Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search

Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka: Taking Stock of L.T.T.E. - Colonel (Retd) R. Hariharan

India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam



Tracking New Delhi's Pursuit of its Strategic Interests...

1.Narayan Swamy  in Hindustan Times - Western diplomats must boycott LTTE, says Colombo, 27 August 2005
2. The Spin and Swing of RAW Orchestra - Sachi Sri Kantha, 27 August 2005
3.P.K.Balachandran in Hindustan Times - India & Sri Lanka Opposition agree on Peace Process , 25 August 2005

" New Delhi is said to be unhappy with the performance of the "co-chair" of the June 2003 Tokyo Aid Lanka conference. The co-chair (US, EU, Japan and Norway) have arrogated to themselves a role not assigned to them. They style themselves as the "international community" and strut about as the "co-chair of the Sri Lankan peace process". more

4. Sachi Sri Kantha - Pigs are Flying in Batticaloa!, 28 July 2005
5. யாழ்ப்பாணத்தில் 'றோ'வின் கண்கள் - New Delhi's RAW in Jaffna, 1 April 2005
6. Tsunami & the "Killing" of Pirapaharan! - New Delhi's RAW & the Media... 7 January 2005
7.Sachi Sri Kantha - The RAW Factor in Col.Karuna's Revolt, 1 April 2004
8. Jyotindra Nath Dixit, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka 1985 /89, Foreign Secretary in 1991/94 and National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India 2004/05 -  in 1998 Seminar in Switzerland "...Tamil militancy received (India's) support  ...as a response to (Sri Lanka's).. concrete and expanded military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel and Pakistan. ...The assessment was that these presences would pose a strategic threat to India and they would encourage fissiparous movements in the southern states of India. .. a process which could have found encouragement from Pakistan and the US, given India's experience regarding their policies in relation to Kashmir and the Punjab.... Inter-state relations are not governed by the logic of morality. They were and they remain an amoral phenomenon....."

Retired Colonel R. Hariharan

Retired Colonel R. Hariharan is an intelligence analyst with nearly three decades of service in the Intelligence Corps of the Indian Army. He was a military intelligence specialist on Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as an insurgency intelligence specialist. Apart from operational experience in the India-Pakistan wars in 1965 and 1971, he served in active field and staff appointments in counter-insurgency operations in the Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab and Tripura states of India. He served as the Head of Intelligence of the Indian Peacekeeping Force (1987-90) in Sri Lanka. His paper "Future dimensions of conflict in Sri Lanka" has been included in the recent Tata McGraw Hill publication "Conflict Resolution and Peace Building in Sri Lanka" (2005).

Other Writings by Retired Colonel R. Hariharan

Karuna in Politics: Old War Horse in A New Mantle, 19 October 2004 "...Prabhakaran is largely a mythical figure who had never visited the East and made personal appeal to the people. So over a period of time, Prabhakaran’s negative image as a distant leader neglecting the East may find some buyers. But much would depend upon who establishes military control at the ground level to dominate the Tamil and Muslim areas. With the LTTE in nebulous control of the populated coastal strip from Verugal to Kalkudah, the game is not over for Karuna..."
Karuna in a No-Win Situation 13 November 2004  "..Can Karuna build a viable political base in the East, to become a factor to be reckoned with when the peace parleys resume? .."
Exercising the Hard Option in Sri Lanka, 27 December 2004 "...we have an asymmetric situation in Sri Lanka. On the one side we have a democratically elected government accountable to voters, where power hungry politicians have to work out a consensus and sell it to the public and muster their majority support. The government is accountable to international community for all its actions in times of both peace and war. On the other side is ranged a fighting machine – a monolithic organisation, where accountability to either national or international community is the strong point. A man who has no faith in democratic process or in building political consensus leads it. He is not swayed by nuances of logic or dialectical reasoning in decision making. His decisions are often made for reasons of gaining military advantage and political power for the organisation..."
Tsunami: Security Implications In Sri Lanka, 5 January 2005 "... In the words of a foreign media reporter, “Within minutes of the disaster, soldiers of the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, were evacuating survivors and pulling bodies from the still-roiling water, villagers and aid workers said. In a well-practised drill, squads set up roadblocks to control panic and prevent looting. Others requisitioned civilian vehicles to move the injured to hospitals. Many donated blood… By the end of the first day, the first refugee centres were set up. Women in the Tigers' camouflage uniforms began registering the survivors and recording the relief items they received - ensuring no one got more than he should.” This is an indicator of high standard of LTTE’s discipline and efficiency..."
Tsunami: Politics of Relief in Sri Lanka 21January 2005

