SLMM says serious violation by LTTE

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said that a serious violation of the Ceasefire Agreement between the Government and LTTE, occurred on Saturday afternoon when two LTTE trawlers, at least one with an Indian registration number, entered Sri Lankan territorial waters in Palk Bay, south of Jaffna peninsula.

The SLMM in a statement said the Navy intercepted the two trawlers at 5.45 p.m. One of the trawlers fled from the scene and managed to leave the Navy vessels and the other trawler behind by going through shallow water and go ashore close the Devil’s Point. At the same time the second trawler was adrift close to Iranativu Islands in Palk Bay being closely monitored by Navy vessels.

The Navy requested the advice and assistance of SLMM Naval Monitors in Jaffna around 18.00. At 20.10, with the full approval of the LTTE’s Political Leadership in Kilinochchi, two SLMM Naval monitors embarked the trawler. SLMM found communication equipment onboard the trawler, which was controlled by four LTTE cadres. SLMM suggested to the SLN Admiralty, LTTE Political Headquarters in Kilinochchi and to the Commanding Officers involved in the incident that the LTTE cadres would be allowed to go ashore and the remaining trawler would be taken into the custody of SLN. That offer was rejected by LTTE leadership and the LTTE cadres onboard refused to disembark the trawler.

At 11.20 p.m. SLMM Headquarters received information that the LTTE cadres had started to move the trawler towards the shore of Vanni. Naval Officer and sailor who were onboard the trawler at this time managed to jump onto a Navy boat that was moving alongside the trawler. At this time, the two SLMM Naval Monitors were held against their will by the LTTE cadres and physically hindered from leaving the trawler. The LTTE cadres then left the Navy vessels behind by moving the trawler across shallow water to the shore where they disembarked 2 Km South of Devil’s Point at 00.35. At this time the two SLMM Naval Monitors were released. Representatives of LTTE’s Political wing brought them to Kilinochchi where they finally got to the SLMM Liaison office in Kilincochchi at 05.40 Sunday morning.

According to Major General Trond Furuhovde, Head of SLMM "This is a serious violation of the Ceasefire Agreement and a major blow to the trust of SLMM in the LTTE. This kind of behaviour is extremely counterproductive to the success we have had so far. Instead of relying on SLMM as impartial monitors working for both parties in solving disputes and ensuring the implementation of the Ceasefire agreement, LTTE members decided to mistreat two SLMM Monitors. After this irresponsible behaviour it is clear that the LTTE will have a lot to do in rebuilding people’s confidence in their organization. I hope we will be able to find ways to keep walking towards peace and I hope that the LTTE is still ready to do so."