Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July 17th, 2009

capt.photo_1247672561781-1-0

r899659262

Sri Lanka’s out-going army commander reviews soldiers during a ceremony at the army headquarters in Colombo July 14, 2009. Fonseka, who was commander of the army’s final phase of the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels, retired from his post to take up position as the country’s Chief of Defence Staff.

Read Full Post »

The most senior Tamil Tiger leader to survive the military onslaught has left Sri Lanka, a Tamil minister said.

Minister Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, widely known as Col Karuna, told BBC Sandeshaya that Daya Mohan has “escaped to Malaysia”.

The minister had earlier said that members of the Tamil Tigers had been trying to surrender or flee following the defeat of the rebel group in May this year.

He told BBC Sandeshaya that Daya Mohan and Colonel Ram, who had lived in the Amparai jungles in the island’s east, had escaped, but did not give details as to his source of information.

‘No surrender’

Speaking with BBC Tamil service days after the defeat of the LTTE, Daya Mohan said that the remaining fighters in the east were not thinking of surrendering.

He said the groups were “capable of carrying out guerrilla attacks” and were waiting for a decision from their leadership.

Discussing the progress of resettling and integrating the internally displaced persons (IDPs), Mr. Muralitharan explained that two villages, comprising 300 families, had already been resettled in Mannar after de-mining the area.

Commenting on an earlier remark that the Sri Lanka army is creating a “Tamil regiment”, he said the government is encouraging Tamil youth to join the armed forces.

So far, 600 of his supporters have joined the army and police, and a police training facility has been set up in Batticaloa he added.

Minister Karuna, the founding leader of the paramilitary turned political party Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), recently joined the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

(BBC Sinhala service)

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Sri Lanka scrapped a 200 million dollar ammunition order from China following the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels two months ago, a senior military official said Wednesday.

General Sarath Fonseka said the order was cancelled because there was no need to stock ammunition for heavy guns after routing the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May.

“We had ordered about 200 million dollars of heavy ammunition from China,” Fonseka told local reporters after taking office as the new chief of defence staff. “There is no need for such ammunition any more.”

He said the order would have been enough for three to four months of use — based on the intensity of the final stages of the conflict.

Sri Lanka relied heavily on China and Pakistan for mortar bombs and ammunition for multi-barrel rocket launchers in the battle against the Tigers.

The general did not say if any deals with Pakistan had been cancelled.

Fonseka, who is credited with crushing the LTTE, is now heading a new post formulating strategy and advising the government on weapons procurement.

But, despite the end of nearly four decades of fighting with the Tamil Tigers, the military has announced plans to recruit another 40,000 to 50,000 troops within a year.

The military had already enlisted 80,000 troops in the past two years, boosting army numbers to 200,000.

In the past three years, the army placed its losses at about 6,200 killed and nearly 30,000 wounded. The military said it killed 22,000 Tiger rebels during the same period.

Fonseka said India was sending around 500 de-miners to clear the former rebel-held areas while 800 former Tamil Tiger rebels who defected to the government side five years ago had formally been absorbed into the army.

(AFP)

Read Full Post »

The Sri Lankan military was not operating in the area when 17 workers for a French aid agency were gunned down execution-style in 2006, the chairman of a government commission investigating the massacre said Tuesday.

Nissanka Udalagama — head of the presidential commission of inquiry charged with probing rights abuses during Sri Lanka‘s decades-long civil war — told The Associated Press no government forces were present during the slaying of 17 Sri Lankans who worked for Action Against Hunger in August 2006.

At the time of the killings, European monitors said they were “convinced” government troops were involved. The government denied the charge and accused Tamil Tiger rebels of involvement.

The 17 aid workers were found shot dead in the eastern town of Muttur amid heavy fighting between government soldiers and the rebels.

Udalagama said according to evidence, Tamil Tiger fighters were in the vicinity at the time. However, he said the investigation was incomplete and declined further comment.

Rights groups have accused the government of failing to seriously investigate reported abuses during the 25-year war and have called for an international commission to probe abuse allegations. The government has repeatedly rejected such calls as a violation of its sovereignty.

The presidential commission was assigned two years ago to investigate 16 cases of alleged abuses by both sides in the war, but only managed to complete seven cases. Udalagama said it could not finish its investigation as its mandate expired last month.

The independent Island newspaper reported Tuesday that the commission’s final report had cleared the military of any involvement in the massacre.

The commission’s final report has not been made public after it was handed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa two weeks ago, and the newspaper didn’t say how it was obtained.

