Tuesday, 31 May 2016

LTTE’s rapid collapse after Kilinochchi debacle through the eyes of Thamilini



Vidusha ordered to shoot surrendering civilians

Commander of the Malathy Regiment, Vidusha, had started to cry as soon as she saw ‘Colonel’ Thamilini walking towards her. The chance meeting had taken place at Sugandipuram, one of the last remaining LTTE bastions, east of the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini quoted Vidusha as having told her that she was embarrassed when she thought of the organisation’s conduct. Vidusha had revealed receiving instructions from the top leadership to shoot those wanting to surrender to the army below their knees. Although, she had resented the directive, she instructed some cadres of the situation. They had told her how could they shoot their relatives and it was better to shoot themselves.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini quoted Vidusha as having told her regretfully the situation the organisation had fallen to by ordering mass scale shooting of civilians.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Subramanium Sivagami alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), the Sinhala translation of Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil, intimately dealt with the final phase of the war on the Vanni east front.

Thamilini, who had served the front line LTTE fighting formations before being appointed leader of the Tiger Women’s Political Wing, discussed Intelligence Wing leader Pottu Amman’s ridiculous efforts to halt advancing government forces. Senior LTTE commanders had been extremely angry over a spate of directives, issued by Pottu Amman, without taking into consideration severe difficulties experienced by fighting formations. Pottu Amman had earned the wrath of fellow commanders for ignoring the plight of the fighting formations, close on the heels of the LTTE being forced to abandon Kilinochchi, during the first week of January, 2009.

Those who had been demanding to know the truth were strangely silent on ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s first hand account, though Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil was launched in Kilinochchi on March 19, 2016. The Sinhala version was launched at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on May 13, 2016.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s husband, Jeyakumaran Mahadevan, a British national of Sri Lankan origin, earned the wrath of an influential section of Tamil politicians, as well as Tamil Diaspora, for releasing shocking memoirs.

By January, 2009, several fighting formations had been engaged in large scale offensive operations, on the Vanni east front. The military had eradicated the LTTE fighting cadre, in the Vanni west, and the remaining units surrounded in the Vanni east, across the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road. But the LTTE continued to resist in spite of rapidly losing its capacity to face the army.

Much to the anger of fellow field commanders, Pottu Amman had positioned disabled cadres with explosives, to thwart the army advance on Puthukuduirippu, the main LTTE bastion, east of A9. At the behest of Pottu Amman, disabled cadres had carried out suicide attacks on troops advancing on Puthukuduirippu. The LTTE Intelligence Wing leader had also ordered Black Tigers to mount claymore mine attacks. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini declared that a large number of LTTE cadres had perished during the final phase of an unwinnable war.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini inferred that Pottu Amman had the blessings of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. She quoted Prabhakaran as having declared that he would ensure that the Black Tigers would be the most powerful weapon of the weak community.

Both Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman believed the army could be halted by carrying out mass scale suicide attacks. Referring to a Black Tiger suicide attack mounted during the first week of February, 2009, on the 59.3 Brigade, south of Puthukuduirippu, ‘Colonel’ Thamilini acknowledged the group lacked the wherewithal to halt the army. She said that the global community had been both suspicious and shocked over the collapse of what it had hitherto believed was a very powerful organisation. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini asserted Prabhakaran’s unilateral decisions caused massive destruction to the Tamil-speaking people.

Although, Prabhakaran had faulted Pottu Amman for constantly complaining against other senior commanders, including Karuna, he didn’t obviously intervene. Commander of the Malathy Regiment, ‘Colonel’ Vidusha had expressed disappointment with regard to Pottu Amman’s conduct, Thamilini quoted ‘Colonel’ Vidusha as having told her, at a medical facility, at Iranapalai, that she lost even the little bit of respect she had for Pottu Amman for not taking stark ground realities into consideration. Thamilini had met ‘Colonel’ Vidusha shortly after the latter had met Prabhakaran, in the company of Pottu Amman, during the final phase of fighting on the Vanni east front.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini succumbed to cancer, in Oct, 2015. Perhaps, her revelations should be examined by the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) pursuing war crimes investigation, in respect of offensive action, on the Vanni east front, as well as the government. The government should seriously consider seeking the expertise of the Paranagama Commission, including its international experts, to examine the LTTEers’ claims and assertions. The government shouldn’t ignore an opportunity to produce an add-on to the Paranagama Report. The Paranagama Commission’s legal advisory council comprised Sir Desmond de Silva, QC (UK), Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC (UK), and Professor David M. Crane (US). The team received the support of several experts, including retired Maj. Gen. John Holmes, one-time Commanding Officer of the elite Special Air Services (SAS).

‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s revelations sent shock waves through those who had been propagating war crimes allegations. Her memoirs should be examined against the backdrop of the UN declaring, in March, 2011, that those who accused the previous government of war crimes wouldn’t be subjected to cross examination, under any circumstances, until 2031 (UNSG’s Panel of Experts Report, March 31, 2011). A second inquiry, on the basis of which UNHRC adopted a Resolution on Oct. 1, 2015 paving the way for a hybrid court, too, refrained from revealing the identities of those who made unsubstantiated allegations. Colombo-based foreign-funded civil society organizations, promoting accountability process, should reveal their stand on the deceased Tiger’s memoirs published by her husband with the support of veteran film maker, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, who openly campaigned to end the Rajapaksa administration.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini dealt with the last meeting, attended by heads of all formations and units engaged on the Vanni east front, during March 2009. Held at a camp, at Puthukuduirippu, once considered the most vital high security zone in the North, the meeting revealed the imminent collapse of the organization’s conventional fighting capability. Having summoned senior colleagues, for a final briefing, Pottu Amman admitted that the LTTE could achieve battlefield victory only through a miracle. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini quoted Pottu Amman as having said that victory was no longer a reality. Having warned them that those LTTE personnel who surrendered to the army, along with civilians, would be shot by the security forces the moment they admitted being members of the organisation, Pottu Amman again reiterated only a miracle could save them. The LTTE Intelligence Wing Leader had ordered them to destroy all documents in their hands. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini briefly explained the deep mental trauma as senior commanders resented talking with each other. The top level grouping conveniently failed to discuss the issue of the large group of wounded LTTE personnel.

