University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna)
Information Bulletin No. 38
Date of Release: 21st July 2005
Months before violence in eastern Sri Lanka grew so acute that even the most optimistic reading pointed to the possibility of war; assassination of the LTTE’s perceived opponents was already a daily affair. Now the killing of armed and unarmed rivals in the Tamil community has been joined by targeted attacks on security forces personnel. At the same time state agencies seem to be trying to counter the targeting of intelligence operatives with reprisal killings of their own. Whatever the new level of threat, the LTTE leadership must be feeling very vulnerable. And as always when cornered, it lashes out.
Ordinary Tamils in the areas unaffected by escalating violence between the LTTE Vanni faction and Karuna’s forces cling to the hope that somehow the “normalcy” resulting from three years without open warfare can be maintained. They are beyond caring about how the absence of war is sustained as long as they are left alone. After two decades of being wedged in between armed forces, the notion that they could have a real democratic voice in their future seems absurd. And yet it is this very lack of voice which will doom any peace effort. Even at a basic humanitarian level, the North-East of Sri Lanka is unique among tsunami-hit regions for the systematic violence resorted to by supposed representatives for draconian control over aid and the victims.
Members of the Tamil dissident community who continue to demand an independent voice are on death row and the pressure is unbearable. They exist in the shadows and in isolation, never sure who among them the next bullet would claim. They, of all people in the Tamil community, are most acutely aware of the dangers of legitimising the LTTE’s fascist impulses. They recognise that the normalcy that comes with the absence of war cannot be sustained if we do not address the underlying factors that will inevitably regenerate the war: public alienation, violations of human rights and assaults on human dignity, and impunity. We urge all those committed to peace in Sri Lanka not to compromise on human rights and to press for a mechanism that would help the people make such rights a reality.
From the beginning of April, killings in Eastern Sri Lanka progressively intensified reaching an average of about one a day by June. More than 55 persons have been killed by the LTTE in the North-East since the beginning of April of whom up to 10 can be traced to the Karuna faction and another 10 to current or former members of EPDP, EPRLF and PLOTE. More than 10 members of the LTTE have also been killed outside combat during this period, by the Karuna faction and state intelligence services. More than a dozen more died in combat with the Karuna faction.
Four police officers and 5 army personnel have been killed by the LTTE during this period. There have also been a number of murders by the LTTE of a criminal nature, having nothing apparently to do with dissent. The number of persons being killed in LTTE interrogation camps referred to below in this report is so far unknown.
Mid-morning on 24th April LTTE gunmen on a motorcycle fired wildly on a religious festive procession in Batticaloa, injuring the chief trustee and apparent target Rasamanickam Mathiyalahan (31), who had trouble with the LTTE over tsunami relief, along with another civilian. Also injured were the children Miss. Suhanya Ravichandran (13) and Miss. Nithyananthana Jeganathan (12). On 9th June the LTTE fired at the Chenkalady EPDP leader Ravi and his army escort from behind the cover of the auto rickshaw belonging to Karunamoorthy, whom the LTTE assassins had forced to drive them there. Ravi and two from his escort were injured, while the rickshaw driver was killed. (Details in Appendix.)
It is well known in Batticaloa that the LTTE has killers constantly on the alert to strike when an opportunity arises. The Batticaloa police have the names of four individuals responsible for local hits, originating from Palugamam, Puthur, Vaharai, Pankudaveli and Kothiavalai . One of these men has also been used for killings in Colombo (e.g. PLOTE Mohan). The killers are summoned for the kill by spies who observe the target and choose the moment. Spies functioning under LTTE intelligence also keep a close eye on the tsunami refugee camp at Arasady and have been associated with the murder of breadwinners of three tsunami families. Although these individuals are known to the authorities the police have not forwarded these reports to the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission.
UTHR(J) is particularly concerned about the safety of key Tamil political figures with diverse histories advocating democratic change. Among them is Mr. V. Anandasangari, the senior most Tamil leader with unimpeachable democratic credentials. By July, the threat he faced had become very intense. His key lieutenant Mr. Sooriyamoorthy, former mayor of Trincomalee, was killed two months ago. As always, the roots of the LTTE’s resort to extreme violence are internal.
The LTTE’s handling of the Karuna split, although presented initially as a victory for the Vanni leadership, seems to have caused a chain reaction of dissension. The full extent of the discord is not known, but reflexive institutional actions meant to maintain control have had the opposite effect, bringing about open public displays of discontent, some of them in the North itself.
The LTTE’s handling of the Jeyadevan affair was a diplomatic disaster, demonstrating to overseas Tamil sympathisers that its greed and ruthlessness would pay no heed to their social standing or services they rendered. A strike action of mini van drivers in Jaffna is one instance of spontaneous public reaction from accumulated anger. A rebellion by a group of villagers in Mullaitivu after a traffic accident resulted in a reported 45 persons being detained by the LTTE Police. Indiscipline in the lower ranks is also evident in more reports of criminal action for private gain, such as the murder of Rajadurai Thangarajah of Udupiddy to take over his land. Escapees and other sources have reported the LTTE holding hundreds for suspected political dissent in large bunker prisons in the Vanni and Veppavedduvan, Batticaloa.
