Wednesday, January 25, 2006

US slams Tigers, asks Colombo to disarm paramilitaries

The US today flayed Tamil Tiger rebels and asked the Sri Lankan Government to disarm paramilitary groups operating in the northeast to salvage the island's troubled peaceprocess.

"My visit together with (Norwegian peace envoy) Erik Solheim's is focused on getting diplomatic efforts to reinforce the ceasefire agreement," Burns told reporters here. He said this morning's bomb attack was 'reprehensible' and blamed the rebels for the deaths.

"The major part of the burden of peace rests with the LTTE....The Tamil people have genuine grievances and these should be resolved through dialogue not violence," Burns said. "We don't have direct contact with the LTTE, so we have to judge them by their actions. The actions of the last several weeks would indicate that this is an organization bent on provoking violence, as it commits violence, as it kills innocent people. "And so, if we see that kind of terrorism anywhere in the world I think all of us, as democratic citizens, need to reject it and need to call upon those who perpetrate it to stand down. So that's what the United States is saying today," Burns said.

Peace envoy Solheim told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Sri Lanka that the island is at cross roads. "My expectation is to find some ways for the parties to discuss how to reduce the number of (ceasefire) violations," he said. Burns also asked the government to take action against paramilitary groups operating in the northeast.

"There have been violence against Tamil civilians' activities of paramilitary groups have to be halted, investigated, people found responsible should be dealt with within the justice system. The government leaders I spoke to also believed that it (paramilitary groups) should be stopped," Burns said. His comments echoed warnings by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) who recently faulted the Colombo government for not acting against anti-Tiger paramilitary units targeting the LTTE.

"The LTTE claims that 'the People' are behind the attacks on the military," the SLMM said in a statement. "SLMM finds this explanation unacceptable. It is safe to say that LTTE involvement cannot be ruled out and we find the LTTE's indifference to these attacks worrying." Meanwhile, the Tiger's London-based peace negotiator Anton Balasingham, flew to Kilinochchi on a Sri Lankan air force helicopter after arriving in the island this morning. Balasingham is to aid rebel chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran during talks with Solheim on Wednesday.

Some 149 people, including security personnel, have died since the fresh upsurge in violence began in December.

The Tamil Tigers, are asking for a separate homeland in the northand east of Sri Lanka and have accused the majority Sinhalesedominated government of discrimination.

More than 60,000 people died during nearly three decades of conflict, before a Norwegian-brokered truce came into effect in February 2002.

SLA attempt to enter LTTE area in Mannar thwarted

A seven-member group of the deep penetration unit of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) fled leaving their bags inside the LTTE controlled Adampan area when members of the Civil Volunteers Unit and LTTE cadres counter-attacked them Saturday morning around 6:00 a.m., LTTE sources in Mannar said. The bag recovered by CVF volunteers and LTTE cadres was found with army uniforms, military boots and food packets, according to the sources.

SLA deep penetration group had entered the LTTE held Adampan through Papamoddai via Thiruketheeswaram area. Papamoddai area is also held by LTTE.

The sentry of the CVF and LTTE which is located at the entrance of Adampan Saturday early morning noted a group of persons walking towards their sentry in suspicious manner and started attacking them with small arms.

The DPU group thereafter dropped the bag and fled from the area, sources added.


"Burden of peace rests on the LTTE," says Nicholas Burns by M Rama Rao

New Delhi, 25 January ( Reaffirming U.S. support for Norway's efforts to revive the Lanka peace talks, the American Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, has asked the LTTE to end their violent attacks on the government forces. Simultaneously he told Colombo to investigate reported abuses of Tamil minority in the island nation.

He said the United States favours reinforcement of Lanka ceasefire and resumption of peace dialogue which has been stalled with discord over the venue for the talks.

Speaking to reporters in Colombo after meeting Lanka President , foreign minister and Norwegian special envoy Eric Soldheim, Burns outlined three goals of the United States' diplomatic efforts in Sri Lanka: "To reinforce the ceasefire; to convince the parties to agree to resume negotiations; and to see those negotiations succeed so that peace can be restored."

About his meeting with Norwegian envoy, Burns said, "We very much support an end to the violence and a return to negotiations, and the maintenance and building up of the Ceasefire Agreement. We think it's imperative that every step be taken by the Sri Lankan government and other parties to the conflict to show support to the Tamil community, for the needs of the Tamil community, and respect for the rights of the Tamil community."

"And it's certainly very important for the LTTE to end its violence, -- stop all violence so that negotiations may begin and peace may return to Sri Lanka. That has the support of my government, and we are very pleased to work in support of that with Minister Solheim and his government in Norway".

Deadly attacks by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against the army over the past two months have threatened a ceasefire brokered by Norway in February 2002. Norway has sought to bring the government and the LTTE back into negotiations, but as yet the parties have been unable to agree on a venue for the talks.

