to Eelam Tamils by Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the Latin phrase "Meaculpa Meaculpa Meamaximaculpa", this is the way the Catholics confess their sins at the beginning of a Holy Mass. If translated into English, it is said as "Through my fault, Through my fault, Through my most grievous fault. In Tamil, it is said as " En Pavamae, En Pavamae, En Perumpavamae.

Anyone who knows the political history of Ceylon (the Sinhalese changed it to Sri Lanka) from the time before Britain colonised the island, will accept that the present British government, and if not, at least any future government, needs to confess to the Tamil people by saying "Meaculpa Meaculpa Meamaximaculpa", for putting them into the situation in which they are in today.

Early history

The dawn of the 17th century saw the ships of the seafaring nations of Europe appear in the Indian Ocean. They were attracted to the island by the cinnamon trade of Ceylon. They found a prosperous Tamil Kingdom in the north and east of Ceylon, which had existed for more than five centuries. According to Professor G. C. Mendis, a Singhalese historian, "it survived the conquests of the Pandya, the Singhalese and the Vijayanagara rulers, and came to an end only in 1621 when it was conquered by the Portuguese. The same invasion compelled the Singhalese to move southwards leaving the ancient centres of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa as no man's land".1

In the western maritime part of Ceylon, which is now the Western and Southern Provinces, the Portuguese found a Singhalese Kingdom with a king having his seat of government at Jayawardenepura Kotte. This city had been founded by a Tamil Viceroy, named Alakeswara, of the Singhalese King who ruled from Gampola, to defend the kingdom against the Tamil King of the Jaffna Kingdom, whose navy had laid siege. Alakeswara later became the Singhalese King by the name of Alagakonara who ruled over the western maritime part, which came to be known as the Kotte Kingdom. It is to this city of Jayawardenepura Kotte that the Government of late President Jayawardene shifted the Capital and Parliament of Ceylon. The Portuguese also conquered the Kotte Kingdom. Portuguese rule, over the conquered territories of the Jaffna and Kotte Kingdoms was short lived. The Dutch conquered them from the Portuguese and established their rule until the close of the 18th century when the British ousted the Dutch. In 1802, by the Treaty of the Amiens, these territories were ceded to the British Crown.

In the mountainous central part of Ceylon the Singhalese had established another Kingdom. Its King was a Tamil prince from South India who had his seat of Government in Kandy. This Kandyan Kingdom was the last bastion of Singhalese independence. It had managed to beat off repeated attacks by the European powers, but the King was bedevilled by palace intrigues and plots. Finally in 1815, his Singhalese Chief Minister betrayed him to the British, who captured the King, occupied his Kingdom, and annexed it to the British Crown. The whole island of Ceylon thus became a British possession.2

For the entire duration of the Portuguese and Dutch occupation of the Jaffna and Kotte Kingdoms' territories, the occupation powers had maintained separate administrations in the respective territories, and the Tamil-Singhalese animosity had no chance to show up. The British continued that system in the beginning even with regard to the newly annexed Kandyan Kingdom territory.


In 1833, however, the British put an end to that system pleading administrative convenience. On the recommendations of a Royal Commission headed by a Captain Colebrook, the three conquered territories were unified into a single political entity of a Crown Colony with a centralised administration in Colombo under a British Governor. And this they did without asking the wishes of the people. Perhaps no conqueror in history ever did.

This was an epoch-making event. For the first time in its two thousand years of history, the whole of Ceylon was brought under the effective control and administration of centralised government. At no time in the past during that long history had any king, whether Tamil or Singhalese, ever exercised effective power over the entirety of the island although some of them had made bombastic claims to being universal Sovereign and Emperor of all Lanka (Ceylon). The British Governor responsible to none but his sovereign in England ruled the whole Colony from Colombo as one political entity.

It is this event which made the Tamils of the Northern Kingdom of Jaffna a minority in a unified Ceylon as against the combined numbers of the Singhalese in the territories of the Kotte and Kandyan Kingdoms. It had far-reaching consequences to the Tamils. What was administrative convenience to the British proved to be the death knell to Tamil independence and sovereignty. It enabled the British to exploit the Tamils and lure large numbers of them to leave their homeland and migrate into the Singhalese country. It helped to revitalise the centuries-old enmity of the Singhalese.

Britain owes the first "Meaculpa" to the Eelam Tamils for Captain Colebrook creating this situation.


Because Ceylon under the British was one country under a single administration for all intents and purposes, racial differences never affected the mobility of the population. As a result, towards the close of British rule the number of Tamils who had ventured out almost equalled that of those who remained in their traditional homeland areas. The Tamil country had no attractions for the Singhalese, nor did the British find it of any potential value for economic development. By dint of hard work and perseverance the Tamils who ventured out achieved a certain measures of economic advancement, and helped in the development and prosperity of the Singhalese areas where they happened to live, more particularly the capital city of Colombo.

Generally speaking, the Singhalese by nature are a most lovable and friendly people with an easy-going outlook in life. The two peoples mixed freely, and there existed between them a relationship of friendliness and mutual understanding so long as neither had any political power in the country. Perhaps a common feeling of being subject peoples under an alien rule helped to create an atmosphere for friendly coexistence.

Prior to 1947, under the British Donoughmore Constitution, the civil administration of internal affairs of the country was in the hands of a Board of ministers formed from the elected members. This Board of Ministers was headed by Mr.D.S. Senanayake, but it was subject to checks by three British Secretaries. With the imminence of India's independence in the air, Mr. D. S. Senanayake chose an opportune moment to communicate with Whitehall and raised the question of Ceylon's independence. Whitehall requested the Board of Ministers to submit a constitutional scheme, which would be examined and reported on by a Royal Commission to be appointed at the end of the War. The Board of Ministers, composed preponderantly of Singhalese Ministers, submitted a scheme modelled on the British system of Cabinet Government and insisted on its total acceptance without any commission having to examine it. It is widely believed that this draft scheme was the handiwork of Sir Ivor Jennings, the then Principal of the Ceylon University College.

