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Archive for July 3rd, 2008

Under these existential realities what meaningful purpose would be served by the LTTE continuing to build its military capabilities? The LTTE was never in a position to militarily establish a separate state territorially comprising the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The LTTE lost control of the Eastern Province twice.

It has lost control of most of Jaffna nearly two decades ago and now is losing control of major portions of the Vanni. If its hope was that a war weary South would some day concede a political arrangement even short of a separate state, it should be convinced by now that such a possibility is unrealistic because of the inability to secure the needed approvals for constitutional change with the People’s referendum serving as the last bastion.

In this background, hoping to pressure the government to abandon the military offensive and focus on evolving political arrangements by using the human rights situation in the country as a weapon is futile because of the disconnect between the human rights situation in the country and the limitations of the constitutional constraints explained above. It is only by neutralizing the impediments that hinder the implementation of current constitutional provisions, however limited, that the government can hope to restore the lives of the Tamil people as it has done in the Eastern Province. This requires the Government to pursue the military option until such time that the LTTE realizes the futility of its current approach. .

Conclusion

The current constitutional provisions are viewed by the Tamil community as inadequate to meet their expectations. Meeting expectations would therefore require a constitutional change. Such a change requires 2/3 approval by Parliament and approval at a national referendum. Since election to Parliament is based on proportional representation no political party can secure an outright majority leave alone a 2/3 majority. Consequently, the majority needed to effect constitutional change would require parties coming together. But, given the rivalry among political parties this is an unlikely prospect. This dynamic prevents Sri Lanka to explore options other than the provisions in the current constitution; a stark reality that has NO bearing on the political will of governments or the lack thereof. This leaves Sri Lanka with NO political options other than the provisions in the current constitution. Therefore, the current constitution HAS TO BE the political solution.

The military dynamic is such that the LTTE is not in a position to militarily establish a separate state. Its commitment to make war backed up with terrorism leaves the Sri Lankan state with NO option other than to accept war. For the LTTE to continue to make war, and especially to continue terror attacks on civilians in the South, have to be in the hope that a war weary South would concede the arrangements it seeks (e.g., the ISGA).

Since such concessions would amount to changes in the constitution, their legitimization would be an insurmountable hurdle.

Under the circumstances, the notion that military capability is what assures “balance of power” when it comes to negotiating political arrangements has no place in the particular dynamic that exists in Sri Lanka. In this particular dynamic, while retaining the LTTE’s military capabilities would cast doubt as to the seriousness of its commitment to a ceasefire, decommissioning weapons of war would demonstrate its commitment to peace. Either action would not in any way alter the limits of the political options. Therefore, the level of military capability of the LTTE would in the end not enable the LTTE to pursue expansive arrangements because what is politically possible cannot go beyond what currently exists.

It appears that Minister Devananda apprised the high powered team from India of the political dynamics involved. As for the military dynamic, the team must be already aware of what is at stake. What is needed is for the Sri Lankan government to engage in a concerted campaign to explain to the International Community the dynamics involved. It is such a campaign that would enable the Government to project itself as one that is seeking to sufficiently weaken the LTTE without which what is politically possible cannot be implemented. In the absence of a clear explanation, the Sri Lankan government is seen as one that seeks war without a political objective.

The International Community needs to understand that the political solution is what currently exists and that the military objective is to create the conditions that would make possible the implementation of the only political solution available, as was done in the Eastern Province. This, in short, is the only possible agenda and it needs to be explained over and over with clarity to the world community.

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Under these existential realities what meaningful purpose would be served by the LTTE continuing to build its military capabilities? The LTTE was never in a position to militarily establish a separate state territorially comprising the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The LTTE lost control of the Eastern Province twice.

It has lost control of most of Jaffna nearly two decades ago and now is losing control of major portions of the Vanni. If its hope was that a war weary South would some day concede a political arrangement even short of a separate state, it should be convinced by now that such a possibility is unrealistic because of the inability to secure the needed approvals for constitutional change with the People’s referendum serving as the last bastion.

