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Aceh – Peace facilitation and Sri Lanka peace talks – A Comparison
About this category: Peace & Conflict

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Delegates representing the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) were invited to participate in the formal round of talks along with the Indonesian Government representatives.

The delegation of the Government of Indonesia and the representatives of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) arrived in Helsinki on 27 January 2005. On the same day, President Martti Ahtisaari has met both parties of the Aceh to talk separately about their concerns and expectations in the formal meeting.

The parties of the ongoing Aceh talks - delegation of the Indonesian Government and the representatives of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) have had separate meetings initially and later had joint discussions with President Martti Ahtisaari on 28 and 29 January, at the Königstedt Manor, in Vantaa, Finland
It was later reported that negotiations had been conducted in a constructive atmosphere. On 28 January covered issues on the humanitarian catastrophe in the region and the post-tsunami reconstruction.

Similarly, the ‘Formal Talks’ between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka was held on 16 – 18 September 2004.

Before the scheduled talks, I (this writer) was invited to participate in a panel discussion, held at the Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand. This panel discussion was organized by an internationally reputed human rights organization in the South East Asian region - Forum Asia. This discussion was arranged to assist the Thai media with a brief overview of the situation in Sri Lanka. This media briefing was done with the view to make the participating media representatives to get to know the background information of Sri Lanka, so that they would be in a position to understand the forthcoming negotiations, to be held in Thailand, between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

I was invited in my capacity as a journalist, Editor and on top of it all, as a Sri Lankan. My views were heard by more than one hundred leading Thai journalists, as well as by dozens of editors, writers and political commentators.

In the panel discussion, one of the most important question asked was my views regarding the peace negotiation. They asked me whether I am optimistic of the whole process that is going to take place in Thailand, from 16 September, 2002, until the Doomsday. I used the word Doomsday, because even the Norwegian facilitators were yet not sure, whether the talks will ever continue and end that soon positively.

According to one news report, Norwegian State Secretary Vidar Helgesen has said, "If the parties get an interim solution it will still have a way to go to a final settlement. In that sense, I think we're talking of years rather than months." These were the very words of Helgesen.

I am giving below the report of the panel discussion held at the Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok:


January 3, 2008 | 6:01 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Peace is noble and elusive and better we pray for it.
About this category: Peace & Conflict

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Last Friday, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion, which was held at the GM Hall, SASA International House, of Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand. This panel discussion was organized by one internationally reputed human rights organization in the Asian region - Forum Asia. This discussion was organized to assist the Thai media with a brief overview of the situation in Sri Lanka. This media briefing was done with the view to make the participating media representatives to get to know the background information of Sri Lanka, so that they would be in a position to understand the forthcoming negotiations, to be held in Thailand, between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

I gave them an objective analysis of the political situation in Sri Lanka. I also gave them a brief political history of the country. I think it was the first time the media personnel who participated in the discussion had come across a journalist from the Tamil ethnicity of Sri Lanka. They began to shoot many questions at me. It was indeed a hard bargain.

One of the most important questions asked was of my views regarding the peace negotiations. They asked me whether I am optimistic of the whole process that is going to take place in Thailand, from 16 September, until the Doomsday. I used the word Doomsday, because even the Norwegian facilitators are yet not sure, whether the talks will ever end and end that soon.

According to one report, that the Norwegian State Secretary Vidar Helgesen has said, "If the parties get an interim solution it will still have a way to go to a final settlement. In that sense, I think we're talking of years rather than months." These were the very words of Helgesen.

When Helgesen can say that, “we're talking of years, rather than months,” then I think that, there is nothing wrong in me making a remark of Doomsday. Furthermore, I told them that, the question of optimism does not arise. I am not sure of the meaning of the word ‘optimism,’ in this context. Optimism according to my dictionary means: (1) the tendency to take the most hopeful view in all matters; (2) the doctrine of the triumph of good over evil.
Therefore, how is it possible for one to have the tendency to take the most hopeful view in all matters in this issue of peace negotiation? I cannot be optimistic for the simple reason that Anton Balasingham representing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam will be discussing with Professor G.L.Peris, who will be representing the Sri Lankan Government.

They can talk, and talk forever. They can even argue, they can agree and they can finalize anything and everything they wanted to finalize. As an eighth wonder, these talks can last that long to arrive at a conclusion and as the ninth wonder, even the Tiger Supremo could come forward to agree to agree with those decisions arrived at the conference table, but, LTTE leader is not going to be the final arbiter in this case.

It is the Sinhala fundamentalism, the chauvinism, the Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-religious fanaticism that is going to have the final say in these issues and no one else. I wish that the readers would mark my words and record them for future reference, when these words become a reality.

We have not got any earlier precedents to base our optimism in the forthcoming negotiations. Earlier, D S Senanayake moved a motion in the State Council, on November 8 1945, for the acceptance of the Soulbury Constitution. D.S.Senanayake gave the following solemn promise to the Tamil leaders and assured that they need not worry of any harm at the hands Sinhalese, in a free Lanka. He was appealing in the State Council to the Tamil members.

"Please have faith in us and see whether we are the worthy descendants of the mighty Sinhalese race or not. Do you want to be governed from London or do you want, as Ceylon, to help govern Ceylon? ... On behalf of the Ceylon National Congress and on my behalf, I give the minority communities the sincere assurance that no harm needs you fears at our hands in a free Lanka. Please let us work with this Constitution a trial and we will prove to you that your fears are unfounded"

But in 1948, the very year Ceylon (Sri Lanka) gained Independence; D.S.Senanayake blatantly went back on the promise by depriving one million Tamils of their citizenship. The Citizenship Act No.18 of 1948, made nearly one million Tamils, stateless and vote-less. This was the same Senanyake, who colonized the Sinhalese in South of Batticalao, thus changing the ethnic demography of the region.

In 1956, SWRD Bandaranaike introduced Sinhala Language as the official language of the country, without taking into consideration the language rights of the Tamils. Again he entered into an agreement with S.J.V.Chelvanayakam on 27 July 1957. Subsequently, in February 1958, when a large group of saffron-robed Buddhist monks occupied the lawn of Bandaranaike’s private residence, located at Rosmead Place, Colombo, demanding the abrogation of the Pact, he immediately tore the Pact in front of the clergies, without even considering informing Chelvanayakam of his intention.

His wife Srimavo Bandaranaike, as well as Dudley Senanayke failed to live up to the promises and agreements they entered with the Tamil leaders. It was J.R.Jayewardene who first ventured into a military solution to the ethnic conflict and at last Chandrika Kumaratunga, the present President of Sri Lanka, introduced a barbarous theory “war for peace.” It amounts to bring about peace after subduing the Tamils militarily.

The above facts are very clear indications that, for the last 52 years, the Sinhalese leaders have failed to live up to their words and therefore it is very difficult to be optimistic for the simple reason that Ramil Wickremasinghe, the Prime Minister has come forward to negotiate peace with the Tamil Tigers.

Furthermore, I can’t be complacent with the fact that, everything would end well, when Anton Balasingham represents the Tamil Tiger side. He has represented earlier too in a few unsuccessful negotiations on behalf of the LTTE, with the government of Sri Lanka.

From April 1989 to 11 June 1991, Anton Balasingham negotiated with the Sri Lankan government under President Premadasa. Finally on 11 June 1991, Eelam War 2 was launched by the LTTE against the Sri Lankan Government.

Since 1994 November until April 1995 Anton Balasingham was involved in a negotiation with Chandrika Kumaratunga’s representatives. Ultimately, Anton Balasingham wrote the book, “The Politics of Duplicity” and Prabhakran launched the Eelam War 3. Therefore, the ability of the Tamil negotiation team is undoubtedly questionable, when the life of the millions of the Tamils including me is on line.

Therefore, taking into consideration of the facts above mentioned, I told the Thai media representatives that, I cannot be optimistic, but I exercise caution and pray for a sustainable peace in my country."

The Formal Peace Talks was held at Sattahip, Thailand, on 16 September 2002. Along with the delegates of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Norwegian facilitators invited Bangkok based diplomats, to participate in the launching of the formal meeting. Though Thailand played the role as host to the peace talks, Thai Prime Minister Thakshin Shinawatara or Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai did not turn up for the inaugural meeting. Thailand gave a low keyed reception by sending the Permanent Secretary to the Foreign Ministry to participate in the Formal meeting. Some diplomats told later that there was no necessity for such Tamashas.

Vidar Helgesen, State Secretary, and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the formal inaugural session of the Peace Talks at Sattahip, Thailand, on 16 September 2002 said: “There exists today a state of relative peace in Sri Lanka, built on the ceasefire agreement in force since February. This relative peace indicates that ultimately a political settlement of the ethnic conflict can be found. In this quest, the parties cannot be left alone. Neither can the accompaniment of the Norwegian Government suffice. They need to be accompanied by the entire international community. It has been a long and, at times, thorny process to get this far. No less difficult times are ahead. The parties will confront problems that can only be solved through painstaking effort and painful compromise. Close to twenty years of armed conflict cannot be resolved overnight. Coming from a very difficult past, Sri Lanka has no easy way forward."
In contrast to Vidar Helgessen talks, President Martti Ahtisaari, Chairman of the Board of the Crisis Management Initiative of Finland made a statement after the successful conclusion of formal talks with delegates of the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) Indonesian Government representatives on 29 January 2005 as follows:

Search for a peaceful solution with dignity for all

“In my capacity as Chairman of the Board of the Crisis Management Initiative, a Finnish NGO, I invited the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to an informal meeting in Helsinki on 27-29 January 2005. The aim of the meeting was to re-establish a dialogue between the parties in the aftermath of the tsunami on 26 December 2004, which caused immeasurable human suffering and massive devastation in Aceh. In order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance I urged the parties to refrain from military activities.