There hasn’t been a previous detailed account of what took place, on the Vanni east front, after troops secured Kilinochchi. Thamilini described the final counter offensive, launched by the LTTE, during the first week of April, 2009, leading to the loss of over 600 cadres, including several senior personnel. According to ‘Colonel’ Thamilini, senior commander Bhanu had conducted the operation, in the Anandapuram area, east of Puthukudirippu operation, which lasted three days before troops brought the situation under control. Those who survived fled leaving both the dead and the wounded, as all organised resistance crumpled.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini confirmed Wikileaks report pertaining to the LTTE conducting all its operations from among the civilian community in the wake of the organisation losing Kilinochchi. Diplomatic cables, originating from US embassies, quoted top ICRC official as having confirmed that the LTTE positioned itself among civilians. In spite of realizing that resistance couldn’t be sustained, Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman engaged in desperate measures to thwart the army advance. The organisation ordered forced conscription and execution of those who had quit the LTTE. The LTTEer alleged that Voice of Tigers (VOT) engaged in propaganda meant to convince the population that external assistance was on its way while, on the ground people struggled to secure approval to go on board ICRC ships operating between Puthumathalan and Pulmoddai.

It would be pertinent to stress that the government allowed the evacuation of those who had been wounded on the Vanni east front, with an Indian medical team positioned in Pulmoddai, north of Trincomalee to receive them. The UNSG’s Panel of Experts (PoE) referred to the ICRC operation in its report released on March 31, 2011. The PoE declared that the LTTE prevented wounded cadres from leaving the area, in ICRC - run ships.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s reference to the deployment of the navy, off the Mullaitivu coast, during the final phase of the offensive highlighted the crucial role played by the Navy ably commanded by Vice Admial Wasantha Karannagoda. The LTTEer recalled leader of the Women’s Wing of the Sea Tigers Purni (a close relative of TULF leader A. Amirthalingam) confiding in her the inability of Prabhakaran and his chief lieutenants to escape by sea, due to heavy navy deployment. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini had received information, from Purni, in this regard, on the evening of May 15, 2009, at Mullivaikkal. Thanks to VA Karannagoda, the writer had an opportunity to visit the naval cordon, off Mullaitivu-Chalai, during the last week of April, 2009. The navy sustained the operation until the army overran the remaining LTTE - held territory on the Vanni east front. VA Karannagoda threw the sea cordon in the wake of the then Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka declaring that Prabhakaran could escape by sea.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s sentiments clearly reflected the pathetic situation experienced by the once powerful LTTE combat formations. The LTTE lacked the wherewithal to breakthrough army lines, nor a plan to take care of those who had been wounded in battle. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini asserted that the top leadership had decided to leave them to face the army, while a selected few escaped. Reference to well-known Sothiya Regiment underscored the crisis. By the third week of May, 2009, there had been only a few left of the Sothiya Regiment, then deployed at Mullivaikkal. A conversation between Sea Tiger commander Sri Ram and ‘Colonel’ Thamilini also revealed the collapse of their fighting capability. By then, the top leadership had abandoned civilians though it resorted to violence to stop them surrendering to the army.

Having joined the LTTE for a period of 18 years, Thamilini surrendered to the army, on May 16, 2009, several hours before Prabhakaran made an abortive bid to escape.

Wikileaks,  Stockholm-based author, Mark Salter (To END A CIVIL WAR; NORWAY’S PEACE ENGAGEMENT IN SRI LANKA), serving diplomat Dr Chanaka Thalpahewa (NORWEGIAN INVOLVEMENT IN THE SRI LANKAN PEACE PROCESS), Norwegian  report (PAWNS OF PEACE : EVALUATION OF NORWEGIAN PEACE EFFORTS IN SRI LANKA) and the Paranagama Commission (REPORT ON THE SECOND MANDATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO COMPLAINTS OF ABDUCTIONS AND DISAPPEARANCES) dealt with the situation on the front, during the final phase of ground operations.

Unfortunately, the war-winning Rajapaksa government ignored the need to conduct a thorough examination of events leading to the conflict with the focus on eelam war IV (August 2006-May 2009). Had the administration undertaken such an inquiry, the LTTE rump, the Tamil Diaspora and Western powers wouldn’t have been able to propagate that the government of Sri Lanka engaged in systematic crimes. The previous government had been so foolish it didn’t even bother to examine Wikileaks until the Legal Advisory Council, and other foreign experts, joined the Paranagama Commission. The Norwegian evaluation too took Wikileaks into consideration. Wikileaks revealed the ICRC admitting the army paying a heavy price on the Vanni east front due to them taking the civilian factor into consideration.

‘Colonel’ Thamilini reminiscences about war weary people along with LTTE cadres surrendering to the army. They had walked along the Mullivaikkal road and passed Wattuwakal bridge to reach what ‘Colonel’ Thamilini called Mullaitivu central area. The army had been advancing towards Mullivaikkal on both sides of the road, leaving people to walk towards Mullaitivu central area. The army had made special arrangements to receive those entering into the area under their control. Arrangements that had been in place highlighted their readiness to accommodate large groups of people, including LTTE combatants. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini appreciated the army having made prior arrangements to ensure the safety and security of those surrendering as the fighting entered the final stage.

The LTTEer explained the transfer of people and LTTE cadres from Mullaitivu to Omanthai in buses escorted by the army. Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata and Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil discussed a situation hitherto neglected by the Tamil community. Those who had been demanding accountability, on the part of the government, never acknowledged efforts made by the army to safely receive Tamils on the Vanni east front. The LTTEer had been lucky to meet her mother and accompany her to Omanthai.

Strangely, the JOINT OPPOSITION, loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is yet to comment on revelations made by ‘Colonel’ Thamilini. The grouping obviously lacked a strategy to collect information which can be used to defend the military.

Most importantly in spite of her being part of the top command and control structure of the LTTE, ‘Colonel’ Thamilini never made any reference to the group planning to surrender to the army. Her version of events, leading to the group’s annihilation, revealed Prabhakaran and his sidekick Pottu Amman acting recklessly and foolishly in the wake of the debilitating setback, suffered at Kilinochchi, during the first week of January 2009. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini asserted that the LTTE never had a chance to recoup, following the Kilinochchi defeat. According to ‘Colonel’ Thamilini, there had never been a serious attempt to reach an understanding with the government and obviously Prabhakaran and his close associates believed in fleeing Vanni leaving even the wounded behind. Wartime US Defence Advisor in Colombo Lt. Colonel Lawrence Smith, in early June, 2011, in Colombo, declared that there had never been an agreement between the government and the LTTE for the latter to surrender. The official dismissed reports pertaining to LTTE Political Wing seniors, Nadesan and Pulithevan, reaching an understanding in this regard during the final phase of fighting. An exclusive report on statement made by the US official was denied by the then US State Department Deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner.

 Toner declared:  Well, just to clarify, the U.S. did decline invitations to participate in that conference as either a conference speaker or panellist. My understanding is that the defense attaché was there as an observer and a note taker. His comments reflected his personal opinions. There’s no change in the policy of the United States, and his remarks do not reflect any change in our policy.

