Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Karuna not a "paramilitary" because he was trained and armed by LTTE - S.L.Gunasekara, leading lawyer

S. L. Gunasekera, a leading lawyer who participated in the Thimpu talks along with H. L. de Silva, has dismissed the Norwegian and the LTTE argument to include Col. Karuna's group as "paramilitaries" as irrelevant. There is mounting pressure internationally too on Erik Solheim to get off the one-track agenda of focusing on Col Karuna as it does not help the peace process. Political observers say that it helps only the LTTE to survive.

S. L. Gunasekera argues: "Before the Geneva Talks the LTTE was vociferous in their demand that the Government should disarm the Karuna Group. They based their demand upon the premise that Clause 1.8 of the Ceasefire Agreement [CFA] required the Government to disarm the Karuna Group. They were even more vociferous in that demand after the first round of the Geneva Talks and added a second premise as a basis for that demand, namely, that the Government had undertaken to disarm the Karuna Group by the Joint Statement issued after that round of talks.

Both said premises are entirely false.

Clause 1.8 of the CFA reads as follows:-

"Tamil paramilitary groups shall be disarmed by the GOSL by D-Day + 30 days at the very latest. The GOSL shall offer to integrate individuals in these units under the command and disciplinary structure of the GOSL armed forces for service away from the Northern and Eastern Provinces"

The "paramilitary groups" referred to in that clause were indisputably those members of parties such as the EPDP and PLOTE who were armed by the Government to enable them to protect themselves against the LTTE.

Presumably, the rationale on which the then Prime Minister Wickremesinghe agreed to this outrageous clause by which he agreed to disarm our friends while the common enemy of them and us, the LTTE remained armed to the teeth, was a childish belief that the LTTE would honour its undertaking to cease assassinations etc. [Clause 1.2(a) and 2.1] which made it unnecessary for such persons to carry arms for their protection!!!

The Karuna Group was not a group that was armed by the Government to protect themselves against the LTTE: on the contrary they were members of the LTTE who were armed and trained by the LTTE to murder members of the Government, members of the Armed Forces and paramilitary groups, Sinhalese and Muslim civilians and Tamil civilians who did not pay obeisance to the LTTE. The Karuna Group was not, therefore a group that was caught up within the ambit of the term "Tamil paramilitary groups" in Clause 1.8.

Besides, Clause 1.8 envisaged the process of disarming to be completed within 30 days of the 2nd February 2002. Those whom Clause 1.8 referred to as "Tamil paramilitary groups" were clearly not those who would fall out with the LTTE in the future, but only those groups who had already fallen out with the LTTE and bore arms for their protection against the LTTE as at the 2nd February 2002. At that time Karuna sat at the "right hand of Prabakaran" and his group was very much a part and parcel of the LTTE.

Accordingly, it is a monstrous lie to even suggest that Clause 1.8 required the Government to disarm the Karuna Group.

Clause 1.8 was complied within full, within the 30 day period provided for compliance. No complaint of non-compliance was then made by the LTTE which, with its customary dishonesty, made use of such compliance to renege on its undertakings and go on the rampage murdering the now unarmed and defenseless members of the EPDP, PLOTE, EPRLF led by Suresh Premachandran, TELO etc. almost at will. Thus, Clause 1.8 is now "history" and of no relevance today.

The words of the joint declaration upon which the LTTE [and their Norwegian accomplices] depend to further their preposterous contention that the Government is obliged to disarm Karuna Group are the words:-

"The GOSL is committed to taking all necessary measures in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement to ensure that no armed group of persons other than the Government Security Forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations".

It would be observed that the expression used in this declaration is "armed group of persons" without qualification and not "Tamil paramilitary groups" and that Karuna or the Karuna Group is not mentioned at all.. The term "armed group of persons" would therefore apply to any and every group of persons who are armed other than the members of the Armed Forces and the Police. Thus, the expression "armed group of persons" applies equally to the LTTE, the Karuna Group and all other unlawfully armed groups such as underworld gangs, drug barons and the rowdy brats of uncivilized Ministers and their bands of thugs who terrorize patrons of night clubs.

The question that now arises for consideration is what is meant by the words "in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement" ? Apart from Clause 1.8 which refers specifically to "Tamil paramilitary groups" and not to armed groups of persons in general, and is, as observed above, now "history" and of no relevance, there is no reference anywhere in the CFA to disarming any person. Clearly those words cannot refer to Clause 1.8. Thus, they can only relate to Clause 1.3 which provides that:-

"The Sri Lankan Armed Forces shall continue to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in hostile operations against the LTTE."

