Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

An Open Letter to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

by Dr. Victor Rajakulendran, Sydney, Australia

The international community does not seem to understand your unscrupulous schemes.  For example you started an offensive along the northern frontier to justify closing down the A9 highway, so that, under the pretense of supplying and transporting the civilians of the peninsula, you can guarantee safe transport and supply to the 40,000 troops stationed in the peninsula via the sea.  You are supplying your troops now at the expense of the sufferings of the civilians in the north and amid heavy losses to your troops in the north...

The Tamil leadership decided that the Tamils have to let the Singhalese decide whom they want out of the two candidates for President, and let the world know the Sinhala decision.  In the past, in all the presidential elections, only the candidate who got the majority of the Tamil votes was successful in coming to power... 

We all know that all the military offensives in the East are meant to show a quick victory in the battleground and you intend to use that victory to lure the poor Singhalese voters to your side and secure the parliamentary majority you badly need.  You do not care whatever hardships the Tamils may have to go through for you to achieve this end.

His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa
President of Sri Lanka
“Temple Trees”
Colombo 3
Sri Lanka

Your Excellency,

Re: Your attempt to hoodwink the international community

Your Excellency, the whole world knows that the cease-fire agreement signed between the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe (RW) and the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran (VP) in February 2002 brought a respite in the two decades old military confrontation between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the armed forces of the LTTE. 

Although there were 6 rounds of peace talks with Norwegian facilitation between RW's administration and the LTTE, RW’s administration failed to fulfil its commitments regarding the major clauses in the agreement, particularly those that were included with the intention of bringing relief to the civilians in the North-East who had been affected by the two decades of war. 

Your Excellency, the plight of these people was worsened when the then President Chandrika Kumarathunka (CK) suddenly dissolved RW’s government and formed a government of her party the SLFP, in coalition with the extreme Marxist Singhalese chauvinist party, the JVP.  You became the Prime Minister in this government and you did not take any attempt to revive the peace talks that was stalled at that time. 

When RW was removed from his office of Prime Minister, the LTTE had just submitted a proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) for the troubled Tamil Homeland and RW was about to begin negotiations with the LTTE to establish an interim government for the North-East. 

As the new Prime Minister at that time, you not only did not make any effort to continue that negotiation, but under your administration your security forces started using the Tamil paramilitaries to target unarmed LTTE leaders who were involved in political activities in government-controlled areas, political activities permitted by the cease-fire agreement.  Everyone in Sri Lanka knows that these Tamil paramilitaries are ex-Tamil militants who are opposed to the LTTE, are harboured by the security forces for intelligence-gathering and operate out of security forces' camps.

Your Excellency, your predecessor CK had to leave the office of Presidency as she had served two terms.  You contested against RW for the Presidency in November 2005.  You decided to form a pact with the extreme Marxist Singhalese chauvinistic party, the JVP, and the Singhalese extremist, chauvinistic party of Buddhist monks, the JHU. 

You agreed to the conditions laid down by these parties that included:

  • not to accept the North-East as the Tamil homeland,
  • no solution under a federal constitution but only under the existing unitary constitution,
  • no talks with the LTTE until they lay down their weapons and
  • the Norwegians have to be expelled from the facilitation role. 

While you campaigned on this platform, your arch rival RW, knowing the importance of the peace process for the stability and hence the economy of the country, campaigned on a platform to continue the peace process with Norwegian facilitation.  However, RW wanted to assure the Singhalese voters that he was not inferior to you in imposing a solution to the Tamil National problem.  Therefore, he had to discuss in public the so-called “International Safety Net” that he had been building up - while simultaneously talking to the LTTE - if in case the LTTE did not agree to what his administration wanted to impose on the Tamils as the final solution.   

Your Excellency, at this stage the Tamil leadership, {the LTTE and the Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians, (22 of the 23 Tamil parliamentarians from the North-East, the Tamil Homeland)} decided that the Tamils have to let the Singhalese decide whom they want out of the two as the President, and let the world know the Sinhala decision.  In the past, in all the presidential elections, only the candidate who got the majority of the Tamil votes was successful in coming to power.  Willingly or unwillingly (this is still debated by many), the Tamils decided to exercise their democratic right not to vote in the presidential election.  The majority of the Tamils living in the Tamil Homeland, including those who live in the Jaffna peninsula which is under government control, did not participate in the presidential election.  Only as a result of this boycott did you get the opportunity to become the President, that also with a razer-thin margin.

Your Excellency, please touch your heart and tell the world the truth.  Didn’t you change all the top military top brass with hardliners soon after you became the President?  Didn’t you appoint your own brothers, Gothabaya Rajapaksa as the defence secretary and Basil Rajapaksa as an adviser?  Does this not demonstrate that you want to keep your secret military agenda close to your own family and also that you do not trust either the senior members of your own party or your newly-gained coalition partners?

Your Excellency, although you agreed to your coalition partners’ demand to eliminate the Norwegians from their facilitation role before the elections, after you became the President you could not fulfil this promise.  This is because you realised that if you did so your country will be isolated from the international community and deprived of the economic aid it receives, and depends on, for balancing its budget. Instead of asking the Norwegians to leave outright, you decided to put stumbling blocks to their efforts in restarting the stalled peace talks. 

