April 2008

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South Asia - Sri Lanka | April 2008

 


______________________________________________________________________________

 News Briefs

 

The LTTE in Crisis



 (Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
  map are not members of SAARC)

Bruce Fein challenges Bernard Goonetilleke to open debate in the U.S

 

BY SATHEESAN KUMAARAN (IDN) *

Who could have seen this coming?  Former U.S. Associate Attorney General Bruce Fein has called upon an eminent Sri Lankan diplomat and present ambassador to the U.S. to an open debate at the National Press Club on American soil. Does the call challenge the intellectuality of our Sri Lankan generations?  Will Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US Bernard Goonetilleke accept this call to show that Sri Lankans are prepared for any challenge?  

Bruce Fein’s challenge reflects his intellectual ability to interact with a powerful, career diplomat by modern Sri Lankan standards, and has come in the wake of the U.S. recognizing the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo from Serbia in the post-Cold War era leading to the further degradation of the relations between Russia and the U.S.  

Fein’s call for an open debate is like a heavy weight boxing champion thinking that he cannot be defeated in the ring. Will the Sri Lankan ambassador accept the challenge or will he meekly retreat from the debate with his tail between legs?  If Goonetilleke rejects the call, Sri Lanka will see it as a betrayal.  One should remember that Sri Lanka once produced excellent analysts and intellectuals who contributed in the academic and public service circles, especially within the  in the south and southeast Asia region.  In this context alone, Goonetilleke should accept the challenge, and demonstrate Sri Lankan prowess in external relations and assertive diplomacy.  Fein has given the ambassador the opportunity to pick any date in March of this year, and the Sri Lankan government, if necessary, must even allocate funds to invest in relevant resources on diplomacy, history and geography of Asia and the Americas to help him prepare for the debate.

The call for the debate was pertinent.  Goonetilleke’s presentation on 25 January 2008 and the commentary that appeared on 17 February 2008 in the commentary section of the Washington Times entitled, “Tamil Homeland Fantasy”, must have prompted Fein to speak out against Goonetilleke.  Previous ambassadorial statements have presented the world with many factual errors about Sri Lanka’s history and the principles of the UN Charter.  Goonetilleke claimed that the Tamils did not have the fundamental principles to be recognized as a unique nation and state. Yet, according to the UN Charter’s clearly stated principles, Tamils have justified their claim to be recognized as a unique nation and their eligibility for self-determination.

Sri Lankan politicians and diplomats should remember the failure of the Thimpu Talks in 1984 as a consequence of the Sri Lankan government refusing to accept the fundamental demands of Tamil representatives at the talks.  The Tamils put forward basic principles, which included the recognition of Tamil homeland, the recognition of Tamil people as a nationality and the recognition of the Tamil people's right to national self-determination.  Rather, India, which hosted the talks between the Tamils and Sinhala leaderships at Thimpu in Bhutan, came up with a different set of responses in not accepting the demands of Tamils saying that, while recognizing the northern and eastern provinces as areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking people, the Tamils have also "…at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups."  The Sri Lankan politicians and ambassadors should know the differences between the statements above.  By citing the Northern and Eastern provinces as Tamil homeland, they gave importance to other ethnic groups.  “Other ethnic groups” referring specifically to the Sinhalese. The ambiguity was intended.  The disenfranchisement of nearly a million plantation Tamils in 1948 and the escalation of planned Sinhala colonisation after independence shattered all wishes of the Tamils to co-exist. Tamils have blamed the Sinhala leadership for destroying their native habitat in their traditional villages, especially in the east of Sri Lanka, which continues to happen today.  No-one can refute the fact that the north and east of Sri Lanka were and are the traditional homeland of Tamil-speaking people.  This territory is well-defined and has been inhabited by the Tamil-speaking people from time immemorial.  The Tamils of Sri Lankan-origin are not claiming the Upcountry region of Sri Lanka as their homeland because these areas are considered Sinhala homeland.  No-one can argue that, since Tamils live in the hill country, the land is the traditional homeland of the Tamils.  The indigenous Tamils of the island have lived in the northern and eastern parts of the island from the very beginning of their existence in Sri Lanka.

