Daily Archives: June 24, 2006
Ten days after the Kebethigollawa massacre it is still pertinent to question why? That, it was the biggest civilian attack since the ceasefire was signed could only mean that there is a very clear message. The message serves two very significant purposes for the LTTE.
One would be the need to divert international concentration against terrorism to something else. Such labels hurt gravely, and the LTTE stands gravely hurt today. The second involves a longer term and more sinister plan; that of ethnic cleansing.
The crux of the LTTE’s plan of action will be ethnic. There is an obvious desire on the part of the LTTE to keep the violence ethnic. The LTTE is not fighting under a terrorist label this time around. There is far too much international pressure against terrorism for them to engage such. Instead this time the emphasis will be on ethnic lines. "They attack Sinhala civilians and the government conducts air raids against Tamil civilians," is the message they want the world getting this time. There is more sympathy this way.
The LTTE, now weary of the effects of international condemnation needs to walk a very tight rope. This was obvious in their response to the Oslo questionnaire on Thursday. Claiming there was a ‘limit to their patience’, Thamilselvan maintained that the LTTE will be forced to ‘intensify’ its defence action against the government. He expressed doubt over the neutrality of the three European Union countries in the CFA monitoring body, but much of the blame was also laid on the government. There was an undeniable drop in the tone against the international players.
The Norwegians took their usual path. In fact the path of Ambassador Brattskar took him all the way to KIlinochchi on Wednesday. There was clear acceptance of the argument of the LTTE. "We, of course regret this. We feel that the SLMM, up to now, has been carrying out its duties in a responsible manner. We are grateful to all the people who have served in the SLMM for the last four and a half years."
"All the five Nordic countries have been working very well together in the ceasefire monitoring engagement so far," Brattskar told media. But he did not specify if he was not concerned about how such decisions by the LTTE will affect the peace process. "Although we regret the LTTE’s point of view, we have to take note of it," he said, in what looks more like an unquestionable acceptance of the LTTE once again.
Interestingly the Ambassador refused to accept a document the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT) tried to hand over to him on Thursday. NMAT desired replies of the Norwegian government to four questions. Two of them are crucial to the country. It would not be impolite to demand answers to these questions of the average citizens of the country.
The NMAT wants Norway to spell out their future strategy for peace in Sri Lanka, and show one other country in the world where their peace facilitation has succeeded. Norway is also asked what terminology they would use against the violence used against civilians in the Kebethigollawa massacre.
A more serious question that has not been asked of Norway is if they will take responsibility for the killings that took place in Sri Lanka during the ceasefire and the increase in violence by the LTTE. They cannot argue the fact that they stand exposed today. Having clearly failed in what ever is their project, they must however remain accountable to the government and the people of Sri Lanka. It remains to be seen if the government is going to remain pacified by the treatment received by the Foreign Minister in Oslo.
The US State Department Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka for 1995, published in April 1996 ,said that, "In the northern part of the island LTTE insurgents expelled some 46,000 Muslim inhabitants from their homes in 1990…virtually the entire Muslim population…expropriated Muslim homes, lands and businesses and threatened Muslim families with death if they attempt to return…In October over 120 Sinhalese civilians were massacred by LTTE forces in an attempt to inflame communal violence…many of the victims were hacked to death with swords and axes." Such ethnic cleansing has been continued by the LTTE.
The government needs to be careful how it responds to LTTE attacks on Sinhala villages. They follow an old pattern of the LTTE which drive the innocent Sinhala civilians away overnight. And when the government conducts air raids the Tamil civilians are also driven away. Sadly many of them also run into LTTE hands. The cleaver strategies of the LTTE ensure that they are seen as the protectors of the Tamil civilians. Such ‘protection’ also ensures recruitment of the young.
This is a strategy that the LTTE has carried out over and over again. Every time the LTTE are low on cadres and in need of recruitment such attacks are conducted. And, sadly every time successive government have also fallen prey and reacted in the same pattern. Sinhala backlashes have always helped no one but the LTTE. It becomes imperative that the government avoids such a backlash taking place at all costs. This is exactly what the LTTE wants to divert attention away from the pressures against them. The LTTE have continued to deliberately provoke confrontation to drive the civilians in the way they want.There have been instances when the Sri Lankan armed forces have proven the best recruiting arm of the LTTE. Reprisal killings have served the LTTE well. Unconfirmed reports have cited the mindless killing of 100 civilians in Iriyaperiyakulam in 1984 by the army, in reply to that of two soldiers. There are also allegations of similar killings in Kokkadicholai and Velvetithurai post 1984. These definitively drove hundreds of Tamil youths to the LTTE.