Although people in the North have seen some semblance of normalcy after the ceasefire agreement was signed and economic activity resumed, the LTTE’s continuous manipulation of the local structures is a worrying sign for those who know the dynamics of the present peace process. When people openly say “things are normal in Jaffna, we can buy as many things as in Colombo,” they will add: “I hope these guys do not start the war”. People live with a hope that the LTTE will not start the war. Beyond that there is little they believe they could do to organise themselves to prevent it, or to insist on other means to achieve a political solution. They are voiceless, directionless and have few expectations.
In this scenario analysing the benefit from the CFA on mere economic indicators may not serve any purpose as the other indicators, which could measure the political space and people’s ability to influence the process, are all in the negative and deteriorating.
In the past when the LTTE had been cornered into accepting something that would place its political record under scrutiny, its reaction internally was to eliminate all prospect of dissent. This political reality of ideological intolerance is the key, the Rosetta stone, which unravels much that has gone wrong in Sri Lanka in the last 20 years.
The logic of appeasement is now in its final throes. While the Government was utterly cynical about Tamil democracy, Tamil lives and Tamil dissent, it at least tried to keep up appearances to the donor community. The LTTE long ago stopped even keeping up appearances, but others pretended not to notice. Today child conscription has reached its crudest extremes in full view.
On 12th July, a youth was bound and blasted with a grenade in Chenkalady after public alarm forced the LTTE to release several children it had abducted (see Appendix). Tsunami refugees in the East are being arm twisted to part with their children by threats to withhold relief. While threatening to start war claiming that is what the people want from the LTTE, the hapless people who desperately do not want war are being dragooned into a “border force’.
A measure of the desperation the LTTE must now feel, and an indication of whose interest and survival really matters to the organisation, is reflected in the LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman’s statement transmitted worldwide on Black Tiger Day, 5th July 2005: “The ultimate longings for which the Black Tigers left this world are freedom and the National Leader’s protection.” Pottu quoted the Leader, “I created the Black Tigers as the potent weapon of our feeble race.” Pottu closed with a call to the worldwide Tamil community to flock behind the banner of the nation to strengthen their technological, financial and military edge to render effective ‘the victories attainable by the suicide of the Black Tigers’.
In addressing the killings as an issue, the international community lumped all of them together as tit for tat violence, an impression the government made little effort to correct. It was a short sighted strategy that enabled them not to take the LTTE to task over the peculiar and long term ideological nature of its killings as they strived to sustain parity between the two parties to the ceasefire agreement. There are at the same time state forces and Tamil ex-militants in their service who have killed in the past and could kill again. It is notable that the killings appeared to remain one-sided until the Karuna split in March 2003. State intelligence services showed their hand more openly only after the abduction of Inspector Jeyaratnam on 20th April, and the reported disappearance in Colombo of the leading LTTE intelligence operative Newton on the same day.
The Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim met with the leaders of three Tamil opposition parties in Batticaloa on 19th April 2005 who urged Norway to stop political killings. Solheim responded that killings by all sides should stop, and told them in effect to stop Karuna’s men from attacking the LTTE and he would tell the LTTE to stop as well. He was quoted in the Press saying, “Killings and counter killings must stop.” Solheim’s meeting with the opposition at the SLMM office was reported in the TamilNet as a meeting with ‘paramilitaries’ -- a label calculated to justify all LTTE killings of dissidents as tit for tat.
Many left political parties and NGO activists who once got assistance from the State to arm themselves during the heyday of the JVP killing spree, now without hesitation use the word paramilitary to describe the LTTE’s opponents. The state did use people left from these groups as paramilitaries when it served their mutual interests, and the LTTE also functioned as a paramilitary group during the IPKF period when the Sri Lankan government wanted to force the Indians out.
It is important to look at the logic of LTTE terror and at its denial of space for independent activism to understand how at various points groups were cornered into serving the State’s interests as paramilitary forces. It is also important to recognise that evidence for significant sections of Tamil groups threatened by the LTTE functioning in this way in the current context is very thin. And if they are, it is because the process has left them no other option. (The case of the Karuna faction is discussed below.) If the peace process were actually geared towards creating political space then we would have seen a reduction in political killings and halt to forcible child recruitment. Instead it has been about marginalising any challenge to the simple binary relationship of the two negotiating parties.
The donor Co-chairs in a statement released by the US embassy on 13th June made room for the same kind of manipulation, giving the LTTE no decisive reason to restrain itself: “The Co-chairs call on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to stop assassinations, including of individuals such as Tamil informants, members of other Tamil groups and political parties and government and military officials, and to stop the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The Co-chairs likewise call on the Sri Lankan government to take decisive action to ensure that killings are stopped and paramilitaries are disarmed immediately as required in the Cease-Fire Agreement.”