Thus the Tamils have fulfilled all the principles stated in the UN Charter to be a unique nation.  The concept of nation is psychology, but statehood is the legality.  Statehood will be legally recognised once the majority of the members of the UN with the support of UN’s Security Council declare it a legal state.  Kosovo is a unique example to cite because Kosovo has declared independence unilaterally from Serbia.  Most powerful countries, such as the U.S., have recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state.  With a population of over 3.2 million, twice the size of Kosovo, Tamils satisfy the basic criteria to be recognized as an independent state of their traditional homeland (northeast). This, indeed, will be part of Fein’s argument.

Meanwhile, Goonetilleke claims that the Tamils live in the Sinhala south and that, while the LTTE have control, no one can live in peace.  This is a horrendous misguided error on the part of this so-called senior career Sri Lankan diplomat.  Senior foreign delegates visited the government-controlled areas northeast of Sri Lanka and the LTTE-controlled territories.  These diplomats reported on the great administration of the LTTE-controlled areas, and many sad stories -- disappearances, rapes, lootings and killings occurring on a daily basis – in the government-controlled areas.  Goonetilleke may not have heard these stories because he lived a cloistered life far removed from reality, and it is pathetic that he was named a senior person in the Sri Lankan peace coordinating committee.  It is baffling as to how such people like Goonetilleke could objectively explain the history of Tamil struggle and their history to an international audience let alone to the common Sinhala people in the south.  It is pathetic that he claims that the Tamils have no traditional homeland and Tamils have no grievances whatsoever, except the Tamil terrorism (LTTE). He is used to citing the FBI’s report comparing the LTTE with other international outfits like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Hamas. His lack of knowledge about India’s history is evidenced by his claims that India’s official language is Hindi and that India does not recognize the other languages.  In fact, Indian states and the central government agreed when the central government granted autonomy for the states through quasi-federalism, that the states would have their own language besides English. While the central government recognizes all state languages, they would employ Hindi and English as official languages.  Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam and Punjab are a few of the Indian states who have their own language of administration – in addition to English. There is no Hindi domination of these states at all.  If the central government sends out mail to the people of these states, they address the letters in English, rather than Hindi.  These states send their MPs to the upper and lower houses in New Delhi to represent their states, where they speak English.  Although, Sri Lanka recognized Sinhala, Tamil and English as official languages of government in Colombo, the governments in Colombo had directed their departments to write letters in Sinhala even when addressing them to the people who live in Tamil homeland.  These Tamils do not have any knowledge of Sinhala at all.  Contrary to what Goonetilleke has said, there are very few Tamil officers in the Sri Lankan armed forces and police force.

On the question of standardisation of University intake on a racial basis, even an anti-LTTE activist like Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, who is attached to the Drexel University in Philadelphia, has written a response to Goonetilleke’s commentary that: “Goonetilleke says weighting examinations was never intended to discriminate against us Tamils. I took the common Advanced Level exam in 1969 and was admitted to the engineering faculty. The government then redid the admissions after adding some 28 marks to the four-subject aggregate of Sinhalese students. I lost my seat. They effectively claimed that the son of a Sinhalese minister in an elite Colombo school was disadvantaged vis-à-vis a Tamil tea-plucker's son. Unable to defend this, in 1973 they created the statistical scheme equating Tamil and Sinhalese averages with regional preferences to which the ambassador refers.”

Goonetilleke argues that Sri Lanka’s judicial system embraces all sectors of Sri Lankan society.  He is trying to please his masters in Colombo by conveying these stories to the men and women of western countries who have either little or no knowledge of Sri Lanka.  This is totally dishonest. Senior men like Goonetilleke should maintain their credibility by speaking the truth.  He has randomly picked recent court cases and claimed that the Sri Lankan judicial system treated everyone equally regardless of ethnicity or religion. The opinion of the Tamils is that the Sri Lankan judicial system treats the Tamils as second class citizens and, so, they have no confidence in the justice system.  The criminal justice system has never been able to punish those culprits who raped and murdered the Tamils in broad daylight in Colombo or in the northeast of the island.  Tamils cannot even approach the police stations in the south to lodge complaints against Sinhala criminals.  In return, the officers in charge will book these innocent complainants with false allegations. Fearing police retaliation, the innocent Tamils do not file complaints with the police.  Besides,  if the Tamils took the issues all the way to the courts, these Tamils would either be abducted by the so-called ‘white van’ abductors, or be jailed by the police  for alleged LTTE connections. This is the reality on ground in Sri Lanka. 

