Archive for November 13th, 2007

You feature titled “The horror that is Jaffna” in the ‘Justice’ column on your September 29, issue does not at all reflect the ground realities in Jaffna, though the writer “Concerned Citizen” does not bother to mention a word about the good commitments of the Army troops in the peninsula. In this scenario, it is worthwhile to give you a correct picture regarding all negativities mentioned in the story. Let the Security Forces Headquarters in Jaffna cite major areas of responsibility for the information of your readers.

Conduct of cordon-and-search operations
Security Forces generally conduct cordon and search operations immediately after a claymore mine attack or any other major incident within the peninsula or on information received from concerned civilians on any LTTE presence in any specific area. When such cordon-and-search operations are conducted, the ‘Grama Niladari’ of the area, police personnel and military police always accompany the troops. There is no such “Billas” as stated in the article, being used by the Security Forces. If any person has seen any “Billas” during such cordon-and-searches moving around within the cordoned area and taking people away as specified, the Security Forces Headquarters – Jaffna challenge them to inform when and where such “Billas” have been used by the Military and the persons taken into custody without informing the Police authorities. Security Forces always adopt standard operational procedures with minimum disturbances to the general public whilst carrying out such search operations. They also go to the extent of obtaining a letter from all those people who have been subjected to security cheeks to the effect that Security Forces have not taken any valuable items belonging to them or have not harmed any of the civilians whilst conducting those operations.

The “concerned citizen” may not be aware of the fact that during the recent past, 18 innocent civilians were killed and 43 seriously injured due to LTTE claymore mine attacks in Jaffna peninsula. These figures have already been published in an article in page seven of the “Uthayan” Tamil newspaper under the heading “Tamil Alliance condemned the claymore attacks against innocent civilians in Jaffna peninsula” on September 28, 2007. Therefore in the best interest of the people, it is the prime duty and the obligation of the Security Forces to adopt necessary measures to prevent such LTTE attacks by conducting cordon-and-search operations to keep the terrorists on the run.

Imposition of curfew
Even though the Security Forces are planning to lift the curfew the civilians concerned have requested to continue to enforce the curfew as it would have greater effect in preventing thefts and crimes carried out by LTTE and other robbers. In Vadamarachchi area alone, 18 persons have been arrested during the last few weeks for thefts and other robberies. Another reason for imposing the curfew is to prevent the LTTE from carrying out their infiltration into the peninsula and to prevent any attacks on Army check points/picket points during night, which has become a real challenge for the Security Forces.

It is observed that the general public has not been adversely affected by enforcing curfew from 7.00 pm to 4.30 am. Therefore, it transpires that any concerned citizen emphasizing to lift the curfew under the prevailing security situation is either a sympathizer of LTTE or a supporter of perpetrators carrying out attacks on Security Forces and encouraging thefts and robberies. Further the general public is very much aware of the fact Security Forces at all possible times have taken measures to lift the curfew to facilitiate all major religious ceremonies or any other events in Jaffna peninsula whenever a request is made by the Jaffna Government Agent or other religious dignitaries. Nallur festival is the best example where more than 10,000 devotees attended the Poojas in the nights during the last few days of the festival.

Movement of military convoys
Security forces conducted their convoy movements in the nights until the recent past by taking into consideration the difficulties that the normal public has to endure due to daytime military convoy movements. However, using this opportunity LTTE has mounted several claymore mine attacks against the Security Force convoys where considerable numbers of soldiers were killed. Therefore, in the best interest of protecting the lives of Security Forces personnel, the only available option to be adopted is by sealing off all by-roads during such movements despite the fact that the civilians are being disturbed. However, such convoys are moved twice a day only during times of least inconvenience to the public (between 10.00 to 12.00 a.m. and 4.30 to 6.00 p.m.) After all one should understand that the Security Forces should also be supplied with the logistic requirements for their routine functions.

Issue of identity cards
The article further implies that the Security Forces are imposing burdens on the people with regard to the issue of Identity cards. The background to the requirement of issuing Identify Cards is primarily to facilitate the people to properly identify themselves which entails not requiring them to obtain security clearances every time they need to enter/exit Jaffna Peninsula. However, it is obvious that from the LTTE’s point of view is that such action would greatly hinder their infiltration and free movement within the peninsula which would make them unable to carry out attacks against the Security Forces and the innocent civilians.

