Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good intelligence prevents major calamities

A book that seems to have touched raw nerves is ‘India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)’ ( by Major General (Retd) V.K. Singh. It discusses ‘several lacunae in the functioning of the country’s top intelligence agency’ and calls for ‘an increase in accountability of our top intelligence agencies’ since ‘the Indian taxpayer has a right to know how his money is spent’. And, now, the book’s publisher and the author have come under the lens of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

How does the ‘right to know’ work with regard to intelligence? “Most countries have a 30-year period after which all documents are automatically declassified. If this were not so, we would have never come to know about Enigma – the Ultra Secret code being used by Germany in World War II which the Allies had broken,” answered Mr Singh, when recently interacting with Business Line, over the email.

“In India, even the 1962 Henderson-Brooks report (about the Sino-Indian War) is still classified, as are the war diaries of 1965 and 1971 wars. Our Army officers still study World War II campaigns, since our own are classified. Most of them, like me, will retire before independent India’s military history is written,” he added on a wry note.

Mr Singh, former Chief Signal Officer of the Western Army, with a career spanning 37 years in the Army, served in the Cabinet Secretariat (Research and Analysis Wing) between 2000 and 2004. His current research is on the ‘Contribution of the Armed Forces to the Freedom Movement in India’.

Excerpts from the interview.

What is ‘intelligence’?

Intelligence, in simple terms, means ‘useful’ information. For a company applying for a contract, information about its competitor’s bid becomes intelligence. For a young woman, information about her fiancĂ©’s income, girl friends and drinking/smoking habits becomes intelligence. For a nation, information about an enemy country’s military strength becomes intelligence.

Is there a taxonomy of ‘intelligence’?

Intelligence has two broad divisions – HUMINT (human intelligence) and SIGINT (signals intelligence). HUMINT relies on intelligence obtained from human sources, verbally or in written form. SIGINT can be further divided into COMINT (communication intelligence) and ELINT (electronic intelligence).

COMINT refers to technical and intelligence information derived from foreign communications by other than the intended recipients. ELINT refers to intelligence derived from non-communication electromagnetic radiations from foreign sources.

Another term is IMINT (imagery intelligence), in which the source of intelligence is satellite imagery. In day-to-day working, the term SIGINT is often used for intelligence gained from interception of voice, data or facsimile (fax) signals being transmitted by electronic means, as well as through the Internet.

How has intelligence evolved in India?

Intelligence is the second oldest profession in the world. India has been a leader in the field, from the time of Chanakya. During the British Raj, the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) in India was rated as among the best intelligence agencies in the World. In 1914-15, over 5,000 Ghadrites were sent to India to foment violence and incite uprisings. Almost all were caught soon after their arrival, some even before they embarked from the US, Canada or Hong Kong. In 1943-45, many intelligence agents were sent by Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA to India, by submarine or boat. All were caught and eliminated by the CID.

Who are the major players in Indian intelligence?

The major players are Research and Analysis Wing, Defence Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Bureau (IB), National Technical Research Organisation, Joint Cipher Bureau, All India Radio Monitoring Service, Joint Intelligence Committee, Signals Intelligence Directorate, Aviation Research Centre, Directorate of Air Intelligence, Directorate of Navy Intelligence, and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. See also Wikipedia, which lists ‘intelligence agencies’ country-wise.

On the origins of RAW, and its role.

RAW was established on September 21, 1968 as part of the Cabinet Secretariat, reporting directly to the Prime Minister. Rameshwar Nath Kao was the first head of the RAW, with K. Sankaran Nair as his deputy.

The role of RAW is:

· Collection, production, analysis and assessment of all form of external intelligence of interest to India, in political, military, economic, scientific and technological fields.

· Conducting special operations abroad, including psychological warfare.

· Act as nodal agency for counter intelligence operations outside India.

· Liaison with foreign intelligence and security agencies in India and abroad.

Has the organisation become more relevant in today’s context, owing to greater threat perception?

It is difficult to say that there is greater threat perception today than in the past. Within 25 years of gaining independence, India fought four wars – one with China and three with Pakistan. Today, the threat of war appears remote. However, the threat that has increased is of terrorism. Intelligence never becomes irrelevant, in war or peace. To that extent, RAW is as relevant today as it was when it was establishment, nothing more.

What have been the significant milestones in RAW’s evolution?

I cannot think of any milestone. RAW has undergone a process of gradual evolution, increasing in size and reach. When it was established, HUMINT had primacy. Today, TECHINT provides the major share of RAW’s inputs.

How does the Indian outfit compare against similar institutions in other countries?

If you ask RAW officers, they will say they are the best. The best judge is always an adversary. Most Pakistani sources feel RAW is quite good, which is high praise indeed. Similarly, we feel that ISI is good at its job. I would not place RAW in the same class as CIA, MI 6 or Mossad, but it is perhaps better than the intelligence agencies of most developing countries.

Have there been costly mistakes that could have been avoided?

There have been many mistakes, some of which I have mentioned in my book. In fact, B Raman has given details of most of the costly mistakes of RAW. I will list some of them: Kargil, Mujibur Rehman’s assassination in 1975, Arms drop in Purulia, promulgation of Emergency in 1975, Operation Blue Star, support to LTTE leading to IPKF fiasco, and incorrect advice to Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors cover up.

Can technology be better leveraged by intelligence forces while at the same time assuring individual privacy for the citizen? How?

This is a conundrum that all intelligence agencies face. To collect crucial intelligence, the individual privacy of the citizen often has to be given short shrift. This is applicable mostly to internal intelligence agencies such as IB. RAW collects most of its intelligence abroad, using means that are naturally illegal in those countries. One country that uses technology effectively without trespassing on the citizens’ rights is the US, where the laws in this regard are very strict.

And its resources are extensive?

Yes. The US has resources that are mind-boggling and cannot be matched by other nations. They have hundreds of satellites that cover every part of the globe. This enables them to photograph the area of interest using high-resolution cameras. They can also listen in on almost every radio transmission, any where in the world. Their code breaking capability is phenomenal, by virtue of their computing ability using super computers.

Is the human element still critical?

Yes, and it will always remain so. Technology can increase one’s reach, speed up collation and processing and improve code-breaking capability. However, analysis has to be done by humans. The quality of the end product depends to a large extent on human skills.

What are the metrics for assessing the effectiveness of intelligence operations?

There are no yardsticks – only successes and failures. Good intelligence prevents major calamities, about which most people remain unaware. However, failures always come to light. Today, the IB and RAW, both of which are offspring of the CID, cannot match its performance, in spite of their large size and enhancement in technological capability. The CID relied almost entirely on HUMINT and still did a good job.