The Tamil Tigers rebel were defeated on the battlefield in May, ending their quarter-century rebellion for a homeland for minority ethnic Tamils. More than 70,000 people died in the conflict.

(Associated Press)

Read Full Post »

There are two clear, unequivocal statements that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans with respect to ‘political solution’. First, that the ‘solution’ he envisages will necessarily be ‘home grown’. Secondly, he advised all leaders of political parties in the ruling coalition to refrain from addressing the issue; in particular he asked them not to talk about the 13th Amendment.

Being the Executive President, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, being a man who enjoys unprecedented popularity, I believe one has to take serious note of these statements.

Dayan Jayatilleka is not talking ‘home grown’ these days. Perhaps it is because he is not (officially) a politician, but only a (key) diplomat that he enjoys the privileges that the President has denied party leaders of the coalition that he leads.

He has written much about my position regarding the 13th Amendment, responding to my comments in multiple publications with much use of the ‘copy and paste’ facility available in Microsoft Word. His latest (‘Politics and History’ in The Island of July 13, 2009) is a response to my article in the Sunday Island of the previous day ‘History is a cake you cannot have and eat at the same time’.

Reading it, I am reminded of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are adept at jumping from one verse in the bible to another when queried, exiting context at will. So too, Dayan. He alleges that the traditions of all dead generations weigh like a nightmare on my brain, following Marx’s observation in the 18th Brumaire. Then he alludes to Lenin, as though history never mattered to Vladimir Ilyich. He talks as though what came before can be ditched in favour of ‘the fierce urgency of now’ (as per Martin Luther King and Barack Obama), ignoring that history informed the prerogatives pertaining to ‘The Now’ in both cases. Most seriously, he accuses me of a fixation with history (a crime, in his current ‘here-and-now’ mode of operation, I suppose), but favours a piece of legislation which assets not a fixation with history but a pathological fixation with myth.

He inserts an interesting quote, attributed to a former Israeli Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin “the extremist ideologues of every community make historical and archaeological claims for territory that derive from when their respective community was at the zenith of its power, which is of course hardly the whole story. If such claims were to the basis of political solutions and settlements the planet’s surface would have to expand at least several times.” Fine. In our case, we have Dayan pandering to one ideology’ which had hardly any historical or archaeological claim for territory.

According to Dayan, my ‘solution’, that of moving towards integration through full equality of citizenship, is impractical. Well, in that case, is he saying that the President is not committed to ‘full equality of citizenship’, that he (Mahinda Rajapaksa) is perhaps incapable and uninterested in ‘full equality of citizenship’? I wonder!

Dayan is absolutely correct when he says that we can’t afford to lose the peace after having won the war. His is a recipe for losing the peace because it is a celebration of inefficiency, it is a salute to everything antithetical to ‘home grown’ and it panders to a mindset that fanatically trashes the interests of the majority community.

The 13th Amendment does not have ‘nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism’ as Dayan asserts. It was a product of and a document celebrated and defended by Marxist-Leninists, their ideological hang-ups about ‘self-determination’ and their historical antipathy to the Sinhala Buddhists of this country.

A nation, at its moment of triumph must go for the optimal solution and hence my thesis on equality of citizenship. The LTTE was the most powerful expression of Tamil racism and Eelamist mythology (which is the foundation and spur for the 13th Amendment). The people of this country, especially the Sinhala Buddhist (if not for anything else by the sheer majority of numbers) suffered the most at the hands of the LTTE, and suffered the most to defeat it.

If ‘magnanimity’ is sought from this ‘victor’ (as some have sought to portray this victory, albeit in a bitter tone of voice), then the most generous ‘give’ would be ‘equality of citizenship’. I believe President Mahinda Rajapaksa has the sway to obtain this from the majority community and obtain agreement from all minorities. Asking the majority, instead, to concede the notion of ‘exclusive traditional homelands’ (unsupported and unsupportable by any history or historian) is asking it to lose the peace.

Those who are following my exchange with Dayan Jayatilleka may believe it is nothing more than an ideological debate, but let there be no mistake about this: Dayan is less interested in a chit-chat with me than he is in projecting a position (a ‘Government’ position, for he’s after all our Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva) to the international community. Dayan Jayatilleka is, in unequivocal terms, painting President Mahinda Rajapaksa into a corner called ‘The Thirteenth Amendment’. The President as well as the general public would do well to take note.

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer and can be contacted at malinsene@gmail.com.

Read Full Post »

President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Sunday made drastic changes to the country’s military hierarchy surprising the entire defence circle by removing the two topmost defence officials from their posts.

Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka had been appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff, which had been given wide powers through a special Gazette notification, while Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda was appointed National Security Advisor, whch is a new post.

Wanni Security Forces Commander Major General Jagath Jayasuriya, who is the ninth place in the Army considering seniority was promoted to the rank of Lt. General and appointed as the 19th Army Commander while Chief of Staff of the Navy, Rear Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe was appointed as the new Navy Commander after promoting him to the Vice Admiral Rank.

On Friday, Major General Jayasuriya arrived in Colombo to attend a conference to discuss the northern development programme to take place on Saturday. Parliamentarian and Senior Advisor to the President, Basil Rajapaksa chaired the event. On the same day evening, he was suddenly informed that President Rajapaksa had decided to appoint him as the new Army Chief as the President had also decided to appoint General Fonseka as the CDS, with the retirement of Air Marshal Donald Perera on July 15.

It is learnt that the President had taken this decision after holding several rounds of discussions with his defence advisors including his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is the Defence Secretary. The President had decided to make these appointments as soon as possible before he left for Egypt to attend the Non-Alignment Movement Summit, due to some unknown reason although was not fully prepared to take this sudden decision.

Earlier, it was remoured that Chief of Staff of the Army Major General G.A. Chandrasiri was tipped to be appointed as the Commander of the Army, but the President had appointed him as the Northern Province Governor after retiring him from the Army.

Major General Jayasuriya who is about to turn age 50 is the ninth senior officer in the Army. Those senior to him were Major Generals Sumith Balasuriya (to retire January 20, 2010) G.A. Chandrasiri, V. R de Silva (to retire August 27, 2009) who is the Commissioner General of Prisons, N.A. Ranasinghe (to retire December 14, 2010), U.R. Perera (to retire Dec 17, 2010), L.B. Aluvihare (to retire December 17, 2009) and W.R Wasantha Kumara (to retire December 18, 2010).

Due to seniority of above mentioned eight Major Generals, most of them were to retire from the forces as they are much more senior than the newly appointed Army Commander. Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya is to retire on January 2, 2014.

It is obvious that Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya had been appointed to the new post considering his experience in the battle field although there were several senior Major Generals still serving in the army.

As mentioned at a press conference by the new CDS General Fonseka, the new Commander was able to come to that seat because of the ‘Merit Scheme’ introduced by him. According to the Merit Scheme, all promotions are given considering their field activities.

“I have changed giving promotions to officers according to their seniority, because of the Merit Scheme the new Commander was able to come to this seat,” General Fonseka told the media soon after assuming duties in the new post on Wednesday at the Joint Operations Headquarters.

Although the new Army Commander held the post of SF Commander and also played a major role in wiping out terrorism from the country during his two year term as the SF Commander Wanni, he has a bigger task before him in managing the Army.

At his first press conference held at the Army headquarters on Wednesday Lt. General Jayasuriya claimed that he had to learn more about the system of the army as he did not have much knowledge about holding such kind of role, as he had not even worked in the Army Headquarters in the last three years.

However, his main priority is to re-motivate his 200,000 strong army and also to transform the force into a highly trained well developed organization in the future. He vowed to continue the work started by General Fonseka.

It is learnt that Gen Fonseka wanted to continue as the Commander of the Army for sometime, as he had plans to re-organize the Army. During his three year term he was able to turn around the Army for the military purposes. He brought up junior officers to higher posts, gave them tasks and treaed them according to their skills showed in the battlefield. Although there was criticism against these appointments Gen. Fonseka successful as he won the war after defeating the Tigers.

As he mentioned at the media briefing, although he able to win the war, he said he was unable to look into the welfare of the Army. He said his only disappointment was that he was unable to look into the welfare of the army.

Addressing the officers and other ranks soon after assuming duties in his new post, he claimed that he would continue to monitor the situation in the army.

General Fonseka is the first CDS to be appointed after the new CDS Act giving wide powers to the holder of the post was presented in parliament by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake two weeks ago and approved by the House. The newly passed Act stipulates that the CDS will chair the defense committee comprising the Commanders of the three armed forces, and coordinate relations between the armed forces and the Defence Ministry.

The new CDS expects to get seven Major Generals from the Army, a Rear Admiral from the Navy and an Air Vice Marshal from the Air Force for his staff. Some 300 staff members will be allocated for the CDS.

He would form an intelligence unit under his direct purview in the country including the operational areas.

Navy’s changes

With regards to the Navy appointment, it is learnt that the President had signed the document appointing Rear Admiral Samarasinghe on July 30 night. Rear Admiral Samarasinghe too was informed about this new appointment on Saturday.