The efforts of the LTTE to de-stabilize Jaffna consequent to the attack on August 11, 2006 and closure of A9 Road was defeated by a number of initiatives taken by the Security Forces. When sea ports were threatened, alternative ports were opened; labour was found and cargo unloaded. When private traders were threatened; Security Forces opened its own outlets and sold essential goods to civilians at controlled prices until the private traders came forwards again when the environment become conductive. The rumblings in schools and campuses were effectively dealt with and today the education sector runs very smoothly with the GCE A/L exams, Grade 5 scholarship exam. Technical College Exam conducted successfully. The latest LTTE attempt was to de-stabilize the judicial system of Jaffna peninsula by giving life threatening telephone calls to the lawyers of Jaffna. This attempt also was thwarted by the initiative taken by the Security Forces. These are some of the areas that the security Forces have been effectively working to assist the people and to bring normalcy to their life. Security Forces are always on the alert and on watch to counter any LTTE attempts to disrupt the normalcy in Jaffna peninsula.

The LTTE carried out atrocities during the past by numerous ways which caused death and injuries to innocent civilians of Jaffna. It is clear beyond any doubt that the latest modus operandi of the sympathizers of the LTTE is to tarnish the image of the Security Forces in the Jaffna peninsula by getting the LTTE supporters, the so called “Concemed Citizens” to write articles with baseless allegations to stop the momentum of Security Forces in the face of server defeats the LTTE faces in all fronts in Jaffna and Wanni.

Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna


The horror that is Jaffna

Recently, several of us visited Jaffna. We were afforded first hand experience of the horrors of life in that part of our country.

The Peninsula is almost run by the Army. It is the rule of the Army that matters there. People of Jaffna are suffering untold hardships. Similar to what took place in Sri Lanka in the 1988-89 era, abductions and killings take place everyday. Often, entire areas are rounded up and those identified by a ‘billa’–someone wearing a long bag on his head with holes made for the eyes only—are taken away.

Consequently, they seem to disappear from the face of this earth as their families cannot find any trace of them.

Also akin to the ‘Beeshanaya Yugaya’ of the late eighties, people believe these ‘billas’ are mostly those taken into custody, severely tortured and then paraded around to ‘identify suspects’. And so terrorized are these unfortunate victims that they would identify almost anyone, most of the time innocent civilians, in their attempt to avoid further abuse.

Also, due to the heavy presence of the Armed Forces in the area, people live in utter fear. A daily curfew is imposed from 7.00 p.m. to 4.30 a.m. The main road is closed twice a day for the passing of convoys. People have to wait sometimes for more than three hours just to cross the road. We ourselves had that experience. Even school children returning home from school were held up for three hours. Imagine their plight?

Now the Army has begun to issue Identity Cards to the residents of Jaffna. Many questions are asked in the application form for the ID. Strangely, one question is: “membership of any political party?” My query is, is it lawful to issue Army identity cards to people who already have their National ID cards. So the people are wondering whether Jaffna is a separate area governed by the Army, that is, a Military State.

Some people ask whether a fundamental rights petition can be made to the Supreme Court to stop this discrimination and travesty of justice. This is with the hope that the apex court gives an order to stop the issuing of military identity cards to the people in Jaffna—similar to its order putting a stop to people being evacuated from Colombo lodges.

It was also brought to our attention that some families are required to take two photos of their entire family. They are instructed to place one at home and the other is to be given to the Army. Later, if anyone in the photo is found missing, the entire family will have to answer.

Also, Tamils from other parts of the country who want to reside in Jaffna e.g. students of various educational institutions, have to first get a clearance from their original places of residence. It is only thereafter, they are allowed inside Jaffna. Thus, nowadays, students from Mannar, Trincomalee and Batticaloa are finding it extremely difficult to continue their studies in Jaffna.

