PRESIDENT PREMADASA AND EELAM
Posted on May 28th, 2016

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Ranasinghe Premadasa succeeded J.R. Jayewardene as the second President of Sri Lanka, 1989-1993.He was assassinated by the LTTE   on May Day, 1993.  His period of rule was an eventful one. He was  described as a ‘mad president’. (Sunday Island. 27.1.2013p 5) .He unleashed a reign of terror, regarding which the UN and USA said nothing. His much praised housing programme was unsatisfactory. Instead of low rise housing schemes, he built free standing houses.

President Premadasa had initially refused to take over the Defence portfolio, saying he disliked getting involved in wars. It was pointed out to him that he had to take it. He was the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.   So he reluctantly did so   but   did not chair meetings of the National Security Council. Prime Minister D.B. Wijetunge chaired them.

Premadasa’s handling of the Eelam issue was atrocious. He did not know how to deal with the LTTE and was completely out of his depth. He thought the LTTE was invincible and that the only course of action was to appease them. He believed whatever the LTTE told him, including their false assurances, and he did exactly as they asked. His chief negotiator A.C.S. Hameed  also     supported the LTTE.  Premadasa’s blunders caused irreparable losses. Critics note that this mishandling would have been grounds for impeachment.

Let us look at some of the   things Premadasa did. To start with, he released a large group of LTTE terrorists, from prison, including a known bomber. This affected counter insurgency operations. The military top brass realized the stupidity of this move but did not dare protest. He gave LTTE   money from the Treasury. He facilitated the return of Prabhakaran’s wife and children from Europe   and arranged for LTTE leader Kittu to go to UK for medical treatment. Sri Lanka air force picked Kittu up in Vanni and took him to Katunayake airport.  Sri Lanka High commission in London was instructed to give Kittu anything he wanted.

Premadasa’s contribution to the ongoing war was to declare a unilateral ceasefire. The LTTE used this to consolidate their position. They built bunkers within firing range of security establishments. They continuously provoked and humiliated the army knowing that the army could not retaliate. Premadasa had instructed the army not to do anything that could be considered hostile.

At the request of the LTTE, President Premadasa asked the Indian Peace Keeping Force, which was giving the LTTE a beating, to withdraw. This gave the LTTE, who were reeling under the IPKF, a new lease of life.  As soon as the IPKF pulled out the LTTE started fighting.  The state forces were unable to control them. The largest number of amputees were from the 1991 Akunu Pahara.  In 1990 the LTTE took control of the overland Kandy- Jaffna route used by the military.  This was a great blow to the armed forces. With this route blocked, the government had to send supplies to the army by sea and air. This placed a great burden on the Navy and added to the costs of the war. For instance, when the north east monsoon was on, supplies for the army in the east had to be brought to Comar, and then moved overland to Nagathevanthurai and ferried to the east in boats. The Kandy-Jaffna route stayed under LTTE control for the next 17 years.

Premadasa issued some prize instructions, which boggle the imagination. He actually ordered the Sri Lanka army to give a large stock of arms, ammunition and equipment to LTTE, ignoring the pleadings of the military. These   weapons were thereafter used against the Sri Lanka army.  Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Tassie Seneviratne and Cyril Ranatunge independently confirm that this weapons transfer took place. Most of it took place in the sensitive Weli oya region located close to Mullativu jungles. Senior officers at Weli Oya handed over weapons, while soldiers watched with deep resentment.  The LTTE acquired   arms and ammunition supplied by the Premadasa government, while the state military had none. Premadasa also lifted restrictions on a range of materials, including cement, and LTTE use this to fortify their bases.

Premadasa allowed the LTTE to execute 600 police officers. This is how it happened. While ‘peace talks’ were going on in Colombo in 1990 and the LTTE  delegation  was housed in five star hotels under the protection of the STF, LTTE cadres had surrounded the police stations at  Batticaloa, Kalmunai, Vellaveli, Valachenai, Kalavanchikudi, Eravur, Samanthurai, Akkaraipattu  and ordered the police to surrender. LTTE had assured Premadasa that the policemen would not be harmed, they would be taken to Ampara and released.  Premadasa ordered IGP Earnest Pereira to direct the policemen to surrender. The policemen surrendered.  LTTE took them to Tirukkovil jungle and killed them. They were made to lie face down, blindfolded with hands tied, then bullets were sprayed into them.  A farmer who had been ordered to bury the bodies had seen this. Seneviratne called this a live sacrifice offered on a plate.

