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Home > Tamil National Forum > Selected Writings - Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham > Merger or De-Merger?
Selected Writings by Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham
Merger or De-Merger?
8 November 2006
The article below by Lt. Col. A.S. Amerasekera gives his role on the project to prevent the implementation of the merger of the North and East under the Indo Sri Lanka Accord. It should be noted that the Minister of Mahaweli Authority has the power under section 3(1) of the Mahaweli Authority Act of 19 April 1979, to acquire land, by the consent of the President and gazeting the notice. The then Minister Lionel Gamini Dissanayake did so in the Gazette of 15 April 1988 (See page 231), soon after the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord in July 1987, to acquire land under the System “L”. The boundaries are also listed in that Gazette. The boundaries of System L included Nedunkerney, Mulliyavalai and Thanniutru road as the border in the North. Thanniuttru – Pulmoddai Road including Nayaru Lagoon in the East, and Manal Aru (Weli Oya) and Padaviya on the road from Pulmoddai – Kepttigollawa Road in the South and the Mahettyiawahinne to Nedunkerney in the West. The plan of settling Sinhalese in Tamil owned lands was implemented by the SL Army to bi-ferrate the North and East immediately with establishing Sinhala border villages and colonize the land along the border of East and the North. The Mahaweli Website indicates that the land was handed over to them in only 1990. For a details of how the plan was implemented by the Army and the extremist in cooperation with Sarvodaya and other NGOs, under the auspices of the Mahaweli Authority see “Thawalama Hijacked”, The Sunday Time September 7, 1997. The Manal Aru (Weli Oya) development project which comes under the Mahaweli scheme as System L “Special Area”, was and is not a settlement scheme for legitimate Sinhala farmers.
Sunday Times, September 7, 1997
As the government’s Thawalama programme takes the message of ëone-country, one-peopleí across Sri Lanka, an organisation has accused the PA of using the name of its programme of helping villagers of LTTE affected areas to propagate the devolution proposals. Lt. Col. A. S. Amarasekera, the Director Operations of Thawalama Development Foundation in a statement says the basic aim of the group is to preserve the unitary nature of the country and it had been working for several years in the border villages. The government’s Thawalama runs contrary to this with an idea of union of regions.Therefore the group says it is immoral and unjust for the government to use the Thawalama name.
Excerpts from the statement:
I was the commanding officer of the 2nd Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment from November 1990 to June 1992. It was during this period that I organized several projects to improve the living conditions of villages subjected to LTTE terrorism in my area of responsibility. The Vijayabahu Social Services Fund commenced by me was later converted to the Vijayabahu Trust Fund at the request of the late Kudakongaskada Wimalagnana Thero the Sanganayake for the North and East. The patriotic work implemented by this Trust Fund is held in high esteem by many who know of its activities. It was also during my command that the B Company of the 2nd Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment had to make a tactical withdrawal from the Mankulam Army Camp which was attacked and destroyed by LTTE terrorists on 23rd of November 1990. Thirty nine soldiers sacrificed their lives during this withdrawal. During my period of command, one officer and sixty-three soldiers had sacrificed their lives and another two officers and many other soldiers had been disabled to defend the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka for posterity.
I could see no light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the eradication of LTTE terrorism as the government was not working towards a concept to defeat the terrorists. Disillusioned as I was with the loss of so many of my soldiers and also realizing that the insurrection would continue unabated with the loss of many more valuable lives of soldiers since there was a lack of political will to completely eradicate LTTE terrorism, I forwarded a letter to my Divisional Commander Maj. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa requesting that I be released from service without pay to return to my civil life, as I was only a volunteer Officer of the Sri Lanka Army. General Kobbekaduwa however had a vision to eradicate LTTE terrorism by the 31st of March 1992 and therefore requested me to remain in service until that date. If LTTE terrorism was not eradicated by this date he agreed to heed my request. In April 1992 I submitted my second letter requesting a release from service without pay and was granted this facility on 30th June, 1992.
My release from service however did not last long. The Thanthirimale basin was destabilized as a result of the assassination of the late Kudakongaskada Wimalagnana Nayaka Thero. Since I was one of the closest associates of this assassinated Nayaka Thero, I knew his plans for stabilizing the Thanthirimale area. The then Secretary of Defence General S. C. Ranatunga who knew this fact requested me to get re-mobilized to continue with the good work commenced by the late Nayaka Thero to stabilize the Thanthirimale area. Accordingly I took up an appointment as a Civil Affairs Officer at the Joint Operations Command, which subsequently became the Operational Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence.
Having completed the task of stabilizing the Thanthirimale basin, I started work to stabilize the Yan Oya basin which in effect is the gateway to Eelam. The LTTE terrorists were applying pressure on the Sinhala villages with a view to drive them away from this strategic area so that they could link up the North with the Trincomalee District through a continuous land mass devoid of Sinhala villages. In my work to stabilize the Yan Oya basin, I worked very closely with many social service and non-governmental organizations.
The Sarvodaya District Coordinator at Sri Tissapura, Manel Kulatunga assisted me to implement a successful programme of work towards the achievement of my objective to stabilize this strategic area. The Thawalama concept was a brainchild of Mr. Kulatunga, which he discussed with me in December 1993. His original ideas were improved by me and a project was formulated by the name of Thawalama. This was submitted to the Secretary of Defence for approval through the Vijayabahu Trust Fund. It was approved by the Secretary of Defence on the 12th of January 1994 and accordingly the first Thawalama Project was conducted at Athawatunuwewa in Weli Oya on the 17th of February 1994, with the assistance of the Divisional Secretariat in my home town of Horana. Ninety Grama Sevakas from the Horana Divisional Secretariat, informed their respective villages of the plight of these people at Athawetunuwewa and they organized adequate dry rations to provide assistance to all the families in Athawatunuwewa.