seek more control of donor funds
LTTE photo sent to The Sunday Times shows guerilla leader
Velupillai Prabhakaran greeting Japanese special envoy Yashushi
Akashi at their political office in Kilinochchi. On the right
is Anton Balasingham.
Suave and astute
international diplomat that he is, Japan's Yashushi Akashi, did
his home work meticulously for many days before boarding a Sri Lanka
Air Force helicopter last Wednesday to meet Tiger guerrilla leader,
Velupillai Prabhakaran, in Kilinochchi.
He did not
want to miss out on the finer nuances of what Mr. Prabhakaran would
or would not say. He had watched a video of the guerrilla leader's
press conference in the Wanni on April 10, last year. He saw how
the LTTE Chief Negotiator, Anton Balasingham, translated the words
of Mr. Prabhakaran. That task was former's forte having served a
long stint earlier as official translator at the British High Commission
But, on that
occasion not all what Mr. Prabhakaran said in Tamil was translated
in the most accurate form in English to the vast gathering of local
and foreign journalists who had no knowledge of Tamil. That was
understandable. Mr. Balasingham had to project some of the remarks
made by his leader, couching them in sugary diplomatic parlance.
The meaning or the nuances of the message thus conveyed became somewhat
different to what was said. As "Ambassador" and "ideologue"
for his leader, Mr. Balasingham knew what was good for him.
GIFT FOR MR. AKASHI- LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran presents
a map of “Tamil Eelam” with the LTTE insignia.
The weeks that
followed saw those in the Colombo based diplomatic community, the
media and academics scurrying for the full Tamil text. They did
their own translation to read between the lines and the meanings
One of them
who did this was N. Ram, a former Editor of the Madras based English
newspaper, The Hindu and now Editor of
Frontline, the group's weekly news magazine.
During an interview with Mr. Akashi, Mr. Ram had shared his experience.
Akashi wanted the Tamil translator at the Japanese Embassy in Colombo,
Stanislaus Devotta, in his official entourage. When the talks began
at the conference room of the Political Office of the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he translated Mr. Akashi's remarks
in English into Tamil. Doing just that when Mr. Prabhakaran spoke
was Mr. Balasingham.
Most of the
two and half hour discussion centred on two critical issues Mr Akashi
raised - the LTTE's return to peace talks and their presence at
next month's aid donors meeting in Tokyo.
complained about the workings of two organisations - the NERF or
North-East Rehabilitation Fund and the SIHRN - Sub Committee for
Immediate Humanitarian Relief.
Balasingham remained an onlooker besides playing translator, his
leader, a Japanese source said, did all the talking. The NERF, he
had pointed out, should be properly constituted to overcome what
were described as bottle-necks and legal barriers. He had felt that
there was a Government conspiracy over this matter.
It is the NERF
that is to receive all donor assistance, including pledges at the
upcoming Tokyo meet. Legally such funds are to be committed to the
Government of Sri Lanka. In the eyes of the donor agencies, like
the World Bank and foreign governments, the LTTE still has no legal
status to be a recipient of such funds.
General K.C. Kamalasabeyson, holds the view that there is no legal
or constitutional provision for an authority other than the Government
of Sri Lanka to manage funds entrusted to it. Similarly, even in
the case of SIHRN, Mr. Prabhakaran had expressed the view that it
should be made more effective.
In other words,
what the LTTE leader was seeking is a direct control for his organisation
to disburse funds reaching both the NERF and the SIHRN. Mr Prabhakaran
did not mince his words when he said these were among positive steps
he wanted the Government of Sri Lanka to take if Mr. Akashi's requests
were to be considered.
source also said Mr. Akashi took the opportunity to raise issue
with Mr. Prabhakaran over a variety of other matters including human
rights, recruitment of child soldiers and increased ceasefire violations
by the LTTE than the Government. "He remained unmoved and made
no comments except to listen," said the source commenting on
Mr. Prabhakaran's response.
Mr Akashi politely
turned down a request that the aid donors meeting be put off. He
said Japan was like a huge tanker at sea and it was not easy for
it to suddenly change course. He told the LTTE leader to let him
know within a week whether they would take part.
The talks were
not without its informal moments. Mr Prabhakaran spoke about his
son Charles Anthony. He had just earned his black belt in karate.
It turned out that he had something common with Japanese Ambassador
Seichiro Otsuka. The two were from the same school of karate.
If Mr Prabhakaran
focused considerable attention on matters relating to a "Tamil
nation," he gifted Mr. Akashi with a map of "Tamil Eelam"
with the LTTE insignia.
