mixed package from Nakhon Pathom
The second phase of the first round of peace talks comes
to an end in Thailand today with a mixed bag of developments and
surviving a fresh acid test following a court order sentencing LTTE
chief Velupillai Prabhakaran for 200 years in Jail.
day of talks, at the Royal Resort, Nakhon Pathom mainly focused
on the eastern province situation, the second day shifted to the
issue of the establishment of a Joint Task Force (JTF) aimed at
drawing a comprehensive plan to be submitted to an aid pledging
meeting in Oslo on November 25, where Sri Lanka is to seek aid for
rehabilitation and reconstruction work.
On the eastern
province security situation the two sides were able to finalise
mechanisms that would help to maintain better relations between
the LTTE and mainly the Muslims in the area. An informal meeting
between LTTE Eastern military leader Karuna and SLMC leader Rauff
Hakeem was useful for the drawing up of the measures.
The LTTE in
a change of course has also reportedly agreed on taking disciplinary
action against those failing to obey instructions of the leadership,
while assuring that civilians will be able to return to their original
areas in LTTE controlled areas and carryout farming activities,
a promise given earlier by the LTTE leadership, but not fulfilled.
The LTTE during
the process had raised the issue of the presence of the STF in the
A series of
changes are expected to come into effect in the eastern province
to reduce communal tension, clashes between the LTTE and security
forces and regarding the rights of the civilians in the areas.
As an immediate
step on improving the situation in the eastern province, direct
communication between the commanders of the LTTE and the STF will
be established, while more senior members are to be named from both
sides to the existing Sri Lanka monitoring missions committees in
As the government
delegation and the LTTE were finalising details on resolving the
problems in the east, the news about the verdict on the Central
Bank bombing case reached the delegates on Thursday evening.
The issue about
the impact of the judgement on the current peace process turned
out to be the question posed to the government and the LTTE. Sri
Lankan delegation chief Prof. G.L.Peiris downplayed the issue saying
he saw no reason that the talks should be affected.
chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham reacted sharply criticising
the judgement saying it could affect the spirit of the peace process
adding that "if Sri Lankan leaders are tried before our courts
for war crimes committed during the past they would be sentenced
for 2000 years."
told journalists they were confident that the judgment did not reflect
the government thinking. But the government would not be able to
disassociate itself as it was a verdict from the courts.
was on the issue about the judgement than the other issues cropping
up from the ongoing talks, after the news about the judgement was
received. As soon as Mr. Balasingham briefly met the media on Friday,
the first question posed to him was calling for his reaction on
the court verdict against Mr. Prabhakaran.
Many of the
international media focused more on the court verdict than other
issues cropping up from the peace talks itself. Even the pro-LTTE
media covering the event also sharply focused on the issue and made
use of Mr. Balasingham's comments critising the verdict.
is likely to add some pressure on to the LTTE which would have to
face the reality as the court directions would have to follow.
As the talks
continued taking up the issue of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Minister
Rauff Hakeem representing the interests of the Muslims, stressed
that the composition of the delegates from the proposed three persons
from each side should be increased. Accordingly the number is to
be increased to four or five from each side and the Muslims will
have two representatives.
The Sri Lankan
delegation was in touch with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
on the issue and until Saturday morning matters relating to the
issue had not been finalized.
laid the ground work to press for the demand by meeting the Norwegian
delegation led by Vidar Helgesen Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister
ahead of the JTF issue being taken up.
Mr.Hakeem's demands regarding the establishment of the JTF were
accommodated substantially and drastic changes were made. But the
issue whether they could set up such a committee as a separate body
The High security
zone issue, where the rebels have been demanding that the security
forces be withdrawn from places occupied by them, was another matter
which came up for discussion, but had not been resolved and further
talks were to take place.
The issue has
been one of the other demands by the LTTE.
has not made it clear as to what concerns on its side had been addressed
during this round of talks.
One of the
concerns of the military had been that hartal campaigns organised
by the LTTE were adding pressure to the security forces. The issues
were due to be raised.
of the LTTE concerns and the Muslim concerns appeared to have been
taken up for discussion, while the court ruling on the LTTE leader
has been down played. But what has not been made clear has been
whether the concerns of the government had been taken up adequately.
Millennium city safe house commission
caught in road blocks
By Chandani Kirinde
The Commission appointed by President Chandrika
Kumaratunga to probe the political and military controversy over
the police raid on the "safe house" in Athurugiriya has
run into a series of road blocks- some practical and others as mysterious
as the issue being probed.
was appointed on August 16 and told to submit a report in three
months or by November 16, but Commissioner, Dharmasiri Jayawickrema-
a retired Appeals Court judge has written to the president asking
for more time he has been able to make only a little headway.
by The Sunday Times revealed that the main reason for the delay
has been the failure of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to
appoint a police officer to serve on the Commission despite a request
being made in August.
IGP had written to the Attorney General last week asking if he would
be acting within legal bounds in complying with a request to assign
police officers as there are several court cases filed by both the
army and police concerning the January raid on the safe house.
T.E. Anandarajah said the matter had been referred to the AG's Department
and he was awaiting a reply before making the appointment.
Commission has a retired DIG as the chief investigative officer,
it needs a serving police officer to assist in issuing summons or
last Tuesday visited the safe house in Athurugiriya's Millennium
city to check on the location and related details.
Times found that the Commission has been blocked by several other
delays as well.