In this background, hoping to pressure the government to abandon the military offensive and focus on evolving political arrangements by using the human rights situation in the country as a weapon is futile because of the disconnect between the human rights situation in the country and the limitations of the constitutional constraints explained above. It is only by neutralizing the impediments that hinder the implementation of current constitutional provisions, however limited, that the government can hope to restore the lives of the Tamil people as it has done in the Eastern Province. This requires the Government to pursue the military option until such time that the LTTE realizes the futility of its current approach. .

Conclusion

The current constitutional provisions are viewed by the Tamil community as inadequate to meet their expectations. Meeting expectations would therefore require a constitutional change. Such a change requires 2/3 approval by Parliament and approval at a national referendum. Since election to Parliament is based on proportional representation no political party can secure an outright majority leave alone a 2/3 majority. Consequently, the majority needed to effect constitutional change would require parties coming together. But, given the rivalry among political parties this is an unlikely prospect. This dynamic prevents Sri Lanka to explore options other than the provisions in the current constitution; a stark reality that has NO bearing on the political will of governments or the lack thereof. This leaves Sri Lanka with NO political options other than the provisions in the current constitution. Therefore, the current constitution HAS TO BE the political solution.

The military dynamic is such that the LTTE is not in a position to militarily establish a separate state. Its commitment to make war backed up with terrorism leaves the Sri Lankan state with NO option other than to accept war. For the LTTE to continue to make war, and especially to continue terror attacks on civilians in the South, have to be in the hope that a war weary South would concede the arrangements it seeks (e.g., the ISGA).

Since such concessions would amount to changes in the constitution, their legitimization would be an insurmountable hurdle.

Under the circumstances, the notion that military capability is what assures “balance of power” when it comes to negotiating political arrangements has no place in the particular dynamic that exists in Sri Lanka. In this particular dynamic, while retaining the LTTE’s military capabilities would cast doubt as to the seriousness of its commitment to a ceasefire, decommissioning weapons of war would demonstrate its commitment to peace. Either action would not in any way alter the limits of the political options. Therefore, the level of military capability of the LTTE would in the end not enable the LTTE to pursue expansive arrangements because what is politically possible cannot go beyond what currently exists.

It appears that Minister Devananda apprised the high powered team from India of the political dynamics involved. As for the military dynamic, the team must be already aware of what is at stake. What is needed is for the Sri Lankan government to engage in a concerted campaign to explain to the International Community the dynamics involved. It is such a campaign that would enable the Government to project itself as one that is seeking to sufficiently weaken the LTTE without which what is politically possible cannot be implemented. In the absence of a clear explanation, the Sri Lankan government is seen as one that seeks war without a political objective.

The International Community needs to understand that the political solution is what currently exists and that the military objective is to create the conditions that would make possible the implementation of the only political solution available, as was done in the Eastern Province. This, in short, is the only possible agenda and it needs to be explained over and over with clarity to the world community.

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Under these existential realities what meaningful purpose would be served by the LTTE continuing to build its military capabilities? The LTTE was never in a position to militarily establish a separate state territorially comprising the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The LTTE lost control of the Eastern Province twice.

It has lost control of most of Jaffna nearly two decades ago and now is losing control of major portions of the Vanni. If its hope was that a war weary South would some day concede a political arrangement even short of a separate state, it should be convinced by now that such a possibility is unrealistic because of the inability to secure the needed approvals for constitutional change with the People’s referendum serving as the last bastion.

In this background, hoping to pressure the government to abandon the military offensive and focus on evolving political arrangements by using the human rights situation in the country as a weapon is futile because of the disconnect between the human rights situation in the country and the limitations of the constitutional constraints explained above. It is only by neutralizing the impediments that hinder the implementation of current constitutional provisions, however limited, that the government can hope to restore the lives of the Tamil people as it has done in the Eastern Province. This requires the Government to pursue the military option until such time that the LTTE realizes the futility of its current approach. .