The distorted statements by senior diplomats definitely will hurt the feelings of Tamils and others who are interested the minority rights and human values.  It is easy to make people believe a lie but the truth has to be told a thousand times before they believe it.

Are Sri Lankans willing to expose the state they represent by denying the calls for an open debate?  Sri Lankans will definitely feel betrayed if their diplomats, politicians or senior statesmen who fail to defend their country. Fein’s call is a challenge for the diplomats or politicians in Sri Lanka to prove whether Sri Lanka is waging a war against terrorists or against freedom fighters.  This could be the last chance for Sri Lanka to have an open debate in an international forum.  Of course, the Sri Lankan government in the past had a Tamil, Lakshman Kadirgamar, from the Tamil homeland as the foreign minister of Sri Lanka and with excellent speaking and diplomacy skills, but it is impossible for the current Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama to rise up to it.

Sri Lankans from within and outside of Sri Lanka eagerly await Sri Lanka’s response.  Sri Lankans want to see whether these diplomats will further degrade the prestige of Sri Lanka in the eyes of foreigners.  Failure to attend the debate will be an embarrassment and slap in the face for all Sri Lankans.  Are Sri Lankans ready to show their chins to receive the slaps from a foreigner?  Make a wise choice and prove that Sri Lankans are no less intellectual than any of other developed nations.

[Source: The Tamil Mirror ]

      _____________

* Satheesan Kumaaran holds B.Sc. (Biology), Honours BA (Political Science) and MA in Integrated Studies  with the specialization in International Law and International Relations. This was first published in The Tamil Mirror. E-Mail: satheesan_kumaaran@yahoo.com

 

The LTTE in Crisis

Guest Writer: G.H. Peiris
Professor Emeritus of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

 

In the past few weeks there have been many media reports that point to the prevalence of confusion and disarray among the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE/Tigers) in the face of heavy losses inflicted by the armed forces of the Government of Sri Lanka. Apart from many references to injury sustained by the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in the course of an aerial bombardment in November 2007, there was some speculation that he may even have died. [Claims of Prabhakaran’s death may be set to rest after Prabhakaran’s ‘public appearance’ at the funeral of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament, P. Sivanesan, in the rebel-held Wanni area, of which the LTTE released photographs on March 9, 2008]. The specificities that embellish these reports, though ignored by spokesmen for the LTTE, have been refuted with disdain by several pro-LTTE writers. Given the questionable credibility of ‘news’ originating from either side of the great divide, it has seldom been possible to sort out the truth from fiction in the stories on the confrontational aspects of the Sri Lankan conflict. What can, consequently, be attempted is, first, to contextualise the recent surge of media attention on turbulences in the shrinking Tiger habitat of the ‘Vanni’ in northern Sri Lanka, without speculating on whether its leader is dead or dying or hibernating prior to a deadly leap at the jugular, and then, to synthesise the information on what prevails at present, extractable from sources less contaminated by propaganda objectives.

 

In the chequered history of the LTTE spanning the past three decades during which Prabhakaran has held sway as its supreme leader, there have been several spells over which its insurrectionary capacity suffered serious setbacks. Prominent among such recessions were: the brief eclipse of the LTTE in the aftermath of the Indian peace-keeping intervention in 1987; the worldwide anti-Tiger revulsion evoked by the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991; the strategic losses consequent upon its expulsion by the Sri Lankan armed forces from the Jaffna peninsula in 1995; the constraining effects on its international operations generated by the global tide of hostility towards terrorism following the al-Qaeda attack on the United States in 2001; and, more far-reaching in impact than any other, the internal revolt led by ‘Colonel Karuna’ in March 2004. The impression conveyed by the experiences in each of these episodes, however, is that the LTTE possessed the inner resilience and the external support required for recovery, if not entirely unscathed, at least with sufficient strength to persist with its campaign of warfare and terror. By contrast, the losses suffered in the more recent past appear to constitute an irreversible and aggravating trend featured by indications that could well portend a final collapse.

