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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2906

Memoirs of an anti-LTTE undercover agent in London - PART IV: Oh what a Friday it was….

By Glen Jenvey - Exclusive to "Asian Tribune"
Edited By Joseph Thavaraja

1998 March… The Sri Lankan government armed forces were in the midst of one of their major military operations in Jaffna and Vanni areas–an operation 'dedicated to victory' as they called it –or, Operation Jayasikurui. Casualties had been mounting on both sides. Any hopes for peace were almost nonexistent– in addition to the government imposed food and medicines embargo to the Jaffna area, the aerial bombings depressed the helpless northern civilians and at times, displaced them. LTTE were in no mood to 'give in'…In fact, to their credit, they were resisting albeit with considerable casualties. In addition, it tried to draw international attention to the situation at its best.

Oddly enough, at this time, the LTTE allied Dravidians for Peace and Justice outfit in South Africa met in Johannesburg with a visiting representative of the Sri Lanka's United National Party (the main Sri Lankan opposition party - this meeting was at the home of a South African MP, Dr.E.Jassat).

By Tuesday, April 7, the Palaly SLA camp was preparing for its National New Year celebrations and Sri Lanka's then Deputy Minister for Defence Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte was expected on April 8 to attend the army sports festival. Meanwhile, more than seven thousand home-guards were issued weapons and were completing training given by Lanka Army (SLA) to man the forward defence lines ---Also they were to undertake other duties of Operation Jayasikurui in the Vanni…

Meanwhile, on the same day -Tuesday, April 7, the weather in Belfast, Nothern Ireland, was un-seasonal with icy winds, sleet and snow that would push anyone to stay indoors- with a steaming cup of tea... Instead, the city was gearing up for the Irish Rock and Pop awards to be held a couple of days later- and the teenage heart-throb Ronan Keating (Band-Boyzone), was the top attraction and the 'show stealer'..

Despite the weather and the pop festival, there was a protest march being organized outside the famed Stormont's gates led by Nothern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party. They were hurriedly organizing themselves to hold a protest march on the following Thursday of an event---an event that would later lead to an almost 'historic' deal….

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has flown from Downing Street to Belfast with his most senior negotiators…

The event was the well publicized and closely watched Northern Ireland Peace Talks held in Stormont near Belfast…Intense negotiations between both sides of the Irish border dragged on –and on-for more than 17 continuous hours even after the deadline for a deal passed. Finally, 5 minutes before Blair's opposites walked away thus rendering the whole exercise to fall flat, Blair rushed a quick by-hand letter to Trimble.

One British newspaper managed to unearth what was said in this crucial last minute document…

"The letter reassured Trimble on two critical points: that politicians connected with paramilitary organisations which refused to hand over weapons would not hold office in any Northern Ireland government; and that, in the British Government's view, the process of (arms) decommissioning would have to begin immediately after the assembly came into being in June 1998…"

Come Friday, April 10, there was an historic agreement. The as the BBC newscast put it.."…The hard-bartered Good Friday Agreement received the backing of those on both sides of the Irish border today… The agreement itself provides for the devolution of the powers of the Secretary of State to Northern Ireland …" the newscast continued.

In London meanwhile, I was developing contacts across other rebel groups from various parts of the world. Among them is one Mr. Danaka, IRA's political wing press officer. I connected with him well as we both were press officers for rebel groups in London.

On April 10, 1998, immediately after the Good Friday Agreement was reached, Mr. Danaka faxed me from the IRA's press office in Falls Road, Belfast, of the full text of the Agreement, which had been negotiated between the IRA and the British Government.

At first, I had cursory interest in the volume of fax sheets now lying on the table. It generated no real interest in me (not to mention its irritating legal-like jargon..)

The agreement faxed to me listed, in a numerical order, the following: Declaration of support , Constitutional issues, (Schedules for Incorporation in British Legislation and Irish Government Draft Legislation), Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland, British - Irish Council etc, British - Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity such as Human Rights, Comparable Steps by the Irish Government, Reconciliation and Victims of Violence etc, Decommissioning, Security, Policing and Justice , agreements on Prisoners and Validation, Implementation and Review.

I sat back in my chair, kept glancing at the reels of fax sheets---then, as if on some cue, I sprang up from the chair …. The monotonous "reels of fax sheets" was speaking to me---quite loud and clear, in fact!

(To be continued)

- Asian Tribune –

Part I: Memoirs of an anti-LTTE undercover agent in London

Part II: Memoirs of an anti-LTTE undercover agent in London

Part III: "Is there a D-Notice on us?"

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