When the War came to an end Whitehall, nevertheless, appointed a Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Viscount Soulbury with terms of reference to study the constitutional scheme of the Board of Ministers, hear evidence in Ceylon, if necessary, and to recommend proposals for the reform of the constitution. Although Mr. D. S. Senanayake and his ministerial colleagues officially and formally boycotted the Commission, privately they had long and protracted negotiations with the Commission in Colombo.

The Soulbury Commission visited during 1944-45 and held public sittings in the principal cities of the island. ALL the important minority communities made representations through their organisations. An ad-hoc body of Tamil leaders under the leadership of Mr. G. G, Ponnambalam made the representation before the Commission on behalf of the Ceylon Tamils. Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam presented the case as its sole spokesman. He enunciated the fifty-fifty formula formula for parliamentary representation, which represented the consensus that had been reached among all the Tamil leaders of the time. . The fifty-fifty formula simply meant that fifty percent of the seats in the legislature to be established under the reformed constitution should be allotted to the Singhalese by virtue of their being the majority people, while all the other minority communities put together should be given the remaining fifty- percent. . The Soulbury Commission paid a polite tribute to Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam's performance, but rejected the formula. It made its recommendations accepting the scheme of the Board of Ministers in its totality. Then what was the need for a Royal Commission? The most plausible answer Mr. V. Navaratnam (a former Tamil parliamentarian) gave in his book2 was that, Whitehall was aware of the existence of a Tamil-Singhalese conflict in Ceylon and the Board of Ministers' scheme was a completely Singhalese proposal, and that the British did not wish to appear as having not consulted the Tamils and other minorities. British's solution to the Ceylon's problem, which is an almost identical conflict in India, the Hindu-Muslim problem, was different from what they did in India. In India the British were in favour of the minority and separated Pakistan from India. In Ceylon the British acted in favour of the majority and gave the majority what they wanted, ignoring the future of the minorities.

Therefore, British are responsible for all the sufferings Tamils had to go through due to the legislative and non-legislative measures implemented by the successive Singhalese governments, set up in Ceylon under the Soulbury commission recommendations. Tamils lost their language rights, their homeland was colonised with Singhalese people against Tamil people's wishes, their right to education was curtailed, they were physically harmed, maimed and brutally killed and their properties destroyed during governments instigated ant-Tamil pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1983 etc and most of them have been forced by the Singhalese governments to live under a hostile army of occupation for almost 2 decades now.

Naturally the later generations began to question the wisdom of the political leaders of the time when the Soulbury commission was deliberating about the new constitution. After nearly 400 years of foreign occupation and rule, history presented the first opportunity to the Tamils to regain their lost freedom. In neighbouring India a minority (Muslims) similarly placed availed itself of a similar opportunity, and found protection by establishing a separate state. The youths felt that their leaders have failed to think of a similar solution for the Tamils in Ceylon. This thought led to the birth of Tamil militancy and the armed struggle for Thamil Eelam, a separate state for the Tamils in Ceylon. Their idea of a Tamil State called Thamil Eelam and a Singhalese State called Sri Lanka coexisting in the island of Ceylon, they knew is not going to be given in a plate by someone. This is what ended up in the current crisis we see in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Therefore, Britain owes the second "Meaculpa" to the Tamils for creating all this as a result of the Soulbury Commission recommendations..


The Tamil youths having resolved to be free, and formed the determination to revive the former independent sovereign statehood, which was lost to the European colonial powers, as the only means of preserving and perpetuating their distinct identity, are now conducting the Tamil War of independence under the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The Sinhalese government insists on calling this Tamil uprising as "terrorism". Some international observers see in it, "a battle". Others prefer to call it "a civil war". The Tamils prefer to call it a fight for freedom and to call the LTTE "freedom fighters".

It has become a fashion in the modern world for those who are in power, and therefore in enjoyment of the benefits of liberty, to advise others who are struggling and fighting, to settle differences by dialogue and negotiation. Because they are in power, it never occurs to them that they too at one time have had to carry on a fight for their own freedom. In this line, the LTTE has been subjected to tremendous pressure from international friends, to sit down to talks and settle by negotiations, a solution to their problem. Making use of such friends, President Chandrika's government started an international campaign to brand the "Freedom Fighters" as "International Terrorists". It succeeded in making the US government to accept and endorse this idea. The US, which is already facing a threat of International Terrorism from Muslim militants, who are hostile to the US, was the easy target for its conversion. The Sri Lankan government successfully persuaded the US government to include the LTTE in their list of International Terrorist Organisations. Britain was under pressure from the Sri Lankan government to do the same thing for a long time. Britain having done the damage to the Tamils twice earlier, by its own activities in Ceylon, resisted for sometimes. But, when the British government enacted its new "Terrorism Law 2000", under direct pressure from the Sri Lankan government and indirectly through the US government, British government committed the sin of betraying the Tamils once again, by proscribing the LTTE in Britain. This too, they did at a crucial time when a Norwegian facilitated, internationally supported peace effort was intensifying. This action by the British government has undermined the legitimacy the LTTE has gained among the international community to represent the Tamil people of Ceylon in any negotiations with the Sri Lankan government, as an equal partner. Britain has done this at a time when Sri Lankan government has to lift its own proscription on LTTE to facilitate the anticipated negotiations.

For this, Britain owes the "Meamaximaculpa" to the Tamils of Ceylon.

Far too many innocent lives have been slaughtered at the altar of Sinhalese ambition, for dominion over the Tamils or assimilation of Tamils to become Singhalese and Buddhists. Far too great is the flood of Tamil tears, shed by grieving mothers and widows and orphaned children. Far too numerous is the number of Tamils who have been driven out of their homes and hearths to roam and wander throughout the world from country to country in search of asylum to cling to life. Therefore, it is now idle to talk of federalism, devolution of power, autonomy, regional councils, district development councils, second chamber and such substitutes.

Seventy-five years of fruitless discussions and agreements about every one of these devices have vindicated in no uncertain manner the far-sighted wisdom of the Tamil leader of the colonial era, Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan's prophetic admonition, and "Never trust the Singhalese leaders". Therefore if Britain wants to sincerely say "Meaculpa Meaculpa Meamaximaculpa" to Tamils, and save itself from the fires of the hell, British government should be prepared to underwrite an agreement, reached between the LTTE and Sri Lankan government, for a Tamil Nation (Thamil Eelam) and a Singhalese Nation (Sri Lanka) to coexist in the island of Ceylon in peace and harmony, with mutual economic and political benefits.


