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Information Bulletin No. 31

Date of Release: 13th January 2003

The Gathering Storm in the East

 

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Summary

1. The March of the Sword

2. The Balasingamisation of Democracy

3. The Saga of the Three Child Escapees

4. The Dangers of Suffocating the Truth about Child Conscription

5. Current Trend of Conscription in the East

6. Underage Returnees: A Mixed Bag

7. Black Tigers as a Stockpile of Incendiary Matter

8. The High Security Zones

9. The Prime Minister, the PTA and the Athulathmudali Murder

10. Fanning the Embers in Valichenai: A Murder and Renewed Provocation of Muslims

11. The New Year in Batticaloa: A Nasty Turn of Events

12. Conclusion

Appendix I

Persons from Political Groups Abducted by the LTTE in the East during 2002

Tamil Army Personnel who were Abducted by the LTTE in the East During 2002 & Early 2003.

Appendix II

A Sample of Recent Cases of Forced Conscription by the LTTE in the East

Appendix III

A Diary of Terror and Allied Developments

Summary

The MoU has been in operation for nearly a year now. While the government and the LTTE congratulate themselves on the peace process (supported by the silence of civil society), as is evident from the findings detailed in Bulletin 31, there is little to celebrate. The MoU has instead of empowering political space narrowed it even further. Bulletin 31 concentrates on the LTTE’s suppression of dissent among ordinary people and rival political groups, its child conscription programme in the East and the growing Tamil-Muslim tensions in the East.

Despite the statements made by the government representatives, the LTTE representatives and civil society activists in the South, the peace process still fails to address or recognize serious violations of human rights and even of the terms of the MoU by the LTTE. This report highlights the recent elimination of members of rival political groups by the LTTE such as P.Alahathurai a prominent member of the EPRLF (V) whose body was recently discovered in Batticaloa, tortured with his hand and ear severed. We ask why the LTTE are able to abduct, torture and murder members of opposition groups with the apparent complicity of the State police forces who are not investigating these crimes. The LTTE continue to refuse to accept any political or civil identity independent of them. Civil society by its refusal to speak out about human rights violations and the present situation in the North and East is made an accomplice in the LTTE’s programme of terror. The UTHR(J) once again tries to highlight how a totalitarian political ethos is being consolidated with callous disregard for the human life and human rights.

This report documents how despite the statements of our politicians the MoU has served only to further narrow political space. Not only are the LTTE abducting members of rival political groups they are also intensifying their child conscription programme. As UTHR (J) reports have consistently documented, child conscription has been proceeding and has not depreciated appreciably with the peace process. In fact child conscription has intensified under the MoU and spread to areas under government control. Forcible child conscription is also part of our present peace process. UTHR (J) highlights a few recent cases of escapees from LTTE camps and also lists those who have been abducted whose lives are unaccounted for. Neither the SLMM, the government nor civil society groups are making the LTTE accountable for child conscription. Far from decreasing LTTE conscription in the East in the 10-13-age range seems to be on the rise. This may be because child soldiers are easier to school to unthinking obedience. It is suggested that older cadres who are in ‘peace’ are seeking to consolidate personal power and developing personal agendas of self improvement through expropriation of wealth and exploitation of fear are proving less easy to control and manipulate. Batticaloa is nightly violated by the vans with tinted glass which travel openly though government controlled areas. These vans are for abducting political opponents and children. Bulletin 31 also draws attention to the plight of the LTTE’s underage returnees and to the children returned due to psychological trauma. These children have received little publicity in recent times though the frequency of trauma amongst the LTTE cadres is high especially with the level of forcible conscriptions. The LTTE’s method of disciplining children is through the application of abuse, torture and beatings. Several children have been killed or returned severely disabled. These traumatized children are victims of a brutal war, a brutal totalitarian force and victims of a future without hope. What LTTE courts exist to give these children, or any child conscripted by the LTTE justice? With regard to the North the LTTE has recently been urging the resettlement of displaced peoples especially those who formerly lived in the High Security Zones. Without any guarantee from the LTTE to protect human rights or to guarantee a permanent and lasting peace, the people resettled in the HSZs would be completely at the mercy of the LTTE. Meanwhile the LTTE continues to appropriate property and extort money in the North-East.

Some of the most deeply troubling issues at the moment relate to the worsening of Tamil-Muslim relations in the East fanned and stoked by the LTTE. The LTTE has taken an active role in not only propagating anti-Muslim rhetoric but also instigating boycotts of Muslim goods and shops. These boycotts also allowed the LTTE to secure lucrative monopolies over the trade of commercial goods and produce. When this resulted in price rises in the ‘Tamil’ market and people choosing to buy instead from the Muslim market, a grenade was thrown into the Muslim market on 2nd of January. The LTTE has mobilized a number of organizations for anti-Muslim political action in the East and has been behind several violent incidents. This is creating and worsening tensions in the North and East and further radicalising young Muslim youth. UTHR (J) examines the case of auto driver A.T.M. Hussain (Kalanthar) found on the 5th of January his neck cut and his hands tied behind his head. Despite an official denial of involvement by Karuna, circumstantial factors indicate LTTE’s complicity.

UTHR (J) points to the growing troubles in the East and the continuing suffering and resentment in the North and East. The LTTE’s rise in child recruitment, rule of terror and abduction of political opponents has to be seen in the context of a complete lack of popular support in the North and the East which has led to its intensification of terror to maintain a seeming ‘consensus’. When there is no independent press, no political space, no law enforcement or organization that is holding the LTTE accountable, and children continue to be brutalized and militarised in the North and East, then there cannot be a meaningful peace.[Top]

1. The March of the Sword

In his end of year statement the SLMM spokesman Teitur Torkelsson claimed that Democracy and Freedom have been enlarged in the new Sri Lanka that was taking shape. He made a point of noting that violations reported to the SLMM had plummetted to an all-time low in November. While he acknowledged that child recruitment, extortion, abduction and attacks on ‘political groups’ remain an unpleasant reality in the North-East, he attributed these to ‘extremist and criminal elements’ hiding behind the main parties. He suggested that ‘individual cadres must be active in supporting the LTTE leadership in stopping these activities in their areas’.

Despite the SLMM’s use of euphemisms in the hope of a happier turn of events, the signs at the beginning of the New Year are clearly ominous. Even as the fourth round of peace talks were taking place in Bangkok with the LTTE’s Eastern Commander Karuna in attendance and its Spokesman Anton Balasingam giving assurances that they will not resort to war, strange things were happening in the East. Local LTTE leaders organised meetings at all the big schools in Batticaloa town with students above Grade 8, principals and staff in attendance (e.g. St. Michael’s on 8th January). The message was, “We have no confidence in the talks, prepare for war, we have the weapons including MBRLs, we can take Batticaloa in three days, you must help us” (see Appendix III for fuller report).  

The LTTE seems determined to embarrass all those who have tried to put a favourable gloss on its conduct. Reports from residents and visitors confirmed an undisguised upsurge in child conscription in the East by the LTTE, causing renewed panic among the populace (e.g. Amy Waldman in the New York Times, 6.1.03). While the socio-political effects of this can be papered over for the present, violence against Muslims, whatever the smart tactical calculations, would surely lead to uncontrollable repercussions.

In our recent reports we gave several instances of attacks, abduction and attempted abduction by the LTTE of members of opposition groups, with a view to paralysing these groups. These actions were highly organized under directions from the top, and area leaders have often been directly involved. The leadership has done nothing to express regret or to check those involved. We have also pointed out that the use of the sword as the weapon of attack stretches all the way from Pt. Pedro to Batticaloa. Far from being the work of criminal elements, the targets have been carefully picked, watched and in some instances individual operatives had been assigned to establish friendly rapport with a victim (see Appendix I). The cases below describe this continuing pattern. 

P. Alahathurai’s was the first body of an abducted political opponent of the LTTE’s to be discovered. Alahathurai (35) of Mandur was a socially committed member of the EPRLF(V) who was elected chairman of the Porativu local council. He was a man well spoken of in his area and regularly sang devotional songs at local functions. In our last bulletin we described how Alahathurai’s brother was badly beaten up on 12th November 2002 by a local political functionary of the LTTE.

The body of Alahathurai who was abducted on 16th December was found along the lagoon at Kannapattai on the morning of 18th December. It was found only because the body, which was placed in bushes, was carried up by the floodwaters caused by heavy rains. Alahathurai was an important political figure in the area with an alternative vision to fascism. The planning and careful execution of the murder is not the work of some other criminal gang as the SLMM suggests. Moreover such whitewashing trivialises the gravity of the dangers confronting the people.

Following the spate of recent attacks, members of opposition groups spend the nights in their offices. Alahathurai married in mid-November and was obliged to stay in his bridal home. He may also have been misled by the fact that he was a respected person living in his own village and the LTTE figures were known to him.

The LTTE struck at 7.30 PM on 16th December when it was dark and raining heavily, and the streets were largely deserted. Alahathurai had set off to his sister’s place to collect food as he did routinely after his marriage. He was last seen being led away by Ramiah Rajendran (Rajan) and Mylvaganam Paramanathan. Rajan was a local council watcher who had been detained for a year when caught with a bomb and subsequently released. He has for sometime been attached to the local intelligence office of the LTTE headed by Eeswaran, who reports to the regional intelligence chief Ramanan. Paramanathan is attached to the LTTE’s local political office under Sutha that was set up after the MoU. (Although the MoU envisaged the LTTE opening offices for political work in government-controlled areas, it has taken over a large number of houses and installed itself as a ruling power, acknowledging no accountability.)