The Co-chairs released a second, more urgently worded statement on July 19th, warning that international support for the peace process would be “deeply eroded” if the cease-fire failed. They called on the LTTE to “stop all killings by their forces”, and the Sri Lankan government to “guarantee the security of unarmed LTTE cadres in government controlled areas.” and “ensure that all paramilitary groups are disarmed and prevented from any activity that might lead to violence.”
We are still left with the question, who exactly are these paramilitaries that the government is supposed to have sufficient influence over to disarm?
The LTTE takes great pains to paint all its victims as paramilitaries of some sort. Take the case of Mr.P. Sooriyamoorthy, the highly respected former mayor of Trincomalee and father of five children, who contested the parliamentary elections in Jaffna in April 2004 on Mr. Anandasangary’s party list. As mayor, the Government gave into Sinhalese extremist sentiment in preventing him from opening the new market he built for Trincomalee. He also earned the appreciation of Tamil passengers who had to travel by ship to Jaffna in the latter 1990s by arranging rest facilities for them.
Until he died Sooriyamoorthy was a frequent caller at Mr. Anandasangary’s home in Colombo where he used to help with office work. Though warned by friends, he did not take the LTTE threat seriously enough as it had no pretext for branding him a traitor. The controversy over the overnight erection of a new Buddha statue led to tension and a shutdown of Trincomalee on Tuesday 17th May. In the evening of the very next day, Sooriyamoorthy was shot at his home and injured. He was airlifted to Colombo for emergency surgery and died a week later as the shooting had damaged his liver.
On the very day Sooriyamoorthy was shot, Nitharsanam.com with close links to LTTE intelligence announced that he had been attacked by government, majoritarian Buddhist fanatics. This was initially believed even by persons close to Sooriyamoorthy. But there were witnesses who could testify to the contrary – relatives and neighbors who saw and heard the assault. It soon got out that
four young men on motor cycles had arrived at his house on the night of the attack, and asked him to come with them to discuss a business deal. Sooriyamoorthy was reportedly suspicious and refused. When his assailants tried to physically force him outside, there was a struggle.. The killers panicked, shot him in the abdomen and thigh and ran away, leaving him injured. The hero supposedly killed by Sinhalese fanatics became an embarrassment to the LTTE. When he died there were tell-tale virtual admissions by the killers. The Tamil Sakthy TV where his daughter Sooriyaprabha worked failed to announce his death. The London-based LTTE-run IBC Radio described Sooriyamoorthy as a man castaway (thrown) and rejected by the people, in reference to the elections mercilessly rigged by the LTTE.
The climax came in a statement claiming responsibility for Sooriyamoorthy’s murder, dated 27th May, printed in the Uthayan and other LTTE-controlled media and supposedly faxed to them, claiming to have come from a Seralathan, writing as spokesman for the Tamil National Army associated with Karuna. The statement claimed that Sooriyamoorthy was killed because he was a spy for the LTTE Vanni group. The allegedly Karuna statement was publicised exclusively in the media of his enemy. Even more curiously, the statement gave its address as Pandivirichchan, Vavuniya, a solidly LTTE-controlled area in the Vanni! That is also a statement of affairs within the LTTE.
It is dishonest to pretend that these are killings between the LTTE and paramilitaries that one can do nothing about. Every murder gives out its secrets under scrutiny. Even Sooriyamoorthy had been reduced in death to a paramilitary, this time a paramilitary of the LTTE, as if that made his murder less of an issue. It was a calculated and resounding attack on democracy, aided by the hullabaloo created over the statue by friends in need - Buddhist extremists.
Iqbal Athas reported (Sunday Times 10 Jul.05): “Rear Admiral Weerasekera, according to a report from a state intelligence agency, had addressed a gathering of three wheeler scooter taxi drivers who are known to be responsible for placing the statue.” The Rear Admiral who was moved out of Trincomalee by the President later denied the charge, but the intense security in the eastern town would not have permitted the erection of the statue without the connivance of the security forces. In Trincomalee, the minorities have felt the heavy hand of discrimination enforced by local security commanders in favour of the Sinhalese. In January 1997 Brigadier P.S.B. Kulatunge prevented Mayor Sooriyamoorthy from opening the new market he had built, as the city father, obscurely citing “the deterioriating situation in the area, and the general interest of the public in Trincomalee” (Special Report No.8). Now it would appear that another security top brass erected a Buddha statue thus creating a ‘deteriorating security situation’ to give the Tigers the cover to kill the former city father. The Buddha statue that signalled his death promises to remain the monument to the city father’s memory, rather than the new market he built and was not allowed to open.
From the beginning of April killings associated with the North-East have been occurring almost daily. A long held assumption of the peace process was that as long as the ceasefire held between the Security Forces and the LTTE, the rest was manageable. The LTTE targeting intelligence personnel, Tamil civilians and opposition party members was largely ignored despite the creeping instability. Although the Government did not investigate LTTE killings, it was bound to provide security for Tamil political parties. Recently LTTE attacks especially on the EPDP and PLOTE in about half a dozen instances have assumed the form of open military ambushes with security personnel in their escort getting killed and injured.