1. Mendis, .G.C. 1944. Ceylon Under The British. The Colombo Apothecaries Co. Ltd., Colombo.

2. Navaratnam,. V. 1991. The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation. Kaanthalakam, 834, Anna Saalai, Madras 600 002. India.

Another Army informant killed by Ranil Wijayapala and Trincomalee correspondent

Daily News-)ct. 03: Suspected LTTE cadres beat to death yet another Army informant in the highly secured area near 22 Division Headquarters of the Sri Lanka Army, in Trincomalee yesterday afternoon, Defence sources said yesterday.

The informant a former member of LTTE and an informant attached to the Army was walking towards his residence in Oor's Hill Road, Trincomalee. Police investigation have revealed that a group of three had perpetrated the crime using a iron rod and swords and have escaped from the scene. The deformed body of the informant had been found by a passerby woman 20 minutes after he left the Army camp.

According to Police sources there had been information for the last few days that some suspected group has entered the area to assassinate some people connected to the Army Intelligence Unit.

SLMM Spokeswoman Agnes Bragadottir told the Daily News that the SLMM office in Trincomalee will also conduct investigation whether there is any LTTE connection to the murder. She said the Army and Police have accused the LTTE for the murder but they had no confirmation about it. International organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other such organisations accused the LTTE for killing Army informants but LTTE continuously denied those charges against them.


'PM, Government, IGP responsible' (Continued)

Hon. D. Jayawickrama (Commissioner) - Retired Judge of the Court of Appeal

S. M. J. Senaratne - Secretary to the Commission

Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, Colombo 7. November, 2003.

(Continued from yesterday)

* Only one Agency to handle an Informant

It is vitally important to do so, since those Informants who live outside Army precincts run great risks if seen constantly with Service/Police Officers.

* Need to avoid publicity in the media

Officers of Intelligence Organizations are trained to divulge classified information (including any matter connected with their work) only to those authorized to receive such information. Therefore, the release of information to the print and electronic media constitutes a serious breach of their work ethic. It is best that the Army Commander takes immediate steps to weed out such untrustworthy elements, after an appropriate probe.

It may be worthwhile to caution the Editors of print media and Heads of electronic media to have some control over such leakages through their organizations".

The Commissioner being not an expert or a knowledgeable person about security matters wishes that the above recommendation be adopted and implemented.

j) Any other recommendations considered relevant by the Commission on its findings in terms of this Warrant;

Investigation of all crimes and complaints is mandatory for the Police. Therefore politicians should be prevented from giving "orders" to Police Officers regarding investigations of crimes. Legal provisions should be made to make giving of such political orders to Police Officers unlawful and punishable. Legal provisions should also be made for the Police to operate according to a set of criteria and determine the level of investigation, priority etc. relating to a crime or a complaint without depending on the orders of politicians.

Politicians' function should be to make law and policy and to ensure that the mechanisms and resources are in place for the proper operation of such policies and to monitor and improve the system. The politicians should never try to operate it themselves.

As suggested by the Committee appointed to examine measures required to enhance the safety of informants of the Directorate of Police Stations which will give a strong hand not to succumb to undue influences from whatever quarter since there will be very little room for manoeuvres once evidence is recorded against suspects.

Chapter V


The saga of the Army's Athurugiriya Safe House began not with the raid itself, but nearly two months prior to that.

On 10th November 2001, the United National Party by its letter signed by its Chairman, Charitha Ratwatte and Vice-Chairman, Daya Pelpola, complained to the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. L.P. Balagalle, about the use of thermobaric explosives brought from the operational areas in the North to the Panaluwa Army Testing Range and that certain persons alleged to be attached to a Northern Tamil political party were being trained in its use by the Directorate of the Military intelligence in an attempt to use them on the meetings held by the United National Party leadership and the leader's campaign bus.

The United National party Chairman warned the Army Commander that they will hold him responsible in the event of any such unfortunate incident.

Charitha Ratwatte in his evidence stated that the information in respect of the contents of the above letter was divulged by late Gamini Athukorale, deputy Leader of the United National Party. Unfortunately as dead men cannot speak the Commission had no way of verifying the truth of this statement.

The Army Commander in reply to the above letter of the Chairman of the United National Party on the same day assured that there is no substance in the information set out in the above letter. Charitha Ratwatte stated that he was satisfied with the reply of the Army Commander. if it was so, the matter should have ended then and there, but it did not.

After the election results of 5th December 2001, the United National Front came into power and within a month the Athurugiriya safe House was raided by ASP Kulasiri Udugampola from the Kandy Kennels Division under the guise of looking for suspects in the Udathalawinna murder case causing the greatest damage to LRRP operations of the Army which were extremely successful in countering and arresting terrorism.

ASP Udugampola in his evidence admitted that one of the reasons for the raid on the Athurugiriya Safe House was a complaint made by Charitha Ratwatte, the then Chairman of the United National Party, to the Army Commander which appeared in the media.

It is very unfortunate that the new Government could not prevent or control the actions of ASP Udugampola, although the then Chairman of the United National Party was satisfied with the assurance given by the Army Commander before the Election. ASP Kulasiri Udugampola proceeded with his illegal raid and investigations disregarding the orders of his own Inspector General of Police and senior Police Officers and even the advice of the Hon. Attorney General.

This failed attempt was reminiscent of the arrest of Major General Richard Udugama the then Army Commander just after the 1965 General Election on a charge of conspiring to overthrow the then government.

It seems that some disgruntled officers in the Directorate of Military Intelligence backed by some high ranking officers who were behind the United National Front election campaign have instigated this raid. In Sri Lanka during a general election, which ultimately leads to a change of government, the involvement of retired Army, Police and other service officers in campaigning for rival parties is now common place.

These persons after the elections mount pressure on the newly elected leadership of the winning party to settle scores with their former colleagues or superiors over past rivalries while they were in service. This was all too common as stated in his evidence by veteran journalist, Iqbal Athas. The United Front Government's continued silence, in the wake of the obvious embarrassment, made matters worse in the case of the Athurugiriya Safe House fiasco.

