Let’s have Prabakaran’s Peace Monitors!

The report of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission – comprising Norwegian peace monitors – on the sinking of a ship alleged to be ferrying arms for the LTTE is a hoax, to say the least.

Having taken refuge under the Ceasefire Agreement and not even posed questions which a village policeman would have asked, the much hailed peace monitors have tied themselves up in knots reduced themselves to declare their impotency: ‘ruling only one of the parties to be responsible for the specific incident is not possible’. The ceasefire monitors have covered themselves up well with the Ceasefire Agreement and declared: ‘The Head of the SLMM is the final authority to interpret the Ceasefire Agreement. However, the Head of the SLMM does not have the authority to interpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’. Having thus sought refuge in the agreement which they themselves authored, nothing significant about the incident have been said, other than that they, the monitors, were not summoned in time to be eye witnesses. This absolved themselves from coming to a very obvious conclusion. This appears to be a pre-determined conclusion and not aimed at probing the truth because the ultimate objective appears to be to prevent this incident from stalling the peace talks that commenced in Hakone, Japan yesterday. Indeed this is exactly what has happened at the talks according to reports being received at the time of writing these comments.

However, the monitors by seeking refuge in the Ceasefire Agreement have exposed to its serious flaws. Thus, although the peace talks will carry on unimpeded it does not close the loopholes in the agreement that is exploited by the LTTE to smuggle arms and carry on with its terrorist activities.

Obvious questions which even a village policeman probing a traffic accident will ask are: name of driver and passengers, registration number of the vehicle, drivers licence, point of origin and destination and of course the cargo. The report says that in interviews with the monitors, the LTTE has described the ship as a merchant tanker, given its specifications, it had 11 crew members who were sea Tigers, was operated by an independent shipping company supporting the LTTE financially, the cargo was diesel and sailing in the direction of India’

Then comes a very passive statement of these monitors: ‘The LTTE has not been able to inform the SLMM about the name, registration of the tanker or its port of departure’.

Is it that the ‘LTTE has not been able to inform the SLMM.....' or is it that they point blank refused to give a reply which these internationally famed monitors tamely accepted? The ship, the LTTE has said: ‘was sailing in the direction of India’. Even these considerate supposedly ‘impartial’ monitors would have realised that ‘India’ is not a precise port of destination. And if we are to believe that these Norwegian monitors sincerely believed that the Indian authorities would have permitted a LTTE ship to dock into a port of theirs, these Norwegians are obviously taking the Sri Lankan nation for a pack of mules. The SLMM says that it has no proof if the cargo of the vessel was of warlike material as alleged by the Sri Lanka government or diesel as was stated by the LTTE. The Island has no expertise in salvaging cargo but we do understand that oil floats on water and that if diesel was the cargo and the ship sank, there would have been widely spread oil slicks around the place long hours after the incident and should still be there. But no such oil slicks have been reported to the SLMM and on the other hand if there were arms they would certainly have sunk into the sea.

All this evidence put together is damning circumstantial evidence that the terrorists were bringing in a shipload of armaments to be off loaded around Mullaitivu. But the Norwegian monitors are saying that to come to such a conclusion they had to be direct eye witnesses and perhaps physically inspect the holds of the suspect ship. Surely, they cannot forget about the LTTE ship which they attempted to search about one full moon ago when three suicide bombers blew themselves up and the Norwegians had to jump into the sea to save themselves. What they are recommending is that they be told even days ahead when such pirate ship is spotted and for the Navy to intercept it and wait for their arrival. The problem about such a strategy is that the LTTE will get wind of such a move and send their explosive laden ‘vallams' to slam into the Navy ship and sink it – a strategy which they have taught the Al Queda – which a LTTE cadre boasted about in an interview with the BBC on the attack on the US warship ‘Cole’ in the Gulf.

The ‘impartiality’ of these Norwegian monitors can be judged from the statement of the Head of the Mission Major General Tryggve Telefsen that the Navy video taken by the Navy of the incident ‘cannot be considered entirely impartial evidence as it is taken by one party to the conflict’. But he quite clearly says that ‘eleven members of the LTTE lost their lives’ and conveys his deepest sympathy to the families of the cadres that lost their lives’.

Come on General Telefesen, did you actually count the 11 cadres on board before the ship sank or are you taking the terrorists word and not the word the Sri Lankan Navy?

With friends like this do we need enemies? Let Prabakaran appoint Peace Monitors and we ask the Norwegians to go home.

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