Major General Fonseka spells out de-escalation plan

By Bandula Jayasekara
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Wednesday rejected the demand made by the Army Commander in Jaffna,

Major General Sarath Fonseka said that the relaxation of the High Security Zones (HSZ) should be conditional on the disarming of the Tiger Cadres. The LTTE statement blamed the military for placing insurmountable obstacles in the path of peace and normalcy. However when one examines the de-escalation plan submitted by General Fonseka it is only clear that he had submitted it in the interest of the people of Sri Lanka and the security of the nation. General Fonseka’s point also has been endorsed by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). They said in a statement that in dismantling High Security Zones for resettlement and handing over land for cultivation will decrease both the security and combat potential of the government forces. The balance of forces is the basis of the ceasefire agreement and disturbing that balance is disturbing the ceasefire.

In his de-escalation plan General Fonseka says that it should be borne in mind that when talking in term of a political solution, political criticism in the South of Sri Lanka cannot be ignored, therefore any adjustment or variations in security zones should not create a political turmoil in the south and should be considered as critical. He goes on to say that while appreciating the humanitarian achievements, consequences which will affect the Sri Lankan security forces and military gains the LTTE will achieve due to resettling civilians in HSZ should go hand in glove with the de-escalation process agreed by both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. Fonseka says that a existence and strength of HSZs is utmost vital for success of defences and security of Jaffna peninsula and islands, no risks or chances should be taken to weaken security by making HSZ vulnerable and as the present dimensions of HSZ are meant to face the present threat weakening HSZ should be done in relation to reduction of LTTE military options ranging from major conventional attacks to asymmetric attacks. The Northern Commander points out that armed groups ability to get cover behind civilians should not be ignored which would leave terrorists maximum advantages.

General Fonseka notes that the resettlement of civilians should be arranged in such a way that the security forces should not compromise its security at any stage and that security could be relaxed only in stages in relation to de-escalation of LTTE, i.e. disarming of cadres and decommissioning of LTTE long range weapons. He adds that effective and accurate system of activities has to be planned out for both LTTE and GOSL in coordination with SLMM giving a bigger role to the SLMM to ensure the security will not be hampered and because of the resettlement of troops the defence layout should not be exposed to the civilians. Fonseka emphasize that vulnerable and sensitive defences, air and sea communication agencies should not be sacrificed. Describing how to eliminate security threats General Sarath Fonseka says in his report that resettling displaced persons to be carried out only for those families lived in the area before 1991 in Palaly HSZ and before 1995 in Nagarkovil, Muhamalai, Thanankilappu, Ariyalai and beach road in Jaffna. He identifies that if not resettlement of armed groups and sympathizers in close proximity to camps could be done. He says that the SLMM’s mandate should be enhanced to check suspected safe houses of armed groups in cleared areas and create a system to monitor availability /distribution of arms and ammunition found in uncleared areas too. He warns that LTTE military hardware including missiles are available both in cleared and uncleared areas. He says that the LTTE should permanently abandon its suicide missions and remove such persons with the assistance of the Police and the SLMM. If not he sees it as a grave threat on the movement of VIPs and VVIPs. Giving a bigger role to the SLMM the General says that weapons withdrawn from the LTTE should be kept with the SLMM and for the LTTE to withdraw weapons in forward defence lines and to dump them in rear /storage south of Kilinochchi under SLMM supervision and for the SLMM to keep checks on fishermen and sea Tigers going to sea from uncleared areas. In his detail report the Northern Commander goes on to say that Subahsh hotel could be vacated by mid-June 2003, Gnanam hotel by end March 2003, 80 houses around the two hotels in Jaffna town by mid July 2003 and the private houses in Chavakachcheri by end 2003 and private houses in other areas by mid 2004.

It is up to the LTTE now to stop crying foul and accept the realistic de-escalation plan submitted by the General in the interest of all communities of this country and for the sake of one Sri Lanka if the LTTE is interested in lasting peace in the island are genuinely concerned of the welfare of its people.