US official, who flew into Colombo on Jan 23 after talks in Delhi, said the burden of peace rests upon the LTTE.

"[W]e hope that the LTTE will understand that it will have no relationship with my government and, indeed, no effective relationship with any country in this world as long as it seeks to redress its own grievances through the barrel of a gun," he said.

The under secretary acknowledged that Sri Lanka's minority Tamil population has legitimate grievances but urged the Tamils to address those grievances through dialogue with the government.

"We think it's imperative that every step be taken by the Sri Lankan government and other parties to the conflict to show support to the Tamil community, for the needs of the Tamil community, and respect for the rights of the Tamil community," he said.

Burns said the United States would work to strengthen the capabilities of the Sri Lankan military through training and joint exercises. In the same breath, he condemned the reported activities of paramilitary organizations aligned with the Sri Lankan government and called for an end to such violence.

Excerpts from the press conference which opened with Burns’s observations.

Under Secretary Burns : Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great pleasure for me to be with you. I'm very happy to be here in Sri Lanka to visit this country for the first time.

I had excellent meetings today with the President and with the Foreign Minister. I was able to meet the Opposition Leader, to see a number of ministers and representatives of civil society, and, of course, fellow ambassadors from friendly countries to Sri Lanka. I had a wonderful lunch given by the Foreign Minister. I also was able to meet Minister Eric Solheim, and we compared notes on our mutual goal, and that is to work with the international community, and certainly work with the government, to try to restore peace and maintain the ceasefire here, and resume negotiations.

I want to say, first of all, we're very proud of the efforts of the American Embassy here, of Ambassador Lunstead, who has done such a wonderful job to represent the United States. We are a great friend to this country. We support its territorial integrity. We support the preservation of peace.

We work very closely with the government and we're proud of what the United States has been able to do as a friend to Sri Lanka. I think many of you saw that in the wake of the horrible tragedy of the tsunami. When our military came here, the U.S. Marines gave immediate help to the people who had been affected. We are also, in the longer term, very hopeful in 2006 we might reach an agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka to provide a considerable amount of economic assistance, so that reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country can continue, especially those areas that have been so badly affected by the tsunami.

In addition to that, I must say that the United States is dedicated to peace. We call upon the LTTE, especially, to cease and desist from the violence and terrorism that it has afflicted upon the people of this country. The bombing this morning, which cost two lives; the repeated attacks over the past several weeks; and of course the attacks over many, many years upon the political leadership and the average citizens of this country, are reprehensible and they are condemned by the international community.

And we hope that the LTTE will understand that it will have no relationship with my government and, indeed, no effective relationship with any country in this world as long as it seeks to redress its own grievances through the barrel of a gun. Now, we understand the Tamil community here has legitimate grievances, and legitimate issues that ought to be addressed by the government. And there out to be a dialogue, a better dialogue, between the government and the Tamil community.

But the responsibility here lies with the LTTE, which has taken up terrorism and violence as its political weapon. So we hope very much that Minister Solheim's visit here will result in a resumption of negotiations on a date certain, and in a place certain. For those negotiations to take place, we hope the ceasefire can be restored and we hope a final peace can come to Sri Lanka. The United States wants that very much, and we'll support the government in its effort to protect this country, and its territorial integrity as these negotiations resume.

So I wanted to begin with that very brief statement. I'm happy to take any questions that you might have.

Question: You talked about Tamil Tiger violence. In your meetings with the government, did you address the accusations levelled at the military about violence against Tamil civilians?

Under Secretary Burns: Yes, we did. In fact, we raised that with the President, and the Foreign Minister, and the other officials with whom we met. We said for sure that the activities of the paramilitary organizations also ought to be condemned and they ought to be stopped. And if there are allegations of military abuse of Tamil civilians, they ought to be investigated. If there are people found responsible, of course they ought to be dealt with in the justice system here. We raised those issues because they are important issues, and they are important to the Tamil community and we've heard from the Tamil community of how important they are. I must say that the response we received from the government is that the government leaders also believe that those attacks must stop, and they must not be carried out in the future.

Question: If the U.S. will not negotiate with Al Qaeda in its war on terror, why does it support negotiation with the Tamil Tigers on behalf of the government?

Under Secretary Burns: Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that has no grievances whatsoever to negotiate with the United States of America or the United Kingdom or any other country in the world. It's a nihilistic terrorist organization that uses terrorism for reprehensible aims. We also condemn the LTTE, and we brand it a terrorist organization. We sanction any individuals or groups of individuals who would seek to give financial support to that organization. But I must say that all of us who are friends with this country understand that this long conflict is only going to come to an end when the LTTE and the government sit down and find a way forward to end the violence and convince the LTTE to stop using violence as a political weapon. That has to happen.