Even the belated action of the Minister of Defence in refusing to issue Detention Orders on the arrested Army personnel could not rectify the damage already caused to the Army's successful covert operations. As reported in "The Sunday Times" of 27th January 2002, the Hon. Minister of Defence himself has observed that the Police raid on the Army's Safe House at Athurugiriya was ill conceived and harsh treatment meted out to the officers and men was very bad.

In view of the facts stated above, it is time that the Government takes stock and realizes that in order to establish an Intelligence Service that will serve as the corner stone towards integrity and stability for the security of this nation political interference should be prevented.

In fact the Minister of Interior, John Amaratunga himself accepted the fact that it is improper and unethical for a Minister to interfere in police investigations. But Amaratunga himself has violated this principle and sent his own private Secretary to assist ASP Udugampola in respect of the raid on the Safe House and to give wide publicity to this raid.

If the existing situation in the Security Forces and the Police are allowed to deteriorate, particularly due to no action of any sort being taken by the Government, the country's security establishment will be in grave danger. Due to this situation it would create more chaos in an already confused situation where there is very little cohesive command and control from the apex.

It is the duty of the Government to prevent ill conceived Police actions as it happened in the raid on the Safe House at Athurugiriya. The Government should take remedial action and punish those responsible for the great betrayal to inspire confidence in the Army and the public at large. It is an urgent necessity to de-politicize the Army and the Police and place them in the hands of capable young men which would infuse professionalism and prepare the men for battle whenever the government wants one. To neglect this aspect would be suicidal to the security and safety of this nation.

(D. Jayawickrama) Commissioner



PM, Government, IGP responsible

Presidential Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the disclosure of the existence of and the raid on the Safe House operated by the Sri Lanka Army at Athurugiriya.

Findings and conclusion only

Hon. D. Jayawickrama (Commissioner) Retired Judge of the Court of Appeal

S. M. J. Senaratne, Secretary to the Commission

Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, Colombo 7. November, 2003. (Continued from yesterday)

The Commission wishes to adopt the above findings as part of this Report. The Committee consisted of Mr. Austin Fernando, Secretary/Defence as Chairman of the Committee, and Lt. Gen L. P. Balagalle, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Mr. Meril Gunarathne, Defence advisor as the other members. Their report has been submitted in May, 2003 which was tendered in evidence before this Commission marked as P60.

The killing of some of the senior commanders of the LTTE by the Army LRRP groups has led to a declaration of a unilateral ceasefire and signing of the MoU with the United National Front which has helped the United National Front in winning the election.

Within a few weeks after the United National Front coming into power the raid on this Safe House at Athurugiriya was conducted by ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, which helped the LTTE acquiring knowledge of the personnel who were involved in LRRP operations.

The evidence led before this Commission clearly establishes the fact that the Army Unit in the Athurugiriya Safe House, apart from other units under the Commandos and Special Forces, were in the process of eliminating some of the LTTE leadership. Unfortunately ASP Kulasiri Udugampola backed up with political patronage stopped these covert operations and betrayed this gallant unit and allowed the LTTE to go on a killing spree of the Army operatives and informants who were involved in covert operations.

It was a total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation. It also has hindered the peace process by hardening the attitude of the people of the South towards the LTTE. Whatever the intentions were of the Government in aiding ASP Udugampola in this raid and the action he has taken thereafter it has backfired against the Government.

Thus it has neutralized the military strategy of the Armed Forces. The LTTE were able to track down and kill informants and civilians who have been helping in covert operations run by the DMI from the Safe House at Athurugiriya.

Evidence led before this Commission clearly establishes this fact. According to the LTTE transmissions monitored by the Army, the LRRP operations were so successful that the LTTE's confidence in having total control and untrammeled manoeuvrability in their own areas of control were shattered. ASP Kulasiri Udugampola who was not amenable to his own IGP and DIGs by raiding this Safe House has assisted and helped greatly the LTTE to decimate the informants, civilians, soldiers and operatives who were helping the LRRP operations of the DMI. D. B. S. Jeyaraj in his column "Cross Currents" in "The Sunday Leader" dated 11th August, 2002 (P120C), has this to say about this raid:

"It was the Athurugiriya incident that exposed the LRRP secret to the world at large. Media reports reveal that persons connected with the LRRP are being systematically hunted down by the Tigers."

Thus the country's national security interests were compromised by this raid and has assisted in neutralizing the military strategy of the Army in combating terrorism in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

h) Have the Defence authorities and the Police Department taken appropriate disciplinary action under the Police ordinance or other existing laws of the country against any officer/officers responsible for any illegal acts or violation of any Police Departmental Orders/Regulations and if so, is it considered sufficient in the circumstances;

No disciplinary action has been taken against any officer/officers responsible for any illegal acts or violations of any Orders or Regulations up to the time of the conclusion of the proceedings of this Commission.

Two Courts of Inquiry have been convened by the Army Commander and their findings have been tendered to the Commander and the Commander himself has made his own recommendations for disciplinary action against some officers. But so far no disciplinary action has been taken on the basis of these recommendations. The Army Commander stated before this Commission that he is awaiting the recommendations of this Commission to take disciplinary action against the officers mentioned in the two reports submitted to him by the two Courts of Inquiry.

As regards ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, even the Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General has directed the Inspector General of Police to take disciplinary action against him. The Inspector General of Police has only called for ASP Udugampola's explanation and ASP Udugampola has tendered his explanation to him. So far no disciplinary action has been taken against ASP Udugampola or other Police Officers who participated in the raid.

i) Recommendations that can be made to prevent interference by any officials or authorities in the military strategies of the Armed Forces duly operated on the orders of Commanders of the Armed Forces;

The Commission wishes to recommend as the first step to depoliticize the Army and the Police and to place these Forces in the hands of capable men. The Military strategies of the Armed Forces be planned and conducted only on the orders of the Commanders of the Armed Forces and restricted to be based on a "need to know basis".

