Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Vakarai: On the trail of another victory

Maps and unused ammunition of the Tiger guerillas are strewn in and around the one time base used by Trincomalee district leader Swarnam who was moved into Vakarai in Batticaloa, in the wake of the government’s latest military offensive in the eastern province.

All indications are that the base had been vacated hastily.

The one time base, now in the hands of the security forces, fortified not only with coconut tree trunks and concrete, but also with bags of rice which had been sent for the displaced persons in the area, was shown to a group of journalists flown in on Wednesday by the military.
One of the 152 mm artillery guns

A location which has a natural formation of rocks has been picked for the base assuming that it would not be detected by the security forces, but with accurate information Sri Lanka Air force Kafir jets had taken on the target with precision.

During a 10 week long operation, security forces now control the Batticaloa – Trincomalee A 15 road and have effectively prevented the guerrillas making use of the Vakarai sea front which they used to smuggle weapons from the north as well as for the movement of their cadres.

The government is now set to press on the advances gained by the military and will shortly allow thousands of civilians who fled the Vakarai area to return to their homes. The process of screening the displaced before they return has already started.

“Ours was an entirely humanitarian operation to clear the area of terrorists. We have achieved our target and the government will soon start getting civilians back to their homes,” Eastern province military commander Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya told journalists.
Mines left behind by fleeing Tigers

The threats posed to the Somapura and Mahindapura areas among other villages which came under artillery attack no longer exists as the areas used for the attacks now remain under the control of the security forces. Besides the capture of the area, two of the 152 mm artillery guns immobilized and left behind by the LTTE have also been detected along with other weapons and ammunition.

One of the immediate tasks of the security forces would be the clearing operations as dozens of weapons and anti-personnel mines have been left behind by retreating LTTE cadres.

“Our fears are that some of the terrorist posing off as civilians may enter the area and dig out the weapons and try to carryout attacks on the security forces disrupting civilian life and plans of resettlement. Therefore, we need to make sure the place is clear of weapons”, one of the officers explained.

Only some 20 per cent of the area liberated has been cleared so far.
Medicine stocks at Vakarai Hospital

As security forces continue their search operations, more items kept by the LTTE to prevent the entry of the security forces into the area were detected. Among them were a suicide boat containing 17 claymore mines which could be detonated by the use of a central switch and T 56 weapons greased and buried underground.Before the LTTE withdrew into the jungles more than 100 motorcycles, tractors and double cabs were set ablaze. Some of them, brand new vehicles that had been provided to government projects operating in the area.

Water tanks, roofing sheets and tents were among the dozens of items provided by International Non governmental, organisations, found in camps of the LTTE.

The military acknowledges that the INGOs have been able to provide services to the public living in the areas, but expresses fears that the relief provided by them could be misused by the LTTE for military activities as in the case seen in Vakarai.

“We are aware that the INGOs are doing a service to the people. But there should be some mechanism to prevent the items being misused by the LTTE,” military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe accompanying journalists on the visit said.
Burnt motorbikes. Pix by Alexander Balasuriya and A. T.M. Gunananda

In the wake of the misuse of the INGO-provided-relief items the government is planning to draw a new mechanism for INGOs operating in the LTTE controlled areas while INGOs say they are helpless over the misuse of the property as the items have been provided for the residents in the area, but eventually misused by the LTTE.

The main building of the Vakarai hospital, which the LTTE claims had been hit by air strikes remains intact with some of the medicines still remaining in the store rooms.

Opposite the hospital less than 25 metres away the LTTE had been operating its administrative office while almost immediately behind the hospital the LTTE had located one of its camps. The area had been used to fire mortars in an attempt to draw retaliatory attacks from the security forces who were forced to maintain restraint.

Meanwhile some estimated 5,000 civilians had camped around the hospital in small tents with some of them having their own underground bunkers. As the army captured the Vakarai hospital area some of the civilians who were still there were safely evacuated by the army by land and sea .

The hospital was the centre of operations until the army arrived there. Loudspeakers tied on trees was an indication that all communication to the people was made from this point. A lone doctor managed to cope with dozens of patients most of them elderly people and women.

“Some had not eaten for days. They were not given food despite the availability of food,”says one of the officers involved in the operation to recapture the area.

The international community argued that more food should have been sent to the area, but the army points out that food stocks were available but the LTTE was taking away the supplies and storing the items in the camps.

With the capture of the Vakarai and Kathiraveli areas enabling the army to open the A 15 road, the security forces were set to clear more areas including the Thoppigala jungles in the Batticaloa district and reduce the presence of the LTTE in the area. “We will take advantage of the areas captured and go on to clear other areas where Tigers have infiltrated,” says Major General Pannipitiya.


Monday, April 23, 2007

SLA deploys elite forces in Northern Front

Sri Lanka Army has moved more than two thousand heavily armed Special Forces (SF) towards the Forward Defence Line in Thenmaradchi along the Northern Front, military observers in Thenmaradchi said Sunday, speculating a Sri Lankan offensive at any time from Jaffna's FDLs. Sri Lankan troopers were also engaged in intensive night training missions for the last three days in Jaffna's High Security Zone surrounding the SLA's Palaali garrison, in Thondamanaaru and Valalaai areas.

As SLA troopers were training in the north with targeted mortar and artillery attacks and gunfire for a night mission, more than 2000 Special Forces were deployed in the southern Thenmaradchi region, in villages Kappoothu, Manthuvil and Sarasaalai, were moved to FDL position during the last night.

Meanwhile, SLAF helicopters frequented the FDL areas from Palaly airbase throughout the day.

SLAF airplanes were also observed over Vadamaradchi East.

Sri Lanka Army and the Liberation Tigers exchanged artillery fire Sunday noon.

LTTE retaliated with artillery fire, hitting SLA positions in Koyilakandi and Thanagkilappu in Thenmaraadchi and in Ariyaalai East within the Jaffna Municipal area.


2 SLA troopers killed, 5 wounded in Claymore ambush in Welikanda

Gunmen waiting in ambush after penetrating into Sri Lanka Army territory in Welikanda in Batticaloa Polonnaruwa border triggered a Claymore mine and killed two Sri Lanka Army troopers and wounded five Friday around 5:00 p.m. at Thirukonamadu. A SLA tractor transporting sand to fortify bunkers was damaged in the ambush, military sources in Colombo said.

The SLA soldiers were returning with sand from Mahaweli River bed to fortify their positions.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

LRRP takes major LTTE target

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) was humiliated when it's leader was killed in a claymore explosion which took place in rebel held Wanni district last week. Sri lanka army's Long Lange Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) units operating deep inside rebel territory carried out the attack which delivered a deadly blow to LTTE's deep penetration capabilities. The tractor transporting LTTE DPU leader and LTTE intelligence wing members was blasted into pieces by a powerful roadside claymore explosion.

LTTE's Deep Penetration Unit was behind many civilian massacres which took place during the recent times. Disrupting civilian life, defaming Sri Lankan government/armed forces and hunting down rival Tamil faction leaders were the main objectives of LTTE DPU. It was formed by current LTTE Batticaloa district commander Jeyam few years ago.

According to our information, specially trained Long Range Surveillance (LRS) units of the 3rd Special Forces regiment were used in the attack. Exact location and further details of the attack will not be revealed for security reasons.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vakarai: Life after Swarnam and Elilan

Special Forces that drove the LTTEaway from Vakarai, with a captured artillery gun

Sometime ago I maintained in an article in The Island newspaper (1st Sept.06) that the much flaunted "invincibility" of the LTTE was a very fragile one. Our security forces have proved me right in the eastern theatre of the conflict with the terrorist LTTE. They have been defeated in the east. They now do not occupy any main town in the east. They have been driven in disarray to the Thopiagala jungle without much food to sustain them and without many of their lethal weapons to wage war with the army. Given that they do deploy many suicide cadres, the LTTE would be able to mount many destructive campaigns in the areas under the control of the government. Eternal vigilance is the price we have to pay until the LTTE is substantially disabled and neutralised and peace is restored in the country.

Many LTTE sympathizers have tried to down play this crucial victory as a tactical withdrawal by the LTTE. With over 1000 dead and more than a 1000 badly injured the withdrawal was forced on the LTTE by our security forces. This certainly is a victory in my books and the territory gained is of immense significance, in that, the LTTE cannot now site their capital of Eelam in Trincomalee, the physical and political case for the merger of the east with the north has been demolished and the eastern Tamils, the Muslims and the Sinhalese have been liberated from the ogre of the LTTE oppression and the daily artillery barrages.

In the north the LTTE is still a formidable force. This force will now be reinforced by the eastern cadres who managed to escape to the Wanni. It probably has in its possession technically advanced weapons ready for effective use there when it matters by surprise attacks. More importantly, it has a substratum of northern Tamil society that supports the ideology of Eelam. Therefore a consummate military plan need to be put together and thoroughly tested for all conceivable contingencies before any onslaught is made on the LTTE in the north. Any hotch-potch campaign will result in another humiliating Muhamaly debacle. Given the efficient manner of the eastern campaign, one can be certain that our security forces will not again rush in where angels fear to tread.

Perhaps "little now and more later" policy is called for in the north while "the military assets of the LTTE are destroyed wherever they are found" and exposed. The President and the security forces ought also to be congratulated for the demonstrating to the country the successful alternative to Ranil’s abject appeasement policy towards the LTTE. Ghandian patience was endured by the government when the LTTE began their attacks in Dec.2005. This appeasement mode continued till April 2006. The international community did not much care about the deaths and destruction caused by the LTTE, nor did they do anything to rein in the LTTE, and their silence only encouraged the LTTE to greater outrages which ended at Mawil Aru. The new policy is the measured military response for any attack by the LTTE. As these unprovoked artillery attacks took place from their entrenched positions in the east, it became quite apparent that the LTTE ought to be chased out of the east for the attacks to stop and the people to live peacefully. This is what has been accomplished at minimum cost to the army and maximum cost the LTTE. All Sri Lankans should be proud of this achievement. We should evince our full support for our security forces in the frontlines.

