Archive for July 5th, 2009

  • HAD 250 T 56 WEAPONS

Police and security forces would launch a joint military operation to track down arms and ammunition in the hands of the jihadist groups in the East, police announced after the extended deadline given for the hand over of the weapons lapsed last evening.
Eastern Province DIG Edison Gunathilake told LAKBIMAnEWS that the response by the Muslim armed groups in the East to the government’s call to hand over weapons was poor, and only a fraction of the weapons held by the militants had been given.
Among the inventory of weapons handed over are: 16 T 56 assault rifles, one T 81 sub machine gun, four 303 rifles, two sub machine guns, one shot gun, one 9mm pistol, 16 hand grenades and a large cache of ammunition.
DIG Gunathilake said intelligence reports reveal that jihadist militants posses 250 T 56 assault rifles, a fraction of which had been handed over by the time the dead line expired.
The weapons were handed over by jihadist groups last evening in a mosque in Kattankuddy, in an event presided over by Muslim religious dignitaries.
The deadline, which was initially set for July 2 was extended to July 4 on the request of the Muslim community leaders.
The long contested issue of the armed Muslim groups came into focus last month after the arrest of seven hardcore jihadi militants along with a cache of arms and ammunition including seven T 56 weapons, sub machine guns, and anti personal mines.
The Defence Ministry offered a public amnesty to the jihadi militants and ordered them to hand over weapons by July 2, later extended to July 4.

(Lakbima News)

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  • KP’s interview and intelligence findings

LTTE’s head of international relations, Selvaraja Pathmanathan alias Kumaran Pathmanathan’s description of the final hours of the LTTE’s senior leadership detailed extensively in his interview with an Indian news media corroborates with the information of the Sri Lankan military agencies, but barring one episode, which now has raised concerns of the military officials.

Pathmanathan claims that Duvaraka, the daughter of the LTTE leader was killed in the fighting along with her elder brother Charles Anthony. The Military intelligence had however been unaware of the plight of Duvaraka as well as Prabhakaran’s wife Mathivathini-Pathmanathan also claims that he was unaware of the plight of Mathivathini.

Prabhakaran’s parents are now sheltered in an IDP camp had told the military officials that Mathivathini and Duvaraka did not live with the Tiger chieftain during the last two weeks. Prabhakaran’s parents had lived with the Tiger chieftain till May 17, a day before he was believed to have met his maker. Prabhakaran had advised his parents to leave with the civilians, apparently after an abortive Tiger attack on the positions of 56 Division in the early hours of May 17, the Sunday. On the same day, night, Prabhakaran attempted one last attempt and was killed in the wee hours of the next day by an army commando, who took away the Tiger leader’s pistol and the belt, but, could not identify that his kill was the most wanted man in the country. Later soldiers of the Vijayaba Regiment found the body of the slain Tiger chieftain.

Whereabouts of Duvaraka and Mathivathini are not known to the military, though some officers confided that the youngest son of the Tiger chieftain, Balachandran was also killed during the battle. Earlier, a pro- LTTE website hosted in Canada reported that Mathivathini and Duvarka had fled to India, from where they had boarded a Canada bound flight, using forged passports. However, this claim had not been substantiated by the Indian intelligence services, which have been extremely cooperative with their Sri Lankan counterparts in intelligence sharing in recent times.

Link with Soosai

Another expose in KP’s interview was that he was in contact with the Sea Tiger leader, Soosai till the last moment of the battle, which tallies with findings of the military intelligence. According to the intercepted communications, Soosai had commanded the battle to the very end. KP had also referred to his efforts to get the international community to negotiate a ceasefire, adding that it was unsuccessful as the Sri Lankan government demanded an unconditional surrender, which limited the space for the maneuverings by the international community.

Wecan confirm that KP himself and the LTTE political leader, Nadeshan telephoned two senior government officials on May 17, to announce the surrender after a pre-dawn attempt on the same day to break through the positions of the 56 division in the place called “Dara Point” was foiled. The government turned down the offer, claiming that it was too late. Also, by that point, commandos and Special Forces had launched the final assault and there could not have been any turn back of the military mission.

KP says that he has been in contact with Ram, who is the senior most surviving leader of the LTTE. Ram led a group of LTTE cadres operating from the Kanchiku-duchchuaru jungles and was responsible for a string of bomb explosions last year. According to KP, Ram has silenced his guns in line with a decision announced by Prabhakaran days before his death. However, LAKBIMA nEWS understands that Ram himself once offered to surrender, however changed his mind after 11 LTTE cadres were killed in the Kanchikudichchiaru jungles in late May.

