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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2345

LTTE launches its "final war" despite angry protests by Truce Monitors

H. L. D. Mahindapala

After sending Yashuhi Akashi, the special envoy of the Japanese government, empty handed from Killinochchi, and after Velupillai Prabhakaran's refusal to meet him, the Tamil Tigers yesterday opened fire on Sri Lankan naval vessels carrying troops and Truce Monitors. A flotilla of Tamil Tiger suicide boats attacked Sri Lankan Dvoras and "Pearl Cruiser", a ship ferrying 600 troops off the coast of Jaffna.

In a pitched naval battle Tigers lost 50 of its cadres and 17 sailors are reported missing, according to official sources. Tiger attack sank one Dvora. Another damaged Dvora limped home. Pearl Cruiser ferrying forces returned to base in Trincomalee. The whereabouts of the Truce Monitor on boat the Dvora that sank is not clear.

The Sri Lankan government retaliated by bombing Killinochchi, the stronghold of the LTTE for the first time. It hit the suburbs of Killinochci and the casualties are not known. It is reported that the Sri Lankan Kfir jets were targeting the Vanni airstrip. The jets also hit LTTE boats, sinking eight boats, according to official sources.

"This is war whichever way you look at it," said a leading military analyst. "LTTE escalation of violence has gone beyond the mere violations of the Ceasefire Agreement perhaps to its "final war". The war that he promised in his last annual speech has come at last. The one he was about to launch earlier was stopped by the Tsunami. Not even the Co-chairs have been successful in stopping Prabhakaran this time.

He has launched this war and he should be held responsible for the losses by the international community," he said.

Quoting the Truce Monitors the BBC said this morning that they are now reduced "to monitoring a war and not a ceasefire".

Analysts agree that the latest LTTE escalation of violence has gone beyond the low-intensity undeclared war into an unrestrained targeting of Sri Lankan forces which is tantamount to an all out war. If this intensified attack and counter attack goes on both sides will have to take heavy losses. Both sides will want to go to the talks with victories in the battle field to dictate terms at the talks.

But from the responses to the latest round of violence unleashed by the LTTE it is also clear that the LTTE has lost the last bits of international sympathy. The emerging consensus of opinion is that the LTTE is deliberately provoking the Sri Lankan forces, among other objectives, to gain the upper hand in the battle field.

The Truce Monitors has released a blunt attack on the LTTE in their latest press release. It said: "The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have committed gross violations of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in recent days by moving at sea with the aim of provoking the Sri Lankan navy and now finally embarking on an offensive operation against the navy sinking one vessel and putting SLMM monitors in grave danger."

The Truce Monitors added: "The sea surrounding the Sri Lanka is a Government Controlled Area. This has been ruled so by the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in line with international law. Non-state actors cannot rule open sea waters or airspace. The LTTE has therefore no rights at sea."

Earlier the LTTE told the Truce Monitors not to board Sri Lankan naval vessels. LTTE is clashing head-on not only with the Sri Lankan government but also with the Truce Monitors and the international community.

However, Lt.Gen. Ulf Henricsson, the Head of Truce Monitors is due to meet with the LTTE leadership to discuss the latest crisis in Killinochchi today.

He is concerned about the threat to Truce Monitors and the future of the peace process.

LTTE is concerned about the firm stand taken by the Truce Monitors on a range of issues, starting from the refusal to obey LTTE orders not to board Sri Lankan naval vessels to declaring the surrounding the sea and air space as out of bounds to the Sea Tigers.

The Truce Monitors are facing the flak from the LTTE as never before. Henricsson is not likely to back down, according to informed sources. Demanding that the LTTE "immediately ceases all activities and operations at sea as they are a serious violation of the CFA" the Truce Monitors have expressed their anger at the threats made by the Tigers to their monitors on board Navy vessels". They said: The LTTE has made, what the SLMM feels are threats to our monitors warning them not to
participate in patrols in Navy vessels.

The SLMM takes these threats very seriously and would like to remind the LTTE of its responsibility as an equal partner to the Ceasefire Agreement to do everything in its power not to jeopardise the monitors' safety."

Truce Monitors emphasized that "This sort of reckless behaviour can only lead to a dangerous escalation resulting in growing hostilities and jeopardising any possibility for future peace
talks."

Neither the international community nor the general public - both in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora - believe that the LTTE has been genuine about pursuing peace through negotiations. The opinion poll of the”Asian Tribune” concluded yesterday with 83.23% saying that the LTTE is NOT genuine in achieving peace through negotiations.

