Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

An Open Letter to Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Secretary General of the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat

 

Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Secretary General

Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP)

Level 10, West Tower

World Trade Centre

Bank of Ceylon Mawatha

Colombo 01, Sri Lanka

 

Dear Dr. Dhanapala,

Re: Your briefing on the Sri Lankan Peace process: the Role of the International Community

I am writing this open letter in order to bring to your and the International Community’s (IC) attention my comments and concern on some of the matters you have raised in your briefing to the Sri Lanka Congressional Caucus of the US Congress. 

I decided to write this open letter because this is the first time after taking up the role of the Secretary General of the SCOPP that you have behaved like a typical Sri Lankan politician, trying to make the US Congressmen believe what the Sri Lankan government wants them to believe.

The pivotal point of your briefing has been centred around the assassination of the former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar.  Your hurried attempt to put the blame for Kadirgamar’s assassination on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), well before the investigators have even scratched the surface on this matter, indicates that you are on a hasty mission to discredit the LTTE in the eyes of the IC before it is proved otherwise.  Such an attempt by you only leaves room for others to suspect that the Sri Lankan Government (SLG) has been waiting for such an unfortunate incident to restart the campaign that, after a brief lapse, the late Minister Kadirgamar himself initiated to proscribe the LTTE in western nations.

Let us first look at the evidence so far made public and what you have revealed about Minister Kadirgamar’s assassination.  The first evidence put out by the investigators and quoted by you is that days prior to the assassination, 2 LTTE cadres were apprehended carrying out surveillance on the late Minister’s private residence.  If that is true, then one could conclude that the Sri Lankan security forces have foiled the plan by the LTTE to assassinate the Minister at the initial stages.  How, then, can the investigators and you give this as one of the evidences to prove that the LTTE only has done this assassination?

You also should have given the following sequence of conflicting evidences put out by the investigators from day 1 of this investigation to help the caucus members to make their own judgement.  According to the owner of the house from where the fatal shots were alleged to have been fired according to the investigators, Mr. Thalyasingam, the police party raided his house only 2 hours after the incident happened and, during the time the house was searched, he was not allowed to be present.  Therefore, anything that is produced as found in the house could have been planted by the raiding party as usually happens in Sri Lanka.

The day after the incident the investigators came up with the great breakthrough that they had found two cyanide capsules in the upstairs room of Thalyasingam’s house and, therefore, said that the assassination must have to be the handiwork of the LTTE. This is just too convenient for belief.  In addition, if the purpose of the LTTE members carrying cyanide capsule in their body is to avoid being captured alive, do not you think they would not have left the cyanide capsules in the room when they decided to flee from the house?  The next day the investigators said that they had found a cigarette butt and the DNA analysis on this would help to prove that the culprits were LTTE cadres.  While it is a well-known fact that LTTE cadres never smoke or drink alcohol, it is ridiculous for the investigators to think that others will believe that the Sri Lankan intelligence agency has every LTTE member’s DNA profile.  Or, perhaps, the LTTE cadres are meant to possess a common genetic profile!

The investigators produced pictures of a tripod stand they alleged to have found in Thalyasingam’s house and suspected to have been used by the assailants to sit on and shoot through a hole in the bathroom window with a sniper gun.  But later the same investigators contradicted this by saying that, according to ballistic experts who conducted the forensic examination, the shots were not fired from a sniper gun but from a machine gun.  Not only this cast doubts on the investigators’ stories, but also, as this gun was never found, the assassins must have left the area with the gun.

Dr. Dhanapala, with the 100 or so elite security officers providing security to the late Minister, how on earth this could have happened without the knowledge of late Ministers’ security guards? One needs not be a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that whoever were behind this assassination used contract killers with connections to the security forces, which is very common in Colombo now.

Let us examine the political aspect of this assassination and see who could profit by it.  What is the LTTE to gain by doing this at this time?  The LTTE knows very well that the SLG and people like you will use the incident to re-start your campaign to proscribe the LTTE in Western countries as you have already began.  Therefore, they lose all that they have gained during the last 3 ½ years by patiently observing the cease-fire.  On the other hand, any chauvinistic Singhalese terrorist elements like the JVP (the Marxist People's Liberation Front party), who is against the SLG negotiating with the LTTE and against Ranil Wickramasinghe being elected as the next President, could gain by using the late Minister as a sacrificial lamb, putting the blame on the LTTE and using it in the Presidential election campaign against Ranil.  They could blame Ranil for creating the Cease-fire Agreement, and letting the LTTE have access to Colombo, during the Presidential election campaign to win the nationalistic Singhalese votes for their candidate.

Dr. Dhanapala, I would like to bring to your and the IC's notice that there were 3 political assassinations before in Colombo that all were blamed on the LTTE.  The investigations into these assassinations were conveniently closed without bringing (not even searching for) the culprits to justice.  These were two former presidential candidates Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmuthali from the UNP (United National Party) and the veteran Tamil politician, popular human rights lawyer and Tamil nationalist Kumar Ponnambalam.  All the three widows of these victims are still asking for independent inquiries about their husbands’ assassinations, as they are not satisfied with the police investigators’ verdict.  None of these assassinations were proved in the courts as the LTTE’s work.  In the case of Kumar Ponnambalam’s assassination his son, who himself is a parliamentarian and a lawyer, has accused that his father’s assassination was carried out by none other than the Presidential Security Division, which is a special elite division of the security force. 