Sri Lanka: Taking Stock of L.T.T.E.
Colonel (Retd) R. Hariharan,
formerly of the Intelligence Corps of the Indian Army

"Whatever may be said, whosoever may say it
-  to determine the truth of it, is wisdom"


Courtesy: Power and Interest News Report  - "(PINR) is a global organization that provides analyses of conflicts and other international events. We are currently independently funded giving us the freedom to analyze objectively. PINR seeks to provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. We approach a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader."

note by tamilnation.org -
the links and emphasis in the article are ours.

29 July 2005

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.), popularly called the Tigers, is perhaps the world's best-organized, if not largest, insurgent force. L.T.T.E. insurgents have been fighting in Sri Lanka for an independent Tamil Eelam (literally Tamil Homeland) for three decades. By their attacks and use of terror tactics, the Tigers found a place in the U.S. list of global terrorist organizations from 1997 onwards. L.T.T.E. has refined the use of suicide bombs to carry out 230 attacks to date. Victims of such suicide attacks include former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and a few other key personalities in Sri Lanka.

Background of L.T.T.E.

Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhist, dominate Sri Lanka. This ethnic group forms approximately 74 percent of the population; Tamils, who are mostly Hindu and Christian, comprise about 18 percent. After Sri Lanka attained independence in 1948, Sinhalese nationalism became progressively strident. The Tamil struggle for equal rights came to the fore when Sinhalese, the language of the majority, was declared the sole official language in 1956. Demanding a federal status for the Tamil-dominant northern and eastern parts of the country, Tamils carried on the struggle politically through the Federal Party in parliament. However, the government failed to keep up its promises to give them a fair share of autonomy.

The frustrated Tamil politicians formed the Tamil United Liberation Front (T.U.L.F.) as a unified political party demanding an independent Tamil Eelam. In the elections in 1977, T.U.L.F. won all the seats on their political manifesto of secession. However, when T.U.L.F. could not progress the issue further, Tamil militant groups slowly gained the upper hand.

In 1983, when 13 soldiers were killed in an ambush by the L.T.T.E. in the north, riots broke out in Colombo. Unprecedented violence was unleashed by rampaging Sinhalese mobs, which looted and destroyed Tamil property and businesses. Tamils in the hundreds were killed. Thousands of Tamil refugees fled to Tamil Nadu in India. From that point on, the Tamil insurgency became a full-blown war to gain a free homeland for Tamils with L.T.T.E. in the forefront of the struggle.Comment 1

L.T.T.E. Joins Ceasefire with Government

Prompted by the global "war on terrorism" that was spearheaded by the U.S. after the September 11 attacks, L.T.T.E. entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Sri Lankan government in February 2002. Norwegian mediators brought this about after a series of meetings with both sides from 2000 onwards. Comment 2

L.T.T.E. entered the peace process in 2002 in a position of strength after registering resounding victories in conventional operations in April 2000 where they captured Elephant Pass, a vital point astride the narrow link between the Jaffna Peninsula and the mainland. This was followed in July 2000 by an equally successful suicide attack on Katunayake international airport in Colombo killing 14 people and damaging a score of civilian aircraft. Comment 3

A key feature of the peace process this time was L.T.T.E.'s readiness to examine a solution within a federal set up in Sri Lanka as against its basic quest for an independent Tamil Eelam. L.T.T.E. has had difficulty enduring the peace agreement because they had diluted their stated goal of independence to negotiate for a federal solution. . Comment 4

The problems they face are two fold:

- effective handling of peace negotiations to achieve a face saving result and

- sustaining operational readiness and motivation of cadres for forcing a solution in case the talks fail.

Handling of Peace Negotiations

L.T.T.E. is not new to handling mediation or peace talks. In the past, two internal efforts (President Premadasa-L.T.T.E. in 1989-90  and President Chandrika Kumaratunga-L.T.T.E. in 1994-95) at peacemaking had failed.

There were two other third party mediation initiatives; India's efforts from 1983 to 1987 and after the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord from 1987-90 also did not bring peace. There was also an abortive British effort by conservative politician Liam Fox in 1996-97 that did not take off.