The duo, together
with members of their main entourage, sat down for lunch at the
Political Office. Waiters in black trousers, long sleeved white
shirts and black bow ties served them a variety of dishes including
lobsters. With that over, Mr Akashi, a former UN under secretary
General who over saw UN-run elections in Cambodia and the UN presence
in Bosnia and party flew back to Colombo.
hours later, Mr Akashi was locked in conference with Prime Minister,
Ranil Wickremasinghe at "Temple Trees."
paucity in the flow of information relating to ongoing peace talks
and related matters may have kept most Sri Lankans in the dark.
Contrary to all expectations, the LTTE which pulled out of the peace
talks on April 21, as a temporary measure, was still not inclined
to return to peace talks or attend the aid donors meeting in Tokyo.
Not until the Government took what the LTTE called "positive"
measures, it turned out, extended to many issues and was spelt out
by Mr. Balasingham, soon after Akashi-Prabhakaran talks. A credible
account of how it occurred is reflected in two separate reports
in the Colombo based Tamil daily Sudar Oli
last Thursday. The newspaper is known to be accurate on its reportage
of the LTTE. See box story for English translations
of these reports.
issues connected with SIHRN and NERF, in essence the other demands
the LTTE wants "positive action" from the Government include
the recent controversial proposals by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
(SLMM) calling upon the Government to recognize the Sea Tigers as
a "de facto naval unit," demarcate for them areas at sea
for training and live firing exercises.
were first contained in an Initial Discussion Paper
dated April 3 forwarded by Head of SLMM, retired Norwegian Major
General Tryggve Tellefsen (Situation Report - April 20). They were
further amplified in Adjusted Proposals he issued on April 24 (Situation
Report - May 4).
LTTE has not explicitly asked for "positive action" from
the Government over the SLMM proposals to return to peace talks,
the demand still persists. It is reflected through their complaint
that decisions made at the sixth round of peace talks in Hakone
(Japan) - the joint call for SLMM to adopt measures to prevent clashes
between the Sri Lanka Navy and the LTTE at sea - have not been implemented.
Sunday Times learnt that this LTTE demand was further
re-iterated when Norwegian Special Envoy, Erik Solheim also held
talks with LTTE Chief Negotiator, Anton Balasingham, in Kilinochchi
on Thursday. Mr Solheim also handed him a copy of the Nambiar report
sent by the Government and had a discussion on it.
of the Norwegian team were their Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar,
Head of SLMM Tryggve Teleffsen, Adviser in the Foreign Ministry
Ms Lisa Golden and Second Secretary Tomas Stangeland.
Mr. Balasingham were S.P. Tamilselvan, head of LTTE Political Wing,
Dr. Jay Maheswaran, economic advisor to the LTTE, LTTE "Commanders"
Theepan, Soosai and Banu.
Government and the LTTE delegations were to meet in Omanthai on
May 7 to discuss SLMM's Adjusted Proposals, the meeting was cancelled.
Whilst maintaining complete silence on the issue with no official
statements issued so far, the Government has sought the help of
retired Indian Navy Vice Admiral P.J. Jacob to study and report
on the matter, much the same way retired Indian Lt. Gen. Satish
Nambiar was called upon to do with the High Security Zones (HSZ)
in the Jaffna peninsula.
(retd.) Jacob and Lt. Gen. Nambiar received a briefing from Defence
Secretary, Austin Fernando at a conference last Thursday at the
Ministry of Defence. Service Commanders and top officers of the
Army, Navy and Air Force were among those present to witness comical
moments when Mr. Fernando, somewhat nervously, pleaded with them
not to speak to the media about the discussions. He said they should
however, are understandable. Media exposures of the Defence Secretary's
forwarding to LTTE of a "secret" report sent to him by
Jaffna Security Forces Commander, Maj. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, without
sanitising it, generated a controversy and caused acute embarrassment
to the Government. The fall out still continues.
Admiral (retd) Jacob forwards his report to the Government, the
SLMM proposals regarding Sea Tigers will obviously remain on hold.
Hence no Government action on the matter is likely until his report
The other thorny
issue is the LTTE demand that Security Forces withdraw from High
Security Zones (HSZ) in the Jaffna peninsula to facilitate the return
of displaced persons, part of the normalisation process spelt out
in the Ceasefire Agreement. An immediate demand was their withdrawal
from Jaffna town area, particularly Hotels Gnanams, Subash and 80
At least on
two occasions, the Army's efforts to shift these camps were unsuccessful.