Conclusion

The current constitutional provisions are viewed by the Tamil community as inadequate to meet their expectations. Meeting expectations would therefore require a constitutional change. Such a change requires 2/3 approval by Parliament and approval at a national referendum. Since election to Parliament is based on proportional representation no political party can secure an outright majority leave alone a 2/3 majority. Consequently, the majority needed to effect constitutional change would require parties coming together. But, given the rivalry among political parties this is an unlikely prospect. This dynamic prevents Sri Lanka to explore options other than the provisions in the current constitution; a stark reality that has NO bearing on the political will of governments or the lack thereof. This leaves Sri Lanka with NO political options other than the provisions in the current constitution. Therefore, the current constitution HAS TO BE the political solution.

The military dynamic is such that the LTTE is not in a position to militarily establish a separate state. Its commitment to make war backed up with terrorism leaves the Sri Lankan state with NO option other than to accept war. For the LTTE to continue to make war, and especially to continue terror attacks on civilians in the South, have to be in the hope that a war weary South would concede the arrangements it seeks (e.g., the ISGA).

Since such concessions would amount to changes in the constitution, their legitimization would be an insurmountable hurdle.

Under the circumstances, the notion that military capability is what assures “balance of power” when it comes to negotiating political arrangements has no place in the particular dynamic that exists in Sri Lanka. In this particular dynamic, while retaining the LTTE’s military capabilities would cast doubt as to the seriousness of its commitment to a ceasefire, decommissioning weapons of war would demonstrate its commitment to peace. Either action would not in any way alter the limits of the political options. Therefore, the level of military capability of the LTTE would in the end not enable the LTTE to pursue expansive arrangements because what is politically possible cannot go beyond what currently exists.

It appears that Minister Devananda apprised the high powered team from India of the political dynamics involved. As for the military dynamic, the team must be already aware of what is at stake. What is needed is for the Sri Lankan government to engage in a concerted campaign to explain to the International Community the dynamics involved. It is such a campaign that would enable the Government to project itself as one that is seeking to sufficiently weaken the LTTE without which what is politically possible cannot be implemented. In the absence of a clear explanation, the Sri Lankan government is seen as one that seeks war without a political objective.

The International Community needs to understand that the political solution is what currently exists and that the military objective is to create the conditions that would make possible the implementation of the only political solution available, as was done in the Eastern Province. This, in short, is the only possible agenda and it needs to be explained over and over with clarity to the world community.

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Fifteen former hardcore LTTE cadres who surrendered to the military a few months ago were released after ˜successfully rehabilitating them at the Army Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centre at Thelippale, Jaffna recently, the defence ministry said.In a statement the ministry said that “the rehabilitated men were received by their happy family members who had been invited by the army.

It also said that the group is a part of the 54 LTTE cadres who surrendered themselves to the army in early March this year. Apart from the re-socialization process, the centre conducts short professional courses on building construction, plumbing, automobile technology, electric wiring, and English language for its inhabitants, he said. The professional course has been conducted with the assistance of the Technical College, in Jaffna.

Padmanadan Vignashwaran a student qualified for university education were also among the men released. Padmanadan said that he would continue his education without further destroying his future for a terror outfit, the statement said.

The ministry said quoting officials, that most of the LTTE cadres undergoing rehabilitation had been forcibly recruited by the terror outfit in their childhood and had not received any formal education. It has been the long used strategy of the LTTE leadership to deprive education to the Tamil youth to make sure they would have no other option than to depend on the terror outfit.

Some of the youth rehabilitated here had killed dozens of armed forces members in claymore attacks as LTTE terrorists. They are now astonished about the kindness they received from the army, whom they had been taught as enemies of their race, the statement said.

(more…)

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The Army yesterday claimed that Vidattaltivu, the last stronghold of the LTTE in the Mannar district and the only supply base on the western coast is under siege, forcing the LTTE to withdraw from the area.

“Troops are some two and half kilometres away from the LTTE coastal stronghold of Vidattaltivu and troops are now putting pressure on the rebel base,” military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.