Alahathurai’s body was found tied up. It was clear that he had been tortured and his hand and ear had been severed-– the sword again. It is clear from what is known that Alahathurai’s movements had been noted and two persons whom he knew were sent to decoy him to a pre-arranged place on some pretext, where others pounced on him. The post-mortem on the victim’s body was delayed by several days as both the acting JMO and in turn another doctor assigned by the Magistrate declined through fear. The post-mortem had to await Dr.Chandrapalan who was posted back to Batticaloa a few days later. The fact that the doctors declined to do their duty through fear sends a clear message to those on the outside, on the doctors’ perceptions of the nature of the regime being installed over them.

The Batticaloa Magistrate, on the basis of the evidence before him, has ordered the arrest of Rajan and Paramanathan. The Police have so far done nothing and are not expected to, even though, for publicity at least, the Prime Minister ordered the IGP to investigate the crime, as though the IGP needs such orders to act every time a crime is committed.

The LTTE, in a statement issued on 5th January by Kausalyan, the political head for Batticaloa and Amparai, claimed that Alahathurai was one of their supporters and that they are looking for the miscreants! This was after they faced evident local resentment of the murder with the people talking about it openly. Perhaps, they might order the LTTE IGP to arrest Rajan and Paramanathan and produce them before an LTTE court?

Here are the people of Mandur privileged to enjoy two rival legal jurisdictions, neither of which would act in this case! When they became confident that the Sri Lankan authorities would do nothing, LTTE leaders Kausalyan and Ramesh requested the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate the murder and other disappearances to remove aspersions being cast on them (Virakesari 8.1.03). In another twist to the drama, the N-E Provincial Administration, now virtually under LTTE control, has asked the EPRLF(V)-controlled local council to reinstate Rajan with arrears wages to be their ‘watcher’!

This incident was preceded by the abduction on 3rd December of three senior EPDP members in Batticaloa. They are Sellathurai Thangarajah (Viji) (32 years), Nagarajah Nesarajah (Nivas, former MPC,N-E) (48) and Kandasamy Gnanajothi (Navam) (48). According to our sources, the LTTE had planted one Lavan who ran a passenger van between Batticaloa and Kalmunai, and who had over a period become friends with the EPDP men. On the day in question he invited them to a party at Kallady beach. About 8.30 PM the beach was deserted and the three guests who had been plied with alcoholic beverages were then not at their most alert. Ostensibly pretending to help them get home, Lavan led them to a waiting LTTE van, which whisked them to the LTTE-controlled area through Chenkalady. Lavan too then disappeared. This was again a highly organised.

About 7.00 PM two days before Christmas, the LTTE attacked four persons who worked for the PA at the last elections in Araiyampathy, 4 miles south of Batticaloa. Sinnathamby Uthayaraj, brother of ex-TELO strong man Varathan, caught a grenade blast and a pistol shot and was admitted to the ICU at Batticaloa Hospital. Sadatcharalingam Kamalathasan and Gopi were hospitalised with sword-cut injuries. Thambiraja Singaraja escaped.

Traditionally, the voting habits of Tamils around Batticaloa were diverse and support for Tamil nationalism was by no means as strong as it used to be in the North. The LTTE had a Christmas message for the Tamil supporters in Battiacaloa of left and mainstream parties based in the South, several of whom were told individually that no one should any longer work for the PA, UNP or the Left, but must work for only the LTTE, and there must eventually be only one party – the LTTE.

It is notable that most of the articulate, retired government and semi-government employees now vocal orchestrators of the LTTE line in Batticaloa, were once local organizers for the UNP, SLFP (PA) or both. Prominent among these born again nationalists is Mr. Sinniah, LTTE appointee on the SLMM’s LMC. TULF supporters have, by contrast, kept a distance from the LTTE, although their political leadership have become stooges to the LTTE. Longstanding TULF members are torn between their entrenched nationalist feelings and discomfort over associating with an emerging totalitarian order. [Top]

2. The Balasingamisation of Democracy

Press reports have reassuringly described LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingam and his negotiating partner on the Sri Lankan side, Prof. G.L. Peiris, as British trained academics. Thus, many who listen to Balasingam’s assurances on human rights, democracy, political pluralism and federalism may feel that things are on the right track, despite jarring noises from others close to the Leader like Commander Karuna. Karuna, a beneficiary of lessons in Swiss democracy during an official visit last month, said recently: “Our leader has his expectations. Then, the people have their own expectations. We will approach the problem taking both in to consideration (Thinakaran 11.1.03).” 

However, when one cuts through the waffle and extracts what really lies behind Balasingam’s statements, there is a remarkable correspondence with Karuna and developments on the ground. Political pluralism and democracy, yes. But after all dissent, opposition groups and the possibility of voicing alternatives have been eliminated. Human rights, yes. But that really means the right to self-determination, meaning all power with the authentic Tamils - the Tigers. All others are traitors and don’t irritate Balasingam with foolish talk about their rights, for no one knows and fears the Leader as he does. On the LTTE’s claim to be sole representatives, Balasingam cites the 17,000 LTTE fighters killed in battle (interview in Sunday Observer 1.12.02). Even children cruelly torn from their mothers and driven before blazing cannon are translated into political capital, like votes!

A recent lesson in Tiger democracy was given at an SLMM-sponsored goodwill meeting between senior security officials in Batticaloa and senior representatives of the LTTE led by Special Commander Ramesh and Political Head (B&A), Kausalyan. The meeting followed the LTTE abduction of a Tamil soldier, which it denied. Ramesh then revealed at a press briefing: “We have an excellent understanding with the security forces. But we are shocked and surprised by reports of the disappearance of members of alternative political parties from areas closely guarded by the security forces. It is giving us a bad name at a time when the eyes of the world are upon us and we have put aside our arms to do political work. We have told the security forces that the solution to this problem is to keep these alternative political parties under their protection” (Virakesari, 8.1.03).

The LTTE’s logic here is to divide the people into Tigers and Traitors, so that its control will be complete. It has a problem with other political forces and dissidents. As soon as it kills someone it tries to bury the issue by branding the victim a traitor. But in many instances where the LTTE was clearly identified as the killer, the people made their resentment known. At such times it resorts to character assassination against the dead or tries to appropriate the victim. Within months of the Tigers murdering her, a Tamil expatriate journal in Toronto made Rajani Thiranagama the pioneering spirit behind the Women Tigers. Following the recent murder of Alahathurai, Kausalyan quickly made him ‘one of our supporters’.

The problem for the LTTE is that the community often accepts that its victims were playing a legitimate role in society. Unable to accept the legitimacy of anyone’s role in a capacity independent of them, the LTTE must group its victims into ‘one of us’ and ‘traitors’. The suggestion to the security forces commanders by Ramesh and Kausalyan is a strategy to de-legitimise the opposition parties. 

The LTTE has continually targetted members of other groups, telling them that they must quit and work for them or be hunted down as traitors. However, in spite of the intimidation, murder, violence, abduction and abuse that the LTTE has subjected the opposition groups to, it has failed to break all of them. They are a thorn in its side and a constant challenge to the LTTE’s claim to be sole representatives. Furthermore, the LTTE fears that opposition groups may channel the anger and discontent that are widespread among the people owing to the LTTE’s arbitrary and authoritarian actions.  Hence the suggestion to the security forces that they should take the opposition parties under their wing. Then they would continue to accuse them as  ‘traitors’ with greater force. The problem of having to acknowledge a legitimate role for an independent opposition disappears! ‘How nice and understanding these Sinhalese security forces fellows!’ one almost hears Ramesh say, after the goodwill pow-wows.

Balasingam had notably reproached SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem at the recent peace talks that the Muslims are disunited and he should come back with a delegation representing all the Muslims. In plain language the advice to Hakeem is, “Go and practice democracy the way we, the LTTE, do. Then the Muslims will be united like the Tamils!”

We have always argued that trying to deal with human rights violations without restoring democratic space is meaningless. Consolidating a totalitarian political ethos to sustain a peace process is an attack on democracy and consequently on all other aspects of human rights. The most heartrending of these has been the attack on children and the conscription of child soldiers. Once the people are terrorized into silence, it is easy to gloss over the harsh realities and pretend that all is well, since accurate information about any incident becomes almost impossible to obtain. Even when such information is available it has to compete with disinformation by parties having their own agenda.[Top]

3. The Saga of the Three Child Escapees

The Lanka Academic Web Site in the afternoon of 8th December 2002 carried a news item titled ‘Seven girls escape from LTTE camp; four recaptured’:

“Seven girls from Thirukovil Vinayagar Vidyalayam were forcibly abducted by the LTTE a month ago. While returning from school they were forced into a van with their school books and taken to Kavar Mali, Tharavai in the interior Batticaloa where they had been handed over to Thamilini who is in charge of the women's training camp. The seven of them escaped on the night of 6th December. They were pursued by the LTTE and of the 7 escapees four had been apprehended while the other three went to a nearby village and sought help. The village women are reported to have disguised the 3 girls as Muslim girls and put them in a bus at Sittandy. When the girls got down at Batticaloa to take the connecting bus to Kalmunai, it is reported that LTTE women cadres who were on the lookout for the girls tried to force them into a trishaw. On being approached by a group of men believed to be from Military Intelligence…the LTTE women cadres fled the scene.”