The meeting served as a confidence-building measure and aimed to identify common ground on which to build eventual next steps. The discussions started as proximity talks on Thursday when I met both parties separately. On Friday morning the delegations met in joint sessions which I chaired. On Friday afternoon and Saturday the parties had direct talks without a facilitator.

The discussions started with a review of the humanitarian situation and delivery of assistance in Aceh. Then parties started exploring whether it would be possible to find a comprehensive solution in the framework of special autonomy for Aceh. Within this framework the parties covered issues such as long-term socio-economic development and reconstruction, security arrangements, terms for demobilization and reintegration, amnesty, lifting of the civil emergency, guarantees and monitoring of undertakings by the parties, elections, justice and human rights.

I have extended an invitation to the parties for a second meeting in Helsinki.

After the formal meeting in Helsinki, Free Acheh Movement (GAM) was keeping the peace negotiation in tenterhooks as they have so far not finalized their stance on their participation in the second round of the peace talks to be held in Helsinki.

Bakthiar Abdullah, spokesman of the Free Acheh Movement told this writer that they have received the invitation for the participation of the second round of Peace talks scheduled to be held on 21 February in Helsinki, but he added, “We are not ready yet.”

The spokesman said that invitation does not specify any important issues in the agenda except the formal request to participate in the talks with the Indonesian Government representatives facilitated by Crisis Management Initiative – a NGO based in Helsinki led by Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland.

Earlier the first round of informal meeting was held in Helsinki on 27-29 January 2005. The aim of the meeting was to re-establish a dialogue between the parties in the aftermath of the tsunami on 26 December 2004.

That was the first meeting between the two sides since the Tokyo dialogue failed on 18 May 2003 and a martial law was imposed on the following day by the Indonesian government.

Bakthiar Abdullah reminded that Tokyo Conference failed because Indonesian delegation tried to impose on them conditions that were outside the agenda.

He said the first meeting served as a confidence-building measure and aimed to identify common ground on which to build eventual next steps, but the second meeting has to be formal and talks must proceed based on an acceptable agenda.

Indonesia announced after the first round of talks that the country would consider any solution to Acheh conflict that does not involve independence.

Free Acheh Movement expressed its full and unstinting commitment to achieve peace in Acheh and to negotiate a formal ceasefire that is the basis for further peace talks to bring to an end the armed conflict since 1976 December 04 after the Declaration of Independence by the Free Acheh Movement.

At the first formal meeting, Free Acheh Movement delegates insisted “A formal Ceasefire Agreement is the basis for future talks”

Bakthiar Abdullah told this writer that their position since 1976 December has not changed. He emphasized: “Achehean should have the right of self-determination leading to independence.”

January 3, 2008 | 6:01 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Airlines suspend Flights to Myanmar
Related to country: Myanmar
About this category: Peace & Conflict

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Qatar Airways, one of only 15 foreign airlines operating in and out of Myanmar, is suspending its weekly four flights to the military-ruled former Burma in January, a company official said on Saturday.

"Our last flight on this route will be on 9th January 2008," a member of staff, told adding that the reasons for the route cancellation were "just commercial". However, one Yangon-based travel agent said the flights from Doha were nearly always full. "We don't think the true reason for their suspending is commercial viability. Seat occupancy on their flights is very good," said the travel agent, who asked not to be named.

"We think it could be due to the pressure from Western countries." Qatar Airways opened its Doha-Yangon-Doha route in December 2004. Since the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in September, in which at least 31 people were killed, the United States and Europe have pushed for tighter international sanctions against Myanmar's ruling military junta. Besides tightening their own trade embargoes, analysts suspect Washington in particular is also bringing quiet a bit pressure to bear on other smaller countries, such as Singapore, that do business with Myanmar.

Myanmar Airways International (MAI), was forced in October to drop its Yangon-Bangkok and Yangon-Kuala Lumpur routes after its insurer refused to provide coverage for the leased MD-82 aircraft plying the route. However, the airline said on Saturday it had managed to find some different aircraft and would restart a daily service to Bangkok and a thrice a weekly service to the Malaysian capital.

Most Asian countries remain officially opposed to sanctions against the junta, arguing that pushing the generals even further into isolation would be counterproductive.


January 1, 2008 | 6:45 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Rajapakse government turns to new directions, gets good dividends
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict

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President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka beseiged from many sides is unfazed. He has taken a bold and independent stance and is shifting away from old benefactors and in important financial partnerships is looking to Asia and West Asia. He is on the firing line of former colonizers, neo colonialists, media and multilateral bodies, sections of the UN, NGOs and INGOS, donors of aid, human rights watchers, advocates of peace talks, immediate political solutions, good governance, transparency and humanitarian issues.

The government of Sri Lanka is snowed down by fly-by-night meddlers, busy bodies, pundits, Arbours and Evans’s with dubious recipes and land-based dips overstepping protocol with windy sermons. The condemnations and criticisms are a multi-barreled onslaught. If words could kill there would have been a massacre. Nothing like that has happened. .Rajapakse is getting away with his nationalism and his war against terror. He smiles amiably, speaks politely and ignores all these admonitions and is going his own way.

And their weapons are ideologically replacing the old effete manipulative donor aid with heavily pressurized boring, sometimes threatening sermons and a new adjunct R2P [Responsibility to Protect]. Now this new diversion does not befuddle the emboldened and educated Sri Lankans to them it simply means ‘Right to Pounce’ as in Serbia and Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, East Timor etc. To the preachers it also means, teaming up with NGOs and INGOs and the Opposition to pull the LTTE and Prabhakaran out of the hole he has got himself into.

It is correct that Sri Lanka has a considerable human rights problem and humanitarian issues to be solved. The government has set up institutions and is taking measures to remedy this situation. This must be done with a firm hand. The very personages who make the accusations of killings, disappearances, dislocations refugees and breakdown of law and order, do admit that the situation does not amount to genocide nor is it as severe and widespread as in other parts of the world.

In the air are other possibilities like being called names- ‘a failed state’ or even a basket case. These new weapons are coming into vogue because they know that aid is a blunt weapon gone in the teeth. Cutting off aid means the violation of the very humanitarianism they are advocating and an admission that aid comes with secret agendas and ulterior motives. Not with the aim of alleviating poverty. Sri Lanka is not a low income country any more.. Her per capita income is US dollars 1500 [ however imperfect a measure] and donor aid has amounted to only US dollars 800 million last year, From Sri Lankan expatriates working abroad the country has received US dollars 1.4 billion in the same period.

Sri Lanka sorely needs aid from abroad for her developmental and infrastructure building activities which the government says will continue simultaneously with the war against terrorism. That is why Mahinda Rajapakse is looking elsewhere. The reality has to be faced. Just as in the fight against terrorism, in the formulation of a political solution, so also in the economic resurgence Sri Lanka has to stand on her own feet and devise her own strategies for survival..

The affable, smiling Mahinda Rajapakse has been going places. For assistance both military and developmental Rajapakse has turned to old friends with cultural religious and trade ties. He has sought the hand of friendship from four countries which have one thing in common. They do not have a large and strong Tamil diaspora of clustered communities, influential enough to tilt election results in favor of tame politicians, spread disinformation and pressurize legislators.

Japan has a long history of helping Sri Lanka after the war in massive amounts. Japanese overseas development aid accounts for 60 per cent of bilateral assistance and 40 per cent of total overseas development aid received by Sri Lanka. Japan gifted the modern Rupavahini complex, which is the national TV station.

Japanese aid has gone into telecommunications, ports, airports, highways, water supply schemes, irrigation, schools hospitals, the new Parliamentary complex, the national blood bank, the Uda Walawe development project, help for the uplifting of lagging regions and tsunami aid. Help is forthcoming from Japan for the four lane southern highway, for the multi-purpose Moragahakande project and Japan will be helping in the building of the Mannar Bridge. The Udawalawe irrigation project will be complete next year with a total investment of 9 billion yen. Since last year Japanese aid has exceeded US dollars 40 billion.

With a big highly publicized red carpet welcome, audience with the Emperor and Empress and hospitality usually accorded to VIPs from the world’s powerful nations, Rajapakse came home with pledges of 2000 million yen. Japan has not gone along with the other donors who threaten to cut aid. Japan takes the view that the poor would suffer as a result.

The finances will be channeled to a Liquefied Nitrogen Gas project, which is eco-friendly and will produce 300 mw of power. Other projects include financial and technical assistance for a coast guard department, a budget hospital for the working class, a modern training school for nurses and assistance towards Eastern development and small and medium enterprises. There would also be job opportunities in Japan for skilled workers and professionals. Japan has stepped up grants in aid from US dollars 320 million to Us dollars 400 million per year.

There is the saying that nations do not have permanent friends, only national interests. But it is worth remembering that at the 1951/1952 Peace conference in San Francisco after the last war, it was J R Jayewardene, Sri Lanka‘s Finance Minister who stood up before that august assembly and pleaded for clemency for Japan and urged that Japan should not be punished by the allies.

In the course of a memorable speech he quoted from what the Buddha said about anger and hatred: ’Hatred never ceases through hatred in this world. Through love alone it ceases. This is an eternal law.’ And they paid heed to what was said. More practical is the strategic aspect that for Japan peace and stability in Sri Lanka is of critical importance as the island lies on the vital oil route.

From Iran Rajapakse returned with bags full of dollars. Eight MOUs were signed which includes financial and technical support and expertise amounting to US dollars 1.5 billion. This assistance includes the expansion of the Sapugaskakande oil refinery - stepping up its refining capacity from 50,000 barrels a day to 120,000 barrels a day. Laid down is co-operation in the areas of customs, shipping, tourism, business, trade and commerce. Iran has pledged a US dollars 450 million loan at low interest for the Uma Oya irrigation project and US dollars 1.5 million for the building of 500 houses.