Refugee International maintains that the most serious issue facing the Muslim community is the potential loss of their rights to an estimated 500,000 acres of land and property. Under Sri Lankan law an owner may forfeit his property rights after an absence of ten years. For the Muslims expelled by the LTTE in October 1990 this ten-year period has now passed. There are also a recorded 150,000 Sinhala civilians displaced from the North and East. There is little concern for the lands they lost. Both these communities were forced to leave these areas within 72 hours. Today there are approximately 33,725 people of all three communities languishing in camps for the displaced.
Civil society organizations in Anuradhapura also blame the government for their failure to secure the villages on the border of the LTTE controlled areas. At least 2000 people from the villages of Yakawewa and Indigolla in Kebethigollawa have taken refuge at the K’gollawa Maha Vidyalaya. There are at least ten such villages that have been abandoned already. They have been so since 1999.
The organizations question the rationale for building a police bunker along the 25 km route from K’gollawa to Padaviya. They argue that the necessity is for bunkers around the villages and not to protect the road alone. "You don’t have big LTTE contingents coming to kill civilians but small groups of 10 or 15. If there is sufficient security these attacks can easily be averted. The people will not return unless there is complete security," said one person.
They allege that politics have played a very negative role in strengthening the home guards in these crucial villages. In fact JVP MP, Wimal Weerawansa told the Parliament on Wednesday that there was politicization of appointment this time around as well. The President appointed Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Sarath Weesasekara to overlook security in the area. The 5000 guards trained after the Tigers stepped up attacks are also ready to be deployed. But much would remain undone until there is greater understanding by the Defence establishment on what needs to be done.
In deciding on any defence strategy within the country one has to take into account the ultimate aims of the enemy. The LTTE claims the Northern and Eastern Provinces as their traditional homeland and therefore their land of Eelam. The Northern Province alone is not viable and therefore the Eastern Province is necessary for Eelam to be viable. The institution of Eelam has to be by force of arms and terrorism and therefore it will automatically have the remaining Sri Lanka as a permanent enemy.
This is the rationale for the Eastern Province to be ethnically cleansed and its link to the Northern Province made invulnerable. These links are vulnerable particularly at two points, Welioya and Welikanda. With a possible claim to Puttalam North and wih a valuable resource in Kalpitiya bay and lagoon Wilpattu becomes strategically important. Moreover the most viable offshore petroleum resources are off Mannar and Kalpitiya. Looking at a map will make this argument clear.
The defense and viability of Eelam therefore requires that the narrow portions of the Northern and Eastern Provinces at Weli Oya and Welikanda be widened together with that at the border of Mannar and Puttalam.
Moreover defence becomes easier if the borders are shortened by straightening out the curvaceous incursions to their claimed territory. Therefore the concentrations of attack can be predicted and that has been happening all along. While driving away the potential enemies it is useful to discourage their settlement by frequent terrorist attacks particularly in these areas.
Analysts believe that the adjacent parts of the districts of Anuradapura, Polonnaruwa, Moneragala and Badulla has to be also depopulated by terrorism so that forward defence lines can be built there. Wasgomuwa could also be easily taken over if it is declared a homeland of the Adi Vasis. There is an NGO doing just that.
A similar argument was used by Israel when it was established in 1948. The argument of a defence strategy was used by the Stern gang etc, to widen the borders overnight.
It is crucial that the government understands how the LTTE works. Equally important is that the government realizes that unlike its own retaliatory action, those of the LTTE always serve a long term purpose. There is a reason for every attack. Unless and until the government grasps these ground realities and avoids playing in to the Tigers hands, it will be the LTTE that would remain victor. -Daily Mirror
The British High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Dominick Chilcott speaking at the Party arranged for the Birthday of her Majesty the Queen urged LTTE to join the civilized world by giving up terrorism.
The High Commissioner also elaborated that the armed forces too, must act with great restraint even at the time of greatest pressure and provocation, and should maintain the highest standards of discipline.
An audience of 700 Sri Lankan, British and other nationals drawn from government, diplomatic missions, the business community and civil society was present at the occasion.
Read the full text of the speech delivered by High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott below:
HIGH COMMISSIONER’S SPEECH AT THE 80TH OFFICIAL BIRTHDAY OF HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN
Minister, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
apa priya maha rajinage / asooveni / janma dina sadaya sandaha / westminster nivasata pemini / oba sama / unusum lesa / piliganimata /mamath mage birinda Jane / ituh /sa-thut-u-vemu.
engaL uhnaivuh-Raal-um / mihuhvum virumbup puhdum / mahaa raaNi-yaarin / eNpuhdaa-vuhduu / uttiyoga poorvuh / piRuhnduh naaLai / kondaa-dah / ungal uhnai-vuhRai-yum naanum, / enuhdu muhnaivi Jenum, Westminster Housitkah / uhnpuduhn vuhruhvet-kirom.