The Editor’s note further mentioned the girls being 14 years of age and that they did not, for the safety of the girls, disclose their names. This was followed a few hours later by an AFP report after having evidently contacted the Army in Batticaloa. Instead of 14, the ages of the girls were given as 17, 17 and 19. The same evening an item appeared in the Army Web Site, repeating the version it had given the AFP.

A trusted source in Batticaloa, who had met the girls, maintained, when contacted by us, that the girls were very young and were definitely not more than 14 years in age. Questioned further, he straightened out certain points. The three girls were:

  1. Miss Radipa Thangiah, Sangamankandy Pillayar Kovil Street, Sinnathottam, Thirukkovil
  2. Miss. Sasikala Thevanayagam, Gayatri Village, Sinnatottam, Thirukkovil
  3. Miss. Thamilchelvi Krishanpillai, Vinayagapuram, Thirukkovil.

The girls, whom he said were in the Year 9 class at Vinayagar School, were returning home when they were forced into a van driven by the LTTE area leader, who was accompanied by LTTE women. The latter forced several girls into the van along the way, including the three escapees. Of the seven who escaped from the camp, the four who were caught were from the Valaichenai area north of Batticaloa. Our source surmised that the girls had been with the LTTE at least a month from the fact that their hair had been trimmed and their skin was chapped. He was taken aback on being told that the Army gave their ages as 17-19.

On setting out to make independent inquiries from Thirukkovil, the first obstacle was the discovery that Vinayagar School did not exist among the 19 or so schools in the Thirukkovil Division. We then requested a dependable source to get more information from the names and addresses of the escapees. Much to our surprise, we were given the ages of the girls as follows: Radipa - 11, Sasikala -11, and Thamilchelvi - 10 years and 7 months.

We requested the source to double check this and obtain more details. He came back and confirmed that these ages were correct, having obtained this information from persons who know the families. Further, the girls are from the primary section of Vinayagapuram Tamil Mixed High School and were abducted while returning from school during September-end 2002. They are now said to be back in their homes and attending school. We learn that about half a dozen children in this very young age were abducted from the same area during September to November 2002. Our source in Batticaloa said that the SLMM had issued the three escapees letters as a deterrent against being caught and punished by the LTTE.

The information on the girls from Thirukkovil is largely consistent, except in minor details, with that from our original source in Batticaola who had erred on the side of caution. The differences are easily explained.  The children are from a poor area where the age is seldom talked about. Being nervous and frightened they would have readily assented to what was more likely to be believed. What is puzzling is how Military Intelligence gave such a misleading report.

We may note that in March 2002 there was a marked contradiction between the Defence Minister’s position that reports of child conscription by the LTTE are ‘unconfirmed gossip’, and the information on child escapees appearing in the Army’s own web site. This may have led to pressures on the Army to tone down its reporting.  [Top]                   

4. The Dangers of Suffocating the Truth about Child Conscription 

A further irony about the case above is that it took place about the same time (30th September) as the Head, SLMM, had sanitized the LTTE by telling the Foreign Correspondents’ Association that the LTTE was sincere about releasing underage children and required help and understanding rather than criticism of its human rights record. The LTTE also successfully blocked the human rights community by making token releases of children. 

This is unfortunate in many respects. We have repeatedly pointed out that the LTTE’s repeated pledges not withstanding, there has been no let up in child conscription. At the very least the LTTE should have released the underage children in its ranks once the peace process commenced. One year has passed and the SLMM could not make them accountable for this crime. There was merely a shift from places where conscription became conspicuous to more rural and poorer areas.

While abductions are routine they are shrouded in secrecy and fear, so that escapees often provide the main source of information. The case of the three girls was far from an isolated incident. It was a routine catching operation to meet targets set for area leaders by those above. There were several other girl conscripts in their van of whom we know nothing. This incident moreover took place in a government–controlled area, hardly a mile from the Thirukkovil STF camp.

We have repeatedly argued that it is an illusion to speak of the LTTE abandoning child conscription unless it moves away from its totalitarian agenda and ideology. The renewed violence against its political opponents reveals a nasty confluence.

Perhaps the worst danger in pretending that the tide has turned and child conscription is on the decline is that we also destroy all resistance to the crime. An example of that resistance is the common folk living in a vulnerable area who disguised the girls above and helped them to escape.  What would have been their fate had the girls been caught and tortured by the LTTE?

Even as the SLMM claims that freedom and democracy are blooming afresh in Sri Lanka this is the harsh reality on the ground. In fact the recent weeks have shown a steep rise in child conscription in the East. The situation has become as bad as it was a year ago.[Top]

5. Current Trend of Conscription in the East

The small sample of cases we have been presenting may not be representative of the total picture. Our Bulletins Nos. 27 and 28, which spanned the period October 2001 to early February 2002, gave several cases of conscripted children in the age group 10-13. Information about such cases presented in our reports declined sharply after the MoU was signed. Of course conscription in that age group continued as we indicated by the odd case that came our way. But once the LTTE was given freedom to spread its tentacles into the government-controlled areas, our access too declined. In the poorest areas like Vaharai and interior Mutur where conscription in that very young age group was prominent, the LTTE’s stranglehold is complete and our access is almost nil. The three recent cases from the poorer interior of Thirukkovil came to us by chance, proving that complacency is misplaced.

However, a fair indication is the cases from the rural areas between Batticaloa town and Vaharai from where we have been getting a steady stream of cases. Appendix II gives a number of recent cases of child conscription that indicate a rise of conscription in the 10 – 13 age group, whereas in July-August 2002 younger conscripts were frequently in the 14-15 age group. That was a time when the LTTE was under pressure to improve its image with regard to children. The LTTE now appears to have decided that it has little to lose.

Senior LTTE leaders such as Karuna and Karikalam as we have repeatedly reported, have been urging their subordinates to expedite conscription. The demand of one child per family has been repeated around Batticaola since the final quarter of 2001 through speeches, leaflets and public notices (see our reports). The demand of one child per family was aired openly, after a gap of about two months, at a public meeting on Human Rights Day (10th December 2002) by the top LTTE leaders (see Appendix III). Thereafter such meetings have been frequent.

We also noted in the last bulletin that conscription activity was low during November while the LTTE was engaged in preparations for huge celebrations on Martyrs’ Day (27.11.02). Reports suggest that these celebrations enticed far fewer recruits than the LTTE had hoped for. Moreover, it became clear that the very large foreign funds the LTTE hoped to attract from donors at November’s Oslo sessions must await verifiable improvements in the LTTE’s conduct, rather than smart tactical gestures. This is the background to the marked increase in child conscription in December 2002.

The LTTE’s resumption and intensification of child conscription after more than a year of powerful international pressure may appear puzzling for some, but it must be remembered that by the very nature of the organization, the purely psychological wear and tear among the cadre is very heavy. Children are easier to condition as mechanical zombies.

The amorality of such an organisation expresses itself in the form of older cadres acquiring personal agendas distinct from the organisation’s. The LTTE has had to tolerate many senior and middle level functionaries enhancing their wealth through the organisation. Reports from the Vanni say that the LTTE is encouraging many senior cadres to marry and move into civilian life, while using opportunities provided by the MoU to replace them with much younger persons.

This high turnover has been one of the most notable features of the LTTE since its inception in 1975. Of the original group only Prabhakaran remains. Of the group of 1979 only Baby Subramaniam remains. Karuna came much later in 1984. Several former members were killed on the leader’s orders. Sources from the Vanni place the total number recruited under the MoU far higher than the 6000 or so talked about by analysts.[Top]

6. Underage Returnees: A Mixed Bag

Lists of young persons the LTTE claims to have returned to their parents (reportedly totalling 185) have been adduced as proof of the LTTE’s good intentions. We could of course infer that whatever these intentions are, given the continuation of conscription, they are not good. We do know that a number of persons have been sent back to their villages after training. This means very little. There are, we learn, about 20 such persons in the Thirukkovil – Thambilivil area, most of them continuing their education in the O.Level and A.Level classes. A few are being kept at home by anxious parents. Should war break out, they will all have no choice but to run back to the LTTE.

Another category of persons has been selected by the LTTE to continue their education in schools after the training. These are persons with promising O. Level results sent to complete their A. Levels. They have been told that they will then be contracted in for specialized training abroad in fields like aircraft, submarine and communications technology and to then work for the movement. Some foreign trained persons are already working for the LTTE in communications, enjoying special perks.

The other category of persons returned to their homes – children who have suffered psychiatric breakdown – has received little publicity in recent times, although the frequency is bound to be far higher, especially with large numbers of conscripts. Several notable cases of wrecked children, especially those used in murder and torture, have been recorded in the past 15 years. The LTTE is now very sensitive to clinical records.