At Kalmunai Ivan Botejue, ASP refused to follow the Presidential directive. Botejue had by then, completed his compulsory spell in the operational area but had volunteered to carry on as no one was willing to take his place.  His unit had already successfully fought off the LTTE in November 1989. He and his men opted to face that LTTE, saying that if they surrendered they would be tortured and killed. Botejue ordered his men to take up positions and requested air and military support. The LTTE attacked Kalmunai police station and policeman returned fire in defense. Volleys of fire and defiant words were exchanged. There were more causalities on the LTTE  side even though the LTTE had more sophisticated weapons, gifted them by President Premadasa. When the police were ordered to surrender, Botejue walked out of the police station with his men, sobbing and obeying. Tassie Seneviratne suggests that Ivan Botejue be honored posthumously.   He would have risen to be DIG, because if he had left the area, he would have got his promotion.

Seneviratne   observed that there is no official record of this event. If an inquiry had been launched immediately after President Premadasa died, then the story would have come out, he said, but successive governments had not inquired into this matter.. It was unlawful to issue an order to surrender when death was imminent. These police officers should be considered war heroes and their families duly compensated   and their names publicized. The families have so far not received the compensation due to them. Seneviratne points out that it is it is not too late even now to conduct an inquiry. Seneviratne also said that Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan (Karuna) had been directly involved in the massacre of these 600 police men. Karuna had denied this. Seneviratne alleged that there was evidence to show that Karuna was involved.  Presidential commission to investigate missing persons has been asked in 2014, to look into this matter. Particularly whether compensation, salaries, pensions were paid to the families and whether these policemen have been honored posthumously.

7 Responses to “PRESIDENT PREMADASA AND EELAM”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    aloy,

    You said “No need to write volumes on this subject”, but I strongly DISAGREE.

    It took 30 years of writing VOLUMES on this subject by thousands of PATRIOTS to help a Patriotic Government to RISE UP in Sri Lanka and DEMOLISH the attempt of the Tamil Separatists to create an EELAM militarily.

    TODAY, those very same Tamil Separatists who were DEMOLISHED on the battlefield are attempting to achieve what that goal they FAILED to ACHIEVE by WAR by REGIME CHANGE in PEACE.

    It will REQUIRE writing MANY MORE VOLUMES on this subject by PATRIOTS to SOUND THE ALARM and MARSHALL the Patriotic Forces of Lanka to HALT, DEFEAT, UTTERLY DEMOLISH and ELIMINATE THIS THREAT FOREVER.

    You say “Kamalika Peiris’s articles on this subject, if free hand to the armed forces were given any idiotic leader would have defeated the invading Tamils”, but the FACT IS that NONE OF OUR IDIOTIC LEADERS did that until Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected on the platform of defeating the separatists, and proceeded to keep his promise to the people TO THE LETTER!

    JR blinked in the face of INdian aggression, and agreed to the 13th Amendment that bedevils us to this day, albeit under military coercion by India.

    Premadasa did what he could to get rid of the military occupation of Sri Lanka by the IPKF, but he did not build up our armed forces to take over and defeat the LTTE CONVINCINGLY upon the departure of the IPKF.

    CBK half heartedly launched a military campaign (Jayasikuru) with her uncle RAtwatte leading it, but as soon as she ran into military setbacks lost heart. When she lost her eye to an LTTE bomb, all of her courage and duty to her people vanished in a puff of smoke; she became a PEACENIK blaming the Sinhala people for discrimination against the Tamils. The damage she did then, she is still continuing now. She never did enough to marshall all of the resources of the island to support the military effort.

    Ranil Wickramasinghe came in promising to SOLVE the problem, but very nearly would have given Prakaran and the LTTE the sovereign EELAM they thirsted for. Luckily, CBK as Presidenty did the ONLY GOOD THING she did in her entire political career in Sri Lanka when she DISMISSED Ranil’s UNP government and called for new elections rather than allow an autonomous EELAM to be created in Sri Lanka with Norwegian assistance.