 

Despite the weakening of its grip on the eastern lowlands that resulted from the calamitous breakaway of the Karuna group, the LTTE leadership persisted with unswerving commitment to its goal of establishing a sovereign Tamil nation-state – ‘Eelam’ – encompassing the entire ‘northeast’ of Sri Lanka, the pledges of the ceasefire agreement of February 2000 notwithstanding. As in earlier times, its efforts were directed mainly at enhancement of military strength, expanding the territory under its control in the Northern and Eastern provinces and eliminating its rivals in that part of the country, mobilising international support for its cause, and destabilising the Government of Sri Lanka through carefully regulated intimidation and terror. That instigating a Sinhalese backlash of violence against the Tamils living outside the northeast – a re-enactment of 1983 – also remained a prime objective was underscored by the assassination of Sri Lanka’s charismatic Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, a provocative outrage committed in the final days of Chandrika Kumaratunga’s presidential tenure.

 

Colombo-based politics of the country during this period remained in a state of flux, featured by both frequent changes of the power configuration as well as intense electoral rivalry. Given the fact that the release of the foreign aid pledged by the donors remained conditional on progress being made towards a negotiated settlement of the conflict, Government policy had to accommodate two mutually conflicting needs – that of strengthening security and defence in the face of the mounting Tiger threat, on the one hand, and persistence with credible peace overtures to the LTTE, on the other. The latter encountered the almost insurmountable problem of fierce inter-party dissension on what could be offered to the Tigers without endangering the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

 

On the eve of the presidential election of November 2005 Prabhakaran enforced a boycott of the polls in the north and parts of the eastern lowlands where Ranil Wickremasinghe, former Prime Minister and a frontrunner of the presidential stakes, would have attracted substantially more support than his rival Mahinda Rajapakse. This decision appears, in retrospect, to have been a monumental blunder that marks the onset of a drastic change in the fortunes of Prabhakaran’s Eelam campaign. The boycott decision was evidently based upon the premise that Wickremasinghe, hailed internationally as the ‘peace candidate’, if elected, would, with his commitment to power-sharing under a federal system of Government, place in serious jeopardy the case for a secessionist campaign. Prabhakaran’s expectation was that Rajapakse, if successful in his presidential bid, backed as he was by electoral allies vehemently opposed to a political compromise involving devolution of power to the northeast, would actually attempt to implement his campaign pledges to jettison the ceasefire agreement, to evict the "White Tigers" (Norwegians) from their role as facilitators of peace negotiations, and to discard the notion of LTTE being the sole representative of the Tamils. Such a hawkish approach, the LTTE leadership believed, would pave the way for a resumption of military confrontations in earnest, backed by vastly enhanced international sympathy and support for the rebels’ cause.

 

Having contributed to Rajapakse’s victory at the election, the LTTE leaders began to test the resolve of the new President. Thus, while articulating with greater vehemence than ever before their earlier demands for Government intervention in disarming the Karuna group, and for constitutional power over the northeast pending a final resolution of the conflict, they launched a series of guerrilla attacks and acts of terrorism which, in April 2006, reached the heart of Colombo’s defence establishment in the near-successful attempt to assassinate the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka.

 