In Vakarai and other towns captured from the LTTE security of the territory would be the urgent immediate concern. Security in terms of clearing the place of landmines and bombs is just one of the problems. The other is the infiltration by the LTTE as civilian returnees. They would return to dig up the weapons they had buried and start killing people, destroying property, disrupting commercial life and agricultural occupations, and de-stabilising society. The police therefore have a very difficult task of screening the returnees and keeping an ever watchful eye on those people. This is a thankless yet a necessary job. The pro-LTTE NGOs and other rabid Tamil nationalists are likely to resort to detraction of the police and accuse them of all sorts of crimes not excluding the manipulation of ethnic proportions in the area! Such treacherous conduct should be publicly treated with contempt. This situation calls for maintenance of adequate security personnel in the area and prevents them from being shifted to other areas of conflict. This redeployment of troops happened under Minister Ratwatte and the east fell like a ripe mango into the lap of the LTTE. Let it never happen again.

Once the security is established, and the returnees have been settled, the government should conduct a full population census of the areas not included in the 2001 census and update the electoral register. A reliable census is the basic information necessary for all other development work. Our security forces should never forget the fact that thousands of Tamil IDPs abandoned the LTTE and sought refuge in government controlled areas. They were confident that they will have not only food and shelter there, but also security of life and limbs and freedom from being used as human shields and slave labourers to construct LTTE bunkers. This is the life after Swarnam and Elilan they would now expect in the east. They cannot be thrust into the arms of other armed groups in the east nor should they be allowed to be exploited by such groups. The confidence of these marginalized people in the government and the security forces should be further reinforced by measures restoring to them what is their due in terms of economic development, social improvements, provision for wider educational opportunities and the enhancement of their health.

The government should stop acting as their nanny at the earliest opportunity. Simply handing out food, clothing and materials to build shacks might be considered as immediate necessities. But there is life beyond these immediate needs. For this the people need to be involved in the tasks of building their roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and communication facilities. They should be made to feel proud of being directly involved in building their towns and villages, and the infra structures necessary to sustain profitable economic life in a peaceful environment conducive to healthy life for themselves and their children. The days of victimisation and marginalization should be banished for good. They will recover their dignity when they are enabled to lead a life not dependent on handouts from the government and NGOs. Smiling faces in the midst of hard work to restore their shattered lives to normalcy should be the end-objective of the policy of the government and the security forces. The government simply cannot fail them at this juncture.

In rebuilding these devastated areas there is one policy the government has so far failed to consider let alone implement. I am referring to propaganda to de-eelamize these traumatised people. The government has been very successful in its current propaganda TV campaign in favour of the army. A similar local campaign in the east to wean the people from the LTTE is opportune at the moment. Posters, bill-boards local press and radio should be utilised on a daily basis to drive home the point that the Eelam dream of one man is the cause of their dire destitution, destruction of life and property. Pirapakaran has caused them utter misery and robbed them of their children and the future of their children. It is time to ditch him and win back the lives of misguided children under his jackboots. That these children have a real future to lead normal lives than be living as mindless cannon fodder for the LTTE. There is more satisfaction and joy in a society that cares and shares and lives in peace with the neighbours. Surely it is worth trying to instill the positive aspect of our lives living in one free multi-ethnic country rather than the life in a myopic ethnic and fascistic enclave that Pirapakaran had hitherto propagated in the minds of these unfortunate people.

The lynchpin to the successful re-integration of these abused Tamil people is the expected reasonable offer of a new deal to sort out all their problems both real and perceived. In this endeavour, one hopes that the government realises that there are also alternatives to NGO/Majority Comittee Report and Prof. Vitharna’s proposals. Justice and fairness to all both the majority as well as the minority should be the bottom line in any new deal.


Kanjikudichchi-aru offensive enters critical phase, one more base overrun

The ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the Kanjikudichchi-aru jungles has entered a decisive stage with police commandos targeting small groups of terrorists operating in the area.

"We are actually in the third phase of the offensive," a senior para-military officer told The Island yesterday. Although commandos engaged in the offensive forced the LTTE to abandon almost 20 bases along with a large quantity of supplies, small groups are believed to be re-grouping.

The current phase of the offensive was aimed at wiping out them, he said. Aggressive patrolling would continue to seek out and neutralize the enemy units.

Commandos on Thursday engaged two enemy groups at Udimbikulam and Darampalawa. According to the STF official commandos the first contact had taken place at Udimbikulam where commandos overran an LTTE hideout subsequently identified as Jeevananda base. "We hit them hard," the official said that subsequent inquiries revealed that five LTTE cadres had succumbed to their injuries. Commandos had recovered one multi purpose machine gun with 300 rounds of ammunition, 24 hand grenades, two communication sets and a large stock of rice, dhal and sugar.

The second confrontation had taken place at Darampalawa where police commandos ran into an LTTE ambush. One commando had been wounded and evacuated to the government hospital at Ampara. His condition is reported to be stable.

Commandos had also located a caterpillar and an earth moving vehicle near the LTTE base located on January 29.

The expert acknowledged that the setting up of new permanent bases would take place as aggressive patrols seek LTTE cadres who had lost their permanent bases. He expressed the belief that the LTTE would try to side-step the ongoing operations. "They would subsequently mount attacks on isolated bases and foot patrols," he said. "In fact, we have adopted a similar strategy. We are setting up new bases and sending out patrols to scour the surrounding jungles."

The official pointed out that there was a huge difference between jungle operations and fighting in built-in areas. Since the launch of the offensive the LTTE threat on Sinhala and Muslim areas had lessened, he said.


STF captures another base by Harischandra Gunaratna

Special Task Force on Thursday captured a Tiger support base called "Jeewananda Base" close to Kanchikudichciaru in Ampara district. Around 10 Tigers have been injured in the battle, Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said. This base has been used mainly to train "child soldiers" and they have been given weapon training here. Among the items recovered from this camp were sophisticated weapons, hand grenades, communication equipment and suicide kits, detonators and live cartridges. According to the MCNS the LTTE had planned a series of suicide attacks in various locations originating from this camp.

Meanwhile the Tigers after their humiliating defeat in Vakarai had fled to Thoppigala and other are said to be without a leader after their leader Dayani was captured by troops. The beleagured cadres numbering around 350 are without a leader and want to surrender to the troops. After the defeat in the east the Tiger area leaders have been summoned to the Wanni by the LTTE hierarchy. One of the cadres had said that they were paid a salary of Rs 9,000 per month.

Aid groups express concern over paramilitary presence in east

* GTZ suspends Batti work
* SLMM says 16 children missing
* Karuna wants credible evidence

The humanitarian community has expressed serious concerns over the presence of paramilitary groups in the east with a leading German charity organization GTZ temporarily suspending its operations in Batticaloa after two of its offices were looted by armed men. Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) says abductions still continue in Batticaloa and also noted in its latest weekly report that 16 children and 7 adults were reported missing in the district last week and raised suspicion of Karuna and LTTE involvement.

However, Karuna spokesman Azath Maulana played down the latest concerns and allegations raised by the NGOs and the SLMM and called for "credible evidence" to substantiate any claims of Karuna involvement in the said incidents or other child recruitment allegations. Incidentally, UN envoy Allan Rock was yesterday scheduled to present a report to the working group of the UN Security Council which he claimed contains "credible evidence" of Karuna and LTTE child recruitment and abductions.

As Mr. Rock had accused certain elements of the government forces of conspiring or in some cases directly assisting Karuna in abductions and recruitment, the government went public and refuted the claims and later demanded 'credible evidence' to back the allegations.

"There is still much abduction in Batticaloa district. 16 children and seven adults have been reported missing. Both LTTE and TMVP (Karuna) are suspected. Abductions are reported in the other districts as well, but not as many," the SLMM said. Mr. Maulana however said TMVP cadres had not recruited or abducted any children as of late and further disputed UNICEF figures of child recruitment by Karuna. "We have a total cadre strength of only 2000, so if you go by the UNICEF figures it would suggest most of our cadres are children and not adults. That is not the case and these are all fabricated allegations which ultimately play into the hands of the LTTE" The presence of political offices of the Karuna faction in the east has also raised concerns following a spate of abductions, most which remain unsolved and violent incidents with the Batticaloa police, also suggesting action to curb the uncontrollable activities of Karuna.

The weekly report of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) country team, an independent INGO monitoring body, notes that the general situation in Batticaloa remains tense with ongoing daily reports of security incidents within the town and throughout the district. "The humanitarian community is deeply concerned by the increased number of paramilitaries in Batticaloa town. In Ampara there are renewed reports of abductions. The increased presence of armed civilians has heightened fears in communities," IASC said this week.

Meanwhile, IASC also said that GTZ, a leading German based humanitarian organization has decided to temporarily stop its activities in the Batticaloa district after two of its warehouses, in Valaichchenai and Kaluwanchikudy, were looted by armed men this week.

Renegade LTTE commander says LTTE smuggled in 30 artillery guns during CFA

"Some six 130 mm artillery guns, four 152 mm guns and more than 20 122 mm guns and Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL) were smuggled in. They were brought by ship and unloaded off Challai near Mullaithiv." says Karuna Amman, leader of TMVP, in an interview given to the local newspaper 'The Nation'. Read full article here.