    That election in 2006 brought Mahinda Rajapaksa to power, and Gothabhaya to office as Defence Secretary. THat single event COMPLETELY CHANGED THE SITUATION and the MARTIAL spirit of our people and their WILL TO FIGHT BACK. The new DEMONSTRABLY PATRIOTIC government and their EFFECTIVE MILITARY LEADERSHIP helped to recruit tens of thousands of new soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guard and police whereas in the past under lackluster vacillating-oscillating leadership they had deserted by the thousands!

    Don’t tell me that ANYONE could have done it! CERTAINLY NOT the GANG OF FAILED LEADERS OF THE PAST who have returned to power in Sri Lanka with Foreign REGIME CHANGE assistance and are dragging down our Motherland to DESTRUCTION EVEN AS WE SPEAK!

    Like those who mocked Columbus saying ANYONE could have discovered America if only they sailed far enough to the West, NO ONE DARED to do that for the fear of falling off the edge of the flat-earth!

    Likewise, we Patriots know very well that NO ONE DARED to SUMMON the ENTIRE NATION to ARMS, CONFRONT the Foreign Backers of the Tamils, and RISK their entire family’s future in the caise of saving their Motherland like the Rajapaksa Family and their supporters in the UPFA.

    Together with Dham, Susantha and other assorted NAYSAYERS, you can MOCK & DERIDE the achievements of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Family until the COWS COME HOME, but the FACTS & TRUTH will prevail in the hearts and minds of miilions of Sinhala Patriots as to who rescued our Motherland from ABJECT MISERY and DISINTEGRATION!

    You say “I think MR is a big opportunist. He is still showing the true colours. If not he and the family could have moved away from politics and given the leadership to a worthy person.”

    And you think that CBK, RW and Mangala Samaraweera are not opportunists?? CBK, a British citizen now, comes hotfooting to SL to connive with her former enemy RW, and to hatch a plot to recruit the PAMBAYA Sirisena as a figurehead President while she plays on the puppet strings? It is EXTREME personal jealousy and animosity against the revered war-wiiing liberator of our Motherland Mahinda Rajapaksa that drove her to do it. She will destroy herself through her own jealousy.

    Need I say more about RW than point to his SERIAL failures, and his ASTOUNDING LACK OF PATRIOTISM displayed throughout his catreer? A man who could not EVER lead his own party to VICTORY, found a way to become the Prime Minister through the back door through a Foreign Orchestrated REGIME CHANGE plot. It was NOT HIS INTELLECT that allowed him to make frequent visits to the US, but his role as the Ahmed Chalabi (Would be President of Iraq who conned George Bush into invading his Motherland) of Sri Lanka. RW is fast converting Sri Lanka into a vassal state of the NeoColonial Western Powers and a satellite of India, and into a Patchwork of ETHNIC COMMUNAL BANTUSTANS. Have you examined the ethno-religios composition of his Cabinet? Most of the major Portfolios are held by Christians, Muslims or Tamils while powerless portfolios are held by Sinhala Buddhist who have sold their community for a handful of gold coins! This, in a nation with an overwhelming Sinhala Buddhist majority.

    Mark my words …. there is a TSUNAMI BREWING, and when THAT TSUNAMI hits ALL of these TRAITORS will be swept away into the sea, and into refuge with their foreign benefactors to enjoy the money they have looted from our Motherland!

    You say” You have traveled to US on your own steam and enjoyed te life there with the credentials you gained through the free education system provided by our country.”

    Yes, although I did receive my education up to high school at S. Thomas College in Sri Lanka, and my BSc(Eng) degree at the Univ. of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, I acquired my graduate education entirely in the USA without additional help of Sri Lanka through winning Teaching and Research Assistantships and Fellowships. This includes an MS degree, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. My subsequent employment was at universities, major industrial companies, and national defence laboratories of the US Government. I taught myself to invest my savings in the US stock market and real estate and this accounts for the bulk of my assets, not my employment earnings per se.

    However, ever since I left Sri Lanka, I have continuously assisted my very large extended family living in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan charities, and other unrelated Sri Lankan people in many ways, amounting to sending more than 50% of my lifetime earnings to Sri Lanka. Even today, I am extensively involved in patriotic, charitable and business activities to help Sri Lanka prosper and its most vulnerable people survive. This is something that makes me very happy.

