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South East Asia no more a haven for LTTE gun-running

CELEBRATION: LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran made his annual speech on November 27. Unlike President Rajapaksa who celebrated his first anniversary of Presidency with his people, Prabhakaran had to deliver his speech confined to his jungle hideout in the Wanni.

Many people expected him to make a hard hitting speech and declare war this time.

He did make a hard hitting speech from his clandestine fortress in the jungles of Wanni with scathing remarks on President Rajapaksa's policies. But it lacked credibility and also facts to prove what he really wanted to convey to the world.

The reason is obvious. The LTTE leader this time could not make his speech so attractive and interesting since it lacked the touch of his close confidante Anton Balasingham who is undergoing treatment for a serious ailment in Europe.

A LTTE cut-out erected for the heroes’ day in Kilinochchi

The LTTE lost public participation for its War Heroes' Week this year. The LTTE could not show their power in Jaffna and in the entire Eastern province this year as they have lost control over the people's confidence.

So the LTTE leader had to make a desperate attempt to keep a handful number of Tamil people with them by delivering a deceitful speech.

Many people assumed that Prabhakaran has declared war against the Sri Lankan Government as he said "the uncompromising stance of the Sinhala chauvinism has left us with no other option but an independent state for the people of Tamil Eelam."

So those who expected Prabhakaran to declare war, complained in Parliament about lack of publicity given to Prabhakaran's speech in local media.

Though some sections of media gave prominence to his statement it didn't come as a surprise for the local media since the LTTE leader declaring war was nothing unusual.

The LTTE declared war against the Security Forces when they first exploded the claymore mine targeting the Security Forces in Jaffna, and on the day they made an abortive attempt to take the life of Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka on April 25 this year.

Prime Minister
Ratnasiri Wickremanayake

So nothing is left for the LTTE leader to declare war against the Security Forces.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an interview given to a reporter in India following Prabhakaran's speech said that he could not take Prabhakaran's speech so seriously as he made such statements which had not materialised so far.

President Rajapaksa had reasons to say so. The LTTE leader who promised to give a one year period for him to come out with a just solution for the Tamil people's problems resorted to violence a week after his pledge detonating claymore mines targeting the Security Forces.

As mentioned by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella the LTTE leader has not achieved anything he has declared in his November 27 speeches.

Despite the LTTE leader's claim that they are left with no other option but an independent state for the people of Tamil Eelam LTTE Political Chief Thamilselvan gave an assurance to the SLMM the following day that they will abide by the Ceasefire Agreement negating all what had been delivered by the LTTE leader.

The LTTE leader too tried to give a wrong impression about their military defeats in the face of Security Forces retaliatory attacks saying that 'Sinhala military misjudged our strategic withdrawal from Mavilaru and Sampur'.

But he never mentioned the fact how reluctantly they had retreat from Sampur the strategically important land they were dominating with high hopes when elite Special Forces personnel moved into Sampur under the cover of darkness compelling the LTTE to retreat with civilians further South of Sampur towards Vakarai.

He also failed to mention how effectively the Security Forces took control over the Mavilaru anicut deploying soldiers for nearly eight days close to Mavilaru anicut to open the sluice gates neutralising LTTE artillery and mortar positions.

The only event the LTTE leader was left with was the damage inflicted on the Security Forces at Kilaly and Muhamalai. But he failed to mention that many LTTE cadres were killed in the retaliatory attacks by the Security Forces and the territory they lost to the Security Forces in Muhamalai.

The LTTE leader was strongly critical about the policy adopted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to usher peace in the country.

Prabhakaran, though matured by age may not in a position to understand the logic behind policy adopted by President Rajapaksa to usher peace in the country and may not see any link between the militaristic approach and the political approach to the problem.

Having become the fifth executive President of the country last year and also the Commander in Chief of the Security Forces, the President asked the Forces Commander to brief him on the situation for him to have a clear picture on the situation.

The Security Forces Commanders in a presentation made to the President explained the capabilities of the LTTE to develop as an international terror organisation.

They pointed out that LTTE leader has no boundaries and would one day become a major threat to global peace if the LTTE was allowed to strengthen themselves militarily specially with air and naval capabilities.

The Commanders therefore told the President that allowing the LTTE to strengthen militarily will in no way benefit the efforts taken by him to usher permanent peace in the country since they would not stick to the peace path once they are militarily strengthened.

It was in that context that the country the President decided to give a free hand for the Security Forces to prevent the LTTE becoming militarily stronger while taking steps at the State level to curb LTTE activities internationally.

It was with this purpose President Rajapaksa following an intelligence briefing at a Security Council meeting decided to send Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake to South East Asian countries which the LTTE is using as a focal point for their gun running activities.

