Lanka won’t mollycoddle terrorists -Wimal

Those critical of GoSL’s performance in Geneva are obviously not aware of what is going in other parts of the world. At the 19th sessions, in which the US targeted us, the UN rights council passed five resolutions against Israel, including one calling for a UN investigation into Israeli settlements, prompting angry reactions from the Jewish state and the US.


BY Shamindra Ferdinando

Oslo massacre

The revelation of an attempt by a Norwegian far-right extremist to target Oslo City Hall, while US President Barack Obama was there to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2009 couldn’t have come at a worse time for those working overtime to sanitize the murderous LTTE, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader, Wimal Weerawansa said.

The Housing and Construction Minister said that those investigating the alleged bomb plot shouldn’t ignore an explosive manifesto issued by  33-year-old suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, before he massacred 77 men, women and children last July 22. The madman credited Sri Lanka’s LTTE for influencing his actions against what he calls an Islamic takeover of that part of the world, Weerawansa said.

In an interview with The Island on Tuesday, the one-time JVP firebrand emphasized the need on the part of the global community to ensure that those who still believed in LTTE terrorism couldn’t exploit the triumph of a US sponsored resolution targeting Sri Lanka at the recently concluded United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva.

"Could Norway, which threw its weight behind the resolution, along with India, ignore the threat posed by the likes of Breivik, a former Norwegian diplomat’s son, though an official forensic psychiatric categorized him insane?" All those EU member states, which gleefully backed the US resolution, too, should be concerned about how LTTE terrorism could influence far-right extremism, the outspoken parliamentarian said.

USS Cole

In fact, those wanting to haul Sri Lanka up before international war crimes tribunal had conveniently forgotten the LTTE’s atrocities and how it influenced violence in other parts of the world. Citing a statement attributed to a former Israeli Ambassador based in New Delhi accredited to Colombo in an interview with The Island, Minister Weerawana said that the LTTE pioneered suicide bombings and influenced an unprecedented suicide mission targeting the USS Cole, in the Yemeni port of Aden on Oct. 12, 2000.

The state-of-the-art Destroyer was rammed by a small craft laden with explosives, which blew a 40 foot hole in the side of the guided missile ship.

The operation is widely believed to be very much similar to the Black Sea Tiger hit on surveillance command ship ‘Edithara’ in the Kankesanthurai harbour in the mid 90s.

In both cases, suicide cadres had targeted the waterline.

Sea Tigers had employed similar tactics in another successful attack on another SLN vessel, ‘Abeetha’ off Point Pedro on May 4, 1991.

In an  interview with Soosai, recorded during the LTTE celebrations of Heroes’ Day and broadcast over the BBC Television was posted on the BBC Website’s South Asia section, under the heading, "Tamil Tigers Reveal Suicide Secrets" as a video clip. The news feature introduced the Black Tigers as "the Original Suicide Bombers of the World."

Referring to the attack on USS Cole, Soosai said "They are using our tactics. I think in Yemen they used our strategy of suicide attack to blow up an American ship. That is exactly what we used to do."

Israeli experience

Former New Delhi-based Israeli ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mark Sofer during an interview with The Island early last year said that his country was a victim of suicide bombing pioneered by the LTTE. Sofer said that many Israeli civilians had been killed and wounded due to human bombs and Sri Lanka should be proud of achieving military victory over the LTTE.

The following are excerpts of the interview:

The Island: The government is under heavy fire over its defeat in Geneva. UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, MP, recently urged External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris to accept responsibility for what he calls the ‘Geneva debacle’ and quit his ministerial portfolio. As a constituent partner of the SLFP-led ruling coalition, what is your stand on the Geneva vote? Do you consider it as a debacle for which the External Affairs Minister should take responsibility?

Wimal Weerawansa: Many despised the role played by Prof. Peiris as the chief negotiator when he was a key member of the then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s administration. He was one of those who blatantly jeopardized national security interests through the Norwegian arranged Ceasefire Agreement, which was nothing but a total sellout. But today, Prof. Peiris, as the person responsible for the external affairs portfolio, spearheaded the GoSL’s campaign admiringly. If member states of the UNHRC decided on their position on the basis of presentations made by Prof. Peiris and other members of the GoSL delegation, particularly our Ambassador in Geneva, Tamara Kumanayakam, the majority of members would have voted against the US resolution or abstained. Unfortunately, many countries were forced to take an anti-Sri Lanka stand at the behest of the US, which pursued an extremely hostile strategy.

The Island: The Opposition insists that the Geneva debacle was caused by the UPFA’s failure to manage foreign policy. Some Opposition lawmakers allege that the Rajapaksas are directly responsible for the crisis in our foreign policy. Where did the UPFA go wrong on the foreign affairs front?

Wimal Weerawansa: The UNP never believed the LTTE could be defeated. Wickremesinghe and his loyalists always felt the LTTE was invincible and better equipped to wage unconventional war. The UNP and the TNA believed the LTTE could inflict a massive loss on the army either at Kilinochchi or Mullaitivu and cause the collapse of the entire Vanni front.  The JVP backed the military offensive, though it changed its position subsequently, thereby facilitating the formation of a common front against President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 2010 presidential polls. Those critical of the GoSL’s foreign policy should know that Western powers are angry with President Rajapaksa for not heeding their demand to stop the offensive in April 2009. Had we stopped the offensive and allowed them to evacuate Prabhakaran, his family and key associates, such as Sea Tiger leader Soosai and Intelligence chief Pottu Amman, nothing would have happened. The US wouldn’t have moved a resolution against us in Geneva. No one would have raised accountability issues or appointed a Panel of Experts (PoE) to advise UNSG Ban Ki-moon. But there would have been a major crisis, with Western powers intervening on behalf of the LTTE to carve out an area for the terrorists. The West would have ensured their triumphant return to the Northern and Eastern Provinces and we wouldn’t have had a chance to oppose them.  Vast resources in the Northern and Eastern seas would have been beyond our control. Exploration of oil and natural gas off the Mannar coast wouldn’t have been a reality as long as the LTTE remained in control of some parts of the country.