Having recruited huge numbers to function in their brutal regime, the only way the LTTE knows to deal with children who do not fall into line is beating and torture. We have recorded recent cases of children who have been killed or disabled (see Section 2 of Special Report No.14 and the case of Miss. Lajitha Athmalingam (15) of Kalkuda in Bulletin No.30, who was returned very ill).

A particularly revealing case brought before the psychiatric clinic at Batticaloa Hospital on 28th December 2002 is that of the 14 year-old, Jeganathan of Thambattai, a coastal village just south of Akkaraipattu. The child, youngest of 4 children, was brought home after being in the LTTE six months. The boy spoke to all and sundry at the hospital as though he were in great authority, asking people rather sternly, “Are you Iyakkam (Movement) or Sanam (People)?” He told people with conviction that he would soon be posted as the financial head of an area and given a double-cab for his personal use.

Jeganathan’s mother who had brought him more than 30 miles for treatment could not answer questions coherently and was crying inconsolably. To the question whether her son joined voluntarily or was conscripted, she replied in some alarm, ‘voluntarily’. Jeganathan tried to console his weeping mother affectionately, “Don’t cry mother, soon I will have my new posting and I will make you a nice gold chain.”

Jeganathan’s village, Thambattai, is very poor and saw the first STF massacre in May 1985 (the Paul Nallanayagam case). Visu, the LTTE area leader, who once lived in a hut in Thambattai, is now socially ascendant like his counterparts in Southern politics and is building an attractive house. Jeganathan’s story is a tragic one where the false illusions encouraged in a child brought up in poverty soon came to grief, confronted by the harsh realities of being a child soldier.

The true plight of the Tamil people and their wishes are misrepresented in the drive to maintain that the peace process is on track and is making excellent progress. The absurdest claims by the LTTE drive the advocates of this process into a grave pretence that some profound human concerns are at issue, such as with the High Security Zones. At the same time it can dress up its utter contempt for humanity as legitimate security concerns.[Top]

7. Black Tigers as a Stockpile of Incendiary Matter

In the latest round of talks in Thailand, Balasingam made it clear that there are no plans to disband the Black Tigers. This is illuminating. Who are these Black Tigers? They are sworn by a terrible oath to the person of the Leader and his dream nation, to disintegrate themselves at his will and command. Were Balasingam’s recent assurances to be taken seriously, one might expect the Black Tigers to have a new oath: -viz. “We hereby swear to explode ourselves to atoms, should the peace process not lead to a federal solution!”  No, far from it! To be optimistic, one may hold that to Balasingham’s cynical ilk, the Black Tigers are like a stockpile of grenades or artillery shells, simply bargaining chips to consolidate Tiger power!

For most conflict resolutionists schooled in textbook peacemaking, these may not be serious questions. But for the Tamil people desperate for a future that is human, the plight of suicide cadres, child soldiers, and how these entities are created and used, are poignant questions of survival. Are these normal vocations for persons whose choices were not deliberately strangled? What is the character of persons who use them and what responsibility do community and religious leaders acknowledge for this warping of young humanity? Has the peace process led to any opening in the Tamil media to bring such painful matters up for public discussion?

In fact the Tamil media have become unashamedly more fascist and LTTE control is all but total. As if this were not enough, the Government and the Norwegians act as though the LTTE needs to be fortified with more control over the people and more decibel power to keep the peace process on track.  Hence the saga of giving the LTTE powerful FM transmitters![Top]

8. The High Security Zones

The LTTE has demanded that in the name of rehabilitation, the displaced people from the present High Security Zones in Jaffna should be allowed to resettle. A touching concern from a group that forced the bulk of the Jaffna populace into the arid wastes of the Vanni in 1995 simply because it was losing the peninsula.

There is no doubt that displaced people want to go back to their properties in the HSZs and rebuild, but they want to do this under conditions of permanent peace. There is no meaning in demanding their return, when the very persons making the demand (e.g. Karuna) themselves constantly indulge in sabre rattling. Karuna has been telling his cadres and especially the newly formed commando units that war is imminent. Balasingam has repeatedly said words to the effect: “We will give negotiations a chance, but should they fail, the Leader will decide the next step.”

Further, while the LTTE has been pushing the Army to vacate private and public premises in Jaffna, it has meanwhile taken over a host of private homes and re-established the camps it lost in 1995. The strength of the LTTE in Jaffna is presently placed at around 1500 trained fighters. The people know this and are afraid. It does not take long for an outsider in Jaffna to find out that they view the prospect of the LTTE gaining the upper hand with fear and despair. The LTTE taking over houses and transferring ownership to themselves is common in the East too. Manikkapody of Arasaditivu in Interior Batticaloa had three houses. About mid-November 2002 the LTTE took over one house to use as their courthouse. The owner was promised rent. Later the LTTE took over his other two houses, one for the legal department and the other for a police station. Again rent was promised. On 20th December, the LTTE told Manikkapody that he would be paid no rent and that they were taking over all the houses. He was chased away with the warning that he must not talk about it. We understand that Manikkapody complained to the SLMM.

The first extension of the perimeter of Palaly camp came in 1984 when a militant group tried to shoot an aircraft taking off with a Long Range Machine Gun. Today both sides face each other with cannon.  Should the peace process break down, those resettled in the HSZ would become cannon fodder for both sides. If resettling people in the HSZs would restrain the LTTE from resorting to war, it might arguably be a step in consolidating peace. But knowing the LTTE does not give a damn about people and its open and deliberate measures in the past to ensure maximum civilian casualties for its global propaganda machine, resettling civilians in the HSZs at present would be utterly dangerous and irresponsible.

The LTTE’s cynical advancement of “normalisation” as a prerequisite for permanent peace is a ploy to hoodwink conflict resolution pundits. This has gone widely unchallenged along with its other prerequisites for permanent peace. These are, the recruitment of children, consolidating totalitarian control, strengthening coercive terror and eliminating dissent. This is a caricature of normalisation. Or is this what the pundits mean by ‘normalisation’?

In the past, Western governments have used their influence to persuade the UNHCR to undertake the return and resettlement of refugees. It is quite conceivable that similar action will be urged this time, arguing that it would help normalcy and consolidate the peace process. One cannot disagree more with such premises. As we have pointed out the situation is too fragile. The LTTE only pushes programmes, such as resettlement in the HSZs, which give it a distinct military advantage and/or advance its control over the population. In the early 1990s the UNHCR learnt the hard way that the LTTE does not care about the people. After months of discussions, the LTTE went back on all that had been agreed about opening a safe route for the civilians through Elephant Pass, in place of the hazardous lagoon crossings. Institutional memories are, alas, very short.    

Eminent minds that have felt a need to place a favourable gloss on law enforcement by the LTTE have pointed approvingly to their law textbooks, curricula and penal code (essentially a replica of the Sri Lankan code). If this were the main criterion, there can be little criticism of law enforcement in Sri Lanka! Surely, the minimum criterion must be whether the spirit of the rule of law can, at some point, be pushed to assert itself in the system. The Police may be corrupt, the courts may give biased judgments, but there is usually a democratic course of corrective action which civil society may take. Where in the LTTE’s system of things can one pursue justice even for an eleven-year-old child abducted by its minions? Nothing can be said in favour of such a system under a dictator, encompassing such systematic cruelty and inhumanity. The following may be seen as a test of both the Sri Lankan system of law enforcement and civil society.[Top]

9. The Prime Minister, the PTA and the Athulathmudali Murder

Lalith Athulathmudali was assassinated at an election rally in April 1993, which was followed by President Premadasa being killed in a suicide bomb attack a few days later on 1st May. While D.B. Wijetunge became president, Ranil Wickremasinghe succeeded as prime minister - his present post.

A UNP front-runner, Athulathmudali left the Premadasa government to challenge him politically. Given the Police’s unprofessional conduct and many embarrassing circumstantial factors, all attempts by the UNP government to blame his murder on the LTTE were met with decided scepticism.

On 6th September 1993 the Navy arrested an LTTEer, Lingeswaran, in the Colombo Fort area, who had on him a pistol and some ammunition. Lingeswaran later said (Sunday Leader 13.10.02) that he was tortured for the first five days and the ICRC was given access to him some weeks later. On 23rd September 1993, Prime Minister Wickremasinghe made a statement in Parliament linking him to the Athulathmudali murder (Daily News 25.9.93):

“ Police operations in Colombo have made some major detections. Kandasamy Lingeswaran alias Balan has now confessed that he was working with Ramesh in the killing of Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali. A statement has been recorded before the Colombo Magistrate.  Following the interrogation and inquiry it was revealed that this suspect was the other person who accompanied the man identified as Ragunathan in the Athulathmudali case….”

The news item further quoted a senior police official paraphrasing what the Prime Minister said to bring out its main purpose: “It has now been firmly established that the LTTE was behind the Athulathmudali killing. We hope that all wild speculation that it was otherwise will now end.”

The news item further stated that Lingeswaran made his ‘voluntary’ confession before Additional District Judge and Chief Magistrate Colombo, Sarath Ambepitiya, who directed the Chief Registrar Perakum de Silva to seal the statement and keep it in the court safe.