The people in Jaffna are well aware of all these happenings. But they are terrified to speak out against the injustices done to them. So they exercise the only option left: To endure in silence. But I think, it is important that Sri Lankans living in other parts of the country too be made aware of the terrible plight of the people in Jaffna, in the hope that at least some people and organisations could stand up to defend their rights. After all, the South faced this situation a little less than two decades ago. So it is worthwhile keeping in mind that:

Today it is them, but tomorrow, it could very well be us.

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Three terrorists were killed including LTTE’s deputy area intelligence leader Kumudan by Security forces yesterday (12) at 9.30p.m, at general area Illuppukulam in Trincomalee, security sources said.

Troops confronted with a group of terrorists during a route patrol and later found three slain LTTE bodies in distances from the scene.

In subsequent search operations conducted, troops recovered three T-56 assault riffles, nine magazines, two hundred fifty rounds of T-56 ammunition, one pistol, one magazine with nine ammunition, one radio set, one cyanide capsule and two dog tags, security sources said.

Military sources said, arrangements were made to handover the LTTE bodies to ICRC.

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The Tigers have deployed a small team of fighters, probably around 15 to place the defence establishment in the defensive mode again in the Southern Province. True to its strategy of confusing politicians, the Tigers again launched several attacks in Thissamaharama and Yala in the last few days killing two farmers and one civilian driving a double-cap at Yala Katugamuwa area. The claymore mine attack on the vehicle killed the driver and wounded a 60 year-old man and a civilian engineer on Saturday. Sources indicate the team of LTTE cadres has come from Ampara where around 200 Tigers are shifting from place to place avoiding the STF.

Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka visited Yala Sunday and gave instructions to the Yala Joint Operations Command. He also met Rear Admiral Weerasekere and DIG Balasuriya who were touring the area the day before along with Basil Rajapakse. The Sri Lanka Army has stationed around 500 soldiers and appointed Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe as the head of the newly established Joint Operations Center in Yala. A recruitment drive is now on to enlist 200 men to the Civil Defence Force (Homeguards). 25 checkpoints have already been established in the area. The CDF has around 30,000 personnel already serving in the North and the East many of whom, due to their background coming from villages in rural areas, are ideal candidates to fill the ranks of the Special Forces.

With this latest redeployment of troops on a defensive role and recruitment of more men into the ranks of the CDF, the Army’s new recruitment drive and overall strategy in the North will definitely be affected. The LTTE has managed to turn the offensive mentality of the country’s leadership into a defensive mode through several small-scale attacks and ambushes in an area earmarked for development projects including an airport, harbour and tourism facilities. It is also the electoral/political constituency of President Rajapakse. The JHU and the JVP has again put pressure on the political and military leadership by highlighting the security dilemma of Sinhala farmers in the South.

If any lessons are to be learnt from previous experiences, it is that the LTTE is cleverly reading the minds of southern politicians and are effectively disrupting the strategy drawn up by the SLA to systematically destroy LTTE by committing large numbers of Tigers to the Northern FDLs with considerable deployment of own troops in an offensive role. Experience also tells us that guarding a large jungle area like Yala against 8-12 man teams is next to impossible. Yala is situated near Kumana, Vilpattu and Lahugala jungle reservations. These areas are difficult to police. This is the comparative advantage that SLA’s LRRP operations have benefited from. The Tigers seem to have realized this situation and are now trying to turn it to their advantage. The attack on the Anuradhapura airbase also had similarities of an LTTE LRRP-type deployment in the deep battle space.

In recent months, the SLA had managed to continuously engage LTTE in the Vanni, killing a steady 10-15 tigers on most days. Villages in Adampan, Periyathampanai, Pandisurichchian, Kalmadu etc were systematically drained and small resettlements reestablished in government areas to facilitate the infiltrations and use of heavy weapons on Tiger positions. This however requires strategic focus and commitment to an offensive role.

Meanwhile the Special Task Force attacked a tractor carrying LTTE cadres in Rottana, Pottuvil adjacent to the Northern boundary of Yala Sunday evening killing three Tigers. SLA, whose major infiltrations into LTTE areas in Vavuniya and Mannar has been adversely affected by the torrential monsoonal rains, made several attempts to attack Tigers and succeeded in Adampan, Periyathampanai and Periyapandisurichchian in the last few days. Six bodies of female cadres recovered from the Periya Thampanai attack were handed over to the ICRC on Sunday to be transferred to the LTTE.