Therefore, it would not be a surprise if one day Mrs. Kadirgamar also asks for an independent inquiry into her husband’s assassination.  In the late Minister Kadirgamar’s assassination, although several countries have offered their expertise in the investigations, it remains a Million $ question why the SLG has not requested any assistance yet to have an independent inquiry.

Dr. Dhanapala, you have spoken at length about the need for a review of the CFA, because of the several violations of it by the LTTE.  You have emphasised the need to review the functioning of the CFA.  Why did you not talk about the SLG’s failure to implement key aspects of the CFA even after 3 ½ years, too? 

According to the CFA, the SLG should have disarmed the Tamil paramilitary groups by D-day + 30 at the latest. Paramilitaries are still operating from the security force’s camps and this is the cause for all the killings going on in the east of the country - all of which is counted as CFA violations by the LTTE.

Buildings occupied by the security forces in the so-called High Security Zones (HSZs) should have been vacated by D-day + 160 at the latest.  You should have talked about how many are still being occupied and how many tens of thousand Tamils are still displaced if you are genuinely working in the secretariat for a just peace. 

As of D-day + 90, all restrictions on day and night fishing in the NorthEast should have been removed, subject to a few exceptions.  You have failed to mention that the security forces still insist on passes and harass these Tamil fisherman and prevent them from fishing without restrictions.  Therefore, more than review the functioning of the CFA, it is important to review the government’s failure to implement key aspects of the CFA.

You have spoken very highly of the SLG’s development work and humanitarian assistance to the tsunami victims.  It is a pity that you have forgotten that you were talking to a caucus that is well aware that the IC, including the UN Security Council, the US Secretary of State and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, knowing what has happened to the PTOMS (Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure) - supposed to be a joint structure between the SLG and LTTE to utilise the US$ 3 billion foreign aid pledged – have asked for the speedy implementation of the P-TOMS.

You also have promised that the SLG would vigorously argue in the courts to remove the injunction when the case is taken up on the 12th of September 2005.  Now the Caucus to whom you spoke know that the Supreme Court has postponed this case again to November, thereby extending the injunction denying affected Tamil people of any chance of rehabilitation.  Your boasting about what the SLG is doing to help these people in the interim could be verified by the caucus if the SLG would ever let the members of the caucus visit these areas.

You have spoken about involving the UN in monitoring the Human Rights violations committed by the LTTE and how a separate human rights agreement may be necessary to stem the tide of human rights violations by the LTTE.  You have talked about both parties to the CFA agreed to invite Mr. Ian Martin to act as an international human rights adviser.  However, you have failed to mention that, as a result of Ian Martin’s involvement, the LTTE has created a North East Secretariat of Human Rights (NESOHR), headed by Fr. Karunaratnam.  NESOHR is monitoring the human rights violations in the LTTE-controlled areas. 

Your suggestion to get the UN involved in human rights will be welcome by all the Tamils, including the LTTE.  However it is with deep regret that I would like to mention here that, when Tamil people were killed extrajudicially by the Sri Lankan Security forces and buried in mass graves like the one in Chemmani - which was dug up under Amnesty International supervision -  the SLG ignored the Tamil people’s call for UN involvement.  The late Minister Kadirgamar even ridiculed the UN by saying that the UN should restrict its activities to "Malaria control" in Sri Lanka.

Last but not the least, you have complained that the "IC has been indulgent of the LTTE, subordinating democracy and human rights to keep the peace process alive, rewarding the LTTE with various incentives…."  This is obviously a reaction to the amount of pressure the IC is putting on the SLG to implement the PTOMS and move ahead with the peace process. 

Dr. Dhanapala, you are well aware that the presidential candidate of the party you are working for has agreed to cancel the P-TOMS and not to consider devolution of power to the Tamils as a solution to the national crisis, to get the support of the JVP in the elections.  You are aware that when the IC come to know this there will be more pressure on the President and the SLG.  To counteract this only you have taken this pre-emptive attempt to force the IC to put pressure on the LTTE.

Dr. Dhanapala, do not try to live in a fool’s paradise thinking that, as in the past, the SLG can fool the IC.  The IC is well aware of what is going on in Sri Lanka.  The IC has exerted pressure on both sides according to their judgement and interests and not because of one party’s request to exert pressure on the other.

Dr. Dhanapala, during your visit to Washington you have spoken about the nature of the responsibilities of the new Secretary General (SG) to be elected soon, for which you have already expressed your interest.  Do you not think that, if you had not done this briefing in Capital Hill, you would have had a better chance of being elected to that position?  Through this briefing, you have demonstrated to the IC that you are no different from any other Sri Lankan politician in handling conflicts.  You have demonstrated that you are not suitable to fit into any of the criteria the SG’s position demands that you ennumerated. 

Therefore, it is better for you to become a politician in Sri Lanka rather than aspiring for the post of SG of the UN.  Let the Almighty God guide you in making that choice to save the world from a political disaster like what Sri Lanka has gone through.

Yours truly,

 

Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

Sydney, Australia

 

CC:

Madam Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State

Hon. Ferrero Waldner, European Union Commissioner

Hon. Jan Peterson, Foreign Minister of Norway

Hon. Yassusi Akashi, Special Japanese Peace Envoy to Sri Lanka

Congressman Frank Pallone

Congressman Jerry Weller

Congressman Danny Davis

Prof. John Richardson

Dr. Teresita Schafer, CSIS, Director South Asia Program

Hon. Chandrika Kumarathunga Bandaranayake, President of Sri Lanka

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Posted September 14, 2005