However, this time L.T.T.E. appeared to have become wiser in handling negotiations. The Norwegian mediators had set for themselves a limited task of initiating a dialogue between the Sri Lankan government and L.T.T.E. aimed at resolving the ethnic problem. The Norwegians established the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (S.L.M.M.) comprising of observers from five Nordic countries to oversee the maintenance of the ceasefire. Their aim was only to monitor and not ensure a ceasefire, a task left to the two opponents.

There were six rounds of talks between L.T.T.E. and the Sri Lankan government. These talks were mainly concerned with procedural aspects of the talks and confidence building measures. No progress was made on the question of devolution of powers to the Tamils, the core issue. The war for Tamil Eelam has already claimed over 60,000 lives. According to L.T.T.E., it has lost 14,355 cadres as of December 2000. Having sacrificed so many lives, L.T.T.E. in this round of peace negotiations has to find a face saving solution that will gain a status just short of outright independence. Otherwise its credibility with Tamils would be lost.

Perhaps with this at the back of its mind, L.T.T.E. submitted a proposal for establishing a L.T.T.E.-dominated Interim Self Governing Authority (I.S.G.A.), which suggested handing over the administration of the entire northeast province to the I.S.G.A. until a final solution emerges through the peace negotiations. As acceptance of I.S.G.A. would result in the loss of sovereign control of the entire northeast province, the Sri Lankan government could not readily accept the proposal. Though it was ready to discuss the proposal with L.T.T.E., the insurgents called off further participation in the talks unless the government accepted the I.S.G.A. proposal first. Comment 5

The I.S.G.A. proposal has split the Sri Lankan polity vertically, causing further delay in resuming the negotiations. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (J.V.P.), partner of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance coalition and vehemently opposed to both a federal form of government as well as the I.S.G.A., has broken away from the coalition. On the same count, right-wing Buddhist elements have taken their opposition to the streets. Thus, by this single act, L.T.T.E. has split the Sinhalese from coming together on the negotiating table. Comment 6

L.T.T.E. had to bear the brunt of the Boxer Day tsunami that struck the island's eastern seaboard. Its limited sources could not cope with the gigantic task of relief as it was the Tamil and Muslim populations in the east that suffered from the brunt of the tsunami.

International pressure was brought upon the government to evolve a working structure to funnel relief resources through L.T.T.E. The Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure, with a strong say for L.T.T.E., has now come into force six months after the tsunami struck. Comment 7

This can be considered a success for L.T.T.E. which can showcase its ability to administer in peace times not only to the people of Sri Lanka, but also worldwide. Overall L.T.T.E. appears to have come out in a better position, retaining the initiative to resume the talks in their hands with a proactive strategy.

Since the ceasefire came into force in 2002, L.T.T.E. has used the limited mandate of the Norwegians to gain political and military advantages. These advantages are as follows:

1. To gain a status for L.T.T.E. as an equal party as the sole representative of Tamils and the northeast in the peace parleys. This was done adroitly after getting the existing ban on the organization lifted in Sri Lanka. All the Tamil political parties were corralled and coerced to join the Tamil National Alliance -- an L.T.T.E. sponsored coalition in parliament.

2. To build the military infrastructure and gain freedom of movement for L.T.T.E. forces outside the areas under their control in the northeast. Three to four battalions have been added through recruitment -- many of them child soldiers. New weapons have been imported and introduced. Radio communication capability has been improved. The right to move their small naval force -- the Sea Tigers -- in Sri Lankan waters has been asserted, in addition to their case in building up their nascent air capability despite objections from the mediators.

3. To build up a direct relationship with some of the E.U. countries that could help in shaping the course of the peace process to L.T.T.E.'s advantage. To a certain extent they have succeeded in being able to directly brief governments in some European countries on important issues affecting L.T.T.E. This has also helped L.T.T.E. reshape its public image as a tough group of negotiators supported by a powerful and strong monolithic organization rather than as an arms-bristling terrorist organization.

According to the S.L.M.M., L.T.T.E. has committed over 2900 ceasefire violations since the ceasefire came into force. In addition to this, L.T.T.E. has been accused of killing nearly 200 people, most of them opposed to L.T.T.E. including Sri Lankan security forces' intelligence operatives. L.T.T.E. has also recruited over 1200 child soldiers, which created a worldwide outcry from non-governmental organizations. The Norwegian mediators have drawn flak for not being able to prevent L.T.T.E. from these acts.

