BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSSENTI
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered a judgment recently annulling measures against the LTTE, namely the designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organization. In spite of the ECJ’s ruling, the European Union (EU) stated in a press release on 27 July that LTTE remains listed as a terror organization by the EU. Commenting on this latest state of affairs with regard to the now defunct terror outfit, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera said despite EU’s listing of LTTE as a terror organization and actions taken to temporarily freeze the funds belonging to LTTE, the LTTE cohorts record an annual thumping income of USD 300 million and possess sufficient funds to regroup and launch an attack to seize the northern part of Sri Lanka to establish a separate state for Tamils.
Speaking to Ceylon Today he added that LTTE terrorists might resume functioning at any time as the government has released a large number of former hardcore LTTE terrorists after rehabilitating them and LTTE cohorts in the international arena keep track on them to revive LTTE terror outfit. “While the LTTE terrorists are planning to recommence their atrocities to stablish a separate land for Tamils, the government facilitates the same by means of constitutional changes,” Rear Admiral Weerasekera said.
Rear Admiral Weerasekera is held in high esteem by patriotic citizens of the country for his representation of the country in the Geneva Human Rights Council and his attempts of countering the war crimes allegations levelled at Sri Lankan Armed Forces by the international community.
? Although ECJ has in a judgment annulled measures taken against the LTTE recently, the EU says LTTE remains listed as a terrorist organization. And also, the annulled measures cover the period 2011- 2015, but not the period 2015- 2017. So, according to the present ruling, LTTE remains a terror outfit. Would you comment on this recent announcement of ECJ and EU with regard to the LTTE?
A: EU adopted resolutions after 2001 to combat terrorism and measures were taken to freeze the funds received by terrorist outfits.
In the light of these developments, LTTE was listed a terror outfit in 2006.
The judgment of ECJ is only a legal ruling based on the procedure used in listing the LTTE. It says the council failed to report that LTTE still has the intention to continue terror attacks in Sri Lanka. But EU confirmed to list LTTE as a terror group and action was taken to freeze its funds despite the ruling.
But as per the Jane’s Defence Weekly magazine the annual income of the LTTE cohorts, through supermarkets, fuel stations, drug and human smuggling is around USD300 million. Although their finances are temporarily frozen, they possess sufficient funds to implement their plans to set up a separate land in the North for Tamils.
The government has already played into their hands by lifting the ban on Global Tamil Forum and Tamilnet web, facilitating dual citizenship to hardcore separatist Tamil diaspora and very treacherously through constitutional reforms being drafted at present.
When the government’s attitude is such towards the proxies of LTTE, I am not surprised of the ECJ’s ruling.
? How does the signing of the Hambantota Port Project agreement with China affect the security concerns of Sri Lanka?
A: This presents a security threat to India than Sri Lanka. India was displeased with the Port City Project being given to China and Chinese submarines arriving into the Colombo harbour during the previous regime. Due to the endeavours of the previous regime India launched a plan to topple the government via the operation of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing).
Nevertheless, the present regime which has a patch-plastering foreign policy, not only recommenced the Port City project, but also have given Hambantota Port to China for 99 years. In this case, China must be thanking India especially RAW for facilitating the regime change.
The government has agreed with India to lease the oil tanks in Trincomalee and the administration over the Trincomalee harbour along with roads and power plants as a ‘balancing tactic’. As a result of the unwise acts of the government, Sri Lanka will become subservient to two major powers in the region.
Further, the government has no mandate to sell national assets in this manner. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe doesn’t have even a simple majority in Parliament. These are all acts of traitors and all these people will be definitely charged with treason in the future. As you know, ‘treason’ if proved beyond any reasonable doubt is an offence punishable with death.
? Investigations reveal that former LTTE terrorists of the ‘Ava‘ group are responsible for the present unrest in Jaffna. Do you agree that the atrocities in Jaffna are on the rise at present?
A: The government must take the full responsibility of the current pathetic situation in the North. Merely to appease the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil Diaspora that helped them to come to power, the government was audacious enough to release hardcore Tamil terrorists from prison and to imprison officers of the security forces.
The intelligence service is at a deplorable state and the intelligence officers were restricted to barracks in the North. Since we had a strong intelligence network during the last regime, we could thwart many atrocities that LTTE was planning to embark on. The intelligence officers are highly demoralized by the government activities.
We have rehabilitated and released 11,600 LTTE cardres and there are 4,000 Tigers who never surrendered. With the lifting of the ban on the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and pro-Tiger activists, they have by now prepared a data base of all such terrorists. They are also aware of probable underground weaponry. The LTTE is at present capable of producing about 15,000 well-trained and well-equipped fighting outfit within a very short period of time and resume their activities to gain a separatist State.
The previous government has released more than 80 per cent of land acquired by the Army during the war and retained only the locations strategically important for national security. The government has released strategically important locations merely to please TNA and Chief Minister Wigneswaran. There is no respect for the Armed forces and policemen who are stabbed on the road, attempts to kill Judges, brawls among underworld gangs, robberies, and rapes which have become a common phenomenon in Jaffna. The government should take the full responsibility of this unrest.
? Do you agree with the withdrawal of armed forces from the North?
A: Armed forces are deployed countrywide and the North is not an exception. Why only whine about the presence of armed forces in the North? Doesn’t that area belong to Sri Lanka?
Subsequent to the conclusion of World War II, the US did not withdraw its armed forces from Japan, the Philippines and Korea. Even after 70 years US armed forces occupy these countries.