The sharply escalating level of violence did not evoke a retaliatory response from the Government, at least for some time. Rajapakse persisted with his pursuit of peace, risking, in the process, the support of some of his parliamentary allies. He established an ‘All-Party Representative Committee’ tasked with formulating constitutional reforms based on the axiom of devolution. He backed the Norwegian efforts at facilitating fresh peace negotiations, expressing a solemn hope that the brief meeting between delegates of the Government and the LTTE staged at Geneva in February 2006 would mark the resumption of a continuing dialogue with the Tiger leadership. Rajapakse was also reported to have made a ‘secret’ attempt to establish direct contact with the LTTE high-command, knowing fully well that the attempt would not be kept concealed from Sri Lanka’s friends abroad. The intensifying LTTE violence, however, could not be ignored indefinitely. From the commencement of Rajapakse’s presidency up to the bomb attack on the Army Commander (approximately 150 days), 150 armed services personnel, in addition to about 150 civilians, had been killed by the LTTE. The animosity between the LTTE and the security forces had reached such fever pitch, and the nationalists’ pressure for some retaliation had become so intense that the President was eventually compelled to initiate a series of air strikes on identified LTTE bases. Nevertheless, as the President had surmised, the continuing belligerence of the LTTE, on the one hand, and the show of restraint by the Government, on the other, did resonate in the policy stances, vis-à-vis Sri Lanka, of several western Governments, both in a substantially enhanced flow of aid as well as in the imposition of sanctions on the LTTE in member-states of the EU and in Canada in May-June 2006.

 

The repercussions of Prabhakaran’s capricious gamble at the presidential polls soon instilled into his strategy a sense of desperation. This found expression in a series of ‘Sea Tiger’ attacks (including an act of piracy) that evoked strictures from several quarters including the Secretary General of the UN and the Head of the Scandinavian ‘Ceasefire Monitoring Mission’ stationed in Sri Lanka. Prabhakaran retaliated by demanding the removal of all non-Norwegian members of the Monitoring Mission from the northeast. The tempo of violence was increased further with a spate of attacks on military and civilian targets in all parts of the country. Then came the major military showdown in the eastern lowlands that began on July 20, 2006, in the form of a ‘riparian’ confrontation in the irrigation channel system of Mavil Aru (south of Trincomalee) which compelled the Government to retaliate in earnest, with a nod of approval from the US. Thereafter, following a series of bloody battles that lasted up until mid-2007 in the course of which the LTTE incurred heavy losses, the rebels were finally evicted from the entire Eastern Province.

 

Throughout this period of intense military activity in the ‘East’, confrontations between the security forces and the LTTE elsewhere in the country took various forms. The Forward Defence Lines (FDL) of the Government-controlled areas in the Jaffna peninsula and in the hinterland of Mannar continued to be venues of low intensity clashes, with occasional flare-ups of short duration. In localities adjacent to the FDL in Vavuniya District, Army killings of suspected insurgents and LTTE claymore-mine attacks and ambushes of Army patrols occurred in routine fashion. The severe ‘maritime’ losses suffered by the LTTE during these months included the sinking of eleven of its vessels off the east coast. More significant, as an ingredient of the LTTE military debacle than any other, was the destruction caused by the constant barrage of aerial bombardments in one of which (November 3, 2007) Thamilchelvan, Head of the LTTE’s political wing, perished, and in another (November 27, 2007), Prabhakaran suffered injury.

 

These military defeats constitute only one (albeit the key) component of the current LTTE crisis. The mutually interacting ‘external’ misfortunes of the Tigers in the recent past include the death in December 2006 of Anton Balasingham, who had served for well over two decades as, by far, the most effective international spokesman and propagandist for the secessionist campaign. The impact of the loss of its carefully nurtured image of invincibility has been even more profound, especially on the support from the expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil communities whose responses to fluctuating fortunes of the LTTE have never been devoid of elements typical of ‘cheer-squad’ reactions. Recent reports also indicate that the increasingly stringent enforcement of anti-terrorism regulations in some of the western countries has curtailed both diaspora funding as well as other operations of LTTE agents and ‘front’ outfits abroad. The crescendo of their desperate campaign for UN ‘humanitarian intervention’ against the alleged proliferation of human rights violations in Sri Lanka has achieved a measure of success in generating external pressures against the country’s war effort, but has had no mitigating effect on the pariah status of the Tigers.

