Archive for October, 2007
by Ranjit Emerson
As I read the article and the comments, I am left with an impression, we are just exercising racialism and shallow thinking. Whether we are Sinhalese or Tamils, we are all Srilankans. What we have lost is not 21 black tigers and 14 airforce personnel, but 35 Srilankans, our national wealth. The forefathers of this nation built this country to provide free education and health systems to those fallen heros. Every person that is killed is lost of national wealth.
All those damages that were done were not the property of the political leaders, but it is the property of all Srilankans. We have lost lives, we have lost properties. Like in the Philippines during Marcos’ time, every citizen of SL must rise against, the political leaders, who fail to bring peace to this beautiful country. Our Srilankans can rise up and dispose leaders who can not rule this nation without peace. We see now political leaders are not afraid to practice nepotism, and accumulate wealth for them. They are in a safe secured place, while the farmers’ children, and sons & daughters of humble families are sacrificing the their lives because of poverty.
The Srilankan army could have crippled the military uprising of the Tamils, in the beginning, if they did not terrorise the Tamils both in the North and East. It is because of the intimidation of the Srilankan army and arresting innocent Tamil school going children separated Tamils of the North and East from them. It is at this junction, LTTE became the sole protector of the victimized Tamils. When the atrocities increased against the Tamils of the North and East by the government forces, the innocent Tamil civilians became defend less people. They became vulnerable to continuous violence performed by the government forces.
When LTTE came and offered protection, naturally, they began to support LTTE. In other words, LTTE earned the support of the Tamils by protecting them. So it is the poor politics and governance of South political leaders gave birth to LTTE. It is very imprudent to think that militarism can obliterate LTTE. But it is actually creating more LTTEs than before.
Further more, the grievances of Tamil people in Sri Lanka has been categorized as terrorism. Some Western World leaders have voiced this misinterpretation in their political platform. Instead of analysing our country’s present situation, our political leaders have rather condemned such opinions of the Western World and determined to carry on their own thinking, which only profits them and not the people of Sri Lanka. As a result, we are struggling politically, economically and psychologically. This war has created many single parents, fatherless children, and cripples (physically) society.
Tamils are Srilankans. They are part of Sri Lanka’s wealth. The cardinal priority of our nation is to solve our minorities’ issues to accomplish peace. This can’t be achieved through militarism because violence begets only violence–this is a universal fact. By using militarism, we are only suppressing one of the symptoms of the Tamils’ infringements, but not the core problem. So dialogue is only healthy paradigm to achieve peace. If we fail to implement this dialogue now, it will be extremely impossible to achieve peace in the future. If our leaders fail to dialogue now, we will make our country like Sudan or Somalia. We were once called the Paradise of the East, now we are become the ‘Hades of the East.’
Editor’s Note: Written by Ranjit Emerson, as reader’s comment for the article, Anatomy of Tiger Assault on Anuradhapura Air Force Base
October 29th, 2007
by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
There are two sayings in Tamil about the four – legged tiger or “puli” . One is “Puli pathunguvathu paaivathatku” (The tiger crouches only to pounce).
The other is “Puli pasithaalum pullai thinnaathu” (Even if hungry tigers do not eat grass).
The essence of this proverbial wisdom can be applied to the two – legged tigers too. Past history of The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) demonstrates that.
If the LTTE is unusually quiet for a while people suspect that the tigers are plotting a surprise operation. A sudden strike is imminent it is felt. Likewise however much the tigers are hard – pressed the LTTE does not give up or change its policies easily.
It is against this backdrop that last week’s audacious assault by the LTTE on the Sri Lanka Air Force base at Anuradhapura needs to be viewed.
Recent events led to an impression that the LTTE was on the decline . Aggressive propaganda by the Rajapakse regime contributed greatly to this opinon being moulded.
The tigers had lost the East completely; they gave up Mannar South without a fight;they were hard – pressed on multiple fronts in the North having to face limited millitary offensives continuously;tiger controlled areas were being regularly bombed and shelled and claims were being made that LTTE targets were severely hit ; Colombo and other areas in the South were quiet and memory of past tiger operations were waning; coordinated action by several western governments against key tiger activists was constricting fund raising abroad ; successful strikes by the navy against LTTE ships were being regularly reported.
In such a situation the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GOSL) boasts that the tigers were on their last legs found many believers.Some observers of the LTTE – including this writer – found it difficult to accept this dominant line of thought. The tigers were down but certainly not out they stated. It was only a matter of time before the LTTE launched a counter – offensive or counter – strike they felt.
This prediction came true on Monday October 22nd!
Twenty – One black tiger commandoes engaged in a nocturnal assault on the Air Force base at Saliyapura, Anuradhapura. They dominated the base for nearly eight hours and destroyed several aircraft. In what was described as a co-ordinated land and air attack two planes of the LTTE’s nascent air force dropped bombs too. 14 security forces and all 21 tigers were killed.The greatest casualty was the image propagated by the GOSL that the LTTE was a spent force!
The tigers are engaged in asymmetrical warfare against the GOSL security forces. The LTTE is at a disadvantage vis a vis the GOSL in manpower, airpower, seapower, firepower, armour power etc. Given this imbalance the tigers would prefer to fight a defensive war rather than go on the offensive. What is important for the LTTE is the retention of some territory at least as a “rear “base. But the security forces are knocking at the gates. So the tigers need to conduct some guerilla strikes at least and reduce the military threat.
With this overall objective in mind , LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakharan , has set in motion plans for many military projects. Preparations were – and are – on for several guerilla operations. One such strike was “Operation Ellalan” named after the Tamil monarch who reigned in Anuradhapura for 44 years .
A group of twenty – five “black tigers” were given specialised training for the “operation Ellalan” project for nearly six months. The squad studied maps and models of the Saliyapura Air base without being told it was at Anuradhapura. Elaborate reconnaissance missions known as “recce” had gone on for more than a year. Information and knowledge had been carefully gathered, processed, checked and confirmed.Attack motions were carefully rehearsed and simulation exercises conducted.
This team of black tigers was put together from different branches of the LTTE. They had all volunteered to become “Karumpuligal” (panthers) or suicide cadres. After being selected for a specific mission the black tigers are given specific training required for the particular mission. The “Ellalan operation” cadres got training at a secret location of the Lt. Col Rayan academy for tiger special forces. The project co-ordinator was a senior leader whose nom de guerre is Kalaikone.
21 of the 25 were picked as the final team after training was over. Tiger leader Prabakharan met the team for a meal in the second week of October. He posed for photos with the cadres destined for death. The photos are released after the operation is over. Usually LTTE cadres are promoted post- humously.
But in a departure from this practice black tigers are told of their posthumous promotions and given their new ranks while alive. This may be a method to enthuse cadres and attract more volunteers for the black tigers.
The pseudonyms, real names, new ranks and their districts of origin are stated below:
Lt. Col. Veeman (K. Pratheepan) from Trincomalee , Captain Panchaseelan (S.Kajendran) from Batticaloa ,Major Kanikkeethan (R. Kandasamy) from Batticaloa ,Lt. Col. Ilangko (R. Paheerathan) from Jaffna ,Major Mathivathanan (B. Thayaaseelan) from Jaffna ,Captain Puradchi (S. Thanushan) from Jaffna ,Major Supan (K. Jeevakanthan) from Jaffna , Major Ilampuli (T. Kalairaj) from Jaffna , Captain Pukazhmani (T. Puvaneasvaran) from Jaffna ,Captain Eezhaththeavan (T. Moasikaran) from Jaffna ,Major Ezhilinpan (V. Pirapaharan) from Jaffna ,Captain Pulimannan (K. Nanthakumar) from Jaffna , Captain Senthooran (K. Thinesh) from Jaffna , Lt. Arun (P. Thivaakaran) from Jaffna ,Captain Eezhappiriya (K. Keethanchali) from Jaffna , Capatain Arivumalar (S. Uthaya) from Jaffna ,Captain Tharmini (K. Nirmala) from Ki’linochchi ,Major Kaavalan (S. Saththiyan) from Ki’linochchi ,Captain Karuveanthan (M. Satheeskumaar) from Ki’linochchi , Captain Anpukkathir (V. Thileepkumar) from Mullaiththeevu and Captain Subesan (N. Maharaj) from Mannaar .
The mission commander was Paheerathan alias Ilango. His deputy was Pratheepan alias Veeman. Three of the squad were girls. Thirteen of the team were from Jaffna, three from Kilinochchi, two from Batticaloa and one each from Trincomalee, Mannar and Mullaitheevu districts. The senior most cadre was the squad’s commander Lt. Col Ilango who was 26 years old. He had joined the LTTE in 1995 and had participated in more than a dozen major battles including those of “Jayasikurui”. The junior was 17 year old Lt. Arun who was recruited in early 2006.
The black tiger team was asked to write letters to their loved ones on October 9th. These letters would be given to family members only after the operation was over. When family members read the “last” letters the person who wrote that epistle would not be among the living. The families would not have prior knowledge that their loved one had embarked on a black tiger mission.
Once D- day was finalised the black tigers would start off on their secret mission. Usually they would be accompanied and even guided by the intelligence wing members up to a point. Those involved in reconnaissance would take them to their destination and lodge them in “safehouses” for a while. They would have travelled lightly and would receive supplies and be given their arsenal shortly before H- hour.
It is believed that the “Operation Ellalan” squad travelled through jungle areas of Mannar – Wilpattu – Tantrimale -Anuradhapura etc to reach their target destination. Kajendran alias Panchaseelan was reportedly responsible for guiding his colleagues through jungle routes . Apparently he had travelled those routes earlier as preparation. Omanthai the norther province entry – exit point between GOSL and LTTE areas is about 60 km away from Anuuradhapura. The Saliyapura Air Force base is about 4 km from Anuradhapura city.
It is not clear as to where the tigers stayed in Anuradhapura prior to the attack. It is suspected that they used the grand “Gajaba Cross” motor show to mingle with nearly 100, 000 spectators who converged in Anuradhapura on Sunday October 21st. They had then allegedly proceeded from the Pillaiyar junction towards Nuwarawewa and reportedly walked by the tank bund. It is suspected that the black tigers hid themselves in a patch of shrub jungle bordering a small coconut grove before zooming on to their target.
It was around 2. 20 – 30 am in the early hours of Monday morning that the tiger squad crossed the Nelumkulama road and arrived at the North – Eastern side of the base.There is a three – tiered barbed wire fence. The outer and inner wires are quite thick while the thinner middle wire is electrified. The tigers cut through all three and entered without being electrocuted.. Apparently the power supply to the electric fence had been turned off earlier. Why this happened remains a suspicious mystery!
There was also a system of sound mines installed alongside the paths and also at strategic points. The tigers however seemed to know everything and swiftly de- commissioned them. Expansion work was on at the runway and mounds of earth and sand were heaped at a particular spot. The squad took cover behind those mounds and also moved their arsenal there. This spot became their field headquarters.
This arsenal consisted of T-56 ’s, Rocket propelled grenade launchers. Light Anti – tank weapons. multi – purpose machine guns, light machine guns, handgrenades etc. There was also a communications wireless operated by Thayalaseelan alias Mathivathanan. The black tigers used cellular phones to communicate among themselves during the operation.
The Anuradhapura air base is strategically important for a number of reasons. The biggest pilot training school is set up there. The aerial surveillance headquarters is also there.The base is home to the first flying training wing squadron; the sixth and seventh transport and training helicopter squadrons;the ninth attack helicopter squadron, the 11th UAV “drone” squadron and the 14th aerial surveillance squadron.
Several types of aircraft like the Beechcraft 200, RQ – 2 pioneer and IAI Scout Unmanned Aerial vehicles are kept here. These are used for Reconnaissance and maritime patrol; Mi 24 and Mi 35 “Hind” attack helicopters as well as Mi 17 and Bell 206 helicopters used for transport,training and logistic support are also stationed here. There also K – 8 Karakorum, Cessna 150 and Nanchang CJ6 primary training aircraft (PT6).
After the LTTE’s airwing sprouted wings the Anuradhapura air base gained greater importance. An elaborate radar system capable of monitoring the Northern skies and north – eastern seas has been installed. The Beechcraft is also of great utility value being capable of staying in the skies for marathon hours to monitor the seas. The Navy has benefited immensely. Anuradhapura base was the aerial surveillance headquarters apart from providing basic pilot training and also limited advanced training. It was also logistically important to ferry men and materials to and from the Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli – Oya/Manalaaru battlefronts.
With these strategic objectives in mind the tigers got to work. Zero hour was 3 am. The LTTE broke up into two main teams and began operations. Though the overall commander was Illango he headed a 7 member team. The second in command Veeman led a 14 member team. Both teams broke into smaller groups to implement specific duties.
The top priority was to mop up the four sentry points and two guard posts. This was done quickly. Thereafter the radar surveillance unit was seized and neutralised. The communications room was also knocked out.The other objective was to seize control of the air defence system and artillery units. Two 40 mm ,two 23mm artillery guns were seized . The 12.7 m anti aircraft guns were also taken. In 20 minutes the artillery and anti – aircraft guns , radars, communications and guard posts – sentry points were all taken over.
By this time sleeping airforce personnel were alarmed and began retaliating. There had been heavy partying on Sunday night due to the Gajaba cross motoring event and also because base commandant , Group captain Priyantha Gunasinghe was on the eve of retirement. Another diversion was the “Sri Laka Idol” program on Sirasa TV. Still airmen began responding bravely.
LTTE snipers climbed trees and began sniping at the elevated watchtower and command and control tower Flight Lt. Ruwan Kumara Wijeratna was killed near the tower. An Armoured Personnel carrier moved in blazing. A tiger cadre fired an anti – tank weapon at point blank range hitting the gunner and damaging the APC.
The three girls Eezhapriya, Arivumalar and Tharmini were trained in artillery. They took over the big guns and began firing them. Eehapriya apparently was a gunner of great ability. A tiger trio set up cut – out points at key positions and engaged in covering fire. Two tiger formations began to move into the hangars and destroy the helicopters , fixed wing aircraft and also the UAV drones. At least eight aircraft were totally demolished. Another nine were extensively damaged. Ten other aircraft damaged partially are in working condition.
