SLMM Report on Implementation of Geneva Agreements
Reached Between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers
at the Geneva Talks the 22-23 February 2006 [also
11 June 2006
The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) met in Geneva 22-23 February 2006 for talks on the Cease Fire Agreement
(CFA). The GOSL and the LTTE committed themselves to respect and uphold the CFA
and reconfirmed their commitment to fully cooperate with and respect the rulings
of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The GOSL and the LTTE also pledged
to take all necessary measures to ensure that there will be no intimidation,
acts of violence, abductions or killings.
The LTTE committed themselves to take all necessary measures to ensure that
there will be no acts of violence against the security forces and police. The
GOSL on the other hand committed itself to take all necessary measures in
accordance with the CFA to ensure that no armed group or person other than
Government security forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations in GOSL
controlled areas. GOSL and LTTE discussed all issues concerning the welfare of
children in the North East, including the recruitment of children.
It was agreed that SLMM will report on implementation of the above agreements at
the next session of talks in Geneva on 19-21 April 2006.
This report is an assessment based on information collected by SLMM Monitors,
including information on alleged and confirmed violations of the CFA and the
Parties compliance to SLMM determinations with special attention to the defined
period 24 February - 28 May 2006.
A significant increase of complaints lodged by the Parties was noted following
the decision that SLMM would present a report at the next round of talks.
However, it should be mentioned that it has been somewhat difficult for SLMM to
inquire into what comes across as being rather vague and general accusations
with only few concrete facts. SLMM has not yet been able to determine all
complaints recorded during the period as more time is needed to finalize the
inquiries in a professional manner and to allow respective Parties to respond to
the allegations. As such, this report will analyze the situation in a broader
perspective and recommend measures which could strengthen the implementation of
2. GOSL and LTTE overall commitment to the CFA
The period started with a positive atmosphere and steps were taken to further
normalize the situation. The presence of soldiers in town centers and the amount
of checkpoint decreased and the population living in the North and Northeast
became much more hopeful for the future.
Attempts were made to restart LTTE political activities in GOSL controlled areas
but too much distrust prevailed between the Parties and so the GOSL was not
willing to provide unlimited access to LTTE political cadres as they feared that
they would engage in clandestine activities. LTTE also pushed for a resumption
of organized transport of LTTE cadres through GOSL controlled areas including
LTTE sea movements.
SLMM made several attempts to facilitate a meeting in Kilinochchi between local
LTTE leaders, a prerequisite set by LTTE to ensure their participation in the
Geneva II talks. However, neither GOSL nor LTTE could reach an agreement on the
transportation. The transportation issue has now reached a complete deadlock,
thus postponing the Geneva II talks.
Although the level of violence decreased drastically after the decision was
taken to resume high-level talks, the situation became very tense again
following the assassination of the Trincomalee District President of Tamil
Peoples Forum on April 7, 2006. The killing triggered a resumption of attacks
against the GOSL forces, which began with hand grenade and claymore mine
attacks, notably in the East. However, this soon escalated into more high
profile attacks such as the suicide attack against Commander of the Army Lt. Gen
Fonseka on 25 April, and the Sea Tiger attack on a SLN Dvora on 11 May to
mention but a few. GOSL showed restraint to begin with, but as the seriousness
of the incidents increased, so did GOSL's response, which led to additional
violence and suffering of the civilian population.
As a result of the recent escalation in violence the CFA has been put under
heavy pressure and the parties' lack of commitment is to be considered highly
3 Intimidation, acts of violence, abductions and killings by GOSL and LTTE
The level of intimidation and harassment of civilians increased with the
resumption of attacks against the security forces, forcing people to seek
shelter in schools, churches and temples. These places of shelter have lately
become a target as well, notably in Trincomalee where the tension between
civilian Tamils and Sinhalese is particularly high following a bomb explosion in
a market frequented mostly by Sinhalese. The following riots killed at least 20,
The fishing restrictions enforced by the GOSL continued to impose a serious
problem for the fisherman in the North and Northeast. GOSL initially relaxed
some of the limitations but later imposed additional restriction as force
Mr. Vigneswaran, the District President of Tamils People Forum in Trincomalee,
was assassinated outside the bank where he worked on 7 April. The cold blooded
killing of this prominent member of the Tamil society close to major police and
defence installations raised serious doubts about GOSL capability to maintain
law and order.