The Island: The Opposition ridiculed the government for asserting that those who abstained at the voting were supportive of the GoSL. Would you comment on Opposition allegations that the GoSL was isolated in Geneva and those abstained were in fact registering their concern over the human rights situation in Sri Lanka?

Wimal Weerawansa: They are obviously not aware of what is going in other parts of the world. At the 19th sessions, in which the US targeted us, the UN rights council passed five resolutions, against Israel, including one calling for a UN investigation into Israeli settlements, prompting angry reactions from the Jewish state and the US.

Since its establishment six years ago, the council has passed 91 resolutions, 39 of which targeted Israel. In spite of the US working overtime, it didn’t succeed in thwarting resolutions targeting Israel. Of the five resolutions, one saw 46 out of 47 countries voting for a resolution, while the solitary superpower opposed. Those critical of the GoSL’s foreign policy are blind to global realities. In fact, Western powers wouldn’t have sought to evict the Rajapaksas if they gave in to Western dictates. The President is being relentlessly targeted as he is not ready to govern the country the way they want. Western powers don’t care for human rights of any people, including Tamils. The Tamil issue is being cleverly exploited to destabilize the country, in spite of the government doing a tremendous amount of work since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.

The Island: Controversy surrounds India’s decision to vote for the US-sponsored resolution targeting Sri Lanka. Why did India vote against Sri Lanka, a few days after Indian External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna indicated that the SAARC giant still remained committed to Sri Lanka?

Wimal Weerawansa: Indian Premier Manmohan Singh announced his decision to support the US resolution on March 19. It was a game-changer. If India refrained from making an advanced announcement, the situation would have been different. But no one should dispute India’s right to decide on the basis of its political, security and economic interests, though New Delhi should be aware of Western conspiracies. Less than ten days after India supported the US move against the GoSL in Geneva, the UN lambasted the country over accountability issues. In fact UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya on March 5 lashed out at India over human rights. She demanded India to repeal the National Security Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Unlawful Activities Act et al. That was in the run-up to the vote on March 22. Then India was again attacked on March 31 by the US system. The bottom line is that India, too, is under UN investigation, whereas Western forces are killing people with impunity in Iraq, Afghanistan and causing mayhem in various parts of the world, on the pretext of promoting democracy.

The Island: What is the role played by the Tamil Diaspora in the anti-GoSL strategy?

Wimal Weerawansa: I prefer to call them the LTTE rump.  None of those human rights champions raised their voice against the LTTE when it was pursuing a military strategy at the expense of the Tamil community. They remained silent as long as they felt the LTTE could overwhelm the army. Today, they are working with Western governments to destabilize Sri Lanka. A key factor, which we shouldn’t ignore, is the relationship between the overseas Tamil vote and the common strategy Western powers have adopted against us. Don’t forget that the LTTE was able to influence the Tamil vote in support of the likes of one-time British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband and ousted Norwegian Minister, Erik Solheim.

The Island: Do you agree that the government hadn’t been fully successful in countering anti-Sri Lanka propaganda carried out by Western powers, NGOs and the Opposition?

Wimal Weerawansa: We could have done a better job. We’ll have to take people into confidence and tell them what is going on. Unfortunately, our efforts through the media have not been as successful as it should be. May be our focus on development oriented media campaign after the conclusion of the conflict, post-war elections contributed to our failures on the human rights front.

The Island: What is happening in the JVP? Speculation is rife that the Marxist party is facing an unprecedented crisis due to a section of the party seeking to register a new party, thereby causing irrevocable damage.

Wimal Weerawansa: The JVP is on the verge of collapse. In the near future, it will be irrelevant in the domestic political scene, with the so-called rebels with the support of external elements taking control of the grass-root level organization. We switched our allegiance to the UPFA in early April 2008, after failing to convince the party that they should unconditionally support the offensive against the LTTE, regardless of whatever differences over other contentious issues. Those who are now poised to register a political party of their own are working overtime with Western powers to destabilize the country. They pose a considerable threat to political stability. Although they cooperate with those pursuing the LTTE’s strategy to divide the country on ethnic lines, their aim is not separation, but political chaos and instability to pave the way for external intervention for a post-war regime change. In spite of the rebels indicating their leader Premakumara Gunaratnam coming on stage at the forthcoming launch of the party, he’ll not make an appearance. Instead, Senadeera Gunathilake, alias Opatha Mahattaya, is now expected to be elected as the General Secretary of the party, which will compete with the TNA for Tamil votes in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Premakumara Gunaratnam, whose brother, Ranjitham Gunaratnam died at the hands of security forces during the 1989 insurgency, is likely to remain underground. The new party is likely to have control of the student movement, thereby further weakening the JVP. Actually, the JVP is now divided into three groups, with two taking positions opposed to each other, whereas the original party remains engulfed in a political mess.

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