Features
Thoughts on the ‘Ceasefire Agreement’

By S.L.Gunasekara
President, Sinhala Jathika Sangamaya

"Confidence Building" with the LTTE is said to be one of the objects the Government seeks to achieve before the commencement of ‘Talks’ with them. In whatever else the Government has failed, it has indisputably succeeded beyond measure in this endeavour.

The government’s deafening silence and inexcusable inaction while the LTTE, during the currency of the mutual ceasefire, smuggled four shipments of arms into the country; attacked our naval craft murdering about 4 sailors; kidnapped little Tamil children for slave labour in their terrorist cadres; abducted Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim adults for ransom; extorted ‘protection money’ from businessmen and others, all of whom were living within those parts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, which are under government control; and murdered patriotic Tamils who rendered assistance to our forces would surely have given the LTTE supreme confidence that the government is so hopelessly weak; so mortally afraid of the LTTE and so desperately anxious for even a seeming ‘peace’ at any cost, that they could demand whatever they want at the proposed ‘Talks’ and get it all in substance, if not in name.

This supreme confidence so far built up in the LTTE by the government would doubtless have been further fortified by the Prime Minister’s statement that "the government has no alternative but to negotiate with the LTTE", whereby he expressed to the enemy, on the eve of ‘Talks’ with them, his view that the Government is incapable of fighting them and must perforce be satisfied with the best terms it can get from the LTTE at the negotiating table. The LTTE on the contrary, have at all times maintained that they were condescending to talk to the Government only because of the ‘goodness’ of their hearts, and that they could, at any time, defeat the Government on the battlefield if they so wish. It is hardly necessary to add that this is hardly an `auspicious’ prelude to any negotiations.

On top of that ‘magnificent success’ at ‘confidence building’ comes the latest ‘Ceasefire Agreement’ wherein the Prime Minister has shown the world, in general, and the LTTE, in particular, that he is prepared to follow those teachings of Jesus Christ which no pope, cardinal, archbishop, bishop, priest or pastor will ever follow - viz:-

" But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." [Mathew 5:39 & 40]

 

‘Legitimacy’

Not long ago the LTTE had the impudence to insist that they be deproscribed and accorded ‘legitimacy’ and equality with the Government as preconditions to any negotiations. All this and more have been granted to the LTTE by one stroke of the pen of the Prime Minister when he signed the Ceasefire Agreement.

The very act of the Prime Minister of the country signing an Agreement with Prabhakaran under the supervision of an allegedly ‘friendly’ country called Norway makes a mockery of the proscription of the LTTE. As if that were not sufficient, Article 1.13 of the Agreement expressly gives LTTE cadres the right to engage in "political work" in parts of the north and east which are under the control of the government, thereby depriving the proscription of any remaining semblance of a meaning or effect !! The lawful proscription of the Tigers by our Executive President has thus been completely nullified by the Prime Minister acting in concert with a foreign country and that very proscribed organization !!

Though the LTTE has usurped power over and rules illegally several parts of our Northern and Eastern Provinces, no government has still now given express recognition to any semblance of a right in the LTTE to rule those areas. The Prime Minister has changed all that by signing the Ceasefire Agreement. Clause 1.5 which states "... the status quo as regards the areas controlled by the GOSL and the LTTE respectively, on December 24, 2001 shall continue to apply pending such demarcation as is provided in Article 1.6.". That Article as well as Articles 1.6 and 1.10 constitute a clear and explicit acknowledgment by the Prime Minister of the non-existent right of the LTTE to rule those parts of the country as well as a promise of a formal `partition’ of the country according to boundaries to be drawn up by Norway within 30 days !!

Further, Article 1 commences with the words "the parties have agreed to implement a ceasefire between their armed forces as follows:" while Article 2.13 states that parties agree to provide family members of "detainees" access to them. The term "armed forces" in their ordinary signification refers to the forces of a sovereign state: those words are never used to describe a gang of criminals or terrorist like the LTTE. Similarly the term "detainee" refers to one who is lawfully in the custody of a government authority and not to one who is in illegal captivity. Thus, the references to "armed forces" in respect of the LTTE’s terrorist cadres and to "detainees" in respect of those whom the LTTE has abducted, constitutes a recognition by the Government of this terrorist organization as an entity which is akin to a lawful government of a sovereign state. `Legitimacy’, too, has therefore been conferred by the Government on this pack of unrepentant criminals.

Favoured treatment

The favoured treatment accorded to the LTTE by the Agreement confers upon it, not mere `equality’ with the Government but ‘superiority’. Thus, while unarmed cadres of the LTTE, including those who committed such bestial crimes as the mass murders at Gonagala, are to be entitled to unlimited access to those parts of our Northern and Eastern Provinces that are under the control of the government [Article 1.13], not even the President, the Prime Minister or any members of the armed forces [even unarmed] or any civilian who is resident in parts of the country under the control of the government are to be entitled to any such access to the parts of those two provinces which are under the illegal control of the LTTE.