The Sri Lankan government also has its record of ceasefire violations. They mostly pertain to harassment of the Tamil civilian population by troops, extortion, restriction on movement and fishing, and a few abductions. But more serious on its part is its failure to vacate the High Security Zones -- civilian Tamil areas occupied by Sri Lankan troops in the forward lines of the ceasefire -- as agreed in the ceasefire agreement.

Sri Lankan military intelligence is believed to be behind the retaliatory killings of some of the key L.T.T.E. leaders in the east. It is also accused of being involved in killing some of the prominent pro-L.T.T.E. Tamil personalities like D.P. Sivaram, the well-known columnist and editor of the pro-L.T.T.E. website TamilNet.

Sustaining Operational Motivation of Cadres

Perhaps this is one area where L.T.T.E. has not been able to score fully. Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, alias Colonel Karuna, who was in charge of L.T.T.E.'s military operations in the Eastern Province, fell out with the leadership of Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. He was expelled from L.T.T.E. in March 2004. This was a major blow to the L.T.T.E.

Karuna raised the issue of discriminatory treatment meted out in L.T.T.E. to the eastern Tamils, a traditional grievance of Tamils there, as the reason for quitting L.T.T.E. He took a large number of cadres from the east, depleting L.T.T.E.'s strength in that region. He also has eluded repeated L.T.T.E. attempts to kill him and his followers.

Though Karuna has lost support from some key leaders, he and his group have made it untenable for L.T.T.E. to move around freely in the east, let alone dominate their strongholds there. The situation created by the "war of the Tamils" has made it difficult for L.T.T.E. to assert its military influence in the east; this will affect its negotiating position when the talks resume. Thus, L.T.T.E. will probably like to regain control of the east before resuming peace talks.

A second aspect is the peacetime administration of the areas under L.T.T.E. control. Currently, L.T.T.E. has employed civilian cadres of administrators who are gaining importance through their interaction with the people. L.T.T.E. is a secretive organization and its fighting elements do not mix with people except on controlled situations. So the "peace pause" leaves the armed cadres with nothing much to do, not even the glory of fighting for their Eelam. The longer the talks remain suspended, the more frustrated the rank and file of L.T.T.E. will become.

The terrorist killings and assassinations are perhaps one way to remind them that the war has not been won yet. Introduction of new weapons, and training the cadres to attain proficiency in them, are some of the other methods adopted to sustain motivation.

L.T.T.E. has a worldwide network for arms procurement and its own fleet of 11 freighters to supply the organization. Therefore, it has retained its ability to support military operations. However, its financial support that comes from the Tamil diaspora is under pressure due to the banning of open L.T.T.E.-support activities in many countries. In some states like Australia, Canada, and Norway, citizens of Eelam Tamil origin have managed to influence the local politicians to support the L.T.T.E. cause.


Over the years, L.T.T.E. appears to have gained an edge on the Sri Lankan government. Though it has deferred its long cherished goal of an independent Tamil homeland for a solution within a federal Sri Lanka, it has retained the negotiating initiative in its hands.

L.T.T.E. has taken full advantage of the absence of a force to ensure the ceasefire terms are not violated by carrying out selective assassinations that could affect the Sri Lankan Security Force's capability to wage war effectively. Comment 8

It has also increased its strength and wartime capability by strengthening its sea and air capabilities. Thus, it has emerged as the world's first (and probably only) insurgent force with capability to fight on land, sea and air.

However, the organization is yet to overcome the damage created by the defection of the powerful eastern commander Karuna from its ranks. This will weaken its negotiating strength as the sole representative of Tamil people in the northeast. It will also affect its military capability adversely in the east if and when it has to resort to the military option. Therefore, it will have to overcome Karuna and his followers before it can resume negotiations from a position of strength. Comment 9

Comment 6 

It appears somewhat disingenuous  to  suggest that it was the LTTE, which by the single act of proposing the ISGA 'split the Sinhalese from coming together on the negotiating table.'  The 40 year record of broken pacts and promises speaks for itself. So too does the record of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. The views of  the Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference on 15 December 2004 may help to focus minds on the political reality -