The first was a Rs 55 million rupee project to re-locate to State/Provincial
Council lands near the old Town Hall area. This was abandoned after
work began following protests from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
(Situation Report - April 13). An alternative
land suggested was found unsuitable. Later another location, near
the Police Station premises was chosen but the LTTE opposed the
the MoD conference mid way last Thursday was Defence Minister, Tilak
Marapana. The subject turned to troop withdrawals from HSZ. He discussed
with service chiefs and other top brass, clause by clause, the recommendations
made by Lt. Gen. Nambiar in an eight page report. Before the conference
ended, Vice Adm. (retd) Jacob, excused himself and departed. He
said he was leaving for India and hoped to submit his report in
a week. He said he would address not only the concerns of the Government
and LTTE but also others who may be affected.
Copies of the
Nambiar report were not given to the service commanders and others
reportedly over fears that it would reach The Sunday
Times though ironically this very report was sent
to the LTTE through Mr. Solheim. The question is whether the Government
cannot trust its own Security Forces Commanders whilst having full
faith in the LTTE. However, on Thursday night, in a hurried move,
the full report was made available to the media by Government's
Chief Spokesman and Chairman of Independent Television Network (ITN),
Here are some
of the highlights of recommendations made by Lt. Gen. Nambiar with
regard to "dismantling of High Security Zones and reduction
in size of others:"
"In the Jaffna peninsula the HSZs set up around the forward
deployment of forces in areas like Muhamalai, Nagarkovil, the promontories
South of Chavakkachheri, along the beach road South of Jaffna and
along the coastal areas, may be considered for dismantling in appropriate
stages in the first phase of the process.
second phase, the HSZs around Palaly airfield, KKS Harbour and Point
Pedro harbour should be considered for reduction in size to the
extent of perimeter security as for any other vital defence installation.
Together with this, HSZs in other sectors could also be considered
for dismantling or reduction in size taking into account the ethnic
in my view, the suggestions regarding dismantling of HSZs and reducing
the size of others, can only be effected provided certain measures
are put in place to address:
- The legitimate
professional concerns of SLDF commander at the operational level
- The aspect
of mutual lack of trust and the consequent need for institution
of confidence building measures (CBMs)."
Lt. Gen. Nambiar
has noted that "any dismantling of HSZs or forward defences
of the SLDF will have to be matched by simultaneous dismantling
of LTTE operational military positions. There will therefore need
to be agreement to this effect at the peace talks. To this end,
both sides will need to endorse the setting up of appropriate observers
and monitoring mechanisms that can oversee actual implementation
at the ground level to mutual satisfaction".
He has also
recommended "supplementing the Nordic component of the SLMM
with military and police observers from some other countries who
may be encouraged to participate".
He adds: "
If the SLMM is to be reconstituted with additional responsibilities
as suggested in the preceding paragraph, the mission head should
desirably report to a joint commission set up under the authority
of the current negotiating mechanism. In addition to the Norweigian
representative, this joint commission could have representatives
from the major countries that agree to provide the additional observers/
monitors, and from some of the major aid donors. This would possibly
give the mission greater credibility, acceptance and authority.
of LTTE long-range weaponry and the organisation's perceived capability
to launch surprise attacks, are major aspects that disturb SLDF
commanders. These have apparently occasioned the need for delineation
of large areas that now constitute the HSZs. If LTTE long-range
weaponry can be placed in designated areas under international monitoring,
a degree of confidence could be assured.
LTTE finds this unacceptable, placing its long-range
weaponry under international monitoring even in existing
deployed areas may well meet the requirement of confidence building.
In my view the LTTE is not likely to agree to such
an agreement unilaterally. Hence the SLDF will also need to subject
itself to such an arrangement. SLDF commanders did
not seem to have any reservations about this possible requirement.
measure that would contribute greatly towards confidence building
on both sides and one that I would strongly advocate is that of
"challenge inspections". A "Challenge
inspection" would be an inspection initiated at the instance
of one party on suspicion that the other is violating the provisions
of the CFA in an area under its own control. Given
the reluctance of SLDF commanders to accept LTTE representation
on teams that may be required to inspect SLDF weapon deployment
and troop dispositions, 'joint inspection teams' comprising international
monitors and representatives from both sides does not appear to
be a feasible proposition. That being so, it would appear
best that monitoring teams for "challenge inspections"
be constituted from among international observers/monitors only."
Mr. Akashi declared May 14 as the deadline by when he expects a
response from the Government and the LTTE. As for the Government,
they are learnt to be wanting to take part. The billion dollar question
now remains whether the LTTE would.
The LTTE stance
comes at a time when their military preparedness is at peak level.