The Karuna split brought about a situation where the Security Forces were called upon to provide security for the LTTE as well, especially in the East. The result is a picture that would seem utterly bizarre to the Tamil youth who joined the militant groups by the thousands after July 1983. All shades of Tamils, traitors and heroes, must now routinely seek protection from the Government security forces chiefly against fellow Tamils, whether or not it will come. There has even been an instance where LTTE child abductors attacked by the inmates of a tsunami refugee camp were rescued and hospitalised by the STF. LTTE dignitaries travelling by land or air must depend on government forces for their security.
Nevertheless the LTTE is not inhibited from attacking security personnel protecting Tamil parties opposed to them and those associated with intelligence gathering. In recent weeks LTTE attacks on security forces in the East have become a daily occurrence. The resulting situation is one of menacing subterranean currents where appearances are deceptive. Several LTTE offices in the East have also been attacked and persons said to be LTTE intelligence cadres have also been killed.
During April the number of recorded killings by the Karuna faction (outside combat) was one. In May this number rose to 4 and to 5 in June, and in July the startling attack on the LTTE office in Chelvanayakapuram, Trincomalee killing four including an important Sea Tiger leader, was attributed to the Karuna faction by the Colombo media and not denied by Karuna. The number of security personnel killed by the LTTE has also shown a corresponding increase: April-1 (abducted), May-2, June-5. July-3 up to the 20th.
Important triggers in the escalation have been the LTTE’s abduction of Inspector
Jeyaratnam on 20th April, the killing of Colonel Mutaliph of Military Intelligence on 31st May and the killing of 3 Military Intelligence personnel in Batticaloa on 30th June. That the State’s intelligence services were taking a direct hand was suggested in the killing of TamilNet editor Sivaram on 28th April and a blip in early June of three killings of Tamils in Colombo soon after Muthaliph’s murder. Our sources in Jaffna affirm that two of the youths killed are innocent of LTTE involvement.
Killings by the LTTE have also spiralled. In April the LTTE murdered about a dozen of persons, mostly political opponents and civilians who did not toe the line. The peacemakers, donors and the Government appeared accept this as a normal part of the Sri Lankan peace process. Subsequent months saw an escalation with the LTTE becoming increasingly reckless. LTTE killings listed in the Appendix give approximately: May-13, June-21, and July-13 (up to the 20th).
Explaining these trends is a thankless task as there are so many forces at play that we do not know about. The Press, analysts, and the peace lobby have taken the easy way out and refer to the Karuna faction or this faction and all opposition groups collectively as paramilitaries. Unfortunately the discussion has been dictated by the unqualified occurrence of the term paramilitary in the ceasefire agreement, the LTTE’s free use of it to describe all its opponents and the ready acquiescence by most others. The LTTE media have for example attributed a number of killings (mainly its own) after the ceasefire to the EPDP. Not one of the attributions holds water under scrutiny. At the same time the LTTE has been attacking and killing EPDP cadres regularly in the hope that they would start killing, and thus give credence to their allegations.
In the case of the Karuna faction, much caution is required in making a distinction between receiving possible support from some sections of the security forces and being paramilitaries with direct ties to state forces, even though the faction is sadly today largely known for killings in the manner of its parent. This is a trend that portends long-term disaster. At the beginning Karuna articulated a political line exposing the LTTE leader, his former boss, apologising for what he had done and making overtures to the Muslims. That seems to be over now.
Going by reports, however, the Karuna group’s clout in Batticaloa-Amparai is credible. Many cadres appear to be hiding their weapons and leading semi-normal lives or are in hiding close to their villages. We have found no solid evidence that they are receiving significant support from the security forces or the Government. They receive little protection even in government-controlled areas. In these areas we have a number of cases of their cadres being killed by the LTTE when visiting their homes. When they are injured they are taken to a normal government hospital, rather than a military hospital, where the LTTE again targets them. Up to 40 of them are in police custody, arrested for being found with arms.
There is no comparison between the existence of Karuna’s cadres and what the LTTE enjoyed as paramilitaries of the UNP government of President Premadasa from 1989 – mid 1990. It received truckloads of weapons, cash, vehicles, helicopter rides and even the cooperation of the security forces to abduct persons for its huge bunker prisons.
Nevertheless, any opposition to the LTTE without a political commitment to human rights and democracy would be ultimately disastrous. The Tamil people have no alternative but to challenge and check the ruinous order imposed by the LTTE. But efforts to do so in active partnership with the Sinhalese polity have repeatedly proved ineffective. This polity instead sought to appease the LTTE while treating the mass of the Tamils with contempt. When their short cuts proved unattainable they wanted the same Tamil opposition they spurned and sacrificed to act as killers and targets. Even in the hour of danger when wisdom and restraint are most needed, they cannot resist the temptation to plant Buddha statues in sensitive areas Cyril Mathew-style to assert Sinhalese-Buddhist supremacy. Partnership entails a working sense of honour and an ability to see at least beyond the tip of their nose. Fifty years is far too long a time to learn.
The facts will have to be faced if any peace process is to move ahead.
Reports indicate that a number of LTTE cadres are using their position to acquire property for themselves by foul means. Jeyadevan’s case relating to a Hindu temple in London shows how vulnerable people are back at home.