There had only been few attacks against the security forces or police during the
initial six weeks after the Geneva Talks. However following the abovementioned
killing the attacks resumed again on April 8, 2006 when a claymore mine targeted
an Army truck in Jaffna. This attack was followed by a series of mine and bomb
attacks mostly targeted at the SLA and SLN. The security forces and police were
attacked more than 141 times in the past seven weeks resulting in at least 88
serviceman killed in action. The number of attacks, the tactics used, the target
and the geographic dimension pointed out the LTTE as the most likely
perpetrator. It does however not rule out that some attacks might have been
executed by some other actors or that they could be cover operations. The
attacks were a very serious violation of the CFA.
LTTE forward defence localities or convoys in the East were attacked a number of
times throughout the period resulting in the death of at least 19 LTTE cadres.
Mid-April, five claymore mine attacks in LTTE controlled Vanni killed five
civilians and two LTTE cadres. There was also extended exchange of fire between
SLA and LTTE across the zone of separation on several occasions.
At least 223 civilians were killed during the reporting period: In Jaffna more
than 43 civilian were assassinated since April 10 in a virtual campaign of
targeted killings. On several occasions these killings took place within close
vicinity of permanent SF presence. Yet, they denied witnessing any of these
killings. The killings followed a pattern where gunmen approached the victim at
his house, called him out and shot him. In May two grave incidents demonstrated
a new development where gunmen target groups of civilians instead of
On May 2, a group of gunmen entered a newspaper office, shot dead the marketing
manager and injured two others by shooting randomly at the employees. On May 13,
three gunmen entered a private house and shot dead 8 civilians, including two
The fighting between, LTTE and the Karuna faction in the Batticaloa District
lead to at least 25 civilian casualties, of which some were most likely Karuna
cadres. On April 30, a Karuna camp in Batticaloa district came under attack by
LTTE. According to LTTE, 20 Karuna cadres were killed and several injured. Ten
wounded Karuna Cadres were brought to a Governmental Hospital, but SLMM were
denied access to them by GOSL. Furthermore tension in Vavuniya, partly believed
to have been related to extortion and armed groups, killed at least 21
civilians. Even though it is difficult to verify, it is likely that many of the
civilians killed were actually members or supporters of either the LTTE or an
armed group, thus directly related to the conflict.
On April 23, a suicide bomber exploded herself in the very near vicinity of the
commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lt. Gen Fonseka. The explosion took place within
the army headquarters in Colombo. Nine persons were killed and 27 wounded in
this attack. The incident clearly bears the hallmark of LTTE.
In retaliation, Sri Lanka Armed forces on April 25 and 26 attacked the
LTTE-controlled area of Sampur and Ilakkantai, by using air and artillery
capabilities to strike military and political targets of the LTTE.
Approximately 15 civilians were killed in these actions. The number of LTTE
cadres killed in these strikes is unknown as LTTE has not revealed these
findings to SLMM.
4 Presence and activities of armed groups
Continued attacks on LTTE forward defence localities throughout the period
showed that one or more armed groups were actively engaged in offensive
operations against the LTTE. SLMM were able to verify three attacks in which the
perpetrators either came from or fled to GOSL-controlled areas; the attack on
the LTTE checkpoint in Vavunathivu on March 2, the attack on the LTTE checkpoint
in Poonagar, Mahindapura on March 23 and the attack on the LTTE post in
Panichchankerni on April 6.
The continued high number of assassination of civilians, including LTTE
supporters, in the East, as well as numerous reports of harassment of civilians
strongly indicated that armed groups operate in that area.
SLMM received a large number of complaints relating to assassinations.
Harassments, extortions, assaults or abductions where an armed group is the main
suspect. Sighting of armed civilians claiming to represent Karuna is often
reported to SLMM and on March 28 SLMM monitors encountered 10-15 armed men in
civilian clothes operating in Valaichchenai, telling SLMM that they belong to
the Karuna faction. SLMM District Office in Batticaloa has also been contacted
by individuals claming to be Karuna members.