The answer lies in the type of leadership and work culture of our intelligence agencies, which are now just like any other government department. Until and unless they can build up the ethos and pride of an elite organisation, their performance will remain substandard.

How does RAW help counter terrorism?

This is a high priority area for RAW, as it is for IB and other agencies. It is difficult to get adequate or timely intelligence about terrorist strikes, like 9/11 in the US or the Mumbai blasts. But it is possible to keep track of terrorists. After all, a terrorist is not created overnight. He is recruited and trained before being used in a major attack. Most terrorists are trained in foreign countries. They also get funds, arms and explosives from across the border. Intelligence about these, if obtained in time, can prevent terrorist attacks.

Has spying lost its edge with better modes of information gathering in use?

On the contrary, spying is more important than ever. With greater use of technology, only the methods of gathering intelligence have changed.


Karuna's Travails

When the Sri Lanka security forces' successfully swept the east and regained control, act two of the theatre of the east opened. There are three actors on the stage – the government and the army, the political parties, and Karuna's Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), made up of disenchanted members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). There is a fourth actor, the LTTE chucked out of the cast, hovering on the wings ready to spoil the act now and then.

The security forces, determined to prevent the LTTE staging a comeback, have continued with their follow up actions to round up the dispersed LTTE elements in the jungles north of Trincomalee and in parts of Batticaloa-Amparai. The security forces dogged search of areas around Thoppigala and other pockets of LTTE have unearthed huge quantities of small arms, mortars and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, ammunition, rockets and mortar bombs. Every piece of such recoveries and every LTTE cadre killed or arrested in the east are making the LTTE's comeback in the east a little more difficult. Of significance is the failure of the repeated LTTE efforts to land cadres in area Pulmoddai to link up Wanni and the east. This would indicate that the LTTE had not yet given up staging a revival in the east, though its hopes for that might be fading.

Karuna and his TMVP cadres have been a great help to the security forces' success, though of late the security forces are chary of acknowledging it publicly, perhaps for political reasons. Actually, the world over use of renegades in the fight against insurgents is one of the accepted methods. The renegades are useful as spotters to identify militants and their local helpers, in locating hideouts and caches, and in providing vital information. Their help in organising intelligence networks and special operations is even greater. In India's own counter insurgency experience, I have seen while employing renegade militants along with troops there is suspicion, and at times opprobrium, both within the armed forces and among policy makers. The experience is the same the world over. So understandably, security forces always tend to underplay their usefulness in operations. And Sri Lanka appears to be no exception.

Karuna has a diminishing value to the government and troops as the LTTE activity is curbed more and more. This evident from the progressive marginalisation of Karuna and his cadres during the security forces operation in the east, particularly after Vakarai.

As this is happening, more and more complaints against the TMVP and its cadres are coming from the public, the NGOs, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and political leaders. These include the TMVP's acts of omission and commission – child recruitment, kidnapping, extortion, killing, intimidation, and attack on Muslims. These are attributed to the local TMVP warlords and their gun totting cadres. Many of these reports have been verified by international bodies which found the footprints of TMVP in them. So TMVP continues to be in the national media limelight for all the 'wrong' reasons and not for the help it rendered for the security forces' operations in the east.

Though as a body Karuna and his cadres appear to be losing their clout with the government and the security forces, the talk of disarming Karuna and his cadres in response to the pressures of UN bodies, international and local NGOs, SLMM, and political parties, has to be taken with a pinch of salt of strategic compulsion and military realism. This appears to be in the mind of policy makers in Sri Lanka, though they have started uttering more frequent homilies on the question of disarming the TMVP.

Moreover, given the option the security forces would have the TMVP fighting alongside rather than against them, at least till they have done away with the LTTE. And even in the east, the LTTE should not be written off as it has a great resilience and reservoir of strength in the north which could activate the remnants in the east. Of course, there is always the danger that any hasty use of force to disarm Karuna's cadres could provide trained local recruits for the LTTE revival. In all probability, Karuna's cadres in individual capacity will continue to be employed by military intelligence, even if a political rationale is found to disarm them at a future date; of course these will be disowned in public as intelligence agencies the world over do. So the government response to the demand for disarming Karuna and his cadres will be to buy time till it completes its operations in the north. And probably the Co-chairs of the Tokyo Donors Conference and India are also aware of this.

The LTTE fatwa on Karuna's head has prevented him providing visible political and military leadership to his cadres. Usually the physical absence of the leader results in the rise of other satraps who try and takeover the leadership mantle. One such leader Pillaiyan who tried to grab the leadership chair, appears to have come to some sort of understanding now with Karuna. But the more embarrassing feature for Karuna is the reported the presence of TMVP cadres defiantly flaunting their arms and muscle power as an extra legal power in Tamil areas and indulging in show of force in Muslim areas in the east. To compensate for his diminishing value as a military ally and points man of the security forces, Karuna has no other choice but to increase his image as a political persona. For this to happen he has to do three things urgently - show his ability to control his cadres, establish himself politically without the help of armed cadres, and provide an ideology that would appeal to Tamils at large and in the east in particular. But to make this transition he has to shed his halo as a militant leader. This is more easily said than done, particularly when he runs the risk of losing his life at the hands of LTTE.

Karuna's problems were not unexpected, at least by this author. In my article "Karuna in no win situation" on Nov 12, 2004 (available at Karuna In A No-Win Situation) written after he broke away from the LTTE I had pointed out six factors that could affect Karuna's political fortunes in the east. Karuna's performance on the six parameters in the last three years presents an interesting picture:

1. Lack of an ideology: When he started, Karuna had two issues in his appeal to the people for support – denouncing the larger than life image of Prabhakaran, and the LTTE's discrimination against Easterners. Both are negative concepts.

Karuna's intention "to relieve the liberation struggle of the Tamils from the cruel clutches of Prabhakaran," remains unfulfilled. The complaint of discrimination of easterners by Jaffnaites is an age-old one. This lost much of its relevance in the current situation when one third of the eastern Tamils have been displaced in the war during 2006-7.

2. Winning popular Tamil support : It is not clear how popular Karuna is now in the east. His make over from a militant leader to a political leader is still not complete. His rare public appearances and lack of specific political campaigning perhaps due to personal security the constraints are sure to eat into his popularity. The reported activities of extortion and recruitment by TMVP cadres would not endear him to the local population. Though a TMVP political wing has been created and political statements are made they have not created the political space for them.

3. Political leadership: The internal squabble with Pillaiyan and the spat with the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) have exposed the deficiencies in Karuna's political leadership skills. Perhaps he needs to focus on situational leadership skills such as flexibility in approach, ability to meld with people and places, accepting diversity, and the ability to appeal to the common man and the intellectual, to strike a better political equation with the public.