Rasathurai Thangarajah (60) of Kommathurai, Udupiddy, Jaffna, was shot and killed by the LTTE on 4th June. He was detained and tortured by the LTTE in 1986 on account of his nephew in the TELO, which the LTTE decimated that year. He later fled to India, returned in 1990, was detained by the LTTE again and released. He lived as a poor farmer on a small plot of land. The LTTE later sold Thangarajah’s land using a forged deed to a rich local man Thurairasa, who had lately established himself as an LTTE supporter and had his daughter married to Thileepan Thevarasa of the LTTE intelligence wing, who is also a cousin of Sea Tiger Leader Soosai’s wife. Thangarajah refused to quit the land despite being tied to a tree and whipped by Thurairasa. Failing to obtain help from the Police and his TNA MP, Thangarajah filed a plaint in court for both assault and for the restoration of his land. He was thus murdered and the matter under ceasefire law ends there.
Sinnathamby Annapillai, an elderly lady of 65 years, died in a grenade explosion after sunset on 21st May, in the LTTE’s Periya Kallar office, south of Batticaloa. The LTTE media were unanimous in informing us that ‘there were no LTTE officials in the office at the time of the attack’. While helpfully pointing out that the office is 500 metres from the STF camp, TamilNet also added that the deceased was the owner of the house. We understand through close relatives of the deceased that the elderly lady had repeatedly gone to the house demanding that the LTTE give it back to her. The grenade blast was the LTTE’s reply.
The following case illustrates how far the State has gone in confidence building with the LTTE. We reported in Bulletin No.33 that Thilliampalam Tharmapalan, retired store keeper in the Sugar Corporation who was living as a caretaker in the Sugar Corporation quarters next to the store, near Arasady Junction in Batticaloa, was strangled by the LTTE in December 2002 in a manner made to appear like suicide in order to acquire the premises. A Daily Mirror item on 15th May 2005 reported:
“The CID cracked open the mystery killing, which had been written off as a case of suicide... On December 19 in 2002, the deceased was found hanging from a beam in his house. It was only one week before that he had made two complaints to the police at Kohuwela and Batticaloa alleging that his life had been threatened and that he feared for his safety. In his complaint, he had stated that his life was being threatened by a high ranking officer of the Corporation (Privatised Hingurana Sugar Industries Pvt. Ltd) and of Batticaloa Excise Department who were attempting to acquire the premises where the deceased was living...”
As to who really was trying to acquire the premises, we reported: “The LTTE [in mid-2002] approached Tharmapalan and asked him to leave. He refused. In mid-November 2002, the LTTE brought some people and got them to clean the premises. Tharmapalan stayed on even though the LTTE made its intentions clear.” We checked again recently and learnt that the premises are now the (LTTE’s) TRO office awaiting donor largesse.
In Special Report No.18 we reported the LTTE-instigated attack on Mr. Sivanathan of the Divisional Secretariat in Araiyampathy, Batticaloa, on 13th March over his resistance to misappropriating tsunami relief on their behalf. The move backfired and led to a protest demonstration by government officers in Batticaloa on 22nd March. The LTTE was undeterred.
T. Kailanathan (55) who had wide experience in technical education was deputy director in the Ministry of Vocational Education. He went to Batticaloa and as part of the effort in tsunami relief interviewed students at the Government Technical College in Manjanthoduwa trained in carpentry, irrigation and handiwork. An LTTE intruder shot him dead while he was having his lunch. TamilNet hinted strongly about who killed him and why: “Mr. Douglas Devananda, MP, leader of EPDP and a close ally of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, is the Minister for Vocational Education.” Nitharsanam.com went overboard to describe Kailanathan as a victim of an internal quarrel in the EPDP. Kailanathan was known to be a duty conscious professional with no political involvements.
Samurdhi (poor relief) officer Seevaratnam Arulpalan (44) of Manatchenai, Kalmunai was shot dead on the street by the LTTE on 11th April. He was at that time travelling on his bicycle with his 11-year-old son. As in the case of the DS below such persons with responsibility to deal in relief money and resources, are prone to disputes with the LTTE over the latter’s extortion.
A.K. Thavarajah, Divisional Secretary of Thirukkovil was shot dead in the evening of 15th April while returning from his office. The LTTE media (e.g. TamilNet) and even the English press pointed to a dispute concerning the switching of Prabhakaran’s and Chandrika Kumaratunge’s pictures in the DS’s office to make diametrically opposed cases. According to the LTTE media, the STF removed Prabhakaran’s picture and hung the President’s picture behind the DS’s seat in February, following which the LTTE regional sports secretary Kaviyalan made the reverse switch in March while an STF man watched. Once more the STF restored status quo ante. The LTTE media pointed out that the killing took place within a short distance of the STF camp.