The military strategies should be known only to the Commander-in-Chief, the Commander of the Army and the other Commanders under whom the LRRP groups and other officers who are directly involved in such military strategies. Only the persons who are directly involved should know and no others.

The Commission is of the view that the present system of covert operations has worked well and that is the reason why all these remained a secret until the raid on the Safe House. More punitive measures are needed to punish people who abuse the system. There should be some checks and balances to safeguard officers who are directly involved in such strategies. No civilians including Ministers, Secretaries to Ministries should know about the personnel involved and places from which they operate.

No secrets regarding military strategies should be shared with the bureaucracy as most of them are political appointees. Every form of protection should be given to the Intelligence operatives so that there is no outside interference. Specific regulations should be framed for the purpose of obtaining finances and weapons, storing of weapons to be used whenever they are required which would prevent frequent transportation and movement of weapons.

These regulations should be framed in such a manner that traces of operations of the personnel involved in such military strategies would not be known to others who are not involved in such strategies.

The Commission wishes to record as part of this Report the safeguards to protect informants proposed by the Committee appointed to examine measures required to enhance the safety of informants of the Directorate of Military Intelligence:

"Living in Army Camps

* All will be confined to Army Camps; and as far away as possible from the native areas of Informers as possible. Even in Colombo they will be confined to Camps.

Visiting their Homes

* They will be permitted to visit "homes" only for urgent or unavoidable reasons such as a bereavement or childbirth etc.

In the case of such visits, armed escorts will protect them till they return to their camps.

Families to see the Informers

* Opportunities will be given for their families to visit them in camps.

* Such arrangements will be made without Military officers visiting their homes.

Training in side-arms

* They will be trained in firing and other useful tactics, self defence etc., in Commando Complexes in Ganemulla and Kudaoya and issued side-arms. The use of side-arms will be monitored to prevent any misuse that will imminently become a threat to the community.

Limited Intelligence Operations

* They will never be employed for Intelligence Operations alone, but with Military officers in vehicles and only for limited purposes such as "spotting". Tinted vehicles will carry them to withhold identity.

Classes for Informers to instill an awareness

* Instruction classes will be held by D/MI to ensure their Personal Safety - viz: Avoidance of careless and loose talk; routing movements, safe meeting places; also the nature of the current threat to them, and to be always on the alert when they move; action to be pursued when any thereat is observed or "felt" etc.

Instructions to Handlers of Informers

* Special instructions will be given to lesser ranks against visits to homes of Informants, to ensure that identities are not exposed or suspicions are aroused by such actions. Safe meeting places that could be given security cover have to be established.

Only one Agency to run an Informant

* Any Informer should be run by only one agency. For instance, Ragupathy and Vardan who were killed were also spies of the Police. An Informant run by the DMI or DII should be left alone by Police. The Defence Advisor (MoD) will ensure correct guidance in this respect.

Allocation of Lands for Informants

* Moves to identify and allocate lands for families of Informers to live in reasonably close proximity to Camps where the latter are billeted, are under consideration on an urgent basis. The Army Commander is presently pursuing action in this respect. Such informant communities or colonies will be given security cover by the Intelligence Authorities in co-operation with the Army/Police.

Foreign employment

Opportunities to afford Foreign Employment to Informers whose lives are acutely imperilled, are under consideration; e. g. as Welfare Officers in the Middle East, as required by the Minister of Labour and Employment. The Army Commander/Defence Advisor will take appropriate action in this regard.

For Civilian Informers

Selective Enlistment as Soldiers

Since all such Informers cannot be mobilized and called upon to live in Army Camps, a selected number will be considered for enlistment as soldiers based on eligibility, and confined to Camps. They will be permitted to visit homes only in unavoidable circumstances, and under Armed Escort; arrangements will also be made for their safety/security.

* Those not enlisted as Soldiers - will be necessary to relocate them immediately in Safe Houses OUTSIDE areas where they presently reside. Minimal contact with them will make it difficult for LTTE to spot them.

* Training in side-arms

They will be trained in Commando Complexes in Ganemulla and Kudaoya and issued side-arms, as for Soldiers.

* Limited Int. Ops.

They will never be employed for Intelligence Operations alone, but with Military Officers in vehicles and only for limited purposes such as "spotting", as proposed for Soldier Informers.

* Classes for Informers to instill an awareness

Instruction classes will be held by D/MI to ensure their personal Safety - viz: Avoidance of careless and loose talk; routine movements, safe meeting places; also the nature of the current threat to them; and to be always on the alert when they move.

* Instructions to Handlers of Informants

Special instructions will be given to lesser ranks against visits to homes of informants. This is mostly required for this category as they mingle with other civilians.

(To be continued)


Court of Inquiry confirms Commission probe

The Daily News in its issue of Saturday December 20, 2003 pointed out the similarities of the findings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Aturugiriya Raid and that of the Army's Inquiry into the same incident. Defence Columnist Iqbal Athas of the Sunday Times collaborated our story yesterday in an article under the above title. It said:

The UNF wants to call for a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Army's Safe House at Athurugiriya and the Army's own Court of Inquiry that preceded it.

This is the Front's response to the Commission's findings being made public by the President's Office two weeks ago. The Commission has made scathing indictments against ASP Kulasiri Udugampola and a group of Army officers over the raid which it says was a "total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation." The highest ranking Army officer on whom indictments have been made is Maj. Gen. Ivan Dassanayake.

Among other matters, the UNF wants the Select Committee to ascertain whether the recommendations made by the Court of Inquiry or the Commission "infringe and or interfere with the rights and privileges of Parliament and or any of its members." Another is to ascertain whether any findings or recommendations relate to "any matter under adjudication by any Court of Law."

Even the Court of Inquiry, which was held before the Presidential Commission had concluded that the Army's Safe House was engaged in legitimate counter terrorist activity. This finding also put paid to widespread claims by sections of the media that the Safe House was illegal and did not engage in attacking Tiger guerrilla targets in the East. In their opinion/recommendations, The Sunday Times learns, the Court of Inquiry declared:

"The DMI (Directorate of Military Intelligence) has been carrying out covert offensive operations from beginning of 2001 in the Eastern Province. For these operations, weapons, explosives and other military equipment have been drawn with proper authority adopting the laid down military procedure."