I think any realistic observer of this country's long struggle would say, and agree, that that kind of dialogue has to take place. I'm not aware of any government in the world, or any significant NGO in the world, who believes we ought to be sitting down with Al Qaeda given its agenda.

Question: Is there some kind of direct role the U.S. can play in bringing about a final solution to Sri Lanka?

Under Secretary Burns: We are supporting the core role, the first and foremost role, played by Norway. I had a very good meeting with Minister Eric Solheim this afternoon. I told him that we support his efforts 100 percent and that he can rely on the United States to back him up. We're also part of the Co-chairs group which meets, as you know, regularly to try to provide diplomatic support to those who would want to end this conflict, including the government. I am the American representative to the Co-chairs, and I assume we will be meeting fairly soon to continue the Co-chairs' negotiations.

If there's any weight that America can bring [it is] to try to convince the LTTE to come in and negotiate, and to try to give advice to our friends in the government that they ought to find a way not to respond to the obvious provocations of the last several weeks. I think that is really what America can do best here. We're a friend of this country. We respect its territorial integrity and want to see it preserved. And the people of this country ought not to have to live for another 15 or 20 years with this reprehensible terrorist group keeping this country verged on the edge of war. What is striking about the situation here, in Sri Lanka, is how so many people are concerned about the possible outbreak of conflict, of armed conflict, of a civil war.

It is incumbent upon all the friends of this country to band together, as we have in the Co-chairs group, to send a message that we support peace, and that we'll do whatever we can diplomatically to help prepare the road for peace. At the same time, we are trying to show our support for the government by providing military assistance and training for its officers, military exercises between our troops and the government's troops, so that the government can be strong and the government's forces can deter future attacks against the people of this country.

Question: In light of the escalating violence, if conflict does break out, what moves will the U.S. take to assist Sri Lanka in the background of the U.S. Global War on Terrorism?

Under Secretary Burns: We're focused not on hypothetical questions, but on the work at hand this week -- and that is to try to give stimulus to a diplomatic effort to do three things: To reinforce the ceasefire; to convince the parties to agree to resume negotiations; and to see those negotiations succeed so that peace can be restored. That's the immediate diplomatic agenda. And our weight is behind that agenda.

I want to say again: while we do believe that the Tamil population has legitimate grievances, and they must be respected by the majority population, and there has to be a way for the Tamils to be able to articulate those grievances, the full responsibility here really lies with the LTTE. That's the organization that has to choose peace, instead of the reprehensible policies of the past decade and more. And so we're working for peace, and we will remain, whatever happens here, a friend to this country, and obviously a friend to the government of this country.

Question: Mr. Under Secretary, Human Rights [Watch] in its annual report a couple of weeks ago criticized your government for human rights violations in pursuing the War on Terror since 2001. If the Sri Lankan government was to pursue similar policies in prosecuting the terrorist organizations like the LTTE, would the U.S. Government endorse such activities or would you crack down or pressure Sri Lanka not to pursue the program that you've been pursuing in your War on Terror?

Under Secretary Burns: You know we have a friendly relationship with the Sri Lankan government. It's a responsible government, and it's a government that's dealing with enormous challenges, from rebuilding after the tsunami to the effort to provide economic growth, but particularly the fight against [terror], to preserve peace here, and so we support that government. If, from time to time, there is evidence of human rights abuses, then the United States, of course, would be concerned and would talk as a friend to that country to try to see if that country could redress those human rights abuses. That is normal in international politics.

But for the most part, if I were focused on human rights in Sri Lanka, in addition to trying to give advice to friends -- and for instance, one of the issues that I did raise today in all of my meetings was the need for the government to make sure that there is no official support for the paramilitary groups, that there is no involvement by the military in attacks on Tamils. But the major part of our concern here is not with the government. The government is democratic, the government is composed of people who are responsible, who are good people who want to help this country.

Our major concern is with the LTTE. There is no moral comparison, no moral equivalency that we see between the government and the LTTE and we think the major part of the burden for peace rests on that organization.

Question: Does the United States feel the LTTE is genuinely interested in peace?

Under Secretary Burns: We don't have direct contact with the LTTE, so we have to judge them by their actions. The actions of the last several weeks would indicate that this is an organization bent on provoking violence, as it commits violence, as it kills innocent people. And so, if we see that kind of terrorism anywhere in the world I think all of us, as democratic citizens, need to reject it and need to call upon those who perpetrate it to stand down. So that's what the United States is saying today.

It's also the message of all the other friends of Sri Lanka, all the other governments that are here trying to support a process of peace in this country. We want to avoid a war, and that is the strong wish of the government, as we [heard when we] spoke to the President and others today. They wish to avoid war, and so all of us need to be here to help peace prevail.