With rising prices Sri Lanka’s economy is caught up in the oil crunch. OPEC countries do not usually give concessionary credit. But Iran has given Sri Lanka seven months credit, four of which will not carry interest. Sri Lanka buys US dollars 750 million worth of oil per year from Iran. Although Iran is a big importer of Sri Lankan tea, it leaves Sri Lanka with a deficit.

There was relentless lobbying by the members of the much criticized huge entourages [costing the tax payer a lot of money] of Ministers, bureaucrats and businessmen. Rajapakse has been a friend of the Palestinians and he has been President of the Sri Lanka-Palestine Friendship Association for many years. He advocates an independent Palestinian state.

With Pakistan Sri Lanka has had a long standing friendship and much military hardware has been sent to Sri Lanka during times of trouble and crisis. This is the other side of the assistance Sri Lanka seeks from friendly nations - military aid, arms and armaments, heavy weapons, tanks, ships planes military expertise and technology to eradicate terrorism.

It was India and Pakistan which came to the aid of Sri Lanka when the first Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna [JVP} insurrection broke out in 1971. In 2000 while Jaffna seemed about to fall into the hands of the LTTE, after the fall of Elephant Pass, and India faltered, but Pakistan was the stout friend who rushed the big guns and other military requirements and helped to save Jaffna. There has been a very long connection with Pakistan in military matters. Between 200-300 security services officers have been trained every year at the National Defence University of Pakistan.

There is no doubt that this defence connection displeases India and blunt and arrogant objections have been raised. For instance in June this year M K Narayanan India’s National Security Adviser threateningly said that India is a big power in the region and Sri Lanka should not go to Pakistan or China for weapons. Whatever their requirements they should come to us. But India will not provide Sri Lanka with weapons of offensive capability.

But Pakistan has pledged greater defence aid. Pakistan has added on a further US dollars 31 million apart from the already pledged US dollars 50 million. Janes Defence Weekly recently published a heavy list of military hardware that Sri Lanka was seeking from Pakistan. According to the magazine the lot would be worth US dollars 60 million and would include anti-tank guided weapons systems, warheads, training simulators and technical assistance.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minster Imam Ul Haque has said that his country will not be deterred by limitations imposed by other countries. He has also said that what Pakistan is doing for Sri Lanka is part of the global fight against terrorism and is no longer a bilateral issue. Suicide bombing started in Sri Lanka and has spread to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan he has commented.

Sri Lanka a small powerless country has done what it can. During the war for the breakaway of Bangladesh from Pakistan Ms Sirimavo Bandaranaike the Prime Minister risking India’s displeasure gave Pakistan whose planes could not over fly India, the right of ‘technical’ stops in Sri Lanka during their flights to East Pakistan. More recently, this year at the Commonwealth conference in Kampala Sri Lanka stood up staunchly against the expulsion of Pakistan from the Commonwealth.

All these countries including China have pledged their maximum support for the eradication of terrorism. China has had very long religious ties with Sri Lanka. Going back to the fifth century it is reported that Sri Lankan bhikkunis [Buddhist nuns] traveled to China in order to restore the higher ordination ceremonies of nuns there. In the 1950s Sri Lanka did something very courageous and signed a rubber for rice deal with China. It angered America which cut off aid to Sri Lanka.

China in recent years has played a significant role in the procurement of arms by Sri Lanka. Several agreements have been signed for the supply of arms and ammunition, mortar shells, artillery shells, mortar bombs, rockets, naval guns, multipurpose machine guns radar etc. It is also reported that China will be one of the countries which will be entrusted with the exploration of oil in one or two blocks of the Mannar basin in the north west of Sri Lanka.


December 31, 2007 | 3:35 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Hilary Clinton gives terrorists a boost
About this category: Peace & Conflict

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According to Ms Hilary Clinton frontrunner in the US Presidential election there are obviously good and bad terrorists, just as over the years the West has persisted in the view that there are ‘our’ terrorists and ‘your’ terrorists. This has enabled `Sri Lankan Tamil supporters of the LTTE to carry on huge criminal and illegal operations in the US, Canada, Britain and other EU countries the Nordic countries and Australia. Not much help was ever been extended to Sri Lanka to rid the country of this menace.

Her recent statement to Guardian Unlimited gave a huge boost to terrorists everywhere who would hope that they could fall into the same Tiger pet pool. If she does win the election and persists in this view it would let some terrorists off the leash and Sri Lanka has real reason to think that this is a danger signal
This is what she said: I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been used throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial. There is personality driven terrorist objectives. The bottom line is that you cannot lump all terrorists together. And I think we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raison d’etre of terrorists.

And this is the crunch for Sri Lanka: I mean what the Tamil Tigers are fighting for in Sri Lanka or the Basque separatists in Spain or the insurgents in al Anbar province may only be connected by tactics……….I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush which has not been particularly helpful in understanding what we are up against those who pursue terrorism for whichever ends they are seeking.

In one fell swoop she transforms some terrorists who could have mainly electoral benefits for her or her party into national liberation fighters with favored status and immunity from prosecution for crime, as has been happening for so long in the US Britain Canada and Norway. What she means is that some brands of terrorism can be justified, however gruesome their killing machine is, and however repressive their regimes are , if you approve of the motivation for their causes and goals.

This is the kind of sympathetic understanding that the LTTE yearns for especially at this moment when its fortunes are skidding downwards. We have no doubt that sympathizers, supporters and fund raisers of the LTTE have broad satisfied grins painted across their faces.

This clearly means that the end justifies the means, and the reasons why politicians go soft on even the criminal and inhuman tactics of terrorists is not hard to guess. Clinton’s stance means that she is rejecting the position taken by the United Nations and the postulates of the Geneva Convention.

Most terrorism experts lump Al Qaeda and the LTTE together, but in US thinking one can see another direction in which ‘our’ terrorists’ are moving. This is another twist in US interpretation not very different to Clinton’s views, which favor this favored status. Mr Robert O Blake US Ambassador in Sri Lanka had this clarification to make on national television Rupavahini at the end of last year. He said:

"It would be dangerous to make comparisons between one country and the next. The US is fighting stateless organizations like Al Qaeda. The Al Qaeda is out to kill as many Americans as possible all over the world and do not have any political objectives.’

On the LTTE he says: Though the LTTE surely is pursuing terrorist objectives it has the ultimate objective to establish some sort of framework where the rights of Tamils can be respected’.

It is incredible that the political and religious objectives of Al Qaeda to wipe out all Christians Jews and other sinners from Muslim lands and drive the Israelis out of Palestine has been overlooked by Blake who is expressing the US view. And the monstrous killers of the LTTE now running a dictatorial, repressive regime in two and half districts in the north, and strangling the unfortunate Tamil population into slavery, are believed to be able to transmogrify it overnight into a benign, democratic, enlightened, civilized benevolent outfit for the benefit of the Tamils.

It seems difficult to believe that the woman who is aspiring to be the future President of the world’s sole super power should say some strange things , like for instance that terrorism has been used throughout history. In past centuries mankind has been horrific in its cruelty to human beings.Whole populations have been driven out of towns and villages just like the ethnic cleansing practised by the LTTE; non-combatant civilians including children have been massacred as the LTTE has been doing in unprotected Sinhala villages and through the bombing of civilian centres; in the historic past that Clinton refers to so blithely in her own country indigenous populations have been decimated by newly-arrived alien conquerors.

In other countries whole communities have been massacred for their religious beliefs or forcibly converted. Religious wars have been fought in Europe and thousands massacred. In an older version of the clash of civilisations metal clad Crusaders have marched to war to save Christendom. Prisoners of war have been systematically killed. We need hardly mention the millions who have been shot or gassed for their ethnicity in the Europe from which the ancestors of Clinton’s people came.

Then, is this the kind of terrorism that Clinton has gone soft on? This is terrorism practiced in times of war turmoil and during clashes of ideology.

But out of that primitive bestiality we have evolved over the centuries into more humane, human beings. And especially for times of war we have fashioned international, legal civilized instruments for the protection of not only innocents and non-combatants but combatants as well.

This is the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters and that time and the present.

We come to objectives and motivations. The LTTE’s objective is Eelaam and nothing less, a separate state established in the north and east of Sri Lanka covering one third of the land area and two thirds of the coastline. Sri Lanka’s population is nineteen odd million. Of this two million are Tamils. But of this two million one million or a little more are living abroad or in the south of the country outside the north and east. In fact 54 per cent of Tamils living in Sri Lanka live in the south in peace with the Sinhalese and the Muslims.

This is what V Anandasangaree, veteran politician, former MP and leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front who has put his life on the line and is on the hit list of the LTTE, has to say about Eelaam in an interview he gave the ‘Sunday Observer’ on Nov 4th 2007: The LTTE is back to zero. Forget about Eelaam. Eelaam is not a thing wanted by the Tamils of the north and east. Eelaam is never achievable and the Tamils will strongly oppose it. The international community is against it and India is much concerned. Tamils have lost all their rights and Kilinochchi is like a graveyard. It is impossible to have Eelaam with a thousand mile boundary and the need for southern markets.

Now for tactics which are glossed over. Assassination of heads of state like R Premadasa , President of Sri Lanka and Rajiv Gandhi Prime Minister of India. Attempted assassination of the President of Sri Lanka, the Commander of the Sri Lankan army, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Assassination of Sinhala and Tamil top level politicians , too long a list to name and more Tamils than Sinhalese, Mayors of Jaffna, government agents and other public servants, school principals, businessmen, dissidents and other civilians. Most dastardly was the massacre of thirty one student bhikkus and their principal and of 678 police officers who surrendered to the LTTE on the stupid orders of President Premadasa.

