Friday, June 29, 2007

Secret warriors behind Iraqi lines

An interestring Newsweek article (1991/06/17) that explains how Commando squads helped win Operation desert Storm.

The role played by special forces in the first Persian Gulf War was virtually unknown to the public.This article explains how how small man teams helped secure a swift victory for the allied forces by suckering the Iraq's army out of position,poking holes in it's air defense and slipping behind enemy lines to spy,sow dissent and destroy scud missiles.

Majority of “abductees” found to have returned

Chairman of the Presidential Commission to probe abductions, disappearances and killings, stated yesterday that he recommended tough action against policemen who had failed to take action to the complaint of abductions and disappearances.

Former High Court Judge, Mahanama Tillakaratne, who headed the commission detailing it’s findings, which was presented to the President recently, stated at a press briefing that that sometimes the police had been evasive in recording complaints. The High Court Judge stated that it was his observation that the police were in a ‘deep slumber’. According to the evidence before the commission some complaints had not been recorded even after the complaints had come to the police station several times and at times people had been kept waiting for over 10 hours to record their statements,” the head of the Presidential Commission said.

The High Court Judge said that the commission was only on a fact finding mission and had no powers to impose punishment. He said he had recommended that investigations be carried out against the police officers by a unit comprising a retired civil servant and a state counsel. Mr. Tillakaratne made this observation while releasing the findings of the commission which looked into incidents of disappearances, abductions and killings over a period from January 1, 2006 to February 25, 2007.

The commission’s head also noted that a majority of the abductions were not exactly abductions as they have left their homes temporally over trivial matters like family disputes among others. During this period 1713 disappearances were reported island wide but out of them in the case of 1002 cases the person reported abducted had returned to their homes. He also noted that according to the evidence some of the abductees when they were last seen seemed to have gone with the people whom they knew and of their own free will. Out of 307 complaints of abductions in 132 cases the alleged abductees had come back. Among the incidents reported were 430 killings.

The incidents were from the nine provinces and the Wanni area. The majority of killings (192) and abduction (702) were reported from Eastern province while the highest number of disappearances was reported from the Western province.

However 450 of them had already returned. 192 killings were also reported from Eastern province while 43 were reported from the western province. The finding had also revealed that some of the victims had notorious backgrounds.

Questioned by the media, the High Court Judge said action would be taken against the persons who are found to be connected or are discovered to be involved in these abductions that have been reported to the commission.


CPA files FR petition challenging Mutur HSZ

The Centre for Policy Alternatives yesterday filed a fundamental rights violation petition challenging the recent regulation issued by the President declaring a High Security Zone in the Mutur Divisional Secretary’s Division encompassing an area of land owned by internally displaced persons.

The CPA and its Executive Director Pakiasoothy Saravanamuttu filed this application seeking relief and effective redress in respect of the infringement of the fundamental rights of a large section of the Sri Lankan society who have been and are being further discriminated against and gravely prejudiced.

They are seeking relief in the light of grave and adverse denial of the due enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms that all Sri Lankans regardless of ethnic, religious or geographical classification are entitled to, which are sought to be denied to a section of Sri Lankan society on the basis of their ethnicity and place of origin.

They cited Defence Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Commander of the Security Forces (East) Maj. Gen. Parakrama Pannipitiya, the Army Commander, the Air force Commander, the Navy Commander, the IGP, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petition filed through Attorney-at-Law Mohan Balendra states as follows.

Since April 2006, many civilians in Trincomalee district were displaced due to the continuing hostilities. As a result, many are unable to return to and resettle in their land owned and possessed by them and their families.

They contend that according to international law, internally displaced persons have the right to voluntarily return to their land in safety and dignity and that international law further provides that no person should be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family and home.

On September 4, 2006 the first respondent President Mahinda Rajapaksa stated that Sampur area had been captured by the security forces and he is quoted as saying “Our armed forces have captured Sampur for the welfare and benefit of the people living there.”

Since March 2007, resettlement of persons have taken place in Trincomalee district. There have been accusations of civilians being forcibly resettled. On March 20, Resettlement Minister Rishad Badurdeen admitted that forced resettlement to Trincomalee district from Batticaloa district took place, the petitioners stated. They pointed out that though the civilians were taken to certain parts of Trincomalee, people have been unable to return to Sampur area and that civilians are unable to return to their lands despite the said land falling within the Trincomalee Special Economic Zone, having been declared as a Licensed Zone of BOI Act.

Petitioners stated that in the 2nd week of June 2007, they were further distressed and perturbed to learn of Regulations issued by President Mahinda Rajapaksa under Public Security Ordinance declaring the area of land owned by internally displaced persons as a High Security Zone.

The present Mutur Divisional Secretary’s Division is 179.4 square kilometres in territory and the HSZ declared seeks to cover 50% of the said division.

They further stated that according to a statement made by Defence Spokesman Kehiliya Rambukwella, civilians from the HSZ will not be allowed to return to their lands or occupy the same.

Petitioners state that they are wary of the establishment of the HSZ particularly in view of recent directives by high ranking government officials of the Defence establishment to eliminate the presence of Tamils from the North and East from certain parts of Colombo.

They maintained that the directive is based on the unfair and wrongful assumption that the Tamils from the North and East are subversives or terrorists and charged that such policies are targeted at changing the ethnic demographics in the area.

They alleged that such widespread and systematic attack on a section of the population based on ethnic grounds amounts to a Crime Against Humanity as defined by international norms and that such policies by the government are disproportionately affecting Tamil citizens.

They claim that the said Regulations are arbitrary, harsh, unduly oppressive, overly broad and unreasonable and constitutes an infringement and imminent infringement of fundamental rights to right to equality and equal protection by the law and freedom to engage in any lawful occupation, profession, trade, business or enterprises as well as the freedom of movement and of choosing residence within Sri Lanka.

Another similar petition too was filed by four petitioners who have been residing and owning properties therein for generations.