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Keeping abduction of workers under wraps
Wimal calls for probing UN top man in Colombo

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP yesterday said that had the UN been genuinely concerned about the Vanni population, it would not have turned a blind eye to the plight of two UN employees detained by the LTTE for helping civilians flee the terrorist controlled region.

He said the on-going high profile campaign to pressure Sri Lanka to open up all welfare centres in the northern Vavuniya region was nothing but a ploy to free terrorists living among the IDPs.

In an interview with The Island, Weerawansa said that UN Office Colombo had had secret negotiations with the LTTE to secure the release of the detained workers early 2007. Although the LTTE had detained them in February, 2007, the UN had kept it under wraps in the hope that the LTTEwould release its workers. He said that Tamil civilians had begun to flee the LTTE-held territory even before the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) opened a new front in Vavuniya in March 2007.

Weerawansa said that local agents of foreign governments and INGOs, who accuse the Sri Lanka government of war crimes and human rights violations, did not even bother to publicly criticise the LTTE action. A section of the media overtly critical of the government turned a Nelsonian eye, thereby tactically supporting the LTTE action, Weerawansa said.

The so-called Norwegian facilitators and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), too, remained silent, Weerawansa said. Responding to our queries, the MP said that there could not be a better example to highlight the duplicity of the UN than the detention of the UN workers.

He said when the government took up that issue with the Colombo-based diplomatic community as well as INGOs, they had said that they, too, were helpless.

Weerawansa said the LTTE leadership had reacted angrily as it did not want anyone to interfere with its forced recruitment campaign. The then US Ambassador in Colombo Robert Blake, now directing a hate campaign against the Rajapaksa government, had done nothing to rescue the detained workers, he said.

Referring to a statement attributed to the Peace Council shortly after the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August, 2005, Weerawansa said nothing could have been as bad as the assertion that the killing was tragic but inevitable. "They are the people now shedding crocodile tears for Tamils," he said.

Weerawansa said that the UN should investigate the conduct its top man in Colombo, Michele Montas as UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon had accepted as far back as April, 2007 that the UN mission in Colombo had not immediately reported the kidnapping.

Weerawansa said that had the UN mission in Colombo kept the UN in the dark, the possibility of some of the bigwigs being supportive of the LTTE could not be ruled out. He said that the international community and their paid local agents never believed that the LTTE could be militarily defeated.

He said that the UN, INGOs, pro-LTTE press as well as the likes of journalist J. S. Tissainayagam had remained silent when the LTTE thwarted a UN move in September last year to evacuate over 500 local workers of INGOs active in the LTTE-held area. Subsequently, the LTTE had blocked several other attempts to evacuate the workers and their families, he said adding the UN had gone to the extent of endangering the lives of some of their expatriate staff on the Vanni front to appease the LTTE.

The NFF leader said that though only Norwegian People’s Aid had been found guilty of giving many vehicles, including heavy earth moving machinery to the LTTE during Eelam war IV, it could not be the only one. Although, the INGO claimed that the LTTE had forcibly removed the vehicles, the government could not accept that as no such matter had ever been brought to the notice of the Defence Ministry. He said that the LTTE had used the machinery to build defences both west and east of the A9 road. He said that the army had to pay an extremely heavy price to surmount earth-bunds cum ditches built by the LTTE.

Weerawamsa recalled that the recovery of life jackets distributed among the north-east fishing community by Save the Children Fund (Sri Lanka), from an LTTE attack craft captured by the Navy off the Mullaitivu coast at the height of the war, had revealed the support received by terrorists from international organisations. He said there had been a few other recoveries during the war and added that millions worth of equipment which had been moved to the Vanni after February 2002 ended up in the hands of the LTTE.

Weerawansa alleged that the UN had allowed the LTTE to infiltrate its organisation. The arrest of an LTTE assassin identified as Thiyagarajah Prabhakaran in May 2008 at a roadblock south of Vavuniya had revealed the unholy alliance between the two organisations. At the time of his arrest at Irratteperiyakulam, Thiyagarajah, a UN employee, had had a weapon in his possession, Weerawansa said adding that it would be important to meet a threat posed by a section of the international community bent on reviving the LTTE. Although, the LTTE had been militarily crushed, the threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remained to some extent.

Weerawansa said those who now accused Sri Lanka of running Nazi-type concentration camps could not be aware what had happened in war-time Germany and now in Afghanistan and Iraq where US-led forces were engaged in ‘war against terror’.

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