Karuna Amman deserted the LTTE and formed his own faction 3 years ago. More than 1000 armed personnel are currently under his command. Before his desertion, he lead many successful attacks against the Sri Lankan army most natable being operation unceasing waves 1,2 and 3.

Meanwhile, LTTE shelled a large part of Jaffna city targeting both military and civilian structures today morning. 5 SLA soldiers were killed and more than 10 were wounded in the artillery strike.

LTTE artillery fire was directed at the Muhamalai entry/exit point simultaneously. Muhamalai is used to transport essential goods to civilians in the northern region.


Defeat terrorists for peace in SL: Karuna

LTTE is not the sole representative of Tamils in Sri Lanka

Vinyagamurthy Muralitharan (39), better known as Karuna, has become a household name in Sri Lanka, since his defection from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in March 2004. He is hated by the LTTE Wanni faction but praised by others keen on defeating the Wanni Tigers. In a wide ranging interview with Ruwan Weerakoon, at an undisclosed location in the east, Karuna spoke about the Tigers’ air capability, the military’s campaign and his own future plans, even as the government completed half its term in office, with parliamentary elections due in three years. He spoke of provincial council elections and the need for a referendum in the east in another two years to determine whether the easterners wish to merge or de-merge with the north.

Q: Recently, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) base at Katunayake was bombed by the LTTE. What are your views?
A: Ever since Jaffna was captured, Prabhakaran planned to purchase several small planes known as light aircraft from Thailand and other countries in the east to be assembled here.

Q: Was this after 1994?
A: Yes. After 1994, after the Riviresa operation, Prabhakaran started on a plan to purchase light aircraft. When the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) was signed between Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prabhakaran, the interim period was used to purchase light aircraft. He sent his cadres for training in private schools in Thailand and Malaysia. However, military-wise, this attack cannot be considered a major one. On the ground, Prabhakaran has lost many of his strongholds. The east is almost totally lost, while he is losing in the north. This attack on the air base is a propaganda stunt to create fear in the minds of the people. The aircraft will also be used for suicide missions. This was planned several years ago. Even if Prabhakaran purchases nuclear weapons, he cannot achieve his goal of a separate state.

Q: What is the exact year the LTTE purchased aircraft and how did it do it?
A: As per the CFA, the LTTE was allowed access to and use of the sea for training and fishing after five months, the LTTE commenced smuggling weapons, ordnance and dismantled light aircraft by ship, aided by the clauses in the CFA.

Q: What is the role played by Jeyakumar in Australia? Did he supply aircraft?
A: We heard that he has died. Jeyakumar was close to Prabhakaran and played a key role in fundraising. Though he played an important role in purchasing aircraft, his main role was fundraising. Those who played important roles in purchasing aircraft are K. Pathmanathan, better known as KP, and one Pradeep Master. Weapons, ordnance and aircraft are purchased from countries such as Ukraine. Even artillery is purchased from Ukraine. There are many brokers assisting the LTTE to purchase arms.

Q: What type of artillery was smuggled in during the CFA and how?
A: Some six 130 mm artillery guns, four 152 mm guns and more than 20 122 mm guns and Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL) were smuggled in. They were brought by ship and unloaded off Challai near Mullaitivu.

Q: What advice do you have to destroy the LTTE’s air capability?
A: In fact, the LTTE’s air capability is not that great. There are only five or six small planes, which isn’t much. My advice is that three steps should be taken. Firstly, the LTTE strongholds on the ground should be captured, starting with securing the A9 route. Next, the Sri Lankan Government should strengthen the Sri Lanka Navy to be able to effectively prevent the smuggling of weapons and ordnance by sea, which is the main supply route for the arming of the Tigers. Thirdly, LTTE fundraising overseas should be stopped.Funds are raised in many ways, including illegal money laundering. If these are stopped, automatically, Prabhakaran’s organisation would come to a standstill. However, the capture of the ground level strongholds should be the primary objective. Then, LTTE activities will automatically come to a standstill. Then, the organisation won’t even have a runway for their small planes.

Q: The SLAF has taken on several targets. According to your information, were these targets accurate?
A: The many air raids launched by the SLAF are accurate. Many Sea Tiger bases and Forward Defence Lines (FDL) have been destroyed, with many commanders and cadres killed. But air raids alone would not help to completely destroy the strength of the LTTE. For example, a gravel road could be used as a runway for light aircraft. Hence, my suggestion is to first capture land and their strongholds, thereby destroying the LTTE.

Q: Do you think the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) is on the right track in taking on the Tigers? How do you rate the concept ‘seek and destroy’ by small group teams?
A: The present SLA Chief Sarath Fonseka has used these new changes as war tactics. During Operation Jayasikuru, scores of army personnel were involved in the operation and the army suffered heavy losses. As a war tactic the military has formed small groups. The army is successfully targeting and destroying the LTTE. What it is doing is drawing the LTTE towards it and making a frontal attack. Many LTTE cadres are killed as a result. In Vakarai, nearly 200 LTTE cadres died, with minimal loss to the SLA of just 40 or 42 killed. Although it is a slow process and time consuming, it is a good concept. It is good to build up the morale of the security forces, as they won’t get frustrated when losses are minimal on their side. The other aspect is that it has helped capture the strongholds. They are now consolidating in many places.

Q: Operations are to be expanded into the Wanni, Madhu, Kilinochchi and possibly, Mullaitivu. What do you anticipate?
A: When well planned tactics are employed, they succeed. After we quit the LTTE, the organisation lost its capability to launch offensives.

Q: Why?
A: When I was in the LTTE, 95% of the offensives were launched by my commanders and me. But now, there isn’t a single commander with that capability in the LTTE outfit. For example, three years have lapsed since we left the LTTE, and not a single army camp captured. For instance, last month, it could not even capture the Mavadivembu army camp, which had only 40 soldiers. In the past, military operations were launched for political gain, with much political propaganda about it. But now, military operations are for the purpose of destroying or eradicating terrorism. The army should be given complete authority to decide how to launch operations and attacks to destroy terrorists. Earlier, operations like Jayasikuru were used for political advantage.

Q: Can the security forces win this war or not?
A: The SLA is well organised. It has the capacity and the capabilities. Hence, once the decision making power is given to the SLA, there is no doubt that it will win this war.

Q: How about SLAF’s air power and the military in general?
A: SLAF’s power has been strengthened. Nowadays the targeting is accurate. The recent success of the military is because the commandos are used on the ground as commandos and the infantry as infantry, which situation was not there in the past. The Navy is also doing well. Within this month, four ships have been destroyed. The supply to the LTTE has been curtailed by the Sri Lanka Navy. They are performing well.

Q: What about the air targets – are they accurate or not?
A: The targets are accurate. The navy is doing well, and within this month, four ships have been destroyed. The supply to the LTTE has been obstructed by the Sri Lanka Navy. They are good.

Q: You mentioned Jayasikuru. Didn’t you attack the government troops from the rear?
A: Yes, we took all measures to counter that operation with our offensives. It is said that attack is the best form of defence. So our counter operations during Jayasikuru rendered the army helpless.

Q: Did Prabhakaran give you instructions regarding this particular attack that you launched?
A: Prabhakaran didn’t know anything. At that time, I drew up the whole plan and executed the counter operations during Jayasikuru. He appointed me to be in charge of counter operations. I was not involved in the counter operations during Riviresa.

Q: It is alleged that the Karuna group has connections to the SLA. What do you say?
A: That is not true. It is false propaganda. Our movement is a political movement. We have a military wing at our bases in the forest for self defence purposes. Hence, the allegation about our connection with the SLA is completely false.

Q: Do you totally deny any involvement with the SLA?
A: Military-wise, we don’t have any connection with the SLA. However, our political wing, which is unarmed, has requested security from the government. Security is provided to our offices in Colombo, Batticaloa and Trincomalee to enable us carry out our political activities.

Q: There are strong allegations that you abduct children and Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned you on this score. Even UN Special Representative Allan Rock alleged that the army is helping your faction in recruiting child soldiers?
A: It is strange to hear that the SLA is assisting us. Furthermore, we don’t abduct children. I would like to clearly state that nearly 20 of our offices manned by our cadres are functioning in government-controlled areas in the east. So, if those cadres had been recruited forcibly and sent to those offices, they would have escaped by now.

Q: But, couldn’t they be forcibly held by the military?
A: We don’t need to recruit children, since we don’t have a need to strengthen our military. Our military is only for self defence. Furthermore, we don’t need to strengthen our military to infiltrate because the SLA is doing that. It is defeating the LTTE. In areas liberated by the army, we are putting up political offices to help the people to rebuild and resettle in these places. Hence, we don’t have a need to strengthen our military by recruitment. We want to bring a complete stop to this war.

Q: Why is it that the LTTE does not use its power in the east? Why doesn’t the LTTE use its air capability in the east?
A: The LTTE’s air capability is not strong. It has some small planes, which are not enough to launch attacks on the ground.

Q: In that case, how did it attack the Katunayake Airbase?
A: It can’t launch a proper air raid, and engage in an air battle. It can only conduct hit and run raids.

Q: Why can’t the LTTE build a runway in your area?
A: It can’t do that.

Q: Why not?
A: Its territory is very narrow.

Q: LTTE Political Wing Leader, S.P. Thamilselvan has said very clearly that if the SLAF continues bombing LTTE camps, the LTTE will bomb Colombo. What is your comment?
A: Yes, as a terrorist organisation it will do this. In the past, there have been many instances where the LTTE attacked innocent civilians following battlefield losses. It plants bombs inside public transport. These are terrorist activities. My advice is that the Wanni has to be captured.

