CBK’s comprehensive letter to Ranil
‘Don’t conceal truth regarding Trinco security’

President Chandrika Kumaratunga in a letter sent to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has requested the latter to refrain from concealing and distorting the truth regarding the security situation in Trincomalee and also from slandering and harassing the security forces commanders, thus preventing them from carrying out their duties.

The President has urged the Prime Minister to ensure that he attended all National Security Council meetings chaired by her and to avoid all further acts of omission and commission that would compromise the security and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

A great deal of discussion has taken place on the above subject during the last three months. I have watched this in silence, while keeping myself briefed by the relevant authorities and instructing them to adopt necessary precautions and plans. Finally, I have decided to write to you, as statements made by you and your media spokesman, Minister G. L. Peiris, have surprised me by their lack of statesmanship and perspicacity with regard to a most crucial matter of State.

I shall attempt to set out briefly the facts regarding this issue.

I was in receipt of numerous reports of the deteriorating security situation around the Trincomalee Naval Base and Harbour, since several months. About two months ago I requested the Commanders of the Army and the Navy (who have the responsibility of ensuring the security of Trincomalee), to make a presentation to me on the security situation there, with special reference to the LTTE’s armed presence, in the form of camps etc.

This was duly done. The facts elucidated thereon were as follows:

- At the time there were 13 camps set up by the LTTE after signing of the MoU including the much talked of Manirasakulam camp.

- The camps were set up in such a manner as to encircle the Trincomalee harbour. They were situated in a manner to facilitate the deployment of long-range artillery weapons that are known to be in the possession of the LTTE.

- The LTTE, as all who wish to know the truth are aware, has also established a major Sea Tiger base at Illankanthai, within range of the Southern rim of the harbour. At a time of attack, LTTE suicide boats can be brought into this base, for the purpose of attacking naval craft of the Sri Lanka Navy.

Many Sri Lankans are asking why the LTTE is launching continued attacks on the Muslims living in the Muttur area exclusively, and not on those Muslims living in any other area in the Trincomalee district? Muttur is the most strategically situated habitation in the curve of the Trincomalee harbour, possessing various buildings and other facilities, which would be suitable for the establishment of a terrorist naval base. Muttur also obstructs the near contiguous ring of camps around Trincomalee, established by the LTTE, in the post MoU period.

I refer here to two important reports, among several others, which have clearly warned the Government regarding the security situation in Trincomalee.

1. You once informed me that the Government invited a US Pacific Command Assessment Team to study and report on the security situation of the North and East, last year. The team arrived in Sri Lanka In September/October 2002 and provided a report to you in November 2002. I quote from an important section of the report dealing with the "Issue of the Trincomalee Harbour Defense". "Currently the LTTE controls the southern portion of the harbour. From this area the LTTE have effectively monitored all ship movements in and out of the harbour and can launch suicide and artillery attacks against the naval base and could potentially destroy any vessel coming in and out of harbour"....

"The Sri Lankan Army is responsible for this area but they have been unable to completely secure it. The Sri Lanka defence force must secure this land area. The vulnerable position that currently exists could essentially level the majority of the Sri Lanka Navy fleet. The result would be the only re-supply capability for the Jaffna peninsula would have to come from Colombo, more than four times the distance to Jaffna. Without control of this area the defence of Trincomalee harbour will always be a losing battle. Without Trincomalee harbour the ability to prosecute a war would be detrimentally affected". Nothing, absolutely nothing has been done by you "to secure this land area", as recommended by the PACOM Advisory Team.

2. I wish to draw your attention to the recent report of the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army given to the Minister of Defence and also to me. It states clearly that the LTTE has set up twelve (12) new camps after the MoU. Additionally, five (5) temporary LTTE camps which existed before the MoU, have now been converted into permanent camps. How can you say that no camps have been set up by the LTTE since the signing of the MoU?’

The facts provided to me by the Commanders of the Forces clearly contradict the statements purportedly made by you, and carried in the ‘Lankadeepa’ of Friday 5th September 2003. You are reported to have stated that:-

1. There is no danger to Trincomalee Naval Base and Harbour from the LTTE.

2. No camps have been set up by the LTTE after the ceasefire Agreement.

3. The Government wants to investigate the conduct of the Naval Commander/Northern Command, for reporting the so called dangers to Trincomalee.

3. It is completely false to state that neither you nor your Minister of Defence were informed of the situation. The naval spokesman has stated that in April 2003 you, Ministers Marapona and Moragoda, were briefed, in the presence of about 200 officers, when you visited Trincomalee, of the deteriorating security situation and the setting up of LTTE camps. Subsequently, you and the Minister of Defence were once again briefed at Temple Trees, in great detail, on the same issue, a couple of weeks ago. The Minister of Defence was also briefed when he visited Trincomalee in August, by a large number of security forces officers in the presence of the Tri-forces Commanders. I am therefore shocked to learn that you are denying all these facts.