"The representatives of three of the four co-chairs of the Tokyo Donors Conference (Japan, EU and US) called on Her Excellency President Kumaratunga on December 14. ..They expressed deep concern about the ongoing JVP-led actions against the peace process in Sri Lanka and the Government of Norway's efforts as facilitator of that process. The representatives expressed bewilderment that a member party of the UPFA could engage in such a campaign in absolute contradiction of the clearly stated position of the President and the Government that they endorse and support the Norwegian role..."  back

Comment 7  

It is incorrect to state that the P-TOMS Agreement is in force. (In end July 2005), seven  months after the Tsunami struck and one month after the P-TOMS Agreement was signed, the Agreement remains a dead letter. The President having signed the Agreement on 24 June 2005, soon thereafter informed the Norwegian facilitators that she wanted Article 7 of the signed agreement dealing with the Regional Fund amended. And a few days President Kumaratunga's request,  the Supreme Court  issued a stay order in respect of Article 7 and rendered  the P-TOMS Agreement unworkable. back

Comment 8  

The implication appears to be that there is a need to induct a Peace Keeping Force or perhaps an Indian Peace Keeping Force. back

Comment 9

Colonel Harihan concludes "Therefore, it (the LTTE) will have to overcome Karuna and his followers before it can resume negotiations from a position of strength"  Given that which appears from -

some may take the view that for  "Karuna"  we may need to read "RAW".   S.Sivakumaran's remarks in  Pigs are Flying in Batticaloa! bear repetition here -

".... the entire puppet show is being run by the Indians (UNP, SLFP, JVP- on the Sinhalese side; Karuna, Anandasangaree and other Tamil paramilitaries, on the Tamil side). This is an open secret to all in Sri Lanka. So, now the only game in town is LTTE (Eelam Tamils) vs Indian tentacles, namely - the RAW.

Now, RAW has access to any place or any facility in Sri Lanka, except in LTTE-controlled areas. Karuna cannot be (need not be) in Sri Lanka. He is only a faceless phantom figure used by the Indians (and Sinhalese) to break- up the Tamil solidarity, mainly the North and East bond and linkage.

It was reported in July/August 2004 that Karuna’s wife had left for Malaysia with a few bags full of cash. This "bags full of cash" part of the Sinhalese media story was to stress that Karuna’s wife had gone to Malaysia with this booty. Most probably it appears that Karuna and his family has landed in India, well guarded by RAW, using Malaysia as a transit point; and RAW guys had worked this in the past, to Varatharaja Perumal (EPRLF).... Like how Varatharaja Perumal was kept in cold storage during 1990s, Karuna is being kept now, in one of the North Indian states..."

Additionally it may be helpful to revisit the words of a Senior member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, V. Balakumaran in Oslo on 29 August 2004 and inquire whether these words reflect the ground reality or simply amount to empty rhetoric -

"...LTTE has been successfully resisting attempts to weaken its military and political strength during the peace time with the same courage and bravery it displayed during the time of war. Tamils seek a just peace and not a peace with surrender. LTTE leadership will not relent until political and social dignity is restored to the lives of Tamil people. We are not 'Vadi Kattina Mutalkal'. We are not stupid. The world has not come to Sri Lanka to save the Tamils. They have come to save Sri Lanka... We have only one country to help us - and that is Sri Lanka (loud laughter) It is difficult to win against an intelligent and strong soldier. Today, the Tamil community has matured to that state... We are charting our path successfully towards our nationhood and are in the verge of entering a new era. Every Tamil should be cognizant of our strength and be aware of where we are in our mission... Palestinians have a lot of resources and have the backing of many countries that support their political aspirations. Still they are politically weak and are not united. Liberation Tigers will not allow such a situation to develop in the Tamil homeland..." back

Comment by tamilnation.org
A Matter of Taking Stock

Comment 1

It may be helpful not only to take stock of the LTTE but also to take stock of India so that we may truly understand the Sri Lanka -LTTE situation.  Otherwise we may be left with the feeling of  watching Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. This is particularly so where the writer of the scenario is a retired Colonel of the Intelligence Corps of the Indian Army who served as the Head of Intelligence of the Indian Peacekeeping Force (1987-90) in Sri Lanka. 