The LTTE has carried out genocide carried out on a massive scale mainly through the use of suicide bombers, massacres of Sinhala peasants, pregnant mothers and babies by hacking them to death with machetes to save on bullets. Killing of Muslims praying in mosques and Buddhists worshipping at the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura and bombing of economic and religious targets such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the oil installations, the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, airplanes, buses, trains and bus stands.

The underage children of Tamils reduced to slavery in LTTE controlled areas are recruited forcibly by the LTTE; it is demanded of each family that they offer one child to the LTTE and university students are not allowed to join their universities unless this is done. Middle aged adults are forcibly inducted into the LTTE forces for military training and they are seen marching in the sun in saris, sarongs and trousers. Ethnic cleansing drove out 70,000 Muslims and 23,000 Sinhalese from Jaffna.

The cynical international community and the Tigers supporters would say stop the war and go into negotiations. The LTTE has spurned six attempts at negotiations and walked out on them. On talks with the LTTE we are left with what Douglas Devananda leader of the EPDP and a Tamil Minister in the present government has to say: Even if one achieved such a feat as brushing the teeth of a cobra, ploughing the sea or squeezing an elephant through the eye of a needle one cannot make peace with the LTTE.

December 31, 2007 | 3:35 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Beyond terrorism: Sri Lanka’s road map for peace
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Sri Lanka continues to be confronted by, what terrorism expert and Chief Scientist at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, Dr. Magnus Ranstorp has described as, “[LTTE is] probably the most sophisticated terrorist organization in the world.”


Only two weeks ago the Sri Lankan Navy assisted by the Air Force was able to detect and destroy 03 large LTTE ships carrying arms and ammunition in the high-seas about 1200 km (600 nautical miles southeast of Sri Lanka’s southern most tip of Dondra) thus foiling the LTTE’s latest attempt to smuggle lethal weapons into the country.

The full magnitude of the danger posed by the LTTE, which is proscribed throughout the European Union, in India, the US, the UK and Canada and has restrictions placed on it in Australia, is most vividly detailed in the September 2007 issue of the leading London based intelligence magazine Jane’s Intelligence Review.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama
A special report by John Solomon and B.C. Tan titled “Feeding the Tiger - how Sri Lankan insurgents fund their way”, makes several important revelations to the world, about the operatives, their modus operandi, and the current level of threat posed by the LTTE, both to the territorial integrity and security of Sri Lanka, and to the security of the international community.
The report states and I quote;
- “The Tamil Tiger’ financial and procurement structure is well organised and strategically positioned around the globe. Unlike the decentralised jihadist movement, the LTTE is a centralised, hierarchical organisation commanded and controlled by its founding leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran”.

- “Irrespective of the correlation between the LTTE’s financial situation and the longevity that has cost more than 60,000 lives, the activities of the LTTE abroad- including extortion, narcotics trafficking and credit card fraud- have a negative impact on the countries and societies that host its presence”.

- “the Tamil Tigers generate an estimated US$ 200 to 300 million per year”, and “after accounting for its estimated US$ 8 million per year of costs within LTTE-administered Sri Lanka, the profit margin of its operating budget would likely be the envy of any multinational corporation.”
You would agree that the implication of these comments is that the international community should take tough action against the LTTE and its global terror network as it would amount to be an act of self interest by members of the international community, to eradicate terrorism.
2. Significance of US support to Sri Lanka in meeting this challenge
In our struggle against LTTE terrorism, Sri Lanka has considered the U.S. to be a steadfast friend.
I speak to an audience of a country which:
* Besides India, which proscribed the LTTE in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the U.S. was the first western country to recognize the potential threat that could be posed by the LTTE and took steps to proscribe the organisation in 1997.
* The U.S. has supported Sri Lanka in many ways in its effort to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country at crucial points. Over the years in its fight against terrorism Sri Lanka has sought and has received military assistance from the U.S. in many forms.

The U.S. administration has supported Sri Lanka considerably, enhancing the capability of the Sri Lanka Navy in defending our territorial waters, and the exclusive Economic Zone (of 1.2 million square miles 21 times the size of the country) particularly to prevent smuggling of weapons and ammunition by making available a coast guard cutter USS “Courageous”, which plays a pivotal role in help protect the maritime security of our vast exclusive economic zone. Given the significance of the Colombo Port as a major transhipment point the U.S. has also contributed significantly toward enhancing surveillance of our waters through support to modalities under multilateral initiatives such as the Container Security Initiative, the Mega Ports Initiative and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, and in supporting Sri Lanka’s entry to the ASEAN Regional Forum.

* Among our military purchases to fight terrorism, U.S. companies have been important suppliers. At present Sri Lankan armed forces receive training in the U.S. your facilities, and let me add that Sri Lanka has contributed to the UN Peacekeeping operations in Haiti.
* The U.S. administration was also the first to pro-actively take tangible action to thwart the macabre designs of the LTTE to harm ? Sri Lanka, when in a sting operation launched by the FBI in August 2006 not only nabbed a number of key LTTE activists, but also has unearthed a wealth of information regarding the modus operandi of the organization in that country.

Thirteen persons with close links to the LTTE, including “Waterloo” Suresh alias Suresh Skandarajah, from Buffalo, New York, San Jose, California, Seattle, Washington and Connecticut were arrested following the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) and FBI probe into the allegations that LTTE sympathizers in North America for seeking to purchase surface to air missiles, missile launchers, AK-47s, and other weapons to be used by the LTTE against the Sri Lankan military missiles and move terror funds.

They are also accused of attempting to use LTTE front organizations, including the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) to bribe State Department officials for obtaining classified documents containing information relating to the organizations.
Among those arrested was a British doctor, Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy alias Dr. Moorthy, a senior LTTE intermediary, was also arrested in New York for aiding the LTTE. They are currently awaiting trial.

* At the same time in a case filed by the US Government in Baltimore, four LTTE agents, including three foreign nationals, were arrested for seeking to provide material support to the LTTE, a designated foreign terrorist organization in the US.

Of them, on 5th April 2007, a Singapore national, Haniffa Bin Osman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to the LTTE, while Haji Subandi and Erick Wotulo, both Indonesian citizens, pleaded guilty to attempting to illegally export arms for the LTTE.
On 10th May 2007 Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, a Sri Lankan citizen, pleaded guilty in a US court for conspiring to provide material support to the LTTE and attempt export of arms and ammunition.

According to the plea, from April to September 29, 2006, Varatharasa conspired with Haji Subandi, Haniffa Osman and Erick Wotulo to export state-of-the-art firearms, machine guns and ammunition, surface to air missiles, night vision goggles and other military weapons to the LTTE not only conducted but has convicted four persons in Baltimore.

* On 25 April 2007, the US based leader of the LTTE, Karunakaran Kandasamay alias Karuna, and four others were arrested by the Joint Terrorist Task Force of the federal law enforcement agency, in the New York suburb of Jamaica, Queens on the charge of providing material support for the LTTE by fund raising. The process of preparation for trial we understand is currently underway.

* Earlier this year US based INTELSAT took action to terminate the illegal use of one of its satellites by the LTTE to illegally broadcast the LTTE’s so called official TV channel, ‘National Television of Tamil Eelam’ (NTT) launched in 2005 and originating from northern Sri Lanka and beamed across Europe and Asia.
3. Sri Lanka’s road map to peace
Sri Lanka does have a road map to peace.
On our part, it is the firm conviction of the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the present conflict in Sri Lanka cannot be solved through military means. The government is fully committed to finding a lasting negotiated political settlement to the conflict.
Upon assumption of office in November 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his very first address offered to meet the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, face to face.
Consistent with his view that building a ‘southern consensus’ among the political parties in the south was pivotal to arriving at any negotiated political settlement, the President also convened the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) in January 2006.
Since then the APRC has gone through a painstaking process aimed at developing a set of proposals to resolve the present conflict that would have broad acceptability. The APRC is now reaching the final stages of its deliberations.

Our Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, together with the party leaders, is participating in the APRC process. The APRC is currently in the process of finalizing the proposals and President Rajapaksa is on record stating that he would accept whatever the consensus that emerges from the APRC.
I trust you are aware, that within two months after assuming office, President Rajapaksa revived the process of negotiations with the LTTE that had broken down since April 2003, and participated in talks with the LTTE arranged through the Norwegian facilitators on three occasions during 2000.

Having been a member of the delegation of these talks, I can say with authority that the LTTE did not demonstrate the slightest inclination to resolve any substantive issue, but were merely intent on extending the opportunity opened to them since signing of the Ceasefire Agreement to re-arm, re-group and to try to restore its badly tarnished image in the West, which in the post 9/11 context saw the LTTE for what they were - a group of terrorists.

The LTTE’s position is nothing new, since 1985, when the Government of Sri Lanka held its first negotiations with groups dominated by the LTTE, successive Sri Lankan administrations have also engaged in talks in 1987, 1989, 1994, and 2002.
The LTTE has exploited those periods to bolster its armed capability and single handedly torpedoed the efforts at peace and walked away from the negotiating table.

Despite all these efforts at peace, less than two weeks after the President’s assumption of office, the LTTE unleashed a brutal killing spree against the security forces installations and personnel- including a failed attacked by a LTTE female suicide bomber on the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and carried out the assassination of his third in command Major Gen. Parami Kulatunga, followed by attacks against civilians.

The government desisted from taking any significant retaliatory action despite these provocations.
However, in July 2006, when it became clear that the LTTE was intent on disrupting civilian life in the Eastern Province, through cutting off water supply to a large area, and subsequently targeting the strategic naval port of Trincomalee, the government was compelled to clear the LTTE from the Eastern province.