The US was embarrassed. The previous government acted as if nothing happened. It was busy hiring expensive US PR firms to enhance its image.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s version of events leading to LTTE’s annihilation



By Shamindra Ferdinando

The launch of ‘Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata’ (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), Sinhala translation of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’, life story of high ranking LTTE cadre, Subramaniam Sivakamy alias ‘Col’ Thamilini, took place at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on May 13, 2016.

 ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ was launched on March 19, 2016, in Kilinochchi, a one-time LTTE bastion.

 Her husband, Jeyakumaran Mahadevan, British national of Sri Lankan origin, earned the wrath of an influential section of Tamil politicians, as well as Tamil Diaspora, for releasing the book. They made a desperate bid to thwart the revelations, made by Thamilini, one of those senior personnel who had access to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and top battlefield commanders, throughout the eelam war IV.

 The police, too, strongly opposed the release of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ on the basis it included Thamilini in LTTE uniform. The police obviously didn’t realize the importance of revelations as well as assertions made by Thamilini in her previous capacity as the Women Political Wing leader.

 Thamilini’s memoirs rattled those who had been demanding accountability on the part of Sri Lanka for alleged atrocities committed by the military, during the eelam war IV. Thamilini set the record straight in respect of the collapse of the Norwegian-led peace process, leading to the resumption of the war (2006), assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (August, 2006), execution of one-time LTTE Deputy Commander Mahatattaya (early ‘90s) and circumstances leading to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory at the Nov. 2005 presidential polls.

 Thamilini also revealed the unprecedented crisis caused during a crucial stage of the Vanni war in areas under LTTE control, by troops mounting devastating operations behind the Tiger lines. Acknowledging that the LTTE had suffered a massive setback, due to operations carried out by troops, within the area under its control, Thamilini revealed the group could never overcome the threat.

 In spite of strong opposition, Mahadevan went ahead with the book launch, at Kilinochchi, followed by a well-attended event in Colombo, this month. The Tamil media largely ignored the event. A section of the Colombo-based diplomatic community, too, conveniently remained silent.

Veteran filmmaker, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, who had played a significant role in the high profile political campaign to thwart President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to secure a third term, at the January, 2015 presidential polls, facilitated Mahadevan’s efforts. Bandaranayake is on record as having stated that Thamilini and Mahadevan undertook the book project on a request made by him soon after the former LTTE cadre was diagnosed with cancer. Bandaranayake appealed ,not to consider the release of Thamilini’s memoirs as a wrongdoing on his part. Mahadevan and Bandaranayake should be commended for going ahead with the release of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ and its Sinhala translation, regardless of concerns expressed by various interested parties.

 The writer was among those who had been invited for the book launch in Colombo, attended by many civil society activists.

 Thamilini’s revelations disputed those who had wanted to blame the Sri Lankan government for undermining the Norwegian peace process, thereby causing over 40,000 civilian deaths.

 Thamilini died, in mid-October, 2015, of cancer. She had begun writing her memoirs, months before she was diagnosed with cancer, and her work would have probably remained unpublished if not for Mahadevan’s controversial decision.

Key revelations

Thamilini made a spate of significant statements and assertions in respect of the conflict. Let me examine Thamilini’s claims against the backdrop of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopting a resolution in Oct. 2015, to set up a hybrid mechanism to inquire into war crimes allegations.

LTTE-TNA partnership

 The strategic war-time partnership between the LTTE and the then five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), headed by Trincomalee District Parliamentarian R. Sampanthan, currently the Leader of the Opposition, had been one of the most important statements made by Thamilini. She expertly dealt with Velupillai Prabhakaran ensuring the TNA’s victory, at the April, 2004, parliamentary polls, to influence the decision-making process in parliament. Thamilini discussed the LTTE-TNA partnership, amidst crisis caused by Karuna Amman deserting the organization, along with thousands of cadres from the Eastern Province. Thamilini confirmed the damning declaration made by the EU Election Observation Mission, regarding the LTTE-TNA alliance, in rigging the April 2004 parliamentary polls in the Northeast.

Prabhakaran on CFA

 Thamilini dealt with Prabhakaran’s decision to exploit the Oslo-arranged CFA to rapidly enhance the group’s conventional fighting capability, in preparation for the final war. She quoted the then LTTE Political Wing leader, S.P. Thamilchelvan, as having told senior cadres, close on the heels of the finalization of the CFA, preparations for war should be made in spite of the CFA. Thamilchelvan had shared Prabhakaran’s opinion that peace talks had been meant to deceive, what he called the outside world, whereas they should prepare for war. Prabhakaran wanted those responsible for recruitment of fresh cadres to target Tamil-speaking youth, living in areas under government control. Prabhakaran’s direction should be examined in the wake of the CFA giving them access to the government-held area. Thamilchelvam pointed out that the LTTE had plenty of weapons and immediately needed fresh cadres to exploit the situation.

Thamilchelvan had repeated Prabhakaran’s decision to resume war even before the group officially quit the negotiating table in April, 2003, at a meeting held at the LTTE Peace Secretariat.

 Kadirgamar’s assassination

‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ confirmed Prabhakaran ordering the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in the wake of the Oslo-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) alleging CFA violations by both parties. Thamilini quoted Prabhakaran as having confirmed the LTTE carrying out the assassination, on the night of August 12, 2005. Interestingly, the Sinhala translation of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ was launched two days after former Justice Ministry Secretary Dr Nihal Jayawickrama raised the issue of Kadirgamar’s assassination. Delivering Dr P.R. Anthonis memorial lecture, titled ‘Healing the nation: A question of leadership’, at the Sasakawa Hall auditorium, Dr Jayawickrama said Kadirgamar’s killing had been still classified and shrouded in mystery. Dr Jayawickrama made the statement in respect of the former Foreign Minister’s assassination immediately after accusing the previous government of carrying out 300 political killings during 2005, and 700 extra-judicial killings in 2006 and 2007. Both Prabhakaran and Thamilchelvn believed that Kadirgamar’s assassination proved their ability to strike deep within the enemy territory. They also asserted that the EU proscribing of the group in the immediate aftermath of Kadirgamar’s assassination reflected the international community recognizing the group military power. According to Thamilini, the LTTE had been blinded by its perceived military capability, hence provoked the military. The top LTTE leadership strongly believed in a swift and decisive war could lead to their victory. (In his first interview with the media, Kumaran Pathmanathan told the writer the LTTE believed that the Army could be overwhelmed in two years. The Directorate of Military Intelligence allowed the interview in July, 2010)

LTTE backing for MR

 Prabhakaran had felt that victory for Mahinda Rajapaksa would pave the way for the LTTE to resume war. The LTTE believed Rajapaksa would act recklessly. The LTTE resumed claymore mine attacks, in the North, within weeks of Rajapaksa being sworn in as the President. Thamilchelvan had revealed the LTTE leader’s assertion at a meeting attended by section heads in the run-up to the presidential polls, in Nov. 2005. Prabhakaran had asserted that the LTTE could certainly emerge victorious in case of a fresh war, and election of Rajapaksa was a prerequisite for such an eventuality. However, Thamilini refrained from discussing the part about the TNA directing Tamil speaking people not to exercise their franchise in support of either Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ranil Wickremesinghe at the behest of the LTTE. Mark Salter’s ‘To End a Civil War: Norway’s Peace Engagement in Sri Lanka,’ too, discussed the northern Tamils boycott. Salter alleged that Rajapaksa had bribed the LTTE to prevent Tamils from exercising their franchise at the crucial polls.