 

Foremost among the ‘internal’ causes for the present LTTE crisis is the prevailing trend towards factional disintegration of its leadership which, as the related evidence suggests, could well represent the emergence at the surface of subterranean rivalries that had been in existence all along. It may be recalled that the departure of Karuna itself caused a mini-purge in the Tiger leadership. Thereafter, when Thamilchelvan was killed in November 2007, certain critics (among them, S.R. Balasubramaniam, Congress Party leader in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu), cast doubt on the ‘official’ explanation of the death, and pointed to the possibility of Thamilchelvan having been killed by Prabhakaran in the same way he had liquidated other potential rivals in the past. In addition, throughout the recent years, there has been the barely concealed animosity between two of the highest ranking Tiger leaders – ‘Pottu Amman’ (alias Shanmuganathan Sivasankaran, the feared Head of the Tiger intelligence network whose spectacular ‘hits’ include the masterminding of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination) and ‘Soosai’(alias, Thillaiyampalan Sivanesan), the charismatic ‘Sea Tiger’ ‘admiral’. According to an analysis of this rivalry by the journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj, when Soosai [who had been accused by Pottu Amman of connivance with the renegade Karuna and the Indian external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)] suffered serious injury in 2004 while engaged in a speed-boat manoeuvre (though the injury was officially attributed to an accident) the widespread and lingering belief within the LTTE that it was the consequence of an attempt by Pottu to murder Soosai had given rise to clashes among its rank and file, which took a long time to subside. Factional rivalries of this type in the Vanni and their repercussions outside the country are likely to intensify if, indeed, the reported weakening of Prabhakaran’s grip over the LTTE contains substance.

 

Yet another ‘internal’ dimension of the crisis is seen in the recent resurgence of several anti-LTTE political organisations among the Tamil community of Sri Lanka, most of which were reconciled to a shadowy existence in the heyday of the Tigers in the past. Tamil critics of the LTTE have become bolder in expressing their views than ever before. Some among them repeatedly announced that the ‘Eelam’ campaign is doomed. A distinction between the LTTE interests and those of the Tamils of Sri Lanka is being drawn with clarity and vehemence. There is also a publicly expressed suspicion that the recent spate of murders of several pro-LTTE activists operating outside the northeast represents the work of such organisations, the members of which rank among the innumerable victims of LTTE terror.

 

As a barrier to progress towards statutory recognition of the entire northeast as a ethnically distinctive entity (which, of course, constitutes the conceptual basis of the secessionist campaign), the Supreme Court verdict announced on October 16, 2006, according to which the then existing amalgamation of the Northern and Eastern provinces to constitute a single unit of Provincial Government (a sequel to the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987) had all along (since the expiry of 12 months after the related constitutional amendment) been constitutionally ultra vires, is even more insurmountable than the military eviction of the LTTE from the east.

 

The cumulative impact of these complex military and political reverses on the LTTE has been devastating, producing the most acute crisis of the group’s existence. Sustained Government operations in the North now have the capacity to inflict progressive damage on the rebel infrastructure and support base, increasingly undermining any residual potential for recovery and consolidation.

[Source: South Asian Intelligence Review]

News Briefs

135 LTTE militants and 28 soldiers killed during the week: At least 169 persons, including 135 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants and 28 soldiers, were killed in separate incidents between March 22 and 29, 2008. Among the major incidents, 11 sailors were killed when a locally–built fast attack craft of the Sri Lanka Navy was caught in a LTTE-triggered sea mine explosion in the Nayaru Sea on March 22. Ten LTTE militants were killed by the troops during clashes in the Kallikulam area of Vavuniya District on March 23. Nine militants were killed and several others injured during an encounter with troops in the north of Janakapura in Vavuniya District on March 27. On March 28, nine militants were killed during two separate clashes in the Kaduruvitankulam and Periyathampane areas of the Vavuniya District. Further, 10 more militants were killed as the troops advanced over an area of about 700 metres in the Ilantaivan region of Mannar District on March 29. Among the civilian casualties, the Deputy Chairman of the Moneragala local council, A. Muththulingam, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the evening of March 29. Sri Lanka Army; Colombo Page, March 24-31, 2008.

LTTE has links with global terrorist groups, says Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake: Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake stated that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) maintains links with international terrorist groups such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and certain affiliates of al Qaeda. "According to some experts on terrorism, they maintain contacts with other terror groups such as PKK, Taliban, Islamic groups in the Philippines and even some affiliates of Al Qaeda," he said. He also said that certain reports mentioned that Tamil youths received training in Palestinian camps in Syria and Lebanon. "The Black Tigers are responsible for suicide operations and have perfected suicide bombings and assassinations. It is generally believed that they learnt it from some Palestinian groups," Wickremanayake told a gathering in Jerusalem in Israel. Times of India, March 25, 2008.