4. Political support from the non-Tamil parties: The two major political parties - UNP and SLFP – appear to be avoiding any visible involvement with Karuna. Perhaps the ruling SLFP want to avoid the fall out such association would bring after the UN Human Rights circles raised a storm over child recruitment by Karuna. The beleaguered UNP might not find it useful now to be seen with Karuna due to TMVP's abrasive relations with the Muslim constituency. Moreover, many Sinhala politicians might share the views of Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Karuna. She had said, "Karuna is as much a terrorist as Prabhakaran, and supporting one terrorist against another will only lead us into a vicious cycle." As far as Tamil parties are concerned he would be poaching in the same grounds for Tamil votes. And naturally they are wary of his emergence as yet another force. Thus as of now, Karuna continues to be a lone ranger.

5. Winning over Muslims: For successful politics in the east a favourable equation with Muslims is crucial. When Karuna broke away, he brought with him the baggage of anti-Muslim record of LTTE in the east. Far from mending fences with the Muslims, TMVP cadres have been accused of harassing and even killing Muslims. In fact, Muslim leaders have given a call for curbing the TMVP activity.

6. Organisational structure and financial support: Political party needs an organizational structure to maintain contact with people and influence their thinking on an ongoing basis. These activities need financial resources also. The other Tamil political parties, though small, have been in the scene a little longer. The national parties have favours to dispense, apart from bank rolling their campaigns. Karuna will need enormous financial and material resources. Answer to this question will ultimately decide Karuna's sustainability.

With the impending local and provincial elections in the east, Karuna's cup appears full. On top of it, he has the king size problem surviving the LTTE threat to him and his cadres that could disrupt his political activity, unless there is the protection from the security forces. He has to give up arms to become a politician as his operation as an armed political party would not be acceptable to either the government or other parties. However, he has proved himself a great survivor so far and thus should not be underestimated to emerge an important factor in the political horizon of the east. For that he has to do some clever tightrope walking to strike a balance between militancy and political polemics. That would decide his future. But undoubtedly Karuna's travails appear to have begun with the fall of the LTTE in the east.

Col. R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka 1987-90.

Eastern promise - Sri Lankan troops turn Tigers back into guerrillas By Tom Farrell

Non-Subscriber Extract

The government's capture of the eastern Sri Lankan town of Thoppigala on 11 July has theoretically brought the entire east of the country back under its control for the first time since 1994. The ethnic separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) no longer runs the type of parallel administration it has established in the north and which it expanded into the east during the 2002-2006 ceasefire despite a major split in the movement and the damage wrought by the tsunami on 26 December 2004.

The fall of Thoppigala was the culmination of a series of ground offensives by the Sri Lankan Army and counter-insurgency units of the police Special Task Force in the east that began in July 2006. The security forces expelled the LTTE from the territories it held south of Trincomalee harbour in August-September 2006, then captured the key coastal town of Vakarai in January after prolonged shelling and the displacement of 30,000 residents. In March-April, the army and task force pushed west into the interior of Batticaloa district, an offensive that displaced more than 100,000 civilians, but brought key roads back under government control for the first time in more than a decade.

While the long-running insurgency's heaviest fighting has been concentrated in the north, control of the east (which comprises Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara districts) has been important to the LTTE and its loss will be a significant blow to the group. The area's coastline and harbours allowed the rebels to bring in supply ships from Southeast Asia, the source of most of their weapons, and launch maritime attacks against convoys supplying government forces stationed on the Jaffna peninsula to the north.

The loss of the east may not have a significant impact on the LTTE's operations in the north as it was already difficult to transfer supplies to the region from the east through government-controlled territory. However, it has limited both the LTTE's pool of potential recruits and the ability of its Sea Tiger naval wing to launch attacks on vessels sailing from Trincomalee.

The Sea Tigers can still operate from bases further north, but they will have fewer options with which to surprise the Sri Lankan Navy. They can use the northwest coast, where large numbers of fishing vessels provide their attack boats with cover. However, less government shipping travels along the western route and the Sea Tigers would also be exposed to greater maritime surveillance by India.

Despite these factors, the loss of the east does not spell the end of the LTTE or violence in the east. The government will be required to hold the territory gained with significant numbers of troops while simultaneously fighting the LTTE in the north. The rebels are unlikely to make life easy for the military in the east, promising a campaign of assassinations, economic sabotage and low-intensity warfare to hamper the promised government reconstruction and development efforts, part of Colombo's attempt to win over the support of the local population.


LTTE kills Catholic priest in uncleared area of Mannar

A Catholic Priest, Rev. Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith has been killed by LTTE terrorists in an uncleared area of Mannar late last evening.

Subsequent to the killing the LTTE launched a false propaganda campaign alleging that the killing was perpetrated by the Army, states the Media Centre for National Security in a press release.

The Government wishes to clarify that there are no troops operating in the uncleared areas of Mannar. The said the incident has taken place in an LTTE active area north of Mannar where the Security Forces have no access.


The LTTE has accused the Army's Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol of killing a Catholic Priest attached to the Jesuit Refugee Service on the Mannar-Pooneryn road. The Sri Lanka Army has denied involvement in the incident, which occurred around 45kms ahead of the Army's FDL in Mannar. DefenceWire sources reveal that the priest Nicholaspillai Pakiyaranjith had had a long-standing relationship with the rebels and had received aid from numerous countries, including Norway, for relief work in LTTE areas. During the now concluded Thoppigala battle, the Sri Lanka Army saw first-hand how such relief items can end up in the hands of the LTTE.

Catholic priest on humanitarian mission killed in DPU Claymore attack

Rev. Fr. Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith, 40, the Mannaar district coordinator of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was killed when Sri Lanka Army Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) attackers launched a Claymore attack on his Hiace vehicle, riding on Mannaar - Pooneryn (Poonakari) Road, at Kalvi'laan in Ve'l'laangku'lam Wednesday evening, Tamileelam Police officials in Mallaavi said. Fr. Ranjth was bringing baby milk and essential humanitarian supplies for displaced children in his vehicle, JRS sources in Mannaar said.

The assistant of the priest, identified as Christopher Jujin, was injured and transferred to Ki'linochchi hospital, medical sources said.

Fr. Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith
Fr. Nicholaspillai was on his way to Vidaththaltheevu, via Mallaavi. He had entered the LTTE controlled area through Pu'liyangku'lam entry point to attend the needs of recently displaced people in the district.

Humanitarian and Health workers, attending the needs of civilians in Vanni, have been increasingly targeted by the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Unit of the SLA, known as DPU.

The JRS is an international Catholic organisation with a mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people.


