General who encouraged LTTE to think politically

By Manekshaw

It was in the mid-eighties that several interesting developments took place in Jaffna between the Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to the surprise of the people of Jaffna and the country at large.

At the early stages of the Tamil militancy apart from its original presence in Palaly, the Army gradually began to increase its strength by putting up its barracks in Jaffna’s coastal area of Gurunagar.

However, with the escalation of attacks carried out by the Tamil militants in Jaffna, the Army decided to move into the Dutch built ‘star shaped’ fort in Jaffna when former Army Chief General Hamilton Wanasinghe functioned as Jaffna area commander in the rank of Brigadier.

Army would have thought that the well fortified Jaffna Dutch Fort with the elegant Queen’s House and the moat around it would be a safe-haven from where military operations could be carried out against the Tamil militants.

But the Army’s decision to move into the Jaffna Dutch Fort back-fired a couple of years later with Tamil militants using mortar shells and long range weapons making the Jaffna Fort a death trap to the troops stationed in the fort.

Major General Ananda Weerasekera had been one of the Jaffna Commanders when the Jaffna Fort was under siege by the LTTE cadres.

When Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera commanded the troops in Jaffna in the rank of Brigadier he was well supported by ‘tall and bulky’ Captain Kotelawala.

With the LTTE enhancing its communication network using walkie-talkies, the Army officials based inside the Jaffna Fort also got linked up with the outfit and made attempts to curtail the attacks between the two sides.

Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu who had been the LTTE’s Jaffna Commander succeeded in developing a good rapport with Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera and Capt. Kotelawala which had even led to the two officers to come out of the Jaffna Fort and shake hands with the LTTE.

Being a good soccer player Maj. Gen Ananda Weerasekera even made a request to the LTTE to allow him to visit his friend late E.

Kanagalingam who lived in Kantharmadam, Jaffna. E. Kanagalingam was a retired school principal and was well known for his goal keeping in Jaffna when he was young.

The rapport which developed between Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera and the LTTE had even led late Vijaya Kumaratunga to become the political figure from the South to have talks with the LTTE.
In a diplomatic manner
Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera was very particular in not messing up the link he developed with the LTTE in order to curtail the clashes between the two sides and the General maintained the link with the outfit in a diplomatic manner encouraging the outfit to think politically.

Being a first senior Sri Lankan Army officer to shake hands with the LTTE cadres Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera on his retirement became a monk known as Ven. Buddhangala Ananda.

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, the younger brother of Ven. Buddhangala Ananda was in Geneva at the UNHRC session this year and in his capacity as a Cabinet member in the Rajapaksa regime expressed his views very much in contrast to his brother’s diplomatic approach with the hardcore LTTE.

During his career as a top soldier Maj. Gen. Ananda Weerasekera was very particular that he should do his best to ameliorate the adverse conditions in the North and earlier in his capacity as Jaffna Commander the General made a big effort to push the LTTE towards this to a certain extent in holding political talks.

So it was Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, the younger brother of Ven. Buddhangala Ananda Thera at a side event of the UNHRC session in Geneva last Monday (20) defended the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and urged the UNHRC to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate the alleged war crimes committed by the LTTE.

It is obvious that the three decades of war had led to a free for all situation, with both sides being engaged in the war committing war crimes extensively.

The first Chief Minister of merged North and East Province A. Varatharaja Perumal in an interview with Ceylon Today even mentioned that the war crimes committed by the LTTE should also be probed.

As it was said that ‘truth is the first casualty of war’, justice should be meted out to all victimized by the long drawn out war in the island.

However, with United Nations High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al- Hussein reiterating his stance on Sri Lanka considering a hybrid judicial mechanism to investigate alleged war crimes, the extension of the period granted for Sri Lanka to implement the UNHRC resolution of 2015 at the 34th UNHRC session in Geneva, this time, gives the message that the country could have more time, but it cannot escape from the commitments it made in the resolution by cosponsoring it in October 2015.

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