165 LTTE militants killed in separate incidents during the week: At least 165 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants and 16 soldiers were killed in separate incidents between March 16 and 23, 2008. Among the major incidents, 12 LTTE militants were killed by the troops during separate encounters in the Pandivirichchen, Villattikulam, Kallikulam, Kappankulam and Nedunkandal areas of Vavuniya district and Periyakulam area of Mannar district on March 16. Eight militants were killed and two of their bunkers destroyed in an ambush carried out by the Army Special Infantry at Kottakkarankulam, West of Omanthai, in the Vavuniya district on March 19-evening. Similarly, 25 LTTE cadres and four soldiers were killed as the troops successfully responding to heavy resistance by the militants moved forward and captured an area of about one square kilometer in the Periyakulam and Ilantaivan regions, north of Uyilankulam in the Mannar district on March 22. 13 more LTTE militants were killed when the troops confronted a group of outfit’s militants in the areas southwest of Madhu and Kallikulam in the Vavuniya district on the same day. Seven LTTE militants were killed and 10 others injured by the troops during clashes between the two sides in the Kiriibbanwewa area of Vavuniya district. Sri Lanka Army, March 17-23, 2008.

LTTE ready for conditional talks: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have expressed readiness to hold talks with the Government if it halted the military operations against them, but warned that the offer should not be seen as "any desperation" on their part to stop the war. "The LTTE is prepared to commence negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government if the Government security forces are ordered to halt their military operations. It was the Government which started the war," the LTTE political head P. Nadesan told a group of Parliamentarians from the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance in Wanni recently. "The offer of the LTTE for a ceasefire and talks should not be construed as any desperation on our (LTTE’s) part to stop the war. The ball is in the Sri Lankan Government's court. It was they who started the armed attack," Nadesan was quoted as saying, by Suresh Premachandran, a TNA parliamentarian from Jaffna District, who was present at the meeting. Times of India, March 16, 2008.

TNA parliamentarian killed in explosion in Kilinochchi district: The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Member of Parliament (MP) K. Siwaneshan, representing the Jaffna District was killed in an explosion in the Kanagarayankulam area of Kilinochchi District on March 6, 2008. The pro- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Website Tamil Net, however, alleged that K. Siwaneshan was killed in a claymore mine attack carried out by the Sri Lanka Army’s Deep Penetration Unit on A-9 road, 30-minutes after he crossed into Vanni through Oamanthai / Puliyangkulam entry point on March 6. His driver was also killed in the attack. The military, however, said no operations were being carried out there at that time. Three of the TNA's 22 MPs have been killed since fighting between the Government and the LTTE resumed in 2005. Joseph Pararajasingham, a representative for the eastern Batticaloa District was killed while attending a Christmas mass in 2005. His colleague, Nadarajah Raviraj, was killed in the capital Colombo in November 2006. The Hindu, March 7, 2008.

LTTE chief Prabhakaran may commit suicide, say Sri Lankan leaders: Predicting the collapse of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), some leaders in Sri Lanka have said the LTTE chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, will have no choice other than to "commit suicide" when the Sri Lankan security forces zero in on him. "He (Prabhakaran) will not be alive till the military arrests him. Simply, he will commit suicide. This is the nature of people like him," Social Services and Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda said. The Marxist JVP party leader Somawansa Amarasinghe also made similar predictions about the fate of the LTTE chief. "LTTE leader Prabhakaran will soon have to commit suicide by swallowing the cyanide capsule tied around his neck while the LTTE will come to an end without a leader," Amarasinghe told reporters. Meanwhile, the online newspaper Asian Tribune quoted a senior official as saying that Prabhakaran, who was suffering from diabetes, had lost his commanding position. The official, quoting intelligence sources, said the outfit was in "shambles" and two senior rival leaders had taken over the day to day activities of the LTTE, it said. Times of India, March 2, 2008.

[Source: South Asian Intelligence Review]


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