Jyotindra Nath Dixit, Indian Foreign Secretary 1991/94,  National Security Adviser 2004/05,  and  Indian High Commissioner in Colombo 1985 /89, (during the IPKF period)  was refreshingly frank in 1998 in Switzerland at an International Alert Conference. He declared

"..(In the 1980s) ...Tamil militancy received support both from Tamil Nadu and from the Central Government not only as a response to the Sri Lankan Government's military assertiveness against Sri Lankan Tamils, but also as a response to Jayawardene's concrete and expanded military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel and Pakistan. ...The assessment was that these presences would pose a strategic threat to India and they would encourage fissiparous  movements in the southern states of India. .. a process which could have found encouragement from Pakistan and the US, given India's experience regarding their policies in relation to Kashmir and the Punjab.... In normal terns of international law and principles of neutrality was Mrs. Gandhi correct in giving political and material support to Sri Lankan Tamils ? The answer is obvious and has to be in the negative. ..Had Sri Lanka been several hundred miles away from the coast of India this approach could have been adopted. But Sri Lanka was only 18 miles away from Tamil Nadu. Inter-state relations are not governed by the logic of  morality. They were and they remain an amoral phenomenon. "

 A dictionary definition of  'amoral' is 'unprincipled'. And, despite the ending of the Cold War, it appears that the situation has not changed in so far as the fundamentals are concerned.

On the one hand, as Noam Chomsky has observed, US foreign policy is directed to build on its current position as the sole surviving super power and secure a unipolar world for the foreseeable future. And this means preventing the rise of regional hegemons. On the other hand, the central plank of New Delhi's foreign policy is to deny any (independent) intermediary role to extra regional powers in the affairs of South Asia and also to encourage the emergence of a multi lateral world.  Indian Prime Minister Manmahon Singh remarked recently that he preferred the word  'multilateral' to 'multi polar'. In this latter objective, New Delhi may count on the 'calibrated' support of the European Union, Russia, China and Iran amongst others. 

The ' calibrated approach' is ofcourse non alignment in a different garb. A calibrated approach is an 'issue based' approach without committing oneself to permanent alignments - and in this way secure one's own freedom of action in a changing environment. It may be that liberation organisations too have learnt to adopt a calibrated approach in their dealings in the international arena.

Be that as it may, given the difference in the end goals that US and India have, it should not be surprising if  the policies of the United States and New Delhi in relation to  Sri Lanka and the LTTE are not always congruent.

But that is not to say that the United States  will not cooperate with India. It will. It will seek to cooperate 'as a super power' - and the US believes that it has sufficient instruments in its armoury to do just that. One such instrument is the Norwegian sponsored Peace Process

This may explain the consistently enthusiastic support that the Peace process has received from the United States and the more muted  (and calibrated) support from India. This may also help us understand the current covert operations of RAW in Tamil areas in the island of Sri Lanka and the material support extended by India to Sinhala governments and Sri Lanka political parties. In the 1980s, RAW gave covert material and financial support to the Tamil militants to secure the same end -Indian hegemony in the Indian Ocean region. It appears that New Delhi's  interests  remain permanent, though its 'friends' may change from time to time. - back

Comment 2  

Colonel Hariharan states -

"Prompted by the global 'war on terrorism' that was spearheaded by the U.S. after the September 11 attacks, L.T.T.E. entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Sri Lankan government in February 2002."

But what are the facts? The meetings with the  Norwegian mediators commenced in 2000,  long before 11 September 2001 and were the direct result of  the stunning military victories by the LTTE in 2000 commencing with the fall of Elephant Pass in April 2000. 

The US Under Secretary of State, Thomas R. Pickering's visit to Sri Lanka and his comments at the Press Conference in Colombo on 29 May 2000 reflected the impact of the LTTE victories. -

"Q: Ms. Vandana Chopra, VOA: Does the United States want India to go in for military intervention?

A: Pickering: I think that's a situation in which India has already made clear its position -- that it doesn't intend to. And I think, as I said a moment ago, we defer to India as a country of regional consequence to make its own decisions on these issues.

Q: Mr. Dilip Ganguly, AP Colombo Bureau Chief: If it comes to evacuating the (Sri Lanka) troops-- in the event it happens -- will the Indian assistance be forthcoming? Did you get that idea?

A.Pickering: I have the impression that the Indians are prepared to be helpful, provided that both parties are prepared to provide security assurances that the Indians will not become a party to fighting by doing so. And I can understand India's concern about not wanting to become a third party in the conflict, if I could put it that way. "

The US based Centre for Strategic & International Studies commented in June 2000

"The dramatic advance of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) into the Jaffna peninsula, the heart of the Tamil area, is a shattering blow for Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga and raises concerns of regional instability for India."