It was widely believed by those who held the Governemnt and the Police culpable in the murder of Athulathmudali that the corpse of the Tamil youth Ragunathan, found the next day 200 yards from the scene of the murder, had been planted to implicate the LTTE. Lingeswaran was almost completely forgotten after the PM’s statement, except for a brief exposure before the Athulathmudali Commission of Inquiry where he disowned the confession.

Lingeswaran’s name surfaced again 9 years after his arrest, after the signing of the February 2002 MoU, in a list furnished to the present UNP government by the LTTE for an exchange of prisoners. His was among the 11 names approved for release, unlike several others connected with investigations for serious crimes, such as the suicide bomb attempt on the President. The approved list would have gone through Prime Minister Wickremasinghe and Defence Minister Marapone, who was Attorney General at the time of Athulathmudali’s murder. No one appeared to remember Lingeswaran’s purportedly damning confession.

Lingeswaran was finally released on 27th September 2002 on an application made to the Colombo High Court by the Attorney General, perhaps the first time his case was brought to court in nine years. One wonders whether a copy of his alleged confession ever got into his file in the AG’s department or remained sealed in the Magistrate’s safe, having served the purpose of the Prime Minister’s dénouement.

Upon Lingesaran’s release recently, the Sunday Leader interviewed him (13.10.02). For a paper very defensive of the UNP leadership, there was no recollection of Lingeswaran or his god-sent ‘confession’. The Leader feature reported Lingeswaran’s mission in very general terms: “ Intelligence Units are of the view that he was on a mission to gather reconnaissance on VIPs and possible assassination attempts.” No reference to Athulathmudali.

Clearly, there had been no investigation into Lingeswaran’s involvement in the Athulathmudali murder. A confession is of no value except as a starting point to establish material links. Although the Prime Minister spoke of ‘interrogation and inquiry’, no links worth mentioning were established. Indeed, no one appears to have ever taken Lingeswaran’s alleged complicity in the murder seriously. The PTA enabled the State to lock up Lingeswaran for 9 years after being used as a scapegoat to pin a confession on, without any obligation to test the evidence against him in court.

The episode was a travesty of the fundamental principles of the rule of law by those who should have been upholding them. It was also a scandalously shabby way of dealing with the murder of a key public figure with seemingly very little effort expended on the investigation of the crime. Indeed, the remarkable irony is that the PTA was used to obfuscate the murder of its very author - Athulathmudali. If one is surprised at the Government’s readiness to cover up routinely the LTTE killing off Tamils who worked with the security forces, one must remember that it was no less willing to cover up the murder of its own erstwhile friends such as Athulathmudali.

With such attitudes to the rule of law, there may be in the end little to choose between Sri Lankan law and Tiger Law. The degradation of institutions of state, particularly those pertaining to law enforcement, makes it difficult for the State to challenge the LTTE. It is in this context that the LTTE’s courts and police stations have been acclaimed a move to maintain law and order in areas under its control.

The ease with which several eminent members of the Sri Lankan ruling class whitewash the LTTE and its institutions, suggests that their understanding of the rule of law is regrettably deficient. There is little to be surprised when covering up brings them together.[Top]   

10. Fanning the Embers in Valichenai: A Murder and Renewed Provocation of Muslims

Last June’s LTTE sponsored attacks on Muslims in Mutur and Valaichenai, saw Muslim MPs in the UNP and the LTTE coming together to cover up the scandal and to undermine the SLMC as the voice of the North-Eastern Muslims. This fitted well with the Government’s strategy of appeasing the LTTE. The questions of Muslim insecurity remained unaddressed, as are common questions of Tamil insecurity, which many Muslims well know. In the Batticaloa District ordinary Muslims have been known to tell visitors, “We have problems, but you must ask the Tamils. Theirs are worse. We will bring Tamils to talk to you provided you won’t reveal their identity!”

We reliably understand that the LTTE has mobilised organisations it had set up under the MoU for political work against the Muslims last June. One was the Tamil Students’ Wing set up by Karikalan at a meeting at Valaichenai Hindu College on 21st May (Special Report No.14). The principal of a leading school in the TSW committee and a teacher under him have been named among the rabble-rousers. One of the organisers was a Tamil in the fish transport and wholesale trade, with perhaps a vested interest. Another was a Samurdhi activist.

These persons were hand in glove with LTTE men in the local political office. They are Senathy (now political leader, Batticaloa), Patthinian (now Chenkalady) and Navam. We also learn that the civilian associates above also helped to smuggle into Valaichenai town grenades and guns supplied by Special Commander Karuna.

With the truth buried, the LTTE’s attempts to marginalize the Muslims continued unchecked. It forbad Tamils in Valaichenai from having trade partnerships or other dealings with Muslims on pain of severe punishment. The LTTE’s moves to sever all contact between Tamils and Muslims also served to capture for itself lucrative trade monopolies in which key LTTE leaders have a personal stake (see Special Reports 14 & 15). However things do not always go according to plan.

As the result of the LTTE trying to control the trade and impose taxes, produce became significantly cheaper in the Muslim market in comparison with the Tamil market in Valaichenai. Consequently the Tamil market in which the LTTE had a stake started losing customers to the Muslim market. This would have become a greater source of irritation with the Thai Pongal festive season around the corner (14th January). Large numbers of Tamil women were expected to go to Muslim textile shops in search of sarees and gifts in preference to Tamil shops that paid LTTE imposed taxes.

Not having succeeded with verbal intimidation in severing contacts between Tamils and Muslims, the LTTE was expected to take stronger measures sooner rather than later. On 2nd January at 8.00 PM, a grenade was thrown into the Muslim Market, injuring 5 Muslims, including a policeman. Three of them were warded in Batticaloa Hospital.

More poignant was the murder of auto driver A.T.M. Hussain (Kalanthar) (68 years) of Ward 4, Oddaimavady. A former Electricity Board employee, he invested in an auto trishaw using his provident fund. He was well disposed to the Tamils and had been helpful to them during times of tension, sometimes foregoing his fare. He went out to be on call at the auto stand during the night, and in the morning, on 5th January, about 8.00 AM, his body was found at Kalmadu in the Tamil division of Oddaimavady. There was a cut in his neck caused by a sharp object and his hands were tied behind. At the inquest, the JMO pronounced the death as due to profuse bleeding, shock and cardiac arrest. One witness had last seen alive at 1.30 AM. His son-in-law, M.M.M. Haniffa, an auto driver who shared the same auto, said that the deceased had no enemies. 

The Muslims organised a hartal on 7th January, which went off peacefully. The general belief among the Muslims is that the murder had at least the connivance of the LTTE. It is of significance that the Muslims are able to provide services at lower cost to the Tamils owing to the Tiger yoke on the economy of the Tamils. Each auto driver in Valaichenai was ordered by the LTTE to pay them Rs.2000 per month, which is now paid only by Tamil drivers. 

The Police have not made any arrests or questioned anyone. The manner in which the matter is being dealt with shows how Muslim moderates are being discredited. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem issued a statement from Bangkok where he took up the matter with LTTE’s Commander Karuna whom he met at negotiations. Hakeem said that Karuna denied the LTTE’s role in the murder and pledged to help find the culprits (Thinakaran 8.1.03). The other Tamil papers published what Karuna’s brother Reggie, the area leader in Valaichenai, said locally.

Reggie told the SLMM (Virakesari and Thinakkural 8.1.03) that someone else had done this and dumped the body in Kalmadu to put the blame on themselves, the LTTE, and the Tamils. There was however already talk among the Muslims and Tamils that a Tamil auto driver M, with whom the deceased had recently a heated argument, was party to the murder. The argument in front of the Hospital was over Kalanthar serving customers at lower rates and on lenient terms. M is close to Reggie and has a record of complicity in criminal activity by the LTTE. On 13th February 2002, the LTTE abducted Nahamutthu Lohitharajah of the EPRLF(V) from the Valaichenai Bazaar and took him to Pandimedu in an auto trishaw, from where he later escaped (Secn.12, Special Rep. No.13). The auto driver in question was M.

In view of its terrible record, suspicion against the LTTE is only natural (e.g. modus operandi in Alahathurai’s murder above). Reggie’s position would suggest to those who already suspect the LTTE that he is shielding the culprits and does not even want the suspects detained and questioned. To the Muslims it would appear that Rauff Hakeem is an ineffective leader who is being taken for a ride by the LTTE. Following the hartal, in the early hours of the 8th morning, a bomb was thrown at the house of Virakesari reporter Jeyanandamoorthy, whose reporting is well known to conform to the dictates of the LTTE, as is the case with most Tamil journalists in the country who are allowed to function by the LTTE.

This was clear during the attacks on Muslims in Mutur and Valaichenai last June when the Tamil papers and Tamilnet suppressed the fact that the Muslims were largely the victims (see Sp. Rep. No.13) and tried to build a conspiracy by a so-called Muslim ‘Osama Group’. This move, which was clearly risible, is being revived again by the same circles. Clearly, even though the attack on the journalist’s house is deplorable, there is little to be surprised in such an action by angry Muslim youths who read the Virakesari. However, given the complexity of the situation other scenarios are almost equally likely.

Of the groups in Valaichenai, many sections feel threatened by the nature and direction of this peace process – the Army and Police who were supposed to be patrolling against arson attempts and such eventualities, the Muslims and, also, a very large section of the Tamils, albeit passively. They all had a motive for throwing the bomb. We have said earlier that a peace process that calls upon everyone else, but the LTTE, to be reasonable and moderate for the sake of peace, is fundamentally flawed.