Q: What is the clout that LTTE Intelligence Wing Leader Pottu Amman has within the outfit?
A: In short, Pottu Amman is a butcher. He has killed many innocent Tamil civilians and political leaders. He is famous for killing. He has never participated in the battlefield.

Q: Is he a good intelligence leader?
A: No. All planning is by Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman carries out the orders. Hence, he Pottu Amman cannot be considered an intelligence leader.

Q: Why is Pottu Amman so influential?
A: Pottu Amman doesn’t have the capacity to lead. He is a killer. He is connected to the Rajiv Gandhi killing. He is a wanted person in many countries and that has made him famous. Other than that, he doesn’t have the capacity to lead the LTTE.

Q: Sornam, Bhanu, Soosai and Reuben are your past comrades. Ramesh is your good friend. Your comments, please?
A: Soosai belongs to the fisher folk from Velvetithurai, and a puppet of Prabhakaran, dancing to his tune. He has some experience in the sea, and that is all. Sornam has lost many battles and was punished by Prabhakaran. He was sent to the east after losing in the north. In the east too he was not successful. Now, he has been sent to Madhu. Rueben is not a commander or a leader. He took charge of the financial aspects of the LTTE. Ramesh was my subordinate and was working under me. He was under my control.

Q: Has Prabhakaran sent Ramesh to kill you?
A: Prabhakaran has told Ramesh to kill me, but Ramesh is not brave enough to do that.

Q: Has Prabhakaran made any attempt to kill you in the past three years?
A: From the day I quit the organisation, up to now, he has been attempting to kill me since I pose a serious threat to him. But he can’t do that. We are ready to face that challenge.

Q: What is the strategy to expand control of the east?
A: Politically, we are making the people understand that Prabhakaran’s struggle for a separate state cannot be achieved and hence, a hopeless one. Once the people realise this and accept it, the LTTE will not have the opportunity to infiltrate and will be defeated. Then, we would take control in the east.

Q: What is the LTTE’s strategy to counter your group?
A: The LTTE strategy to counter us has been destroyed. It was defeated. We will make the world realise that the LTTE is not the sole representative of the Tamils. We have the advantage of knowing the terrain. Hence, in this instance, Prabhakaran can do nothing in the east.

Q: Where were you in 1997, 1998 and 1999?
A: With the LTTE in Batticaloa

Q: Did the LTTE acquire planes during that period?
A: There were no planes in 1997 and 1988. In 1999, there were only two light helicopters. All the planes were acquired after the CFA.

Q: Tell me about the peace talks which you also attended. What happened?
A: We went for negotiations but we knew it would not succeed since, as a matter of fact, Prabhakaran did not have the will to arrive at a political solution. Before going for the talks, according to the discussion he had, he had asked his men to use this interval to purchase weapons. So, in fact, he had no intention of striking a peace deal.

Q: He just wanted to drag the peace talks?
A: It was a drama.

Q: What is the way out of this?
A: The Sri Lanka Government and the forces must defeat the terrorists and only then come for peace talks.

Q: As a former leader of the LTTE, you strongly believe that the LTTE has to be destroyed?
A: Prabhakaran does not have a single thought towards peace. Hence, destroying Prabhakaran is the only way at arriving at a lasting peace in Sri Lanka.

Q: Are you going to submit proposals to the All Party Conference (APC)?
A: Yes.

Q: What kind of political solution are you suggesting for the east?
A: What we wish is a political solution within a united Sri Lanka. We are drafting proposals for that and very soon we would be publishing them.

Q: Has the subject of north-east merger been included in the draft proposal?
A: We have to liberate the east from the oppression of the Prabha-group and thereafter, hold elections. Reconstruction and resettlement should take place after a provincial council election is held. Two years later, a referendum should be held in the east to ascertain the will of the eastern people as to merge or de-merge with the north. It is up to the people; they have to decide.


Pillaiyan, Commander of Karun group, targets proxy MPs of the Tamil Tigers

In a counter-attack on the pro-Tamil Tiger parliamentarians of the east who had accused the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) led by V.Muralitharan (Colonel Karuna) of preventing them from visting their electorates, Pillaiyan, the Commander of the TMVP. told the Asian Tribune that this is a tactic of the Tamil Tigers to divert attention from their practice of killing all Tamil MPs in the democratic stream and threatening the lives of others like Douglas Devananda and V. Anandasangaree, the leader of the TULF.

Pillaiyan was targeting in particular T. Jeyanandamoorthy, one of the TNA parliamentarians for Batticaloa, who had told a pro-Tiger website, TamilNet: "Due to death threats from Sri Lanka Army (SLA) backed Karuna group in Batticaloa district, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians representing constituencies in the district have not been able to go to their electorates for the last six months. Batticaloa MPs have been unable to even participate in high level planning meetings where the district's urgent needs are discussed and decisions taken. “

When the Asian Tribune asked for Pillaiyan comments on this charge, he said that T. Jeyanandamoorth, who is proxy MP of the LTTE and now acting as the as the webmaster updating the TamilNet for his LTTE pay masters based in Oslo, Norway, has fabricated false allegations to cover-up for the atrocities committed by his political masters in the LTTE.

Jeyanandamoorthy and Pillaiyan’s brother are married to two sisters and are closely related to each other.

Pillaiyan said that TMVP has joined the mainstream politics of this country. "We believe in democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of movements. Unlike the Vanni Tigers led by Prabakaran, we do not believe in the utopian concept of “Tamil Eelam.” We believe in the oneness of Sri Lanka and wish to abide by the laws and rules of the country. Therefore we do not consider either the Government of Sri Lanka or the Sri Lanka’s armed forces as our enemies".

He added: "It is unfortunate even several international NGO’s are unable to digest our position. When we believe in democracy, pluralism and rule of law, then why should we oppose the Government and its armed forces?

"When this is our position, there is no reason for us to oppose the Tamil National Alliance MPs visiting the Batticaloa district. Though those MPs are considered as traitors who have betrayed the people by joining the Vanni Tigers, abandoning the eastern Tamils who voted for them, we have never opposed them visiting their electorates. But according to our information it is the people who voted for them that are opposed to them. These MPs are fully aware of the people’s wrath and fury against them. That is why they are not visiting their electorates in the district. To cover up their betrayal to the people who voted for them they come up with cock-and-bull stories.

“Before making false allegations they must remember that it was Karuna Amman who nominated them initially to contest as candidates of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi . Even after the split with the LTTE in 03 March 2004, Karuna Amman worked hard, ensured the victory of these 5 Members of Parliament from the Batticaloa district plus one in the Amparai district. After winning the elections they stabbed us in our back and joined the Vanni Tigers.

"Today they suddenly speak of electorates and decentralized budget allocations. I wish to ask the so called 6 LTTE’s proxies to give details of the monies they have allocated so far from the funds to the people of the east. Out of these funds how much money actually went to the so-called projects they have named and how much money went to the LTTE coffers for the purchase arms and ammunitions to fight the Sri Lanka Government?

"Also can Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy say openly how many times he smuggled arms and ammunitions to arm the LTTE in the Batticaloa district when he visited Batticaloa under police protection given by the Sri Lanka Government?

"Furthermore, in letters sent by Mavai Senathirajah, General Secretary of proxy MPs of the Tigers to Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse he had alleged, that TMVP was involved in preventing Tamil dailies, Thinakural and Virakesari week-end edition, reaching the people of Batticaloa due to restriction imposed by us.

"I wish to challenge the Mavai Senathirajah to prove this allegation. When we made inquiries, the people of Batticaloa told us that they are not satisfied with the partial and bias news items appearing in those newspapers. We also learnt that a group of youth conscious about the welfare of the people of the East has warned the news agents of these newspapers to request the newspapers to publish unbiased and impartial news items. As the newspapers failed to accede to their requests and were promoting the Tiger terrorists, its leader Prabhakaran and glorifying Tiger terrorism, the youths got annoyed and told the news agents not to bring down these papers to the East.

"In the Vanni Prabhakaran's Tigers adopt the same policy. They banned all the newspapers published in Colombo. Even in Jaffna they threaten regional dailies published over there not to print news items unfavorable to the Tigers. They dictate what should be published and what not be published.

"Vanni Tigers never allow even people to exercise their democratic rights. They continue to remote control the Vanni people and force them to participate in rallies and protests to impress the world. Even Mr. V. Anandasangaree who represented Kilinochchi for a long period of time, was not allowed to enter Vanni. The statute of Rajiv Gandhi was demolished by the LTTE barbarians in Kilinochchi
"TMVP do not follow these anti-people policies of the Tigrs.

Jeyanandamoorthy should first arrange his house in order before pointing a finger at us. He should first order the LTTE cadres in Paris to allow EPDP’s political weekly Thinamurasu be sold without any problem. He should also ask them to lift the ban imposed on Tamil shops in Paris selling Kuhanathan’s Eelanadu without any restrictions.

"Our information confirms that it is the people who voted for them that are now opposed to them for betraying them. Therefore, if Jeyanandamoorthy and the other MPs have any problem with the people in the east, I would kindly ask them to settle it with them and not drag us into their disputes with the people of the east. We believe in democracy and rule of law. We are not barbarians like Prabakaran and his terrorist gang." said Pillaiyan.


Govt. failing to stop Karuna group: HRW

The New York based Human Rights Watch said yesterday that despite promises to investigate child abductions by the Karuna group, the Sri Lankan authorities have taken no effective action to stop abductions.

While saying LTTE was still continuing to recruit children to be used as child soldiers, the HRW said that in February the organisation witnessed how children clearly under the age of 17, some armed with assault rifles, performing guard duty at various offices of the Karuna group's political party, the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP).