It is learnt that President Rajapaksa has decided to appoint Admiral Karannagoda creating a new post – National Security Advisor much earlier. He had already asked the Defence Ministry to create this post and assign tasks to the post.

Although this new post is similar to the post that is in India and USA, it is learnt that the tasks for this post are yet to be finalized.

With the new appointment, Admiral Karannagoda retired from service and was mobilized to Regular Reserve Service of the Sri Lanka Navy.

However this new position is yet to be approved by the cabinet. The post would be an advisory post and it comes under the President’s Secretary, but higher than to a Ministry Secretary, it is learnt. But all these proposals are under review.

Accordingly, the post of the NSA is not only restricted to security matters, but also other areas such as food security, disease security, external and internal threats etc.

National Security Advisory

USA

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor serves as the chief adviser to the President of the United States on national security issues.

This person serves on the National Security Council within the Executive Office of the President. He or she is supported by a staff that produces research, briefings, and intelligence for the NSA to review and present to the National Security Council and the President of the United States.

The National Security Advisor is appointed by the President without confirmation by the United States Senate. As such, they are not connected to the bureaucratic politics of the Departments of State and Defense, and are therefore able to offer independent advice. The power and role of the National Security Advisor varies from administration to administration.

In times of crisis, the National Security Advisor operates from the White House Situation Room, updating the President on the latest events of a crisis.

The current office holder is retired Marine Corps General James L. Jones, who assumed the duties of the post when Barack Obama was sworn into office on January 20, 2009 as President of the United States.

India

The National Security Advisor (NSA) of India is a member of the National Security Council (NSC), and the primary advisor to the Prime Minister, the Indian Cabinet and the NSC on internal and international security issues. He is tasked with regularly advising the Prime Minister on all matters relating to internal and external threats to the country, and oversees strategic issues. The NSA of India also serves as the Prime Minister’s Special Interlocutor on border issues with China, and frequently accompanies the Prime Minister on Foreign State visits.

The directors of Research &Analyst Wing and Intelligence Bureau technically report to the NSA rather than the Prime Minister directly. He receives all intelligence reports and co-ordinates them to present before the Prime Minister. He is assisted by a Deputy NSA.

The post was created on November 19, 1998 by the Government of A B Vajpayee, with Brijesh Mishra as the first appointee.

Since the creation of the post, Mr J N Dixit has been the only NSA to die in office. His colleague M K Narayanan, who was then PM’s Special advisor on Internal security, was made NSA with immediate effect.

Lt.Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya –  Army Commander

Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya said that his main purpose is to re-motivate the Army, who fought against the Tigers in the last two and half decades. Addressing his first media conference he made following comments:

“Soldiers were continuously engaged in fighting. Since the fighting is over now we need to re-motivate them to be a peacetime military. Running a peacetime army is quite different. Discipline has to be emphasized. I am very concerned about it.”“I will continue with what Gen. Fonseka was doing, and my vision would be transforming the Army to a highly trained and developed organization to face the future requirements of the country.”

“Although the war is over, we have to re-design our training and other process.”

“Everyone can deal with me as I am a different man, so my method is different.”

General Sarath Fonseka –  Chief of Defence Staff

General Fonseka said that his main mandate is to provide strategic directions to the armed forces, develop a doctrine for the joint employment of the armed forces and facilitate the preparation of strategic plans while overseeing matters in respect of functions relating to intelligence, prepare operational and contingency plans and advice on military recruitment and procurement tenders.

He is answerable to the Secretary to the Defence Ministry.

Addressing the media he said:

“It would be a bigger task that I have, as all the armed forces and the Police are under my purview. My first duty is to organize the whole operation and coordinate all the forces with the Defence Ministry.”

“I expected to have an intelligence wing under my direct purview and deploy its members especially in the operational areas.”

“Through last few years we were able to gain experiences than other armies in the world. We changed our strategy accordingly to the requirement. I am sure no other armies in the world has such kind of experience — what we have now. Some prominent countries with sophisticated arms were in trouble when they fought foreign countries, so Sri Lanka is a good opportunity to them to learn, if they like.”“Our forces are currently engaged in de-mining activities as well as development work especially in the liberated areas in the north and east and we would continue to do that, as the war is over.”

“But we need more men to man the liberated areas, so we are in the process of recruiting more youths not only to the army but also to other forces as well.”

“Some 500 soldiers from the Indian Army would come down to assist the de-mining operation in the country soon.”

(Daily Mirror)

Read Full Post »