Meanwhile the LTTE “control” in the Wanni was regularly informed of developments. Once it became known that the radars were knocked out and air defence system neutralised ,two small planes of the LTTE’s fledgling air wing started out from the Wanni. The airforce personnel saw the planes as they came close but were helpless as the anti – aircraft gun could not be used. The aircraft too could not be flown.
At this point of time A’pura base commandant informed Vavuniya commander Maj – Gen Upali Edirisinghe of the situation and tiger planes. Two Bell 212 helicopters set out from Vavuniya but friendly fire from a military camp in Mihintale hit one copter which crashed down at Doramadalawa about 11 km away from the Saliyapura airbase. All four crew were killed. The other copter turned back.
LTTE planes flew in and dropped two bombs each. One fell near the airbase hangar. The other three were dropped around the nearby army camp housing Gajaba regiment troops. One fell on a billet. One fell on the parapet wall surrounding a school and one fell on a field killing about 12 buffaloes. The idea apparently was to target the army camp and prevent soldiers coming to the aid of the airmen.
But the soldiers upon hearing of the tiger attack had set out from camp but were unable to do much because of the night’s darkness. They could not fire indiscriminately for fear of hitting the airmen. But the soldiers took up positions in the general area outside the camp and virtually surrounded it.
The bombing by tiger planes did not make any significant contribution to the assault on the air base apart from deterring troop movement for some time. Its symbolic effect however was immense. Taking possession of an air base. neutralising anti – aircraft guns and then bringing two planes to drop bombs over the very same base is well and truly an exercise of audacity.
The LTTE was showing that their nascent air force was still active and that the Sri Lankan security forces were incapable of restricting its movements in spite of boastful claims. The Lankan air force base was attacked by the Tamil Eelam air force was the message sought to be conveyed. Most media reports refer to the assault as a Land and Air co-ordinated attack. There was also confusion that the air attack preceded the ground attack.
A handful of tiger guerillas not only caused much destruction but also fought resolutely for nearly eight hours in the midst of the base. Two Gajaba special force contingents led by Major Chandimal Peiris and Capt Kosala Munasinghe arrived at daybreak at the base. Once the SF got into action the tide began to turn against the tigers.
The black tiger operational leader Lt. Col Ilango succumbed to injuries and died at 8. 30 am. At about 9 am Maj. Mathivathanan was killed. With that communication between the Wanni and combat zone ended. The fighting began subsiding gradually and finally ended at about 11. 30 am. Six tigers including the No two Lt. Col Veeman blew themselves up at the end. The Airbase was cleared of tigers who were in action for nearly eight hours. All 21 black tigers courted death as destined.
Wing Commander Amila Mohotti, Squadron Leader Ruwan Wijeratne, Flight Lieutenant A.B.M.Silva, Flying Officer S.R.Siyambalapitiya, Warrant Officer KPS Dayaratne, Corporal M.P.W. Deegalla, Corporal W.M.Warnakulasuriya, Corporal .M.W.Dissanayake, Corporal E.P.N. Dayaratne, Corporal Preethikumara, Lance Corporal H.E.N.D.Fernando, Lance Corporal Gunawardane of the Air Force and Lance Corporal R.J.S. Ratnayake of Gajaba Regiment of the Army paid the supreme sacrifice during the incident.
[Members of Sri Lanka's Air Force march at a funeral procession of wing commander Amila Mohotti in Kurunagala, north central Sri Lanka, October 26, 2007 - Reuters Via Yahoo! News Pic: Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi]
Four of them died in a helicopter crash when it was rushing to help fighting troops at the base. One more Airman of the Air Force, Sergeant Asvedduma breathed his last late monday (22) night while being treated at Anuradhapura hospital after he was admitted with severe injuries. Accordingly, fourteen brave men of the Armed Forces perished as a result of the incident. A total of twenty two members of the Armed Forces are still receiving treatment in hospitals. About fifty – five are classified as walking wounded.
A large number of aircraft were destroyed or damaged. Peter Foster the Colombo correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph” of London has reported that the Black Tigers destroyed an expensive Beechcraft surveillance plane worth £14 million, two Mi17 helicopters, two Mi24 helicopters, three unmanned aerial vehicles, a K-8 jet and eight trainer aircraft.
The LTTE however says “officially” that only eight aircraft were destroyed. Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan the LTTE defence spokesperson explained this discrepancy to a Tamil journalist by saying that they had lost communication with the attack squad at 9 am. At that time eight was the figure. He said that subsequently more damage was done. It is indeed a strange situation when the LTTE claims a low figure while sections of the media and opposition quote a much higher figure.
The LTTE is exploiting the attack and sacrifice for propaganda purposes. Major Mathivathanan was given a special post-humous promotion and made Lt. Colonel. Ceremonies paying tribute to the twenty one “martyrs” were conducted in many parts of the Wanni. Incidently one of the black tiger bodies was not recovered as it was very badly mangled. The 20 recovered bodies were paraded in a naked state by the Anuradhapura Police and buried.
[LTTE cadres and civilians paying homage to the Black Tigers in Ki'linochchi - Photo: LTTEPS]
Let me conclude by quoting from a recent article on the attack by B. Raman, retired additional cabinet secretary of India. Raman is by no means an acolyte of the LTTE and has often criticised the tigers severely. This is what he had to say:
” Reliable details of the combined air and land attack launched by the LTTE on the Anuradhapura air base of the Sri Lankan Air Force early in the morning of October 22, 2007, indicate that it was neither an act of desperation as projected by the embarrassed Sri Lankan military spokesmen nor an act of needless dramatics as suggested by others. It was an act of unbelievable determination, bravery and precision successfully carried out by a 21-member suicide commando group of the Black Tigers-significantly led by a Tamil from the Eastern Province-with the back-up support of two planes of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force. ”
” Reliable Western sources say that no other terrorist organisation in the world would have been capable of organising such a raid, which had been preceded by painstaking intelligence collection, planning and rehearsal. The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.”
” The successful operation would seem to have been launched by the LTTE in retaliation for the recent operations of the Sri Lankan Navy against the transport ships of the LTTE and the air strikes of the SLAF over LTTE positions in the Northern Province. It once again underlines the LTTE’s reputation as an organisation with a tremendous tenacity of purpose, grit and sophistication in thinking and planning. Its recent set-backs have not weakened its morale. They have only redoubled its determination to keep fighting for its political objective unmindful of the losses in the Eastern Province.
Related: In the Aftermath of the A’Pura Attack
DBS Jeyaraj can be contacted on: email@example.com
October 27th, 2007
by Shanaka Jayasekara
This study will examine the multiple methods of fund generation by terrorist groups and the modalities used by such groups to transfer funds for weapons procurement and logistic support. The operations of the international network of the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will be used as a case study in relation to the topic on terrorist financing.
The study will have two main focus areas namely, methods used by groups such as the LTTE for resource mobilization and the processes by which such funds are moved for procurement activity. The study recognizes that the LTTE has an active domestic fundraising operation, however the focus of this study will be limited to operations of the international network of the LTTE. Within the scope of the first focus area, the study will identify methods of fundraising and assess the progression of such methods in terms of institutionalization and sophistication. The study will expand on this by developing a four-tiered progression typology which reflects the growth and expansion of fundraising methods.
The second part of the study will examine the illusive network of financial nodes and controllers that transfer funds for procurement purposes. The study will also identify the processes of fund transfer used by the LTTE for weapons procurement.
Structure of the LTTE International Network
To examine the overseas fundraising methods of the LTTE, it is necessary to understand the structure of the international network. The LTTE is known to have a presence in over 44 countries. The LTTE has established a structured presence in 12 countries which are considered to be the top-level contributing countries (TLCs) to the LTTE. The LTTE has designated a country representative in each of the 12 countries. The leadership in each country receives instructions all aspects of overseas operations from the LTTE international co-ordination centre in Kilinochchi. In most cases the overseas leadership diseminates its dictates and authority through the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee (TCC) in the respective country.
The country-level structure of the LTTE is staffed mainly by ex-combatants or siblings/relatives of key leaders from the Vanni. The country level structure in most cases tend to have similar divisions of responsibility. Taking Germany as an example, the overall responsibility of LTTE operations is with the country representative Vijeyendran. There are four units operating under the supervision of the country representative. The Political unit is headed by Sivanesan, the political unit has three regional leaders Sri Kandan, Shanmugarajah and Arulnandan. The Finance unit is headed by Koneshwaran, the Procurement unit is headed by Ahilan and the Intelligence unit is headed by Ramesh. The Political unit tends to provide the overt representation of LTTE propaganda, while at the same time setting the stage for active community mobilization to facilitate fundraising activities. The Finance unit is responsible for achieving the collection targets set by Killinochchi for each country. The dynamism of the Finance unit is relative to the sophistication, pattern of investments and the level of institutionalization of fundraising processes in that country. The Procurement unit tends to operate outside the direct supervision of the country representative, but has a parasitic relationship with the LTTE infrastructure in each host country. This study will expand on the operations of the Intelligence unit in host countries in the second part of the paper.
In Switzerland, the LTTE structure mirrors that of Germany in most aspects. Overall responsibility of LTTE operations is with the country representative, Kulam. There are four units under the country representative, the Political unit is headed by Arulsothy, the political unit has three regional leaders, Anbalawannan (Bern), N Kumar (Zurich) Sivaneshan (Fribourg). The Finance unit is headed by Suda. In the last five years collections in Switzerland has topped LTTE collections worldwide. The LTTE in Switzerland also has a Procurement Unit and an Intelligence Unit.
As methods of fundraising are highly diverse, responsibilities tend to transcend between the overt elements of the structure and some parts of the covert element. Furthermore, the sophistication and the level of institutionalization is dependent upon the duration of residence, experienced personnel and the legal regime in the host country.
In an effort to examine and analyses the processes of terrorist fundraising, the study will categorize such fundraising methods into four stages of progression. The categorization will list all known methods of fundraising used by the LTTE. In most cases the LTTE uses a combination of methods relative to the size of the Tamil diaspora and other externalities that influence fundraising activity.
First Generation Fundraising Methods
Collections from Individuals/Business
The first generation methods refer to fundraising approaches used by the LTTE in the formative years of the international network. These methods are closely associated with an unstructured or loosely structured community based activism. A significant component of collections within the first generation category can be identified as collections from Tamil individuals/businesses. It is not possible to establish specific details on total collections but the methods of collection range from personal compulsions, to methods of passive and aggressive coercion and extortion.
Event Based Fundraising
The collections from individuals/businesses are supplemented through event based fundraising. Initially, event based fundraising was ad-hoc and dependent on community motivation. However, a recent phenomenon in event based fundraising is a regimented calendar of fundraising appeals formulated after the leadership of the LTTE international co-ordinating Office was tasked to Veerakathy Manivannam (Castro) and former deputy Sivapalasuntheram Gnanaseelan (Kalaiyalagam). The international office requires the country representatives to report back regularly on action undertaken for each appeal. The calendar of LTTE events and appeals provides a mobilization and motivation factor and also reinforces the dominant role of the LTTE within Tamil diaspora affairs. It also provides a periodic surge in fundraising. The most lucrative event based fundraising is marathon radio shows with a specific appeal. Recently in Sydney, a Burwood based Tamil radio station is alleged to have collected over AUD 100,000 by conducting a marathon radio appeal for a blood bank in Kilinochchi.
Other forms of event based fundraising include commemoration of combatants and military operations, cultural shows, sports events, food festivals and guest speaker events. At the time LTTE peace delegations toured Europe, guest speaker events were held in may European cities. On 26 February 2006, the LTTE in Switzerland organized a dinner for the Tamil business community to meet Tamilselvan, Nadesan and Jayem at Thamilini Restaurant in Zurich, at which donations ranging up to SFR 20,000 were demanded from each businessman.
In the last 18 months, there has been a noticeable increase in the activities of the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO), which seems to be taking the lead role in event based fundraising and mobilizing Tamil youth in keeping with the LTTE agenda. The TYO has an international presence with branches in 09 countries.
Narcotics Trafficking and Criminal Activity
The use of criminal activity as a source of fundraising for the LTTE was widespread during the formative years of the international network. It could be argued that the LTTE engagement in narcotics trade and the ensuing gang violence had a lasting impact on the operational ethos of the LTTE international network. The Tamil gangs infused a culture of violence into the fabric of Tamil diaspora societies.
Tamil gang violence in London escalated to alarming levels during the period 2001-2003. In a short period of two years 13 Tamil gang members were killed in violent and brutal attacks. The first attack took place in Roe Green Park, Kingsbury and followed by reprisal attacks in Lynton Park, Wembley. Thereafter attacks took place in Ilford, East Ham, Tooting and Harrow. As recent as 2004, the Ari Ala gang attacked Tamil youth in Wembley.
A report by the Mackenzie Institute in Canada, describes the use of LTTE shipping fleet based out of Twawate island off the coast of Myanmar to ship narcotics to Tamil gangs in Toronto. After a series of gang related murders the Canadian Police arrested 40 Tamil gang members in Toronto wide raids in October 2001.
The LTTE overseas leadership assumed the Godfather role to the surrogate Tamil gangs, which in turn provided the LTTE network with the necessary enforcement powers to impose its hegemonic authority over the Tamil diaspora. The LTTE infiltrated all community based organizations of the Tamil diaspora through a process of patronage in which LTTE activists took control of such organizations. The LTTE was able to direct activities of all Tamil community organizations to a single agenda dictated by the LTTE overseas leadership. The LTTE international network ensures that any dissenting opinion within the Tamil community is ostracized from community leadership positions.
The LTTE international network has engaged in cross-border contract assignments in which gang members from one country are tasked assignments in another country thereby maintaining anonymity and avoid implicating local gangs.
In addition to involvement in narcotics trafficking, the LTTE international network has provided sponsorship to organized criminal activity such as credit card cloning and human smuggling. Recently the Cambodian government sought the assistance of Interpol to track the head of LTTE procurement operation in Cambodia, Renni Lerin on charges of human smuggling.
Second Generation Fundraising Methods
Use of Front Organizations
The next stage of growth is referred to as the second generation fundraising approaches. Second generation methods are more institutionalized and tend to subvert the domestic legal regimes in the host countries. The LTTE international network established several humanitarian front organizations that successfully engaged in fundraising activities. In most cases these front organizations have a dual function, the organizations engage in humanitarian activity with much publicity and also act as a channel for LTTE fundraising.
The Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) has been identified by the British Charity Commission as an organization which liaises closely with the LTTE. In a British Charity Commission investigation into the activities of TRO (UK) found that TRO liaised with the LTTE in determining where funds could be applied. The British Charity Commission delisted TRO (UK) as a charitable organization on 10 August 2005. Following the delisting in the UK two new organizations were established the, International TRO (ITRO) and Tamil Support Foundation (TSF) to continue similar operations.
The private residence of TRO (US) head, Dr Nagarathnam Ranjithan, was raided by the FBI in August 2006. In Denmark the Public Prosecutor for Serious Economic Crimes is concerned with the activities of TRO (Denmark). The TRO is also linked by association with active members of the LTTE. The International Co-ordinator of the TRO, Dr Jay Maheswaran, represented the LTTE as a senior member of the LTTE delegation at the first round of peace talks in September 2002. The former head of the LTTE international secretariat Lawrence Thilagar functions as the Programme Officer for TRO in Kilinochchi.
An organization of Tamil doctors in the United States with an unsuspecting nomenclature, the International Medical Health Organisation (IMHO) which was formerly known as the Tamil Health Organisation – USA, provides financial and material support to a partner organization known as the Centre for Health Care (CHC) in Kilinochchi. Based on documentation provided by the Norwegian Tamil Health Organisation (NTHO), the organizational structure of the CHC supports 15 Thilleepan Medical Centres (additional 3 under construction) and 4 Mobile Thilleepan Medical Centres. The head of the LTTE Medical Unit, Arun on 3 June 2004 declared that all Thilleepan Medical Centres are part of the LTTE. This is a clear example of funds channeled from overseas front organizations providing direct support to specific units of the LTTE. This capacity building of LTTE infrastructure was in fact commended by Sea Tiger Leader Soosai on 26 September 2007, when he said that LTTE medical units are now capable of treating serious medical injuries.
Documentation published by the Norwegian Tamil Health Organisation (NTHO).
It was reported in November 2005, that an examination of the 2003 financial statement provided by the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee (TCC) in Melbourne to the Victorian Consumer Affairs Department indicated a substantial part of the income was transferred to a front organization in Malaysia for suspected weapons procurement.
Distribution of Tamil DVDs
The LTTE international network is closely associated with the global distribution of Tamil DVDs (Tamil movies) in Europe and Canada. In a statement issued by Eelam Revolutionary Organization (EROS), the main Tamil DVD distribution company Aynagaran International, owned by K. Karunamoorthy formerly of Inuvil in Jaffna is alleged to have close links with the LTTE. Tamil DVDs are distributed through Tamil grocery shops throughout Europe and Canada. The LTTE provides tacit protection against piracy of movies released by selected distributors which is a mutually beneficial business arrangement for both the distributor and the LTTE.
Return on Investments – Business Ventures
The LTTE is known to own and operate business enterprises in Europe, Canada and South East Asia. In most cases the Finance units in host countries provide seed-capital to close associates of the leadership. The use of a third-party and engagement in legitimate business activity provides opportunities for money laundering, employment for activists and interaction with the community. In Cambodia the Raani Café employed over 8 LTTE procurement unit members. It is suspected that Thamilini Restaurant in Zurich, Makkal Kadai Supermarket in Paris, Ashley Cash & Carry in Harrow, Thamilini Cash & Carry in Southall are a few business ventures supported by LTTE assets.
Mother Tongue Schools
In some of the Scandinavian countries, the LTTE has made significant investments in Mother Tongue Schools (Tamil Cholai Schools). In Denmark, the TCC operates 28 Mother Tongue Schools. In fact the head of TCC in Denmark Arul Thilainadarasa was elected to the Herning City Council which provided funding for several of these Mother Tongue Schools.
Informal Remittance Systems
The LTTE has developed a robust informal remittance system referred to as the “Undi” system (Hawala). The Tamil diaspora can transfer money to relatives in Sri Lanka living in areas not adequately serviced by the banking system. The Undi system is controlled by a small cartel of Tamil Jewellery shop owners (goldsmith) in Switzerland and Canada.
A significant component of money transactions within the Undi system facilitates the falsely-declared import of gold jewellery into Europe from the Gold Market in Singapore for the jewellery market. The LTTE Finance unit in Switzerland has been actively facilitating the money transfer using human couriers between Switzerland and Singapore. In many of the cases jewellery shops owners in Switzerland provide a combined pool of funds to the LTTE for the purchase of gold jewellery from Singapore. The LTTE operatives will send human couriers with cash, who will also carry LTTE money intended for LTTE holding accounts in South East Asia. The couriers will return to Switzerland with receipts that have significantly overvalued the gold jewerelly purchased in Singapore, in some cases craftsmanship value-addition has been five times the value of the gold component.
In February 2007, several LTTE human couriers encountered difficulties in Singapore. An active member of the LTTE Finance unit in Bern, Ratnavel Sashidaran rushed to Singapore and was arrested by Singapore Police on 22 February 2007. The Singapore authorities decided to deport Sashidaran back to Switzerland without charge. In September 2007, Sashidaran sent two close relatives to Singapore as human couriers facilitating urgent money transfers for the LTTE. It is suspected that Sashidaran was under pressure to reactivate the Singapore money route as the LTTE urgently required funds in south-east Asia for weapons purchases. It is believed the Singapore authorities have arrested one of Sashidaran’s relatives, but details on this arrest are limited.
Third Generation Fundraising Methods
Pre-paid Phone Cards
The third generation approaches of fundraising is estimated to generate the largest component of funds for the LTTE at present. The third generation approaches tend to have a legitimate commercial persona focusing on services required by the Tamil diaspora.
The retailing of international call-time using phone cards is one of the most profitable business ventures associated with LTTE fundraising. The LTTE provided seed capital to set up several front companies registered as telecom retailers in Europe. The telecom retailers purchase bulk call-time to Asian destinations from gateway operators in Europe and retail the call-time using phone cards under multiple brand names. The Tamil spice shops and grocery shops are flooded with these phone cards eliminating all other competitive cards. It was suspected by Sri Lankan authorities in February 2000, that Gnanam Phone cards in France was linked to LTTE fundraising. The phone card business in Paris was developed by V Manoharan, the former head of the LTTE international centre when based in Paris with several Tamil business partners. After Manoharan was recalled to Kilinochchi, and the LTTE murdered Nathan, the head of LTTE Finance Unit in France for misappropriation of funds, the business partners involved in the phone card business relocated from Paris to London. The LTTE continues to generate substantial volumes of funds from retailing phone cards to the Tamil diaspora.
Management of Hindu Temples
The LTTE has tactically adopted strategic business management skills by investing in the management of Hindu temples. Hindu temples are owned and managed by private entrepreneurs. The temple management contracts persons of appropriate caste and learning as clergy to conduct religious ceremonies. The offerings received from the congregation support the upkeep of the temple, the clergy and is considered return on investment for the owners of the temple. The LTTE has found the business of temple management to be lucrative, also having benefits of charitable status and funds with minimum paper trail. There are several cases recorded in the UK, Canada and Australia in which strong-arm tactics were used to gain control of temple management. The case of Rajasingham Jayadevan and Arumugam Kandiah Vivekananthan held captive by the LTTE in Kilinochchi and forced to handover control of Eelapatheeswaran Aalayam Temple in London. The temple owners were released by the LTTE after the intervention of the UK government.
The Human Right Watch report on LTTE fundraising in March 2006, extensively describes the role of the LTTE in the management of Hindu temples. The report refers to cases in Canada and Australia (Perth) in which the LTTE used violent methods to intimidate temple owners.
The Trustee of the Amman Hindu temple in Paris Vinyagamoorthy was arrested in October 2006 at the French-Swiss border attempting to courier Euros 18 million in currency allegedly for the LTTE. In April 2007, the Trustee was arrested by French authorities for active involvement with the LTTE.
Subscription Satellite Television
The LTTE is known to have an active media strategy which include the aggressive use of the internet, community based Tamil radio stations and subscription satellite TV. The use of satellite TV provides the LTTE with a single most effective medium to inform the large diaspora. The Tamil Television Network (TTN) a subscription satellite TV provided Tamil entertainment to the diaspora infused with LTTE undertones. It is estimated that TTN had 22,000 subscribers in Europe. It also provided news from Kilinochchi with re-broadcast of NTT (National Television of Tamil Eelam) news segments. TTN operations in Paris were suspended by the French broadcasting authority CSA in February 2007. It is suspected that a new satellite TV which commenced operations in January 2007 from Australia plans to replace the lucrative TTN operation.
Subscription satellite TV not only provides a valuable medium for propaganda, it also generates substantial income in terms of subscription and advertising. In Europe, Tamil businessmen are required to maintain a specified advertising commitment with such satellite TV channels. The TV channels send out monthly statements indicating the specified advertising commitment. The TV channels charged excessive premiums for such advertisements.
Fourth Generation Fundraising Methods
Fixed Income Generation Methods – Registration of the Tamil Diaspora
The fourth generational approach used by the LTTE is a shift from the fluctuating nature of fund generation to a more predictable stable income format. There is also a distinct shift in terms of not using front organizations or third-party, the LTTE is directly involved in the rollout this initiative. All Tamil families in Europe are being systematically registered and assigned a Unique PIN number. Phase one of the European initiative commenced in Switzerland in early 2006, each Tamil family has been issued with a three-page with the banner heading LTTE in Switzerland. The form has 30 questions relating to personal information including details of blood-relatives in Sri Lanka, income status, subscription to LTTE satellite television and contribution to homeland funds. The LTTE intends to issue each Tamil family in Europe with a unique PIN number referred to as the Tamil Eelam identity number. It is suspect that the main database for this project is located in a Scandinavian country with a capability to transfer data to Kilinochchi. It is believed the LTTE intends to use this information to make assessments on contributions levels based income and lifestyle factors.
The base rate under this system seems to be one unit of currency (one Euro in Europe) per person for each day out of Sri Lanka. Additional surcharge is applied depending on income levels, size of family and contributions towards periodic appeals. In an article published in the French newspaper LeFigaro, on 2 December 2005, a French citizen of Tamil origin describes how the LTTE accessed all his personal details at the LTTE check point in Sri Lanka with his PIN number and confiscated his French passport until his family agreed to pay the outstanding contributions owed in France.
PART II – Finance Network of the LTTE
Modalities to Relocate, Hold and Transfer Funds
The second area of focus relates to the modalities used by the LTTE to relocate, hold and transfer funds for the purpose of weapons procurement and other logistics support. There has been research published recently on the financial network of the LTTE international operations. This research has identified the financial network as the Aiyanna Group. It is the view of this study that there is insufficient data about operations of the Aiyanna Group to designate such as the financial network of the LTTE international operations. The Aiyanna Group is involved in intelligence work, and it is the view of this study that the Aiyanna Group is seeking a greater role in international procurement operations in what was earlier a more closed-group. In the post 2002 environment with the relaxation in travel restrictions to Kilinochchi, multiple channels of overseas linkages developed within the LTTE including the strengthening of external intelligence capabilities. While Aiyanna Group is believed to have close links with the intelligence units of the LTTE, the level of involvement in the financial transfer processes is unclear at this stage.
The Sana Group
The LTTE operates a hub and spokes network for money transfer modalities. This study has identified one financial network known as the Sana Group. It is possible that there are parallel groups operating independently of each other, but this study has not found evidence on any other finance network of the LTTE. The group identified by this study has one Principal Controller and 08 trust-managers located in Europe, North America and South East Asia.
The leadership in Kilinochchi stipulates financial targets that each country representative and the finance unit need to achieve. The funds apportioned for procurement purposes are relocated to designated trust-managers and held in safe locations. These transfer take place using several mediums such as, bank transfers, human cash couriers and over invoicing import-export transactions. The trust-managers place the funds in multiple forms of investment to avoid detection by regulatory authorities. These managers regularly update the Principal Controller of the financial status and liquidity of assets. It is believed that the trust- managers do not have contact with each other, and it is the view of this study that the trust-managers are possibly unaware of the identity of the other managers.
The most important role of the Sana Group is the Principal Controller. The Controller is the hub of the network and maintains an inconspicuous profile. In fact all research on the modus operandi of the Controller indicates that no funds are held by the Controller. He merely maintains is a multiplicity of records (financial portfolios) received from each trust-manager on the current availability of financial resources and the level of liquidity of assets. It is suspected that the Controller of the Sana Group is based in a European country.
When the LTTE procurement teams have to meet financial commitments, the Controller is informed by Kilinochchi to make available sufficient appropriations. The Controller depending on asset distribution and liquidity will inform one or more trust-managers to transfer funds. The funds will be transferred to multiple locations in non-detectable blocks. At this point members of the procurement team would consolidate the multiple receipts, most often in a south east Asian country. The best example of this process is the evidence emerging out of the FBI sting operation in Guam. The LTTE sent a three-man team headed by Varatharasa to Guam Island on 26 September 2006. After inspecting a consignment of weapons presented by undercover FBI agents, the team consolidated the advance payment in Malaysia and transferred US $ 452,000 to a Baltimore bank account.
The LTTE has developed the most sophisticated infrastructure for fundraising and money transfer operations in comparison to any other terrorist group. The intent of the LTTE is to progress towards systems that have a stable income generation capability, giving the LTTE the advantage of stability in projected incomes and procurement planning. The ability of the LTTE international network to evade detection and maintain flow of funds reflects the sophistication and robust nature of the operation. Resource generation (fundraising) and financial management is a core component that determines the strengths and capabilities of a terrorist group. The competencies acquired by the LTTE in fundraising activity will definitely be replicated by other terrorist and criminal groups.
Editors Note:Shanaka Jayasekara is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (PICT Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.This Paper on ” LTTE Fundraising & Money Transfer Operations ” was Presented at the International Conference on Countering Terrorism held in Colombo ,18 – 20 October 2007.
October 24th, 2007
By B. Raman
Reliable details of the combined air and land attack launched by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the Anuradhapura air base of the Sri Lankan Air Force early in the morning of October 22, 2007, indicate that it was neither an act of desperation as projected by the embarrassed Sri Lankan military spokesmen nor an act of needless dramatics as suggested by others. It was an act of unbelievable determination, bravery and precision successfully carried out by a 21-member suicide commando group of the Black Tigers—significantly led by a Tamil from the Eastern Province— with the back-up support of two planes of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force.