Their strength which stood at around 7500 during the February 22,
2002 ceasefire has now risen to a staggering 18,500.
They have not
only acquired new military hardware but have also distributed them
to various points in the north and east. Their training and recruitment
programmes still continue.
What of the
Security Forces? Government leaders, soon after the ceasefire, embarked
on programmes to down size the security forces. At the same time
a controversial committee was also established for defence reforms.
It was only in the past several weeks that the need to ensure a
degree of preparedness has dawned. Funds have been belatedly set
apart for emergency procurements needed for at least three months.
But there is
a sad tale at the Ministry of Defence - a complaint that files are
being stuck or held up somewhere. As one source said, "no one
seems to be powerful enough to push them. The result - it will be
several months before decisions are made to procure. It will be
further several months before the items arrive in the country."
That, to say the least, is the sordid state of the nation's security
preparedness. To say more would be to jeopardise national security.
paper on Akashi visit
The Colombo based Tamil daily Sudar Oli published two separate
reports in its issue last Thursday on the talks Japanese Special
Envoy Yashushi Akashi had with LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran
are the English translations of the two reports under different
headlines. They clearly reflect the present mood of the LTTE
vis-a-vis the peace talks.
GOVERNMENT SHOULD SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF THE PEOPLE FIRST IF
THE TALKS ARE TO CONTINUE.
message to Premier through Japanese peace emissary.
Japanese peace messenger Yashushi Akashi had talks with the
LTTE national leader Velupillai Pirabhakaran yesterday in
Kilinochchi and insisted that the LTTE should take part once
again in talks. In his reply Pirabhakaran emphasised the fact
that the government should come forward to solve the problems
of the people who have been suffering for quite a long time.
Concrete action should be taken first for talks to continue.
If that is done they will consider about taking part in the
talks. Pirabhakaran requested Akashi to carry his message
to the Prime Minister.
was received by the Deputy Political Wing leader Thangan and
the LTTE media spokesman Daya Master at the Central Playgrounds
in Kilinochchi when he alighted from his specially chartered
helicopter yesterday forenoon. Later on he was accompanied
by LTTE cadres to LTTE Headquarters. Pirabhakaran welcomed
Akashi by shaking hands at the Headquarters.
talks Pirabhakaran took the leading part. Anton Balasingham,
Tamilselvan, LTTE Economic Advisor Jay Maheshwaran and Mrs.
Adele Balasingham were also present at the talks.
Akashi had with him, his Japanese Ambassador to Colombo Otsuka
and the Japanese officers attached to the Asia-Pacific Division
of the Japanese Ministry of External Affairs. Before leaving
Kilinochchi, Akashi inspected the Kilinochchi hospital and
the proposed Mobile Medical Scheme.
presented to Akashi a relief map of Tamil Eelam with LTTE
insignia inscribed in it. Akashi responded with a memento
to Pirabhakaran. Akashi returned to Colombo at 1530 yesterday
and had talks with Prime Minister immediately afterwards.
of the governments have taken concrete steps to solve the
problems of our people. We are not prepared to be cheated
once again. - Prabhakaran -
When the Japanese Peace Envoy Akashi met Pirabhakaran in Kilinochchi
yesterday, Pirabhakaran lamented as above. He further said
last 50 years Tamil people had numerous talks with various
governments in power. No single government took any substantial
measures of action to solve the problems faced by our people.
not prepared to be cheated once again. This government should
put forward concrete proposals for the solution of problems.
No purpose will be served by continuing talks and adopting
new resolutions unless the government took positive steps
to implement the resolutions already adopted. The government
has not taken any such step so far. We had to suspend our
participation in the peace talks because we do not want to
be under constant delusion.
to give the government time to pause and consider its real
position. This is an interval for the government to ponder
its future plans for our people. Special attention needs to
be paid to the thousands of displaced people of the North
and East who are unable to return to their homes. No action
has so far been taken to resettle these miserable people.
our people face is humanitarian problem. The government and
its military command confuse this problem with their own security.
They have not approached this problem from an appropriate
government has carried forward the debate of this country
to the judgement of foreign generals and is expectantly waiting
for their verdict and recommendations. This only exposes the
inherent weakness of the government. The government is not
bold enough to face its internal problem squarely. This is
is a Sub Committee for Immediate Humanitarian Rehabilitation
Work (SIHRN). This Sub Committee has still not started functioning
properly. This Sub Committee has not executed any substantial
plan of work for our people. A fund was created for this committee
as a North-East Rehabilitation Fund. This fund has not been
approved by the government. Legal implications are claimed
to be an obstacle to its establishment.
