Response to your article on Sri Lanka published in the Toronto Star on Feb 24/08

Mahinda Gunasekera Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Mr. Robert Muggah
Research Director
Small Arms Survey
Avenue Blanc 47
1202 Geneva,

Dear Mr. Robert Muggah,

Your spin on calling Sri Lanka a country out of control

I read with interest your article titled ‘Sri Lanka – A country spins out of control’ published in the Toronto Star of February 24, 2008. I was at a loss to understand the very limited background information that you have in respect of Sri Lankan issues even in the capacity of a research director of an international body. Therefore, I am not surprised about the spin that you put on with your limited knowledge. It is apparent that you are dependant on information supplied by other foreign based or foreign funded local non-government organizations such as yours operating in Sri Lanka, which are tailored to extracting funds from their funding sources to maintain their high paid jobs, luxurious lifestyles, and package of benefits, and simultaneously aimed at meeting the illusory perceptions of so called conflict resolution experts who are attempting to impose their alien ideas on the locals using their money bags which you refer to as a carrots and stick approach.

You refer to the killing of 180 civilians from the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese communities, many of whom had been done to death with bullets through their temples. The majority of those killed were from the Sinhalese community and a few did suffer bullet wounds when the Tamil Tiger terrorists shot at civilians trying to escape from a bus that was attacked by a claymore mine blast in the Buttala area in the south of the country. You have failed to mention the party responsible for these civilian deaths which were caused by planting bombs in public transport, shopping centres and use of suicide bombers to detonate their explosives laden bodies at public places including the Colombo Fort Railway Station. By not naming the offender for these criminal acts, you make a lame attempt to shield the Tamil Tiger Terrorists for reasons best known to you.

You also talk of ubiquitous white vans responsible for some disappearances and demands for ransom which was reported several months back, for which underworld gangs and the LTTE and their bitter rivals from the breakaway Karuna group were responsible is old news, as this racket was cracked by the police and none have been seen since then.

The only white van that was recently seized was operated by a Tamil Christian Priest named Nagulan from the Evangelical Christian Four Square Church, who later admitted to transporting nearly 30 suicide bombers, explosives and weapons to the south from the LTTE controlled terrain in the Vanni. Even his church compound in Mannar yielded suicide bomber’s explosives vests and the paraphernalia for suicide missions.

You talk of a Norwegian brokered ceasefire and an aid package in excess of US $ 4 billion that failed to usher in an era of peace. You also refer to the tsunami of December 2004 where the international community expressed hopes of reconciliation. What you failed to realize is that the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) was flawed to begin with equating the legally and democratically elected government and the internationally designated terrorist group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or the Tamil Tigers, which the latter violated from its very inception. The Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission ( ruled that the LTTE was guilty of 3830 violations in respect of 7669 complaints including the killing of several hundred civilians from all communities, security forces personnel, and leaders of the calibre of the Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar, abduction and forced recruitment of adults and underage children to their fighting forces, smuggling in 11 shiploads of weapons, torturing, extorting and denying democratic and fundamental rights to the trapped civilians living in the territory usurped by the illegal army of the LTTE, as against 351 minor violations out of 2053 complaints on the part of the Government of Sri Lanka mostly relating to harassment of persons at security check points.

The tsunami aid deal initiated by the international donor community was a surreptitious move that would have in effect transferred the decision making and allocation of funds for rehabilitation to the LTTE which was to have 5 nominees in a committee of 10 with the chair having a casting vote also to be from the LTTE, while the Government would nominate 3 and the Muslims filling the balance 2 places, thereby giving control over the utilization of donor funds to the terrorist LTTE in contravention of the Sri Lanka’s constitution. Fortunately, on an appeal made by citizens, the Supreme Court ruled the arrangement as invalid for several reasons including the fact that the decision making body was to be located at Kilinochchi, to which the public had no free access due to restrictions placed on the movement of people into the Vanni region by the LTTE.

You have advocated that the international community and the United Nations should enforce political and economic sanctions and even amending GATT agreements to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Whilst other nations have refused to negotiate with terrorists, Sri Lanka has made five attempts to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict during the last 25 years using international mediation and direct talks with the LTTE, but failed to make any headway as the LTTE has not moved one iota from its end goal of a mono-ethnic Tamil racist separate state called “Eelam” in the north and east comprising 1/3rd of the land and 2/3rd of the coastline and adjacent territory.

This division of the island is sought for the benefit of less than 50 percent of the Tamil population numbering less than 4 percent of the island’s population residing in the northern and eastern regions sought for the separate state. The LTTE which signed the CFA in February 2002 abandoned the peace negotiations in April 2003. They returned for talks in 2006 in Geneva and Oslo but once again withdrew from the talks without any valid reasons, and instead sought the military route by launching their so called final war of liberation in December 2005. The LTTE only agreed to talks whenever they were militarily weak to buy time to rebuild their forces to resume hostilities.

The retaliatory measures taken by the government security forces to neutralize the LTTE’s military push resulted in the defeat and withdrawal of the Tamil Tiger terrorists from the eastern province. I was a recent visitor to the region, and I was able to gather at firsthand the lifting of the veil of fear that had prevailed under the LTTE who demanded the giving up of children for the separatist cause under pain of assault, torture and even death. The resident civilians were now freed from forced military training, extortion and total submission to the LTTE. They are now able to live their lives freely, send their children to school and enjoy improved amenities being provided by the government on an expeditious basis following the removal of mines that had been laid by the LTTE.

At the same time, the government has initiated talks with members of all the recognized political parties functioning within the democratic stream at the All Party Representatives Conference to work out an accord acceptable to all of the diverse communities. They have in the interim agreed to seek ways of fully implementing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as a positive step to healing the perceived grievances of the different groups.

When the government is militarily challenged and civilians are constantly being targeted by the LTTE, it has no alternative but to take measures to eliminate the military capability of the LTTE, and re-take the rest of the territory usurped by the Tamil Tiger Terrorists in parts of the north and east with minimal harm to the civilian population as they demonstrated in the regaining of the eastern province from LTTE control. Military action is necessary in order to stop the haemorrhaging of the Nation by eliminating the festering wound of LTTE terrorism that has caused the loss of nearly 70,000 lives and destruction of valuable property for the past three decades

The international community which took measures against the LTTE in terms of the UN Security Council Resolution Number 1373 of September 2001 should not place any obstacles on the path of the Government and people of Sri Lanka, and instead help the country to defeat terrorism and bring peace and stability to the island nation

Yours very truly,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Toronto, Ontario,

Copy to: Editor, Toronto Star – Please allocate space for this response in your newspaper.

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