Thank you very much.


Intelligence Chief Zacky in Jaffna to step up campaign

Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) Brigadier Rizvy Zacky, a hardliner, has been recently posted as Brigadier General Staff Officer (GSO, Intelligence) at the Sri Lanka Army Head Quarters (SF HQ) Jaffna in a major reshuffle of the SLA and Intelligence apparatus. Execution-style killings of five students in Trincomalee and three women members of a family in Jaffna mark a stark change of pattern in the escalation of intensified serial killings of non-combatant civilians in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled areas in the NorthEast. The pattern of violence also marks the return of hardliners who seems to prefer terror to subdue a population.

In December 2005, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, the new commander of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) appointed by the SL President Rajapakse, launched a major reshuffle of the top brass of the Sri Lanka Army and the Military Intelligence.

Major General G.A. Chandrasiri from Armoured Corps was posted as the Jaffna Commander to Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna (SF HQ (J)) replacing the previous Jaffna Commander of the SLA, Major General Sunil Tennekoon.

Rajapakse's brother, Gothabaya Rajapakse, a former Lieutenant Colonel, who was brought back from his retirement in California, USA, and who served as a security consultant to Rajapakse while he was premier, was made Defence Secretary in Sri Lanka.

Gothabaya (then Major) Rajapakse took part in the SLA operation, Trividapalaya, with Lt. Gen. Fonseka (then Lt. Colonel), to rescue the soldiers from the Jaffna Fort that was under siege by the Tigers in 1990.

Soon after his new assignment Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse requested assistance from the Ambassadors of USA, Pakistan, India and China to fight the Liberation Tigers.

A retired Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (Senior DIG), H.M.G.B Kotakadeniya, a hardliner and a politician from the extremist Buddhist Monks party, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), was appointed as the Defence Ministry Advisor. The execution style killing of five Tamil students, all under 20 years of age, at Dock Yard Road in Trincomalee town, was allegedly carried out by "a team of Police Special Task Force (STF) commandos," said the Situation Report column of Sunday Times in its 8th January Sunday edition.

The paper further said the deployment of the STF was ordered by "a retired police official who has now been named as an advisor in the Defence Ministry." The advisor referred by the paper was Kotakadeniya.

The posting of Rizvy Zacky to Jaffna, which is Fonseka's previous terrain, is said to signal one of the top priorities of the new SLA Commander Fonseka: the active integration of Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) with the counter-insurgency efforts in Jaffna peninsula. Zacky who has earlier been Brigadier of the Batticaloa District, and later in charge of the psychological operations of the Sri Lanka Army, served as Sri Lanka's Defence Attaché in Pakistan, prior to his appointment as the Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) in August 2004.

Ex-militant sources in Batticaloa describe Brig. Zacky as more hardliner in his dealings with the paramilitary cadres compared to the slain intelligence officers, Major T.N. Muthaliff, assassinated in May 2005, and Lt. Col. Meedin, assassinated in October 2005, both senior officers attached to the Military Intelligence Corps (MIC) in Colombo.

The slaying of the Intelligence officers was attributed to the LTTE by the Sri Lankan Military. However, investigations into the killings revealed complicity of underworld Sinhala elements in the killings.

Following the assassinations of the Intelligence officials, who were fluent in Tamil and had a reputation among the paramilitary circles for their sophisticated approach to intelligence operations, a degree of distrust also developed among the paramilitary operatives in Colombo. Some have left the country, informed ex-militant sources say.

Zacky, when he served in Batticaloa, was cautious in placing his trust on paramilitary cadres following his previous experience with ex-Tamil militants who were later identified as LTTE moles.

"Zacky would not tolerate even a small doubt on an agent or someone who serves under him," an ex-militant source said on condition of anonymity.

A hardline PSYOPS approach, dominated by an agenda of terrorizing non-combatants, as evidenced in Jaffna, Trincomalee and elsewhere in serial, spree and group killings, now appears to be the strategy behing SLA's covert war against the Tigers.

The recent unbalanced statements made by the US Ambassador Mr. Jeffrey Lunstead and the visiting US Undersecretary of Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, have failed to reflect the scale of the negative impact of the killings, taking place in areas controlled by the SLA, on the peace process.

In the meantime, Defence Attaché at the US Embassy in Colombo, Lt. Col. James E Oxley and an assisting official have visited the SLA SF HQ in Jaffna following the reshuffle, according to the Sri Lanka Army website.

"US officials are aware of the background of the key military commanders in the Sri Lankan Government. But as a legitimate State, Sri Lanka Government has distinct advantages," says Selvam Adaikalanathan, the TNA MP who paid a visit to US a year ago.

"The 'white van abductions' and disappearances in Jaffna, create fear in the minds of Jaffna population, reminding the 'white van' abduction stories from Batticaloa and Colombo, of the past," says S. Gajendran, the Tamil National Alliance MP for Jaffna.