We verified through other reliable sources that the murder had an all-together different provenance. Following the ceasefire the LTTE virtually took over contracts given by DSs in Tamil divisions and appropriated huge funds. The person in charge of finance for the area was the LTTE’s Reagan. Reagan vanished after the Karuna split, by which time he had received two cheques from the DS for the construction of a road at Pavattakulam, Thandiyadi. Meanwhile some contractors had also complained to the LTTE that Reagan had not paid them. Reagan returned to the country after one attempt to go abroad and the LTTE located him in Colombo trying to go again and summoned him to the Vanni. In going over accounts Reagan claimed that the DS owed him a further sum of money.
The DS maintained that he had settled. We understand that the LTTE detained him on two occasions and extorted money from him. There were also other problems. The DS had maintained good relations with the STF, the EPDP and the Government in addition to LTTE bigwigs such as Thilak and Bawa. On one occasion the DS was asked to host a development meeting in Thirukkovil to be attended by MPs from the District who included Sinhalese. This he did against the LTTE’s orders. The DS had also rented tractors for tsunami work from individuals when the LTTE wanted to be the sole supplier. On the final day an LTTE man came to the DS’s office late in the evening and wanted the DS to meet him nearby.
Thavarajah’s funeral in Pandiruppu was attended by a huge crowd, including government officers. The Government was silent. A new reality in the North-East where government officers are the cornerstone of any rehabilitation effort is that they are terrified of being given money and asked to spend and account for it. Another government officer killed in the course of duty is Police Inspector Jude Thiyagarajah of Alaiyadichchenai, Batticaloa. The Government had posted him home to Batticaloa to assist in tsunami relief. The LTTE shot him dead at 6.30 PM in Batticaloa town on 28th May 2005. He was interred in his native place.
In Special Report No.18 we gave the cases of the murder two tsunami affected persons Alagiah Kirubeswaran and Subramanaiam Dayanithy whose families in the Paddy Marketing Board refugee camp under TRO (LTTE) supervision. In a number of instances refugees have clashed with the LTTE over the abduction of refugee children.
In the afternoon 28th March 4 Vanni Tigers (LTTE) entered the tsunami refugee camp at Manthana, Thirukkovil and attempted to abduct a boy of 17. The elders protested and resisted the Tigers attracting the attention of the Police, and Tigers ran away. The LTTE returned with about 30 men and redoubled their abduction efforts. The parents resisted again resulting in a refugee Mylavan and a Tiger being badly injured. Once more the Police, and then the STF, intervened. In the resulting fracas security personnel and more Tigers were injured, and the STF admitted the latter to hospital.
Murugesu Varatharajah, a tsunami refugee in a camp in Kallady, Batticaloa, fisherman, father of three children and EPRLF-P local council member, was shot dead by the LTTE on 28th April. Rathirani, wife of the deceased, was arrested and released by the LTTE some time ago.
On 15th June, Nallathamby Raveendran (28), an inmate of Wesley College refugee camp, Kalmunai, who was working at the Kalmunai bus stand was shot dead by the LTTE along with his colleague and time keeper Kulanthai Marikkar Kaleel (43). The latter we understand had ignored over time the LTTE’s orders to send vehicles for their functions.
Alagiah Ravichandran (38) from the EPDP who went to visit his family in the tsunami refugee camp at Karunkoditivu, Akkaraipattu, was hacked to death by the LTTE about 9.00 PM on 20th June.
These cases illustrate the state of anarchy in which the LTTE is operating especially in the East where the leadership has given its cadres the licence to kill perceived enemies, and a number of them inevitably use it for personal ends. Batticaloa after the Karuna split resembles an undisciplined army coming into occupation of an alien territory. Many of those being killed have no involvement in the fight between the Karuna and Vanni factions of the LTTE.
These attacks have no purpose except to give all its opponents the message that they must vanish completely. Under the title ‘EPDP cadre shot dead in Kommathurai’, Batticaloa, on 1st April, TamilNet in its small print qualified the reference to the deceased, as someone ‘believed to be close to the EPDP’. The crime of the victim Puthirasigamani Kugathasan (23) was his misfortune to have belonged to a family massacred root and branch by the LTTE. The story of the family given in Bulletin No.33 speaks of the thoroughness of the LTTE’s brutality, which is hardly to be matched by the state forces.
One member of the family, Tharmaratnam Illamaran (Ravi), was among the abler members of the EPRLF-P, based in Chenkalady. The party was in difficult financial straits and Ravi and those with him crossed over to the EPDP. Ravi’s mother Omanathan Mohanalatchumi was murdered by the LTTE in March 1989. Mohanalatchmi’s younger sister Komalathevi, Ravi’s ‘chinnamma’ (aunt), was killed by the LTTE in 1993 and her body left on the railway tracks. Komalathevi’s husband Puthirasigamani was murdered by the LTTE in 1998. It is Komalathevi’s son Kugathasan who was recently murdered ‘in the belief that he was close to the EPDP’. Killers will find no rest from their labours.
The LTTE made another in a series of attempts on Ravi’s life on 9th June as described earlier, killing a civilian (see also Appendix). The LTTE also threw a grenade at the EPDP’s office in Valaichenai under Siva (former EPRLF-P) on 5th May and attacked a vehicle transporting EPDP members in the same area on 12th May and injured 4 policemen in their escort.