"Human Rights Watch saw a child with an assault rifle guarding the TMVP office in Kiran, home town of the group's leader V. Muralitharan, also known as Colonel Karuna. Other children, some of them armed, were seen in and around TMVP offices in the district, including in Valaichchenai and Morakkottanchenai, where the office is across the road from a Sri Lankan army base," it said.

HRW Asia director Brad Adams said when government troops at a military base looked across the street at children standing guard at a Karuna office and did nothing, it was hard to believe the government was taking any meaningful steps to end the abuse.

He said President Rajapaksa and other Sri Lankan officials have repeatedly said the government would investigate the allegations of state complicity in Karuna abductions and hold accountable any member of the security forces found to have violated the law. But to date, however, the government had taken no effective steps. According to UNICEF, there were 45 reported cases of Karuna child abductions in three months – ten in December, 24 in January and 11 in February.

Hunting NGOs or restoring and rewarding non-profit work

The week saw two developments. The first pertains to a significant number of NGOs who have received a request from the Select Committee of Parliament investigating operations of NGOs and their impact. The information requested includes: 1. All the monies received – give names of donors – and expenditure – give for what purpose – since its inception listed by month and year. 2. Names of all the directors and employees with all the monies paid to them since the inception including monthly salaries.

3. Names and topics of seminars, conferences, study tours, studies, papers etc. sponsored directly or indirectly and amounts paid to each attendee for travel expenses, honoraria etc. Give vocation of attendee. 4. Give copies of conference papers, conference programmes, conference speakers, studies, papers and all publications made by you and participants both local and foreign sponsored by you. 5. Names and vocations of all persons and organizations both local and foreign who participated in the events associated with or organized and the amounts paid to each attendee for travel expenses, honoraria etc. 6. List of foreign conferences attended under the sponsorship and amounts paid to each attendee (give his vocation) for travel expenses, salaries, exgratia payments, honoraria etc. 7. Names and beneficiaries of, and invitees for the above events and the monies spent on each of them by means of traveling expenses, honorariums and all other payments directly or indirectly. Give individual vocations of attendees. 8. List of journalists, politicians, government and private sector officers who have directly or indirectly benefited or participated in activities and the amounts paid directly or indirectly to them individually either through travelling expenses, honorariums, salaries, exgratia payments, and all other payments. Give the name of the beneficiary and the amounts paid. 9. List of all publications and studies done as a collective body or by those associated with them directly and indirectly.

10. Please give copies of all such publications. Please provide the information on the years 2006 and 2007 within one week and the information from the inception.

The letters request information within a week. Some have been at work for 30 years or more and others, have been there for 10 years or less. The questions in the minds of many is, are we looking at a reasonable review or as the title mentions, an investiation of operations. It brings to question the power to investigate, the role of other Government Agencies whose job it is to facilitate, monitor and review the functioning of NGOs.

The second development which was very refreshing was reportedly the hand-over of a long awaited Report focusing on strengthening and re-addressing the Voluntary Social Services Organizations Act No.31 of 1980. This column has received excerpts of the Report which are carried below.

In the wake of 2004 December Tsunami Disaster, large number of national and International Non-Governmental Groups raised public funds world over to assist the Tsunami Victims. The disaster overwhelmed the existing registration and monitoring mechanism of voluntary organizations and hundreds of NGOs were registered without much scrutiny. Within few months there was public questioning of the accountability and transparency of all national and international non-governmental organizations operating in Sri Lanka. Inadequacy and ineffectiveness of the existing legislation, more particularly the Voluntary Social Service Organizations (Registration and Supervision) Act No.31 of 1980 and Amendment Act No.8 of 1998 came to be highlighted.

In this background Hon. K.N. Douglas Devananda, M.P. Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare appointed five member Committee of Volunteers in January 2006 with the following “Terms of Reference”: To examine and report as to the present suitability of the Registration of NGOO Act of 1980 and propose amendments where necessary. To suggest methods to bring about professionalism in the NGOO sector and the necessity of a code of conduct. How to ascertain the competency of the people who arte delivering the services. How to enhance the transparency of the organizations, check the veracity of their claims, impact of the services provided, and linking the services with the mainstream. Is the registration be reviewed and be made bi-annually and the necessity to extend the issue of visas for the expatriates whose expertise can be found locally, and the volunteers who come without sufficient financial stability for their expenses as it becomes a hidden way of employment.

To suggest improvements to any other matters not mentioned above. In the above context, the Committee at its several deliberations considered the following relating to the Terms of Reference (ToR) which are summarized as below:

To examine and report as to the present suitability of the registration of NGOO Act and propose amendments where necessary.

Registration is necessary to enable NGOs to bring in the issues of Humanitarian space, respect of neutrality, provision of infrastructure support to projects, partnership avenues for communities to access aid given to government through tripartite agreements, honouring of commitments to MOU’s. The Committee looked at the various modes of registration available presently in Sri Lanka and observed the complexity involved in tracking down an organization as to its registration, identity and accountability in this context.

The following are various statutes/modes which were brought to the notice of the Committee, coming under both the National level and the Provincial/Divisional level: 1.Voluntary Social Service Organizations (Registration and Supervision) Act, No.31 of 1980 and Amendment Act, No.8 of 1998. 2. Companies Act, No.17 of 1982, Section 21. 3. Special Acts of Parliament. 4. Co-operative Societies Law of 1972. 5. Societies Ordinance of 1891, as amended. 6. Development Act, No.46 of 2000. 7. Rural Development Societies. 8. Protection of the Elders Rights Act No.9 of 2000. 9. Consumer Affairs Authority Act. 10. Trusts Ordinance.

The committee agreed that one system of registration should be introduced in order to enable the Registrar to have records relating to all the NGOs registered. Committee further discussed of the possibility of adopting a system similar to the one contemplated in United Kingdom’s Charity Commission Act.

The schedule hereto contains the following: A list of Organizations registered under the VSSO Act is marked as Annexure, “B”; A list of Organizations registered with the Registrar of Companies marked as Annexure “C”; A list of Organizations incorporated under Acts of Parliament marked as Annexure “D”;

To suggest methods to bring about professionalism in the NGOO sector and the necessity of a code of conduct.

It was suggested to look at rolling out the codes as already ascribed to and suggested that as a code NGOs must ascribe to as part of the registration process in Sri Lanka. Committee discussed that the proposed Commission/Authority could work towards creating an environment in which NGOs take an effort to put together a skills upgrading/ training program where staff can be sent for NGO specific management training and financial reporting will be an essential element.

How to ascertain the competency of the people who are delivering the services.

The proposed Commission/Authority should be given a mandate to promote Competency evaluation to be done of all staff each year and training needs of staff is identified. Under this scheme the State will also be able to access competency of all NGO workers.

Is the registration to be reviewed and be made bi=annually and the necessity to extend the issue of visas for the expatriates whose stability for their expenses, as it becomes a hidden way of employment. The arrangement, which is done to get visas in advance through GoSL, should be continued.

The committee also discussed this issue relating to the time frame and considered if registration should be done once in two years or if it should be done every six months, as it affects the annual planning of organizations.

How to enhance the transparency of the organizations; check the veracity of their claims, impact of the services provided, and linking the services with the mainstream services.
Committee made several deliberations in this regard as it is vital to enhance account-ability in NGOs. It considered the view that audited accounts and annual work plans should be shared with the State through the proposed Commission/Authority that is set up for the purpose of regularizing the registration, accountability and development of the NGOs. Similar to the system under the Companies Act requiring annual statement of accounts, the NGOs will then be liable to report to the proposed Commission/Authority with their financial status. It was also discussed to impose a penalty by way of fine or cancellation of registration, in the event an Organization violates the above to ensure that there is effective execution of the provisions relating to financial reporting.

To suggest improvements to any other matters not mentioned above.

Tax imposed on social service organizations and NGOs Social Service Organizations and NGOs is another important segment to the development of the country. They receive funds from benefactors and philanthropists who want to make a change in poorer societies. The committee discussed if taxation on donations other than what is acceptable should be reviewed as it is not an element promoted in many other countries. Freedom to be actively engaged in the social development of the country. Social service organizations and NGOs should be respected for what it has been contributing so far. The NGOs step into development processes, which the Government is reluctant to step into. An example is the Family Planning programme, which was carried out for the government.Hence, appropriate freedom to act in the development process should be made readily available and the Committee recognized that the rights envisaged in the Constitu5tion relating to freedom of association should not be violated or hindered in any manner in the course of implementing the suggested Commission/Authority’s mandate.

National experts to lead the sector

The National Policy of engaging local expertise should be strictly implemented. However, expatriates should be given the facility to visit the country and monitor the projects and programmes they fund.

Financial Support by State

The committee considered of the possibility of making suggestions to the Government to implement a scheme where a fund could be maintained to disburse finances among the NGOs to carryout development plans, through making Tax Exemptions for Commercial Entities that donate to such fund annually. A list of ‘well operating’ NGOs will be maintained for this purpose depending on the financial reporting and other steps taken towards accountability by them, who will be the beneficiaries of such a system. This environment is expected to promote accountability, provide financial stability throughout the year for CBOs and other NGOs, utilize tax payments directly for the development plans, liberate NGOs from foreign dependability, etc.