He said that advancing troops would soon be able to overrun the Tigers’ supply base, which is considered as the last remaining LTTE base that is used for arms supply from the western coast.

He also said that so far the military had captured 148 square kilometres of the Mannar district, where the 58th Division is conducting military operations.

Last Monday, the 58th Division based in Mannar area and the 57th Division in Vavuniya linked up after fierce fighting during the last few days, the spokesman said.

By last weekend, troops had captured the Mannar ‘Rice Bowl’ and adjacent areas. They have so far captured some 12 kms. of the A-32 Mannar- Pooneryn main road along with the Uyilankulam- Adampan and Uyilankulam-Andankulam main roads, that are considered to be LTTE’s main supply routes from the North.

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The plight of the security forces personnel deployed in the so-called cleared east does not augur well despite the government rhetoric. Of late the deployed personnel appear to be under the threat of being attacked by unidentified gunmen or fall victim to claymore mines.

The attacks on the police and the security forces have witnessed a gradual increase, especially after the May provincial council polls in the east.

The provincial council election was held amidst mountainous expectations among the people in the area, who wanted a democratic change after living in an area that suffered from military confrontations, the tsunami and floods. The first provincial poll hence brought in much hope. Specially considering the fact that this was also to be the first time that the east was to have a separate provincial body, though the PC system was established some 21 years ago following the introduction of the 13th Amendment.

Boastful claims

Government officials including the President have boastfully claimed what a political success it was to hold polls in the east soon after liberating the province from the Tigers.

Civilians, who hoped that the new chief minister would address their immediate issues, would not have expected further problems due to the confusion over his appointment.

One tends to wonder whether the problems of the people have been addressed properly by those who have gained power after the polls.

The killings, the abductions and extortions still continue in the east, though low when compared with the previous record of sheer lawlessness. However, the fear among the people continued even last week when T. Sureshkumar was abducted from Batticaloa.

According to the TMVP, the party that holds political power in the province since May, the abducted person had been killed and the authorities are still looking for his body.

Most of these attacks have been carried out in Batticaloa itself, considered the TMVP hub and its Leader Pillayan’s pocket borough.

Though the party is present in all three districts, its stronghold is Batticaloa. That seems to be the reason that more eyebrows are being raised about the breakdown of law and order in Batticaloa itself.

Talk of the town

The Eastern Province was the talk of the town not very long ago due to the progress it had made after being liberated from the Tigers, and once again, it was Batticaloa that was showcased.

The talk however was not encouraging following controversies with regard to the appointment of the chief minister. Things almost got out of hand when the Tamils and Muslims threw stones at each other and waited at the border of their villages in Kathankudi, armed with knives and sticks.

At least six civilians, both Muslims and Tamils, were killed and several others were injured due to the clashes, which resulted in the movements between the Tamil and Muslim villages coming to a standstill for some time.

Things however have since cooled down and some sort of normalcy seems to have returned.

The attacks have now shifted towards the security forces and the police who are deployed in the east to beef up security due to threats by the common enemy, the LTTE. The attacks on the policemen continued at least till June 23. Three police officers were killed when they had gone for a bath in a brook in Batticaloa that day.

Policemen killed

According to Military Spokesperson Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, 14 policemen have been killed in the east since the provincial council elections were held on May 10.

According to the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), 13 policemen had been killed since the elections.

If one goes by the statistics given by the military, at least two policemen have been killed each week after the polls.

These attacks on the security forces and the police create a doubt as to whether security has been restored in the region after the Tigers were chased out.

More confusion arises due the fact that there is more than one party carrying arms openly.

The TMVP last week stated that the EPDP also had its armed groups mainly in Chenkaladi. The allegation was flatly denied by the EPDP, which said it solely depended on the protection given to them by the police, who are now under attack.

With two groups belonging to the same government trading charges against each other, the confusion becomes confounded for the civilians living in the area.