Tigers bury decomposed body of SLA soldier

A highly decomposed body of Sri Lanka Army soldier, with Sri Lankan national identity card number 832963291V and SLA soldier number S317369, was buried with military honors by the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) in Mannaar on Wednesday. LTTE's Military Spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan told media that the body was recovered in a clearing mission after thwarting a SLA ground operation Monday in Ku'risuddaku'lam area. In the meantime, a new operation was launched by the SLA Wednesday morning in Mu'l'likku'lam.

Heavy fighting was going on, according to LTTE military spokesman.

A Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher and a T-56 automatic rifle were also recovered following the previous clash, on Monday, he said.


Military ops only to pressure LTTE

President insists terrorism is terrorism anywhere

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the UN general Assembly yesterday the Government launched military operations against the LTTE as part of moves to exert pressure on the rebels and convince them that it would not be possible for them to obtain a military victory.

Speaking in Sinhala in the presence of world leaders at the 62nd UN General Assembly in New York the President stressed the ultimate goal of the Government remained to seek a ‘negotiated and honourable’ end to the conflict and said the All Party Representative Committee was working successfully towards that goal.

His comments came a day after the LTTE, in a statement, said the Government must end what it termed were deceptions, military oppressions, ethnic cleansing and serious human rights violations and accept the aspirations of the Tamil people and come forward to find a resolution that is based on the right to self-determination of the Tamil people.

“I am proud to inform you that despite the significant challenge posed by the ongoing conflict with a ruthless terrorist group in the North of the country, we have freed the Eastern Province from terrorism, and restored law and order there. My Government has already launched a massive program of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the East. We propose to make the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka a model for development and rehabilitation, essentially with our own efforts but also with the assistance of all donors,” President Rajapaksa said.

The President said the Government was taking steps to return the usurped rights of the people by conducting Provincial and local government elections in the East by early next year and added that there was a clear opportunity for the international community to play a vital role in breaking the cycle of conflict by focusing on development.

While stressing that terrorism was terrorism anywhere President Rajapaksa stressed on the importance of concluding negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism which he said was for the moment limited to endless discussion.

“Sri Lanka has taken an upfront position in the global community’s efforts to deal with terrorism. We have become party to 11 of 13 UN Conventions for the suppression of various acts of terrorism…All terrorist attacks whether in New York, Mumbai, Cairo, London or Colombo are acts that threaten the democratic way of life and must be condemned unreservedly,” he said.

The President said Sri Lanka believed, as one of the founder members of the Human Rights Council, human rights was also too important to be used as a tool to victimize States for political advantage and it was essential that international action to facilitate compliance with human rights standards was fair and even handed.

“Human rights have to be protected and advanced for their own sake, not for political gain.”

The President further said that although the UN system has set up mechanisms to deal with many problems the capacity of the UN to address these challenges effectively has been brought into question. He said the UN must always remember that its primary function was to render assistance for the well being of its Member States.

“As resources received by the UN are limited, it has been only possible to deliver limited results. We need to focus on these as they have often been characterized by countless, poorly coordinated, ineffectively designed, ineptly staffed and overlapping programs, with unnecessary inter-agency rivalry,” he said.President Rajapaksa also said that the World Bank established for economic development, the IMF set up for financial stability, and other regional banks established at the same time as the UN need to implement new programs to assist the countries that are affected by several challenges.

Controversial LTTE dissident leaves Sri Lanka

The controversial LTTE dissident, Col Karuna, is believed to have left Sri Lanka recently, following trenchant international criticism of the activities of his group, the Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), in the Eastern Tamil-speaking district of Batticaloa.

Media reports said on Wednesday that Karuna had left for the UK. But independent sources could only confirm that he had left the country temporarily.

The Scandinavian-staffed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) had both criticized the TMVP for forcibly recruiting children and extorting money from the people in Batticaloa.

Every UN and EU rights body had been urging the Sri Lankan government to disarm or rein in the Karuna group. And time and again, they had expressed dismay over Colombo's turning a deaf ear to these pleas. But the Sri Lankan government needed the Karuna group to help track down the LTTE and help police the area recently cleared of the LTTE.

Political clash

While the government needed the Karuna group for military purposes, it was ill at ease with its political ambitions. The TMVP had been nursing ambitions of emerging as the voice of the Tamils in the East, especially Batticaloa district, and winning the proposed elections in the Eastern districts in early 2008.

To prevent the emergence of any new popular Tamil group in place of the LTTE, and to win the hearts and minds of the Tamils, the Rajapaksa government itself started doing relief and rehabilitation work in the war affected areas.

All efforts in this direction began to be directed by Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Advisor and brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Government ministers were asked to make frequent visits to the rehabilitation centres and announce development programmes worth millions of rupees. "But no Tamils were, or are, involved in this task," a former Tamil militant who is now close to the government said ruefully.

The Karuna group itself is partly responsible for this. Though the TMVP had political ambitions, it was doing precious little to win the hearts and minds of the common Tamils. It had neither protected the common man against the Sri Lankan military, nor had it done anything to alleviate the suffering of the 200,000 war refugees in the past year and a half, local Tamil leaders said. On the other hand, it had been harassing the people.

Ground cleared for non-Tamil Parties

The TMVP itself got divided into the Karuna and Pillaiyaan factions, which started killing each other's supporters. When it went out of bounds, the government stepped in and restored peace, forcing Pillayaan to confine himself to Trincomalee district. But he is said to be breaking out of the confines now.

With no powerful, popular and credible Tamil group in the East ( the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance has already been weakened) the ground is now clear for the national or Sinhala majoritarian parties to establish themselves there ahead of the proposed local and provincial elections in early 2008.


Catholic priest feared killed by LTTE terrorists- Wanni

Pro-LTTE websites this evening (September 26) announced that a Catholic priest working for an NGO had been killed in a bomb blast that took place deep inside the terrorists dominated territory in Wanni. These websites have already made their usual accusation that SL Army Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) is responsible for the killing.

According to news reports, Reverend Father Nocholaspillai Packyyaranjith, Mannar District Coordinator of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was killed when his vehicle was caught in a claymore blast in the Mallavi area this evening. Another Catholic priest identified as Christopher Jujin was said to have suffered injuries in the incident.

When inquired about the alleged accusation on DPU involvement in the said incident, the defence officials said it is a blatant lie as no DPU team can go such a distance behind the enemy lines under the present circumstances.

"If the incident has happened in Mallavi as said, it means that it has happened at a location which is well over 60 Km from our Forward Defence Line (FDL)", a senior defence official said.

"It is true that we have an excellent Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team, but they are not like 'suicide' cadres in a terrorist outfit who are sent on 'never to return missions', he added.

Explaining further, he said that the primary task of an LRRP team is to do reconnaissance or to gather information on enemy locations secretly, but not to expose their presence by carrying out bomb attacks in the enemy's areas.