Foreign expertise to be used in the future ;

The committee decided to obtain expertise in the international Non Profit Management/ Legal Aspects in order to make its deliberations more productive and practical, to provide the Government with a well studied recommendation. For this purpose the International Development Law Organization, based in Rome, expressed its willingness to part with the services of an international expert in the field. Consequently, Ms. Lindsey Driscoll, a Member of Charity Commission, United Kingdom, Expert in NGO Legal Aspects, visited Sri Lanka and carried out a study of the present regime and the improvements to be made, from the 1st to the 14th November 2006. The Committee arranged sessions with the expert on the legal, developmental, accountable, managerial and social aspects relating to Non Profit/Voluntary Organizations around the world and through such exposure to be able to select a process much adoptable to the Sri Lankan context.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

‘REBELS’, ‘TERRORISTS’ AND BBC By Fr.Vimal Tirimanna, CSsR

When the LTTE launched a surprise pre-dawn aerial attack on March 26, the BBC news bulletins very correctly reserved their first headline for this event for it was the first time in the world that a terrorist organization had used air power of their own against a legitimate government. In reporting this event, the BBC kept on referring to the LTTE as "the LTTE rebels". This is not the first time (and it will surely not be the last time!) that the BBC used the word "rebels" to refer to the internationally notorious terrorist organization, the LTTE. Surprisingly, however, the writer, who is a daily follower of the BBC news, has never heard the same BBC ever referring to the Al Quaeda or the Hamas or the Hisabollah as "the Al Queada rebels" or "the Hamas rebels" or "the Hisabollah rebels". The unacceptable attack on the twin-towers in Manhatten in New York on 11th September 2001, is referred to by the same BBC always as "the terrorist attack" and never as "the rebel attack". At the same time, the same BBC never did refer to the attacks in Madrid or London, which followed the 11th September 2001, as "rebel attacks"! Moreover, whenever the BBC refers to the so-called "war on terror" of President George W. Bush it has never called it "the war on rebellion". As a close follower of the BBC news bulletin from my childhood, I cannot be the only person to be bewildered by this strange, haphazard use of the words "rebels" and "terrorists" by the BBC. What are the criteria used by the BBC to brand certain groups involved in terrorism as "rebels" while calling other such groups as "terrorists"?

The well-known American media expert, Wesley G. Pippert points out how a callous use of words in the media can distort public opinion:

It is easy for even the most talented journalist to lapse into stereotypes and clich├ęs that harm the pursuit of truth. The words that journalists use are important, perhaps as important as their stories, in the pursuit of justice and peace. Words often are used with unfortunate nuances that convey more meaning than their literal definition. [Wesley Pippert, An Ethics of News: A Reporter’s Search for Truth, Georgetown University Press, 1989, p.22].

The two English words "rebel" and "terrorist" have not only two different meanings, but they also convey very different subtle moral nuances. The Oxford Dictionary (which cannot be a stranger to the BBC English!) renders the noun "rebel" as ‘a person who refuses to continue allegiance to an established government’, ‘a person who takes up arms against the government’, ‘a person who resists authority or control’, ‘a person who refuses to obey’ or ‘a person who protests strongly’. The same Dictionary has placed the noun "terrorist" under the other noun "terrorism", and renders the noun "terrorism" as ‘the use of violence and intimidation, especially for political purposes’[Cfr., The Oxford Paperback Dictionary (Third Edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988]. Another version of the Oxford Dictionary renders the noun "terrorist" as ‘a person who supports or participates in terrorism’, and renders the other noun "terrorism" as ‘the use of violence and threats of violence , esp. for political purposes’ [Cfr., Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (Fourth Edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992]. Any reader with a minimum sense of intelligence should be able to grasp here not only two different meanings of the two terms ‘rebel’ and ’, but should also be quick to sense a very clear moral distinction between the two terms. Terrorism is inherently associated with ‘violence’ whereas rebellion is not necessarily so; the word ‘rebel’ is much milder than the word ‘terrorist’ by any criterion of judgement. The BBC English news composers surely cannot pretend to be ignorant of this important, common sense linguistic and moral distinction between these two terms.

In view of the BBC’s apparent random usage of these two terms "rebel" and "terrorist", the all-important question is: How does the BBC determine that certain groups involved in terrorism or violence are "rebels" while the others are "terrorists"? Perhaps, the deaths and injuries caused to persons and the damage inflicted on property in the USA, Europe and the First World are construed to be different from other similar deaths, injuries and damages in other parts of the world. Consequently, though for any person with common sense the victims of terrorism are the same human beings all over the world, for the BBC, there seems to be ‘unworthy victims’ in the Third World countries (especially those countries that are not clients of the First World) and ‘worthy victims’ in the so-called First World (who owns and sets the agenda for the BBC and 80% of the international media). Accordingly, those innocent civilians (both Sinhalese and Tamil) who die in Sri Lanka due to LTTE suicide bombings and brutal killings are not considered to be ‘worthy victims’ whereas those innocent civilians who die in the First World countries such as those who died on 11th Sept.2001, in New York or in the subsequent terrorist attacks in London or Madrid are always considered to be ‘worthy victims’. The latter are ‘worthy’ to be given wide emotional media coverage and their killers are ‘worthy’ to be called "terrorists". The former victims are not only ‘unworthy’ to be given that much of media coverage and their killers are ‘unworthy’ to be called "terrorists"; so, those killers are called by the much milder term "rebels" which is non-offensive, and often, morally neutral.

Or could it be that the BBC has already determined that certain terrorist causes are ‘worthy causes’ while the others are ‘unworthy causes’, and consequently, those involved in terrorism to achieve those ‘worthy causes’ are called "rebels" while those involved in similar terrorism to achieve those ‘unworthy causes’ are called "terrorists"? But again, the all-important question is: What are the criteria used by the BBC to come to such conclusions? Still worse, who decides who is a "rebel" and who is a "terrorist"?

The irony, however, in the particular case of the LTTE is that most of the countries of the First World have already officially branded the LTTE as "terrorists" and included them in their lists of notorious international terrorist groups, along with Al Quaeda, Hamas,….etc. These countries include the USA, the members of the EU and India. The British government, the patron of the BBC too, has included the LTTE in the list of international terrorist groups. But for the self-righteous BBC (which often claims to be the most impartial international news reporters), for some strange, inexplicable reason, the LTTE are only "rebels" never "terrorists"! It is high time that the BBC came out publicly explaining to us, their long-time clients, how and with what criteria the BBC arrive at such judgments. If they don’t, then, we are not only free to put forward different hypothesis (as I have done above) for this strange random use of the words "rebel" and "terrorist", but we are to conclude that the BBC tacitly approves our hypothesis.

The BBC and the western media along with their governments are very vociferous about democracy in the world. Accordingly, they very correctly highlight media freedom as a cornerstone of democracy. But what sort of a media freedom is promoted by them , particularly the BBC, when they deliberately resort to this sort of double-dealing? Aren’t they promoting distortions when the perpetrators of the same immoral violent acts [acts of terrorism in our case] are called in certain cases as acts of "rebels" and in certain other cases as acts of "terrorists"? Aren’t they guilty of propagating deliberately distorted, manipulated information, information that is favourable only to their blue-eyed boys, such as the LTTE? Is this the media freedom that the BBC and all their international and local clientele are clamouring about?

In the BBC News Hour programme at 4 in the morning (GMT), on 26th March, after having reported that the "LTTE rebels" had used two light aircraft to bomb the Sri Lankan air force camp neighbouring the Colombo international airport, Dr.Saravanamuththu Pakkiyasothi was interviewed on this incident. One of the questions posed to him by the BBC was whether that was not a mere "symbolical" attack. One wonders whether the same BBC interviewed any US State Department official in the aftermath of the 11th September attack in 2001 to ask whether the attack on ‘twin towers’ too, was a mere symbolical attack! After all, by any standards, the twin-towers of Manhatten surely were symbolical for the US pride! But the BBC did not concentrate on the ‘symbolical’ aspect then; instead, they rightly highlighted the terrible damage done to human lives and property. How come the same BBC treats terrorist attacks in other parts of the Third World (especially, in Sri Lanka) very differently? We cannot help but conclude that according to the BBC, terrorist attacks on any western targets, are "serious terrorist acts", but similar attacks elsewhere (especially in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the Third World) are harmless "symbolical acts" performed by a bunch of unruly "rebels"!

It is ridiculous to note how the BBC is trying to molly-coddle their blue-eyed boys, the LTTE whom their own government has branded as a "terrorist organization". It is precisely because the BBC sees no acts of ‘terror’ in the LTTE that they continue to use a less offensive term ‘the LTTE rebels’. It is also because of this BBC’s overtly partial and paternal attitude towards the LTTE that they always try their best to portray successive Sri Lankan governments as ‘enemies of Tamils of Sri Lanka’. [Notice carefully the BBC never makes the realistic distinction between the Sri Lankan Tamils and the LTTE]. That is why every time the Sri Lankan government retaliates LTTE terror by bomings an identified target, the BBC highlights the resultant civilian casualties and the displaced refugees. [The distortions the BBC made with regard to the numbers of the ‘fleeing Tamil refugees’ in the case of Sampur, last year, is a classic case in point, for which they never apologized]. The irony, however, is that when the USA and Britain fight the so-called ‘war on terror’ and indiscriminately bomb targets in Afghanistan, the same BBC does not seem to see any civilian casualties or any refugees fleeing. Similarly when both the USA and Britain closed their eyes and gave tacit approval for Israel to bomb Lebanon into pre-historic periods last year, claiming that they were trying to flush out Hisabollah terrorists, the BBC did not highlight the civilian casualties or the number of refugees fleeing. Even when they scarcely mentioned something in passing about civilian casualties or refugees fleeing in this Lebanese case, the BBC made sure to counter-balance it by immediately interviewing or quoting someone about the security of the State of Israel. The same holds good with regard to the current daily civilian casualties in Iraq which were in the first place triggered off thanks to the US and British led forces invading Iraq in 2003. Instead, today, the BBC is at pains along with their other western media agencies to project what is happening in Iraq right now as nothing but a mere internal rivalry between the Sunnies and the Shiites. In short when the US and British led western allies fight a so-called ‘war on terror’ even twisting international law [such as in the case of the notorious ‘legalised’ inhuman abuses of prisoners, as in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghrahib prisons], the BBC does not see any moral problem, simply because they are supposed to be fighting whom the BBC calls "terrorists"! But when the government of Sri Lanka is fighting one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world [the only terrorist organization in the world to have sea and air power!], the BBC is very worried about the harassments of "the LTTE rebels" [not the "LTTE terrorists"!] by the Sri Lankan government. So, they take great pains to highlight the civilian casualties and the refugees fleeing! Here, the BBC never speaks of the national security of the State of Sri Lanka, but they used to trumpet aloud that of Israel when the latter was carpet-bombing another country, Lebanon, last year, claiming that it was for her national security.