2. Reliable Western sources say that no other terrorist organisation in the world would have been capable of organising such a raid, which had been preceded by painstaking intelligence collection, planning and rehearsal. The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.
3. The commandoes remained in effective occupation of the base from 3 AM to at least 9 AM. During this period, they blew up three helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft—one of them a trainer— and three unmanned drones. After losing communication with the air base, the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Vavuniya sent one of its helicopters to Anuradhapura to find out what had happened. As it was approaching the air base, it was shot down by the LTTE commandoes manning the anti-aircraft gun in the air base.
4. The commandoes also blew up an ammunition storage depot in the air base and damaged its runway. It is learnt that the Black Tiger commandoes remained in communication with their headquarters till 9 AM. Thereafter, all communications ceased, indicating thereby that all of them had either been killed by the Sri Lankan Security Forces or had committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces, who had counter-attacked the base. Thirteen SLAF personnel were killed, nine inside the base and four in the helicopter crash.
5. The LTTE has been silent on the fate of the commandoes. However, it has released their personal particulars. Two Lieutenant-Colonels, six Majors, 12 Captains and one Lieutenant rank Black Tiger members took part in the operation. A Lieutenant-Colonel who led an attack team was from Trincomalee, two of the members, a Major and a Captain, were from Batticaloa, one from Mullaiththeevu, one from Mannaar, three from Ki’linochchi and eleven members from Jaffna .Three Captains were women.
6. Initial reports of the raid had indicated that the raid started with an air attack by the LTTE’s aircraft and that it was only thereafter that the commandoes had infiltrated into the air base by taking advantage of the confusion. Subsequent reports, however, indicate that the Black Tigers initially infiltrated the base and took control of it and that it was then that the air raid was launched more to test the capability for co-ordination between the air wing and the Black Tigers than to cause damage to the base. Since the Black Tigers were already in effective control of the base, they did not need any air support.
[Sri Lankan soldiers stand at the site of a military helicopter gunship crash following a dawn attack in Anuradhapura, October 22, 2007 - Courtesy: Reuters Photo: Yahoo! News]
7. Embarrassed by the spectacular display of the LTTE’s prowess, the Sri Lankan authorities have been trying to play down the successes of the LTTE operation. They claim that only two helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft were damaged and another helicopter was destroyed when it crash-landed due to technical reasons. The Colombo correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph” of London has reported that the Black Tigers destroyed an expensive Beechcraft surveillance plane worth £14 million, two Mi17 helicopters, two Mi24 helicopters, three unmanned aerial vehicles, a K-8 jet and eight PD6 propeller trainer aircraft.
8. The Anuradhapura air base was essentially used by the SLAF as a training base. The training command of the SLAF was located there. In addition, it was also providing intelligence support to the SLAF and the Navy through the sophisticated Beechcraft plane fitted with equipment for aerial photography and the collection of electronic and technical intelligence and the unmanned drones. Instructors from Pakistan, China and Israel were periodically attached to the base.
9. The helicopters destroyed by the Black Tigers were being used as helicopter gun ships or for VIP transport. While the damage sustained by the SLAF is considerable in money terms and reduces its capability for intelligence collection for air and naval operations, its impact on the SLAF’s capability for air strikes over the LTTE controlled areas would be limited.
10. The successful operation would seem to have been launched by the LTTE in retaliation for the recent operations of the Sri Lankan Navy against the transport ships of the LTTE and the air strikes of the SLAF over LTTE positions in the Northern Province. It once again underlines the LTTE’s reputation as an organisation with a tremendous tenacity of purpose, grit and sophistication in thinking and planning. Its recent set-backs have not weakened its morale. They have only redoubled its determination to keep fighting for its political objective unmindful of the losses in the Eastern Province. [Courtesy: SAAG]
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
October 23rd, 2007
Despite bad weather, two aircraft of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) managed to provide air cover to a ground attack launched by a specially-trained commando unit of the LTTE on a Sri Lankan Air Force base at Anuradhapura, 212 kilometres north of Colombo, on October 22, 2007. The LTTE aircraft first appeared over the air base and dropped two bombs. Taking advantage of the resulting confusion in the air base, the LTTE commandoes infiltrated the base. The resulting exchange of fire between the Sri Lankan forces guarding the base and the LTTE commandoes lasted about two hours between 3 AM and 5 AM.
2. While the LTTE disseminated its version of the joint operation shortly after it had ended, the Government version came about an hour later. Both versions said that two Russian-made MI 24 helicopters parked in the air base were affected. While the Government version said the helicopters were damaged, the LTTE version said they were destroyed.
3. The two versions also said that a third helicopter (Bell 212) was destroyed when it crashlanded at Doramadalawa, 13 kms east of Anuradhapura. The Government version said four airmen were killed during the crashlanding. It also said that the helicopter had taken off to take action against the LTTE commandoes, but it developed technical trouble. According to the LTTE version, two pilots and two engineers stationed in the air base tried to flee in the helicopter when the LTTE launched the attack. They were killed when they lost control of the helicopter and crashed on the ground.
[Sri Lankan soldiers stand at the site of a military helicopter gunship crash following a dawn attack in Anuradhapura, October 22, 2007. A rebel air strike in the north-central district of Anuradhapura comes months after the Tigers' first ever air attacks using light aircraft smuggled into the country in pieces, and as near daily land, air and sea clashes occur. One officer was killed inside the base and 18 airmen were wounded in the attack, while four crew aboard a helicopter gunship, scrambled to search the area, were killed when it crash-landed several kilometres away, the military said. - Courtesy: Reuters Photo: Yahoo! News]
4. Neither side has given any further details. Some Pakistani Air Force pilots are based in Anuradhapura to train pilots of the Sri Lankan Air Force. None of them appears to have been affected by the LTTE attack. This is the fourth air strike launched by the LTTE since March 26, 2007, when the LTTE brought its long-concealed aircraft into the open and used them for its operations. Two of the previous attacks were on targets in Colombo and the third was on a target in the Jaffna area. All the four attacks were at night. The last attack from the air was on the Delft naval base in the Jaffna area on the night of May 24, 2007. Since then, the LTTE has not used its air power despite its repeated threats to attack economic and other strategic targets in the Sinhalese areas. This had given rise to speculation that it might be facing spare parts or fuel procurement problems.
5. Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. It has practically lost control of the areas in the Eastern Province, which were previously under its control.
6. Despite this, the morale, the motivation and the determination of its cadres remain strong. Its resilience as an organisation is intact. There has been no decline in their ability to innovate and take the adversary by surprise. However, the attrition in resources suffered by it is having an impact on its operations. It is now taking a longer time than in the past to plan and mount a major terrorist strike. This is because mobilisation of resources—-human and material—is taking a longer time.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
October 22nd, 2007
by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
The “Panchamahabalavegaya” or five great forces that brought SWRD Bandaranaike to power in 1956 comprised the Buddhist priests, Ayurveda physicians, teachers,agriculturists and workers. There is a “Nava Panchabalavegaya” at work now that seeks to “Sinhalaise” Trincomalee district in particular and the Eastern Province in general.The new five forces striving to alter Eastern demography consists of sections of the Buddhist clergy, security forces, bureaucrats, politicians and business persons.
The last official census for North – East was in 1981.The 2001 National census was not conducted in seven of the eight districts in the North and East. As such exact population figures are not available. In 2006 an estimate was tabulated from figures provided by the respective district Kachcheris. Acoording to these figures the Eastern Province population was 1 , 607, 971. Of this Tamils were 674,411; Muslims 573,843 ;Sinhalese 352,866; and others 6,851.
Trincomalee district had 412, 547 people. Of these 168, 696 were Muslims;143,282 Tamils, 100,454 Sinhalese and 115 others. Batticaloa district had 565,780 people. Of these 415, 217 were Tamils,145,349 Muslims,1,246 Sinhalese; and 3,968 others. Amparai district had 629,644 people; of these 259,798 were Muslims;251,166 were Sinhalese;115,912 were Tamils; and 2,768 others.
These figures have changed now as more than 20, 000 Tamils have left Trincomalee district in the past year.More than 15,000 went to Tamil Nadu as refugees. Others have relocated to Colombo and other areas in the South and also gone abroad.
There has for long time existed extremist elements among the Sinhalese who wanted to populate the East with Sinhalese and change the demography. Trincomalee district has been a specific target. The late RG Senanayake for instance advocated the “Sinhalaisation” of Trincomalee and even contested elections there in 1970. He was defeated.
What has happened after Mahinda Rajapakse became president is that these extremist elements are now ensconced in seats of power. “Sinhalaisation” through demographic transformation is no longer a dream of the fringe elements. It is now part of the undeclared yet potent “chinthana” for the Country. Powerful forces are at work with the full blessings of the regime to implement a hidden agenda.
Apparently the objective of this hidden agenda for demographic change is to make Sinhala speaking people the single largest ethnic group in the Eastern Province.According to plans the Sinhalese population will increase over the years in Trincomalee and Amparai to become the dominant entity in those districts..It would substantially increase in Batticaloa.
Trincomalee is the key target.Pressure would be exerted on Tamils in Trincomalee to move out gradually. The economy of Tamils and Muslims will diminish through calculated manouevres while state input will help develop the economy of Sinhala people in the province.
At the outset let me state very clearly that all citizens in this Country have the freedom to reside in any place they wish to live. The state is duty bound to protect them. This Country belongs to all of her people and deliberately fostering ethnic enclaves is not desirable.
Philosophically I would say that land does not belong to people but people to the land. It is also a fact of life that certain ethnic groups have lived for generations in particular regions and regard them as their areas of historic habitation. Yet this does not give them an exclusive right to those areas
Another reality in Sri Lanka is that people of all ethnicities are living in all parts of the Country. This population distribution has been uneven and does not reflect the overall population ratio. It is an undeniable fact that ethnic groups in this country are a majority in certain districts and a minority in other districts.
Thus the Tamils dominate the Northern Province and are the largest group in the East. Until the escalation of the war nearly two – thirds of Sri Lankan Tamils lived in these two provinces. One – third of the Muslims lived in the East. The Sinhala people are the majority community in the Island and dominate seven provinces but form only a “minority” in the North and East.
Tamil political discourse speaks of the North and East as the “traditional homelands of the Tamil – speaking people”. The “Tamil – speaking” concept includes the Muslims. The North and East are large , under – populated provinces with large chunks of the sea coast.
[Sunset in "Iqbal Nagar", Thamaraikulam, Nilaveli-Trincomalee District]
If one detaches from emotion and views it from a reason – based perspective alone , it would appear that a minority segment population of one – eighths cannot indefinitely “hold” on to a region consisting of one – thirds of the total landmass and two – thirds of the coastline. This is sheer arithmetic !
So there would have been internal migration from “Sinhala” areas to the North – East just as people of the North – East migrated to the South. Colombo being the national capital was common to all people and not the exclusive preserve of any single community. It is a common phenomenon to see major cities having a multi – ethnic population. This is the case in Colombo too.
People moving from one place to another of their own volition is not wrong. What is wrong however is the intervention of the state in moving people of a particular ethnicity on a large – scale into areas where people of another ethnicity are living in large numbers for generations. The problem becomes more acute when the state’s intention is to deliberately alter the existing demographic patterns.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka this is what happened and the issue became politicised. The state became majoritarian friendly. State – sponsored schemes were set up to populate areas in the East with Sinhala persons.. The demographic patterns of the province transformed drastically.
This was not a case of natural transformation but an artificially engineered one. It was a political project whereby the population in these provinces was deliberately altered with ulterior motives. The Tamils and Muslims resented this politics of colonisation.
Tamils and Muslims of the East were also given lands but this was only a small percentage of lands allocated to Sinhala settlers brought from outside the province. Communal violence was directed against Tamils and many were driven out. Other forms of discrimination were also practised against Tamil and Muslim settlers while the state machinery strained itself to help Sinhala settlers. Apart from lands given legally illegal encroachment was also encouraged.
It is against this backdrop that contemporary designs on altering demography has to be viewed. There have been several attempts in this respect during the past. Some were sucessful and others not. But what is beig planned now is a well – cordinated long term project to “Sinhalaise” or make Sinhalese the dominant entity in the East in general and Trincomalee district in particular.
This plan has backing right at the top and involves sections of the Buddhist clergy, security forces, bureaucrats, businesspersons and politicians.
Once again I wish to emphasise that my criticism of this plan is not based on the traditional homeland theory or due to opposition to Sinhala people relocating to Tamil areas. As someone who was born in Colombo and lived for the greater part of his life in the South and as one living now abroad , my worldview cannot be parochial.
It has been my experience and privilege to enjoy the multi – ethnic life of Colombo and Toronto. This diversity is something to celebrate and not resent. Cordial Inter- action of different ethnicities is a blessing in practice.
[Crows on the shore, in Uppuveli, Trincomalee - Pic: HumanityAshore]
My criticism on this issue is about the state acting as the agent of the majority community alone and attempting to transform the demographic composition of areas as a politico – military project. It is seeking to impose majority hegemony and convert the non – Sinhala people of those regions into a minority.
What is worse is that this is being done after the people of the East lie bruised and battered by a cruel military campaign. The vulnerable civilian population remains utterly helpless after the “shock and awe” tactics and is unable to articulate any effective protest even as its historic habitat is usurped by the mighty state.
A protracted 15 month military campaign has seen the Eastern Province coming under Colombo’s writ. From Pulmoddai to Panamai, there is no area controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now. The Government of Sri Lanka boasts of having liberated the East.
More than 200,000 people were displaced and much of their dwellings destroyed or damaged. Agriculture, fisheries, dairy farming etc of the Tamils are in shambles. Education, sanitation, health, housing etc are severely affected. What is immediately necessary is to address these needs and restore normalcy. The state has been notoriously lax in this and if not for NGO assistance the people would be in a terrible plight.
[Sampoor Srimurugan Vidyalayam in Trincomalee, damaged from the April, 2006 air attack]
Instead of prioritising the needs and concerns of the affected people the Rajapakse regime has grandiose plans of developing the province through ambitious projects. The President talks of 20 billion rupee projects while his brother Basil Rajapakse heads these efforts to make the East “awaken and rise”.