The objective of our effort over the past year in militarily engaging the LTTE in the Eastern Province, was to convince the group that it cannot expect to achieve a military victory and that a solution to the conflict needs to be found at the negotiating table.
Today, the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, which was until recently terrorized by the LTTE, has been rid of that menace. The security forces and other agencies of the Government of Sri Lanka have worked hard to secure the area, to restore normalcy and to resettle people, who had been temporarily displaced from their homes.

I am sure, those of you, who are familiar with the difficulties faced in carrying out military as well as ‘hearts and mind’ operations in areas dominated by terrorists, would appreciate the magnitude of the challenge, which has been successfully completed by the Sri Lankan security forces.

Having done so, today, with the assistance from the international community, the UN agencies as well as international and local NGOs, the government has embarked on a programme to bring about sustainable development in the Eastern Province and to hold elections at an early date.
It is our hope that this exercise will serve as a model in post conflict development and I urge the cooperation of those, who are in a capacity to do so to help make this process a success.

Through the Nagenahira Navodaya Programme (Reawakening of the East) the humanitarian situation in the conflict affected areas has improved, especially after gaining full control of the areas in the Eastern Province, which have been under LTTE dominance.
This has also contributed to a sharp de-escalation of the conflict in the Eastern Province, which would facilitate a comprehensive programme in infrastructure development and the conduct of local and provincial level elections in the near future..

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have recently acknowledged that the voluntary resettlement of IDPs in the East has been undertaken in keeping with international standards. In the Eastern Province, most IDPs have returned to their homes and the remainder will be resettled, after clearing the remaining areas of landmines.

Arrangements for improvement of the law and order situation are underway. New police stations have been established while existing stations are being strengthened to provide a better service to the community. 2000 Tamil speaking police officers are being recruited to serve the province. Restoration and strengthening of the civil administration is underway with the provision of office buildings and recruitment of new staff.

Majority of the displaced persons have been resettled and measures are currently underway to resettle the remaining displaced persons as early as possible. Resettlement is being carried out with the support and cooperation of UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies. The Government, with the assistance of the World Food Programme, provides food rations to the displaced families and returnees.

Livelihood assistance programmes to the local populations are underway with the collaboration of UN Agencies and INGOS. A major challenge the Government is facing in the Eastern Province is rebuilding the damaged infrastructure for which we have requested assistance from the international community
At present there is a vibrant debate in Sri Lanka as to the nature and extent of devolution of power that should be offered as a solution to solve the present conflict.

In a statement issued last week, the Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) Prof. Tissa Vitarana on “present status of APRC” stated “following the understanding reached at the discussions of the Government Party Leaders held under the Chairmanship of the President, and thereafter the Prime Minister, the APRC has been meeting every week in a cordial manner. Subject areas, which had not been discussed previously, are now being covered and a common position is being worked out.”

At the moment agreement has been reached on most of the areas. Discussion is going on at the moment on the devolution of powers and is focused on the National List, Provincial List and the Local Government List. I am happy to say that with the cooperation of the representatives of the SLFP, JHU, MEP, EPDP, SLMC, CMC, NUA, National Congress, CWC, UPF, CP, WPF and the LSSP steady progress is being made and we hope to finalize the common document as early as possible.”

It is also noteworthy that it appears that the United National Party (UNP) has in a statement issued through a spokesperson indicated that there would be a change in party policy with respect to devolution of power and that “our solution is broad devolution not federalism”.
We appreciate the recent sentiments expressed by the U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake at an event in Colombo on 21st September 2007, where he noted “the Government of Sri Lanka has achieved some important victories in the last several months.

The expulsion of the LTTE from the east and the recent sinking of several LTTE ships carrying arms and other provisions mark important military successes, but these tactical successes should not tempt the government to reconsider whether Sri Lanka’s conflict can be won by military means. It cannot”.
At the same time, Ambassador Blake, while urging the government to ensure a successful APRC outcome has noted that “we hope that all parties in the APRC will frame the final APRC proposals in a manner that avoids the use of divisive, emotive terms like “federalism” and “unitary”.

I can assure you that the Sri Lanka government’s intentions are not at all at variance with the views expressed by the U.S. Ambassador in Colombo. In fact, I would say that we share the same view.
4. Recent developments in U.S. Congress
It is in this context that Sri Lanka finds the recent amendment proposed by Senator Patrick Leahy to the Department of State Appropriation Bill for FY 2008 that introduces restrictions on defence co-operation with Sri Lanka on account of alleged human rights related issues, unreasonable.
I wish to focus on each of the three issues Senator Leahy wants Sri Lanka to satisfy, if it is to avail of U.S. funds appropriated under the heading “Foreign Military Financing Programme”.
i. The Sri Lankan military suspends and brings to justice members, who had been credibly alleged to have gross violations of human rights including extra-judicial executions and recruitment of child soldiers.
ii. That the Sri Lankan Government has provided unimpeded access to humanitarian organizations and journalists to the Tamil areas of the country.
iii. The Sri Lankan Government has agreed to the establishment of a field presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka.
But before that I want to make two broad observations:
First, unfortunately the information on which the amendment was based is a result of dis-information and mis-information. Some of it is wrong, while much of it is based on dated information.
Second, the amendment in its totality seems to ignore the context in which successive governments in Sri Lanka have faced, as do all democracies grappling with the scourge of terrorism.
It ignores the fact that if Sri Lanka is to fail in containing and finally defeating the terrorism of the LTTE, given the LTTE’s well known links to other terrorist organizations such as ULFA, the Afghan Mujihideen. the PKK, the Maoists Abu Sayaf, MNLF and to Al-Qaida, its contribution to ‘copy cat’ terrorism through suicide bombing technology, maritime capability, nascent air-strike capability, that the LTTE could offers its services to other groups should not be discounted.

Over the past four days, in meetings with members of the Congress, as well as leading INGOs - Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group etc. I have explained in detail the developments in Sri Lanka, and why the stipulations made in the amendment are not reasonable. At this point, when the budget is yet to be finalized, I thought it is incumbent upon me to share with you our perspective on the specific issues raised.

A) Alleged Human Rights Violations, Child Soldiers and the question of impunity.
As noted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the UNGA on 25 September, “Sri Lanka believes, as one of the founder members of the Human Rights Council, that human rights are too important to be used as a tool to victimize States for political advantage. It is essential that international action to facilitate compliance with human rights standards is fair and even handed. Human rights have to be protected and advanced for their own sake, not for political gain,”

Alleged human rights violations
- Sri Lanka is a country that has a Ministry of Human Rights. It is an acknowledgement of the significance we associate with promoting and protecting human rights. Sri Lanka is party to almost all core UN human rights conventions.
- The work of the Commission of Inquiry (COI), which has been investigating into a number of high profile cases of violations of human rights, is being observed by an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), which is a unique structure that has not been found anywhere else in the world, where there is an ongoing conflict with one of the ruthless terrorist organizations in the world.

- The speed of work of the COI compares very well with the speed with which the Yugoslav Tribunal or the Cambodian Tribunal began their work with millions of Dollars of UN funding.
- A Witness Protection Bill is to be introduced to the Parliament in the next two months. Recommendations made by the IIGEP have been taken on board. in drafting the bill.
- Critical information relating to the deaths of the 17 ACF workers has been unearthed through tracking of cellular phones used by the victims.

- According to the latest ICRC figures, there has been a significant reduction in the number of alleged disappearances and abductions in Sri Lanka, especially during quarter (April - June, 2007). The Government has aggressively mounted operations against a number of groups operating in Colombo arresting mainly who had been responsible for abductions and extortions.

- The killer of the two Red Cross workers has been identified and a reward of Rs. 1 million has been offered for information leading to his arrest.
Child Soldiers
The Government of Sri Lanka does not recruit anyone under 18 years to its armed forces. According to UNICEF, the LTTE has recruited 5800 child soldiers since the CFA in 2002.
With regard to recruitment of child soldiers, in view of the allegations that certain members of the armed forces had colluded with the Karuna Group, in August 2007, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, in keeping with a commitment given to the U.N. Security Council Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict, appointed a committee to inquire into the allegations of abductions and recruitment of children for use in armed conflict headed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice & Law Reforms and included the Secretaries to the Ministries of Justice & Law Reforms, Child Development and Women Empowerment, Foreign Affairs, Disaster Management and Human Rights, Representatives of the Attorney General’s Department, the three armed services and police, the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process and the Chairman of the Child Protection authority to examine the charges and report on measures to be taken.
Impunity