The only clearly identified armed group is the Karuna faction and their
political front TMVP who, contrary to the GOSL commitment, became even more
visible in GOSL controlled areas in the East in March. SLMM has been in direct
contact with Karuna supportes and TMVP members and their presence and activities
are often confirmed by GOSL officials. SLMM was even advised by Ministry of
Defence to avoid movements in certain parts of GOSL-controlled areas north of
Batticaloa due to security reasons.
There are a number of indications that the GOSL is actively supporting the
Karuna group. Known Karuna supporters have been seen moving to and from SLA
camps, and it is evident that the security forces and police in some areas are
not taking action to prevent armed elements from operating.
There were also strong indications that armed groups started operating in and
around Vavuniya. A number of civilians, mainly Tamil businessmen, have been
killed during the last months and it is believed that the main reason behind
these killings is an attempt by an armed group to disturb LTTE activities in
Vavuniya and strengthen their own position. SLMM inquiries on incidents of armed
violence against civilians in Vavuniya strongly indicate that SLA and Army
Intelligence are supporting the armed groups in Vavuniya district.
SLMM has not been able to confirm the LTTE allegations that armed groups opposed
to LTTE are operating in Jaffna nor the presence of an active Muslim armed
group. Neither can the LTTE claim, that independent armed groups such as the
"Peoples Force" opposing GOSL have been behind attacks on the Security Forces,
5 Child recruitment
Child recruitment and child abduction increased significantly during March and
April after it had been at a fairly low level since September last year. The
actual number is likely to be much higher as many parents are unwilling to lodge
a complaint due to fear of retaliation.
While it is evident that LTTE was behind most of the child recruiting as
confirmed by several of the victims and the LTTE, there were also indications
that armed groups such as the Karunas were abducting children. The reasons might
be a perceived need to increase the strength of the fighting formations as the
conflict escalates. In the East the struggle between the LTTE and the Karuna
faction might also lead to increased child recruitment as they are both
competing for the same group of potential new cadres.
SLMM is aware that some underage children freely volunteer or leave their
families due to economic reasons to join LTTE. Nevertheless it still against
international law to accept them for training or use them for military purposes.
6. Other violations of the CFA
Both Parties are reinforcing their forward defence localities following several
incidents of crossfire exchange between the parties, notably in Jaffna and in
Vavunathivu, Batticaloa. In Vavunathivu tenision seems to escalate following the
killing of a high ranking LTTE leader in the Zone of Separation on May 21. LTTE
had temporarily stopped building 250 metre-long and two-metre high rampart, but
resumed the construction work following the killing.
Furthermore they have constructed new positions along their forward defence
localities beside the A9 highway at Omanthai crossing point even though it is a
clear violation of the CFA.
The situation along the LTTE-controlled coastline in Trincomalee Bay was tense,
mainly due to the fact that there is no zone of separation along the coastlines.
Armed LTTE cadres moving and practising shooting near the beach alerted the Sri
Lankan Navy units deployed on the outlying islands and at sea. When SLN
approached the shore, LTTE Sea Tiger boats had been deployed, which further
raised the tension and led to exchange of fire between SLN and LTTE. SLMM
assisted to defuse the situation by negotiating an agreement whereby the Parties
would inform about any weapons practice in advance.
LTTE Sea Tiger vessels manoeuvred far off the coast in Mullaitivu for several
days in April. They continued to provoke the Sri Lankan Navy ships in the area
by approaching in fighting positions and firing with their weapons towards the
SLN. This was a clear intentional violation of the CFA, which culminated on May
11, 2006 when LTTE attacked four SLN Fast Attack Craft in the north-eastern
waters, between Nagarkovil and Chalai .One SLN craft was sunk by an LTTE suicide
boat and 17 SLN sailors died.