This writer has in earlier articles pointed out the exclusion of Tamil in policy announcements and propaganda about these Eastern development projects. The Province is 75 % Tamil speaking but the Tamil language is pointedly omitted in official documentation pertaining to these scemes.. This does not seem an unwitting error but wittingly symbolic.
The master plan devised to develop the East is actually an important component of the hidden agenda to alter demography. The emphasis on Sinhala in a pre – dominantly Tamil speaking region is not merely an exhibition of callous insensitivity but a pointer to the future where the east is going to be “Sinhalaised”.
These plans envisage among other things demographic changes through tourism development and Buddhist revival in Amparai district and agro – business promotion in the Kudumbi malai/Thoppigala areas coming under System B Maduru – Oya scheme in Batticaloa district.
But Trincomalee for many reasons is the prize target and receives top priority in the Sinhalaisation project. I will therefore focus on Trincomalee alone in this article.
Facts and figures from census statistics about population growth in Trincomalee district will help illustrate how demography patterns are unnaturally altered or distorted through state sponsored colonisation.
In 1881 the Sinhala population of Trincomalee district was only 935 or 4. 2 %; the Tamils were 14,394 or 64.8 % while Muslims were 5746 or 25.9 %.
100 years later in 1981 the Sinhalese were 86,341 or 33.6 % but the Tamils were 86, 743 or 33.7%. The Muslims were 74, 405 or 28.9 %.
In a century the Sinhalese had gone up from 4. 2 % to 33. 6 % and Muslims from 25.9 % to 28.9% but the Tamils had decreased from 64.8% to 33.7.
In hundred years the Tamil population increased 502 % and Muslims 1068 % but the Sinhalese had gone up 9134%.While the Muslim increase of double the Tamil percentage can be attributed to larger families and greater birthrate the astronomical increase of Sinhala percentage was primarily due to colonisation..
This distorted demographic transformation being accelerated in the post – Independence years through colonisation is further illustrated through other statistics.
[View from Swamy rock, Trincomalee - Picture by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai]
From 1953 to 1981 the Sinhala population of Trincomalee town and gravets AGA division increased 210 % but Tamils and Muslims increased only 109 %; In Seuwila and Mutur AGA divisions the Sinhala increase was 291 % while the others were only 143%; In Thambalagamam, Kinniya and Kanthalai the Sinhala increase in 28 years was 1180% while the others increased 183 %. In Kuchaveli, Gomarankadawala and Morawewa the Sinhala increase was 580% and for the others 190 %.
Apart from the distorted demographic transformation through colonisation there was another reason for Trincomalee being made to change.. It was of strategic importance due to its natural harbour and the tank farm. It was also in the North – East and the federal party spoke of Trincomalee as the capital of a Tamil state. This made Trincomalee important in a politico – military sense. Later during demonstrations like “pongu Thamil” (Tamil upsurge ) LTTE elements crowed about Trinco being Tamil Eelam’s capital.
Under these circumstances Sinhala fears and insecurities were revived. The presence of artillery in Sampoor saw Trincomalee harbour coming under LTTE threat. It became politico – militarily imperative from a Sinhala dominated state’s perspective to undermine tiger and by extension the Tamil presence in the district.
Thus it was inevitable that plans would be laid both to interdict Northern and Eastern territorial contiguity as well as de – Tamilise Trincomalee and Sinhalaise it.
The escalation of the ethnic conflict saw Trincomalee district suffer. Many massacres occurred and Tamil civilians were killed . Thousands fled to India and elsewhere.
Sinhala civilians were militarised through the homeguard scheme. The Sinhalese were chased out in large numbers during the Indian army period.
Later there was a strategic equilibrium between the LTTE and GOSL forces. Now that the LTTE has been driven out and the GOSL holds the whip hand attempts are on to impose a Sinhala supremacist agenda on the diminished Tamils of Trincomalee.
The Sinhala supremacist vision of Sinhalaising Trincomalee has been invigorated with politico – military imperatives now. There is a need to break up North – Eastern territorial contiguity, sefeguard strategic places like the harbour, airport, prevent Trincomalee becoming the Tamil Eelam capital and exploit the district’s economic potential.
Rajavarothayam Sambandan the Veteran Tamil politician and Tamil National Alliance MP from Trincomalee district charged in Parliament on Sep 5th about a conspiracy to carve out a new district comprising northern parts of Trincomalee district and Southern parts of Mullaitheevu district.
This was a device to break North – Eastern contiguity , Sambandan stated. This was denied and Karu Jayasuriya assured Sambandan that there was no plan to create a new district.
Though Sambandan helped highlight some of the sinister designs on Trincomalee he was apparently wrong about a new district.
It is true that there was an earlier plan to create a new district called Weli – Oya consisting of areas ranging from Padaviya in the west, Kokkilai in the east, Thennamaravaady in the South and Nedunkerny in the North.
This was the “chinthana” of people like Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Ranjan Wijeratne and Anuruddha Ratwatte. Tamils from 28 villages were driven out in an act of ethnic cleansing by the state. The Weli – Oya district would break North – Eastern contiguity.
But the Rajapakse regime does not seem to entertain that idea now. One reason for this is that a bill has to be presented and two – thirds majority obtained to create a new district.
Apart from the difficulty of getting two – thirds such an act will be universally condemned due to its blatant Sinhala hegemonist design. This however is not the only reason why this regime has shelved the new district plan.
The earlier idea envisaged Trincomalee as a Tamil – speaking district and therefore thought of a new district as a wedge. But this regime wants to convert Trincomalee itself into a Sinhala majority district by altering demography through Sinhalaisation. If current plans are implemented then Trincomalee will become the Sinhala district interdicting Northern and Eastern contiguity.
As time progresses further Sinhalaisation will transform the entire Eastern province into a Sinhala majority province. There will be no need to break territorial contiguity or consider merger of provinces then.Intead of creating a new district the existing one will be demographically altered.
The recent pattern of certain events indicate what future lies ahead for Tamils and Muslims in the district.The Sampoor region including 12 villages has been made a high security zone. People are barred from re- settling in their ancestral villages. Tamils and Muslims are not allowed to fish or farm in certain areas.
In Ilankaithuraimuhathuvaaram Tamils are prevented from re- settling while plans are afoot to make it the “sacred” area of Lanka Patuna.
In Jabalmalai Muslims and Tamils are barred from quarrying. Apart from unemployment the people will now have to buy granite at exhorbitant prices from Sinhala businessmen in Kanthalai.
Housing schemes are set up and families of Sinhala security forces enlisted from the district are being settled in places traditionally inhabited by Tamils and Muslims like Iraalkuli and Kappalthurai.
Prominent Tamils with leadership potential are being assassinated to demoralise the civilians further . There is a growing nexus between Sinhala civilians and the security forces. Sinhala youths from the district are being enlisted in large numbers into various branches of the security apparatus. Sinhala civilians were aided and abetted by the security forces in looting houses of fleeing Tamil refugees and appropriating livestock.
More important however are master development plans in the pipeline. One is the Trincomalee metro centre urban development plan. This is an integrated development plan for Trincomalee town and other outlying areas.
Trincomalee town is currently Tamil dominated. When this plan comes into force a substantial number of Tamil people will be evicted. Further re – location will be necessitated in the name of security by declaring a security zone around the harbour and adjacent coastal areas.
Just as Anuradhapura was declared a sacred zone by SWRD Bandaranaike and the Tamil dominated “old” town gave way to the Sinhala “new” town the Tamil Trinco town of “old” will be replaced by the “new” Sinhala Trinco.
The other is the comprehensive Post -Resettlement Develoment plan for the Eastern region. Displaced Tamils are being cruelly shuttled about and re- settled without any facilities or infra – structure. They are treated as statistics and not human beings.
The haste is to complete “re- settlement” on paper and then move on to massive post – resettlement development projects. Apart from minting money (more than 10 % of costs ) through corrupt practices the last refuge of scoundrels – patriotism – is also being resorted to . The master plan will facilitate the Sinhalaisation process.
Some of the proposed projects for Trincomalee under this plan are the special economic zone at Kappalthurai. The first phase costs 4250 million and second 2600 million rupees. It will be completed in 2015. There will also be a small and medium industrial zone at Kappalthurai. The first phase costs 500 m and the second 1000 million rupees. It will be set up in 2008.
A new administrative secretariat will be established at Mankaiootru for 300 million rupees in 2008. A new fisheries harbour costing 1000 million rupees to be constructed by 2010 at Pudavaikattu. A new town development scheme for Andankulam – China Bay to be built by 2010 for 1500 million rupees.
A massive road project linking Uppuvely and Eechilampatru to be constructed by 2010 for 10. 3 billion rupees. This proposed outer circular road will run through Sinhala areas of Seruwila division. This is an extension of a new road being constructed now in Trinco North.Two tourist resorts will be set up by 2010. They will be in Nilaweli and Verugal at a cost of 800 millionand 1750 million rupees respectively.
An important project in this respect is the coal fired power plant to be set up with Indian assistance. Both phases of the project are expected to cost 500 million US dollars each and will be completed by 2012. Originally it was ear- marked for Kappalthurai but Colombo wanted to set it up later in Sampoor. But New Delhi has stood firm and it is likely to come up in Kappalthurai
There are also plans to develop a tourist site around the hot water wells at the Tamil village of Kanniya and Sinhalaise it. An industrial zone is to be set up in the phosphate rich Muslim area of Pulmoddai. The area is to be renamed Polmadhu.
The GOSL has called for foreign assistance and private sector investment to develop Trincomalee district. The project plans do not refer to ethnicity but only to people. Tamils and Muslims will also be given employment in projects. But these will be of a “token” nature to avoid charges of ethnic discimination.
In actual practice there will be an ethnicised approach and employment will be given mainly to Sinhalese from the district and outside. The thinking is that the strategically important Trincomalee’s security can be ensured in the long run through an enhanced security force presence. The security of this military presence can be ensured through a sympathetic population. A sympathetic population can be guaranteed only through Sinhalaisation. Greater recruitment of Sinhala youths from the district into the forces and facilitating settlement of familes in the district can strengthen security further.
New Sinhala settlements will come up. Already thousands of Sinhala youths from Trinco are being incorporated into the security forces. Housing schemes are being set up widely. Security force members from outside the district are encouraged to settle families in Trincomalee.
Actual settlement of Sinhalese civilians from outside the district is yet to take place on a massive scale But preparations are on. Sections of the Buddhist clergy affiliated to a hardline political party are now compiling lists of people from different parts of the Country who are willing to settle down in Trincomalee.
It is only a matter of time before the great North – eastern trek commences.The groundwork is being laid cleverly for future Sinhalaisation. The state machinery is being mobilised. It will be a slow process and would depend on the militarisation process and progress of economic development. A key element in this is the opening up new roads.
The Road Development Authority (a central agency) which is in charge of A and B class roads under the 13th Amendment has begun constructing an inner ring road and an outer ring road for Trincomalee. The inner ring road links Aathimottai on the Trincomalee-Nilaveli- Pulmottai Road, Kanniya on the A12 (Puttalam- Anuradhapura-Trincomalee Road) and 189km post on A-6 (Kandy-Habaran- Trincomalee Road).
Arrangements are being made to get Sinhalese “encroachers” to move in between A-6 and A12 on this ring road. Basil Rajapakse is personally overseeing this project.
The outer ring road planned will begin at Kuchchaveli on the Trincomalee- Nilaveli-Pulmottai Road, cross A12 near Pankulam and meet A6 between Kantalai and Tampalakamam and proceed to Ilankaiturai -Muhathuvaram and to Sampur in further phases.
Sinhalese had already been settled near Pankulam and on the A6 between Kantalai and Tampalakamam. The Tamils who had been living there had been chased away since the early 1980s. Now, the programme is to bring in more Sinhalese and settle them between the two ring roads. Workers on new projects will be mainly Sinhalese.
The construction work is being undertaken by the SL Army. The RDA Chief Engineer in Trincomalee,works very closely with the SL Army. The planning and design are done in Colombo. The Provincial Director of the RDA is based in Batticaloa. He is completely in the dark about the two ring road projects.
Minister Abdul Majeed who is from Kinniya and who belongs to the All Ceylon Muslim Congress of Rishad Bathurdeen is allegedly backing these projects for reasons of his own.. Funds are provided from the Nation Building Ministry under President Rajapakse.
During the past Sinhalese were settled through land allotments in irrigation schemes. At present the main irrigation settlement scheme envisaged is system M lands of the Yan Oya/Kallaru basin to the north of Trincomalee. Earlier in 1983 Gamini Dissanayake settled 3364 Sinhala families on lands under System L in the Weli oya /Manal aaru region Now the plan is to consolidate Yan Oya.
But there are other plans to in Trincomalee to alienate land through systemic encroachment. The new roads being constructed in Trinomalee north and the extended highway to be constructed in Trincomalee south will facilitate this.
Some of the proposed development activity will certainly benefit Tamils and Muslims. But the lion share will be for people of the lion. Moreover the project will ultimately lead to strengthening the Sinhala community and disempowering the Tamil – Muslim people of the district.
Sinhala People will be brought in as squatters in “new” territory opened up on either side of the roads. The security forces will help set up shelters, provide food and water etc under the pretext of providing security. After a short period of residence (not more than a year) the encroachers will make applications to legalise their “illegal” ownership.
The position of land alienation and settlement is a little complicated in the North and East as the Provincial Council is defunct. Be it the Governor or PC administration , reference must be made to the GA in such a situation. The GA will refer to the provincial lands commissioner. If all parties concur legalising encroachments will be easily done.
In order to facilitate this legal “landgrab” the administrative machinery is being Sinhalaised. The previous lands commissioner Ms. Justina Muraleetharan was removed and former Kanthalai Divisional secretary Piyasiri appointed.
After de – merging the North and East the EP administration is being ethnically transformed. Former Trincomalee GA’s Rodrigo and Nelundeniya are chief secretary and Public administration secretary respectively. Former Matale GA, Udage is secretary of the provincial public services commission.
There are also many ex – servicemen in key posts. The Governor is rear admiral Mohan Wijewickrema. The GA is Maj Gen Ranjith de Silva. The rehabilitation co-ordinator is Maj. Gen Amaradeva. The secretary to the Governor is capt. Patrick Jayasinghe.