- 55 indictments have been served against 95 members of the Sri Lanka Police since 2004 for human rights violations committed prior to 2004. Their crimes include abduction, abduction and disappearance, murder and illegal detention.
- 28 members of the Sri Lanka Police have been arrested since 2004 and pending arraignments for conspiracy to murder, torture and murder.
- 14 members of the Sri Lanka Police have been indicted since 2004 for torture.
- 04 members of the Sri Lanka Navy have been indicted on charges of torture and murder of two persons in March and April 2001.
- 03 members of the Sri Lanka Army have been indicted for abduction and murder of one individual on April 11, 2004, which case has been referred to High Court. (One of the accused committed suicide while in custody).
- Six members of the armed forces and police personnel (both retired and currently serving) were arrested in June 2007, for a series of abductions for ransom, and murder. The Attorney General of Sri Lanka will be consulted on completion of investigations to file indictments against the suspects who are still in custody. Sri Lanka has sought the support of the Interpol to arrest a Chief Inspector of Police (Special Task Force), who is wanted for the same crime.
- Two suspects, an army corporal and a police constable, have been arrested and are currently in remand custody pending indictment in the High Court of Vavuniya, having being charged for murdering five students in Thandikulam on November 18, 2006.
- A wing commander and a flight lieutenant of the Sri Lanka Air Force were charged in the High Court of Colombo for violation of human rights of a prominent journalist, Mr. Iqbal Athas and after a lengthy trial, both suspects were convicted on February 7, 2002 and sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs.10,000/- each.
- The National Police Commission, which is empowered to entertain and investigate public complaints against a police officer or the police service, has established a Public Complaints and Investigations Division (PCID, with the aim to discipline the police force and to punish wrongdoers. The PCID has received a total of 1216 complaints from January to July 2007.
The majority of the complaints received relates to police inaction followed by misuse of power and partiality. The PCID has already completed 382 of the 1216 complaints. Allegations of torture represent 4% of total allegations, unlawful arrest and detention 7% and death in custody 1%.
The information provided above, helps to establish that when there was credible evidence against errant members of the armed forces and the police for engaging in human rights violations, such as extra judicial executions, disappearances, torture etc., action has been taken consistently over the years to bring the offenders to justice.
B) Unimpeded access to humanitarian organizations and journalists to the Tamil areas of the country.
As to clause 2 of the Leahy amendment, once again the facts on the ground are very much at variance with the stipulation made. It is unfortunate that the Bill uses language such as “Tamil areas of the country”. For, 54% of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population now lives in areas outside the northern and the eastern provinces of the country, among the Sinhalese and other communities.
But that apart, with respect to “access to humanitarian organizations and journalists”, I can assure that there are no restrictions of access other than on occasions when military operations are being carried out in specific locations.
Humanitarian organizations
As for humanitarian organizations, the Government of Sri Lanka recognizes and has continued to commend the good work done by a majority of the NGOs, INGOs and international humanitarian agencies.
However, as in all situations of foreign presence, in Sri Lanka too, from time to time, we have had issues with regard to the conduct of certain individuals attached to some organizations, which have been resolved after discussion.
The UN has submitted a list of 21 INGOs, who are preferential partners in carrying out humanitarian assistance in uncleared areas. These INGOs have been given approval to work with the UN and ICRC to provide assistance to IDPs and to carry out projects related to tsunami and development.

1. Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTD)
2. Action Contre La Faim (ACF)
3. Caritas Sri Lanka (CARITAS)
4. Care International Sri Lanka (CARE)
5. Christian Children’s Fund (CCF)
6. Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
7. Campaign for Development and Solidarity (FORUT)
8. German Agro Action (GAA)
9. Handicap International (HI)
10. Medecins Sans Frontieres - France, Holland and Spain (MSF)
11. MERLIN - Sri Lanka (MERLIN)
12. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
13. OXFAM Great Britain, Australia (OXFAM)
14. Save the Children in Sri Lanka (SCISL)
15. SOLIDAR INGO Consortium ( SOLIDAR, Norwegian Peoples Aid, Swiss Labour Assistance, Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund)- (SOLIDAR)
16. Samaritans Purse International (SPI)
17. Terre Des Homme (TDH)
18. UMCOR Sri Lanka (UMCOR)
19. World University Services Canada (WUSC )
20. World Vision Lanka (WVL)
21. ZOA Refugee Care (ZOA)
The above INGOs have been provided access to the uncleared areas in November 2006, in order to carry out humanitarian operations. There are instances, when these agencies may not be able to work in certain areas due to security advisories issued by the local military commanders, not only to such groups, but also to UN, ICRC etc., as well as civilians. However, you will agree that this does not constitute a denial of access.
Media
On the question of providing “unimpeded access” to journalists, the Leahy amendment appears to be badly misinformed.
From time to time, upon receipt of requests to visit the operational areas, members of media have been provided access to the areas of conflict in the north and the east. The most recent was a five-day visit undertaken by a group of journalists belonging to the BBC, Reuters, Reuters TV, AP, APTV, Al Jazeera, as well as the Daily Telegraph. They visited Kilinochchi and had direct access to the LTTE.
It is interesting to note that during their visit, while the LTTE publicly claimed that an Air Force attack on a Sea Tiger base was in fact affected innocent civilians, this group of independent journalists who were already in the Vanni at the time, were not taken to the location of the alleged bombing, the most obvious action one would have expected from the LTTE, had that allegation been true.
Similarly, I trust those of you, who watch the developments in Sri Lanka should know the freedom with which these media personnel reported from the Vanni. On the first day, we saw statements being made by the so-called head of the political wing of the LTTE, S.P. Thamil Chelvam claiming in the immediate aftermath of the security forces clearing of the LTTE in the East, that they would attack economic targets to weaken the Sri Lankan government.
The journalists were shown female LTTE suicide cadres preparing to carry out attacks against economic targets. In their reports we also saw the yearning for peace among the common citizens they met in the market place.
There were also reports by the same journalists on how youths living in the Vanni are living in hiding to avoid being forcibly recruited by the LTTE and sent to fight in a war they don’t believe in.
Reuter report of 20th July 2007 titled “Sri Lanka rebels forcing Tamils to join war efforts” had this to say “Families received letters from the Tigers with names of members who must join underlined. Most international aid agencies are having to keep some local staff indoor, some of them have not been able to leave their compounds for months”.
“All the NGOs in the area have great concern towards recruitment policy.
We do experience that staff of all the different NGOs are getting abducted or have tremendous pressure towards them because they want to recruit them”.
In the circumstances it should be clear that other than in instances where there is an actual security threat, the media have access to the operational areas and have reported freely and did not have to face any ramifications as a result, at least from the Government.
C) The establishment of a field presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka.
- Sri Lanka has been maintaining a policy of open and constructive engagement with all UN human rights mechanisms, even under difficult circumstances, due to LTTE terrorism and provocations.
-Besides the considerably high representation of the diplomatic community, many UN agencies including the OHCHR and INGOs are already resident in Sri Lanka and many of them have field offices in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces.
-GOSL also has regular dialogue with the facilitator Norway, the other three Co-Chairs- the EU, Japan and the USA, as well as with India.
-The Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA), which meets as an apex body on a monthly basis, is chaired by the Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management.
- Our policy of openness and transparency has encouraged us to invitee the high level UN officials to Sri Lanka. Visiting foreign dignitaries such as Sir John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Humanitarian Coordinator who visited Sri Lanka in August, acknowledged that “the situation which had gone through a bad period, was getting better”.
It is also noteworthy that Mr. Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, is currently visiting Sri Lanka, while Ms. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will be visiting from 9-13 October and Mr. Walter Kaelin, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Human Rights of the IDPs, will visit Sri Lanka from 13 - 21 December.
The very fact that GOSL has invited these high level UN human rights officials to undertake visits demonstrates Sri Lanka to be engaged with UN mechanisms. GOSL hopes that constructive and implementable recommendations will emanate from these visits.
With regard to strengthening of the presence of the Senior Human Rights Adviser to the UN Country Team in Sri Lanka and her assistant, the GOSL is ready to listen to the representations that will be made by the High Commissioner on the subject during her visit to Sri Lanka.
OHCHR has sent a number of officials to Sri Lanka from time to time to assist the Senior Human Rights Adviser on many issues, such as witness protection and treaty body reporting. The Ministry of Human Rights has already entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the OHCHR on the capacity-building of the Ministry as well as other relevant national institutions. The GOSL looks forward to working closely with the OHCHR in the area of capacity-building of national institutions.
In view of the above, it is the position of the GOSL that at a time when Sri Lanka has been cooperating with UN human rights mechanisms, and there is a multiplicity of international mechanisms and missions, we do not see the rationale for a field presence by the OHCHR in Sri Lanka.
Conclusion
Thus, what we ask of the international community is:
a) To understand us, rather than being deceived by the propaganda spread by the LTTE and others with vested interests. You should bear mind that Sri Lanka is a democracy which has an independent judiciary to maintain the rule of law where citizens individually or collectively could seek intervention of the Supreme Court.
b) To be critical by all means when we do something which you might perceive or might in fact be wrong. But please try to understand the challenge we had to face over two decades due to LTTE terrorism.
c) To be aware that proposals for devolution are in its final stage and GOSL should be encouraged to bring that to a speedy conclusion rather than placing restrictions against it, which may be used by interested parties to hinder that process.

December 30, 2007 | 5:51 AM Comments  {num} comments

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LTTE child soldiers
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


Commandos of the Police Special Task Force (STF) on Tuesday (August 28) rescued seven child combatants and a 20-year old youth who had been forced by the LTTE to engage in a terrorist attack against the security forces in the Kangikaidichchi Aru area in the East.

The frightened children and youth had been hiding in the jungle along with weapons and other military gear belonging to the LTTE.

According to STF sources, the commandos had rescued the group of young LTTE cadres comprising four girls and four boys after they had successfully intercepted a terrorist movement at a location close to the 212 milepost on the Akkaraipattu- Pottuvil main road.

The group of terrorists had attacked the STF commandos who had been conducting a clearing operation in the area around 5 am on Tuesday. The STF personnel had overpowered the terrorist attack successfully, forcing them to flee.

During the subsequent search, STF personnel found the eight frightened children hiding in the jungle along with weapons and other military gear belonging to the LTTE.

On inquires, the children have revealed that they had come to attack the STF with a group consisting of about 50 other LTTE terrorists. They have said the terrorist group had attacked the STF with rocket-propelled grenades and T-56 weapons during the firefight on Tuesday morning.