    I would NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO SO MUCH for Sri Lanka’s benefit had I remained there without going and working abroad. I too have sacrificed, being away from my loved ones most of the time. MY POINT is, I think I HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT to be CONCERNED ABOUT Sri Lanka as much as any other Sri Lankan, irrespective of where I have worked for most of my life, for I HAVE HEAVILY CONTRIBUTED and I AM HEAVILY CONTRIBUTING TO THE WELFARE OF MY PEOPLE.

    You say “So, I wonder how you got involved in this bring back campaign?. Please give it up and help the present lot to clean up the mess created by the last two presidents.”

    How I got involved is very simple: ALMOST ALL that I LOVE, VALUE and TREASURE is in Sri Lanka, and I want to PROTECT, DEFEND and PRESERVE those things for my beloved people to enjoy in SriLanka. A simple term for that desire is PATRIOTISM!

    My involvement and concern did not begin today; it was in existence and THRIVING when I arrived as a graduate student in the US almost 45 years ago.

    For me, the FACTS as I have stated above and often elsewhere, are that Mahinda Rajapaksa stands heads and shoulders as the Greatest Leader we Sinhala Buddhists have had in 500 years, and certainly since INDEPENDENCE in 1948. He not only defeated the TERRORISTS and REUNIFIED our country, but also sdeveloped a VISION to transform our Motherland into the New Wonder of Asia and was well on his way to achieving it perhaps within a decade if not for the JEALOUS TRAITORS who collaborated with our nation’s enemies to OUST HIM in a REGIME CHANGE operation.

    Was he PERFECT? Almost, but NOT QUITE! Among his failures were not REPEALING the 13th Amendment, NOT DISSOLVING the Provincial Councils as INIMICAL to Sri Lanka’s Survival, placing TOO MUCH EMPHASIS on RECONCILIATION with UNREPENTANT DEFEATED TERRORISTS guilty of MASS MURDER & TREASON, and allowing SOME disreputable people such as Mervyn Silva to damage the reputation of his Government.

    I understand his REASONS for not getting rid of the 13A & the PCs immediately. He had given assurances to implement a modified version of it, and could not completely back away from it until he had done two things: 1. shown the people of the North & East that he was committed to reconstruct and develop those regions impartially. He hoped improvements in economy and quality of life would defuse the communal demands. But, he didn’t have enough time to see whether it would work. 2. Developed and made SriLanka’s economy immune to Western and Indian sanctions he knew would come if he repealed the 13A. For this too he did not have the time.

    One approach to getting rid of the 13A MR could have adopted was to have put it to a Nationwide Referendum after Sri Lanka had almost become a DEVELOPED NATION. With the Sinhala Buddhist majority votes, 13A would be repealed, and MR as the President of a DEMOCRACY would have to bow to WILL OF THE PEOPLE and REPEAL the 13A and DISSOLVE the PCs. In that way, he woyuld not have to break any promise made during the conduct of the way to fend of LTTE’s WEstern Supporters.

    A Nationwide REFERENDUM may still be the way to DEFEAT and REPEAL the13A.

    You say “No body will get directly involved in SL. It is too far from europe or US and the Indians got their hands burnt once. We should be non aligned until we have the the DETERRENT.”

    I DISAGREE TOTALLY that NO ONE will INTERVENE in Sri Lanka. Indians ALREADY DID, and may do it again ESPECIALLY iof they feel that Sri Lanka has been SUFFICIENTLY WEAKENED through internal political dissension.

    Also, Western Nations have shown UTTER DISREGARD for National Sovereignty of other Nations, but fiercely protect their own. The United Nations is a PUPPET of these Western Nations; only China and noe increasingly Putin’s Russia stands in the way. The LTTE/Tamil Diaspora is LINING UP THEIR CHESS PIECES across Europe to get UN support for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Eelam, including the Support of ALL Tamil Nadu Political Parties.

    We are at a VERY DANGEROUS JUNCTURE with a TREACHEROUS Western Puppet Government in Power in Sri Lanka that DOES NOT CARE AT ALL about the FATE of the Sinhala Buddhist majority of our Resplendent Motherland. ALL of the ACTIONS they have taken since coming to power through the BACKDOOR, including DESTROYING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY to deliver it as a HOSTAGE to the NeoColonial West, is to UNDERMINE, SUPPRESS and ENSLAVE Sri Lanka’s long suffering Sinhala Buddhist Community.