LTTE terrorists have stepped up their attacks at the security forces' FDL for the last two-three weeks and made several unsuccesful attempts to break the defence line at various locations. The defence officials noted that the first priority of the security forces at present is to strengthen and defend the FDL in Wanni than going into covert offensives.

Also, intelligence reports have revealed that LTTE has deployed their fullest strength along its defence line West of Omanthai, fearing a security forces' onslaught in the area. Therefore, the officials pointed out there is not much of room left for LRRPs operate in enemy area as it is almost impossible for a covert unit to cross the enemy FDL.

Meanwhile, defence observers pointed out that LTTE terrorists have demonstrated similar behaviour whenever the President or a Sri Lankan delegation is on an important official tour. Earlier too LTTE terrorists have carried out many crimes by killing innocent Tamil civilians, aid workers, or whoever whose killing that can draw the displeasure of the international community towards the government.

LTTE is a ruthless terrorist organization which has been fighting since 1983 for an ethnically pure separate homeland for Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Two decades of the LTTE's terror campaign against Sri Lankan citizens has cost over 65,000 lives.


Sri Lanka says kills, wounds dozens of rebels

Sri Lankan troops killed and wounded dozens of Tamil Tiger rebels in a series of battles in the far north, the military said on Tuesday, the latest clashes in a quickening of the two-decade civil war.

Nine Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and 36 wounded in one battle in the northwestern district of Mannar on Monday, after at least 10 Tiger rebels and possibly more than 20 were killed in two other clashes in the north the same day.

In a separate incident early on Tuesday, a civilian was killed in a suspected rebel roadside bomb attack in the army-held northern Jaffna peninsula, the Defence Ministry said.

"The army confronted a group of Tamil Tiger cadres. They were firing artillery at civilians. The confrontation killed nine LTTE cadres," military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said, reporting one of the clashes a day after the fact.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who say they are fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, said on Monday 10 of their fighters were killed in two separate clashes. The military put the rebel death toll at more than 20.

However, rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan said he had no immediate details of the other confrontation referred to by Nanayakkara.

There was no independent confirmation of how many people were killed in the fighting or what had happened. Military analysts say both sides tend to exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.

Around 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and LTTE guerrillas since early 2006. Fighting is now focused on the north after troops this year drove the Tigers from eastern areas they controlled under the terms of a now-tattered ceasefire pact.

In all, nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983.

The Siren, Dr. Jayalth Jayawardana and fleeing psychology

We all know the famous story of Madduma Bandara. While the true historical incident was pivoted around the cruelty of King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha, it is small Madduma Bandara that challenged this cruelty saying;

“Aiyandiya, biya nowanna. Marena hati mama penwami”
(Don’t be afraid brother, I will show you how to die (as a hero). )

It is names of this type of heroes that the history has written in gold.

While these historical reports applaud the heroic character of Madduma Bandara, those equally rebuff the character of his own elder brother Loku Bandara as feeble cry boy.

It is famous saying that ‘history repeats’, and therefore it is our duty to clearly identify parallel characters in modern society.

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardana is one of the mysterious characters in Sri Lankan political arena. He prefers to spend more time in Wanni jungle than in his electorate and most of his visits are secret and puzzling.

He occasionally come in front of media and states that he is concerned of killing of people due to war (He never call this as terrorism). His main endeavor in the last decade has been to distribute sirens among the Sinhala and Muslim people in so called border villages (in his own terminology) in North and Eastern provinces.

Throughout his political career, we have never seen him distributing even a club to defend the villagers from brutal attacks of tiger terrorists, nor we have ever heard him initiating the same approach (run away) in the LTTE control side.

The rational behind Dr. Jayalth’s campaign is crystal clear. It was LTTE who wanted to chase away Sinhala people who defend their home lands against the myth of Ealam and it is Jayalath Jaywardana who was co-coordinating this chase away from the south. He was very active facilitating the run away of Sinhala people when LTTE is brutally attacking the villagers.

It’s good to see that current government has completely turn this vicious agenda facilitated in south by Jayalath Jayawardana by forming new military unit named Nandimithra Balakaya that are no longer in mere defensive mood, but well capable of carrying out offensive against terrorists to defend their villages.

If modern Loku Bandara ever present in Bogambara ground, he would have cry and say;
“Malanuwani biya nowanna, duwana hati mama penwami.”
(Don’t be afraid younger brother, I will show you way to run away)

But luckily, we no longer need a trumpeter to run away, because at last we have found a true leadership to chase away the terrorists.

In the future, people of Sri Lanka will decide if they further need the service of these so called leaders only capable of facilitating fleeing, because they have finally realized that we need leaders only to march forward and defend our territory and not to run away in fear of terrorists.


Zero tolerance and the fate of victims

Much has been said recently of zero tolerance of a number key areas of concern in this country. These include on corruption, waste, extra judicial killings, abductions, child recruitment, impunity etc. Much of these are in the terrain of regaling the readers of such assertions. It though is not so funny for those who meet such excesses. Much coffee has been poured, short eats consumed, workshops organized, submissions made on these issues. However, the pesty Sunday press continues to highlight as does on some Dailies that these excesses are part and parcel of our daily diet of horrors. It has come to the point at which discerning observers believe the reports are treated with disdain and dismissed with contempt by those who are responsible. Can this though go on without some volcanic eruption surfacing? See for example rumblings by monks in Myanmar. Who would have thought it likely. The final word on which has still not been cast but predictions are we are seeing an eruption likely to lead to change of the kind Aung San Su Kyi has stood for under house arrest.

The focus today is on the debates on Child recruitment and the statement of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Dr.Radhika Coomaraswamy. “It is also important to point out the I have engaged in dialogue for the explicit purpose of child protection with all parties, both state and non-state, whose actions have a significant impact on children. However, such dialogue, particularly with non-state actors, does not imply or confer political recognition or legitimacy of such parties.

“Although a wide range of issues and themes have been covered during the course of my visits, I have made an effort to focus more concentrated attention on four primary concerns: the recruitment and use of children as soldiers; grave sexual violence against children; the safety and access of humanitarian personnel; and rehabilitation and reintegration of children.”
Sri Lanka

“The mission’s findings revealed that the LTTE has not complied with its commitments: underage recruitments continue and several hundred children as verified by UNICEF have not yet been released. It was also ascertained that the break-away Karuna faction of the LTTE abducts children in government-controlled areas of the East, with credible evidence that certain elements of the Sri Lankan army may have aided in this practice.

