India Intelligence Report

   Lankan Deputy Army Chief Killed



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.