At this intelligence briefing it was revealed that LTTE was using the small islands off Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam close to international shipping lanes to unload the weapons collected from various parts of the world to small ships and trawlers to transport them to Eastern seas and the Western sea using international sea routes.

On Monday the Navy detected yet another trawler transporting artillery rounds for the LTTE 50 nautical miles west of Udappuwa in Chilaw.

According to the Navy, two men on board the trawler had jumped into the sea after exploding the trawler once three Navy dvoras detected it and challenged it in the sea off Udappuwa. During the search operation the Navy found two boxes containing artillery rounds.

During this year alone the Navy has been able to detect and destroy 10 trawlers in the western seas from Kalpitiya to Mannar specially in the Gulf of Mannar region smuggling arms and ammunition to LTTE dominated areas apart from the ship that was destroyed off Kalmunai.

Prime Minister Wickremanayake who was assigned by the President on this mission of seeking the assistance of the South East Asian countries had tremendous support from these nations.

He first visited Indonesia at the end of October and received a warm welcome from the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and had discussed the ways and means of curbing the LTTE gun running using the small islands in Indonesia.

The Indonesian authorities promised to investigate into the claims that its waters are being used to ship illegal weapons to the LTTE.

Following his visit to Indonesia, Premier Wickremanayake along with his Secretary Mahinda Bandusena and several Security Forces personnel on November 23 started touring Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Premier Wickremanayake raised the concerns over the intelligence reports that the zone around Vietnam has become an area used for gun running.

During his discussion with Vietnam Prime Minister Naguyen Tan Dung, it was agreed to boost intelligence cooperation to foil LTTE operations in the region.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also during his deliberation with the visiting Prime Minister promised to cut off the flow of weapons from Cambodia to Sri Lanka.

The Cambodian leader admitted for the first time last year that arms were smuggled out of the country to guerrillas in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Myanmar.

Therefore, the visit by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake has brought positive results in curbing LTTE activities in the South East Asian region thus enhancing the efforts by the President to keep the LTTE in the peace process.

The true motive behind LTTE's 'humanitarian' concerns

The LTTE on Wednesday exposed their true nature and revealed to the entire world why they were forcibly keeping nearly 30,000 innocent Tamil civilians under their control.

They have learnt the importance of keeping the civilians under them from Muttur and Sampur.

Firstly, the LTTE attempt to take control over Muttur failed on August 1 as thousands of Muslims moved out of their habitat when the LTTE moved into their homes in Muttur to attack the Security Forces.

Then the LTTE again faced defeat in Sampur as thousands of civilians living there moved towards Vakarai and Kathirveli areas when the LTTE and the Security Forces battled to take control of the land.

This time the LTTE tried not to make the same mistake again. They forcibly kept the civilians in Vakarai and Kathirveli area as a shield to protect themselves from the Security Forces.

First they used these internally displaced civilians to tarnish the image of the Security Forces after firing artillery rounds from areas close to IDP centres in Kathirveli instigating the Security Forces to retaliate.

Once civilians started fleeing their areas in fear of shelling again they set mine fields to prevent them from arriving in cleared areas.

"They even indiscriminately fired at the civilians who tried to flee towards Government controlled areas," civilians who were fortunate enough to flee the LTTE controlled areas told this reporter at Mankerni IDP centre.

As things were not in favour of the LTTE, they used the International NGOs to pressurise the Government to allow them to send food stocks to Vakarai for the people there.

The Ministry of Defence gave clearance for the food convoy to proceed towards Vakarai after obtaining an assurance from the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission that they should not allow the LTTE to take military advantage out of this situation.

But the real motive of the LTTE appeal was exposed as the food convoy consisting of more than 100 lorries started crossing the Kajuwatta entry exit point.

Hundreds of armed LTTE cadres used the safety guarantee provided by the Security Forces to facilitate the transportation of the food convoy to Vakarai to establish a new defence line ahead of Security Forces Forward Defence Line.

The situation created by the LTTE under the cover of the food convoy compelled the General Officer Commanding in Welikanda to stop 35 Vakarai bound lorries at Mankerni to prevent the LTTE action.

As exposed by this column earlier, the LTTE always uses humanitarian issues to strengthen themselves militarily.

The objective of the LTTE behind their constant claim for the opening of the Muhamalai entry exit point is now clear.

If the Government opened the Muhamalai entry exit point they will take cover under the human flow on the A-9 road to re-establish the scattered defences in Muhamalai and to launch a fresh attack to capture the Jaffna peninsula.

This is a very clear indication that international humanitarian agencies knowingly or unknowingly help the LTTE achieving their objectives. But those organisations should be aware of the fact that they are helping the LTTE to distance itself from the path of peace by their shortsighted acts.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka

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