Meanwhile pro-LTTE media claimed outrage over the arrest of Tamil Nadu politicians Vaiko (MDMK) from Nedumaaran (TMM) in Chennai after they finished addressing a protest rally against the assassination of ‘brigadier’ Thamilselvan. No country in the International Community had expressed sorrow at his death. Earlier, LTTE’s newly appointed Political Wing Leader Nadesan, in a meeting with the Norwegian peace Monitors had claimed that the LTTE strongly regretted this situation.

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Sri Lankan troops shot dead at least six women fighters of the Tamil Tigers during a clash in the north of the island, the defence ministry said Monday.

Following an attack on a bunker line of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) along the de facto front line with guerrilla-held territory, the troops found six bodies of women fighters on Sunday, the ministry said.

It said security forces also recovered a light machine gun, three automatic assault rifles and ammunition.

The report came amid sporadic clashes in the north of the island and a warning from neighbouring India that Sri Lanka and the Tiger rebels must return to the negotiating table to end their conflict.

India’s Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said Sunday that while New Delhi backed Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, military action would not bring an end to the rebel drive for a separate state for minority Tamils.

“Neither side can finally prevail over the other through conflict. Peace must be forged at the negotiating table,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people have died since the conflict began in 1972. Fighting has escalated since December 2005, when a Norwegian-brokered truce began to unravel.

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Sri Lanka Navy with the support of the police strengthened security on the coastal belt in deep south Hambanthota district following information on the presence of suspicious speed boats in the sea off the southern coast.

Police received information on the boats suspected to be belonging to the LTTE Sea Tigers Wing off the sea between Rekawa and Tangalla around 3 PM yesterday.

Special security has been provided to Tangalla and Kudawella fishing harbors. Tangalla Navy camp was waiting for the arrival of gun boats from Galle Navy Base to conduct search operations.

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Sri Lanka Military for the first time said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that is fighting for a separate Tamil state in the north and east of the country is suspected to be responsible for the killings and attacks in Hambanthota district areas bordering the Yala National Park.

In an interview with BBC Sandeshaya Sinhala programme, the Army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara further said that neither of the culprits were arrested or attacked. Search operations are continuing in the area and he expected to apprehend the culprits soon.

Sri Lanka Army Commander, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka visited Yala on Sunday to inspect the ground security situation in the National Park and surrounding area. He instructed the authorities to intensify search and cordon operations in affected areas until conditions improve.

Meanwhile police sources said that 11 police posts have been established in an around Ranminithenna village that was under the terrorist attacks.

Five farmers were found hacked to death and two more have disappeared. An army detachment in the National Park was attacked last month killing seven soldiers and several claymores were set off by the suspected terrorists killing security personnel and civilians.

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Tamil Nadu police yesterday (12) arrested pro-LTTE party activists Nedumaaran and , Vaiko, the leader of Marumalardchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam (MDMK) for defying a ban imposed on a rally in Chennnai, supporting the internationally banned LTTE terror outfit.

According to TamilNadu news sources, this is a consecutive failure in Nedumaran’s effort to catch support for the tribal terrorist cause. Earlier, he was arrested in mid-September by the TamilNadu government while attempting to make into the Sri Lankan territorial waters.

The rally was organised among few tribal leaders in TamilNadu to condemn the loss of front line LTTE military man, Tamilchelvan in a pin-point aerial raid conducted by the SLAF, on 02nd November, TamilNadu sources said.

Nedumaran and Vaiko were arrested while bearing a Tamilchelvan photo, at the tribal gathering attended by few dozens of LTTE sympathizers, news agencies report. Internal sources have confirmed that the rally was organized following an open statement made by the notorious terror leader Prabakaran last week condemning the diminishing international support for the separatist cause.

The LTTE is an International terrorist organisation banned in India since 1992, who was also accused of the assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, on 21st May 1991.

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