The public in Jaffna does not want any withdrawal of armed forces from Jaffna. The demand comes from the TNA and Wigneswaran.
The TNA is a proxy of LTTE defeated by the armed forces. The government’s naïve acts of behaving in accordance with the whims and fancies of TNA is akin to the scenario of Sir Winston Churchill following the orders of Nazis after defeating them during World War II.
The general public still prefers the remaining armed forces for their security. Despite the claims of LTTE proxies on the armed forces, ordinary people have a rapport with the armed forces as they look after the welfare of the public in the North. When there was a shortage of blood at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital the armed forces donated blood to their brethren in the North. None of the so-called high class TNA politicos who claim to be the liberators of Tamils responded to the Jaffna hospital’s call for blood.
The Army cleared 495,000 landmines in Jaffna and made it a safe area to live. The Army also constructed more than 8,000 houses at their own expense for the Tamils in North and resettled 295,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) within a short period of time. Chief Minister Wigneswaran and other TNA politicos who did not render any assistance to the afflicted people during their hardship now want to oust the armed forces from the North.
? The government is accused of dancing to the tune of TNA and fulfilling its demands. Don‘t you think the government will take action to withdraw armed forces from the North to please the TNA?
A: Are we to take these mavericks seriously? The flagrant mistake the government did was not banning TNA soon after the eradication of terrorism. This is quite contrary to what took place in the world history. For instance, when Hitler was defeated, his Nazi political party became nonexistent. The Kemarouge political party of Pol Pot ceased to exist with his assassination. In the recent past, when Saddam Hussein was hanged, his Bath political party became defunct. When Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak fell from power, his political party was banned.
After the defeat of LTTE terrorism, TNA continued to exist. TNA has a separatist agenda.
I think we are not yet too late to ban TNA and I presume that it is the immediate best course of action towards reconciliation.
? LTTE is responsible for the assassination of a large number of politicians, acclaimed academicians, professionals, heads of armed forces as well as massacring innocent civilians. Why doesn‘t the international community take action against atrocities of LTTE and preoccupied with pursuing only the alleged war crimes that are said to have been committed by the armed forces?
A: The international community never raised concerns over LTTE atrocities carried out in Sri Lanka. In fact, their response to the lethal acts of LTTE terrorists was torpid. They responded so naively whenever the LTTE terrorists killed hundreds of innocent civilians or caused havoc in the country. The main reason for this indifferent behaviour of international community was the influence of the separatist Tamil Diaspora.
When the LTTE was unleashing terror in Sri Lanka to achieve their political aim, the Global Tamil Forum carried out a plan to ‘justify’ the atrocities of the LTTE by portraying an image of terrorists to the international arena that LTTE took up arms for a separate State in the North due to discrimination faced by Tamils. They engaged in raising funds for LTTE to purchase arms or lethal weapons to kill innocent civilians in our country.
They strategically made use of LTTE’s financial strength to fund the political campaigns of politicians in the West to prevent them from voicing against the atrocities of LTTE.
There are incidents of apprehensions of LTTE terrorists abroad, but, I must say that the international community never backed Sri Lanka to fight the battle against terrorism. Whenever the Tamil tigers launched attacks, the international community urged the government to hold talks with terrorists and arrive at an amicable resolution.
We also can observe their reaction to terrorism at present. I would say this is nothing but duplicity.
? What is your view on the government facilitating UN‘s special rapporteur Ben Emmerson to visit Vavuniya prison and to meet LTTE terrorists there?
A: Ban Ki-moon who was the General Secretary of UN never visited Sri Lanka at the time of LTTE killing innocent civilians in the border villages. When UNESCO was reporting to UN that LTTE had recruited approximately 3,000 child soldiers, Moon failed to draw attention to that matter. When the LTTE were using 300,000 innocent Tamils as a human shield during the last stages of war, he never attempted to prevent it.
But to the amazement, he was so engrossed in holding Sri Lanka accountable upon the completion of war which involved rescuing of 295,000 Tamil civilians from the clutches of terrorists. He rushed to Sri Lanka within three days’ of eradication of terrorism.
It was like dashing to America after Bin Laden was killed and telling Barak Obama to take action against US Marines who have violated International Human Rights laws.
Ben Emerson’s visit was a part of Geneva resolution 30/1. Special rapporteur Monica Pinto arrived in Sri Lanka prior to the arrival of Emmerson to study and report about our Judiciary. Fretman too arrived subsequent to them.
Pinto, in her report said that our judiciary is fraught with corruption, politicized and inefficient and the implication was to justify ‘hybrid Court’ to try our soldiers. Ben Emerson came to supervise if we were following the instructions as per the Geneva Resolution.
He visited hardcore terrorists in prison and asked them if their human rights had been violated. The best part was that the President did not know who gave permission for Emmerson to talk to convicted terrorists in prison.
Emmerson reprimanded the government for the ‘slow progress’ of implementation of resolutions. Only Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe argued against Emmerson’s falsehood. I truly appreciate the minister’s straightforwardness.
See the aftermath of agreeing to cosponsor the resolution. Now we have no option but to dance to their tune. We are forced to arrest servicemen, approve OMP, sign International Conventions such as Enforced Disappearance. The government delegation is keeping mum when the pro-LTTE NGOs are making statements with blatant lies insulting our nation at the Human Rights Council. The President and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera should be held responsible for putting our nation into this pathetic situation.
Reach the writer via
Pic by Laksiri Rukman