Sornam causes Mavilaru crisis

 Thamilini discussed the circumstances leading to eelam war IV, in the wake of Prabhakaran approving Trincomalee District LTTE commander Sornama’s move to close the Mavilaru sluice gates, in mid-2006. Sornam believed that he could successfully deploy artillery pieces. The battle for supremacy in Trincomalee, ended with the LTTE experiencing a debilitating setback. Thamilini blamed Prabhakaran for declaring his commitment to a military solution at his heroes’ day speech, in late Nov. 2006, in spite of the heavy defeat, in Trincomalee. She also accused Prabhakaran of totally ignoring the changing international environment. Thamilini revealed that she had heard Sornam’s failed strategy from Trincomalee District political leader Elilan (missing husband of Northern Provincial Council member Ananthi Sasitharan) during the war.

Mahattaya and Karuna 

The veteran LTTEer compared the disappearance of Mahattaya, in the early 90s, after being accused of working with premier Indian intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and the rift between Prabhakaran and experienced battlefield commander, Karuna, credited with spearheading conventional fighting units in the Vanni region. According to her, both incidents greatly disturbed the organization and caused irreparable damage. The LTTE accused Mahattaya of conspiring with the RAW to assassinate Prabhakaran at the opening of a memorial hall, built at Kodikamam, in memory of those who had perished during the 1991 assault on the strategic Elephant Pass base. The LTTE claimed that the RAW planned to use a Tiger working for the Indian spy network to kill Mahattaya, thereby paving the way for him to take over the leadership. The LTTE Intelligence executed scores of cadres, including those holding senior command positions, for being allegedly involved in the conspiracy. The executed included a Susilan, who had driven away a tank, captured during the LTTE attack on the Pooneryn army base, in Nov. 1993, to the LTTE-held area. Thamilini declared that the way the organization had moved against Karuna reminded her of the Mahattaya episode and the circumstances under which the LTTE wiped out rival Tamil organizations. Thamilini questioned the validity of accusations, including conspiracy against the leader, misappropriation of funds and sexual misconduct directed at various personnel, over the years.

P’karan on Pottu Amman

Thamilini revealed about Prabhakaran faulting his dreaded Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman for constantly complaining against other senior commanders, including Karuna. Prabhakaran had commented about Pottu Amman’s conduct during a meeting with Thamilini and front line commander Durga of the women fighting cadre. At a different occasion, Durga had expressed disappointment with regard to Pottu Amman’s conduct amidst growing difficulties on the Vanni front as troops relentlessly advanced, in spite of fierce resistance offered by LTTE units. Thamilini quoted Durga as having told her that she lost even the little bit of respect she had for Pottu Amman for not taking stark ground realities into consideration. Thamilini had met Durga shortly after the latter had met Prabhakaran in the company of Pottu Amman during the final phase of fighting, on the Vanni east front.

P’karan admits defeat

Soon after losing Kilinochchi, in early January, 2009, Prabhakaran admitted that he couldn’t do anything to reverse the ground situation, Thamilini revealed how she was told of Prabhakaran’s plight by a well-recognized fighter who had been a bodyguard to Thamilselvan. Prabhakaran had said that he was helpless though many believed he had the wherewithal to change the ground situation. By early 2009, the LTTE had lost the capacity to conduct a large scale offensive operation to regain Kilinochchi. Subsequently, Prabhakaran had told Durga that 25,000 trained cadre and ammunition for artillery pieces were required to regain Kilinochchi. However, many believed that the LTTE would allow the Army to move into Kilinochchi before launching an all-out attack. Canada-based journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj claimed in Dec 2008, powerful LTTE forces would annihilate the Army on the Vanni east front.

Target assassinations

Thamilini also examined targeted assassinations, carried out by Army units, operating in areas under LTTE control. In spite of knowing that the Army was hunting for senior LTTEers, including Prabhakaran, the organization couldn’t overcome the problem. Special security measures taken to neutralize the threat posed by the Army had been in vain. Thamilini disclosed how she experienced a claymore mine attack, directed at a senior LTTE leader along the Puthukudirippu-Oddusudan road. The blast had been directed at a vehicle at close proximity to the road leading to Prabhakaran’s base.

 Senior LTTE commander Balraj escaped a similar claymore mine attack along the A9 road.

 Thamilini revealed the crisis faced by the organization due to a strategic bombing campaign carried out by the Air Force. The Air Force had caused heavy losses to the LTTE and eroded its capacity to launch a major offensive action, contrary to lies propagated by interested parties. Thamilini said that the Air Force carried out accurate bombing of identified targets, including those frequented by senior leaders, including Prabhakaran.

Awaiting TN intervention 

Thamilselvan’s successor Nadesan strongly felt that Tamil Nadu could influence New Delhi to intervene in Sri Lanka to arrange a ceasefire. According to Thamilini, Nadesan had believed in Indian intervention until the collapse of LTTE resistance, on multiple fronts, in the Vanni battlefield. Having failed to secure Indian intervention, the LTTE made a last ditch attempt to flood advancing troops by blasting the anicut of the Vishvamadu tank. Thamilini alleged that heavy artillery and air strikes on LTTE artillery pieces, positioned on the Vanni east front, including Wallipuram and Devipuram, had caused a massive number of deaths among civilians. Thamilini asserted that due to wrong decisions taken by the LTTE leadership the entire Vanni population, trapped on the Vanni east front, faced annihilation. Thamilini had met Nadesan on May 13, 2009, for the last time. Thamilini claimed that Nadesan hadn’t confidently discussed the possibility of Indian intervention. Thamilini felt that Nadesan had wanted to reveal something serious though he refrained from doing so and the meeting concluded in the wake of the area coming under artillery fire.