Appointing ex – servicemen to key administrative posts has been criticised by members of the administrative service. The harsh conduct of Trinco GA has been deplored. But the fact remains that this combination of retired administrative and security officials is well – equipped to implement the Sinhalaisation process in Trincomalee.
Apart from aiding land grab activities the administrative functions of the district can be gradually Sinhalaised. Recruitment and transfers could be ethnic – oriented. Already there are many signs of Tamils and Muslims being sidelined and Sinhalese being given pride of place in the district and provincial administration. There are also the security authorities whose powers are considerable in administrative issues.
The stage has been set and we may be in for a fantastic show of seeing a region being demographically transformed for poilitico – military reasons. “Kizhakku” will set while “nagenahira” will rise.
Some would call this slow ethnocide and a crime against humanity. But then the best laid plans of men and mice can go awry at times. Que sera sera!
October 20th, 2007
by Lynn Ockersz
Winning the confidence of the people in the “cleared areas” by the government and restoring to them all that they have lost is a key to defeating the terror campaign of the LTTE, President, Tamil United Liberation Front, and ex-MP V. Anandasangaree reveals in this interview with ‘The Island”.
The veteran Tamil politician said that a principal tragedy affecting Sri Lanka today is the lack of fellow feeling among sections of the people as a result of escalating violence. He said that, although fortunately, ethnic violence is on the wane, fear and tension in the lives of the people are on the increase. Indicating the inadequacy of a military solution to the conflict, he said a political solution should go hand-in-hand with military action by the state.
Extracts of the interview:
Q: With the government claiming that the LTTE has been decisively weakened in particularly the Eastern Province, what role would you be playing in Sri Lanka’s current politics?
A: More than 90 to 95 percent of the Eastern Province has been cleared. Yet, there are a lot of mopping-up operations to be undertaken. Because a handful of people could trouble the government since they are a guerrilla group. What the government should do, however, is win over the people. The people should be given all that they have lost. The people should themselves feel the difference in how they suffered under the LTTE over the years and how they are being treated now by the government, through the provision of all the relief they need. The people must be won over to get precise, necessary information over LTTE hideouts etc. There will be persons who will be carrying weapons even in Jaffna, in so-called cleared areas. The LTTE would be having enough weapons concealed all over. Acquiring weapons is not a problem for them.
Q: Wouldn’t the recent sinking of LTTE arms shipments make a difference, to the group’s fighting capability?
A: That will make a big difference. It is a good thing the government has done this. They are virtually crippled. Ultimately they would need to depend on guerrilla attacks. To prevent these developments the people must be got together. Today there was an incident in one of the cleared areas. Some STF people had died and people in the area had been assaulted by some members of the Army. This is foolish behaviour. After all, the people are helpless. Such conduct would not help in winning over the people. The people should feel that the Army is helping them, rather than harassing them.
As for my role in politics, it is quite well known. I am very careful. I am not antagonising anyone. I am of the opinion that by fighting and antagonising anyone we are gaining nothing. For the last three or four years I have been on a mission. Whoever I meet, whether it be Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, I insist that a solution to our conflict must be found and this solution must be acceptable and reasonable, for us to sell it to the people, so much so that people have given up the idea of separation. Most ordinary Tamils did not want separation. It was only demanded at the political level. The ordinary people, on the other hand, wanted peace and goodwill to prevail among all communities. The role that I wish to play and will be playing would not change from the one I have been playing so far.
The UNP is under the misunderstanding that I have condemned them in a recent statement made by me. This is not true. I am one person who is most affected by their decision on the federal issue. Because I have been going around telling the people even the international community, that 49.7 percent of the electorate have voted for the UNP for a federal solution. That is almost half and I campaign for more support. So, when overnight almost the position is changed on the federal issue, the 49.7 percent I depended on is denied me and I am the most affected.
Q: Do you intend speaking to the LTTE?
A: There is no point in speaking to them. No one can talk to them. Consider how many persons have gone to the Wanni. Did anyone come out and meet them? Only some middlemen were sent out by the LTTE to speak to them. So, there is no point in speaking to the LTTE, but I speak to others to agree to a solution, the LTTE cannot reject. Although the LTTE has been attending peace talks they have never openly said that they are giving up separatism. They keep on saying that “the thirst of the Tigers is to set up Tamil Eelam.” So there is no point in talking to the LTTE on this matter.
What we should do is win over the others and make our side strong. I don’t object to the word ‘federal’ being given up because some people are allergic to the term. If they don’t want to use the word ‘federal’ it is perfectly all right. But let them at least agree not to use the word ‘unitary’ also. So that you leave it in suspense. Those who want to call the state ‘federal’ could do so; those who want to call it ‘unitary’ could do so as well. Now consider the Indian constitution. They do not call it ‘federal’ or ‘unitary’, but they are for ‘unity in diversity’. That is the slogan which should be used for Sri Lanka too.
Q: Would the position taken by the major political parties of the South, including the UNP, that maximum devolution and not federalism should be the answer to the conflict, help in resolving the National Question?
A: I have been telling the President too that simply saying “maximum devolution” would not help. You must come out openly in favour of a change. In as much as certain sections of the Sinhala people are worried about the use of the term ‘federal’, equally you have some sections of the Tamils who are very allergic to the use of the word ‘unitary’. So, I have told the President, several times, if two packages are offered, one based on the Indian model and the other based on some other model but with more powers than those devolved on the Indian model, I would still prefer the Indian model, for the simple reason that it could be easily sold. What is contained in the Indian model everyone knows.
On the other hand, if you say that what we are going to give you is much more than the powers in the Indian model, it is not going to sell. The Indian model can be marketed, the other one cannot although more devolved powers are on offer.
Q: Is three a military solution to the conflict?
A: What have they achieved so far? They say they have cleared the East, but have they completely? They haven’t. Military action should go along with a political solution. These should go hand-in-hand.
How long it would take for the government to decide which powers would be devolved? Is the All Party Conference necessary? Is the Experts’ Committee necessary? No. Two responsible persons could sit together and draft the constitution. Because it is now known to everyone what is wanted and what is not wanted.
Once you go to the people with your solution and if the people have any doubts about it, the international community could play a role in clarifying these doubts. It could say the proposals are reasonable if they are really so and that the Tamils should accept them. You have a number of countries in the international community where federalism has thrived. We may not perhaps call these federal states but define them as states where minority rights have been protected.
Countries having constitutions with these features could be studied and proposed as models for a solution. The international community too could study these constitutions and say “fine” or suggest adding this or those powers. On doing this if the international community is convinced that the government is honest about finding a solution, then it could recommend the model to the people and the people would have the courage to accept it without any reservations.
I am not saying the government is not sincere. It is sincere in finding a solution. Unfortunately there are the constraints. I don’t want to spell them out. The people concerned must adjust themselves and act according to their consciences. How many persons die daily! Everyday how many billions worth of property is being destroyed! However, leave aside the property. A limb lost could never be regained. A life lost is lost forever.
And what about the fear and tension? While I am talking to you here, an incident may occur elsewhere in which someone known to me is involved. There is tension. You cannot freely walk along the street. This doesn’t affect only the Tamils and the Muslims. The whole country is affected.
What if some lunatic plants a claymore mine on Galle Road? What about those bus incidents in the South where scores of people were affected and injured? Why should the whole country constantly live in tension, a country which should flourish?
A country which should be in a position to provide thousands of jobs to foreigners is now having its people going in search of jobs. Our economy has gone to the dogs. The fear for one’s life is pervasive.
However, I am happy that there is no communal tension now; to the extent to which it existed in the past. In the past when 12 or 13 soldiers were killed, the country was plunged into flames. Today, if similar incidents occur there is no one to rouse communal tensions.
So the tension prevailing today stems mainly from the fear for one’s life. I am one who went around the country, in the days gone by, sometimes all alone. Can I do that today? Those who are claiming to be patriots and are opposing devolution today, have not tasted the bitterness of terrorism. It is so bitter you can’t take it. You wouldn’t know how terrible terror is until you experience it.
I have lost six members of my own family to terrorism. One I lost in the London bombing, the one Lankan to die in that incident. She happened to be my brother’s lovely daughter.
What is wrong here is that people are not feeling for others. This is the massage I give the LTTE also. There are certain photographs that appear in the papers, in those newspapers supporting the LTTE. These photographs show the kith and kin of LTTE fighters who die in action, wailing, weeping and beating their breasts over the dead cadres. This is how the others who are killed by the LTTE would feel too. This the LTTE must realize. The LTTE is not sent by God to be our liberators.
In our case, when a dear one close to us is killed by the LTTE our grief is grater because an innocent person has been killed. In the LTTE’s case, a guilty person has been killed – one who has been responsible for the killing of innocent persons. The persons who weep and cry for dead LTTE cadres must realise that the grief of those who weep for those who are killed by the LTTE, is greater than their’s because the LTTE has killed innocent persons.
Q: What should be the main ingredients in a well thought-out political solution?
A: People must lead a contented life. They should have no fears. In a recent letter to the papers I have cited the case of India. Indians are very patriotic. I related the story of this old Indian beggar woman in rags, who, while roaming the streets takes out of a dustbin a torn national flag of her country. Saddened on seeing the torn flag, she patches it by using a piece of cloth torn off her tattered Saree. This proved her devotion to her country. This story brought tears to many an eye in India. Do you think we would do that here?
We say we love our country, but merely loving our country is not patriotism. We must love not only our country but its people too. I am a patriot because I love Sri Lanka and its people. Not only Tamils, but Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers and other communities also. I love everyone, irrespective of caste, creed race and religion.
Every person in Sri Lanka should be contented. If contentedness is brought about, you will find people respecting the country, its flag, its anthem etc. Many people in this country, may be even as high as 90 percent, do not genuinely love this country, its flag and its anthem. They say they do so out of a sense of form. We respect our school flags more than we do our national flag. Why? Because in school there is no tension, we are contended. We are happy that we have our own principals, teachers etc.
But if you take the country as a whole, how many persons proudly say they are Sri Lankans? A person has the right to say he or she is a Sri Lankan only when he or she loves the country and the people in it. This is one ingredient for peace.
Then, we must have at least one square meal a day for everyone. People must be categorized. There are those who do not receive any income. These persons must be provided at least the main commodities – rice, wheat flour, sugar etc.
There is hardly any communalism among our people at present. More than half the Tamil population is living among the Sinhalese. It is only some politicians who speak communal rubbish. The people in a typical Sinhala village are God-fearing, they love their neighbour, they respect others religions. Squabbles occur occasionally among neighbours anywhere but on the whole they are peace-loving.
Q: Does a climate exist in the East for the holding of local government elections?
A: When people are dying what is the point in holding elections particularly in the Eastern Province? We’ll be only losing more valuable lives. There is an armed group which is hiding in the jungles, which is acting as a terrorist group. If there are others carrying arms, they all must be persuaded to disarm. All other groups must be united, they must have only one enemy. All groups must be united against this one group which may not like to get into the democratic fold. Until such a situation, where there is trust and unity among these groups fighting a common enemy, I don’t think elections could be held. If these groups get together then around 90 percent security could be guaranteed.
Besides, the displaced must get back to their respective homes. Those people have been living for more than one year under tin roofs and under tents. Until all these persons get back to their homes and lead normal lives I don’t think the holding of an election is advisable.
Q: Does India have a role to play in resolving our conflict?
A: India has a role definitely. We have reports of a massive quantity of lethal material, such as ball razors and aluminium balls being seized by the Indian Navy. If such material had been smuggled in, the country would have been devastated. Such detections were possible on account of the alertness of the Indian Navy and the Tamilnadu Police.
I am sure our Navy got some intelligence input from the Indian Navy to destroy all the LTTE vessels carrying armaments to this country recently. Such is the help India could render.
Then there is Tamilnadu to consider, which has a Tamil population at least thrice more than our’s. The majority of these people are opposed to the LTTE and hate it for having assassinated an illustrious Indian leader, former Premier Rajiv Gandhi in Tamilnadu. But there are a few people who are like eels – showing the tail and the head – who support the LTTE. These are opportunistic politicians.
So, the moment India comes in and tells these persons, “Ok, be quiet, we’ll negotiate with the Lankan government and get powers devolved on the North-East, on the lines on which they are devolved on the Indian states”, they are silenced. People such as Nedumaran, Vaiko etc are silenced. For, they cannot ask for powers in excess of what they are enjoying in India, for us.
One must remember that India was here to help us within four hours of the Tsunami tragedy. Whenever we are in distress, they are there, whenever our security is threatened they are there, whenever there is tension in Tamilnadu they are there. The Indian government would have helped us if Nedumaran came here.
Q: Will the North-East merger continue to be a demand of the Tamil people? Why is this issue so important to the Tamil community?
A: There are people who argue that since more than half the Tamil population lives with the Sinhalese in the South, there is no need for a merger of the North-East. This is no argument. The TULF decided on the merger on account of the common interests that the Tamil people of the North-East share. It could provide for linguistic unity.
In these provinces, for example, there are more Hindu temples, more Tamils schools, more Tamil-speaking people. The Tamil-speaking people of the provinces have common interests. So we decided on a linguistic state.
I recently told a well known Buddhist priest: “Why bother about this merger. I would like to have a ‘Sinhalse as my neighbour on my right, when I live in the North-East, and a Muslim as a neighbour on my left so that I could enjoy fraternal ties with them. I could have Kiribath for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and ‘Vattalapan’ for Ramazan. We could live like friends in peace and harmony.
Q: So in this merged North-East province all communities are welcome?
A: Exactly. They are welcome. You see, the moment we attempt to tamper with the rights of the Sinhalese, the whole country would react. This is a check against abuses. The North-East would be open to all the communities, similar to how we live in the South. [Courtesy: The Island]
October 17th, 2007
by Shanika Sriyananda
Congress (SLMC) says that they had joined the government as both parties have a collective vision to develop the country but is not a slave of any of the state policies. The Leader of the SLMC and Minister of Posts and Telecommunication Rauff Hakeem, who is now clamouring for acquiring more ‘power’ as a minister and ready to end the ‘UPFA – SLMC marriage’ when he is unhappy with the way the government treat them, told the Sunday Observer that the SLMC is not permanently bound with any political party. He said that the SLMC would never let down the Mahinda Rajapaksa government until it secures the best interest of the people.
Following are the excerpts of the interview:
Q: How do you see the current political situation in the country?