Whatever the source, the attack on Jeyanandamoorthy’s house became the cue for the LTTE and its propaganda machine to gun for almost anyone who was a challenge to them. Kalandar’s murder was unequivocally blamed on extremist groups active in Valaichenai, Oddaimavady and Akkaraipattu (i.e. Muslim) to discredit the LTTE and the Tamil people (a line articulated by Reggie even before the bomb incident). The attack on the journalist’s house was attributed to his writings about Muslim extremist groups. A group of journalists widened the field of attack and attributed Kalandar’s murder and the bomb attack to groups opposed to the LTTE.

In an interview given on 9th January at the conclusion of the recent Thai talks, Karuna took a broad swipe, blaming Muslim extremists for the Valaichenai troubles and blaming deactivated Tamil paramilitary units (e.g. Mohan’s and Varathan’s) for the abductions and attacks of opposition groups attributed to the LTTE (see Thinakaran 11.1.03). Karuna also said, “The Muslims are today experiencing their rights. In the fulfilment of their daily needs, they can come or go wherever they please. This is what we have been saying and will continue to say.” Be it the Tamils or the Muslims, Karuna has stated frankly the LTTE’s notion of their rights as simply being granted leave to ‘come and go’! One wonders what we Tamils were complaining about in 1956?

An LTTE statement released to the media the same day claimed a steady improvement in relations and growing amity between Tamils and Muslims. Perhaps the whole point of it all came in a move at local level. In mobile loudspeaker announcements around Valaichenai, the LTTE instructed the Tamil people not to buy from the Muslim market since whatever they need is available in the Tamil market!  

The Government manipulates the truth in the name of peace, and the LTTE may see some advantages in driving the Muslims to their kind of extremism in the present international climate. The moderation of the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem has been discredited and the SLMC is in turmoil. However, the LTTE may be driven to more irrational courses of action, in refusing to face the fact that it has fatally undermined its claims to leadership in the North-East. The sudden rise in child conscription, attacks on Tamil political opponents in the East and the exhibitions of bellicosity at recent meetings in Batticaloa schools must be seen in this context.  [Top]

11. The New Year in Batticaloa: A Nasty Turn of Events

After a year of the cease-fire, there is an alarming gap between the claims of spin-doctors of the peace process and conditions on the ground. The LTTE spokesman’s pledges of political pluralism and democratic federalism are no more than a cruel farce, fatal to many who had lowered their guard.

However willing to appease the Government and the Norwegians, the LTTE does feel the resentment stirring underneath. Its inability to compromise and its own doubts over the viability of its agenda, continually drive it to erratic courses of action. Violations in any one area quickly lead to mutually reinforcing violations of various other kinds.

The LTTE’s child conscription had become so high that it became impossible for the people to rationalise it away as random or distant. Their fear drives them to clutch at any source of hope. Thus the LTTE focussed its terror on people who might expose its violations and offer some hope, especially the other remaining political groups. In the resulting recklessness its tactical inhibitions have become weakened and it has lost control.

Apart from bundling off children and provoking Muslims unnecessarily, the LTTE is not by any means concealing what it has in store for opposition groups. Three LTTE vans with tinted glasses go about the government-controlled part of Batticaloa at all times of the day and night, by courtesy of the MoU. Everyone knows that these vans are for abducting political opponents or children found alone, who can be quickly forced in and whisked away. These are licensed poachers of humans in action courtesy of the Army, Police and SLMM in order that we may have eternal peace. Everyone else must pretend, as the SLMM says, that Democracy and Freedom are expanding and the ‘Peace Process’ is on track. Any unseemly occurrences, one must remember, are the work of ‘criminal elements’, so mysteriously evasive as to seem a diabolical intrusion.

The people have been disowned, and the Government and the facilitators of the peace process are happy to launder the LTTE to give us their kind of peace.

We must wait with bated breath for broadcasts from the LTTE’s contentious new FM transmitter, which the Government and the Norwegians assure us will broadcast happy tidings of peace. That would be a change from the nerve-racking messages the same LTTE has broadcast on the ground over the festive season in a series of public meetings, usually attended by Military Commander Ramu and Intelligence Commander Ramanan – surely not persons whom the SLMM meant by criminal and extremist elements? Their message is: “ The peace process may break any time. You must all give one child for a family. If you don’t you are traitors and would lose your right to live in Tamil Eelam. If you don’t give children in time, we will take them.”

It is also widely known that a large number of abducted males, including up to 150 boys under 16 years of age, have been corralled at a camp called Tora Bora near Thoppi Malai  (Hat Hill). The camp is under Pavanantham Master. Training is expected to start later in January after the required number, a few hundred more, are conscripted and given the fatal ride in that famous tinted glass van.

Two precautions are taken against escape. One is an old one - cropping the hair. The other is to remove the clothes of conscripts and burn them, and give them instead a pair of tight fitting jumpers to make them prominent, like convicts.

A people disowned is a people rendered volatile and unpredictable. The best-laid plans of even the most powerful would surely go awry. The combined spate of violations presages a storm and not peace. It is time to keep one’s head well under, were that possible.[Top]

12. Conclusion

Yes, the guns are silent and the peace process continued without break for a year. The task of the Monitoring Mission is indeed a difficult one. The MoU itself is very weak on safeguarding civilian interests and rights. Nor does it lay down a basis for permanent peace encompassing democracy and human rights. There are attempts to initiate a dialogue and create democratic space within the Tamil community, but these attempts are erratic and peripheral at present.

Child conscription continues. The LTTE has in no way accepted the legitimacy of political activity or fora for discussion and opinion that are not subject to their manipulation. Consolidation of the peace process is in practice being equated with the entrenchment of the LTTE and its political ideology. Far from solving any problem, it is exacerbating existing ones. The LTTE’s innate compulsions have already placed it irreversibly on a collision course with the Muslims and are furthering a climate of bitterness rather than of multi-ethnic amity. The LTTE’s stranglehold over the Tamil community will not allow a happier drift of events. Permanent peace requires a climate where the three different communities can take responsibility for the misdeeds of their leaders.

The liberal sections of Civil Society in the South may feel that their principal task is to hold the State and the Southern polity accountable. However, their position that saying anything substantive about the abhorrent regime of terror and thuggery now being installed in the North-East is to sabotage the peace process, amounts to abdication that helps no one. To begin with, they have failed to hold the Government accountable for the harm it is doing to the Tamil community, which is far more insidious and irreversible than what the UNP government did to the Tamils in July 1983.

This section of Civil Society has, behind a pretence of benevolence, helped to sustain the illusion that the Government’s empowerment of the LTTE is based on negotiated progress towards a political consensus. Its substance has more the appearance of a prearranged sell-out, while the negotiations themselves have been a show of bouncing cheques on the principal questions of a settlement. By failing to hold the LTTE accountable, they have cynically discounted any role for the Tamil people in the peace process. The LTTE has thereby been given a free hand to manipulate and control the peace process, besides conscripting children and attacking opponents. This we have vainly and repeatedly pointed out is fatal to peace.

 

Appendix I

Persons from Political Groups Abducted by the LTTE in the East during 2002

(Unless indicated, nothing more has been heard.)

18th Janauary: Vijayanthan Vithyakaran (29), former member of PLOTE, 142, Beach Rd., navatkudah; Father Velupillai Vijyanathan.

21st February: Raju Suman, member of EPRLF(V), abducted in Valaichenai

19th July: Sellaiah Kathasamy (36), member of EPRLF(V), Thiruvalluavan Street, Pandiruppu 1, Wife: K.Utyhayarani, Children: 2

3rd December:  Sellathurai Thangarasa (36), EPDP organizer, Aaron’s road, Thandavaveli, Batticaloa, Wife: Xaviour Cicilia, Children: 1

3rd December:  Naharaja Nesaraja (48), member of EPDP and fomer MPC, NE, Avulia Lane, Batticaloa, Wife: Inpamalar, Children: 2.

3rd December: Kandasamy Gnanajothy (49), EPDP supporter, Kathirkamar Street, Amirthakali, Batticaloa, Wife: Ramasamy Vanitha, Children: 1.

16th December : Poopalapillai Alahathurai (35), member of EPRLF(V) and Chairman of Porativu Local Council, Theevukkadu, Mandur, Newly married. Dead body found with torture wounds: 18th December. 

Tamil Army Personnel who were Abducted by the LTTE in the East During 2002 & Early 2003.

9th February: Anthony Claire (36),  Sri Lankan Army, Thethaveli Road, Araiyampathy, Wife: Thilagavathy, Children: 7.

3rd July: Arumugan Soundararajah (28), Sri Lankan Army, Siripala Building, Batticaloa, Wife: Thamotheram Injutha, Children: 2.

3rd January 2003: Sivasambu Pulendirarajah (44), Sri Lankan Army, 46, Lake Road 2, Batticaola.[Top]

Appendix II

A Sample of Recent Cases of Forced Conscription by the LTTE in the East

(Ages given in brackets)

Late September 2002, Thirukkovil: The following three children from Vinayagapuram Tamil Mixed High School were among several girls abducted and taken in a van. They escaped on 6th December (see story in section 3):

1)     Miss Radipa Thangiah (11), Sangamankandy Pillayar Kovil Street, Sinnathottam, Thirukkovil

2)     Miss. Sasikala Theyanayagam (11), Gayatri Village, Sinnatottam, Thirukkovil.