KP in the interview had demanded a security guarantee for the surrender of the remaining eastern cadres, including Ram. The elimination of Ram and Nakulan would complete the annihilation of the first and second rung leadership of the LTTE.
The military on its part, rules out special security guarantees, and vows to comb eastern jungles till the last Tiger cadre is flushed out from the East.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan military is undergoing reforms to meet the future challenges. Accordingly, the local military doctrine, which hitherto concentrated on internal threats, would be transformed to include deterrence to external threat.

The prime concern, according to military planners, is an intervention by a mercenary army funded by the Tamil Diaspora.

Threat assessment

A threat assessment includes three elements: Capability, intention and vulnerability. True that, the hard-line sections of the Tamil Disapora would be pleased to disrupt the security situation in Sri Lanka, hence, there is intention, but their capability to assemble a mercenary army to match the conventional army of the Sri Lankan state is open to question. Yet, the Sri Lankan military plans to minimize its vulnerability to a mercenary landing through the new reforms, under which the position of Chief of Defence Staff would be granted with extensive powers to develop a doctrine for the joint development of the armed forces. Accordingly, the CDS position, which was just a nominal appointment earlier gets legal status and will function as the head of the country’s armed forces. This was a part of the government’s 10-year re -organization plan re-organization of the armed forces.

The Sri Lankan Army itself is undergoing expansion. Two new Security Forces Head Quarters had been set up in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu in addition to the existing Security Forces Headquarters in Jaffna, Vanni and East.

The military divisions which had been concentrated in the Wanni region would be reorganized and brought under the newly established Security Forces Headquarters.

Accordingly, SFHQ (Kilinochchi) would have offensive divisions, namely the 57 Division, Task Force 3, Task Force 8 and Defensive Divisions, namely Task Force 5 and Task Force 6 under its control. The Security Forces Head Quarters, Mullaitivu would have under its wing the 59 Division, Task Force 2, Task Force 4 and Area Head Quarters, Weli Oya.
The 21 Division, 56 Division, 61 Division and Area Head Quarters, Mannar would come under the wing of the Security Forces Headquarters, Vanni.

The Security Forces Head Quarters, Jaffna would have 55 Division, 51 Division, 52 Division and Task Force 7 under its control.

The 53 Division and 58 Division would be kept as the reserve Divisions under the direct command of the Commander of the Army. In addition, in order to increase the mobility of the troops, a regiment of Special Forces and a Regiment of Commandos would be assigned to each Security Forces Head Quarters. The Sri Lanka Air Force is also planning to set up an air base in the former Tiger air strip in Iranamadu. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries, of which the main international airport has been used by combat aircraft.

However, the relocation of the Kfir and MIG 27 squadrons, which used the Katunayake International Airport to another location, did not materialize due to various reasons in the past. Kfir Interceptors require a runway of minimum 1000 meters in length for their take off, but the none of the military air strips in the country was long enough. An earlier plan to relocate the Kfir squadron to Sigiriya was also abandoned after environmental and ecological concerns of the archeological site were raised. However, with the recent developments, chances are that the Kfir and MIG Squadrons would be relocated to Iranamadu or Mulliyawelli, where the Tigers had a 3.5 km long runway.

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Sri Lanka has identified six foreign nationals, including Australians, among tens of thousands of war-displaced civilians held in state-run camps in the island’s north, a minister said yesterday.

Three Australians and British, Dutch and Norwegian nationals had crossed into government-held areas after escaping from the war zone in the island’s north-east after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels last month.

The Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said the six, of Sri Lankan origin, would be screened for links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

A British national held has been identified as Danilvany Gnanakumar. Her family has been in touch with the British high commission in Colombo to secure her release.

Immigration officials said she had entered the country in February last year and had overstayed her six-month visa.

She had crossed into rebel areas and worked as a medic. The minister said she violated immigration laws by overstaying and working in the country.

The status of the other five nationals was being investigated, immigration officials said.

Nearly 300,000 people sought shelter with the military as security forces crushed the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for a separate state since 1972.

(Agence France-Presse)

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My friend Dayan Jayatilleka, who I believe should be more of the academic that he can be and less of the politician he is, after his excellent work in countering anti-Sri Lanka moves in the international arena, has now focused his entire energy to defending and justifying the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Dayan has not exactly written profusely on the 13th Amendment, for his articles in Sri Lankan newspapers of late are largely cannibalizations of each other; in other words he’s done a lot of cut-and-paste.

He has commented extensively on a piece I wrote in the paper two weeks ago. He has called it ‘The 13th Amendment, Indo-Lanka ties, Sovereignty’ .

I claimed that Dayan doesn’t tell us why our relations with India are predicated on the implementation of the 13th Amendment. Dayan responds by referring to a joint statement issued by the Government and a top-level Indian delegation on May 21st where the Government pledges to implement the 13th. One could say that is a tacit admission on the part of the Government that the 13th is in fact the bed rock on which Indo-Sri Lanka relations stand or will flounder. Governments, however, are not made of saints or the all-knowing (the regimes of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s predecessors are excellent examples).