Dealing with "OTHER MATTERS," the Court of Inquiry has said that:

"A paper article appeared in "Lankadeepa" newspaper on 10th Nov. 2001 of an alleged plan to assassinate a rival politician of the then Government using a Thermobaric weapon. The said article was published the day after the test firing of this particular weapon at the Panaluwa Range. During the inquiry, it transpired that a group of civilians had been present with a Warrant Officer of the Sri Lanka Army Service Corps (SLASC) at the pistol firing range adjacent to the main range when the Thermobaric weapon was tested.

"The DMI stated another incident where an unauthorised person had visited the safe house on 01 January 2002 at Athurugiriya and also that some persons had been inquiring the address of its location about two weeks prior to the raid by the Police. This incident was confirmed by Captain Nilam in his statement that a MI (Military Intelligence) person whose name unknown to him had visited on 01st Dec. 2001.

"The court recommends both the above incidents be investigated for breach of security and leakage of secret information.

"The court perused the paper article published highlighting an alleged assassination plan of a VVIP using Thermobaric weapons. The Court after investigating into this aspect, finds that the movement of weapons and the men had been carried out only for operational purposes to Batticaloa area with the authority and concurrence of the DMI (Director, Military Intelligence). The day to day movement of the particular weapons and men were identified from the date weapons were acquired by the MI team before arriving at the above conclusion."

The Court of Inquiry was appointed on a directive from then Defence Minister, Tilak Marapana. The Army Commander is learnt to have formulated the composition of the Committee in consultation with then Defence Secretary, Austin Fernando. It comprised Maj. Gen. Ivan Dassanayake, Brigadier M.R.W. de Zoysa, Col. K.A.N.S.K.A. Dharmaratne and Col. J. Pathiratne.

A copy of the Court of Inquiry report had been sent to Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe on July 2, last year. Later, on his instructions then Defence Secretary Mr. Fernando wrote on July 19 informing the Army Commander that the Premier had wanted him to take action on some aspects brought out in the Court of Inquiry report. These related to several minor lapses. This led to the appointment of another Court of Inquiry. The latter confirmed the involvement of some Army officers in the leakage of information.

Although the Commission report said only 23 operatives and informants had died since news about the Safe House became public, official military records place the figure at over 44 persons. There were also 31 attempted killings and 17 abductions.

Contrary to claims by some UNF politicians that the killings of operatives and informants was not related to the Safe House fiasco, investigations by The Sunday Times revealed it indeed was linked to it.

The first informant to be killed by Tiger guerrillas soon after news of the Police raid on the Safe House spread was V. Vidyarthan. He was abducted by guerrilla intelligence cadres on January 16 and was killed four days later. He was one of the informants assisting Captain Nilam who was heading the LRRP team. It was revealed that during four days of detention. Vidyarthan had been tortured during debriefing sessions. Consequently the guerrillas had obtained information including identities of civilians who were helping the LRRP team operating in guerrilla dominated areas in the East. That was how the guerrillas began their killing spree.


The 'safe house' controversy by Frederica Jansz

The mystery surrounding the army unit operating from a house at millennium city in Athurugiriya has deepened after revelations that Lohan Ratwatte has connections with a key member of the group and was in and out of the house.

The man in charge of the Tamil men found working out of this house with a unit of the Military Intelligence Directorate is a former PLOTE member by the name of Mohan alias Pillai - better known as 'PLOTE Mohan.'

A para military member working with the Sri Lanka Army has confirmed to The Sunday Leader that 'PLOTE Mohan' and Lohan Ratwatte have shared a close friendship for a considerable period of time.

Lohan Ratwatte frequently visited the house at Athurugiriya after it was rented on December 7, last year, in the company of Mohan. The visits were all done with the full knowledge of Captain Shahul Hameed Nilam who was in charge of the unit. The house was rented from Captain Nilam's wife, violating procedure laid down by the army.

Working on a tip-off

It was due to Lohan Ratwatte's frequent visits to the safe house and the close connection to Mohan that Superintendent of Police Kulasiri Udugampola, was tipped off that one of the Ratwatte sons could be hiding there. When SP Udugampola raided the house in search of the Ratwatte brothers who were evading arrest, he came across a cache of weapons including highly destructive thermobaric flame throwers.

The whole incident would have passed off without much notice if not for the abortive cover up by the Army Commander Lt. General Lionel Balagalle. General Balagalle claimed that this safe house was used by the top secret long range recce patrol unit, and those arrested were members of this unit who have been credited with successful assassinations of LTTE leaders in the north and east.

The army commander, calling them 'National Heroes,' complained that the police had exposed the identity of this unit. This false story was also 'sold' to the newly appointed Defence Minister Thilak Marapona, who ordered an end to the police investigation. This however was anything but the truth.

Mohan, a close friend of Lohan Ratwatte, was originally a member of PLOTE. He has been named by the Human Rights Commission as one of the people responsible for massacre of civilians in Vandaramulla. After leaving PLOTE in the early 1990s, Mohan and some other Tamil cadres belonging to the PLOTE, began free-lancing for the army's military intelligence unit. Mohan began carrying out various contract jobs in coordination with the army. The group of former rebels under 'PLOTE Mohan's' command has always operated out of Batticaloa town.

Turning a blind eye on lavish lifestyles

Mohan was enlisted as a private in the army later that year and he and his group were paid cash rewards by the SLA. The amount of money paid depended on the importance of the LTTE member assassinated. In the mid 1990s, the Mohan group began to earn a reputation for being involved in extorting and blackmailing traders in Batticaloa. Members of this group also began to lead lavish lifestyles that superseded the money they were paid by the army. The army, for reasons best known to themselves, decided to turn a blind eye on these activities by the Mohan group.

Some members of Tamil group's group told The Sunday Leader that they had met both Mohan and Lohan Ratwatte together. They said there were stories that Lohan Ratwatte and Mohan were involved in a protection racket and that the house in Athurugiriya was one such of the locations the protection racket was been operated.