In this way, the government is dragging on without any tangible
government is so insistent on Tokyo Aid Conference. They are
in need of economic assistance. They want to display to the
international community a show of peace talks with the LTTE.
This is a stark propaganda in action exercise. They want to
develop the South by obtaining economic aid from international
aid agencies. They have no concern about our problems.
carry this urgent message to the PM and government authorities
and obtain their immediate response to it. If they fail to
respond immediately we shall not take part in peace talks.
If they take positive steps, we shall consider taking part
in future talks.
TALKS TO BEAR FRUIT CONCRETE PLANS SHOULD MATERIALISE
-Dr Balasingham replies to media
the meeting of Akashi with Priabhakaran yesterday(07-05-2003)
in Kilinochhi, Dr. Balasingham met media personnel and replied
to their questions.
reflected frustration when he said that if the talks were
to bear fruit concrete attempts must be made (by the government)
to implement the decisions already taken. Otherwise no purpose
would be survived in future talks.
The Prime Minister has directed that the 15 schemes sanctioned
by SIHRN should be implemented forthwith. Is there any relevance
to this order and the scheme of SIHRN?
would not materialise automatically by merely saying they
would be done. They need funds. The fund has not been legally
created. The Attorney General has stated that legal impediments
had to be overcome.
are difficulties in implementing the 15 schemes. They cannot
be allocated to various ministries for implementation. The
Ministers are not free of corruption. They will not implement
the scheme. The Ministers would appropriate the money to various
corrupt elements or the funds would ultimately go to line
the pockets of various Ministers or administrative officials.
and tradition in Sri Lanka is that plans would be formulated,
decisions would be adopted, funds would be duly allocated,
the funds would reach the specific Ministries, but finally
nothing would be performed. The funds would go to line the
pockets of various Ministers and high officials. But it will
not reach the people to whom it was meant.
subscribe to this practice. What we want is concrete performance
and positive action. They should be honourably done and the
people should benefit from it.
We have no intention to run away from talks. Nor is our organisation
anxious to go to war again. We would stick to the peace process
determinedly, but would continue to exert pressure on the
government and the international community to get the needful
funds allocated and spend appropriately. We want to make sure
the people reap the benefits. The people have waited long
enough. They are fed up and they have begun to have doubts
on our talks. If the talks are to be of any use they should
be practical and produce positive results.
Could you dwell on the talks between Akashi an Pirabhakaran?
Akashi insisted that the talks between the LTTE and the government
should be re-opened and the Tigers should definitely participate
in the Tokyo donor conference. We assured him that we would
seriously consider the matter.
same time we told Akashi that the decisions made in previous
talks should be implemented by the government and that Akakshi
too exert pressure on the government to implement those decisions.
stressed that the SIHRN should be expanded and legalised so
that it utilise the funds granted to it by the international
donors. The reported legal implications with regard SIHRN
should be regularised without further delay.
have been displaced for over ten years and they are leading
a miserable life. Their plight should be viewed humanely and
not be confused with the security of the armed forces.
humanitarian problem of the displaced people should be attended
to first for any peace talks to be of any use. At this stage,
we are unable to come to any conclusion to take part in talks.
The government has decided to vacate the Army from Gnanam
Hotel and station them in some other place. Why the Tigers
are against it? They decided to transfer the troops from the
hotels situated in the centre of the town. But again they
have decided to station them in another place within the town.
This is nothing but re-occupation of the town.
troops from our part of the town to another part is not a
proper solution. What our people expect is that the troops
should be stationed away from densely populated areas.
parliamentarians also have proposed that troops should be
stationed outside the City limits. But the Army is adamant
they should stay within Municipal limits.
Question: Are there possibilities of your taking part in future
negotiations, if the government satisfies your demand?
course, but millions of people have been displaced. A very
few of them have been re-settled. Vacating two hotels will
not solve the problem. That is only a small sign of goodwill.
We cannot settle these people in these two hotels.
are 42 Grama Niladari divisions in Valikamam North alone which
are under occupation by the Army. The Army has to make a very
important decision. They are awaiting Nambiar's report. We
don't know what Nambiar's recommendations are going to be.
recommendations involved our disarmament or shifting our artillery
positions we cannot agree to that proposal. Our artillery
positions are very far from the Army positions. There is no
threat to them from us.
problems should not be confused with security problems. We
have participated in the sixth round of talks. But no solution
has been found.
Would you continue to have a relationship with the government
We are ready to meet anybody. Our door is open to any Minister
or any officer. Now we convey our message to the Japanese
and the Norwegians. If the government comes to some decision
and contacts us we are ready to meet and talk.