Attack on Sri Lanka Army Helicopter &
Norwegian led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM)
News Watch, 18 December 2005
"It is important that the SLMM maintains an even handed
approach and its findings are not arbitrary but made on reasonable
grounds. The SLMM should not succumb to pressure by the Sri Lanka
government and rush to conclusions which cannot be supported by reason.
A failure to adopt an even handed approach will threaten the credibility
of the SLMM itself and in that way jeopardise the Peace Process which
the SLMM is at pains to safeguard."
A Sri Lanka Army Helicopter on its way to pick up
Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Margherita Boniver from Arumugam Bay in
Amparai district (in the East of the island of Sri Lanka) was hit by two
bullets on 14 December 2005. The Russian-built MI-17 helicopter suffered
minor damage but returned to Amparai town safely.
Finding by Norwegian led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
Report, 17 December 2005)
"As the small arms fire against the helicopter originated
from an area controlled by LTTE, the LTTE must bear the responsibility
for the incident". Firing upon the unarmed Sri Lankan air force helicopter
"is ruled as a gross violation" of the ceasefire..."
Denial by LTTE Political Wing Leader,
Report, 17 December 2005)
"...The attack Wednesday on a Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter
enroute to transport a senior Italian diplomat was stage managed to spoil
relations between Italy and the LTTE. In the wake of the Indian Ocean
tsunami, Italy was one of the first countries to rush desperately needed aid
to the Tamil people in Vanni. Italy had also been strongly supportive of the
peace process in Sri Lanka. Elements in Sri Lanka’s armed forces intent on
alienating the LTTE from the Italian government have stage managed this
incident. The Colombo government has deliberately blown the incident into a
major issue in which the LTTE was held responsible."
Caroline Gammell reporting from Colombo in Scotsman 8 January 2005
"The Sri Lankan airforce has confiscated two planes donated
by the Italian government which can land on sea or ground and were brought
in to deliver aid to the most remote areas. Each aircraft can carry six
tonnes and were welcomed by relief workers last week. But now they are being
held by the air force and are lying idle at the domestic airport in
Ratmallan, Colombo.... “They say they want to check that the aid is not
going to any Tamil organisation. The stuff (to be loaded on to the planes)
was actually from the UN, it was completely legitimate and this is the air
force’s way of keeping control.”
owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times on Kofi Annan's Failure to Visit Tamil
Areas - An Agenda within an Agenda, 16 January 2005
".. The Italian government has already justified giving direct aid to
the LTTE areas. UN agency chiefs have meanwhile made it a practice
to visit the Tiger den and sup with the rebels while engaging their
officers in these areas.."
Sri Lanka's Dirty Tricks Campaign
(Tamilnet Report, 12
Two paramilitary cadres who surrendered to the LTTE in
Amparai revealed that Sri Lankan Government Ministers A L M Athaullah,
Douglas Devananda and Maithripala Sirisena are complicit in helping
paramilitaries operating in the east. The cadres also said that the
paramilitaries were involved in
violence against Muslims to create dissension between Tamil and Muslim
Comment by News Watch
In the light of the
direct aid given by the Italian Government to the LTTE areas and the
action of the Sri Lanka air force in confiscating two planes donated by the
Italian government in January 2005, the SLMM may want to ask the question
whether it was Sri Lanka or the LTTE which had the motive for the
attack on the helicopter.
Additionally, given the dirty tricks campaign being carried
out by Sri Lanka sponsored para military groups in the East, the SLMM may
want to consider whether the circumstance that 'the small arms fire
against the helicopter originated from an area controlled by LTTE'
provides sufficient ground to conclude that the LTTE should be held
Finally, the SLMM may want to ask itself whether it
has applied the same standard for culpability in the case of cease
fire violations in Sri Lanka controlled areas, for example the
February 2005, of Mr.Kausalyan, the LTTE political leader and coordinator
for Tsunami relief work in the Eastern part of the island of Sri Lanka and
Mr. Ariyanayagam Chandra Nehru, former Member of Parliament and founder of
the Northeast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR). On that occasion, the
"SLMM monitors are
currently making inquiries into all the incidents. However, it is
important to underline that the SLMM is tasked to monitor and assist the
Parties in implementing the Ceasefire Agreement. SLMM is not here to
conduct police investigations. Such work falls outside of our mandate,
which is spelled out in the CFA. We, thus, encourage and sincerely hope
that the Police will be able to shed light and bring the perpetrators to
On that occasion, the SLMM concluded that simply
because the killings had taken place in 'an area controlled by Sri Lanka'
Sri Lanka should not be held responsible - and that though the
SLMM monitors were 'making inquiries' the SLMM was "not
here to conduct police investigations".
It may have been understandable, if in relation to the helicopter damaged by
a couple of bullet holes, the SLMM had responded in a similar vein (and
encouraged the Tamil Eelam Police in LTTE controlled areas
to 'shed light and bring the perpetrators to justice') and refrained
from attributing culpability simply on the ground that the incident occurred
within an area controlled by the LTTE.
It is important that the SLMM maintains an even handed
approach and its findings are not arbitrary but made on reasonable grounds.
The SLMM should not succumb to pressure by the Sri Lanka government
and rush to conclusions which cannot be supported by reason. A failure to
adopt an even handed approach will threaten the credibility of the SLMM
itself and in that way jeopardise the Peace Process which the SLMM is at
pains to safeguard.