4. In addition, I have also raised this issue of the security of Trincomalee at several National Security Council meetings attended by the Minister of Defence, his Secretary, the three Forces Commanders, the IGP, my Secretary, etc. In fact at a recent National Security Council meeting, I gave a serious warning to the Minister of Defence about the situation in Trincomalee and proceeded to advise him to discuss the matter seriously with you and decide to take positive action to have these camps removed, under the circumstances in which the SLMM has completely failed in its attempt to have the LTTE dismantle the camps.

I also raised this issue in my letter to you of 21st August 2003, stating, "The SLMM had admitted its incapacity to enforce their decision. Beyond persuasion, the SLMM also does not seem to have any other mechanism of enforcement of a decision".... "It is therefore suggested that the authority of the Government be exercised immediately to have this camp withdrawn"’.

Further when I questioned the Defence Minister at a recent National Security Council meeting on the re-arming and strategic re-deployment of the LTTE, I was shocked and surprised when Minister Marapone stated that we should understand the necessity for the LTTE to re-arm, since the security Forces are doing the same. Do you and some Ministers place the legal army of the Sovereign State of Sri Lanka and an illegal armed force of a terrorist organization on a footing of legal and moral parity?.

This is only one among several shockingly irresponsible statements made by Minister Marapone at previous National Security Council meetings,

On several occasions, I have had discussions with you, the Defence Minister, Service Commanders and relevant public servants and issued instructions regarding several matters, and also written to you and the Defence Minister on the following matters:

- high security zones,

- the need to ensure the safety of Muslims in the East, who have been

- subjected to 13 attacks by the LTTE since the ceasefire,

- the killing of democratic Tamil politicians,

- the setting up of a judicial system of Thamil Eelam,

- the setting up of the Eelam Police Force, Eelam Banking system, Tax Collection system,

- child conscription,

- the killing of Sri Lanka Army personnel,

- the smuggling in of weapons by the LTTE.

No corrective action has been taken so far.

In the meantime, in the absence of action on your part, I have had to deal directly with the Security Forces Commanders to rectify the situation.

You seem to try to make believe that the responsibility of ensuring the security of the State and the people is your exclusive business and that I have no part in such an important matter’

To quote your letter to me of 26th August 2003, "It has always been my position that the people of this country have mandated the Government with this responsibility of proceeding to pursue peace, while maintaining the fullest security and I am, determined to fulfil this confidence, which the people have placed in us". .... "At a time like this, acting on the basis of political expediency is, in my view, not the correct approach".

Is it "a matter of political expediency,’ to Insist that the Government ensures the sovereignty and security of the State? If in fact you truly believe in your statement, I regret deeply to have to say that the country is in a sorry state to have a Prime Minister who takes the country’s most prime issue so lightly!.

I wish also to recommend to you, Prime Minister, a close look at the Constitution - enacted in 1978 by the Government of the UNP, of which you were a Cabinet Minister.

The sole reason for my standing by and watching the situation, while only offering advice, was your repeated appeals to me to permit you to exercise the executive powers of Government, which under our Constitution, are exclusively assigned to the President, who is the Executive Head of State, Government and Cabinet I agreed to do so, to allow you the space to solve the country’s problems within the "first hundred days" of arriving in power, as promised by you to the country during the 2001 elections. But I have never for a moment forgotten the sacred duty entrusted to me by our peoples, on two consecutive occasions with massive mandates, despite the LTTE’s assassination attempt on my life, during the 1999 election campaign. At the latter election you were the defeated candidate.

You would agree that I have made numerous attempts in vain, to advise you and some of your Ministers in the hope of turning the country away from impending disaster. This was done as a final attempt at cohabitational governance.

I believe now it is time to inform the people who are my only masters of these facts.

I wish to state that you have permitted a serious situation to arise in the country by:

- firstly, not ensuring the safety of the State and the people,

- secondly, by deliberately misrepresenting facts regarding the dangerous security situation in Trincomalee and elsewhere, to the people and the Cabinet of Ministers, as per media reports,

- thirdly, conducting the peace process in an unplanned and unprofessional manner, thus permitting the LTTE, an armed group threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State of Sri Lanka, to organise itself in direct violation of even the flawed MoU, formulated and signed by you and the LTTE.

Various irresponsible statements by you regarding the Security Forces Commanders are not only unfair by the Commanders who are attempting to do their duty with great courage and loyalty to the State, under difficult circumstances, but also serve to demoralize the entire Security Forces.

Accordingly I hereby request you to:

1. Refrain from concealing and distorting the truth regarding the security situation in Trincomalee,

2. Refrain from slandering and harassing the Security Forces commanders, thus preventing them from carrying out their duties,

3. Ensure you attend all National Security Council meetings chaired by me,

4. Avoid all further acts of omission and commission that would compromise the security and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.