In addition, humanitarian workers have been killed and NGOs threatened in an increasingly militarized environment. “Following the visit by my Special Advisor to Sri Lanka, the following commitments were made: The LTTE gave assurances that they would work with UNICEF to accelerate the release from their ranks of all children under the age of 17, with the objective of completing this process by the beginning of 2007. (Unfortunately, the LTTE did not commit to the full release of children under the age of 18 years in contravention to applicable national and international law. They also committed to better training for their military commanders in relation to recruitment, and instituting a process to discipline those who do not comply; The Karuna faction undertook to publish formal policy statements forbidding under-age recruitment and to release children who may be in their ranks. The also agreed to work with UNICEF in an effort to trace the whereabouts and arrange the release of those abducted children whose families have notified UNICEF; The Government of Sri Lanka committed to undertake an independent and credible investigation into the allegations that elements of the Sri Lankan army have aided the abduction and recruitment of children by the Karuna faction and has recently announced the formation of a Committee to Inquire into Allegations of Abductions and Recruitment of Children for use in Armed Conflict.

“The Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict has requested that a report on progress be submitted by October 2007. The continuing violence continues to exacerbate the problems of IDP children and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

“I must also say there are some positive steps with regard to the Government. The Government has adopted and we welcome its adoption of a zero tolerance policy on child recruitment, it has also voluntarily submitted itself to the 1612 process and it has set up a Committee to investigate allegations. And there are some positive steps with regard to the LTTE as well: for the first time the numbers taken in are less than those being released but of course there are many more to be released. But the Karuna faction continues to function with impunity, much of it in the Government-controlled areas so we welcome the notion of this Committee to investigate these abductions.

There are other areas as mentioned by one of the speakers, and as you know in October this year we will be presenting a report to the Security Council Working Group, the Secretary-General will presenting the report, monitoring the six grave violations and some of those violations relate to humanitarian access and to attacks on schools and hospitals.”

The words in bold are important to the extent of the commendations, expectations and the SG’s report on ‘six grave violations’ in Sri Lanka to the WG of the Security Council.

The substance of Radhika’s comments are derived from a visit by her representative which caused quite a storm. This was before Sir John Holmes became a ‘terrorist’ and an assortment of actors found themselves being named in unflattering terms by the ‘personal’ as well the ‘official’ view points of significant personas from Sri Lanka. So what did Alan Rock her representative say when he dropped by last time around?


The LTTE must
(i) immediately stop all recruitment of children, defined as all persons below the age of 18.

(ii) fulfill its commitment to me to release all children in its ranks and work with UNICEF towards the return of those children to their families;

(iii) train and discipline its command ers so that they are well aware that the recruitment and deploy ment of children will not be toler ated; and

(iv) allow access to all LTTE camps by UNICEF and other international protection agencies to determine whether child recruits are present.

TMVP/Karuna must
(i) immediately stop all recruitment of children, defined as all persons below the age of 18;

(ii) fulfill its commitment to me to release all children in its ranks and work with UNICEF towards the return of those children to their families;

(iii) train and discipline its commanders so that they are well aware that the recruitment and deployment of children will not be tolerated; and

(iv) allow access to all Karuna camps by UNICEF and other international protection agencies to determine whether child recruits are present.

Government of Sri Lanka
I would respectfully recommend that the Government of Sri Lanka should
(i) immediately commence a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of complicity by Government security forces in the abduction of children by the Karuna faction in such a way that

(a) complainants and witnesses will be protected from reprisal by any party;

(b) the results of the investigation will be made public; and

(c) the population of Sri Lanka and the international community will have confidence in the fairness and integrity of the investigation;

(ii) hold accountable any and all persons that might be found to have been complicit in such abductions;

(iii) secure the release and return to their families of all children abducted by the Karuna faction;

(iv) require that the police and Government security forces thoroughly investigate all complaints of child abductions, no matter by whom they were allegedly committed, and seek to find and return the abducted children;

(v) enforce the criminal prohibition against child recruitment under existing domestic law, and enact and enforce such additional measures as may be necessary to deter and punish the abduction of children in Sri Lanka;

(vi) make every effort to enable and facilitate humanitarian access to its population; and

(vii) assess and address the welfare and security of the Sri Lankan Muslim community, and especially its children and youth.

The Working Group of the Security Council
I respectfully recommend that the Working Group propose to the Security Council that it should :

(i) consider targeted measures against LTTE to address its continuing failure or refusal to stop recruiting and deploying children; those measures might include travel bans, asset freezes and an arms embargo;

(ii) call upon Member States to assist in the application of those measures; and

(iii) consider the adoption of similar measurers in relation to TMVP/Karuna should those parties not, by the time this matter is next considered by the Working Group, implement the recommendations made in respect of them and set forth above.

The Alan Rock report if one were to read in full is candid, damning in terms of evidence of horrendous and terrible acts of omission on the part those whose task is to provide for the safety and well being of civilians particularly children.

A discerning reader who may persuse the recommendations could reasonably arrive at conclusions on whether Radhika was correct in her diplomatic utterances on the positives she has observed. Point being ‘zero tolerance ‘true or false? This column thinks it is a charade of cynical proportions of all engaged in this enterprise.

A Priest Killed by the DPU

Mannar - A Christian Priest, Fr. Nocholaspillai Packiyaraj, the Mannaar district coordinator of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was killed today when Sri Lanka Army Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) attackers launched a Claymore attack on his Hiace vehicle, riding on Mannaar - Pooneryn Road.

An assistant of the priest, Juliyan, was rushed to hospital with injuries. The JRS is an international Catholic organization with a mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people.

Under the President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government rules in Sri Lanka for last two years, it is accused of being responsible for the numerous abductions, disappearances and extrajudicial killings of civilians, including aid workers, journalists, religious leaders and intellectuals.

In early this year, a 38-year old, a priest, Nallathamby Gnanaseelan, who lead the Tamil Mission Church in Jaffna was reportedly shot and killed in an execution style by the Sri Lankan security forces in Chapel Street after he had taken his wife and daughter to hospital.

On August 20th 2006, the Allaipiddy Pastor Rev. Fr. Jim Brown and his aid Mr. Vimalathas disappeared at the Sri Lankan Navy Checkpoint. Five months have passed since they disappeared and their wellbeing and whereabouts are still unknown.

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and its armed forces (SLA) are charged by many NGOs such as ICRC, AI, HRW, UNHRC, AHRC, and TRO as the worst human rights violators and called for international monitors and sanctions against Sri Lanka.

The year 2006 and 2007 were marred by a bloody upsurge in violence throughout the island Nation with over 5,400 people killed including 44 aid workers and 10 journalists, close to 500,000 people internally displaced (IDP) while thousands of people were abducted and hundreds are missing in the north and east of Sri Lanka.


LTTE contracts underworld to kill Prisons Chief

TID to question LTTE suspects, prison guards

After the discovery of a 200 metre long tunnel from Kalutara Prison to the Kaluganga, a police probe has revealed of a plot by the LTTE to assassinate the Commissioner General of Prisons Major General Vajira Wijegunawardane by contracting the underworld

A top official of the Terrorists Investigations Department (TID), who is investigating both the discovery of the tunnel and the murder contract confirmed to the Daily Mirror the LTTE had given a 2.5 million rupee contract to kill the former top military officer.