A: There need to be de-escalation of hostilities as far as the war-front is concerned and on the top of it we also wish there could be acrimony among the parties in the South regarding a solution to the ethnic problem. This is basically is the wish of almost all the minority forces in this country.
Q: The general belief is that the SLMC is now more loyal to the UNP and the National United Alliance (NUA) is closer to the PA. So, do you think that you have betrayed the aspirations of the late leader?
A: I would say definitely not. In the first place I must disagree with you on the issue of us being a virtual appendage of the UNP. Of course we have entered into an electoral understanding at the time we contested the elections together. We have always contested on our own in many areas though we have contested with the UNP in some areas because we had to mutually strengthen each other.
We maintained our individual identity in many areas but in the meantime we also made use of the advantage in the present PR system through understanding with a major party.
That does not mean that we became virtually dependent of that party by coming into an electoral understanding.
In my opinion, though may we have come into an electoral understanding, one cannot jump to the conclusion that we have virtually become slaves of their policies. Of course, collectively we have a vision for the country. In contributing towards that collective vision, we have come to some understanding.
So, in our alliance or understanding with the present government, we have still not arrived at a broader policy framework because we joined the government half way through at the request of this government.
Q: What kind of a relationship exists between the SLMC and the NUA now?
A: I cannot speak for Mrs. Ashraff. But unfortunately Mrs. Ashraff, in my opinion, should not have broken away from the SLMC and we should be in one fold. But this has been inevitably weakened the party to some extent. She is the only NUA member in Parliament who is elected.
The NUA and ourselves are partners in establishing the Peace Secretariat for Muslims. That is a significant achievement where at least we had come together. As far as the peace process is concerned we do not have divergent opinions in presenting our views to resume negotiations.
At present we the SLMC is dominating in all the areas where the Muslims are living and when it comes to the Eastern province, now we control 11 local authorities. I do not think the NUA or any other party can claim to have power at local authority level. That shows you where the support lies.
Q: As one major political party that represents Muslims do you think Muslims are politically divided today?
A: Muslims are politically divided not only today. Ever since Independence they are politically divided. This is not a new phenomenon. For that matter, every community is divided today.
It will be ideal and for all of us to find a common ground on vital issues that concern the community. But that kind of consensus is difficult task to achieve. We have also know that when the need arises, we had always displayed collective responsibility at crucial times on behalf of the community.
Q: What are the major problems faced by Muslims today according to your assessment?
A: We have problems in every corner. At present, the law and order situation, particularly in the North and the East is a matter of concern.
Though the government has re-established its control in some areas, there appears to be para-military groups which appear to be having their own writ in some of these pockets. Some steps are being taken now progressively to see that the entire law and order responsibility would come within the Police Department and no other armed group would be allowed to engage in police functions or to conduct their own ‘Kangaroo courts’. But this exercise, according to the Defence Secretary, has begun where he has given strict orders to prevent these armed groups enforcing their own writs in these areas.
The other important step that needs to be taken is to make the police force truly a multi-ethnic force. In my opinion, police in local areas should reflect the ethnic composition to win the confidence of the people. Now there is so much of mistrust in law and order machinery.
There is the language problem on one have and on the other religious and cultural misunderstanding. I believe, the police should be more friendly towards the local population as no police force can function without the support of the local population.
I think that if the police and the law enforcement authorities had taken timely effective preventive action, most of these disturbances could never have occurred.
Those who are responsible to maintain law and order, particularly the police appeared to be closing the stable after the horse had bolted. This is what happened in most of the serious cases where communal disturbances took place. This must be corrected. To get the confidence of the people they must have the feeling that the police are not an alien force.
Q: How far here the aspirations of Muslims achieved under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government? Are you satisfied with the steps taken by this government to solve these problems?
A: We have joined the government seven months ago. When it comes to attempts of forcible settlements and then dismantling previous settlements or resettlement of IDPs there are problems.
There are attempts under the patronage of some influenced people to deprive land owners of their permits to cultivate the lands. These instances were highlighted by us.
What we found is that these things have to be nipped in the bud before they are allowed to escalate. We have various hot spots like those in the East and whenever such things happen we will take action quickly to bring them to the notice of the government agent of the area or higher officials or the President’s advisor, so that we can prevent them.
Whenever we complain to the government, they have given us the assurance that it would not to allow such things to take place. We have had mixed results.
Q: What is the situation of the Eastern region after it was liberated from the LTTE?
A: There are steps taken to improve the livelihood activities. Some restrictions by the government have affected hundreds and thousands of people in this region and these should be relaxed in order to allow the fishermen to engage in fishing in their traditional fishing areas.
The strict checks on movement of people and vehicles have caused some delay and disenchantment among the public. So, the cumbersome procedures that have been put into place need to be dismantled as they appear to be affecting the return to complete normalcy. These people need to feel that they are living peacefully.
There is no point in liberating an area if we are unable to bring it to total normalcy.
We know that it is bound to take a little while. We do admit that there are practical difficulties in bringing in the climate of absolute safety overnight. But that need is an urgent priority.
Q: Once the SLMC has blamed the government for not consulting the party about the development programs in the East, where a large number of Muslims are displaced. Did you get an opportunity to discuss the matter with the government?
A: The government had few discussions with members of the Parliament and the officials regarding their ‘Nagenahira Navodaya’ program.
One particular feature of this program is a top to down process. What I would wish to see is a bottom to top process. Any development must start from the grass roots upwards. But as it is, we have top down process. And here we need to take all our requirements and get the approval from the top.
We would appreciate if there is better coordination and consultation, so that more inputs can be made in identifying different programs that could be beneficial for the people of the area.
These projects would be sustainable so that one would not overlap with the other and also can prevent unnecessary wastage of funds.
I see even in this budget, the appropriation bill shows us that over Rs. 130 billion have been allocated to Nation Building. Here one Ministry has got a large allocation of funds. This is the question of how much of consultation that is taking place with Ministers representing different areas and how much it is properly planned before the government embarks on very ambitious ventures.
Q: Do you think that as a responsible political party the SLMC has lost the chance to look into the grievances of the Muslim community in the North and the East?
A: Certainly not. We have been a primary political force which has focused on the issues of Muslims and not simply of the people in the North and the East but also those who are living outside the North and the East. We certainly do look into people’s grievances and try to solve some problems. We are not a political party that help only the Muslims but the non-Muslims in other areas.
Q: Now the government is planning to conduct elections in the East. How conducive is the climate in the Eastern region to hold Provincial Council and Local Government elections?
A: Unless the government is confident that they can maintain law and order fully under their purview it is unlikely that they will get the people’s support as they are somewhat reluctant to be involved in elections. First, the cultural violence that appeared to have taking place in some areas may have to be de-escalated very fast. Proper monitoring of the law and order should be put into place.
The conducive climate for the democratic political process to hand over nominations and contest will have to be ensured. For the major political forces to contest in the elections, they must first feel that they are safe.
And also it should be ensured that the prevailing security situation would not be disturbed by intimidation harassment. These are the vital elements that the government must first ensure before deciding on an election.
Q: How do you see the attempts by the opposition and some political parties to topple the government and are you a part of that secret deal while you are supporting the government?
A: Unfortunately always this suspicion is aired about the SLMC. It is a very unenviable position. We do have a strong leverage in national politics. But, as we are a principal party, we do not believe in conspiracies and behind the scene negotiations.
We always deal with thing very openly and we have been told those people in the government with whom we are having these deals that any discussions with the SLMC need to be very transparent.
We have no permanent binding to any political force in this country and our only interest is to secure the best interest of people who voted us. We joined this government with the hope that the best interest will be safeguarded.
As long as this government stands by those assurances and treat us with dignity I do not think that this government has anything to fear.
The government must allow us to function freely in the areas where we have been given responsibilities; we should be able to carry out our work within our purview so we can do justice to the positions that we are holding under this government.
I, as a Minister in charge I must bring down the tariff on phone. I must be able to implement policies which will allow people to have better facilities at less cost.
Power should not be concentrated on one place and it should be shared. Development funds must be made available to everyone to work and contribute. This is our expectation and this is what we call dignity. Then we can call ourselves full partners of this government.
Q: Does this mean that you are not satisfied with the functions assigned to you or are you not given a free hand in your Ministerial functions?
A: I would say we could do more and we are all under utilised. Power is entrusted to us to be able to do our work.
Q: Do you say that you are a powerless Minister?
A: No. I think I can do much more in the telecommunication sector.
The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission is a body that always being a part of this Ministry but it is not under the Ministry at present.
To drive polices and to have healthy competition, there has to be a proper guidance and political leadership. Now the entire Ministry is a shell without the TRC. The day I took over as the Minister I told the President that without the TRC that this ministry is of no use.
If it is given to me, I must be in a position to have control and supervision over the Board and administration and then only we can improve the services.
I am sure that I could do more in the telecommunication side. I have brought this to the notice of the President but it has been delayed and hope things would improve soon.
Q: Are you ready to help the government at the budget?
A: Why shouldn’t I help the government at the budget. There should not be unnecessary doubts on this.
I am part of the government. The appropriation bill shows that there is an uneven distribution of funds among Miniseries but that is how the budget has been prepared. We will hope there should be a more coherent and fair distribution of funds in the future.
Q: You are a politician, who joined all the successive governments with certain conditions. Do you think that this time you are trapped?
A: That is a very good question. We joined the government at their request in February this year. Before joining we had a few rounds of discussions on the basis which we join the government. So it remains as an expectation to achieve these objectives in addressing the grievances in the Muslim society.
If we are to continue with them for the rest of this parliament we naturally should have more support to achieve our objectives. We have to use our leverage that we have within in government to achieve our objectives. In the meantime we are also quite mindful about of the difficulties that the government is placed in. The fiscal position may not be that rosy. I think it is a collective responsibility.
We have been looked at as a party that inclined towards the UNP. That feeling may be still lingering in the government. The fact is we are an independent party, which would be always harnessed to the advantage of any party and any government in power. But, I do not think I am trapped. I am free to leave whenever I want. That is my strength. I represent another party and I always tell the government if I am unhappy.
Q: Once you have said that you joined the government to ’stop poaching of your MPs’. Have you been able to stop this by joining the government?
A: Yes. Indeed. I think I was able to do that because I have already lost four members before joining the government. We had to deal sincerely. We have decided that we need to be a disciplined and respected party. In my opinion it is wrong to say that we have been trapped. But whether we like it or not, the truth is that this government had in poaching. So, as a party leader I had to take a prudent decision to prevent poaching. I should know my strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, the government and the opposition know the strength of the SLMC when it comes to an election. Whether it is the UNP or the PA they would always be attempting in various ways to weaken us.
Q: Is there an urgency in putting the APRC proposals out?
A: The initial euphoria was there in getting a result out of the APRC and we had noticed that there was an urgency a month ago. But I think because of the budget there is some deliberate delay in putting out the APRC proposals. Though it is very regrettable the President Rajapaksa appears to be determined that he will do it in his way we are not very pleased with it. We want some urgency as we do not want this current situation to be continued. On the other hand he appears to be in some sort of dilemma without knowing which way he would lead. One thing is sure, he needs to decide either way very soon in bringing a solution and he has to come out with a devolution package.
Q: How do you see President Rajapaksa as a leader and as a friend?
A: Well as a leader he is a very charismatic man. He has his own charisma. He has not forgotten his simple ways. He is a grass roots politician who has not lost that touch. That is one of his greatest strengths.
As a friend, as I have heard from his many friends that he is somebody who does not forget his friendships. So, I wish I could be a friend of his and I have to be counted as a friend too. [Courtesy: Sunday Observer]
October 17th, 2007
Leading social scientist Dr Padmakar Vishnu Vartak, founder of Veda Vignyan Mandal of Pune, is confident that Sanskrit is the most ideal and scientific language for computers.
Speaking to this paper here on Friday, Vartak, author of many books on Vedic heritage said Sanskrit letters are written exactly how it is pronounced. However, in Roman script, spelling and pronunciation change many times.
Dr Vartak said scientists are busy developing computers which can run on pronunciation. But, it is difficult for the computers to absorb English pronunciation and the spellings as more often pronunciation change with spellings in English, he added.
The Rishis of the Veda times had enormous knowledge of every thing under the sun, said the scholar. Rishis knew about cloning thousands of years ago. A medical practitioner by profession, Vartak said the Indian mind was so much corrupted by the British that we today think that developments in science should come from the West. The western science has hypnotised our mind, he regretted.
He said Valmiki has given exact date and time of birth of Rama. The Vedas also have discussed about the ‘big bang’ theory of world’s origin. He said Shankaracharya had revealed about the gravity of the earth (Gurutwakarshan) in his ‘Prashnopasana’.
The modern science came to know of gravity only when Newton said about it in recent times, he added.
Dr Vartak said Jesus Christ’s forefathers had migrated to Jerusalem from India and they were Tamils. To support his statement he said the last words uttered by Christ at the time of certification were Tamil words.
Dr Vartak said in one of the portraits kept in Vatican City, Christ was depicted wearing dhoti. The picture of Christ also shows that he had a ‘Janiwaram,’ he said adding that Christ had a sister whose name was ‘Thamar’ which in Tamil means Lotus.
Dr Vartak said the people should take interests in preserving knowledge and heritage of India. The country has given perfect science as well as mathematics to the whole of the world, he said.
Dr Vartak is addressing in Belgaum on October 13 (Saturday) and 14 (Sunday) at Sharadotsava Mandal at 3 pm on Saturday and at 10 am at Gurudev Ranade Mandir and at 5 pm at Maratha Mandir on Sunday. [Express NewsService]
October 14th, 2007
by D.B.S. Jeyaraj
“Colonel” Karuna the erstwhile Eastern regional commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is reportedly in Europe. Karuna whose real name is Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan revolted against the LTTE in March 2004 and formed the break-away group called the Tamil Eelam Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (Tamil Eelam People Liberation Tigers). Later the word “Eelam” was dropped and the group was officially called TMVP. Popularly the TMVP was called the Karuna faction.
['Col' Karuna, in Jul 2007]
According to some media reports the TMVP is in disarray. Just as Karuna rebelled against LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabakharan , the TMVP leader’s second in command Pillaiyan has mutinied against him. Pillaian has reportedly staged a mini coup d’etat and seized the TMVP party machinery in Batticaloa. The 27 member TMVP general council has allegedly charged Karuna of misappropriation and expelled him. Karuna has fled the country to escape punishment.