Top LTTE leadership’s bid to escape

 Contrary to repeated claims by the previous government that heavy weapons hadn’t been used during the final phase, the Army fired artillery at the area under LTTE control even during the last few days of the offensive. Thamilini recalled the area under heavy artillery fire on May 15, 2009, four days before fighting ended on the Vanni east front. Head of Sea Tigers’ Women Wing, Purni had confided in Thamilini that Prabhakaran and several other senior commanders were trying to smash through Army defences after having crossed the Nanthikadal lagoon in small boats. According to Purni, Prabhakaran’s contingent planned to reach the sea through the jungles. Another woman fighter had told Purni and Thamilini that her lover too confirmed the plan. The revelation meant, the LTTE leadership planned to desert the fighting cadre and those who had been wounded in battle.

 Prabhakaran made his attempt in the early hours of May 17, 2009. Within 24 hours Prabhakaran and some of his close associates died in combat.

 Thamilini’s work sheds light on the LTTE and particularly its conduct after signing of the CFA in Feb. 2002. Her memoirs clearly contradict those who had been working overtime to blame the Sri Lanka state for resumption of war in Aug. 2006. No other LTTE leader who had been with the fighting cadre, during the final phase of the conflict, made such revelations. It would be the responsibility of the government and the military to verify Thamilini’s version of events as Sri Lanka faces the Geneva gauntlet.

 Thamilini’s version of events, I believe, is as important as former Indian High Commissioner J.N. Dixit’s memoirs ‘Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: Raja Ram Mohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha’ launched during 2004. The writer had dealt with Dixit’s memoirs on more than one occasion and discussed the matter on other media. In short, Dixit faulted the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi for intervening in Sri Lanka for external and domestic reasons causing massive death and destruction in a neighbouring country.....

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Former Justice Ministry Secretary Dr. Jayawickrama makes strong case for hybrid court to probe war crimes




By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Justice Ministry Secretary, Dr Nihal Jayawickrama last week declared that the then Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar had been assassinated on the night of August 8, 2005 in circumstances that were "classified and shrouded in mystery."

Internationally - renowned Dr Jayawickrama alleged that the assassination of Batticaloa District lawmaker, Joseph Pararajasingham, during Christmas mass, at St. Mary’s Church, Batticaloa in 2005, the killing of five Tamil university students in Trincomalee in January 2006, as well as the killing of founding editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga, in January 2009, hadn’t been investigated or not effectively probed.

Having efficiently explained the accountability, on the part of the Sri Lankan State, leading to the break-up of the country, due to the conflict, 79-year old Dr Jayawickrama threw his weight behind a Geneva Resolution meant to establish a hybrid court to investigate war crimes allegations.

 Dr Jayawickrama declared that the country lacked the experience and expertise to undertake such a task on its own, while castigating the judiciary, the military and law enforcement agencies.

The onslaught couldn’t have come at a worse time for those opposed to international intervention. Others expressed delight.

Sri Lanka’s accountability issue will come up for discussion at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights

 Dr Jayawickrama was delivering Deshamanya Dr P.R. Anthonis Memorial Oration at Sasakawa Hall Auditorium on May 11, 2016, on the invitation of the Lanka-Japan Friendship Society.  

He utilized a rare lecture titled ‘healing the nation: A question of leadership’, to castigate the previous Rajapaksa administration. Dr Jayawickrama had been perhaps the youngest ever to serve as Secretary to the Justice Ministry, at the age of 32.  Felix Dias Bandaranaike had been the Justice Minister at that time.

Among the audience was Japanese Ambassador to Colombo, Kenichi Suganuma.

 Declaring that the post-war national reconciliation couldn’t be achieved unless the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) addressed the contentious issue of accountability, Jayawickrama threw his weight behind calls for a significant international role in the proposed war crimes probe.  The coordinator of the UN sponsored Judicial Integrity Programme even disputed President Maithripala Sirisena’s strong opposition to foreign intervention in accountability mechanism. 

The legal luminary blamed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the post-war current crisis, over mass scale violations, during eelam war IV (August 2006-May 2009) as well as post-war accountability issues. Let me quote Dr Jayawickrama verbatim in respect of proposed formation of war crimes probe: "Without accountability, there can be no reconciliation in any society. The hybrid court, which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recommended for Sri Lanka, is a unique element in the human rights, based approach to transitional justice in a post-conflict situation. Comprising international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, a hybrid court is designed to deal with those who bear the greatest responsibility for series of crimes, arising from or during the conflict, such as war crimes or crimes against humanity, including sexual crimes and crimes against children. President Maithripala Sirisena has repeatedly asserted that under no circumstances will he agree to the participation of foreigners in the accountability process in Sri Lanka. The President has claimed that Sri Lanka has an independent judiciary which is quite capable of addressing the issues of accountability without any foreign assistance. It is perhaps time for the President’s advisers to brief him on the real position."

 Jayawickrama faulted successive governments for categorising the conflict as a situation caused by terrorism.  Alleging that successive governments had failed to restore good governance, Dr Jayawickrama declared: "On the other hand, there is the issue of justice, reparation and reconciliation, which has been brought to the fore through the actions of succession of Presidents who set out to resolve a political and human rights problem, conveniently dubbed "the terrorist problem’, through the application of military power."

The Justice Ministry Secretary in the United Front Government of Mrs Bandaranaike paid a glowing tribute to Ranil Wickremesinghe for having the courage and vision to enter into a Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), in February, 2002, with the LTTE to pave the way for negotiations meant to work out a lasting settlement. Dr Jayawickrama included Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe in a group of people whom he considered as real leaders.

Twice President Rajapaksa didn’t earn praise for giving resolute political leadership during the three-year combined security forces campaign. Rajapaksa earned the wrath of Western powers for refusing to halt the offensive on the Vanni east front.

Former Justice Ministry Secretary, Dr Jayawickrama refrained from at least briefly discussing the events leading to collapse of the CFA and the subsequent annihilation of the LTTE in May, 2009. Had the then government succumbed to Western pressure, in early 2009, the LTTE would have certainly survived the war on the Vanni east front. Thanks to the Rajapaksas determination and the then Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s leadership the war was brought to a successful conclusion during the third week of May, seven years ago. The Army couldn’t have achieved victory under any circumstances without the Navy and Air Force meeting their strategic objectives. 

The Island front-page story on May 13, 2016, issue, titled ‘International assistance required to probe war crimes’ on the basis of Dr Jayawickrama’s lecture, received swift attention of the government as well as a section of the Colombo-based diplomatic community. Foreign Ministry on Friday (May 13) released the text of Dr Jayawickrama’s statement. The ministry highlighted the then President JRJ’s 1979 directive to the Army to quell the northern insurgency.

The writer, too, strongly believes that Sri Lanka should accept a significant international role in the inquiry. In fact, a hybrid court can certainly help Sri Lanka to disprove most of the accusations directed at the previous administration. However, the proposed hybrid court should examine all available information pertaining to contentious issues of accountability. Unfortunately, Dr Jayawickrama conveniently refrained from mentioning several critically important factors which can dispute some of the major allegations, discrepancy in figures, in respect of the number of civilians killed during the Vanni offensive, as well as the origins of the war.