For those of you who didn’t recognise my Sinhala or Tamil, let me repeat in English that my wife, Jane, and I warmly welcome all of you to Westminster House for this evening’s celebration of the official 80th birthday of a much loved Queen.
Minister, it is particularly fitting that you should be our chief guest this evening. For you are acquainted with the royal family. It was you who accompanied His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to Batticoloa last year.
And as minister for education, you will know about the strong educational links between Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.
So Minister you are most welcome.
Her Majesty The Queen and her links with Sri Lanka
Your excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, better known as Queen Elizabeth the second, was born in London in 1926. As well as being Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, she is also monarch of 16 other independent nations, known as the Commonwealth Realms, some of whose nationals are here at this party this evening.
As heir to the throne, on her 21st birthday, in a radio broadcast from South Africa in 1947, she promised to devote her life to the service of the people of the Commonwealth and Empire. Throughout her reign, while she has witnessed the gradual transformation of the British Empire into the Commonwealth, she has worked hard to maintain and strengthen the links between Britain and the countries of the Commonwealth.
When Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952, she also became Queen of Ceylon, a position she held for 20 years until 1972, when Sri Lanka became a republic.
Her Majesty has visited this island twice. As the young Queen of Ceylon, she came here in 1954, as part of a world tour of her realms.
Inside the house, there is a black and white photograph of Her Majesty, taken during her visit in 1954. The face and demeanor of the young Queen capture the spirit of the time. She looks full of hope for a better future, after the ravages of the Second World War and as the age of empire is drawing to a close.
In 1981, she returned to Sri Lanka, no longer Queen of this country but very much a monarch in her prime. The picture on the front of your programme shows her in her full, splendid regalia, setting off for an official banquet. It was during that visit that she inaugurated the Victoria dam.
So today, when we celebrate the 80th official birthday of our Queen, we are not commemorating a remote and distant figure with little knowledge of or interest in this country. Quite the contrary. You would not expect the last Queen of Ceylon to forget this island or its people. Her Majesty’s two visits here and her frequent encounters with Sri Lankan prime ministers and presidents at Commonwealth meetings mean she is no stranger to Sri Lankan affairs.
The situation in Sri Lanka – condeming recent violence
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Let me now turn to those affairs.
I am very conscious of having arrived in Sri Lanka at a difficult and troubled time. People are clearly anxious about the deteriorating security situation. The British Government shares with other governments and the people of Sri Lanka the strongest sense of horror and outrage at attacks on innocent civilians, such as last week’s appalling bus bombing. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the victims and their families.
Whatever the grievances of the past or indeed the present, there is no justification for terrorism in Sri Lanka. It is high time that the LTTE made the same journey that the ANC made in South Africa and the IRA in Northern Ireland.
The LTTE must put away their weapons and their attachment to violence and join the family of civilised, democratic peoples who sort out their differences through negotiations, not terror. They must try to attain their political aspirations through the democratic institutions of the state, not through bombs and bullets.
The role of the armed forces
At the same time, we, in the international community, have a message for the government. As the Co-Chairs’ statement from Tokyo, which Britain strongly supports, made clear, we expect the defenders of democratic values to remain true to those values, even at times of greatest pressure and provocation. Indeed, we have higher expectations of the authorities and security forces of a democracy – because they represent a democracy.
No country’s armed forces are perfect. We in Britain know that through bitter experience. But when serious lapses in discipline occur, the important thing is that they should be investigated and the perpetrators dealt with under the law.
This is morally right in itself. It is pragmatically right in order to win the hearts and minds of the communities concerned, which is a prerequisite for strategic success. And it is politically right because the strong support of the British government, and I suspect of other governments, can only be sustained over the medium term if that is the case.
A tolerant and multicultural society
After the reprehensible attack on the army commander, His Excellency, the President, appealed to Sri Lankans not to take the law into their own hands. He also set out his vision for this country, where all its citizens should stand as equals before the law, free from discrimination on the grounds of mother-tongue, ethnicity or religious belief. These noble and statesmanlike sentiments are music to the ears of the British government.
I know the government is committed to addressing those areas where non-Sinhala speakers are disadvantaged. I urge them and you, minister, with your responsibility for the key sector of education, to make the President’s vision a reality as quickly as possible.