The reshuffle completed by Fonseka confirms his belief in techniques to create a fear-psychosis in the minds of the Tamils to crush their political uprising.

Analysts view that the appointment of Mr. Ratnasiri Wickramanayake was a clear message to the Tamils as well as to the international community of the hardline approach chosen by Rajapakse.

Mr. Wickremanayake, a well-known Sinhala hardliner, who has spoken against the peace process with the LTTE, Norwegian facilitation, and the existing ceasefire agreement, had earlier introduced the anti-conversion bill in June 2004.

The "inner circle" of the personalities associated with the former Presidents in Sri Lanka often dictated the direction of the Presidents in their approach to fight the Tigers.

Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, the Former President of Sri Lanka, chose her uncle Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte as Deputy Defence Minister.

Fonseka was the commanding officer in Jaffna. And Jaffna has earlier witnessed Chemmani graves and mass disappearances.

Northeast witnessed a record high human rights abuses during the war waged under the leadership of the former president Kumaratunga.

Gen. Tissa Weeratunga, popularly known as "Bull" Weeratunga, was appointed the overall commander of the Sri Lankan Forces in the Northern Province, by the then Sri Lankan President J.R. Jeyawardene on 14 July 1989 with a mission to "eliminate" the "menace of terrorism" within 6 months, before December 31, 1979.

Jeyawardene, after appointing his nephew "Bull" Weeratunga to contain uprising in Jaffna, enacted the Prevention of Terrorism (PTA), which was modelled after the notorious Terrorism Act of South Africa. Jeyawardene termed his act to echo the British PTA of 1974, which was revised a year before in Britain, although the Sri Lankan PTA was modeled after Apartheid Era South African law, the Terrorism Act of 1967.

Jaffna District was placed under Emergency Regulations (ER), which gave the armed forces the power to shoot and kill any suspected persons and to dispose dead bodies without an inquest.

It was the beginning of arrests, detention of Tamil youths in Jaffna, an act that forced Tamil youths either into the militancy or exile, both of which were later described as having instrumental in fueling and sustaining the Tamil struggle.


Journalist killed for reporting on paramilitary abuses- RSF

Reporters sans frontières (RSF) in a press release issued Tuesday said that Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, a correspondent of the Tamil-language daily Sudar Oli was killed for writing about "abuses committed in his region by Tamil paramilitary groups," and that in Sri Lanka, "the impunity enjoyed by the instigators and perpetrators of these murders encourages more violence against the press."

Full text of the release follows:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the murder of Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, a correspondent of the Tamil-language daily Sudar Oli in the eastern city of Trincomalee, who was gunned down early this morning after writing yesterday about the abuses committed in his region by Tamil paramilitary groups

³We are horrified by the level of violence against Tamil journalists,² the press freedom organisation said ³The impunity enjoyed by the instigators and perpetrators of these murders encourages more violence against the press We urge Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake to do everything possible to ensure that the police identify and arrest Sugirdharajan¹s murderers, as well as the murderers of Relangi Sevaraja and Dharmeratnam Sivaram, who are still at large.²

Sugirdharajan is the third Tamil journalist to have been killed in the past 12 months Ten others have been arrested, physically attacked or threatened by the security forces or the Tamil armed movements

Aged 35 and the father of two small children, Sugirdharajan was a Trincomalee port employee as well as a journalist He was shot dead at about 6 a.m. today as he was waiting for public transport to go to work His killers used a motor-cycle to get away after shooting him. Police went to the scene of the murder According to the Tamilnet website, he was gunned down near the governor¹s secretariat

In an article for yesterday¹s issue of Sudar Oli, he detailed the abuses committed by Tamil paramilitary groups including the EPDP in the Trincomalee region The newspaper also recently ran photos taken by Sugirdharajan showing that five Trincomalee students were shot dead at point-blank range on 2 January, disproving the army¹s claim that they were killed by a grenade explosion

Sudar Oli, which tends to support the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), was attacked and threatened several times last year Two grenades were thrown at the office of its advertising department on 20 August but did not explode Three days later, a staff journalist was roughed up and detained by the police on suspicion of being an LTTE spy. A security guard, David Selvaratnum, was killed in a grenade attack outside the newspaper¹s office in Colombo on 29 August Sudar Oli belongs to the Jaffna-based press group Uthayan, which has also been the target of attacks

Reporters Without Borders issued a detailed report on July 2004 about threats to journalists in eastern Sri Lanka :


SL Intelligence, paramilitaries responsible for Manipay, Kodikamam killings - NESOHR

NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR) in the case histories of Manipay killing of three members of the same family and the killing of a 15 year old youth in Kodikamam, released this week, provides details of involvement of Sri Lanka Intellligence operatives and paramilitary cadres belonging to Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) in the killings.