3)     Miss. Thamilchelvi Krishnapillai (10), Vinayagapuram, Thirukkovil.

16th December: The LTTE conscripted 35 mainly children from an area including Kinniady and Sungankerny. All were forcibly removed from their homes. The following are among those removed from Kinniady:

1)      Miss. Sujikala Konamalai (13)

2)      Mas. Kannan (13),

3)      Mas. Sasikaran (13),

4)      Miss. Mohanakala Sundari (14),

5)      Mas. Kanapathipillai Kandasamy (14).

The following are among those removed from Sungankerny about the same day:

1)      Mas. Balan Thavarasa (14)

2)      Mas.Sivaprakasam Vinayagam (14)

3)      Mas. Illangeswaram Ketharam (17)

4)      Miss. Suthirtha Pusparasa (17)

18th December: The following University and Technical College boys were abducted by the LTTE when they apparently went to view the floodwaters north of Batticaloa. Their parents were later summoned to collect their bicycles and personal effects.

1)      Sivasurian Thayaparan (21)

2)      Aathitthan(22)

3)      Jeevathas Sathis (21)

4)      Pakiathas Prasanthan (22)

5)      Jeevanatham Jeevakanthan (19)

They were reportedly released after the parents of the boy who is a university student threatened to make matters awkward.

18th December: Perinpam Kumar (22) of Kalikovil St., Kudiyiruppu, Eravur was forced into a van and taken away by the LTTE.

19th December: Selvam Selvakumar of Barathy Village, Iyankerni, Chenkalady, a Grade 11 student who had just turned 17 abducted at 5.15 PM at Chenkalady Junction and spirited away in a blue van with tinted glass by men under Jim Kelly Thattha who are responsible for conscription in villages ranging northward from Eravur to Valaichenai.

Murugpillai Jeganath (16), a Grade 10 student, from Vipulananthapuram, Iyankernyi, Chenkaldy was taken about the same time.

27th December: According to the Police the following conscripts who escaped from the LTTE in Interior Batticaloa surrendered to them at the Chenkalady roadblock at 1.00 AM:

1)      Selvamanikkam Suranji (14), Vishnu Kovil Rd, Kalkuda

2)      Murgappa Thiskaran(16), Beach Rd, Mankadu, Chettpalayam

3)      Irathinasingam Tavakudalvan (16), Beach Rd, Mankadu, Chettpalayam

28th December: Sivanesan Babiraj (17) of Dairy Farm Avenue, Thimilathivu, Batticaloa, was forcibly removed by LTTE men under Sivakumaran.

1st January 2003, New Year’s Day: The following escaped from the LTTE and surrendered to the Army at 1.30 AM at Black Brigade on the Chenklady – Badulla Road.

1)      C. Mahesan (16), Eravur 5

2)      Suresh Krishnapillai(16), Morakkotanchenai,

3)      Sivanathan Surendran (16), Morakkotanchenai,

4)      Kiruparathinam Jeyam (17), Morakkotanchenai

5)      Kanthilingam Visvarthinam (20), Kommathurai

3rd January 2003: LTTE men, who came across the lagoon in a boat before dawn, abducted Mas. Piriyaraj Anandaraja (13) (born 1989, year 9 at RKM School) from near his home at Amarasingam Street, Araiyampathy. The father, a fisherman, complained to SLMM (Batticola) and other agencies immediately. We learn that Piriyaraj escaped from the LTTE’s Kokkadichcholai office that same night, before they could send him on and came home.

3rd January: The LTTE abducted Thamby (14) at night from his home in Pudur, near Batticaola. The child’s mother, a widow, closed the house and left immediately afterwards to look for her son. Thamby’s elder brother who was in the LTTE had surrendered to the Army and reportedly went abroad.

1st – 10th January: Mandur, Marunkernipooval, 13th Colony, Palamunai: LTTE men under Sutha and Satchi conscripted at least 14 minors from this area in the Vellavelly DS Division, the most being from Marunkernipooval. Most of the conscripts were under 16. The modus operandi used in 13th Colony was for about two dozen cadres brought to their political office to go house by house, inveigle children to come to their office and spirit them away. One youth conscripted from Mandur was Panchacharam Dharman (17). Many parents were keeping their children locked up in their homes 24 hours a day. 

5th January: Morakkottanchenai, Batticaloa: The parents of Nagaraja Dineshkanthan (16) and Thangaraja Vijendran (16) complained to the Police that their sons had been forcibly removed by the LTTE.

6th January: Balasingam Prabu (15) of Boundary Road, Pudur, Batticaloa, was forcibly taken by an LTTE team under Sivakumar.

8th January: Valaichenai: The LTTE warns the people in several villages in the Valaichenai area that if they do not hand over one child for a family before the 15th they will come in and catch them. The villages include Petthalai, Puthukkudiyiruppu, Kalmadu, Kannakipuram and Vinayagapuram.       

11th January: Varadaraja Ravindran (17), a van cleaner from Mavilanturai, Araiampathy, was forcibly removed by LTTE men from the Araiampathy office.

11th January: A 15 year-old-boy was among those playing in the Valaichenai Hindu College grounds who were forcibly removed by the LTTE. The parents of the boy are known to have appealed to the LTTE to release him on the grounds that he is their only child and was born to them 10 years after marriage.[Top]

 

Appendix III

A Diary of Terror and Allied Developments

This diary of important events attempts to give an overall birds eye view of the ‘peace’ process. Among the LTTE delegates at the Thailand talks in early November and Oslo talks in early December were its Spokesman, Anton Balasingham and the Special Military and Intelligence Chief for the East, Karuna. Balasingam had pledged the LTTE’s acceptance of political pluralism, democracy and federalism. Karuna, at a series of internal meetings since May, urged the expediting of conscription and surveillance of military positions saying that war was imminent.

3rd December: Three key EPDP men, Thangarasa (36), Nesaraja (48) and Gnanajothy (49), abducted by LTTE’s Eastern Intelligence in Batticaola and have disappeared. About the same time Karuna, the man responsible for these abductions was shying snowballs in Oslo, with the media commenting that he had exchanged cannon balls for snowballs.

4th December: The LTTE fired at two persons who had reportedly worked with the Army in Oddaimavady. Ajith was killed. Meera Saibo Mohamed Buhari was admitted to Batticaloa Hospital with injuries.

8th-9th December: The Swiss government’s Head of Political Affairs, Ambassador Blaise Godet, receives an official LTTE delegation including Balasingham and Karuna. An official communiqué stated: “The Swiss support for the peace process is based on the principles of equality in its dealings with both sides, human rights and adherence to the principles of good governance.” Karuna was to later advise Prabakaran on the virtues of the Swiss Constitution!

10th December, Human Rights Day: People in the villages of Palamunai, Mandur, Thambalawattai, and other neighbouring villages in Batticaloa South were summoned for a meeting at the Tamil Mixed Schoool at Palamunai. The meeting was addressed by Military Chief Ramu, Military Intelligence Chief Ramanan (both reporting to Karuna), Special Political Head (Mavadi Munmari) Satchi Master and Political Head (Mavadi Munmari) Sutha. The message was: “ All villages other than you have given one child per family. We give you a few days to hand over your children voluntarily. After that Ramanan will move in to catch the children of those who have not given. You can go and tell this to anyone. We don’t care.”

11th December: 7.40PM, Ganeshamoorthy Thilakaraj (30) of Bar Road, Batticaloa, was shot dead at Raj Co. Inn, Fareed Place, Colombo-4. The Tamil papers have speculated variously on Thilakaraj’s affiliations, mainly to make out that he is a ‘traitor’. But our information from local sources is that he had been a member of LTTE Intelligence and was staying at the Inn with a view to going abroad and putting his past behind him. The murder is said to have been well planned and no one has been identified. The victim, who was affianced to a girl back home, was summoned to the lobby to answer a phone call just before the killer struck. This adds to the catalogue of the LTTE’s murders in Colombo that includes security personnel and also notably Subramaniam Muthulingam, a Tamil engineer from Australia on 9th September. Muthulingam, a temple trustee in his land of domicile, had defied LTTE efforts to extort money from temple collections. A well-placed UNP source said that these killings will be whitewashed by police investigations – a part of the peace game.

12th December: LTTE-orchestrated hartal in Jaffna demanding the expulsion of the EPDP. This followed the Police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a mob that attacked the EPDP’s Nelliady office with firebombs. Some of those arrested and later released were found to be LTTE cadres. On this day (12th) too firebombs were thrown at the EPDP’s Mallakam office.

14th December: A meeting between defence and LTTE officials at Muhamali, Jaffna. Karuna says that future talks between the Government and the LTTE will be in jeopardy if the Army did not permit the resettlement of displaced civilians in the High Security Zones (HSZs) around army camps in Jaffna.

In other statements made at this time Karuna, basking in the afterglow of lessons in democracy from his Swiss tutors, categorised the LTTE’s opponents as ‘anti-democratic forces’ and demanded the removal of the EPDP from Jaffna as, according to him, they were causing social unrest!