A tolerant, multicultural society, at ease with itself, is the best answer to those who foment hatred, sectarian violence and ethnic division.
The Sri Lankan people
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
I have mentioned a number of aspects of Sri Lanka’s current situation. But it is the remarkable qualities of the Sri Lankan people themselves that have left the strongest impression on me. You are really an extraordinarily talented people. Your high achievers in medicine, the law and the other professions are world class. You produce wonderful writers, artists, and musicians. Your modern industries, for example in textiles, are models of efficiency and social compliance. You are passionate about sport and you can beat England at cricket, seemingly at will.
You are also a very generous and friendly people. Jane and I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the warmth of the welcome we have received in Sri Lanka. I realise this is nothing personal but is rather a tribute to the high regard that Britain is held in this country. It really is a special privilege to be sent here from London as High Commissioner.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sri Lankans have told me many things about themselves – including that you enjoy a good party and a sing-song and you have, on balance, fairly positive feelings about the period of British rule.
I intend to test these two propositions to destruction later this evening by inviting you to celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday by singing three songs that traditionally bring to a close the BBC’s summer promenade concerts in London – the last night of the proms finale of ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and ‘Jerusalem’. I hope you will all join in and sing lustily.
Before that, we have the traditional sunset ceremony and some fireworks. The fireworks and your programme have been made possible by the very generous sponsorship of three world-class British companies – the two leading British banks in Asia, HSBC and Standard Chartered, and DeLaRue, who print the money that the banks keep safe on our behalves. I am grateful to all three great British companies for being prepared to see their sponsorship money literally go up in smoke.
Her Majesty The Queen’s reign
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Queen Elizabeth the second is currently the third longest serving British monarch in our history. Throughout her 54 year reign, she has worked hard and with great dedication to keep the promise she made on her 21st birthday to devote herself to the Commonwealth.
Let me finish by quoting from the tribute to her by Prince Charles.
‘There is no doubt that the world in which my mother grew up and, indeed, the world in which she first became Queen, has changed beyond all recognition. But during those years, she has shown the most remarkable steadfastness and fortitude, always remaining a figure of reassuring calm and dependability – an example to so many of service, duty and devotion in a world of sometimes bewildering change and disorientation.’
Hear, hear. I am sure we wish Her Majesty a very happy 80th official birthday.
Thank you very much.
It is my special duty this evening to propose a toast to the President and people of Sri Lanka, which I shall do in the mother tongue of the President. But before that, may I ask the bandmaster of the Navy Band to play the Sri Lankan national anthem, which will be sung for us by Natalie Gooneratne.
(Sri Lankan national anthem)
Noona wuhruni, mahat wuhruni.
Ati garu, ja naa-dipati Mahinda Rajapakse, saha,
Si-yuh-lum-uh Laang-kika ja-na-taa wuh-tuh…
Courtesy: British High Commission , Colombo
Norwegian Foreign Ministry Press release
Due to grave concern about the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka, on 8 June the Norwegian Government deemed it necessary to take the unprecedented step of requesting the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to respond to the following five questions:
1. Will the parties stand committed to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of 22 February 2002?
2. Do the parties want the continued existence and operation of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission as a mission coordinated, facilitated and led by the Royal Norwegian Government with diplomatic immunity to ensure its impartial operation?
3. Are the parties able to provide full security guarantees for all monitors, employees and physical assets of the SLMM in all situations, in accordance with CFA Article 3.9?
4. Will the parties accept amendments to CFA Article 3.5 in order to enable the continued functioning of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission at its current operational levels and with the necessary security guarantees?
5. In the event that amendments to Article 3.5 are made, will the parties provide full security guarantees for current SLMM personnel and assets during a six-month transition phase until an amended solution has been identified, decided and fully implemented?
The Norwegian Government has received answers to the questions from the two parties. The Government of Sri Lanka has responded affirmatively to all five questions.
The LTTE has responded positively to questions 1, 3 and 4. As regards question 2 and 5, the LTTE has repeated its demand that SLMM monitors from EU countries (Denmark, Finland, and Sweden) be replaced. According to the LTTE, the "European Union ban on the LTTE has seriously disturbed" the neutrality of these countries, and they will therefore have to be replaced.
In the letter to the parties, Norway asked for a six-month transition phase until an amended solution has been implemented. The LTTE has stated that it wants a shorter transition phase.
- The LTTE’s demand that SLMM monitors from EU countries be replaced is deeply regrettable and will weaken the SLMM in a critical period, says Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim.
The Norwegian Government has invited the other Nordic countries to a meeting in Oslo on 29 June to discuss the safety and future role and function of the SLMM.