There cannot be any dispute over Dr Jayawickrama’s assertion that both the UNP and the SLFP had caused the disintegration of the nation by taking, what he called, politically expedient measures such as denial of franchise to a substantial number of Indian Tamil voters, colonisation of dry zones in northern, eastern and north central provinces, replacing English as the medium of instruction in schools, declaration of Sinhala as the official language, thereby depriving Tamil-speaking educated youth of an opportunity to secure employment in the state sector, and the 1972 Constitution.

Dr Jayawickrama declared: "The tragedy of the 1972 Constitution was that it heard and responded only to the voices of those who celebrated its creation. The issue of federalism was not even allowed to be raised."

 He quite rightly pointed out that controversial policy of standardization, in respect of university admission, in 1970, had a catastrophic impact. Dr Jayawickrama asserted: "Nothing could have been more frustrating to the educated Tamil youth than their inability to enter the stream of higher education owing to the standardization and be diverted away from the mainstream life in the country.

 Jayawickrama, a key functionary in Mrs Bandaranaike’s government that introduced the first republican constitution of 1972 said: "THIS FEELING OF DESPAIR AND NON-FULFILMENT CONTRIBUTED IMMENSELY TO THE EMERGENCE OF A MILITANT YOUTH MOVEMENT." The academic also faulted successive governments for calling the situation, caused by militant youth movement, a terrorist problem. Dr Jayawickrama asserted it was a political and human rights problem.

War-winning Rajapaksa administration never made a serious effort to examine the origins of terrorism in Sri Lanka. Had former President Rajapaksa mandated the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to conduct a thorough inquiry, it could have produced a better report.

Sri Lanka could have easily neutralized what Dr Jayawickrama referred to as a Tamil militant movement if not for Indian intervention, in the early 80s. Indian intervention transformed a domestic security issue to a conventional military challenge, coupled with a devilish campaign to assassinate political and military leaders, beginning with the assassination of SLFP Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiyappah, on July 27, 1975. Although, Dr Jayawickrama mentioned the Duraiyappah assassination, there hadn’t been any reference to New Delhi’s despicable role in Sri Lanka.

 Obviously, the former Lankan civil servant didn’t hold India accountable for causing massive death and destruction here. No less a person than former Indian Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit in his memoirs titled ‘Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: Raja Ram Mohun to Yashwant Sinha’, released during 2004, admitted India causing terrorism here.

 The war-winning government never made a genuine effort to examine Dixit’s declaration. The one-time India’s High Commissioner in Colombo acknowledged that New Delhi’s intervention had been prompted by Sri Lanka’s oppressive and discriminatory policies towards its Tamil community, as well as JRJ’s cosy relationship with US, Israel and Pakistan. According to Dixit, New Delhi had been wary of Sri Lanka’s involvement with the US Israel and Pakistan against the backdrop of what the veteran diplomat called international and regional strategic environment during the 1980-1984 period. Having exposed New Delhi’s machinations, Dixit asserted Indian intervention in Sri Lanka as one of the two foreign policy blunders of Indira Gandhi. Dixit explained Gandhi’s failure to condemn Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in Dec 1979 as the other blunder. But, perhaps the most significant assertion made by Dixit as regards the origins of terrorism never attracted the attention of the government. Dixit asserted: "Her (Indira Gandhi) logic was that she could not openly alienate the former Soviet Union which India was so dependent for defence supplies and technologies. Similarly, she couldn’t afford the emergence of Tamil separatism in India by refusing to support the aspirations of Sri Lankan Tamils. These aspirations were legitimate in the context of nearly fifty years of Sinhalese discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils."

Sri Lanka never bothered to examine Dixit’s statement. Instead, the previous government hired very expensive US and other public relations firms to improve its image.

Indian military adventure in Sri Lanka led to an attempt on the life of Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the early hours of Nov 3, 1988.

What would have happened if the bid to oust Gayoom succeeded? Indian trained Sri Lankan terrorists carried out the raid on the Maldives. India never accepted responsibility for the operation conducted by those who had been trained and armed to destabilize Sri Lanka. In fact, India earned the praise of Western powers and influential section of media for coming to the rescue of tiny Male.

It would be pertinent to mention that two large trawlers carrying fully armed 80 terrorists and two Maldivians had left Mannar during the deployment of the Indian forces, including the navy, in accordance with the Indo-Lanka Peace accord.

Those who had been pushing for a hybrid court to examine accountability never felt the need to probe India’s culpability in causing massive death and destruction here. The Indian project also resulted in the deaths of over 1,500 of its forces’ personnel in addition to the assassination of former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi, in May, 1991, and an abortive raid on the Maldives in Nov, 1988. India could never absolve itself of the blame for ordering the assassination of at least two TULF lawmakers, representing the Jaffna District, in the 80s. 

Dr Jayawickrama didn’t find fault with India for voting against Sri Lanka on more than one occasion at the UNHRC after having plunged the neighbouring country into unprecedented crisis.

If not for the political leadership given by former President Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka would have been still been fighting terrorism. Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE, in May, 2009, wouldn’t have been possible if not for the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga liberating the Jaffna peninsula in early 1996. Securing Jaffna had been her biggest achievement.

In respect of child recruitment, Dr. Jayawickrama squarely blamed Karuna Amman for recruiting child soldiers during the war. The former Justice Ministry Secretary described the group, commanded by Karuna, as one of those who had been involved in the recruitment of children. Contrary to his claim claim that Karuna had defected to the government during 2007, one-time Batticaloa commander quit the organisation in March 2004. Since then, Karuna worked with the military and played a significant role in the ultimate destruction of the LTTE military machine.  Strangely, there hadn’t been any reference in Dr Jayawickrama’s speech to an unprecedented agreement between the UN and the LTTE, finalised during May, 1998 to end recruitment of child soldiers.

The UN issued a statement through the office of the Resident Co-coordinator in Colombo, assuring that the LTTE would not use children, below the age of 18 in combat. The UN also quoted the LTTE as having said that the group would not recruit children below the age of 17. (Tigers agree to end use of children below 18 in combat-The Island, May 9 1998)

Child recruitment continued until the Army wiped out the LTTE on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, in May, 2009.

 Although the UN claimed it had the LTTE’s consent to set up a mechanism to monitor the commitments made by the group, it did nothing to implement the agreement. The UN admitted that during talks, between top UN delegation and the LTTE, the latter refused to release under-age recruits or reveal the number of such cadres in uniform at that time (UN, LTTE to discuss modalities, with strap line pledge to stop using children in combat – The Island – May 11, 1998)

The UN never made a serious attempt to ensure the implementation of the decision taken in the Vanni. International human rights organizations, particularly the London headquartered Amnesty International, remained mum, though they knew what was happening on the ground.