  2. aloy Says:

    Ananda,

    Please show some respect to this piece of information being given out by Kamalika.

    This also show how our idiotic leaders have shown callous disregard for the security of the nation. Eventually the LTTE became too big to handle. Had they listened to the tri forces the situation could have been much different. Or were these leaders having some sinister motive behind these acts which ordinary Sinhalayas were unable to comprehend. These type of things can happen again. The armed forces should be on the look out. But quite often they would do some manoeuvres and get what they want done. That is why we need a sane leader. I am not confident with the current duo.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Premadasa totally blundered the war effort. During his time LTTE had its empire in full swing with Jaffna as its capital. Army was confined to small areas and LTTE saw no threat from them. He even gave money, cement and weapons recovered from the TNA (Tamil National Army) to LTTE. His clandestine relationship with a few cadres proved fatal.

    However, there is good as well. He boldly took a stand against the IPKF. He dissolved the NEPC – something no other president could do. He reached out to China for weapons for the first time. China became our largest weapons supplier briefly (Chandrika changed this). For the first time during the war, we deployed jets. Our jet capability in 1970s was run down by JR due to his anti-Soviet stand. EPDP was heavily supported to cause misery to the LTTE. The economic embargo imposed on the north generated a large amount of funds for the state (clearance of normal goods also costed). This partly compensated the total loss of taxes from the north.

    His practical approach to STF driven Colombo security helped save economic nerve centres. It was Premadasa’s regime that introduced some ruthless counter insurgency tactics against Tamil terrorists. Given the choices in 1988, Premadasa was the best. Anura, Lasantha Wickramatunga and GG Ponnambalam (jr) met LTTE leaders in 1988 to seek LTTE support in voting at the presidential election. They were caught by the IPKF and it became a huge election issue.

  4. charithsls Says:

    Totally surprised to read the misdeeds of a lunatic President. However I think for whatever reason the best he did to the country was to ask IPFK to leave the country straightaway. Otherwise, specially had IPKF won beating the LTTE, we would have become an Indian state then and there because the Indian army would not have left country under various pretext.
    Probably any other ‘saner’ President would not have had guts to ask India to take its army back so in that sense , apologise me, much better to have had a lunatic Premadasa.

  5. aloy Says:

    charithsls,

    I think you are correct. Even at that time I was thinking Prez Premadasa acted correctly. If he did not do that at that time no other president would have had the guts to tell the Indians to get out. An it they did not get out the the war in SL would have got into TN and a separatist war there would have ensued.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    aloy,

    Some of my answers to your questions are relevant to the overall topic of this series of articles by this author.

    More specifically, a part of my comment relates to the leadership of President Premadasa during his tenure as President.

    Please refrain from presuming to police decorum at this site. Thanks.

  7. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Like his predecessor, alugosu thambi mudiyanse, alugosu lk porisada was a brute who killed so many
    Sinhalese. He molly coddled catholic tigers of tamil drealam aka ltte to please the catholic west and india.
    He and his cohorts killed so many Sinhalese youth and burnt in tyres, heads severed etc. He was simply a
    ruthless alugosuwa. Can you call this lk porisada traitor a dad? He killed so many of his own kind’s sons,
    daughters, dads, mums, sisters etc. etc. going home to his child nidan hora and sis. He sent 600 policemen in the east to ltte bullet. Still this alugosuwa is a hero to a lot of Sinhlaese donkeys. Alugosu thambi mudiyanse was grooming pol pot ponil for the job. But alugosu lk porisadaya was getting more brutal with his sotthi upali
    and alugosu thambi got scared and gave the job reluctantly.

    Uneducated alugoswa promoted the catholic tigers of tamil drealam and let them get bigger and bigger
    giving them an air of invincibility. Traitor alugosuwa was impotent in putting down the real terrorists and
    safeguarding the citizens of the country. Brute who brutalised his own people met a quick death. It was too
    good for the alugosuwa. How many people still grieving thanks to this murderous traitor alugosuwa. Hope this alugosu (to Sinhalese only) traitor will never reborn in our country!

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