Meanwhile according to some reports the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is greatly concerned about innrer divisions within the TMVP. Internecine warfare on a large scale is feared. In a bid to prevet such an outbreak the authorities are engaged in patching up differences and preaching the gospel of unity to those misguided eastern cadres. Apparently wolves do cry when they see goats getting wet in the rain!
According to some reports Karuna boarded a Sr Lankan Airlines flight and reached Paris some days ago. He was received in Paris by a writer cum journalist known as “Gnanam” who himself is an ex – LTTE cadre of the Eastern soil. “Suresh”an intelligence operative attached to the Lankan Embassy in France was also in attendance. After spending a few days in Paris with Gnanam the TMVP leader has vanished into the blue.
There are two versions about what happened.. One is that Karuna has joined his wife Vidyavathy alias Nira and their three children in London. She had already arrived in London some months ago. The other is that Karuna ’s family left London and joined him in Paris. From there the Muraleetharan’s travelling under different names have gone to an undisclosed location in Europe. The family will live incognito there for some time at least.
It is a fact of life that certain claims are projected as infallible truths by interested parties. The reality is that most such claims are fictional. The USA for instance claims that Saddam Hussein hoarded weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; the LTTE claims that Tamils assassinated by it are traitors and collaborators; Defence spokespersons claim that all air strikes are only on clearly identified LTTE targets and deny civilian victims.
Likewise a current piece of interesting fiction is about the intra- organizational conflict within the TMVP. The story circulated varies in form but revolves around a central theme which is that the TMVP is faction – ridden and that the GOSL authorities are trying hard to bring peace.
It is as if these officials are totally independent of the TMVP and are only acting benignly and impartially. The TMVP divisions are depicted as “autonomous” developments over which the GOSL has no control. Recently President Mahinda Rajapakse regaled audiences in the USA with his tales about eight factions within the Karuna faction.
This does not imply that splits are absent within the TMVP and that intra – TMVP violence is non – existent. That is not so. There are “problems” within the TMVP. What is incorrect is the impression that the state agencies had nothing to do with this. It is also wrong to assume that the state officials “handling” the TMVP have no authority over the Karuna cadres. They do!
What is omitted or glossed over in the various accounts planted by vested interests is the fact that the divisions in the TMVP were engineered by the state agencies themselves. In a crude re- play of colonial “divide and rule” policy these agencies have split up the TMVP into factions and are handling them separately. The various factions are mere puppets on a string. The master puppeteer holding the strings is “intelligence”.
It was Sri Lankan intelligence officialdom which helped forge the entity known as Karuna faction. It is the same agency that has now broken up the organization into factions and promotes hostility. This is like the British who unified Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) into one single Country on the one hand and on the other fomented ethnic rivalry among the people through communal representation .
What the British “united” for administrative convenience they “divided” for exploitative governance. Likewise the Intelligence officials have allegedly divided the TMVP which they helped to create. The puppets dance according to whims and fancies of the puppeteer. But spectators are told the puppets have a life of their own.
The ground reality in the East is that no group can function independent of the armed forces. The TMVP cadres cannot move en masse to and from a place without informing the military. Most of the TMVP camps and offices are situated in close proximity to security installations.
The TMVP cadre strength is estimated at 1200 and the organization is paid 12 million rupees per month at a rate of 10,000 rupees per head . The TMVP in most instances acts according to instructions from the intelligence handlers. This being the actual situation it sounds funny when some officials talk as if they have nothing to do with the TMVP
There have been various ups and downs in Karuna’s life after he split with the LTTE . For want of space this article will focus only on the phase after he returned from abroad and assumed direct leadership of the TMVP.
Earlier the loose formation known as TMVP functioned under Pillaian who called himself “supreme commander”. Pillaian co – ordinated TMVP activity in the East.
Apart from money obtained from state agencies the TMVP under Pillaian also ran a profitable abduction for ransom racket in Colombo and other places. This allegedly was in connivance with sections of the politico – military establishment.
The TMVP also extracted “taxes” from Eastern residents.Thus the TMVP under Pillaiyan was a profitable business. Several security officers allegedly shared the spoils.
It was at this juncture that Karuna aka Karuna Amman returned and took control. Karuna provided leadership input to assist the armed forces on the Eastern front. Karuna cadres fought alongside and separately on fronts such as Sampoor, Vaakarai and Kudumbimalai/Thoppigala.
More than the active military collaboration on ground the “intelligence” given by Karuna on the psychology of the LTTE leadership and its motivational thinking was of paramount importance.
The defence top brass and upper echelons of the armed forces were very happy with Karuna’s contribution after the East was re – captured. So elated was President Rajapakse that he told an influential Indian editor that he was planning to make Karuna chief minister of the Eastern province. Karuna’s future seemed bright but things did not go along as planned.
When Karuna was initially drawn into the war effort he was promised of being made head of an Eastern interim administration first and later the provincial council. This was done when the LTTE was in control of much eastern real estate.
Karuna’s services were sorely needed then.Now that the LTTE was driven out attitudes began changing. There were at least four major stumbling blocks in delivering the promised “land” to Karuna.
Firstly the TMVP image was tarnished. Credible disclosures had been made by the UN’s Allan Rock and other reputed Human Rights Organizations about the TMVP’s conscription of children and security force complicity in this. The Government vehemently denied such charges and disassociated itself from Karuna.
There was also evidence that the TMVP was involved in abductions and a number of human rights violations. How could the TMVP be given the East to “rule” without the GOSL losing even more credibility?
Secondly there was the hidden agenda of “Sinhalaising” the East. Short term and long term plans were being devised to minimise Tamil presence and maximise Sinhala presence in the East. Sinhala Government officials were being appointed in important positions to facilitate this. Giving Karuna and the TMVP some legal authority and empowering them could hamper this project it was felt
Thirdly there was significant opposition from sections of the armed forces. Though the hierarchy saw Karuna’s utillitarian value others were not willing to fogive and forget what Karuna had done as the LTTE eastern commander. The massacre of 600 Policemen was rankling.
Also incidents like the Mosque massacres had alienated some Muslim politicians. Thus there was opposition from Sinhala security and Muslim political circles to Karuna’s enthronement.
Fourthly there was the question of trusting Karuna himself. Whatever said and done Karuna had led the LTTE for 18 years in the East. Once a tiger always a tiger! Karuna’s political “conversion” was not genuinely caused. It was necessitated for survival reasons. The EPDP pushed this line against the TMVP.
Besides Karuna was an eastern Tamil chauvinist and could not be taken for granted. When the armed forces destroyed the great heroes cemetery in Vaakarai and planted coconut palms Karuna had protested strongly. So there were second thought about giving him absolute power.
Against this backdrop the proposal to grant Karuna dominance was reviewed if not shelved. But it must be said that there are top officials in Colombo who feel that Karuna remains the best bet still.
Karuna however grew impatient and began pressing for what he felt was his due. He was becoming a nuisance and so there was a need to give him his “come uppance”.
The assertion of Karuna’s authority over the TMVP and disputes over sharing ill – gotten gains between Karuna and Pillaiyan provided an opening. Krishnapillai alias Krishnan was brought down from London. Krishnan a former member of the TULF, LTTE, PLOTE and ENDLF was now a free – lancer working with Sri Lankan intelligence. He had contacts with the TMVP too.
Krishnan came down to Colombo and helped widen a chasm between Karuna and Pillaiyan. The bone of contention was essentially money but Karuna was also insecure about Pillaiyan’s field level popularity with TMVP cadres as well as members of the armed forces.
Pillaiyan realised that Krishnan was up to no good and sent assassins to bump him off but the quarry had fled his Colombo hotel to London.
Soon clashes occurred between supporters of Karuna and Pillaiyan. The security forces turned a blind eye and provided safe conduct for both factions. An attempt was made to demarcate two zones in Batticaloa – Amparai for the two factions. But Karuna rejected it and more violence occurred.
Initially Karuna was on top with the bulk of cadres and deputy commanders supporting him. Karuna’s deputies killed a key Pillaiyan deputy Jayakanthan alias Sinthujan and also his father Johnson who complained to the Police. Karuna’s men detained more than a 100 of Pillaiyan loyalists. It appeared that Pillaiyan’s days were numbered.
This was unacceptale to the powers manipulating both factions. So Pillaiyan and his cadres were re – located to Trincomalee district. Pillaiyan set up shop in Trinco along with Markan and soon there was a rise in killings, disappearances, abductions and taxation in Trincomalee.
The confinement of Pillaiyan to Trinco also resulted in a dramatic drop in Colombo abductions. It was estimated that Pillaiyan had 250 cadres and so was given 25 lakhs monthly. Karuna faction got 95 lakhs per month now.
But Karuna was not allowed to rule the Batticaloa – Amparai roost as the sole authority. His faction was now broken up into subordinate groupingss. While pledging overall allegiance to Karuna these different leaders were in charge of sub – regional units.
Iniyabharathi, Sinnathamby, Riyaseelan, Mahilan, Veera, Jeevendran, Mama, Seelan and Mangalan master etc became sub – regional satraps with a certain amount of functional authority. Mangalan master remained independent of both Karuna and Pillaiyan.
Karuna was housed in an army camp in the Western province. He would travel amidst tight security by air to the east frequently and meet cadres and members of the public. Thileepan was made political commissar for Batticaloa – Amparai by Karuna while Pillaiyan appointed Eelamaran as political commissar for Trincomalee.
[Karuna seated at the meeting venue in his left Supreme Commander Pillaiyan and in his right Senior Commander Jeyam TamilGuardian]
In Colombo the husband and wife duo of Padmini and Mahesh ran the TMVP office. Padmini was the daughter of Rajan Sathiyamoorthy the TNA Parliament candidate murdered brutally by the LTTE along with his brother in law. Mahesh was the son of Sathiamoorthy’s murdered brother in law.
They were seen as Karuna confidantes. The TMVP spokesperson was Azad Moulana a brother of Ali Zaheer Moulana the former UNP Parliamentarian who helped Karuna move to Colombo in April 2004.
[in April 2004]
As time progressed it became evident that Karuna was waning and Pillaiyan waxing. The security forces on ground found it easier to work with Pillaiyan. There was prejudice against Karuna but the rank and file liked Pillaiyan who treated them lavishly.
Pillaiyan was also a “robot” who would do as he was told. This endeared him to officers too. Karuna on the other hand fancied himself as the “eastern Tamil national leader” and made demands. He was also persistent about political office being given to him as pledged.Karuna began falling out of favour.
Slowly Karuna’s physical movements were restricted in the name of security. He was unable to travel often to the east as before. Karuna was forced to rely more and more on the telephone alone to communicate.
With Karuna becoming more of an “absentee landlord” his deputies began establishing greater control over their fiefdoms. Their respective handlers encouraged this autonomy.
Karuna was now more of a name brand. A motley crew of sub-regional satraps were functioning independently in his name.
Meanwhile the name of Karuna and the TMP was getting blackened furher amidst Human rights circles. Sir John Holmes of the UN urged that the TMVP be dissolved.
The time was ripe for Karuna to fade away or made to fade temporarily. Domestically there was strong pressure from his wife that he join up with the family abroad.
With Pillaiyan going his own way and other eastern deputies becoming more and more independent Karuna was getting marginalised and isolated. His claim to fame was only his brand name.
It was decided by those in control that Pillaiyan be allowed to re-establish his writ while Karuna went abroad.
The TMVP would function like a loose coalition comprising different factions active in specific areas alone. They will be handled by different officials. However much the TMVP does the dirty work for their masters it is felt that a solely Tamil organization with a militant history should not be permitted to operation as a monolithic entity.
Also a certain amount of dissension and inner -strife within the TMVP will be promoted to prevent any unity or co-operation. Divide and Rule tactics will be employed. The state and its operatives will pretend to be a unifying force.
The danger in this is that divisive policies have a tendency to go beyond limits at times. The Indian intelligence officials did so with the Tamil groups at one time. This “divisive” tactics resulted ultimately in large-scale fratricidal conflict
This could happen among TMVP factions too but the powers that be are not too worried about internecine warfare among Tamil groups or factions. In any case the State will have no use for the TMVP after the LTTE is “vanquished” and after Eastern demography is transformed. All collaborators are expendable after being used.
It is within this context that recent events are unfolding. Karuna goes to an undisclosed European Country with family. Pillaiyan moves down to Batticaloa from Trincomalee. Some Reports appear that Karuna has misappropriated money and has been expelled.
Other Reports also appear that no such incident has happened and that Karuna though abroad remains TMVP leader. There are also reports that internecine clashes among TMVP factions are on the cards and that Govt officials are trying to prevent it by resolving differences.
The chances are that attempts will be made to give the TMVP a natural death. It is not even registered as a political party. By propagating the line that Karuna is now inactive an impression is sought to be conveyed that his faction too is no more..
A political makeover of sorts could be attempted.Old wine in new bottles! Pillaiyan could be substituted for Karuna and the past will be downplayed. It remains to be seen whether this rather crude device will deceive internationally and deflect criticism.
Meanwhile what of Karuna? It would be a mistake to write off the great survivor. Besides the importance of being colonel Karuna cannot be underestimated.
Among all the Tamil political parties and leaders it is only Karuna of the TMVP who strongly opposes the North – East meger. All Tamil leaders at least pay lip service to the concept but Karuna has forthrightly opposed it and wants a separate East.
Karuna’s fantasy is about being an Eastern supremo but his political stance is conducive to those elements who want to separate and Sinhalaise the east.
Thus Karuna’s name and services may be necessary in the future to push through the Sinhala supremacist project. There may also arise a need to whip up anti-Muslim and anti-Jaffna mass hysteria among eastern Tamils.
Anti-Muslim and anti-Jaffna violence could also be fomented. For all these tasks TMVP’s various factions will prove useful but the re-appearance of Karuna may be of greater value and importance.
Nothing therefore can be anticipated with certainty. The unpredictable course of events will determine Karuna’s future. If deemed necessary for Colombo “Col” Karuna will suddenly emerge and re-appear in Sri Lanka again.
Otherwise he will remain off the radar for a while and simply disappear from the public eye.
As time goes by Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan in his new “avatar” may try to lead a normal life abroad. But can he? or more importantly will he be allowed to do so?
October 13th, 2007