A number of those being targeted by the LTTE are persons with no political involvement, but simply employed in party offices. On 8th April, Thurairajasingam, a peon at the EPDP office in Batticaloa was badly assaulted by Sathiyaraj, a notorious LTTE killer once arrested by the Police, bailed out through the Appeal Court in return for policemen abducted by the LTTE. He now roams about his killing fields free of impediment. On 18th May Arumugam Murugupillai, another employee of the Batticaloa EPDP office was murdered by the LTTE when he went to the market under police escort to buy provisions.
Apart from some possible support for the Karuna group, Sri Lankan intelligence services were not known to have been directly involved in action against LTTE activists or suspects. The fate of senior LTTE intelligence operative Newton reported to have gone missing not far from Colombo on 20th April 2005 still remains largely speculative. It was the same day that Inspector Jeyaratnam was abducted by the LTTE. The killing of Journalist Sivaram 8 days later has the hallmarks of the involvement of state agencies. The next set of actions where state agencies were likely involved came soon after the ambush and killing of Colonel Muthaliph of Army intelligence in Colombo on 31st May.
On 6th June two youths Devadas Emmanuel and Francis Denisius were shot dead early in the morning in Kochikade, shortly after they arrived by train from the North. Observers believe that they were monitored from the time from or before they boarded the train in Vavuniya. Our sources in Jaffna assert that they had no connection with the LTTE. The following day about 2.00 AM Veerabahu Indrakumar (25) was similarly shot dead in Nelson Place, Wellawatte, Colombo.
Such killings are a perennial hazard in Sri Lanka where governments lack policy. They fail to take a stand or give firm and viable directions to the security services and indulge in manoeuvres which these services are not equipped to handle, and consequently leave them feeling angry and at a loose end. Not only were governments blind to LTTE killings of intelligence personnel, but when Colonel Muthaliph was killed by the LTTE, the state owned Daily News said in its lead story on 3rd June that ‘the Police probe into the assassination of Commanding Officer of the Military Intelligence Corps Lt. Colonel Nizam Muthaliph took a new turn yesterday with the latest evidence pointing to the possible hand of a secret organization [operating with the backing of a certain chauvinist political organization] behind the plot.’ The report quoted investigators as speculating on the possibility that the killing ‘was linked to certain crucial political decisions that are being anticipated in the coming days.’
This was a deplorable instance of the fate of an intelligence officer being used in a game of political football to do with numbers in Parliament, under donor pressure over P-TOMS (the Joint Mechanism for Tsunami Relief to be signed with the LTTE) and the JVP’s opposition to it. The other side of the coin is that in the same frivolous vein, the same governments would turn a blind eye to the intelligence services venting their anger on Tamil youths and the occasional journalist. The fate of the civilian population in the North-East is an even larger game of political football.
We saw an instance of spontaneous civilian reaction to LTTE child abductors at a tsunami refugee camp in Thirukkovil. In the North, the fisher folk in Gurunagar rose up against the LTTE last year, and the fisherfolk in Pallimunai last February (Special Report No.19). Such instances appear to have become more frequent. At mid-day on 16th April, a motorcycle carrying three persons had an accident with a mini van from Muhamalai taking a diversionary route to Jaffna through Kopay and Irupalai owing to road maintenance. The LTTE’s Kopay commissar arrived there and ordered the van burnt. The van drivers went on strike over the next three days. The LTTE sent Balaiah, its commissar for private transport, to talk to the Thenmaratchy van operators. The meeting became heated with the van operators almost assaulting Balaiah and demanding compensation for the burnt van from the LTTE. The mini bus owners also assaulted the elderly Uthayan reporter, after the paper reported contrary to the police report that the van driver was at fault over the accident.
History sometimes repeats itself in strange ways. The old anger resides in the system and breaks out again. Two years ago the LTTE murdered Maclan Atputharajah, President of the same mini bus owners association in Thenmaratchy. After first agreeing the Uthayan refused to publish an appreciation for the deceased written by the family. As we reported in Bulletin No.32: “The statement issued and delivered to the Uthayan by the Minibus Owners’ Association met with the same fate. The MOA took issue with reporters on the day of the funeral for not informing the public of an event that was undoubtedly newsworthy. The reporters, who felt bad, told the MOA to parade their buses as a mark of protest and that they would photograph it and publish it. The parade did take place, but the reporters did not turn up!”
On 9th June a speeding LTTE vehicle knocked down and killed Harichandran (42) in Puthukkudiyiruppu Mullaitivu. The parents of the deceased who went to the LTTE police to lodge a complaint were abused and driven away. Immediately afterwards relatives and village folk converged on the police station, attacked it along with LTTE shops in the neighbourhood and set fire to LTTE checkpoints. About 45 villagers, including the headman, were then arrested on the orders of the LTTE IGP Nadesan. Thenee.com said in its report that faced with having to pacify the villagers, LTTE political chief Thamilchelvan wanted the villagers released, which Nadesan refused on the grounds that those who laid hands on the Police should not be spared.