“Already five lakhs had been given to a Colombo based notorious underworld figure to carry out the assassination,” he said. The TID is to question 53 LTTE suspects who were earlier at the Kalutara prison as well as 170 prison officials in connection with the discovery of the tunnel.

He also said that last week, the TID informed the Commissioner General of Prisons about the latest threat. Information that the LTTE is planning to kill Major General Wijegunawardane is what led the police to conduct a search in the Kalutara Prisons area leading to the discovery of the secret tunnel.

Meanwhile, special police teams are working round the clock to arrest the underworld figures, who had been given the contract to kill Major General Wijegunawardane. They also said that so far police were able to gather important information about the assassination attempt.

The discovery of a tunnel last week at the Kalutara prison, believed to have been dug by LTTE detainees has led to more startling revelations and investigators are now pointing fingers at some prison officials who are believed to have been directly involved in the attempted prison break out.

Investigations suggest that large sums of money could have been offered to the prison officials to ensure that some guards were not permitted to visit the particular cell from where the inmates planned their daring escape before they were transferred to another prison. It has now been revealed that the LTTE had managed to smuggle blunt implements, baskets and fertilizer bags into the cell with the assistance of some prisons officials.

In scenes reminiscent of the TV series ‘Prison Break’ officials of the Kalutara Prison on Horana Road discovered the nearly 200 metre long tunnel, complete with electqicity for lighting, leading towards the Kalu Ganga, dug by Tiger suspects in custody over a period of one year.


The price and addiction of war too high

Sri Lanka is missing out on a great development opportunity in Tourism

When the creator designed the world he gave some countries a dollop of oil. Others got gold and silver and mineral deposits and to some he gave great scenic beauty. Every country to make its people progressively better off has to develop the natural resources it has inherited. We got great scenic beauty. A country like no other as we say in some tourist brochures. Sadly we have been able to gain only a small fraction of the potential. What the creator gave lies undeveloped and generates a mix of anger and sadness. To get the missed opportunity into a realistic perspective we should look at what some other countries who got the same goodies of great scenic beauty have done to exploit the opportunity. A good comparison is Thailand. They got the same cocktail of sandy beaches temples, ancient civilisations beautiful green countryside and friendly people. Our cocktail is more accessible, as the distances between our attractions are shorter. We are arguably ahead of Thailand as a destination.

The Sri Lankan experience

“Sri Lanka’s tourism industry a casualty of the civil conflict could become a principal beneficiary of a sustained peace. After facing promising prospects in the 1970’s, with yearly growth in tourist arrivals surpassing 20%, tourism collapsed with the onset of the civil conflict.”(source ADB) In 1982 tourist arrivals were a little above 400,000. “And while Sri Lanka drew about half a million tourist arrivals in 2003 Malaysia had reached 10 million in 2000 and Thailand the same number in 2001-even though all three countries had started from a similar base in the 1970’s.” source ADB

The sad story continued and in 2006 tourist arrivals we claimed were 559000. (This number is an exaggeration as it includes all foreign passport holders who came and this will include Sri Lankans, NGO’s and other non tourist visitors) Our foreign exchange earnings were 410 million US dollars.

The story in Thailand

In 2005 tourist arrivals were 11.6 million. This meant they had 20 times the number that visited Sri Lanka.

Thailand earned 9.2 Billion US dollars from tourism in 2005.This was 22times what Sri Lanka earned in 2006.Thailand’s earnings from Tourism WAS GREATER than Sri Lanka’s total exports which were 7.2 Billion Us dollars in 2006!

The Thai experience relates an interesting story. They offer tourists a very similar mix of attractions. This basket of sights as a destination attracted visitors from all over the world. It is by no means a destination mainly oriented to Western Europe. The number of visitors from East Asia was more than double the number from Europe. The visitors from the Americas was nearly double the total number of tourists to Sri Lanka What all this means is that we have a great hand as a destination, as what we have to offer is relevant to people in all parts of the world.

It was war that ruined it all

Our pattern of arrivals over the years is like a temperature chart of a patient who every time he gets better has a relapse and gets worse. Every time the civil conflict scenario deteriorated the arrivals declined. This sensitivity to conflict was demonstrated this year in Thailand. The political turmoil in that country resulted in a massive 15% decline in tourist arrivals in the first 8 months of this year.

The ganja of war

Sri Lanka has suffered from the ganja of war. War is addictive like ganja. Prabhakaran is addicted to it, after all these years it has to be obvious to him that he cannot establish a separate state through war. But he cannot give it up even though this addiction is causing huge hardships to the people in the North. Like all addicts they are blinded to the path and suffering inflicted on others.We also have addicts to the ganja of war in the south. They too are oblivious to the damage caused by war. The combination of these two groups of addicts to the ganja of war has materially harmed the growth and development of this country. A major casualty is tourism a goose that that can lay the golden eggs. It is now being slowly strangled to death.


Army captures LTTE’s FDL near Yodha Wewa

The Military on Monday captured the LTTE’s first Forward Defence Lines on the western side of the Yodha Wewa (Giant Tank) in the north of Mannar, in a fresh military operation launched on Sunday to capture the area, military sources said.

They said that on Monday itself the military was able to kill more than 20 LTTE cadres and injure nearly 40. Clashes erupted between the advancing military and the LTTE on Monday on the west of the Yodha Wewa ( Giant Tank).

“During the clashes four soldiers succumbed to injuries while nearly 20 LTTE cadres were killed and 36 injured,” a military official said. He also said that the military established through LTTE radio transmission intercepts that a vehicle belonging to the terrorists had been completely destroyed during the clash.The official also said that there were heavy exchanges of artillery and mortar fire between the two parties for several hours.With the outbreak of fighting people in the area have started to flee and seek refuge at nearby churches and schools. “Only a few families moved from the area,” the official however said.Meanwhile, the LTTE said on Monday that they had thwarted military attempts to infiltrate into areas under their control . “After nine hours of stiff fighting, the Army troops were pushed back to their positions with heavy causalities,” the Tamilnet said quoting an LTTE spokesman.

He said that six Tigers were killed during the fighting.He also said, that the military casualties were airlifted from the battle field in Sri Lanka Air Force helicopters.


EU defers resolution against Lanka

AI calls for special UNHRC session after Arbour visit

The European Union has decided to defer a resolution against Sri Lanka, an EU diplomat in Geneva told the Daily Mirror even as human rights groups, on Monday asserted that the situation in Sri Lanka had deteriorated to serious levels.