One of the key players in the cover up of the Athurugiriya incident is Brigadier Kapila Hendawitharane, director of the military intelligence directorate of the army. Brigadier Hendawitharane was first introduced to Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte by Lt. Col. M. D. Fernando. Fernando was sacked from the army in the 1970s by former president J. R. Jayewardene for allegedly attempting to do politics in the army. He was reinstated by the PA government in 1995. He wielded immense influence with General Ratwatte.

Brigadier Hendawitharane's close relationship to Lt. Col. Fernando helped matters. The brigadier is married to a niece of Colonel Fernando. Brigadier Hendawitharane was fully aware of what was going on at the house at Athurugiriya. The director, MI, has known Mohan for a period of over ten years and is aware that Mohan's group was never involved in the operations carried out by the long range recce patrol units of the special forces.

Brigadier H. K. G. Hendawitharane, on January 4, 2002, (two days after the police raid at Athurugiriya), wrote to the Investigating Officer of the Army, Gen. Ivan Dassanayake, stating that, "The arms, ammunition and other equipment issued to captain S. H. M. Nilam have been officially authorized by the director operations and the director military intelligence for the purpose of using them in covert operations in the uncleared areas of Batticaloa."

In the letter, the head of military intelligence further claims that captain Nilam has already returned part of the weapons, and was in the process of handing over the balance at the time of his arrest by the police on January 2, 2002. For added measure, he states that the commander of the army is of the opinion that exposing this officer and soldiers and their activities to the media would lead to a threat to their lives and will discourage army personnel from undertaking such operations in the future.

Hendawitharane asserts that this letter is being submitted on the directions of the commander of the army, in order to assist the investigating officers in the ongoing investigations. What is interesting in this letter is the information that has not been divulged to General Dassanayake. For instance, when were the weapons released to Captain Nilam? When were they taken to Batticaloa? When were they brought back to Colombo and when was the first batch of weapons handed back to the army from the alleged safe house? Common sense would dictate that Captain Nilam would have handed back the thermobaric launcher immediately, knowing fully well the strict controls imposed by the army on its use based on worries that it would fall into the hands of the LTTE.

Obviously, the letter was intended to block any serious investigation by General Ivan Dassanayake into the activities of the Athurugiriya unit. This tantamounts to interfering with the investigation and influencing the investigating officer even before he had begun his inquiry. (See box for letter).

The blatant lies and official pressure exerted on General Dassanayake not to proceed with any investigation raises the question as to what the army commander and the military intelligence chief are trying to hide. What needs to be ascertained is what exactly these men were doing at the Athurugiriya house fully armed with thermobaric and other arsenal sufficient to cause massive destruction.

The Sunday Leader has found that this was the first time four thermobaric weapons have been issued to members of the army outside an operational area. Not only was it issued to Captain Shahul Hameed Nilam's group to be stored at the house at Athurugiriya, one weapon had been fired at the army camp at Panaluwa, where three former LTTE members now working for the military intelligence were trained by the army to fire the weapon.

Thermobaric weapons target

The men had been told their target would be a large motorcade including a bus. However senior military officers in Batticaloa point out that the LTTE in the east travel solely by motorbike and double cabs. They do not travel in motor. March 4th, 2002

Courtesy : Sunday Leader(SLK)

Order reserved in Safe House case by S.S.Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court yesterday (17) reserved order on the fundamental rights violation petitions filed by Captain S.H.M.Nilam, the leader of the 'under cover' operation known as "Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols" in the Eastern Province and others, against the police raid on its 'safe house' at Millennium Park, Athurugiriya.

The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Shiranee A. Bandaranayake and P. Edussuriya.

The Kandy Police Superintendent K. Udugampola, Sub Inspector R.A.C. Dharmaratne, Kandy HQI M.A.E.Mahendra, SSP Ashoka Ratnaweera, Katugastota Police OIC M.M.M.B.J. Mohottigedera, the IGP and the Attorney General were cited as respondents.

Captain Nilam in his petition inter alia stated that for the purpose of ensuring secrecy, the Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Army took on rent from his wife a home at Millennium Park which became and was used as the Headquarters of the said team.

He complained that a party of armed and uniformed police officers under the command of Superintendent of Police Udugampola surrounded the 'safe house' and arrested and detained him and other members of the team.

S.L.Gunasekera with Manohara de Silva and Dishan Jayasooriya appeared for the petitioner. President's Counsel Shibly Aziz with Faizer Musthapha and Rohan Deshapriya appeared for Udugampola. Kolitha Dharmawardena appeared for SI Dharmaratne and HQI Mahendra. Senior State Counsel Shavindra Fernando with State Counsel Vivek Siriwardena de Silva appeared for the IGP and the Attorney General.

Upul Jayasuriya appeared for SSP Asoka Ratnaweera and Katugastota OIC Mohottigedera.

Tigers attack SLA ambush group

A Sri Lanka army soldier was killed and two were wounded in a counter ambush by the Liberation Tigers at Miyankulam junction on the Batticaloa-Colombo highway Saturday night around 11 p.m. military sources in the eastern town said. The soldiers were in an ambush party that had set out from the Miyankulam SLA camp to interdict a crossing point used by the Liberation Tigers. The camp is one of the eight military detachments that guard A 16 – the SLA’s Main Supply Route to the district.

The wounded soldiers were taken to the Polannaruwa hospital.

The A16 runs through a large zone in the northern part of the district which is controlled by the Liberation Tigers.

Strapped for manpower, the SLA finds it increasingly difficult to interdict LTTE movements across the highway.


SLA soldier killed in ambush

A soldier was killed when the Liberation Tigers ambushed a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) patrol in the Pulmoddai area, about 45 km. north of Trincomalee town around 7.15 p.m. yesterday, sources said.

It is not known whether any other soldiers in the patrol were wounded.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka Army has cordoned off Koddaimunai and Thaandavanveli area of Batticaloa and conducting a search operation following a police post at Loyds avenue was fired at by a LTTE member this morning around 10.15 a.m. sources said.

Police sources said the youth has escaped.

The troops have stopped all transport on the Trincomalee road and Loyds Avenue sources said.

Unconfirmed reports said a youth was killed when the Police retaliated.


