Security reports by Army still withheld
Ceasefire violations: Govt. complaints - 35; LTTE - 2

by Shamindra Ferdinando
Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) yesterday said that the government has lodged 35 complaints with the SLMM’s Colombo headquarters situated at the Oberoi while the LTTE has lodged two.

A senior SLMM spokesperson declined to elaborate on the complaints made by the two parties to the February 22 MoU on an indefinite cease-fire.

He did not rule out the possibility of the total number of complaints being a little higher than the number received by the SLMM headquarters. "Both parties may have lodged some complaints with local SLMM delegations," he said.

The Island learns that almost all the complaints have been made by the army with regard to high-handed LTTE actions in the Batticaloa-Ampara sector.

Major General Trond Furuhovde who heads the SLMM was expected to meet with the LTTE leadership tomorrow [7] to discuss ways and means of avoiding cease-fire violations. Furuhovde, in talks with senior representatives of both sides have expressed the need to avert violations. Norwegian ambassador Jon Westborg last Thursday met with a group of Muslim MPs to discuss what the parliamentarians have described as the LTTE harassment of the Tamil-speaking Muslim population in the east.

A senior armed forces officer yesterday said that they were in touch with the SLMM headquarters through the Peace Secretariat headed by ambassador B. A. B. Gunatilake designated the Director General of the Secretariat established at the world trade centre.

Meanwhile, Gunatilake was yesterday briefed by officials handling the media with regard to the government decision to explore the possibility of issuing daily security situation reports through the Peace Secretariat, The Island learns.

The government has suspended the daily issue of situation reports through the information department until authorities decide on ways and means of having absolute control over the ‘mechanism’ that deals with reports dealing with LTTE activity. Authorities have also suspended publishing of daily situation reports on the army’s web site. "Suspension came to effect on Sunday," a source said.

Information department yesterday said they would begin releasing situation reports as soon as they get them.

Media Minister Imthiaz Bakeer Makar was not available for comment yesterday.

Military authorities yesterday said there were no serious MoU violations in the North-East in the past 36 hours ending 6 am yesterday. However, they reported that troops deployed in Jaffna on Wednesday morning asked a group of LTTE cadres to leave immediately when they reached Pasaiyur jetty about two kms south-east of Jaffna in a Sea Tiger craft. "They said they wanted to buy some fish," a source said while adding that troops explained that they could not be allowed in as it would be a violation of the MoU. "They returned to the Wanni mainland," the source said.

Some officials have expressed the belief that the government should not reveal everything that happens in the North-East. They have pointed out that the government should deal with LTTE violations through the SLMM. However, others have disagreed. They have pointed out that hiding facts would be counter-productive. They were convinced that a censorship (overtly or covertly) would not succeed. "It would result in wild rumours," one source said while reminding the consequences of the PA’s disastrous bid to censor LTTE-related news.