With several Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers wearing black bands covering their faces, clearing Kanagasabai Road leading to Bojan's family, nine members of EPDP paramilitaries scaled the fences of the two storied house at 10 p.m. and killed Renuka, 30, Shannuka, 23, and Arthanareeswary Bojan, 51, NESOHR said in its report after interviewing residents of Manipay and family members who escaped death. The killings took place on 14 January.

In the shooting death of student Thambirajah Arulajanthan, 15, of Kodikamam on 28 December, NESOHR report said, EPDP cadres and SLA Intelligence operatives had visited the house three times in search of Arul's brother-in-law Kirubakaran. Kirubakaran was an LTTE member and had left the movement six years ago, the family told NESOHR.

The family said the SLA for planted two grenades in their backyards to implicate the family for possessing arms.

The report said, on the day of shooting, gunmen had entered the house at 10.15 p.m. and when the family was awakened by the noise the invaders ran away after firing three shots. Arulajanthan was killed by the gun fire.

The report added that after the incident Kirubakaran escaped to LTTE area and another attempt by the paramilitaries to find Kirubakaran failed.


Prabhakaran, paramilitaries and peace by H. L. D. Mahindapala

By and large, the current phase of intensified violence has shifted from the east to the Jaffna and Trincomalee. When the violence reached a climax in the east Erik Solheim, the Norwegian led-Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM), S.P. Tamilselvan, the LTTE proxies in parliament, the Tamil National alliance (TNA) and NGOs were blaming the "paramilitaries" (meaning Col Karuna’s TamilEelam Makkal Viduthalai Puligal - TMVP). Now that the violence has shifted to the LTTE-controlled areas of the north Erik Solheim, SLMM (to a certain extent), NGOs, Tamilselvan and TNA continue to blame the "paramilitaries" of the east.

This is also an indirect way of blaming the government even though they do not have the evidence, as stated by Ms. Helen Olafsdottir, the spokesperson for the SLMM, in her latest interview with Sunday Leader (15, January, 2006). She told the newspaper: "We do not have evidence that the government is directly supporting or harboring Karuna. But the government is aware of such a group and its existence but has not addressed it properly. This makes our monitoring even more difficult."

The accusation here is that the government "is aware of such a group and its existence but has not addressed it properly." She does not say how it should be addressed by the government though "addressing it (paramilitaries) properly" has serious implications. It means going to war with Col. Karuna who is waging a war against Velupillai Prabhakaran. Is this an option available to the government which is already besieged by the violence of the LTTE? According to the SLMM, international community, and NGOs the government must fight the wars against forces that "makes things difficult" for them (as stated by Ms. Olafsdottir) and not fight the enemy of peace – the LTTE. In any case, will the Norway, SLMM, Co-chairs pick up the bill of a war against Col Karuna and compensate for the human cost? Besides, a war against Col Karuna is not a war for peace but to strengthen the hands of the war-mongers in the LTTE. So how can peace or the people gain by waging another war against Col. Karuna?

Ms. Olafsdottir’s interview is in contrast to the casual approach of SLMM to violations of CFA and the obstructions to peace caused by LTTE with a regularity of the guns and grenades fired by Prabhakaran. Either the SLMM is totally incapable of comprehending the events exploding around them or it is in the business of manufacturing excuses for its own failures and that of the LTTE.

There is, however, a significant difference in the violence that went on in the east and the current violence that rages in the north: the violence in the east was sporadic with hit-and-run attacks but the northern violence has been escalating according to a pre-planned agenda accompanied by war hysteria. Ms. Olafsdottir, summed up the situation with a degree of accuracy when she said: "But now at present with the situation heating up the mood is changing and it is a question now as to how long we could keep the two forces away from each other. Escalations are very difficult to predict. You see, for a war to begin one does not have to wait for a signal from the top. The present escalation itself is sufficient."

She was not that alarmed when the violence was confined to the east. Quite rightly, she is alarmed now that the violence has been intensified in the north. She also says: "In the three-and-a-half-years (since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement) there was no direct or return of fire. The forces were quite disciplined." And she concludes: "Escalations are very difficult to predict. You see, for a war to begin one does not have to wait for a signal from the top. The present escalation itself is sufficient."

She is right again. In the current "heated up mood" the most unexpected incident can spark off a war. However, she has deftly avoided identifying the source of "heating up the mood". If she had paused to consider the provocateurs she could have found out "as to how long we (SLMM) could keep the two forces away from each other." Since the general tendency of Erik Solheim, Anton Balasingham, Tamilselvan, and SLMM (to a certain extent) is to blame the "paramilitaries" it is necessary to examine the accusation.