The AG's Department
appointed a state counsel to assist the Commission only on October
8, although the request was made more than a month ago.
who was appointed as the secretary to the Commission has become
indisposed after a minor accident and hence a new secretary would
also have to be appointed. The commissioner's request for a Tamil
speaking interpreter too has not been met as the Supreme Court which
lends an interpreter is facing a shortage of interpreters because
of the large number of cases being filed by Tamil speaking persons
since the ceasefire.
will be unable to function without an interpreter as most of the
army personnel whose names have figured in the investigation are
the CWE which normally gives stationery on credit to such Commissions
has also refused the request this time, The Sunday Times learns.
has been asked to query into several matters that include whether
there was any information given by army personnel of the armed forces
disclosing the existence of a safe house at Athurugiriya, and if
so by whom and under what circumstance and to whom such disclosures
It will also
probe whether there were any compelling reasons for the police to
raid the safe house and take action in the manner they did in taking
into custody several army personnel and whether the police officers
who raided the safe house obtained directions from the IGP or any
higher authority prior to taking such action.
The other matters
to be queried are as follows:
*Has the Commander
of the Army or any other senior officer on his behalf been consulted
or informed about the said raid and whether the Commander or any
such authority has indicated the dangers in such a situation and
whether the Commander has warned the police having assured of any
information that would be required to ascertain the circumstances
in which the unit existed.
*Have the police
officers acted arbitrarily in acting in the manner they did, jeopardized
the security of the state and the military strategy of the armed
forces and exposed the personnel engaged in the duties entrusted
to them by the army?
*Has this action
in any manner induced/assisted in neutralizing the military strategy
of the army in combating terrorism in the northern and eastern provinces?
*Have the defense
authorities and the police Department taken appropriate disciplinary
action under the police ordinance or other existing laws of the
country against any officer/officers responsible for any illegal
acts or violation of any police departmental orders/ regulations
and if so, is it considered sufficient in the circumstances?
has also been asked to make recommendations to prevent interference
by any officials or authorities in the military strategies of the
armed forces duly operated on the orders of Commanders of the armed
forces and any other recommendations considered relevant by the
Commission on it's findings in terms of this warrant.
boy Priyantha comes back without brain
A young Sri Lankan illicit immigrant who did odd
jobs in Italy for about seven years has died in a mysterious way
days before he was to get a "sittu" of about five million
Adding to the
mystery the body of 32-year-old Priyantha Dhammika Fernando- who
went to Italy on one of those notorious boats- came back in a macabre
way without the brain.
his brother Niroshan and other family members, the mystery of the
missing brain came up when a doctor at the Colombo Airport directed
that an autopsy be done on Priyantha's body by the JMO here.The
inspector at the Airport Police post said the family had made an
entry about Priyantha's death and that the body had been passed
to the Airport Doctor, who in turn had sent it to the AJMO.
gone to Italy in August 1995 in search of a job and a better life
there but for seven years he had done only temporary jobs in houses.
part of the story began on October 13, when his family in Wenappuwa
received a call from a friend in Italy saying Priyantha had passed
away a few hours after being admitted to hospital on complaining
of chest pains.
calls were received by the family from his friends but in another
mysterious turn there was a delay of more than two weeks before
the body was sent back to Sri Lanka in a sealed coffin.
brother said they had received instructions that the coffin should
not be opened.
The AJMO here
conducted an autopsy and gave a report saying further investigations
needed to be conducted to ascertain the cause of death as the body
had been embalmed in Italy and the brain was not available.
a medical report sent from there in Italian did not specify the
ailment of the cause of death and the family was in touch with his
brother's friends in Italy to clear the mystery.
Niroshan, Priyantha had called his former employer in Sri Lanka
and spoken to him on October 8 telling him that he would be returning
to Sri Lanka in December.
who was at the funeral gave the only possible clue saying there
was speculation of possible foul play in Priyantha's sudden death.
He said Priyantha had joined a 'sittu' and would have got almost
five million rupees in a few days and that might be linked to the
says no to Indian fishermen
by Indian fisherman in Rameshwaram to fish in Lankan waters has
been turned down by the Chairman of the Jaffna Fishermen's Cooperative
Society. He has turned down the request on the grounds that it was
only with the signing of the MoU between the government and the
LTTE that Jaffna fishermen had access to fish without constraints.
On Wednesday the Army accompanied three Divisional Secretaries
on a tour to Ariyalay and Colombathurai to make arrangements to
settle civilians after the area was cleared of mines.
the completion of clearing land mines by US experts in Sarasalai
area in Jaffna, 2574 families have been settled in the area.
Last week US
experts cleared about 123,000 square meters of land, in Sarasali
area in Jaffna. The US experts were able to clear 980 anti-personal
mines and 42 pieces of unexploded ordnance. The team also collected
and destroyed numerous other pieces of unexploded ordnance.
Fisheries Minister wants powerful
By Nalaka Nonis
Amidst reports of an increase in poaching by Indian
vessels in Sri Lanka's fishing waters the Fisheries Ministry wants
to set up a strong coast guard with at least two high speed boats
and a helicopter.
Wijesekera said he was in touch with Indian Government officials
to work out new ways and laws to curb the poaching.
For that purpose
a 15 member committee including two LTTE members has been appointed
to recommend ways of tackling the problem.
said the Navy was not able to cover the entire area of 200 nautical
miles and thus there was a need for a powerful coast guard to safeguard
Sri Lanka's fishing resources.
Dinesh sees separate state behind
The Sinhala MPs Front led by MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena
and about 20 other Sinhala organisations have protested strongly
against the setting up of the Joint Task Force between the Government
and the LTTE.
claimed the JTF would infringe on the rights of the Sinhalese, Muslims
and sections of the Tamil community.
He said that
since the signing of the MoU the government seemed to be yielding
to all the demands of the LTTE and the process might lead to a state
expressed fears that the JTF would be an agency for the administration
of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, with neither Parliament or
the President having control over it.
He said the
JTF was just another name for the interim administration to pave
the way for a separate Eelam state which would be recognised by
western countries led by Norway.