Immediately afterwards Karuna, who was flown to Palugamam in Batticaloa by SLAF helicopter, provided photo-opportunities to show how, like the Leader, he was very fond and solicitous of his own children!

He then went to Kardian Aru to inspect the grand house that was being built for him. Under the access and opportunities provided by the MoU, the acquisition of houses and properties has become a major preoccupation of LTTE leaders. Nizam, the Finance Head for Batticaloa and Amparai has acquired the house of Arumugam in Puthukkudiyirruppu, Valaicheani. Arumugam was a Co-operative Union leader killed by the LTTE in 1987. The house of Nimalan Soundaranayagam MP (TULF) in the same area has been acquired by the LTTE although now ostensibly housing orphans. Nimalan was killed by the LTTE in October 2000.

16th December: Poopalapillai Alahathurai, the EPRLF(V) chairman of the Mandur local council, abducted, tortured and killed by LTTE intelligence men under Ramaman and Karuna. Married for hardly 4 weeks, the marital bliss of Karuna was not to be his lot.

16th December: About this time nearly 35, mostly very young children, were forcibly conscripted from villages north of Batticaloa, including Kinniady and Sungankerny, several of them as young as 12 or 13.

23rd December:Several supporters of the People’s Alliance attacked with pistol shots, a grenade and swords in Araiampathy, south of Batticaloa, by LTTE area leader Kartik and four persons from the Intelligence Wing (see Section 1).

25th December, Christmas Day: The LTTE warns all Tamil supporters of political parties based in the South (e.g. UNP, PA & other Left parties) that they must abandon their affiliations and work for them, so that in the future there will be only one party – the LTTE.

28th and 29th December: About 25 children forcibly conscripted by the LTTE from the villages of Kalkudah, Pasikkudah and Petthali north of Batticaloa. Police attempts to prevent it failed, since it involved a few men covering a large area. Conscription of children continues.

1st January 2003: LTTE holds a series of meetings, around Batticaloa and Amparai, typically addressed by Military Commander Ramu, Intelligence Commander Ramanan, Thurai and the area leader, demanding one child per family or else. Recent meetings, euphemistically called development meetings, were also held in Karaitivu and Sammanthurari (Veeramunai). People were warned that the peace process might soon break and they must be prepared.

1st January 2003: Several school principals in Batticaloa have been ordered by the LTTE to send parents seeking school admission for their children to the nearest LTTE office for a letter of approval from them. Examples of schools reported to have communicated this to parents are Valaichenai Hindu College and St. Ignatius, Periya Muhattuvaram, near Batticaloa. In the former case a parent said that the LTTE office demanded Rs.350 as an admission fee. Many view this move with alarm as intended to isolate and penalise families that have avoided losing a child to the LTTE.

2nd January: A Kappuavanar ( Poosari or Priest) in Mandur was beaten up by the LTTE for saying that their Council Chairman Alahathurai was killed by them.

2nd January: At 8.00 PM a grenade was thrown into the Muslim market in Valaichenai. 5 persons, all Muslims, including a policeman, injured.

3rd January: 10.00AM: Mrs. Rajaluxmi Thileepan (25) who resides at Krishnan Kovil Street, Valayiravu, near Batticaloa, visited her own village of Kannankunda across the bridge in the LTTE-controlled area. Her husband Thileepan who worked for the EPRLF(V) during the last elections had earlier been beaten up by the LTTE. Upon being spotted, Rajaluxmi was taken to the Kannankuda LTTE office. She was brutally assaulted and whipped by the area leader Sithamparapillai Lavakumar (Lavan) in person. He ordered her to produce her brother who is in the Army. Rajaluxmi was admitted to Batticaloa Hospital with deep lesions in the skin of her hands and legs.

3rd January: SEP threatened again: The LTTE holds an improper meeting trying to hijack the Ampihainagar Fishermen’s Co-op in Kayts and get rid of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) activists on the committee who helped resist LTTE extortion. Speaking at the meeting, Sundaram, an LTTE man threatened the four members of the SEP and urged that their houses be razed. This represents the continuing attack on the SEP after the local LTTE leader Semmanan threatened SEP members with death in early September and another leader, Amirthalingam, stabbed SEP’s Kodeeswaran in October. After much pressure from support groups, the Police moved and summons to the Kayts Magistrate’s Court have been issued. Semmanan who was asked to appear on 3rd January absconded. Amirthalingam has been asked to appear on 14th January. Nothing more is expected to happen. A case for the LTTE courts perhaps?

3rd January: Sivasambu Pulendrarajah (44) of Sri Lankan Army Intelligence, who reportedly went home in Batticaloa town at lunchtime, did not return thereafter. When the alarm was raised subsequently, the Army received a tip-off that the LTTE abducted him and took him to their Kallady office. The Army surrounded the office about 6.30 PM and wanted to search. This the LTTE refused on the grounds that it was unlawful. The Police had to come subsequently with a search warrant from the Magistrate while the Army remained at the camp. The search proved unfruitful and was called off at about 11.30 PM.

5th January: 8.00 AM: News breaks of a Muslim auto driver, A.T M. Hussain (Kalanthar) (68 years) stabbed to death with a cut on his neck. This comes in the wake of the LTTE’s attempts to break off all ties, especially of trade, between the two communities. Trade was expected to be brisk with the approach of Thai Pongal festivities. Kalanthar was popular among the Tamils and had a customer base among them. As the Muslims blamed the LTTE and accused an auto driver close to the LTTE of complicity, the LTTE’s area leader and brother of Karuna, Reggie, virtually accused Muslim extremists of having done the deed elsewhere and dumping the body in a Tamil area to blame the LTTE and the Tamils. (See report in Secn.10

5th January: LTTE issues two leaflets in Batticaloa: Both leaflets issued by the regional political head Kasualyan referred to the LTTE’s progress towards peace and leadership under Prabhakaran. One denounced the attribution to the LTTE of recent abduction of political opponents and the murder of Alahathurai in Mandur as a ‘drama’ staged by mischief-makers. In recognition of the popularity of Alahathurai, a well-known member of the EPRLF(V), the LTTE leaflet claimed ‘he is one of our supporters’, adding that they are trying to find the culprits!

The second leaflet requested, in undertones of barely concealed menace, all Tamils in other political groups or in the Army to break their present affiliations. They are offered a choice between staying at home and joining the LTTE. The threat is reinforced by three LTTE tinted glass vans moving freely about the government controlled areas. For many of those who disappeared, their journey to oblivion was begun in these vans.

8th January: War Drums in the East: Third Day of negotiations in Bangkok, with Eastern Commander Karuna in attendance. Chief negotiator Balasingam pledges again that the LTTE will not return to war. The LTTE organisation in Batticaloa conducts meetings in all leading schools for students above Grade 8 (13 or 14 years and above). Principals and teachers in attendance. The main speakers were Senathy (Political Head, Batticaloa Town), Veeravarman (Head, Education), Mathy (Head, Sports) and a person identified as being from HQ in Mullaitivu.

The message consisted of six points: 1.) We have no faith in the peace process, 2.) The Sri Lankan government is deceiving us, 3.) Tamil Eelam remains our goal, 4.) All the arms needed for the first stage of the battle, including MBRLs, are stocked around Batticaloa, 5.) All the locations of the security forces have been mapped and plans for attack are ready. We can capture Batticaloa in three days, 6.) You must all join us and aid our military efforts.

The schools at which meetings were held included, Anaipanthy Girls’ School, St. Vincent’s Girls’ School, St. Cecilia’s Convent, St. Michael’s College (meeting on 8th January), Hindu College, Mahajana College, Sivananda College and Central College.

Parents and teachers were terribly upset and no one could explain this very public intrusion of war rhetoric into formal commitments to peace. School authorities having charge of hostellers were placed in a quandary, as they could no longer take responsibility for their charges, given the LTTE’s attitude. Moreover, it was a calculated provocation of the Security Forces who were obliged to admit the LTTE to the town area as part of the peace process!

On the other hand it fits well with the drama that Karuna has been putting on since May in close consultation with the Leader. He pushed the peace process close to breaking point on the HSZs issue and followed it up with this show, carefully using middle level leaders. The underlying message to the Government is, hand over or else! The Leader would be happy if the Government or the President loses their nerve and precipitates war.

10th January: SLMM, Batticaloa, arranged a reconciliation meeting to sort out problems of political groups that faced threats, abduction and murder by the LTTE. The LTTE did not attend saying that they did not have adequate information about the meeting. EPDP, EPRLF (V) and PLOTE demanded that the SLMM must stop all anti-democratic activities and child conscription by the LTTE and submitted details of several violations, including about 4 vans bringing mainly Sinhalese and Muslims with goods for trade that went missing between Valaichenai and Eravur during mid-2002. Nothing more has been heard of the dozen or so passengers, the vehicles or the goods. They also demanded that the SLMM should ensure that all abducted persons are released.  

The events above reveal a clear agenda where nothing has changed, and no tangible concessions to democracy or human rights, while the international community is glossing over these developments, flattering the LTTE as sole representatives and foisting them on the Tamil people. These are not developments pointing to permanent peace.[Top]

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