It is assessed that this engagement was a show of force that LTTE has a naval
force to be reckoned with, and that they 'control' the waters outside their
7. GOSL and LTTE cooperation with SLMM and compliance with SLMM rulings
The LTTE is still not providing full freedom of movement to the SLMM. On
numerous occasions SLMM was hindered to approach the shores and suspected LTTE
Sea Tiger bases. Although the situation improved slightly, it remains a problem,
especially in areas where SLMM needs immediate access to inquire into alleged
violations. Such restrictions make already difficult tasks even more challenging
and add problems to SLMM's possibility to determine on alleged violations.
SLMM also faces problems when patrolling in GOSL area. Since SLMMs press release
on April 29 regarding GOSL's involvement in extrajudicial killing, SLMM has on
several occasions been denied access through checkpoints and exit/entry points.
Security Forces on the ground claim that they act upon orders from Colombo.
The LTTE has been quicker to provide inquiry-related information requested by
the SLMM since the last Geneva meeting. Yet, the situation is still not
satisfactory. It has also been very difficult for SLMM monitors to get access to
LTTE Sea Tigers and Military Wing leaders.
As for the GOSL, both security forces and police were restrictive when it came
to SLMM inquiring into alleged activities by armed groups, especially in
Vavuniya. It has also been very difficult for SLMM to inquire into the
disappearance of four civilians following the attack on a Navy bus in Pesalai,
Mannar the 23 December 2005. Sri Lankan Navy, who are accused of being behind
the disappearance, has been completely unwilling to cooperate with SLMM to bring
clarity to the case.
Both Parties were still very reluctant to comply with SLMM rulings and even
though SLMM continuously pointed out, that for example a newly constructed
position is a violation and needs to be removed, no action was taken by either
Prior to the Sea Tiger attack on May 11, LTTE forwarded three written warnings
to SLMM, stating that SLMM should refrain from boarding SLN vessels and that
LTTE disclaims all responsibility should an SLMM monitor be injured. SLMM
perceived these warnings as mere threats, not be given into. However, SLMM was
forced to cease all naval monitoring activities when Sea Tigers attacked an SLN
craft with a naval monitor onboard on May 11.
8. Conclusive remarks
The violence has not decreased during the reporting period and serious
violations of the CFA have been committed.
The GOSL's commitment to take all necessary measures in accordance with the CFA
to ensure that no armed group or person other than Government security forces
will carry arms or conduct armed operations in GOSL controlled areas has not
been implemented. GOSL is responsible for maintaining law and order in all GOSL
controlled areas and this includes preventing operations by criminal,
paramilitary and other unofficial armed groups.
LTTE continued to recruit and abduct children to strengthen their fighting
capacity. LTTE must follow the CFA and international law and stop this practice.
The Parties must fully cooperate with SLMM and allow access to high security
zones and other restricted areas. The Parties also need to improve in regard to
providing SLMM with the information required for inquiries and complying with
SLMM rulings. LTTE's attempt to limit SLMM naval monitoring was a totally
unacceptable move to limit SLMM's mandate.
A number of violations by the parties might have occurred due to lack of
discipline and knowledge of the CFA, international law and human rights. Both
sides should therefore provide more training on the above-mentioned subjects on
The Geneva meeting gave an opportunity to the Parties to move forward and
improve the situation. The initial positive forward looking atmosphere was
however quickly changed into reality as the GOSL remained unwilling to implement
all of its commitments and instead denied even the mere presence of armed
groups. In addition the GOSL showed little willingness to accept requests by the
LTTE aimed at normalizing the situation. SLMM fears that the resumption of
attacks against the GOSL security forces was the LTTE's way of putting pressure
on the GOSL. The inability by the Parties to grasp this opportunity
unfortunately led to 150 persons losing their lives and even more being injured
or displaced in the violence that followed.
The parties must start looking at what measures they can take to strengthen the
CFA and improve the situation instead of focusing on the faults done by their
counterpart. Direct dialogue on all levels should be re-established as a first
confidence building measures. SLMM also recommends that the Parties look closer
to the Vienna Document, 1999 to find well proven confidence and security
building measure which could be adapted to the situation in Sri Lanka.
Finally, it should be emphasized that there are two basic fundamentals which are
necessary for a lasting peace and stability: A confident legal system and full
democratic control of the armed forces. These basic fundamentals must be
strengthened in Sri Lanka if the peace process shall be successful.
Head of Mission