Some two decades ago, Wesley Pipit pointed out the ambiguity inherent in the very word "terrorist" in its contemporary media usage:

The word "terrorist" is a loosely used accusation, especially in the Middle East. "The problem", it has been pointed out, "is that your terrorist is my freedom fighter – and vice versa". We may define "terrorism" as the use of calculated violence against innocent civilians, often with a political objective. In the Middle East, the word "terrorist" has become synonymous for many Americans with "Arab" and "Palestinian". Israelis always refer to members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as "terrorists". On the other hand, the Israelis also called Lebanese "terrorists" even when these Lebanese were attacking Israeli military forces occupying southern Lebanon.

We may infer from what Pipit says above that those whom the so-called "international community" (including the USA and Britain) have called "terrorists", namely, the LTTE, are perhaps "freedom fighters", for the BBC. This may precisely be why they are regularly called "LTTE rebels", instead of calling them "terrorists". What is contested in this article is first of all that the BBC is using this difficult and morally loaded term at random, according to their own whims and fancies. Thus, groups like Al Quaeda are freely called "terrorists" by the BBC, but not the LTTE. Our crucial question is: What objectively perceptible difference is their between the two when it comes to performing same acts of terrorism? Our second concern [of course, closely linked to the first] is that the BBC should be consistent. Either the BBC should call all organizations involved in terror activities all over the world "rebels" or "terrorists". They ought to avoid their present political gimmick of calling at random only certain groups as "rebels" (even the ones which their own governments have branded as "terrorist") while calling other similar groups straightaway as "terrorists". Else, they are not only deliberately distorting their information but they are badly risking their credibility, if they still have any such thing called "credibility"!


A Jaffna Gentleman’s Exasperation by Nalin Swaris

He lives in an exclusive residential area in London but visits Lanka regularly. He had heard I was back un Lanka for the Winter, from a good friend who is his nephew. My friend called me to say his Uncle X, had read with enthusiastic approval most of my articles published in this newspaper and was very keen on meeting me. The immediate reason for wanting to meet me was his outrage at Amnesty International’s smear campaign against the Sri Lankan Cricket team. (Of this more below)

He was staying with relatives who live in a predominantly Sinhala Buddhist suburb of Colombo. He suggested we meet in a Colombo hotel where he has permanent VIP privileges. "Kotiya agents are all over the place and my relatives do not want me to meet strange people or talk politics at their place, out of fear for the Tigers. The meeting lasted about three hours. He talked. I listened, taking notes. He is eighty eight years young with amazing life experience.. At the zenith of his career, he was a dollar multimillionaire. He belongs to an outstanding Jaffna family and the names of his relatives read like a Who’s Who of Jaffna. He is a highly educated, culturally refined person and has been a patron of the arts in London. He has been on first name relationship with some of the big names of the British political establishment - like Ted Heath, Geoffrey Howe and Harold Wilson. He also has close personal relationships with the Saudi royalty and the sheiks of the emirates. " I have been a UNP-er from the first hour. It began with my close friendship with Sugathadasa. All the big names in the UNP from his time have been close friends or acquaintances. Esmond Wickremesinghe, Dudley, J.R., Anandatissa de Alwis and many others. "In those days when very little foreign exchange was allowed to Lankans, they have all been my house guests in London. Of course all of them including the Bandaranaieke’s had monies stashed abroad – but few could afford to live in luxury hotels - when in the opposition, of course! I grew up in a Jaffna village nd I am still at heart a village man. I have had a very good life and have seen it all. Today I have disposed most of my businesses and have enough to live a simple and comfortable life. I am a devout Hindu, a disciple of Krishnamurthy and a believer in Gandhian politics. I want to speak my mind but have to be prudent because of my younger family members. You can help me".

The following are some of the opinions of this extraordinary Jaffna gentleman. I have classified them according to topic. He was very keen on talking to me, because he thought that what I have written about the LTTE, the Norwegians and the so called international community was spot on. "I admire you’, he said, "because you are not overawed by the suddhas, and do not mince your words, when you challenge the high handed manner in which they treat this country. The white man has a sneaking respect for people like that. Whereas, despite the show of camaraderie, deep down they have contempt for people who live for 100% off their money. So whatever their claims to social status, westernized upbringing and education they are regarded as triflingly as the call girls or boys they could order from five star hotels, like this.

The Amnesty International Campaign

"Amnesty has descended into muck by its current campaign against Lanka by targeting our cricketers. ‘Sri Lanka Play by the Rules’ is a vicious slogan. They are doing this at a time when Bob Woolmer has been murdered and the air is thick with rumors of match fixing. The average cricket fan in the West Indies might get the impression that our boys too are involved in match fixing, ball tampering and bending the rules of Amnesty’s ‘gentleman’s game’. This is a truly national team. It has Sinhalese, Tamils, Hindus, Catholics, and Muslims. The team epitomizes what Lanka could be. Everyone has been impressed by their team spirit and camaraderie. This is an attempt to demoralize the players and undermine any chances they may have of winning the World Cup merely to damage any prestige that could come to Sri Lanka from it. They know Sri Lankan is a soft target. If they are genuine human rights defenders, there are other countries they could have picked on as well. Now the Tiger is out of the bag. Despite its claim to professional impartiality, Amnesty International has shown to the whole world that it is a willing to do the the LTTE’s dirty work. But what is the government and the cricket board doing? Should they not protest to the ICC about Amnesty’s attempt to turn the World Cup tournament into a political circus by sending out their clowns?

LTTE’s Cult of Blood and Death

That former gangster and smuggler from Velivetturai likes to be worshipped as Suriya Thevan. In fact he has developed a cult of blood and death around himself. This is pure Kali worship. How many of our young men and women have been sent to their deaths by blowing themselves up in order to kill a person Prabhakaran hates? How many civilians have been killed in the process? All this to satisfy the insatiable blood lust of one man? I feel depressd when I read all that abstract academic stuff by Tamils living in the safety and comfort of Colombo. Some of them have made good money abroad and have bought themselves expensive flats in well guarded condominiums located in predominantly Sinhalese areas. But have they ever paused to reflect on the irreparable damage the LTTE has done and is doing to the Tamil community in the North and the East? The whole community has been militarized and brutalised. I am a Hindu and in our traditions there is great devotion to family values and respect for the elderly. What happens when an entire generation of young men and women have been turned into ruthless killers? Think of all those poor little boys and girls who have been forced to carry arms and to kill without pity. This at a tender age when their moral sensibilities should be cultivated in the midst of a caring family. Let us say the LTTE gets their Eelam. How will the Tamil community recover from the damage done to their traditional values after years of mere podians being used to ordering the elderly around at the point of a gun - and after living in fear for years knowing that if they talk back they will be gunned down like dogs? What drives the LTTE is hatred, racist hatred of the Sinhalese and class hatred of their own elites. How can a movement driven by hate be liberating? This is what your Sinhala Leftists like Vasudeva and Wickramabahu should be asking themselves. Have you read anything by Prabahkaran that is an inspiration not just to Tamils but to people everywhere? Has he written anything that is even vaguely close to what a Che Guevarra, Mao Ze Dong, Ho Ch Minh or Amilcar Cabraal have written on the moral ideals of a revolution – of a new humanity and of a new society which will liberate even the oppressors of the people? He is a Tamil Pol Pot. He instills racist hatred of the Sinhalese people. Genuine revolutionary leaders have distinguished between a people and their governments. To understand this, you must understand the deep hatred and vengefulness that drive Prabhakaran and the other leaders of the LTTE.

An Unspoken Jaffna Secret

You may not like what I am about to tell you. But someone must be honest enough to say it. I know Jaffna society very well. I have lived in London most of my adult life. I am a Vellala but have no truck with caste oppression. Do you know that nearly 90% of the Jaffna people are farmers and therefore Vellala? Tamil Vellala’s are very caste conscious and Jaffna society is very caste bound. I am not talking about the morality of caste but about an undeniable cultural reality. Don’t be fooled by those high profile Tamil intellectuals in Colombo who pretend that they are not caste conscious and are liberals or cosmopolitans. Even those who have found high offices in the UN or international agencies will in an unguarded moment boast they belong to the Vellala aristocracy. Do you know that Prabhakaran is a karavar Christian? His religion now is blood sacrifice. He kidnapped a Hindu Vellalah girl and forced her to marry him. His son was named after a Christian LTTE ‘martyr’. I think the children are being raised as Christians because the papers reported that on New Year’s Day this year, his wife and children attended church service in St. Paul’s Cathedral London. Anton the LTTE ideologue was a Catholic before he embraced atheism and the LTTE in that order. He changed his surname from Stanislaus to Balasingham. Many of the LTTE leaders are Christians – that is why Christian religious leaders, Tamil and Sinhalese, have a soft corner for the LTTE - whom they see as champions of minority rights against the Buddhists. The majority of LTTE leaders and cadres are of low caste. Caste does not play a big role in public life in Sinhalese society. But the Sinhalese too are quite caste conscious and there is caste discrimination in rural areas. Look at the marriage advertisements in the Sunday papers. Hindus Buddhists and Christians mention their caste. Even the Buddhist clergy are divided along caste lines. However, Premadasa could become President. But the revolt against him was largely due to his caste.

