Suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomber rammed his
motorcycle on a car carrying Deputy Chief of Sri Lankan Army killing him and 3
others and injuring 8. Major General Parami Kulatunge, third in hierarchy and a
decorated veteran having extensive experience fighting Tamil guerillas in the
North and East, was traveling to work when attacked.
On April 25, after Sri Lanka called for a worldwide ban on the LTTE, a suicide
bomber seriously injured Sri Lanka Army Chief, Lt. General Sarath Fonseka in
front of the military hospital, considered a high secure area, in Colombo.
Fonseka is still being treated.
The attack occurred at the busy Homagama junction when there were school going
children on the road. Panicking parents, fearing for the lives of their
children, rushed to the spot. Thankfully, no children were reported killed.
The Kulatunge assassination came within days of Sri Lankan President Mahinda
Rajapakse offering a two week ceasefire and direct talks without the
facilitation of Norway ultimatum to the LTTE. The LTTE treated the offer with
suspicion saying that it was a ruse to drive a wedge with the Norwegians and
rejected it outright. The Sri Lankan Government (SLG) has been trying to get
Norway out of the picture as it sees that country being too soft on the LTTE.
They cite the representation to change the composition of the SLMM as an
example. It says that, per the Status of Mission Agreement (SoMA), only
signatories to the agreement (Norway and Sri Lanka) can change the composition.
An SLG statement said “Any changes in the composition of the SLMM, if needed,
is not a matter for unilateral decision making by the LTTE or to be determined
between Norway and the LTTE. While the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) is a document
signed by the government of Sri Lanka and LTTE, the agreement of treaty status
relating to the establishment of the SLMM, the Status of Mission Agreement
(SOMA), is between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Royal Norwegian
Government. These are matters that require negotiations by all parties
concerned and cannot be addressed unilaterally to respond to the unreasonable
sensitivities and the intransigent attitude of the LTTE.” It is not clear if
the SLG is genuinely concerned about lacking a role in the composition dialogue
or just creating more hurdles to the peace process. It warned that “Any
structural changes to the monitoring mechanism of the CFA would have an impact
on the disposition and outlook of the monitoring process requiring
consequential changes to SOMA.”
Over the past several weeks, Rajapakse had hardened his stand against the LTTE
by first refusing safe passage for LTTE negotiators traveling to the Geneva
talks, calling for a ban on worldwide ban on the LTTE, not sending political
representatives to Oslo, refusing to alter the composition of the Sri Lankan
Monitoring Mission (SLMM) personnel, etc. Even with its position on the SLMM
monitors, it seems to be taking an intractable position.
Accusing the LTTE of being unreasonable on the monitors, it says that “did not
represent their parent countries but were like international civil servants,
who represented only their organizations” and not “not to their countries of
origin or citizenship.” Drawing international parallels, it says that "As with
the principle applicable within the United Nations, individual staff members do
not represent their home countries when discharging official functions. They
function under the single banner of the organization and the goals and
objectives of the mission.” It cites examples of “nationals from the United
States and United Kingdom which have proscribed the LTTE, hold senior positions
in UN agencies, some as Country Representatives that have interactions with the
LTTE and are not inhibited in anyway from carrying out their official duties
for such international organizations.” It accuses the LTTE of “taking a very
selective approach and adopting superficial arguments when referring to the
neutrality of EU countries.”
While, this argument seems fair, it goes on to nitpicking diluting the force
of its main line of reasoning. It says that the LTTE does not seem to mind its
chief negotiator Anton Balasingham being an EU national or that they get most
of their money from EU expatriates. Such nitpicking is not worthy of a
Government seeking to build confidence with peoples discriminated and
marginalized by decades of officially sanctioned economic program that saw the
ethnic Tamils as colonized population.
The SLG needs to show leadership in making peace. It does not make sense to
destroy its own large investments to restart the peace process for parochial
considerations. At the same time, the LTTE cannot carry on inventing objections
at every stage. Peace can only be achieved through reciprocity.