In October 2000, Miriam Young, of the US based Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace added

 "it would be helpful for the U.S. to find a way to open a channel of communication with the LTTE, as it has done with other guerrilla groups in the past. The willingness of many countries to concur with the Sri Lankan government’s demonization of the LTTE will not lead to an environment conducive to negotiations, and Washington should avoid such a one-sided approach..."

This was the background in which the  LTTE leader met with the Norwegian Peace envoy in November 2000 and the LTTE called for de escalation of  the armed conflict. This was followed by a proposal for Memorandum of Understanding presented by Raymond Johansen, Norwegian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Mr.V.Pirabhakaran, Leader of LTTE .

But  Sri Lanka refused to enter into a ceasefire.  Sri Lanka Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar famously remarked in December 2000-

" As the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, I do not welcome statements made by people outside the country, even though they come from very friendly countries, prescribing remedies for our problem....The LTTE are not babies conducting a war by accident, but are capable of coming for talks while continuing fighting.."

Faced with this intransigence, the LTTE declared a month long unilateral ceasefire as a goodwill measure to facilitate peace talks on 21 December 2000. Though Sri Lanka rejected the goodwill gesture, the LTTE continued to observe the ceasefire and urged Sri Lanka to reconsider its position  and 'reciprocate positively ..to create cordial conditions leading to a stable cease-fire and direct negotiations..."

On 5 January 2001, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister dismissed the LTTE offer of a ceasefire as opportunistic.  

On 23 January 2001 the LTTE  extended its unilateral cessation of hostilities for another month and "called upon the international community to persuade the Sri Lanka government to reciprocate favourably". Norwegian peace envoy Eric Solheim  remarked in March 2001,  that "though the LTTE has been observing a ceasefire for the past three months, Sri Lanka has not taken any steps towards peace".

Eventually, on 23 April 2001 the LTTE announced that in view of the lack of response from Sri Lanka, it will not be extending its unilateral ceasefire when it expired on 24 April 2001.

The reason for Sri Lanka refusing to reciprocate the ceasefire became clear just a few hours after the termination of the LTTE's four months old cease-fire.  In the early hours of the morning on the 24th April, thousands of Sri Lankan troops of the SLA's 52, 53 and 55 Divisions, in a major show of strength, supported by heavy artillery, multi-barrel rocket fire and aerial and naval bombardment, launched a major offensive assault against the LTTE positions in southern Jaffna. The offensive was repulsed by the LTTE and the Sri Lanka army suffered yet another major debacle.

And on 24 July 2001, the LTTE launched a massive attack on Katunayake Airport which destroyed 18 aircraft and the government estimated the initial damage cost at 539.3 million US dollars.

On 6 November 2001, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar "blamed a lack of political will for the collapse of a bid by Norway to end his country's 18-year ethnic war."  On 9 November 2001, he said that the military operation, launched against the LTTE in April, was a mistake  which had caused a set-back to the Norwegian- facilitated process for peace talks. He did not elaborate on whose mistake it was - and how it came about.

Meanwhile, defections by Ministers in her Cabinet, resulted in President Kumaratunga's SLFP led government losing its majority in Parliament and in the ensuing general election in December 2001, a new government led by the United National Party with a mandate to end the war and a new Prime Minister was elected  The Ceasefire was signed between the LTTE and new Government in February 2002.

A few weeks later, in a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Kumaratunga reiterated her complaint that she was not properly consulted before Wickremesinghe committed the Colombo government to a ceasefire with the LTTE.  Additionally she criticised the powers given to Norway through a monitoring mission to demarcate "lines of control" within Sri Lanka that would separate government-held areas and rebel-held areas.

Sufficient,  has been said to establish that there is nothing to show that in signing the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002  the LTTE was "prompted by the global  'war on terrorism' that was spearheaded by the U.S. after the September 11 attacks". 