Thus, when the above-quoted words of the joint declaration, and in particular, the words "armed group of persons" are considered in conjunction with the words "in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement" it must follow that the undertaking given by the Government related only to such armed groups of persons who pose a threat to "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka". Clearly, the Karuna Group now poses no such threat, and the only "armed group of persons" that poses such a threat is the LTTE.

Accordingly, it is patently evident that no undertaking given by the Government to disarm the Karuna Group.

It would be recalled that the LTTE initially said that the Karuna Group was an ‘internal problem of the LTTE,’ which they would deal with themselves and that the Government should not get involved in it. It would also be recalled that one of their chief lackeys, the late Joseph Pararajasingham M.P. said that the `Karuna Problem’ was but a "storm in a teacup!!" Why then is the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices so anxious to get the Government to ‘wage war’ against the Karuna Group in the name of the CFA ?. The reason is twofold.

Firstly, the LTTE, with all its bravado, is mortally scared of the Karuna Group and wants our Armed Forces [the members of which the LTTE has been foully murdering on a regular basis] to protect them from the Karuna Group.

Secondly, the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices see in getting the Government to wage war on the Karuna Group, a golden opportunity of securing a separate state of Tamil Eelam without shedding a drop of Tiger blood. They know that Karuna is no fool, and that particularly after he saw the fate that befell the gullible members of the EPDP, PLOTE, EPRLF led by Suresh Premachandran, TELO etc. who surrendered their arms at the request of the then Government, his group will never ever surrender their arms however much the Government may request them to do so. Thus, if the Government seeks to disarm them, the Government will have to wage war against the Karuna Group and sacrifice the lives of the members of our Armed Forces purely to save the lives of the LTTE.

The object of the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices, therefore is to cause a war between the Karuna Group and our Armed Forces in which large numbers of the Karuna Group and our forces will die and be disabled, while the terrorist cadres of the LTTE remain intact; and to thereafter walk over the bodies of our troops and the Karuna Group to establish a separate State of Tamil Eelam.

It is one thing to call upon or expect the youth of our Armed Forces to sacrifice their lives and limbs for the Country. It is quite another thing to call upon or expect them to sacrifice their lives and limbs to save Prabhakaran and his terrorists from death. Yet that is precisely what the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices are seeking to inveigle the Government into doing. President Mahinda Rajapakse must not fall into this trap that is evidently being laid for him by the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices – for if he does so, he will be committing an act of supreme treachery to our Country and our People.


Paramilitary cadres gun down mason worker in Mavadivembu

Paramilitary gunmen shot and killed a 23-years old mason at Mavadivembu Monday evening around 6:30 p.m. at his mother's house while he was having a meal. Mavadivembu is located 22 km northwest of Batticaloa town. The victim, Thiyagarasa Thaskumar, 23, a father to a child, had returned to his village Mavadivembu on 6th April, after having worked in the Liberation Tigers controlled area, Eravur Police said.


Suspected LTTE Retaliation Kills Five Passengers In Three- Wheeler

Policemen assisted by troops rushed to the general area east of Puttur in Jaffna on Tuesday (18) night around 9.50 p.m. to recover the remains of five dead men who had reportedly been traveling in a three-wheeler at the time of their murder.

One of the relatives of the victims, Balasubramaniam Kandasan, reached the Puttur Army detachment to report that his brother,Kandasan (26) of Puttur east was found murdered by him close to Puutur centre.

LTTE has launched a massive propaganda campaign to blame the Sri Lankan while the relative of the victims blame the LTTE which they say has launched a retaliatory attacks on dissident Tamils.

Troops with Policemen from Atchchuvely Police Station rushed to the scene and found remains of five dead men lying close to the three- wheeler (WP QA 0767) in which they were allegedly traveling.

All five of them identified as K.Gowribalan (32), Mahadevan Kishor Kumar (20), Balasubramanian Kannadasan (27), Thangarajah Raveendran (27) and Sellappu Kamaladasan (25) were residents from that area.

Police together with the troops were making preparations for post mortem after initial investigations were over.

The motive behind the slaying is yet to be identified.

No arrest has been so far made by the Police.

The Police maintain that the murder would have been carried out by the LTTE as a retaliatory measure.

The SLMM was informed of the murder.

The Atchchuveli Police are conducting investigations.

Meanwhile, another civilian from Colombuthurai area in Jaffna has fallen victim to an unidentified gunman, believed to be a Tamil Tiger, on Tuesday (18) around 4.00 p.m.

The victim has been identified as Balachandran Reginals Roshan (27) of Sebastian Road, Jaffna.

The dead body has been brought to the Jaffna hospital for post -mortem and magisterial inquiries.

The Jaffna police are conducting investigations.

Tamilnet the chief agency for the LTTE immediately released a story blaming the Security Forces for the murder of civilians.