For the moment, let us grant that the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) signed in February 2002 has held for the last three-and-a-half-years, though the repeated questioning of its existence by the SLMM and others has undermined the underlying assumption. As acknowledged by her, the Sri Lankan soldiers have been extremely disciplined without returning fire despite grave provocations. So who is “heating up the mood” and who is reneging on the CFA for Ms. Olafsdottir and Erik Solheim to be so alarmed? Perhaps, the following flash-back to November 2005 will probably help to jog the memory of the peace-facilitators:

On November 19, 2005 Mahinda Rajapakse was sworn in as the fifth president of Sri Lanka. On November 27, Velupillai Prabhakaran, in his annual speech, said that he has "decided to wait and observe, for "sometime", his political maneuvers and actions….since President Rajapakse is considered to be a realist, committed to pragmatic politics…." Now “sometime” even in Tamil cannot mean December 5, 2005 – the day when Prabhakaran detonated two claymore bombs, killing six army personnel at Kondavil,. This was followed by killing another seven army personnel on December 6 at Irupalai Junction

Besides, when Prabhakaran launched his stealth war on December 5, 2005 – just eight days after he said "sometime" -- he contradicted the clarification issued by Balasingham who said that "news agencies have distorted and reported that Prabhakaran will start a war within a month. Prabhakaran did not say like that. Prabhakaran did not give a deadline of a month. He said a short period and it will be next year. He did not mention a date. But he has said he cannot wait for long. This is the important final news our leader." He added: "We are giving time for you. If you do not do anything for our people and drag on any talks we will start our war for right of self determination. "

Prabhakaran earlier warned the Government "Our people have lost patience, hope and reached the brink of utter frustration. They are not prepared to be tolerant any longer. The new government should come forward soon with a reasonable political framework that will satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamil people. This is our urgent and final appeal. If the new government rejects our urgent appeal, we will, next year, in solidarity with our people, intensify our struggle for self-determination, our struggle for national liberation to establish self-government in our homeland."

In this key paragraph neither Prabhakaran nor Balasingham refers to “paramilitaries” as the excuse. They emphasize the urgency, without dragging on the talks any further, as the reason for "starting our (next) war". Trigger-happy Prabhakaran stated on November 27, 2005: "Our people have lost patience, hope and reached the brink of utter frustration." The ploy here was to dress up the LTTE – instigated violence against the Security Forces as another Palestinian-style "intifada". It was a blatant attempt by the LTTE to hide behind the Jaffna population by projecting them as the impatient, frustrated people wanting another war. But this proved to be a hollow propaganda tactic which was dismissed by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission as "unacceptable". Not even D. B. S. Jeyaraj, who was hoping that it would turn into something like an "intifada", concluded that it was an "intifada".

The identifiable source of violence was neither the people of Jaffna nor the "paramilitaries" of the east but Prabhakaran who revealed his latest blue print for the next war in his November 27, 2005 speech. He said quite bluntly that his planned Eelam War IV was halted by the unexpected blast he got from the tsunami. And he went on to emphasize that the war he postponed in 2005 will be launched in 2006 after giving "sometime" to "pragmatic" President Mahinda Rajapakse. The paramilitaries did not – repeat NOT -- come into his politico-military agenda as detailed by him.

Of course, Prabhakaran does not want the world to think that he is a bloodthirsty war-monger. He and his propagandist unfailingly project him as a man of peace. They deny that he is "heating up the mood" even when he is detonating deadly claymore mines. Tamilselvan says that the violence has been organized by the incensed Jaffna people. Now it is common knowledge that the only group capable of producing claymore mines and the technology to go with it, particularly in the north, is the LTTE. Naturally, political commentators and the diplomats have been asking pointedly: from where did the civilians (who are not combatants) get costly claymore mines and the skills to blast the soldiers? And if the "civilians" are planting these claymore mines are they "civilians" or a part of the LTTE killing machine?

Which also points to a serious chink in the LTTE armour: propaganda. The LTTE killing machine needs legitimacy for its brutalities. This task has been assigned to their apparatchiks abroad and, of the course the local NGOs. For instance, the killing of 13 soldiers in the north which sparked off the horrendous 1983 backlash against the Tamils in the south was justified as a revenge attack for raping an unnamed Jaffna woman. Every agent of the LTTE believed and propagated it. But it was later admitted by the LTTE that the killing of 13 soldiers in 1983 was retaliation for the killing of Col. Anthony by the Army. Prabhakaran was to name one of his sons after him.