During the election, several organisations and election monitors stated that there could be a third armed group in the east carrying out attacks targeting the TMVP members.

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) stated that the presence of a third armed group other than the military and the Pillayan Group was evident due to the fact that attacks were carried out against the TMVP.

LTTE threats

Despite the government’s claim that the east has been liberated from the clutches of the LTTE, the TMVP continues to claim that the party is still facing threats from the LTTE.

TMVP’s Azath Moulana speaking to The Sunday Leader said that security forces and the police have been targeted regularly, lately.

The attacks have been blamed on groups affiliated to the LTTE, which is not unusual. According to Moulana, the LTTE’s intelligence could be starting to function considering the recent attacks on the security forces. The attacks are carried out by those who are in touch with the LTTE, according to Moulana.

“The LTTE could be in touch with their agents or friends, though whom they carry out these attacks,” he said.

He had earlier said that both, the intelligence wing and the military wing of the LTTE had been destroyed in the east. There was also speculation that the LTTE could have infiltrated into the Eastern Province.

While the TMVP denied such possibility, Brigadier Nanayakkara stated that it was possible that a small number of LTTE cadres could have come into the eastern region.

Infiltrated

“It is possible that the LTTE could have infiltrated into the region. This is a transition period where democracy has just been restored. However,  security has been intensified in order to protect the civilians. The security forces are also on the alert,” he said.

Even some political parties speculated that a faction of the LTTE could have entered the east during the volatile situation which prevailed soon after the polls in the region.

SLMC General Secretary Hassen Ali said though the situation was calm as far as the clashes between the Tamils and the Muslims were concerned, the attacks on police and security personnel were continuing at a steady pace. He also said that there could be a possibility that the LTTE might have infiltrated the eastern region.

“It cannot be confirmed whether the LTTE has infiltrated. But, it is possible,” he said.

CM blamed

Most of the blame for this situation has been put on the newly appointed Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan.

The clashes between the Tamils and Muslims in Kathankudi were also said to have been triggered by those who did not want Pillayan as their chief minister.

Moulana defended the Chief Minister, stating that the situation in Kathankudi was brought under control due to the timely actions of Chandrakanthan.

Chandrakanthan had several meetings with the mosque federation and with his rival M.L.A.M. Hizbullah in bringing the clashes to an end, Moulana said.

A special committee has also been appointed to ensure brotherhood between the two communities.

Moulana added the CM has also taken steps to ensure that civilians are not targeted by the small number of LTTE supporters and activists who are present in the east.

The TMVP cadres (political) were targeted by armed groups, suspected to be from the LTTE during the pre-election period. The fact that no policemen were killed in the east since June 23 till last Thursday provides some sort of relief. The lull in attacks on the police and the security forces does not in any way mean that they could afford to relax, and the security forces know it very well.

“The security forces are always on the alert. At the same time, we are also on the lookout for any danger,” Moulana said.

At the same time, the military is faced with another problem in identifying the actual culprits who carry out the attacks on the police. This issue, although not a major problem, could create further complications when assessing the security in the area.

Similar in appearance

The military added that their work was difficult, as the LTTE and the TMVP cadres were similar in appearance and therefore difficult to identify.

“The military gets confused with the LTTE and the TMVP,” Brigadier Nanayakkara added.

The body language and the dress code (not the military uniform) of both these organisations are similar, if not, the same. One should not forget that Pillayan and his men were on Pirapaharan’s side and fought against the military barely four years ago.

Today, the TMVP seeks protection due to threats from Pirapaharan’s men from the very forces who they fought against.

Even the presence of the LTTE in the north is a threat to the TMVP, according to Moulana. He further stated that those who wanted to create tension among the people would strike at any time. Security has been beefed up in the east, especially in the Batticaloa District following the attacks on police officers.

When looking at the current situation and the incidents in the east, one finds it very hard to believe that democracy has been restored.

The situation has come to a state where those who provide security are unable to ensure their own security.

Insecure

The security situation in the east is such that policemen who go for a bath have to search the area for possible attackers.