But caste discrimination is a hundred times worse among the Jaffna Tamils. The Vellalas curse under their breath that Thamiselvam is a ‘bloody barber from Chavakaccheri’. Upper class Jaffna Vellalas do not go to barber saloon’s. The barber comes to them. Thamil Selvam’s father used to come to the back garden of Vellala homes. The men sit on a chair placed outside and as soon as the hair cut is finished, they go straight to the well and wash themselves because a low caste fellow has touched their head! Do you think that any of these people will be admitted to the inner sanctum of a Vellala home unless under threat of death? The LTTE has systematically eliminated distinguished Tamil men and women. The viciousness of the killings is motivated by caste hatred. Caste consciousness will become obsolete, when economic prosperity is generalized. It cannot be erased by terror and hatred. Think of people like Rajini Rajasingham, Neelan Thiruchelvam and Lakshman Kadirgamar. They were highly educated people of international repute. Do you think the fellows who were sent to kill them had any idea of the value of the lives they destroyed? The LTTE threatened to kill Ratnajeevan Hoole merely for accepting the post of Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University. He had to leave the country with his family. What a loss to the commuity. The Vice Chancellor of Batticaloa has gone missing. Jaffna has produced men and women of great distinction. What is happening today to education in Jaffna? Of course neither the Tigers nor their Colombo Tamil and Sinhalese supporters, want to acknowledge that the so called Sinhala government pays for the education of Tamils students in predominantly Tamil areas as everywhere else.

The Sinhalese People

Most of my best friends are Sinhalese. Supporters of Project Eelam forget that 60% of the Tamil people now live among the Sinhalese. Islamophobia is sweeping across Britain and other European countries. But despite the repeated killing of Sinhala civilians – consider the recent bombings of buses - the Sinhalese have not become paranoid at the sight of a Tamil. Tamils live peacefully among the Sinhalese, educate their children, carry on their professions and businesses. How many have moved from Jaffna to Colombo or its suburbs to live among the Sinhalese! Many of them show one face to their Sinhalese friends and another to one another. Do they appreciate the friendliness of the average Sinhalese person? The problem is mostly with the police and government officials. But do you think the ordinary Sinhalese are treated differently? In this situation not knowing Sinhalese becomes double jeopardy for Tamils. But who cares? When Tamil civilians were attacked, as in July 1983, it was organized by elements with links to the governments in power. In July 1983, the Sinhalese gave refuge to their Tamil friends and neighbours. My relatives too were protected by Sinhalese. The world should be repeatedly reminded of this. Are there any people anywhere in the world who can surpass the hospitality of the Sinhalese villager? The only other people I know are the Malaysian rural folk. Some Tamils living among Sinhalese have the delusion that the Sinhalese do not attack them out of fear for the LTTE. Instead of abstract and elitist political solutions which are far removed from the harsh realities of the people – we must build on the good sense and peaceful co-existence of our ordinary people, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims. Integrate the people and territorial integrity will look after itself. Culturally speaking Hindus and Buddhists have so much in common. We celebrate the same New Year worship the same gods. Sinhalese nationalist politicians must remember this and open up to Tamil people. (To be continued – Karuna and the end of Project Eelam, Ranil – a born loser who got it wrong. Mahinda - only Sinhala leader who has correctly understood the Tigers. The dignity and citizenship rights of Tamil Speaking People.)


Military campaign in East enters decisive stage

*SLAF acquires ‘night strike capability’

Military action in the East has entered a decisive stage with the army stepping up pressure on LTTE units operating in the Thoppigala jungles. A senior military official yesterday said that troops were in the process of clearing Thoppigala, considered the last major LTTE stronghold in the eastern theatre of operations.

Fielding questions, he emphasized that there was no time frame for the conclusion of the offensive aimed at neutralizing, what he described as, depleted enemy units. "They are struggling in the face of mounting pressure and unbelievably high rate of desertion," he said, asserting that the enemy would not be able to resist the action spearheaded by Special Forces and Commandos.

Army Headquarters has committed sizeable forces to overwhelm the LTTE. The LTTE is likely to pull out cadres leaving a small group to mount hit and run attacks in Thoppigala.

The official expressed the belief that the LTTE would not sacrifice its heavy guns currently deployed in the Thoppigala area. "They have at least one multi-barrel rocket launcher [MBRL] and three or four 120 mm mortars," he said. They would try to pull them through a jungle route to the Vanni, he said, adding that the possibility of the LTTE having two six barrelled MBRLs could not be ruled out.

The assault on Thoppigala was launched against the backdrop of a series of military operations in the East over the past nine months which brought almost all civilian centres held by the LTTE, at the time of signing of the Oslo-arranged CFA, under government control. The military said that clearing of areas south of the Chenkalady-Maha Oya road paved the way for the assault on Thoppigala.

To facilitate the ongoing offensive action, the elite Special Task Force (STF) would continue to police areas regained by troops. Senior police and military officials emphasised that they had effectively neutralised the LTTE’s capability to mount a major offensive in the East.

Meanwhile, the SLAF has acquired a night strike capability. This would be of pivotal importance, a senior security official said, adding that both Israeli-built Kfirs and Ukrainian MIGs are equipped to carry out bombing missions in the night.

Armed Karuna faction running its writ in Pottuvil

The Karuna faction is said to be creating havoc in the Muslim-dominated Pottuvil town in Ampara, moving around freely with weapons in government-controlled areas while law enforcement authorities are allegedly turning a blind eye, the Daily Mirror learns.

Some Muslim youth in Pottuvil are threatening to take up arms for self-protection if Karuna cadres are not brought under control, according to sources from the area. This comes amidst allegations that the group is now playing the role of the police by urging residents to bring their concerns to the faction’s office in the area.

“They go around with weapons on motorbikes and are said to be threatening people on the streets. They have also extorted money from people. All this is happening while the police and the STF stand around doing nothing,” an area resident told the Daily Mirror.

Earlier this year the Daily Mirror reported similar activities by the Karuna faction in the Batticaloa district as well but despite concerns being raised the authorities have yet to take appropriate action to control the group who insists it is purely carrying out political work in government-held areas.

According to a police source the government had not granted any party or group, other than the police and armed forces, the authority to carry weapons and as such if Karuna cadres were seen moving around with weapons they should be taken into custody.Meanwhile, the Peace Secretariat for Muslims (PSM), a peace coordinating body set up jointly by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the National Unity Alliance, told the Daily Mirror that it had already brought up the issue with the co-chairs as a matter of urgency.

“We have already brought the Pottuvil crisis to the attention of the co-chairs and are awaiting speedy action,” a PSM spokesman said.

The PSM is of the opinion that what was happening in Pottuvil town and other predominantly Muslim areas in the neighbourhood heralded signs of a major clash in the

near future and said it was the responsibility of the government to avert such a catastrophe.

“Maintaining law and order is the duty of the police, and in special cases the Army too has a role to play. But in Pottuvil the police including the STF and the Army have become mere by-standers while the Karuna group is running the writ through the town” said the spokesman.

“Muslims in Pottuvil see this as an extension of repression that existed during the LTTE regime. Whether it’s the rule of Prabhakaran or Karuna there is no peace for the Muslims here” he added.

When the Daily Mirror contacted the Pottuvil Police we were told the Officer In Charge (OIC) was not available and that they could not comment on the said allegations.

Tensions rose in Pottuvil last week when the Karuna faction was involved in opposing a Pradeshiya Saba (PS) decision to demolish a public building opposite the Pottuvil political office of the Karuna faction also known as the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP).

Area residents staged a hartal against the demolishing of the building while on Friday a vehicle belonging to the PS was set ablaze by an armed group after the driver was evicted.

However, Karuna faction spokesman Azad Maulana denied the allegations saying with regard to the PS issue the group had only mediated on the insistence of residents who were outraged at the demolishing of the PS building.

“I too was involved in trying to resolve the issue. We got involved because the people including the Muslims wanted us to mediate. If people come to us for assistance we will not turn a deaf ear. But at the same time we go through the police and do not act on our own. We did not threaten anyone,” Maulana told the Daily Mirror.

He also insisted that TMVP cadres do not roam around with weapons in government-controlled areas as alleged by several groups and added that if there were such allegations it should be taken up with the police.


Monks appeal to make use of Janaka Perera’s expertise

A group of leading Buddhist Monks from the North Central Province, have appealed to the Government to make use of Janaka Perera’s expertise to defeat the LTTE.

Two Bhikku organisations namely Desha Hithaishi Exsath Jathika Agamika Bala Bandalaya and North Central Bhikku Balamandalaya called on the government to make use of the expertise of Janaka Perera at this decisive moment which the country is facing regarding defence. The Bhikkus said in a release that military experts such as the late Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Wijeya Wimalaratne, and Lucky Algama had played a pivotal role to save the nation from terrorism for the last 25 years. The Bhikkus said Janaka Perera is the only surviving expert of this fame. “Therefore he should be made use of as he possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise on the subject of war” they said.

They said Janaka Perera is the only hope of the Buddhist Monks who are defenders of the country.