LTTE propaganda is laboring tirelessly to (1) psyche its cadres and its population to be in readiness for its next war; 2) to whip up war hysteria to force its population to cross over to India as refugees – a move to win sympathy in Tamil Nadu and to neutralize the Delhi centre; and 3) to legitimize its violence that will be unleashed in its Eelam War IV. A part of the propaganda ploy is to raise human rights issues by faking human rights issues, more often than not. Example: an attempt was made to pin the blame on the Security Forces for the death of Tamil girl in Pungudutivu. The LTTE propaganda said that she was raped and killed by the Security Forces. But the SLMM and the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) both dismissed this accusation, proving that the LTTE propaganda has lost its credibility. It no longer has the clout it had in the past. Its war crimes and crimes against humanity have reduced the LTTE to a Pol Potist regime acting with impunity.

Even a pro-LTTE NGO agent like Kethesh Loganathan of the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo is forced to admit that the LTTE is not for peace. Reuters’ (Nov. 8. 2005) Simon Gardner, quoting Loganathan said: "The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- blamed for the August assassination of the island's foreign minister -- are refusing to resume peace talks they pulled out of in 2003 because they are not ready for a long-term deal," analysts say. "The LTTE simply are not in a position to give up their demand for a separate state yet," said "It is one of the factors which is holding them back from entering into negotiations on a permanent settlement," he said.

In plain English, Loganathan, a pro-separatist participant at the Thimpu talks, is saying that the LTTE’s insistence on a separate state will not let them enter into negotiations for a permanent settlement. In other words, he is admitting that separatism and violence are inseparable. And yet Erik Solheim, SLMM, NGOs and TNA are making desperate bids to pass the blame on to the “Sinhala chauvinists” or to the paramilitaries. Besides, the reports of independent NGOs confirm that their excuses are wearing thin. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented in its world report for 2006 issued on January 18, 2006 that the LTTE has been killing at the rate of one a day. It adds that this "alarming rate" is owed to the killing of "particularly of Tamils in opposition to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam….Tamil Tigers continued to assassinate political opponents with complete impunity," accuses HRW.

Those who refuse to acknowledge that the Prabhakaran does not need an excuse for killing, or for intensifying violence should not be in the peace process or in any political discourse on the peace process. Prabhakaran began his career in killing by first pinning insects he caught when he was a child, according to M. R. Narayan Swamy. He wrote: “He even inserted pins into his nails. At other times, he would catch insects and prick them to death with needles to gain the mental preparations to torture the "enemy". ” (p.52 Tigers of Lanka –from boys to guerillas). He graduated into killing humans by gunning down Alfred Duraiyappah in 1975. He hasn’t stopped killing since then. His whole career has been devoted to refining the art and technology of killing. It is second nature to him. Did the LTTE liquidate the entire Tamil leadership in the democratic stream because of "paramilitaries"? The prestigious Hindu states that the LTTE has killed more Tamils than any other force. Was it the "paramilitaries" that prompted him to kill the insects or the Tamils?

The horrendous tragedy is that Prabhakaran continues to treat Tamils like the insects. Each time he kills a Tamil he comes alive and feels that he is invincible. Liquidating his perceived enemies is a regular fix he needs to stabilize his quivering nerves. Is this the dignity he has given to the Tamils? There are even Tamil theologians in the Churches who are working to deify this "insecticide cult" as a divine mission. But not all Tamils are worshippers of this cult. A growing body of dissident Tamils is resisting this cult of sacrifice in the name of a devouring god. Unfortunately, for them the Ceasefire Agreement did not provide space for them. It provided arms only for the "insecticide cult" to thrive.

If the CFA acknowledged and allotted a political space for the democratic Tamils to exercise their inalienable rights by disarming the LTTE along with other armed groups the peace process would have had a better chance of ending violence. Instead it turned the CFA into an instrument of war by legitimizing the use of violence by the LTTE. No other government in the West who preaches peace and human rights to Sri Lankans would permit one armed group to retain their weapons to be used against those outside their ring of violence. Failure to disarm the deadliest fanatics of violence is fundamentally counter-productive to any peace process. Disarming armed groups is a pre-requisite for peace.

Of all the terrorist groups the LTTE is in a unique position because the Co-chairs (represented by Erik Solheim) acted on the belief that it is a great victory for peace not to disarm the LTTE. The inevitable consequence is there for all to see. But who cops the blame? Invariably, it is the LTTE complaints against the "paramilitaries" and/or the Sri Lankan government that takes priority at any discussion of advancing peace. Erik Solheim, the Pontius Pilate of the Sri Lankan crucifixion, also blames the Sri Lankan government.

Having paved the path for violence along with Ranil Wickremesinghe, Erik Solheim returns once again to the scene of his crimes. He will go to Vanni and will not hesitate to thank Prabhakaran for his offer of a towel to wipe his hands. Then, with some luck, he will come out of Vanni, may be with the LTTE agreeing to meet in Geneva. But for how long will the talks last? Erik Solheim has gone to Vanni to reap what he has sowed and – mark my words – to repeat the excuses trotted out by Prabhakaran.