Military activity in response to LTTE threat to Trinco. harbour - Mangala

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Friday explained the government’s decision to neutralize the growing military threat posed by the LTTE. Addressing the Colombo based diplomatic community at the Foreign Ministry, he said, "Let me in the way of an introduction say that there has recently been several reports and pronouncements about an imminent war, declaration of war and an impending humanitarian crisis, etc. The Government therefore thought it would be useful to exactly describe to you the nature of the recent military activity, the security forces were obliged to conduct and the reasons for it. Although the LTTE and their lobbies have projected a different picture, I am certain that all of the Diplomatic community is aware that the entirety of military activity conducted by the GOSL, whether at Mavil Aru, Muttur, Nagar Kovil, Kayts in Jaffna and later to secure Sampur were clearly and specially in response to the deliberate aggression committed by the LTTE in violation of the CFA or in response to a clear, and present danger posed by the LTTE to strategic assets "like Trincomalee harbour and, related facilities."

"If we take the situation at Mavil Aru around the 20th-21st July, the LTTE created a humanitarian situation by closing the sluice gate. After much efforts of attempting to negotiate the release of the water the Government as you know was compelled to gain access to the sluice gate. Similarly on 2nd August the LTTE initiated an unprovoked attack on the town of Muttur thereby displacing the entire Muslim population of that area. The Government was again compelled to take action to push the LTTE cadres back to CFA positions and secure the Muttur town. On 11th August the LTTE launched a major attack on the Forward Defence Lines at Muhamalai and Kilali, the Government had to take action to prevent the LTTE from breaching the Forward Defence Line positions of the Security Forces. Therefore, it is clearly evident that the LTTE has pursued a concerted strategy of initiating aggression to engage the Security Forces. It is also important here to inform you of the Sampur operation as there has been much disinformation regarding the Government’s objectives. As you know Trincomalee harbour it is not only vital to supply the Jaffna Peninsula but is also an economic life line to the country. The total requirement of wheat flour is milled at the Prima factory located at the Trincomalee harbour which is one of the largest foreign investments in Sri Lanka. The Lanka Indian Oil Company which operates over 40% of the filling stations in the country also has its oil storage facility at China Bay near Trincomalee harbour, in addition there are other industrial installations such as the Tokyo Cement Processing factory. Therefore the decision to secure Sampur was after the artillery attacks by the LTTE at the Trincomalee harbour which resulted in causing damage to the Naval academy and also targeted the Air Force base at China Bay. The ability of the LTTE to position long range weapons at Sampur clearly posed a significant threat on the economic arid military installations at Trincomalee."

"I must note here that while, the Government would like to show the LTTE that any military aggression on their part would, entail military costs to them, the GOSL remains committed to the Ceasefire Agreement and is vigorously continuing with the constitutional reform process. The All Party Representative Committee consisting of 13 political parties represented in Parliament and the Panel of Experts over the last several months are in the process of developing a broad framework for a political settlement to the national question. The Panel of Legal and Constitutional Experts appointed by H.E. the President, to service the All Party Conference sub Committee on Constitutional Reforms is holding regular meetings including one yesterday which was a public (Poya holiday) with a view to identifying broad proposals for constitutional reform resulting in the evolution of a constitutional framework for devolution of power. Public representations have been called for in this regard and as of the closing date - 31st August 2006, approximately 600 representations have been received from individuals, professional and other bodies. These are now being processed by the Panel."

"In the meantime, several subgroups have been constituted from among the Members of the Panel, to study and recommend ways and means of ensuring maximum devolution and power sharing of peripheral units at the Centre."

"A broad consensus is emerging in several key areas, including on power sharing at the Centre. Further work on crucial and complex issues are currently being undertaken by the sub groups, which would make their recommendations, for discussion in the Plenary meetings of the Panel of Experts. The Panel appreciates the valuable inputs that have been made by several diplomatic missions to facilitate their work. The Panel will report to the APRC shortly."

"While this serious substantive work is underway, the Government remains ready to resume talks on substantive issues at any time. The President has already stated that he will consider any proposal for a comprehensive and verifiable cessation of hostilities that could bring an end to violence."

"Another point that I would like to emphasise is that there have been allegations of human rights concerns as a consequence of the current violence. The Government of Sri Lanka is committed to the protection of human rights and would like to place itself beyond reproach regarding such concerns. In this regard the President has announced the establishment of an international independent group of eminent persons to act as observers of investigations into these human rights concerns. The Government believes that this group will provide the necessary transparency and expertise in the conduct of these inquiries."

According to the Foreign Ministry Brigadier Udaya Perera, Director Operations of the Sri Lanka Army briefed the gathering on the LTTE aggression and the response by the Security Forces, Rear Admiral T.S.G. Samarasinghe regarding the Sea Tiger attacks on the Sri Lanka Navy, Dr. Hiranthi Wijemanne, Consultant to SCOPP and National Child Protection Authority on the controversy over an SLAF attack on an LTTE facility at Naddallamottankulam.



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