Had Karuna remained with the LTTE he, too, would have earned the sympathy of those who couldn’t bear the annihilation of the group.

Although, Dr Jayawickrama expressed serious doubts as regards Kadirgamar’s assassination, Norwegians spearheading peace efforts here raised the issue with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran himself through the then London-based Anton Balasingham. Thanks to whistle-blowing website, Wiki Leaks, a confidential US diplomatic cable, which dealt with secret meeting between high ranking Norwegian representatives and Balasingham in London, in August 2005, is now in the public domain. In the wake of Kadirgamar’s assassination, major countries, as well as the UN Security Council, strongly advised the then Kumaratunga government not to cease negotiations with the LTTE. Obviously, the international community knew the LTTE carried out the assassination.

Jayawickrama expressed doubts about Kadirgamar’s assassination, close on the heels of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka alleging the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa engineering a suicide attack on himself on the morning of Dec 1, 2006. Many an eyebrow was raised over their claims with Canada-based veteran journalist, D.B.S. Jeyaraj, strongly reiterating that the LTTE’s responsibility for the attack on Rajapaksa. If Dr Jayawickrama felt that the LTTE hadn’t been responsible for Kadirgamar’s assassination, who could have carried it out Dr Jayawickrama’s claim should be studied against the backdrop of Norway funded National Peace Council (NPC) declaration that Kadirgamar’s assassination was tragic but inevitable.

Those who had been demanding accountability on the part of Sri Lanka on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations are silent on a highly damaging resolution being adopted on so far unverified allegations. In accordance with the UNSG Panel of Experts (PoE) released in March 2011, these allegations couldn’t be subject to any form of scrutiny for 20 years, from the date of the release of the report in March, 2011. Dr Jayawickrama refrained from discussing this aspect. The previous government, too, didn’t take up this issue as it shamelessly exploited the accountability issue for political advantage. The previous administration politically gained by propagating that the former President faced a non-existent electric chair in Geneva.

Having praised the then Premier Wckremesinghe for courageously entering into CFA, in 2002, Dr Jayawickrama stopped short of naming those who had sabotaged the peace process. The then five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) remained silent as the LTTE quit the negotiating table, in April 2003. At the April 2004 general election, the TNA received the strong arm backing of the LTTE to win the lion’s share of seats in the then temporarily merged North-Eastern Province by helping to stuff ballot boxes in full view of visiting EU monitors. Having endorsed the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people, the TNA threw its weight behind the LTTE to engineer front runner Ranil Wickremesinghe’s defeat at the Nov., 2005 presidential polls. The former President has been accused of bribing the LTTE to engineer Wickremesinghe’s defeat. The government is yet to probe this aspect.

Perhaps, an internationally-assisted probe can help establish circumstances leading to the war and the annihilation of the LTTE.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Intervention of unsuspecting Fernandopulle’s widow sought to halt police probe

On the trail of LTTE terror mastermind Morris...



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Arrest of Selvaraja Kirubakaran, alias Morris, in Colombo, in early August, 2009, by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) shed light on the alleged involvement of ASP Senarath Lakshman Cooray in LTTE operations, targeting top military officers and politicians in the South.

 ASP Cooray had been an important member in the team, led by Morris, during eelam war IV (April 2005 to May 2009). In spite of the conclusion of the conflict, in May 2009, the LTTE rump continued operations. They made an abortive bid to assassinate the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa on August 5, 2009, at Badulla.

 Although Morris swallowed two cyanide capsules, on a Colombo street, when a TID team, led by the then OIC of the unit, trapped him, doctors at the National Hospital saved his life. The TID arrested ASP Cooray, on August 12, 2009, within days after Morris recovered and revealed operations undertaken by him. The writer dealt with the role played by Morris in the attempt on the then Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s life, on April 25, 2006 inside Army Headquarters grounds, assassination of Highways and Road Development Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, on April 6, 2008 at Weliweriya and attempts on the life of the then President Rajapaksa, in December, 2007 in Matara, February 2009 in Kurunegala and August 2009 at Badulla.

The arrest of Morris and Cooray was made possible by information received by a Sub Inspector, attached to the TID (during temporary assignment, in Vavuniya, in late July or early August, 2009). Under interrogation, they revealed the circumstances under which the LTTE had lured Minister Fernandopulle to Kanthi grounds where a male suicide cadre blew up the minister as he was about to flag off a marathon, to mark the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. The blast claimed the lives of 16 persons, including K.A. Karunaratna, one-time national marathon champion and South Asian marathon gold medallist, as well as Luxman Alwis, the national athletic coach.

ASP Cooray had been instrumental in enticing Minister Fernandopulle to visit Kanthi grounds regardless of strong objections by his security contingent, and wife, Dr Mrs Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

 State Minister for City Planning and Water Supply, Dr Mrs Sudarshini Fernandopulle, revealed ASP Cooray reassuring Minister Fernandopulle of security, over the phone, on the day before the assassination. In a brief interview with the writer, State Minister Fernandopulle said: "Jeyaraj inquired from ASP Cooray about security. ASP Cooray wanted Jeyaraj to go ahead with the scheduled event at Kanthi rounds, on the following day. I never suspected ASP Cooray to collaborate with the LTTE to assassinate my husband."

Dr Mrs Sudarshini Fernandopulle had been travelling with Jeyaraj, escorted by bodyguards, when the phone conversation took place.

 Dr Mrs Fernandopulle said that until the shocking revelations, made by ASP Cooray, following his arrest, nearly one and half years after Fernandopulle’s assassination, it never crossed her mind the police officer’s involvement with the LTTE. Obviously, Cooray had been an LTTE agent, masquerading as a policeman, hell bent on causing death and destruction, the State Minister asserted.

 Soon after the assassination, police headquarters initiated an inquiry into security lapses that led to the assassination. ASP Cooray, as one of the senior officers responsible for security at Weliweriya on that day, had been asked to explain the failure on his part to thwart the LTTE operation. Having helped the LTTE to assassinate Minister Fernandopulle, who threw his political weight behind the corrupt police officer, Cooray sought Dr Mrs Sudarshini Fernandopulle’s help. She said: "ASP Cooray pleaded with me to request the police to drop the inquiry. Cooray felt I could save his career. I swiftly intervened on his behalf. The police abandoned the investigation."

ASP Cooray had paid his last respects to the slain Minister, at his Welihena residence. According to State Minister Fernandopulle, ASP Cooray had been among those at Minister Fernandopulle’s alms giving at the Welihena residence. "ASP Cooray urged me to join the fray in the Gampaha district parliamentary elections. He offered to financially back my campaign."

