Ghost ships manned by malevolent spooks seem to be sailing the northern seas. On Monday night, around 8.30 pm, Lanka Muditha a merchant ship owned by the Shipping Corporation, transporting about 1700 troops, was fired upon by an unidentified vessel. Lanka Muditha had some other vessels accompanying it and in one such boat was a monitor of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. Lanka Muditha had returned the fire and sunk the vessel. No bodies have been found.
Despite a member of the monitoring mission being there, the SLMM is unable to say who fired on the ship. On Tuesday it is claimed that it was a very small vessel, a dinghy that had fired on the ship which is comparatively a very large vessel. The SLMM is unable to identify the vessel. They have no absolute judicial proof of the identity of the attackers, to make an identification.
When a Chinese fishing trawler was attacked last month, killing at least 17 innocent Chinese on board, even though eye witnesses said that the attackers spoke in Tamil, the SLMM could not identify the attackers. They were not present at the scene.
It does appear that whether these monitors are present or not, identification does seem to be a problem.
When the Navy sank a rogue LTTE vessel which it suspected to be carrying armaments, still the SLMM could not point at who the culprits were. They said that they should have been summoned to the scene when the confrontation was going on.
It does appear that the Monitoring Mission will find it very hard to specifically identify any attacker of any Navy ship, unless of course the terrorists are caught with a smoking gun in hand Even then it could be argued that it was another person who actually fired the shot.
In a military conflict between two parties, when one party is attacked, the usual presumption is that the enemy was the attacker. Judicial proof required in a civilian trial where an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, is not required. Of course in such conflicts there are no peace keeping monitors demanding absolute proof. Plain common-sense prevails. When a ship is torpedoed at war, the ship need not be salvaged and the markings of the torpedo examined to determine who sank the ship. The presumption is that the enemy did it. But in this funny war where the Navy is at the receiving end, the peace monitors presume that the attackers could be any party.
There are even more stringent conditions to be observed. The monitors have to be summoned when a shipload of arms is to be discharged into dinghy boats. They cannot attack the rogue ship even if fired upon. Rules even stricter than the Queensbury Rules have to be observed.
The press release issued after the Hakone Talks by the Norwegian government states : To prevent future incidents at sea that could threaten the stability of the ceasefire, the parties have agreed to convene senior Naval and political representatives from both sides, within three weeks, to work out effective arrangements for Naval units in keeping with existing treaty obligations.
We see a big gaping hole , big enough to sink not only Lanka Muditha but even the biggest of ships in the Sri Lanka Navy, in this proposed agreement. While every vessel of the Navy carries an identifying name, fly its flag and the name of the Captain and crew of the vessel will be all on record for verification, do LTTE vessels carry such identification and names of their crews? The Ceasefire Agreement makes no such demand on the LTTE. The simple answer which the slippery, slobbering Balasingham will provide is: Its not our vessel. And the Norwegian monitors in search of judicial, clinical proof will not be able to make and identification. Quod Erat Demonstrandum (QED). Quite easily Done- as the schoolboys of days gone by used to say on proving a geometrical theorem.
All this reveals that this Ceasefire Agreement that is being regarded as something sacred and hallowed is full of flaws and that the Ceasefire Monitoring Mission cannot perform the basic function demanded of them function as independent observers and be capable of coming to rational conclusions.
A new agreement and a team of international observers under the auspices of the UN are called for.
In the present situation, we need Kattadiyas ( Devil dancers) and Anajanam Eli Karayas( those akin to crystal ball gazers) to find out whether the Sri Lanka Navy is attacking its own ships, the LTTE is doing so or malevolent ghosts are hovering over the Northern seas.
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