Profile of a shadow war veteran -(TamilNet Version)

The veteran intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Nizam Muthaliff, was a central figure in the atrocity-punctuated paramilitary aspects of the counter-insurgency campaign against the LTTE in the early nineties then had a critical role in the deep penetration attacks on LTTE commanders and officials, the Tamil Guardian reported Wednesday.

Extracts of the feature article published in the English language broadsheet’s latest edition follow:

Posthumously promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Nizam Muthaliff, who was shot dead in Colombo on Tuesday, is described as a key member of the Sri Lankan military intelligence’s (MI) covert operations against the Liberation Tigers.

Rising through the MI ranks, Lt. Col. Muthaliff was first a central figure in the atrocity-punctuated paramilitary aspects of the counter-insurgency campaign against the LTTE in the early nineties and then had a critical role in the deep penetration attacks on LTTE commanders and officials, press reports said Wednesday.

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Wednesday acknowledged Lt. Col. Muthaliff as commander of 1st Battalion, Sri Lanka Army Military Intelligence Corps and hailed his service. Three hundred SLA soldiers escorted his casket to Dehiwela Muslim burial grounds where his funeral was held with full military honours.

“His selfless dedication for defence of his motherland until last moment of his life would no doubt go in the history [sic] as a true Son of the Soil who safeguarded territorial integrity of the country,” an SLA statement said.

Born in Trincomalee, Muthaliff began his military career as an officer in the infantry in 1986. He served four years in the Gemunu Watch regiment before being later assigned to the intelligence unit “due to special skills shown by him in that field,” the Daily Mirror reported.

According to Sri Lankan press reports, Muthaliff was promoted to Lieutenant in 1989, to Captain in June 1992 and to Major in June 1995. He was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

During his career, Muthaliff received special training in intelligence gathering and special operations at military academies and training centres in several countries including the United States, Pakistan, and Malaysia, the Daily Mirror said.

Much of Muthaliff’s early intelligence career was in organising and supervising Tamil paramilitary group’s activities in Sri Lanka’s counterinsurgency campaign against the LTTE.

Condemning the human rights abuses that punctuated the Army’s paramilitary-led campaign, Amnesty International protested that “such operations have often lead to human rights violations, including illegal arrest, prolonged detention and torture, "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.”

Muthaliff was a central figure in the campaign. He was posted in Vavuniya in the early nineties, during a phase of the conflict which came to be dubbed ‘Eelam War 2.’ The SLA garrison town became a hub for the activities of the paramilitary groups PLOTE, EPRLF and TELO.

Hundreds of people disappeared after being taken into custody by the paramilitaries, who, according to Amnesty International, operated dozens of camps in the town and its environs.

In particular, Muthaliff’s Subversive Unit (CSU) was implicated in the disappearances of large numbers of detainees in Cheddikulam.

The SLA told Amnesty that the paramilitary groups were helping the military in "identifying LTTE infiltrators" and "keeping the security forces informed" and that they did not come under its control.

But many people were handed over to the paramilitaries after being arrested by Sri Lankan security forces personnel.

In a related development, the practice of midnight abduction and murder or disappearance by the ‘white van’ death squads spread rapidly, despite repeated protests by local and international human rights groups calling for official supervision and control of paramilitaries’ activities.

Muthaliff gained notoriety in the “information extraction” process administered by the paramilitaries. He worked closely with the PLOTE’s military commander, Manickathasan, under whom that group became infamous for its brutality (Manickathasan was killed, along with several others, in 1999 in a explosion which destroyed the PLOTE headquarters in Vavuniya – the incongruously named ‘Lucky House’).

Muthaliff was also closely associated with another feared paramilitary leader, ‘PLOTE Mohan,’ who was shot dead at a safe house in Colombo last year.

Subsequently Muthaliff became an important member part of a new MI strategy: the targeted killings of LTTE leaders and supporters.

As such, he played a key role in deep penetration attacks for which a dedicated unit – the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) – was raised. Specially trained commandos of the regular Army were joined with Tamil paramilitary pathfinders and informants to stage ambushes and attacks in LTTE controlled areas.

LRRP units are credited with important successes in the SLA Operations Jayasikurui, Vanni Wickrema, Ranagosa and Watershed.

Under Muthaliff’s leadership, the LRRP killed one of the LTTE’s top officers, Colonel Shankar (on September 6, 2001) and a senior Sea Tiger commander Lt. Col. Kangai Amaran (on June 29, 2001).

On May 16, 2001, the LTTE’s Political Wing leader, Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan narrowly escaped a claymore mine attack on his convoy whilst on his way to a meeting with Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim.

Amongst other senior officials to narrowly escape being killed were Mr. S. Karikalan, the LTTE’s then political wing leader for Batticaloa and later, Colonel Karuna, the LTTE’s top commander for Batticaloa-Amparai, whose defection to the SLA in 2004 following his failed rebellion against the LTTE ironically resulted in Muthaliff ending up working with him against his former comrades.

The SLA’s deep penetration conducted numerous operations into LTTE-controlled territory. A number of civilians who stumbled upon LRRP units were also murdered.

Some analysts link Muthaliff’s hostility to the UNF government, doubtless reflecting sentiments within the wider deep penetration operations community, to the exposure of the LRRP’s headquarters in Millennium City, Athurugiriya in January 2002.

That raid was subsequent to police investigations into allegations in late 2001 that hardline elements of the Sri Lanka military were planning to assassinate the pro-peace UNF’s leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, during his election campaign.

The exposure of the Athurugiriya safe house, from which weapons, claymore mines and LTTE uniforms were recovered by Police officers, triggered a political furore which endured, particularly after a number of the Tamil informants and pathfinders linked to the LRRP were subsequently killed by suspected LTTE attackers.

Muthaliff was deputy commander of the LRRP, which is led by Captain Shahul Hameed Nilam.

Political analysts see Muthaliff’s killing as the latest incident in the ongoing shadow war between Army-backed paramilitaries and the LTTE, a cycle of violence which escalated after April 2004, when loyalists of the renegade LTTE commander Karuna bolstered the ranks of the paramilitary units.

However, the successful counterattacks blamed in the same period on the LTTE suggests the influx of new members has also enabled the LTTE’s infiltration of the Sri Lankan military’s paramilitary network, they say.