According to Defence sources, the seven LTTE child soldiers comprise boys and girls between the ages 14 and 16 years. There is also one cadre aged 20 years, who had been recruited as a teenager. It has been revealed that all of them had been forcibly recruited to the terrorist outfit at a very young age. They told the STF that they had been abducted from their parents by the LTTE at different times, forcibly given arms training and put into combat. According to the details obtained the rescued were from Vinayagapuram, Thirukkovil , Kanchankuda and Akkaraipaththu areas.

Those rescued are: Males – Jeewarasa Sudan ((15), Perumal Sinnathambi (15), Dharmaratnam Ramesh (16), and Chamuth Nadan (20); Females – Selvarasa Suwarajini (15), Thuraisingham Sumana (14), Vigneswaran Vinoyani (16) and Thavarasa Rasika (14).

During the search STF personnel also seized one claymore mine, one detonator, one detonator code, one wire roll, three anti-personnel mines, and one T-56 magazine with rounds along with some clothing and food items belonged to the LTTE.

In addition, the STF officials said that they had noticed bloodstains on the ground, raising suspicions that several LTTE cadres had been seriously injured or killed in the confrontation with the STF.

Some media reports said yesterday (August 29) that the Special Task Force had ambushed a group of LTTE cadres comprising 14 child soldiers in the same area on Tuesday (August 28) morning. They claimed the 14 child combatants were being taken to be handed over to the parents via UNICEF. The UN Children’s Fund sources have also said they were unaware of any arrangements to hand over these children to it.

However, the rescued child soldiers, as well as the adult cadre have revealed that they were unaware about where they had been led to by the senior LTTE cadres, though they were eagerly waiting to desert the outfit.

According to STF officials it is highly unlikely that LTTE was taking the child soldiers to be handed over to UNICEF as the terrorists had launched several attacks at STF personnel in the same area during last few days.

The STF that arranged for the children to be reunited with their parents has released photographs when the parents met their children. Defence sources say that on seeing their long-missing teenage daughters, the mothers burst into tears and cursed the LTTE leader for destroying their young lives.

September 2, 2007 | 4:00 AM Comments  {num} comments

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LTTE plotting to use chemical weapons
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


LTTE’s plot to utilize chemical weapons in their future battlefields has been tracked by the Intelligence sources.

There is enough evidence available to prove that the LTTE already has built up stocks of Cyanide and Potassium during the ceasefire period, the Asian Tribune reports.

The security forces were able to find 3,600 liters of sulfuric acid on 12th August 2007 in Anuradhapura north – Medawachhiya. The occupants of the tipper vehicle which carried the acid were handed over to the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) and it was reported that the suspects had past records of smuggling explosives to LTTE controlled areas, as well as from LTTE-controlled areas to government controlled areas.

It is revealed that the LTTE has an underground laboratory in the Adampan area bordering Mannar - Kilinochchi districts. This suggests the LTTE are planning for chemical attacks in the near future.

The tiger terrorists have set up laboratories, motor factories, as well as well-equipped hospitals. In 1989 they made mortars called Arul Mortars with a simple method of filling chemicals to rockets with which to fire toward Army camps.

The intelligence sources states that LTTE is planning massive genocide in the future because they have lost control of the Jaffna peninsula and the East and as Sri Lankan security forces have confined Prabakaran and his cadres to Kilinochchi, Mulaithivu, Mannar North and the Wanni North.

August 29, 2007 | 3:02 AM Comments  {num} comments

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President condemns Hyderabad terror attacks
About this category: Peace & Conflict


President Mahinda Rajapaksa has condemned last Saturday's terrorist attacks at Hyderabad, India

In a message to the President of India, the Sri Lankan President reiterates the commitment of the Sri Lanka government to assist in combating terrorism in the South Asian region, and expresses solidarity with the Government and the people of India in their efforts to overcome the increasing challenge posed by terrorism.


August 29, 2007 | 3:02 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Tamil masses suffer under LTTE tyranny, says escaped family
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


Tamil people living in the LTTE controlled Wanni suffer untold miseries due to autocratic rule by the terror movement. Stating this, members of a Tamil family who managed to escape to the cleared areas in the North urged the Government to take early steps to clear the North too to ensure safety of the civilian population.

The Family of five has stated that clearing the North as well as East is essential for a lasting peace in the island nation adding that it is only when peace is established in the North that they will be able to go back to their homes and lead a secure life.

According to the revelations of the Family, over the past three months the LTTE had started storming into houses in the night and kidnapping children to be used as child soldiers.

"Earlier, they [the LTTE] did it on the roads and in public places but now they have started raiding homes to abduct children. No one knows what happens to the kidnapped children. There are thousands of families eagerly waiting to flee to the South," stated the escaped family.

The LTTE has registered all the families with full details and they know from which families they can get the children. No family could escape from them due to this registration. The LTTE did the registration first and some time after they started to abduct the children, the escaped family members revealed.

"The LTTE collects tax from shops and other commercial establishments. Oil is very expensive due to heavy taxes levied by the LTTE. The LTTE holds public meetings and poisons the Tamil community against the Sinhalese and the Government," they said.

Revealing the resentment against the LTTE among the civilians in North, the Family has stated that earlier, the people willingly took part in these meetings but nowadays they are not attending such meetings and the LTTE sends warning messages to the families who do not attend these meetings.

According to them, NGOs such as World Vision, SLRC, ICRC and UNICEF are working in the LTTE held areas.

The escaped family’s planning to stay with their local relatives for some time and go abroad to their relations. The father who is 43 was employed in England from 1999 to 2003. The mother (36) is a housewife. The son has completed his O/L and the second daughter was in Grade 9. The eldest daughter was doing her A/Ls.

The family has escaped through traveling in a dingy boat risking the elements and thee Sri Lanka Navy rescued them.

"We posed as fishermen and travelled by boat. My wife and two daughters (aged 12 and 17) slept on the floor of the boat and my son (21) and I operated the boat pretending that we were fishermen. We heard gunshots and thought our lives were over but the Navy rescued us," the father said.

They said they got to know that the Navy rescued people travelling by sea who display a flag. That is why they sneaked around 2.00 a.m. in a dingy boat

August 12, 2007 | 4:57 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Kadirgamar – the graceful diplomat; a gentlemen in politics
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


2nd death anniversary of Late Mr. Kadirgamar falls on 12 August

An Alms giving will be held on the 12 August, to commemorate the second death anniversary of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

It is organized on the instructions of Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, with the participation of the Board of Directors of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute.

The eminent Sri Lankan diplomat and former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated by the LTTE terrorists on 12 August, 2005.

Late Mr. Kadirgamar was brought up in his early childhood in the southern part of the Island. An alumnus of Trinity College, Kandy, he captained the college first eleven cricket team in 1950 while also competing in the college athletic and rugby teams. In recognition of his all round performance in academic and extra curricular spheres he was awarded the prestigious Ryde Gold medal for the best all round student.

He went on to study law at the University of Ceylon from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree in 1953 and became the top student in the First Class at the Advocates Intermediate Examination in 1953. In 1954 he won the scholarship for the candidate placed first in the First Class at the Advocates Final Examination of the Ceylon Law College and was awarded prizes for the Law of Evidence and the Law of Persons and Property. He was admitted to the Ceylon Bar in 1955. Later, at Oxford University, UK, he received his B.LITT degree. Mr.Kadirgamar, like several other prestigious Sri Lankans, was elected to serve as President of the Oxford Union.

Late Mr.Kadirgamar was the author of a number of scholarly articles published in international legal journals such as the Modern Law Review, The South African Law Journal and The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer, etc. An ardent international civil servant, Kadirgamar, held many positions in numerous international organizations including the ILO, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and South Asia Foundation (SAF). In 1963, he was the Special Commissioner of Amnesty International to investigate Buddhist-Catholic clashes in Vietnam.

As an active member of the People's Alliance (PA) party, he was selected as a national list MP in 1994 under the Alliance’s list for the General Elections. Following the victory of the Alliance, he was appointed Foreign Minister in the PA government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. After the defeat of the government in 2001, he became special adviser on Foreign Affairs to the President. Despite being a Tamil, he strongly supported the Bandaranaike government's policy of not negotiating with the Tamil Tigers terrorists insurgents in northern Sri Lanka.

Late Mr.Kadirgamar, born a Christian, brought a proposal to the United Nations to make Vesak Day an international celebration day.

LTTE was against Mr. Kadirgamar due to fact that he was responsible for getting the United States among many countries to classify the LTTE as a terrorist organization

August 12, 2007 | 4:57 AM Comments  {num} comments

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UN satisfied over development activities in the East
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


The United Nations has expressed its satisfaction over the rehabilitation, resettlement and the marked improvement of Development Projects in the east.

UN Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination, Sir John Holmes said in the course of a discussion,with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today (09). A media release issued by the Presidential Secretariat informs.

The United Nations office would extend its fullest cooperation and assistance to Sri Lanka whilst strengthening the exiting ties further in future as well he stressed.

President appreciated the cooperation so extended to Sri Lanka in its development activities and said that the majority of internally displaced persons(IDP) have already been resettled in the East. President further said that immediate measures would be taken to resettle the rest once the de-mining process is completed and the environment is made safer for them.

The President expressed grave concern over distortion of facts by certain countries and organizations about Sri Lanka which would lead to a wrong impression of Sri Lanka among the world community.

UNO resident representative Mr.Neil Brune, Ministers Mahinda Samarasinghe, MinisterMilinda Moragoda and the Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr.Palitha Kohona also participated at the occasion.


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HRW report unsubstantiated and misleading
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat, Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, said that the Human Rights Watch report on Sri Lanka is misleading, rife with contradictions and could be used by organizations like the LTTE to disrupt the democratically elected governments like Sri Lanka.


In a letter to Brad Adams, Director of the Asia Division of the Human Rights Watch, Prof Wijesinha accused the Human Rights Watch of being selective in its release in concentrating criticism on the human rights record of the government.