For one thing, the LTTE had declared a  unilateral ceasefire long before the 9/11 attacks. For another, it was the  Sri Lanka government of President Kumaratunga which did not reciprocate and which sought to pursue the military option. The debacle suffered by the Sri Lanka army in April 2001 (coming on top of the earlier Elephant Pass loss) and the successful LTTE attack on Katunayake forced a rethink and 'prompted' the new (West leaning) UNP government to reciprocate the offer made by the LTTE and enter into a Ceasefire.  back

Comment 3

Colonel Hariharan is right to point out that the LTTE entered the peace process in 2002 from a position of strength. In fact it was that position of strength that  led the international community, which had been content earlier to bank roll  Sri Lanka's war effort, to 'persuade'  Sri Lanka to eventually sign the Ceasefire agreement and enter the Peace Process. Here Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe's remarks  in  the Sri Lanka Parliament on 3 March 2002 are relevant:

"...While the Sri Lanka Government is responsible for the civil administration throughout the country, we have no control over law and order on significant portions of land in the North and East. The armed units of the LTTE dominate these areas. The armed forces have so far been unable to regain control. We all know this is the reality but we do not want to speak about it. We have been fooling the people and in the process we have fooled ourselves..." back

Comment 4  The LTTE itself has always denied any change in its policy. Velupillai Pirabakaran, LTTE Leader,  Maha Veerar Naal Address - November 27, 2002

"The objective of our struggle is based on the concept of self-determination as articulated in the UN Charter and other instruments. We have always been consistent with our policy with regard to our struggle for self-determination. Tamil homeland, Tamil nationality and Tamils’ right to self-determination are the fundamentals underlying our political struggle. We have been insisting on these fundamentals from Thimpu to Thailand." back

Comment 5  The statement that though Sri Lanka "was ready to discuss the proposal with L.T.T.E., the insurgents called off further participation in the talks unless the government accepted the I.S.G.A. proposal first" is factually incorrect.

The ISGA proposal was submitted by the LTTE  to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe's government on 31 October 2003. The UNP led Ranil Wickremasinghe government responded immediately on 1 November 2003 and declared  that though the proposals "differ in fundamental respect" from the proposals submitted by the government of Sri Lanka,  ''the government is convinced that the way forward lies through direct discussions of the issues arising from both sets of proposals.'' The stage was set for a resumption of talks.

On 1 November 2003, the European Union welcomed the ISGA proposals as "an important step forward in the peace process". The US Embassy in Colombo declared that it " has taken note of the LTTE's delivery of counterproposals made in response to the Sri Lankan Government's interim administration proposal for the North and East" and urged "both parties to build on this step by resuming negotiations in a timely manner..."

But, President Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) rejected the ISGA proposals and on 4 November 2003, within four days of the LTTE  proposals, the President in the exercise of powers vested in her under the 1978 constitution took over from the UNF government which enjoyed a majority in Parliament, the Ministries of Defense, Interior and Media, which were directly linked to the peace process, and assigned the  portfolios either to herself or to nominees from within her party.

At a Press Conference on 5 November 2003, to explain his party’s reaction to the LTTE’s suggestions, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Adviser to President Kumaratunga declared magisterially   “We can in no way consider the LTTE’s proposal".

Given the views expressed by the United States and the European Union on the ISGA proposal as a step forward in the peace process, and given the close relations between the President and New Delhi, the question will arise in many minds, whether President Kumaratunga acted in the way that she did  without  (covert) support from New Delhi or at least the expectation of such support.

In any case, the actions of  President Kumaratunga resulted in the facilitator, the Norwegian Government suspending its role in November 2003, in view of the lack of clarity in regard to who was responsible for the peace process. The Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister declared on 14 November 2003  " Peace talks could have started tomorrow, provided there was clarity about who is holding political authority and responsibility on behalf of the Government to ensure the continuation of the ceasefire agreement and the resumption of peace negotiations. Until last week there was such clarity. Today there is no such clarity. Until such clarity is re-established, there is no space for further efforts by the Norwegian government to assist the parties."

The ensuing stalemate was followed with the dissolution of the Sri Lanka Parliament, new General elections in April 2004 and the installation of a new Government.

Here the intervention  of Interfaith International at the UN Sub Commission for the Protection of Human Rights in August 2004, may also be helpful -

"...The international community was perhaps shocked at the decision of the President the Hon. Chandrika Kumaratunga to dismiss key ministers and dissolve the Parliament just at the very time when the peace process with the Tamil LTTE was achieving results. These moves and the subsequent elections virtually destroyed the peace process while at the same time the LTTE or Tamil Tigers were showing a considerable openness to seek a resolution to the conflict..."  back



Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home