Article 1.10 provides that unarmed troops of our armed forces will be "permitted" unlimited passage between Jaffna and Vavuniya on the A 9 highway. However, no restrictions whatsoever are placed on cadres of the LTTE using that highway with any type of arms. This necessarily leads to the ridiculous position that members of the armed forces, who are by law explicitly entitled to carry arms, are to be prohibited from carrying arms on one of the country’s trunk roads, while members of a proscribed criminal organization, who are by law prohibited from having or possessing any arms whatsoever, are to be entitled to carry any type and quantity of arms and ammunition while travelling on that self-same trunk road!

Disarming Tamil paramilitary groups

To add to all this, the Prime Minister has agreed that the government would disarm all "Tamil paramilitary groups" - i.e. the armed cadres of the EPDP, PLOTE and TELO who have actively resisted and even fought the LTTE [Article 1.8]. There being no mention anywhere in the Agreement of any cadres of the LTTE being disarmed, it follows by necessary implication that the Agreement acknowledges the existence of a non-existent right of members of the `proscribed’ LTTE to carry arms while making it mandatory on the government to disarm the armed members of organizations which are not proscribed and had assisted the government in the task of fighting the LTTE!

The Prevention of Terrorism Act was enacted in 1979 by the Government of which the Prime Minister was a member because it was rightly felt that the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act were grossly insufficient to protect the country from the scourge of the terrorism of the LTTE. Today, the Prime Minister has entered into an Agreement with the leader of that very band of terrorists, Velupillai Prabhakaran, giving an undertaking that the government will not make any arrests or conduct any searches under the provisions of that Act to protect the country from the terrorism of the LTTE terrorists, and that it will only have resort to the wholly inadequate provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act for that purpose [Article 2.12] !

What this means is that the Prime Minister, together with the terrorist leader, has, to all intents and purposes, agreed to suspend the operation of an Act of Parliament which constitutes a part of the law of the land! Neither the Prime Minister nor the President nor the cabinet of ministers has the right to suspend the operation of the whole or part of any Act of Parliament - it is only parliament that has the power to do so. Thus the Prime Minister has, by this Agreement sought to usurp the powers of parliament for the benefit of Prabhakaran and his band of terrorists. What is also significant in this regard is that while the Prime Minister has, by agreeing to this Article given an undertaking to the terrorists to fetter the legal rights of the government to combat their terrorism, Prabhakaran has not given any corresponding undertaking to fetter in any way whatsoever, any of the illegal practices of his terrorist cadres in the matter of making searches or taking people into illegal captivity or any other.

Smuggling of arms

The very vastness of the extent of the coastline under the control of the LTTE has rendered extremely difficult, the task of the navy to prevent the LTTE from smuggling arms, ammunition and explosives etc. into the country. The ban on fishing at night and on fishing in certain specified areas as well as beyond a certain distance from the sea- shore has made that task of the navy less difficult. However, even with that ban and the assistance of the air force, which was used to bomb LTTE boats used for such smuggling operations, the LTTE was yet able to smuggle several shiploads of arms into the country. By this Agreement with Prabhakaran, however, the Prime Minister has agreed to castrate the navy and render it totally impotent to prevent any smuggling. By Article 2.11 the Prime Minister has agreed to remove practically all restrictions on fishing thereby enabling the LTTE to camouflage its boats used for smuggling operations as fishing boats and parts of fishing fleets.

Not content with that, the Prime Minister has agreed that there will be no "aerial bombardment" or "offensive naval operations" [Article 1.2(b) and (c)], thus effectively preventing the navy and the air force from preventing any smuggling operations of the LTTE even if they detect boats in the act of unloading a consignment of arms from a ship on the high seas.

Partial to the LTTE

The Government of Norway which has, at all times, been partial to the LTTE, has been given suzerainty over Sri Lanka in respect of the Agreement. It is Norway that will decide when the Agreement is to come into force [Article 4.2]. It is the Government of Norway which will appoint the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission who, even to the exclusion of the Supreme Court, will be the final authority on the interpretation of the Agreement. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, the members whereof will all be from Nordic countries [which have, like Norway, been always partial to the LTTE] will be in charge of supervising the implementation of the Agreement [Article 3.5]. This is akin to Sri Lanka playing a test match against Australia with Darrell Hair and Ross Emerson as the umpires and Steve Randall as the Match Referee!