Simultaneously, 75.99% agreed that the Sri Lankan government is genuine about achieving peace through negotiations.

Indian media too reported that Delhi had told Mangala Samaraweera, during his visit to the Indian capital last week, that the LTTE is not genuine about peace talks.

Besides, LTTE claymore mines and suicide bombers have spoken louder than words about its intentions, strategies and goals. Political analysts agree that the LTTE has been merely buying time at negotiations for its next offensive. Fronting up at the negotiations was merely a façade to cover up its preparations for its "final war".

Prabhakaran's ultimate political goal of being the "sole representative of a Tamil state" has confined him only to one methodology: violence.

It has been its strength and weakness. His commitment to a separate state, against all objections from the international and national communities, made peaceful negotiations a non-starter. He avoids negotiations fearing that he will be boxed in each time he goes in for talks. Dropping out of negotiations is the only way out for him to survive in Tamil politics. And the more he takes to violence the more he loses credibility and the sympathy.

Tamil Tiger violence had some acceptability initially. Now he has to rely on provoking the Sri Lankan government and the
south into retaliatory attacks to justify his violence. With President Mahinda Rajapakse refusing to bite the LTTE bait for a considerable time Prabhakaran was forced to escalate his violence. The latest round of violence is to provoke the war that he has been itching to have ever since he quit the talks with Ranil Wickremesinghe. His determination to start Eelam War IV was placed on record in his last annual speech he delivered on his birthday, November 27. He said that he was about to launch a war when the tsunami hit him. Political analysts agree that he is bent on kick-strating the war he postponed because of the tsunami.

The New York Times reported that April was the bloodiest month in which 191, most of them civilians were killed. The NYT added: "President Mahinda Rajapakse casts himself as a man ready to walk the road to peace, but equally prepared to face down his enemies in battle, as his country dives into open civil war.

"I'm not a warmonger," he said in his interview Tuesday evening in his heavily fortified residence. "I am ready for talks, I'm ready for peace. But we will also be ready to defend our country. This is not a weakness. Our patience is not weakness."

Detailing the current plight of the Tamils Douglas Devananda said: "We are on the brink of a major catastrophe which will affect the Tamil-speaking people on a scale never experienced before.

In recent times, there has been an escalation of guerrilla attacks against the security forces by the LTTE, with the deliberate intention of provoking a backlash from them against the innocent Tamils and creating civil commotion in the south, so that they could benefit from the spill over of events."

The international backlash against the LTTE has demolished LTTE's credibility as a geunine peace-maker committed to abandon violence. Furthermore, the earlier advantages it had in the eighties and nineties, mainly through almost a near monopoly of propaganda, has been eroded by a plethora of anti-LTTE Tamil websites exposing its fabrications.

Independent international NGOs like Amnesty International and Human rights Watch, highlighting the Tamil Tiger crimes against humanity and war crimes, have undermined its claim to be a liberation front. Dissident Tamils have exploded the myth that the LTTE is the "sole representative of the Tamils".

The banning by the international community has blasted the moral base on which it launched its violence in the seventies. So for how long can the LTTE go on defying the people yearning for peace and the international community maneuvering to restore peace in Sri Lanka? The results of the escalating violence are bound to define the future contours of the peace process.

Peace monitors' statement

Here is the full text of the statement by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) issued on 11 May 2006, shortly after the LTTE launched its attacks on the Sri Lankan Navy off the coast of Jaffna.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have committed gross violations of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in recent days by moving at sea with the aim of provoking the Sri Lankan navy, and now finally embarking on an offensive operation against the navy sinking one vessel and putting SLMM monitors in grave danger.

The sea surrounding Sri Lanka is a Government Controlled Area.

This has been ruled so by the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in line with international law.

Non-state actors cannot rule open sea waters or airspace. The LTTE has, therefore, no rights at sea.

The LTTE has made what the SLMM feels are threats to our monitors, warning them not to participate in patrols in Navy vessels.

The SLMM takes these threats very seriously and would like to remind the LTTE of its responsibility as an equal partner to the Ceasefire Agreement to do everything in its power not to jeopardise the monitors' safety.

We therefore demand that the LTTE immediately ceases all activities and operations at sea, as they are a serious violation of the CFA.

This sort of reckless behaviour can only lead to a dangerous escalation resulting in growing hostilities and jeopardising any possibility for future peace talks.

We would also like to urge the Government of Sri Lanka not to be pushed by these provocative acts and to show as much restraint as possible.

- Asian Tribune -

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