As to the ‘why’ of it, Dayan points to Tamil Nadu and the 70 million Tamils in India, and tells us that the Indian ‘Centre’ will not risk alienating these people. Well, that kind of fear-mongering was quite evident in the last days of the LTTE. The Centre, it so happened, did not budge. Just two days ago, Karunanidhi was quoted as saying ‘we should not anger the Sinhalese’. So much for the compelling character of the Tamil Nadu factor! India made several mistakes with respect to Sri Lanka, beginning with training Tamil militants and ending with parippu droppings prior to the Indo-Lanka Accord. India paid a price.

Why India insists on the 13th I do not know, but if India is really interested in seeing Tamil grievances in Sri Lanka resolved, then India should understand that the 13th (or a ‘ 13th Plus’) does nothing in this regard. Perhaps it is partly the fault of successive Governments, for not having educated India on the real issues. This is understandable because politicians are politicians and will only think of power and of people only to the extent that they serve ambition. Politicians, for example, are fighting shy of setting up institutions that can correct general citizenship anomalies and capable of insulating citizen from themselves. Naturally. To assume that the anti-intellectualism this gives rise to amount to ‘the best we can have’ is to admit that we as a people are lazy, intellectually and otherwise.

Dayan claims that the 13th Amendment ‘is the concrete expression of the Indian concern balanced off with Sri Lanka’s sovereignty’. If this is the case, then the 13th is what Dayan says it is not (“the implementation of the 13th amendment is not the tithe or “protection money” (kappan) paid by the Sri Lankan state to Tamil separatism and/or our Western critics and adversaries” –www.groundviews.com of June 13, 2009). One can call tithe optimum given practicalities but it remains tithe.

He says that sovereignty should not only be asserted, it has to be defended and defensible. This is true. He says ‘If we lose India, we even lose the Non-Aligned Movement [and are] left naked’). That’s Dayan’s view. It is not necessarily true, though. I would hesitate to say that dumping the 13th where it should be dumped (trashcan) amounts to losing India or that losing India amounts to being undressed by the Non-Aligned Movement. I believe instead that a true examination of ‘Tamil grievance’ and meaningful inter-community reconciliation underwritten by democratic process can allow us to lose the 13th and retain India’s friendship, assuming of course that losing India amounts to national suicide.

Dayan’s views on Tamil grievances and aspirations are even less compelling. Yes, every civil group needs political and cultural space, but political and cultural space are obtainable without pinning it down to territory and especially a territory which cannot be justified given history, geography and demography. We know that Eelamist propaganda has tried to disguise interest as fact and this is why many in the international community believe that ‘political space’ has to have a geographical referent.

He argues that grievances not being solved by institutions do not warrant them to be dumped in the trashcan, citing Parliament and Presidency. He is correct. These institutions have other functions. The 13th however addresses interests and not grievances. It is a white elephant, a burden, and is a wasteful way of doing things. Just because no Tamil politician would ‘settle for anything less than the 13th’ it does not mean that we are stuck with the 13th or have to settle for it. No politician wants the 17th Amendment corrected or even implemented as is. Does this mean that we shut up and settle for ‘as is’? No. Tamil politicians have played the communal card. Interests clashed, the Eelam lobby lost. The Eelam lobby was in fact the worst enemy of the Tamil people. If reconciliation and a full flowering of inter-communal harmony is envisaged then we need to return to grievance and resolve these, democratically and based on fact, not fantasy.

Ask any student of politics what the defining feature of nations with devolved structures is and he/she will answer ‘a centralizing tendency’. This is true of the USA and it is true of Canada. The ‘Indian Moment’ of devolution has passed. Sri Lanka is not in devolution mode. We are in development mode. Reconciliation must happen in this context. Constitutional reform should reference the needs of development, of resettlement, rebuilding and recovery. Dayan’s India-fear or India-respect is out of sync with current realities. So too his fascination with the 13th Amendment.

The 13th, in other words, should be viewed in terms of what it does and does not do; whether or not it is in line with current realities and the stated objectives of the Government in terms of improving the overall quality of life of the citizenry. It is by no means an Engelsian ‘necessity’; it is ‘necessity’ only in terms of a mistaken assessment of India’s political wisdom/power and a politician’s self-interest. There is no earthly reason why we should continue to pay for Rajiv Gandhi’s whim. The man’s dead and so is his India.

It is a burden on the overall polity, a postponement of grievance-resolution, an affront to the democratic spirit (in both conception and practice) and all things considered an anachronism that is moreover an incongruent eyesore in terms of the overall institutional structure. All these things rebel against its implementation and agitate for its unceremonious dumping, sooner rather than later.

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