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) denied this story. Army spokesperson said that eye witnesses have told a different story.

The TamilNet blaming the troops that those five civilians were ordered to run through an open terrain near the Army camp before they were shot.

The civilians killed were identified as Kandasamy Gowribalan, 32, a Municipal Council official, Balasubramaniam Kannathasan, 27, Sellappu Kamalathasan, 25, an electrical mechanic, Mahadevan Kishokumar, 20, a farmer and Thangarajah Raveendran, 27, the other auto-rikshaw driver who went searching for the missing persons.

Three dead bodies were found together and the other two were found 200 meters away by the villagers Wednesday morning.

Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) officials visited the massacre site. Tension prevails in Puthur.


Failed LTTE commanders removed from their posts

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has decided to remove the present special commanders of the East of Sri lanka – Colonel Bravo Bahnu of the Batticaloa and Colonel Sornam presently of Trincomalee districts – from their current posts. The Vanni command considers that both have been failures. The Vanni command is concerned about the violence rising against the LTTE and targeting their cadres. Key political figures like Joseph Parajasingham and T.Vigneswaram were gunned down by suspected cadres of the Karuna group.

According to inside information, Colonel Bahnu who was stripped of his uniform and demoted was reinstated and sent to Batticoloa Amparai district as a special Commander with 100 special guards, to replace Colonel Ramesh in the first week of October 2005. Vanni command considers that Col. Bahnu too has failed to check the challenge posed by Col. Karuna’s men in the region.

Further it is believed that Colonel Karuna has openly said that he wants to have Colonel Bahnu either arrested and tried publicly in the East for crimes against humanity, or killed.

According to reports Karuna’s men nearly got Bahnu on 10 October 2005 in an incident in Vavunathievu, nearly 05 kilometers away from Batticoloa. But he managed to escape and survive, according to reports. This attempt confirms that Karuna is serious in targeting Bahnu. The LTTE has decided to move him out of Batticalao to avoid any chance of being arrested alive and the humiliation that may follow of such arrest.

Earlier it was decided to have Bahnu replaced with Colonel Ramesh who was unceremoniously removed in October 2005 by Prabakaran. But LTTE leadership was forced to reconsider appointing Colonel Ramesh back in Batti-Amparai districts as Karuna has publicly proclaimed that his former deputy Ramesh also from Kiran, as the traitor of the East.

Finally it has been decided to bring Bahnu back to Vanni and replace him with Colonel Periya Jeyam although he has been branded as Karuna loyalists.

Colonel Periya Jeyam is one of the senior commanders and was one of the member of the LTTE’s delegation to the first round of talks in Geneva. He is to be assigned as special commander of the Batticalao – Amparai districts.

Although Jeyam has been branded as Karuna loyalists, LTTE leadership is confident that once he is posted to Batti-Amparai as special Commander his loyalty would not waver. He has already specialized in torture. He is also known as a supporter of late Mahathya’s who broke away from Prabhakaran. The LTTE has taken the precaution of keeping Col. Jeyam’s family in Vanni. Holding the family to ransom is the LTTE way of remote controlling Jeyam in case he tries to defect.

Also it has been decided to move Soosaipillai Joseph Antonydas alias Colonel Sornam, the Special Commander of the Trincomalee region based in Sampoor. LTTE leadership is of the opinion that he too has failed in advancing LTTE objectives.

LTTE leadership is of the view that he may be useful if he is brought to Vanni and entrusted with the Jaffna region and Colonel Theepan, the present incumbent of Jaffna region moved to Trincomalee.


Karuna group armed with captured LTTE weapons

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) yesterday interviewed Pradeep, the Political leader of TVMP (Karuna’s group), projecting Col Karuna’s group as the new political entity that is emerging as formidable force in the Sri Lankan crisis.

Pradeep said that they have a military wing, a political wing, a financial wing and an intelligence wing. Aaron Lewis, the reporter who interviewed Pradeep in Batticoloa, said that the Karuna Group is fighting with the LTTE weapons they took with them when they broke away from the LTTE in 2004. Some of the weapons were captured from the LTTE cadres.

The camera focused on TMVP pasted as posters or painted on the walls of Batticoloa. Aaron Lewis also showed footage of TVMP soldiers carrying rocket propelled grenade launches, AK 47 and other weapons. He said that the TVMP claims to have a force of 1500 soldiers.

Pradeep told SBS that they broke away because the Vanni group used them as cannon fodder and did not give them the places due to them. Their cadres were never promoted to higher ranks, he said.

Aaron Lewis said that when Karuna defected the LTTE was ruthless. He showed the massacre of the Karuna cadres in a safe house in Colombo. Those who survived regrouped.

He concluded by reporting that if the Sri Lankan government in "unable or unwilling” to disarm Karuna’s Group then "war is inevitable."

The Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, said that no one has proved that the Government is backing the Karun Group. In any case, it is not easy to disarm the Karun Group. It means waging another war, he said. He added that the LTTE id dragging on unnecessarily the peace process because they are not genuine about peace.

Ms. Helen Olafsdottir, the spokesperson for the European Peace Monitors, said that they don’t have proof of “but we know that they are there”. She said that the situation is so fragile that it does not need a big attack to start a war. Events are escalating into a war situation and a little incident can spark off a big war, she said.


Aussie TV exposes paramilitary presence in SLA controlled areas in East

Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Television’s Dateline program aired for the first time video footage from a training camp of paramilitaries from Karuna Group operating from Government controlled territory in Batticaloa. In the same program, Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence and the brother of SL President Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, denies any knowledge of existence of paramilitaries. Previously, Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse had claimed that Sri Lanka forces could win a war against Tigers with Karuna Group's support.

SBS' Dateline program journalist Aaron Lewis who covered the paramilitary issue in Sri Lanka, showed video footage of SBS correspondent's visit to the paramilitary camp of Karuna Group in Sri Lanka Army controlled area in Batticaloa. The footage showed around 30 paramilitary cadres in a show down exercise as proof of the existence of the paramilitary group.

"Secretary of Defence doesn't even believe that these armed groups exist," says SBS journalist Aaron after interviewing Mr. Gothabaya Rajapakse.

When asked about paramilitaries, Mr. Gothayabaya Rajapakse, says: "If there is a responsible group or organization that says, there are still groups, then at least show us where, what area, how, who told you, give us some clues for us to look into, because we have tried, and we are successful in preventing these groups operating into these areas."

Gothayabaya Rajapakse replied in the negative when asked if he believed that there are armed groups operating in Government territory.

"No, definitely not. Definitely not," he repeated.

When the journalist said he had met the group in person in Batticaloa, Mr. Rajapakse, replied smiling: "LTTE can do the same thing, they can take you to their camp and say they are Karuna Group."

Aaron Lewis reports, whether they are called paramilitaries or not, "these groups are not hard to find," adding that he managed to get into the camp after some negotiation.

In the SBS video footage, a Karuna Group operative, Pradeep, presented himself as the Head of Political Wing of Karuna Group. Pradeep claimed that his group operates political, financial, armed and intelligence units, but most of the cadres belonged to the armed unit. The video footage, then showed around 30 paramilitary cadres, armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and AK-47s.

Pradeep claimed that Karuna Group cadres were behind the attacks against the Tiger positions in Vakarai area.

"It is clearly the biggest threat to the peace at the moment," Aaron Lewis comments.

The paramilitary threat, the top of the agenda issue, is destroying the the already fragile ceasefire, the SBS program commented.

"As soon as I arrived, I could see, despite the Government's denial, the Karuna Group's military wing is clearly real," concludes the SBS journalist.

Sri Lanka paramilitary coverage of the award winning Dateline program aired Wednesday 8.30 p.m.


Three rival militants killed by Tamil rebels in eastern Sri Lanka By DPA

Colombo - Tamil rebels killed three rival militants in a gun battle in eastern Sri Lanka as Norwegian peace facilitators arrive to make a fresh effort to end an impasse between the government and the rebels over proposed peace talks.

Tamil rebels claimed they killed three of their rivals while repulsing an attack by the rival group in the Kiran area, 250 kilometres east of the capital, on Tuesday morning.

Rebels also captured one of their rival group members along with a stock of claymore mines, grenades and automatic rifles, the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said.

Earlier on Monday night a police constable was killed by suspected Tamil rebels who fired a mortar into a guard post located in Vavuniya, 254 kilometres north of the capital.

The escalation in violence occurred as Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was due to arrive in Sri Lanka on Tuesday in an unscheduled visit to keep the peace process on track and ensure that talks between the rebels and the government go ahead.

The rebels are refusing to come for talks until their cadres can safely travel from the east to the north.

To end the impasse the government will now allow the rebels to use a private commercial air craft after the rebels refused to make the trip by sea charging navy interference.

The Norwegian envoy is due to meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and travel to the north to meet with the rebel political wing leader S.P.Thamilselvan to discuss the new offer of the government.

Peace talks were due to be held in Geneva from April 19 to 21 and later re-scheduled for April 24 and 25. But it was not clear whether the talks could take place next week as the meeting between the eastern military wing members and the leadership in the north has yet to be arranged.

Rebels over the last week stepped up their attacks against security forces, killing more than 55 people, most of them soldiers and sailors.

The peace talks are aimed at finding a political settlement to the 22-year-old Tamil-minority ethnic conflict which has claimed more than 70,000 lives.