“Your report is a repetition of the unequivocal criticism of the current Sri Lanka government, that is grist to the mill of not only the LTTE but also others in Sri Lanka who deplore the results of democratic elections and hope instead that agencies like yours will help to disrupt the government,” he told the US based body.

The assertion that there has been a dramatic increase in abuses by the government during the past 18 months is designed to imply that the Rajapaksa government has misbehaved from the time it was elected, but that assertion is contradicted in other paragraphs in the release itself as well as in the full report, the Secretary General declared.

Referring to the report’s assertion that government authorities have forced some to return to areas that remain insecure, the he said: “The selectivity of the report is most depressing and ignores the current situation.”

In fact in the report itself, allegations of forced return of people are attributed to a single interview with a single humanitarian worker. The report omits the current situation, where UNCHR staff monitoring the situation reported that the majority of the people are eager to return home, the returns are voluntary and in line with international standards, Prof Wijesinha said.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Secretariat said that the latest report by Human Rights Watch on Sri Lanka is largely tendentious, and is replete with generalisations. It refers to issues that have been largely resolved.

These largely unconfirmed and unsubstantiated allegations and outdated information do not justify the demand for a special UN Observer Mission on Human Rights in Sri Lanka, states the Presidential Secretariat.

Among the unsubstantiated information are the numbers of persons who have allegedly disappeared and the number of IDPs. The work of Government agencies to establish the whereabouts of these persons has been ignored.

The Report also ignores the fact that the numbers of alleged disappearances and abductions have sharply declined in recent months due to the firm action taken by the Government and the arrest of two criminal gangs against whom legal action is being pursued.

A Special Commission appointed by the President is investigating specified instances of unlawful killings and disappearances, and the work of this Commission is being observed by an International Group of Eminent Persons.

It is regretted that insufficient attention has been paid by Human Rights Watch to the fact that these allegations are made against the background of a campaign against a brutal terrorist group, the LTTE, which has been banned as an international terrorist organisation by many countries; and which has for many years been engaged in gross violations of Human Rights, particularly the recruitment and use of children for armed conflict.

The LTTE also exploits the freedoms of democracies, particularly in the West, to obtain funding from abroad to purchase more weapons to use against the democratically elected Government of Sri Lanka, and to oppress the people under its jackboot,” the release stated

August 12, 2007 | 4:38 AM Comments  {num} comments

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LTTE recruiting from every family in Wanni - SCOPP informs Co-Chairs
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


The Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (The Peace Secretariat) has drawn the attention of the Co-Chairs on the Sri Lanka Peace Process to recent reports that the LTTE is in the process of recruiting one member from each family in areas under its control, for possible military purposes.

The letter also refers to attempts made to recruit persons working for NGO working in the North. The Secretary General's letter makes special reference to recent reports of Norwegian Ambassador Brattskar's visit to Kilinochchi which record him as stating the LTTE is in the process of recruiting one member of each family.

The Secretary General states that such recruitment "is a gross violation of Article 2.1 of the Ceasefire, viz: 'The Parties shall in accordance with international law abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population, including such acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.'"

Here is the text of the SCOPP Secretary General Prof Rajiva Wijesinha's letter of July 19, 2007to the Co-Chairs:

Your Excellency,

I write with reference to recent reports of Ambassador Brattskar's visit to Kilinochchi, which record him as stating that the LTTE is in the process of recruiting one member of each family. This is probably to join its armed forces, though there may be other purposes, some perhaps even more sinister. A copy on one report is attached.

Discussion with those who work in the area confirms that this is happening, or indeed has happened with regard to almost all families. Some attempt was made to save families which worked from NGOs from this fate, but it seems this was not successful, and then the intervention was on behalf of families which worked for International NGOs.

You will agree that what is reported as going on, including by the Ambassador of the Facilitator of the Peace Process, is a gross violation of Article 2.1 of the Ceasefire, viz 'The Parties shall in accordance with international law abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population, including such acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.'

You will agree that what seem to be vain attempts to save families working for NGOs or INGOs, instead of categorical condemnation of such barbarous practices, are extremely unfair to the bulk of the citizens of the area, and could be seen even as connivance in the intimidation and harassment that is taking place.

As you are aware, it is imperative, for the sake of the suffering people of the Wanni, that the international community makes clear that it has zero tolerance for such practices. I am urging you therefore to obtain full reports from any agencies you have that are working in Kilinochchi on what is going on in this regard, and to denounce it roundly if the situation is as the Norwegian Ambassador is reported to have described. He may indeed be willing to share information in this regard with you.

I hope very much that, while doing all in your power to ensure adherence to human rights norms throughout the country, you make clear that forced recruitment of anyone is intolerable, and that the co-chairs and all countries that are particularly concerned about such issues will stand foursquare against such practices

July 25, 2007 | 6:46 AM Comments  {num} comments

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LTTE earns US$ 300M a year to fund Terror War against Sri Lanka
Related to country: Sri Lanka
About this category: Peace & Conflict


Renowned defence magazine, the Jane's Defence Intelligence Review reveals that the LTTE funds its bloody terrorist war against SL with a sophisticated fundraising mechanism that earns "some USD 200 to 300 million a year".

In a press release on Thursday (July 19) the magazine says that the terror outfit has become "one of the most sophisticated insurgencies in the world" mainly because of its "complex global network of financial resources and weapons", that are being used to strengthen its campaign against Sri Lanka.

The LTTE has been fighting for a mono-ethnic separate state for the Tamils living in SL since 1983. The war has so far killed over 65,000 people. The magazine points out that the profit earned by a terror outfit as such "would be the envy of any multinational corporation".

Further, the magazine states it is with this money, that the LTTE has become the only known terror organization to have a "rudimentary air force" and also has been able to introduce "bold new frontiers" to terrorist warfare.

The LTTE is the first terror organization to introduce suicide bombers equipped with suicide belts and waist jackets, and suicide attacks using explosive laden vehicles including trucks and boats. The LTTE has been making a vast contribution to the development of terrorist warfare across the world with its endless innovations in terror training tactics, arms smuggling, bomb making, and etc. The magazine implies that the LTTE has been able to accomplish all of the above, because of its "financial and procurement structures" which are "well organized and strategically positioned around the globe".

Jane's magazine also makes an interesting revelation on the LTTE making money through many charitable organizations, which have been created and staffed by the outfit itself. Behind the charitable facade of these organizations, the LTTE is "projecting its influence through this front to raise money from Tamil communities and ultimately, convert the gains into arms" the magazine says. The mechanism efficiently works to move its funds to snatch procurement opportunities and investment options as they arise "utilizing a charitable facade's tax-free status and legitimacy" Jane's adds.

The report identifies two sections of the LTTE that are operating internationally for fund raising and arms dealing activities ; the Aiyanna Group and the Office of Overseas Purchases alias KP department.

"The Aiyanna Group functions as the group's intelligence and operations body, likely to be responsible for monitoring and ensuring the organization's financial support and revenue streams, while the KP Department is most probably the LTTE's procurement arm", Jane's report says.

According the local defence intelligence sources KP stands for Kumaran Padmanadan, name of a terror suspect wanted by the International Police (Interpol). Aiyanna is also an LTTE cadre who had been appointed to lead the LTTE's international operations as the network expanded beyond the capacity of KPs' department. Intelligence sources also said these departments are operating in a mutually supportive manner with other terror organizations such as Al Queda, to achieve their objectives. The heads of these departments are operating under the direct guidance of the LTTE chief, V. Prabhakaran and its intelligence head Pottu Amman, both on the wanted list of Interpol, the sources added.

Jane's elaborates that the LTTE is adapting geographically myriad of methods to carry out its cross-border terrorist activities. "The southern province of Tamil Nadu in India plays a pivotal role in LTTE procurement and has become an essential transit point in the LTTE arms, narcotics, contraband and possibly human smuggling", the magazine says.

Local defence analysts also support the view saying that due to the large number of Indian fishing vessels present in the narrow sea area between India and Sri Lanka, it has been practically difficult for the Navies of both countries to make a complete stop to the terror movements. However, the SL navy having extended its capability have been able to deny the terrorists' use of the Eastern coast of the island almost completely.

Recently, Maldivian defence forces sunk an Indian trawler which had been transporting weapons to the LTTE. It was later revealed that the LTTE terrorists had hijacked the vessel killing the Indian crew except one, and made use of the vessel for arms smuggling. There were many other incidents where the LTTE terrorists have killed and abducted Tamil Nadu fishermen during the recent past. The LTTE's control over the Island's North-Western coastal line from Mannar to Elephant Pass is the main supporting factor for the LTTE to carry out terrorist activities between India and Sri Lanka.

Finally, the Jane's report highlights that the main motivation for the LTTE in its fundraising campaign is to procure an anti- aircraft arsenal. During the 90s the LTTE shot down at least five transport aircraft, including the one carrying civilians, using missile technology.

Defence analysts argue that the leeway given to the LTTE by certain countries during the past had created a monstrous organization that is playing the role of the "Research and Development" department of global terrorism. It has been able to carry out remorseless ethnic ceasing campaigns against Sinhalese and Muslims; maintain a shameful "Baby Brigade" with over six thousand children, and use brain washed Tamil women as suicide bombers, for over two decades.

Ironically, despite its record of atrocities the LTTE has even acquired some legitimacy in certain parts of the world. According to the analysts this is mainly due to its effective propaganda mechanism that has been hoodwinking the world for years. Perhaps, as some defence analysts opine, the LTTE's propaganda mechanism may be the most sophisticated and complex one that any terror organization would dream of having for its own.


July 25, 2007 | 6:46 AM Comments  {num} comments

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