 The State Minister acknowledged that ASP Cooray would have been still in service if not for the police making a breakthrough into clandestine LTTE operations in the South. Cooray had been one of those police officers who had brazenly exploited his close friendship with Minister Fernandopulle to his advantage. At the end, ASP Cooray used his friendship with Minister Fernandopulle to entice him to a spot where the LTTE could finish him off.

 ASP Cooray wouldn’t have sought Mrs Fernandopulle’s intervention without informing Morris. Perhaps, ASP Cooray consulted Morris in respect of all matters connected with LTTE operations in the South.

 Under the patronage of State Minister Dr Mrs Fernandopulle, a commemorative event was held at the Kanthi grounds, on April 6, 2016, to mark the eighth death anniversary of Minister Fernandopulle. UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera, MP, was among those present. Mrs. Fernandopulle warned of dire consequences unless tangible measures were taken to counter possible threats to national security. She was addressing the gathering at the commemorative event. Responding to recent recovery of explosives at Chavakachcheri and subsequent arrests, the State Minister stressed the pivotal importance of immediate remedial measures.

State Minister Mrs Fernandopulle said that there couldn’t be a better example to highlight the LTTE’s capacity to infiltrate the government, compromise law enforcement officers, military officers or any other official to achieve its objectives.

Milad-un-Nabi festival attacked

 Morris had been one of the most successful LTTE undercover operatives if not the most successful assigned for operations outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Morris also revealed his spearheading role in a suicide attack carried out at Akuressa on March 10, 2009. The attack, directed at the National Milad-un-Nabi festival at the Jumma Mosque, at Godapitiya, Akuressa, was meant to cause a massive backlash in the South. The LTTE obviously believed communal violence could impede ground forces offensive on the Vanni east front. Morris had moved the suicide cadre tasked to cause mayhem at Akuressa.

 Among those who escaped unhurt were Ministers A.H.M. Fowzie, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, Ameer Ali, Pandu Bandaranayake and Chandrasiri Gajadeera.

Approximately 5,000 persons, led by several ministers, had been proceeding to the Mosque in a procession to attend the main event held in celebration of Prophet Mohommed’s birthday when the suspected LTTE suicide bomber struck.

 Then Minister of Fisheries Mahinda Wijesekera who was participating in the event, as the Guest of Honour, was seriously injured in the blast and was later airlifted to Colombo. Minister Wijesekera never fully recovered from the blast and had to quit politics.

Morris had the services of several Muslim youth, in addition to ASP Cooray. Muslim youth had been also involved in the Akuressa attack. A TID investigation revealed plans made by Morris to use a motor cycle, fitted with an explosives-packed fuel tank, to mount an attack.

Maithripala Sirisena targeted

 Morris made an abortive bid to assassinate then Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Development Minister Maithripala Sirisena during the second week of October, 2008 at Pirivena junction, Boralesgamuwa.

A female suicide cadre blew herself, targeting Minister Sirisena’s motorcade, at Pirivena junction, around 1.15 p.m. when he was returning following a Government function in Bandaragama. The Minister escaped unharmed though one of the cars in the convoy had been caught in the suicide attack.

Under interrogation, Morris revealed that a female suicide cadre was assigned to target the minister when he was on his way to Bandaragama. Morris felt that she had a better chance of success if the target was taken in the morning.

The blast claimed the lives of one civilian and wounded five, including the then Deputy Minister Siripala Gamlath and newly appointed Ministry Secretary Ranjith Wijethilaka.

An unlucky Wijethilaka had taken oaths earlier in the day, in the presence of Minister Sirisena.

Polonnaruwa District MP Sirisena had been among those who had been high on the LTTE hit list. The LTTE continuously targeted senior SLFP politicians as ground forces pushed towards Kilinochchi. The LTTE remained in control of Kilinochchi until last week of December, 2008. Task Force I and 57 Division secured Kilinochchi on January 1, 2009.

Suicide cadre at doctor’s residence

 Morris revealed the circumstances under which he had to abort a suicide attack for want of a suicide vest. According to an investigator, a suicide vest, made available to a female suicide cadre, had been too small for her, hence the decision to call off a planned operation. Acting on information provided by Morris, the TID arrested the female suicide cadre who admitted her true identity. She had been employed as a servant by a Tamil doctor and his wife living at Thimbirigasyaya. The doctor hadn’t been aware of the girl’s mission. Morris had several suicide cadres, both men and women, under his command and was tasked with taking some of the most difficult targets. In fact, Morris had experienced and had overcome much more difficult situations than the LTTE operative, identified as Sivarasan, who was tasked to assassinate former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Indian anti-terrorism counter measures had been so poor, an LTTE suicide cadre was able to walk up to Gandhi and assassinate him as she garlanded the Congress leader. Indian police hunted the LTTE group for three months before seven persons, including the chief suspect, committed suicide as the police closed in on their hideout in the southern city of Bangalore. Gandhi was killed on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur, India.

 Morris and ASP Cooray were produced before Gampaha High Court judge Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne, on April 25, 2016. The elite Special Task Force (STF) brought Morris from Boossa detention camp, while ASP Cooray was brought from Welikada prison. High Court judge Karunaratne put off the case to August 8, 2016.

The High Court judge directed the then SSP, Gampaha, Hector Dharmasiri (now retired) and Gampaha SP (I) Dinesh Karunanayake to appear before him on August 8, 2016.

 Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka recently urged President Maithripala Sirisena to exercise his executive powers to pardon Morris. The appeal was made close on the heels of President Maithripala Sirisena releasing a convicted LTTE cadre.

Sudarshini compares Weliweriya blast with Boston attack

 Dr Fernandopulle said the terrorist attack on the Boston marathon, in April 2013, was the first attack on a sporting event in the world since the assassination of her husband as he was about to flag off a marathon.

 The Boston attack was a grim reminder that terrorists could strike in any country, regardless of its political and military might, she noted.

 The international community had reacted angrily to the Boston outrage, with the US swiftly tracking down those responsible. But, unfortunately, Western powers had conveniently ignored the Weliweriya suicide blast, she said, adding that the Colombo-based international media, and a section of the local media, too, failed to highlight the LTTE taking advantage of a sports event to eliminate a high profile target.

 The State Minister pointed out that those demanding accountability on the part of Sri Lanka for alleged atrocities committed during the conflict had been silent on sordid LTTE operations.

State Minister Fernandopulle said that those who had carried out the Boston bombing would have reached their target as ordinary civilians. "May be they were there as spectators or perhaps as competitors. What we have to realise is that even the best of security measures in place can be manipulated by those masquerading as civilians. We experienced, on many occasions, the horrors caused by terrorists in disguise. They were never in uniform during clandestine operations in the city and its suburbs," Dr. Fernandopulle said.