The security of the civilians can only be ensured if the security of the police officers and the security forces is ensured. These attacks are carried out mostly when the police and the security forces least expect them to happen, and not when there is a confrontation.

Civil forces in the north regularly claimed responsibility for attacks on military convoys soon after the presidential election in 2005, where military personnel were targeted.

Claymore attacks were carried out on military convoys and grenades were thrown at police stations in the government-controlled Jaffna barely one month after Mahinda Rajapakse was elected as the President.

The situation in the east also looks to be heading in the same direction ever since Pillayan took over as Chief Minister.

Date            District         Killed

May 11        Batticaloa         1

May 16        Batticaloa         1

May 20        Batticaloa         1

June 5         Batticaloa         2

June 15       Batticaloa         2

June 19       Kalmunai          2

June 22       Batticaloa         1

June 23       Batticaloa         3

(The Sunday Leader)

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Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has emphasised the paramount need for Sri Lanka to adopt a national strategy for maritime security, given her geo-strategic location in the Indian Ocean straddling the vital sea route linking the Orient and the West.

He made this observation at a meeting held at the Foreign Ministry on June 27, when a Concept Paper on “National Strategy for Maritime Security of Sri Lanka” was presented to him.

The in-depth study and analysis on this subject was commissioned by the Minister and conducted by a committee appointed by him under the auspices of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS).

Minister Bogollagama highlighted the increasing importance of maritime security and maritime related activities, particularly to an island nation such as Sri Lanka. He further stated that after addressing the Shangri-La Summit in Singapore in June 2007 on regional maritime security, he became convinced of the urgent need to conduct an in-depth study on this subject.

The Foreign Minister said that Sri Lanka could play a crucial role in this area, since a significant percentage of maritime traffic movement takes place in the southern sea of the country. It is stated that almost 90 per cent of cargo and material are transported by sea in the world and this clearly reflects the indispensable need to secure this vital mode of transport.

Maritime security can significantly enhance commercial and economic opportunities as well. The proposed off-shore oil and gas exploration would be facilitated by having a maritime security plan in place.

Minister Bogollagama said that since satellite communication is a key element in maritime security, Sri Lanka could benefit from such facilities not only in this field but also in the spheres of economic and commercial activity and education.

The concept paper on maritime security, which was the first such comprehension study conducted in Sri Lanka, covered a wide range of aspects of maritime security.

Having researched and identified the threats, objectives and the strategic plan of action, the paper has suggested that Sri Lanka should formulate a well defined national maritime security strategy for the protection of marine resources from unlawful exploitation, prevention of damage or harm to vital assets from acts of subversion, terrorism or sabotage.

The Committee has proposed a number of plans including maritime domain awareness, maritime intelligence integration, an integrated maritime threat response, a regional and global co-ordinated strategy, maritime infrastructure recovery, maritime transportation and commercial security.

The paper has also proposed the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Council at national level and a National Maritime Co-ordinating Authority through the enactment of legislation, where the Ministry of Defence would play a leading role in conjunction with civilian agencies.

The establishment of a Net-Centric Communication Network linking the various units, has also been suggested, which would facilitate real time information, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The Foreign Minister said that today, terrorism which has become an omnipresent threat, poses many challenges to nations in various forms, including through the trade of illicit arms and narcotics as well as human smuggling. He said that action would be taken shortly to present the concept paper to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for consideration.

The Committee which undertook the study comprised Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, Chief of Defence Staff, C.A.N. Perera, Executive Director of LKIIRSS, Brigadier (Retired) Vipul Boteju, Deputy Director of LKIIRSS, Major General (Retired) Kamal Fernando, Communications Consultant, Rear Admiral (Retired) Terence Sundaram, Maritime Affairs Advisor, SLPA, Rear Admiral (Retired) D.K. Dassanayake and Dr. Hiran Jayewardene, Secretary General Indian Ocean Marine Affairs Co-operation (IOMAC).

(Daily News)

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