On 15th May the LTTE’s Kodikamam (Jaffna District) commissar Rathinam lured Miss. Nalini Selvarajah (16) of Karukkai, Varani to the Kodikamam office intending to send her to the Vanni for training. Nalini’s parents and relatives kept vigil outside the office demanding her release. The LTTE did not respond. On 19th June, the civilians forced their way into the LTTE office, assaulted Rathinam and rescued the girl.
In our last bulletin dealing with political killings (Sp Rep. No.18 of 28th March), we attributed the killing of Nadarajah Gajendran (26) and Mylvaganam Jeyaganesh (23) to the Karuna group. Subsequently our source informed us that this attribution was a mistake. Several of those being killed in Batticaloa are either ex-LTTEers or even persons associated with the Vanni group itself. They are being killed by the Vanni group itself on suspicion of links to Karuna. Further evidence of this came from a fact confirmed by escapees that the Vanni faction is holding about 250 persons in a prison with several bunkers in Veppavedduvan in the interior of Batticaloa. Severe torture is routine. Our sources also said that many of those targeted for killing have been selected on the basis of interrogations in Veppavedduvan. Parallely the Karuna faction has been increasingly indulging in killings of persons suspected of links to the Vanni faction.
The extent of the LTTE’s problems in controlling Batticaloa are revealed by the fact that nearly every senior person in the LTTE hierarchy initially supported Karuna. A well-known figure told a friend that he decided to cross over to the Vanni faction after Karikalan and Ramesh jumped ship and he felt that Karuna could not survive. The fact that the Vanni leadership has spared Karikalan and Ramesh says a lot. Had it killed them, it would not have had a crutch to support them in the East. This fact underlies the massive killing by the Vanni faction in the East. Every Batticaloa man or woman not demonstrably with them is suspect.
Although we cannot say definitely who is responsible for a killing in every particular instance, given some time and effort it is possible to make the attribution. We could however say that all killings of persons connected to opposition parties are by the Vanni faction and most killings of former members of the LTTE and of civilians are also by the Vanni faction. Some of the problems of identification are evident in the cases listed in the Appendix where we have attempted to clarify most reported cases.
The indiscipline and violence the Vanni faction has shown in its dealings with government servants and civilians underlies the enormity of giving the Vanni faction complete control of tsunami relief in Tamil areas, particularly in the East.
The P-TOMS, with its promise of increased administrative control by the LTTE over reconstruction resources came in the wake of a tacit decision by those in power to go soft on its killings. This piece of disingenuousness is facilitated by the ambiguous use of the term paramilitary to describe all the LTTE’s opponents, and implicitly placing the LTTE’s victims in this category. We have indicated above that the problem of killings is much more complicated, and the root cause is ideological intolerance. No account has been taken of the harm it does to the Tamil people in general who are increasingly skeptical of the LTTE. In the East in particular, where the Vanni faction has almost no sympathy, this increased control would further licence murder. And going by the past, the donors and the Government would do nothing about it.
The cardinal error in the peace process was that in its quest to simplify the negotiating field, it virtually delegitimised shades of opinion in the North-East opposed to the LTTE.
Peace brokers tried to sweep the Karuna rebellion under the carpet. They turned a blind eye to the LTTE’s attacks on critics and opponents. When persons targeted by the LTTE started responding violently -- as was bound to happen – they had no way of dealing with the problem.
When would-be peacemakers tell opponents of the LTTE that their lives cannot be guaranteed unless they ask Karuna to stop attacks, the real message delivered is a raw military threat. This was the logic of Solheim’s response to non-LTTE political leaders in Batticaloa who made a plea to stop killings. In a subsequent meeting on the same subject with the SLMM’s deputy head Haukland, he ambiguously pointed to the clause in the ceasefire agreement, which required all paramilitaries to be disarmed and placed outside the North-East. The suggestion was that these unarmed political party representatives, who had gathered in Batticaloa to ask for protection against the daily killings, were actually armed paramilitary forces and had no right to be in Batticaloa in the first place.
In essence, political opponents of the LTTE have almost literally been told that they could choose between becoming martyrs or guerrillas. Even Norwegian deputy minister Helgeson who called on the LTTE leadership for the signing of P-TOMS came back with nothing to say on the subject of killings. Rather than a recipe for peace, this logic is a spur to rising anarchy.
We have said repeatedly that there cannot be political progress without an end to impunity. Neither peace nor reconstruction in the North-East can succeed unless the LTTE abandons its ideological pre-conditions and makes peace with fellow Tamils and the rest in the North-East. These are the issues that need to be addressed.
We now hear the regular beat of war drums. Having forced the country down the road of P-TOMS the donors appear to have been startled into second thoughts. Having given the LTTE a free run of the country under the ceasefire agreement, the Government panicked into conniving at killing persons who would normally have been arrested during war. The multiplicity of ironies is so bewildering that if a war is to be avoided only the donors could prevail on the two parties by being firm. Any move forward must also involve a human rights agreement. The lack of one is now clearly seen to be the core problem.
List of Killings and a Sample of Assaults and Abductions from April 2005
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