Speaking on condition of anonymity the diplomat said the EU, which under the presidency of Portugal, was contemplating putting forward a resolution against Sri Lanka both at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the EU Parliament in Brussels had decided to defer the move until the upcoming Lankan visit of Human Rights High Commissioner Louise Arbour.

“The EU has decided to wait till the end of her visit next month and see the outcome before deciding on the next move,” the diplomat said. On at least three earlier occasions in the past two years the EU deferred similar resolutions against Sri Lanka following intense lobbying by the government.

The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) presented a report to the EU Parliament and the UNHRC

in Geneva on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and subsequently the government carried out its own lobbying by presenting a report to EU countries on the efforts taken to deal with human rights concerns. Meanwhile addressing the UNHRC on Monday Amnesty International representative Peter Splinter urged the council to have a special session following the visit of Ms. Arbour to Sri Lanka early next month adding the government's denial of the gravity of the situation had not helped improve it.

“The special session will allow it to receive and discuss an urgently needed comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and explore measures that can assist the Government in improving that situation,” he said.

The AI said the severity of the violations and abuses requires that the Government address in the Council itself the need for investigations, prosecutions and other practical measures to end those violations and abuses.

Meanwhile Lukas Machon, of the International Commission of Jurists, also speaking at the session on Monday, said renewed violations by security forces and serious abuses by the LTTE demanded insistent condemnation and that the Human Rights Council should pressurize the Government to agree to establish a human rights presence.


Govt. team and NGOs in war of words in Geneva

A government delegation attending the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva was involved in a heated debate with NGOs and human rights groups at a briefing organized by the Sri Lankan mission in Geneva on Monday, sources who attended the session told the Daily Mirror.

The debate erupted between Tamil Centre for Human Rights General Secretary S. V. Kirubaharan and Minister G. L. Peiris when Prof. Peiris insisted that the Interim Self-Governing Administration (ISGA) presented by the LTTE in 2003 was purely focused on self rule.

Mr. Kirubaharan recalled the LTTE was ready to discuss the proposal together with a government proposal with the government peace team which was led by Minister Peiris at that time. The government peace team at the time, including Minister Peiris, had acknowledged that the way forward lay through direct discussions of the issues arising from both sets of proposals, Mr. Kirubaharan said.

During the debate the government team was described by the panelists as a ruthless terrorist organization and the worst in the world. Mr. Kirubaharan questioned the panelists if that were the case why was it that America, the EU and the other Co-chairs were insisting on negotiating with the LTTE.

Geneva’s Sri Lankan Ambassador Dayan Jayatilake responded saying it was the views of the Co- Chairs and did not necessarily reflect the views of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

A similar heated exchange of words erupted between the government delegation and human rights groups at the UNHRC last week as well as the government attempted to clear what it termed were misrepresentations made about the situation in Sri Lanka.

The most heated arguments took place during the session, titled ‘Misrepresentations of Sri Lanka: A Briefing on Human Rights’, between an HRW representative and government peace secretariat chief Rajiva Wijesinha.


Karuna flees to Britain?

Former LTTE eastern commander Karuna Amman has fled to Britain, well informed sources told the Daily Mirror adding that it followed the escalation of the split within the Karuna faction also known as the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP).

Amman had reportedly fled around four days ago after receiving his visa from Colombo and is now with his family who have been in Britain for more than a year, the source said. His mobile phone is however on roaming for him to be in contact with his close associates in Sri Lanka.

The Daily Mirror learns that financial irregularities within the TMVP which resulted in the split forced Amman to flee the country until the situation was resolved. More cadres loyal to Amman are said to have offered allegiance to Pillayan who moved to Trincomalee from Batticaloa together with more than 100 cadres earlier this year resulting in both sides carrying out tit for tat killings which still continues. Some Pillayan cadres have now infiltrated Batticaloa, sources said.

Besides this development, there was also pressure from government circles with persistent allegations being levelled against the TMVP over intimidation and harassment of Tamil political parties operating in the East including the EPDP led by Minister Dauglas Devananda.

However when contacted by the Daily Mirror TMVP spokesman Azad Maulana, who himself was not contactable for several months following the reported split within the TMVP, dismissed reports of Karuna fleeing the country and declined to comment further on the issue.


Tamil Tigers call for international pressure on Sri Lanka

Tamil Tiger guerrillas called Tuesday for international pressure to be cranked up to force the Sri Lankan government to halt military operations and return to peace negotiations.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly referred to as the Tamil Tigers, accused Colombo in a statement of pursuing a military campaign and committing human rights abuses.

The timing of the statement was intended to coincide with President Mahinda Rajapakse's address to the United Nations in New York later Tuesday.

The LTTE wants the international community to push the Colombo administration to honour a 2002 ceasefire arranged by peace broker Norway. The truce is in tatters after an escalation of fighting since December 2005.

"Whereas the LTTE continued to respect and urge for a full implementation of the ceasefire agreement, the Rajapakse regime eventually embarked on its war of occupation," the LTTE said.

"The government of Sri Lanka must end its deceptions, halt its military oppression, ethnic cleansing, and serious human rights violations, accept the aspirations of the Tamil people and come forward to find a resolution that is based on the right to self-determination of the Tamil people," the statement said.

"The international community must rein in the government of Sri Lanka to bring it in line."

It added military operations by Sri Lankan forces continued in the island's north and east, but said that the LTTE "continued to restrain itself, confining only to defensive operations."

The statement came a day after the Sri Lankan military said that at least 27 people, including 23 rebels, were killed in clashes over the weekend.

The fighting came despite an offer Sunday by the government's top defence official to halt military action in exchange for a resumption of peace talks, which stalled last October.

Troops would not go on the offensive if Tamil rebels agreed to talks, defence ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse told a newspaper amid pressure from the island's key foreign backers to halt the carnage.

Rights groups accuse the government and Tamil rebels of extra-judicial killings and scores of disappearances of civilians and political activists.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in Sri Lanka's long-running Tamil separatist campaign.


Sri Lanka violence leaves 16 more dead

Sixteen people were killed and 39 others injured as security forces clashed with Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka's embattled north and east, the two sides reported.

Four soldiers died in the northern district of Mannar early Tuesday when the rebels tried to breach a security line, the military said placing guerrilla losses at nine killed and 36 injured.

A road-side bomb killed a university lecturer and a civil servant in the northern district of Jaffna also on Tuesday, the defence ministry said blaming the attack on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The ministry said the rebels had targeted soldiers on foot patrol. Three soldiers escaped with injuries while the two civilians died in the blast.

And a farmer was shot dead by unknown gunmen late Monday in the eastern town of Akkaraipattu, the pro-rebel website said.

More than 60,000 people have died since the LTTE launched a military campaign for an independent state for minority Tamils in 1972.