Monitoring Mission

Be that as it may, even that Monitoring Mission will monitor nothing whatever in the two districts of the country which are totally and almost totally under the control of the LTTE - namely, Kilinochchi [totally] and §Mullaitivu [almost totally]. Their ‘monitoring’ will be restricted to those districts of the north and east in which the government is in control of the whole or a part [Articles 3.6 and 3.7]. Accordingly, while members of the LTTE will have complete freedom to move about in any part of the country [and hence be able to spy on the government and our armed forces], neither members of the armed forces nor the police nor any agency of the government will have the freedom of movement in any part of the country under the illegal rule of the LTTE. Even though the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission will be excluded from Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, the LTTE would, at all times be aware of what the government is doing or planning to do, while the government and even the LTTE’s Nordic allies will be left blissfully ignorant of what the LTTE is doing or planning to do.

Every ceasefire attendant upon ‘Talks’ with the terrorists has been accompanied by an abolition or relaxation of the necessary restrictions imposed by the government on the transport to those parts of the country as are under the illegal rule of the LTTE, of goods such as iron rods, fuel and cement, which, though essentially of a non - military nature, could nevertheless be used for military purposes. Past experience has proved ‘in spades’ that the LTTE has used this benevolence of the government to acquire vast quantities of cement and iron rods to build bunkers and to stock vast quantities of fuel to use for future terrorist activity against the state

`Open licence’

Having these past experiences in mind, the Prime Minister, while in fact giving the LTTE an `open licence’ to transport or cause to transported as much fuel, cement and iron rods as they wish, to those parts of the country as are under their illegal rule, has sought to deceive the supposedly sovereign people into the belief that restrictions are being placed by the government on the transport of such goods to areas under the control or the LTTE to ensure that only such quantities of such goods as are genuinely required for the civilian population will be transported to such areas. Towards this end, the Prime Minister has agreed that there will be a free flow of practically all non - military goods to the areas under the illegal rule of the LTTE with the qualification that the quantities of goods such as cement, fuel and iron rods which could be transported to such areas under terrorist control would be restricted to such quantities as are certified by the government agents of such areas as being necessary for the civil population according to certain criteria specified in the Agreement [Article 2.6 read with Annexe A].

Correct estimates

What must be remembered in this regard is the very significant fact that while three mayors and one government agent of Jaffna, one government agent each of Mullaitivu and Batticaloa as well as several assistant government agents of those and other districts of our Northern and Eastern Provinces have been murdered in cold blood by the LTTE, there is no possibility of government agents of those districts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces acting independently and giving correct estimates of the genuine requirements for those goods of the civil population.

The government agents and all assistant government agents of Mullaitivu and Killinochchi are resident in areas controlled by the LTTE and live entirely at their `mercy’: So also do the assistant government agents of those areas under LTTE control in the other six districts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is from those assistant government agents that the government agents of those districts, who reside in areas under government control, will get the statistics on the basis of which they would certify the requirements for cement, iron rods and fuel of the civil population. It follows therefore that it is the LTTE and the LTTE alone that will, in fact, determine the quantities of these articles which may be transported to areas under their control!

The question of whom a sovereign state will recruit into its armed forces and where it will deploy such recruits is solely and entirely a matter for the government of that sovereign state. By Article 1.8 of the Agreement however, the Prime Minister has given to the terrorist Prabhakaran, an unqualified undertaking to recruit into our armed forces all such members of the Tamil paramilitary groups as are prepared to join our armed forces [regardless of the question of their suitability] as well as to deploy them only in areas outside our Northern and Eastern Provinces! The Prime Minister has, therefore, given the terrorist Prabhakaran, a voice in the question of the composition and deployment of our armed forces.

Supplicant?

One salient fact that has been ignored completely by the Prime Minister, Prabhakaran and the allegedly ‘friendly’ Norwegian Government in the preparation of this Agreement is the `status’ of the Government and the LTTE respectively. The Government of Sri Lanka is the lawfully elected government of a sovereign state. The LTTE on the other hand, is a terrorist organization, led by a convicted murderer, which has been proscribed by no less than six sovereign states at a time when there is global revulsion against terrorism. Thus, if there are to be `Talks’ between the government and the LTTE, it is the LTTE which must come as the `supplicant’ and engage in "confidence building" measures to persuade the government to condescend to come to the negotiating table.

What has been done is the exact opposite: It is the government that has gone as the ‘supplicant’ and the LTTE which has ‘condescended’ to come to the negotiating table. The terms of the Ceasefire Agreement make manifest the fact that it is the LTTE that has dictated terms to the government. The extent to which the Prime Minister has given in to the LTTE by this Agreement even before the commencement of the ‘Talks’ is indeed a grim and frightening harbinger of the extent to which he will give in to the LTTE at the forthcoming `Talks’.


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