LTTE unlikely to release civilians trapped on the Vanni front

Norwegian envoy told BR:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Norway believed that the LTTE wouldn’t accept a tripartite proposal to release the civilian population trapped in the Vanni east in the final phase of the conflict.

Authoritative sources told The Island that the then Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo Tore Hattrem had written to presidential advisor MP Basil Rajapaksa regarding the LTTE’s perceived refusal to release those trapped on the Vanni east frontline.

Referring to a telephone conversation he had with MP Rajapaksa earlier in the day, Ambassador Hattrem wrote to the MP: "The proposal to the LTTE on how to release the civilian population now trapped in the LTTE controlled area has been transmitted to the LTTE through several channels. So far there has regrettably been no response from the LTTE and it does not seem to be likely that the LTTE will agree to this in the near future."

The Norwegian diplomat captioned his terse four-line letter ‘Offer/proposal to the LTTE.’

Government sources told The Island that those wanting to haul Sri Lanka up before international war crimes tribunal had conveniently forgotten Prabhakaran’s refusal to let the civilians go. Responding to a query, sources said that disgraced Norwegian peace facilitator, Erik Solheim last Friday declared that a truce could have saved some 40,000 civilians. Minister Solheim was speaking at the launch of a Norway-funded evaluation of its peace initiatives in Sri Lanka.

Sources said that those attacking President Rajapaksa over accountability issues should seek a clarification from Ambassador Hattrem with regard to Sri Lanka’s claim. In fact, it would be interesting to know the identities of those helping the Norwegians to convince the LTTE, sources said. The Norwegians went to the extent of having a clandestine meeting with Kumaran Pathmanathan alias ‘KP’ on Feb. 26, 2009 in Malaysia to work-out a deal.

Sources said that the government ordered the army to go ahead with the largest rescue operation in contemporary history in late April 2009. Those shedding crocodile tears for people of the Vanni had turned a blind eye as long as they felt the LTTE could turn-around the ground situation. Sources said that some military experts as late as Dec. 2008 and early Jan. 2009 asserted that the Vanni war could go either way.

The LTTE and its ‘international safety net’ panicked only after the army liberated Kilinochchi early Jan. 2009, thereby setting the stage for encirclement of the best of LTTE fighting cadre.

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