Your administration continued from where the late Foreign Minister Kathirgamar in President Chandrika government left off in his campaign of banning the LTTE by western nations.  Your administration succeeded in persuading the European Union (EU) to ban the LTTE, even against the advice of many European nations, including Norway.  As a result, the LTTE could not allow members from the EU continue to be part of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).  This made the monitoring of the cease-fire almost impossible for the SLMM due to lack of manpower. 

Simultaneously, you and your military strategists schemed to make use of the Tamil paramilitaries to carry out terrorist activities against unarmed Tamils, including unarmed local LTTE leaders.  Your security forces colluded with some of these paramilitaries, that were conveniently named after the defection of the LTTE Eastern commander “Karuna” as the “Karuna group”, to abduct Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) volunteers and execute them and waylaid the vehicles in which LTTE leaders were travelling unarmed under the cease-fire agreement and shoot them at point-blank range.  Most of these incidents happened just after these vehicles had passed through security forces' checkpoints, indicating that the security forces have colluded with these paramilitary groups.

Your Excellency, even after experiencing all this misdemeanours at the hands of your administration, the LTTE agreed to sit down and talk to your administration and did so in Geneva.  At these talks, your administration agreed to put an end to all the armed activities of the so-called “Karuna group” and other paramilitaries from the government-controlled areas.  However, even before your delegation had left Geneva, the “Karuna group” intensified its operations.  An Australian SBS Television crew recently travelled to the area from where the "Karuna group" has been functioning and proved beyond a doubt, through the program they aired, that these paramilitaries are operating from camps situated next to the SL security force’s camps. 

As a result of these covert operations of the paramilitaries, the peace talks could not continue and the LTTE was forced to retaliate by striking at the heart of the Sri Lankan defence establishment.  When the Army Commander escaped a suicide attack on his life inside army headquarters, you ordered air strikes on Sampoor, an LTTE-controlled area adjacent to the Trincomalee harbour, which resulted in heavy civilian casualties. 

Then, using a civilian water dispute near Tricomalee, you ordered ground operations in the Mavilaru region with the intention of taking over Sampoor.  Your forces even shelled the SLMM chief who went to open the sluice gate of this waterway.  After a few weeks of fierce fighting for control of the area, the LTTE withdrew with their heavy guns from Sampoor after the civilians moved south to Vaharai area. 

During this battle, your security forces also opened hostilities in the northern frontier at Muhamalai and justified the closure of the A9 highway, the only highway linking the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the country. 

Your security forces were alleged to have killed 17 Tamil relief workers of a French relief agency in an execution-style killing in Muttur town during this offensive operation.  An investigation involving the international community is yet to establish the perpetrators of this inhumane act, although the SLMM has ruled that no party other than the Sri Lankan security forces could have committed this crime.

Your Excellency, even after you have ignored the fundamental principles of the cease-fire agreement by all these military activities, you, your defence spokesperson Kehelia Rambukwella, and the former Australian DFAT employee and your own Secretary General of the Sri Lankan Peace secretariat, Palitha Kohana, have been trying to hoodwink the international community by saying that all these military activities are retaliatory operations against LTTE offensives.  Whether the international community believes your justifications or not, they seem to ignore pleas from the UN, ICRC and the UNHCR to safeguard the civilians caught up in your military offensives. 

The international community does not seem to understand your unscrupulous schemes.  For example you started an offensive along the northern frontier to justify closing down the A9 highway, so that, under the pretense of supplying and transporting the civilians of the peninsula, you can guarantee safe transport and supply to the 40,000 troops stationed in the peninsula via the sea.  But you failed to fool the LTTE into providing this guarantee.  You are supplying your troops now at the expense of the sufferings of the civilians in the north and amid heavy losses to your troops in the north. 

The other day your army commander confessed in public in Washington, DC that in a 20 hours operation at the northern frontier, your forces lost more than 300 soldiers. 

For more than 4 months the people in Jaffna have been kept in an open prison without basic supplies provided.  Realising the plight of these people and after pressure from Tamil Nadu politicians, India has started to send supplies directly from Chennai to the port of Point Pedro in the Jaffna peninsula.

Your Excellency, in the east you are continuing the efforts of all your predecessors very efficiently and secretly.  The goal is to ethnically cleanse the East of the country from Tamils.  Particularly the Trincomalee district, where successive Sri Lankan governments have tried to colonise the Tamil areas with Singhalese, your administration is terrorising the Tamils so they will flee south towards Batticaloa district, with the idea of colonising these areas vacated by Tamils with Singhalese. 

You have planned out a strategy to create an Economic Trade Zone in Trincomalee to facilitate this colonisation. 

As part of this ethnic cleansing of the Trincomalee district, first your security forces chased all the civilians from Sampoor area to Vaharai area down south.  Now, for the last 3 months, your forces have bombarded this area, which had around 40,000 displaced people a few months ago, while blocking the A15 highway which is the only entry and egress to this coastal strip.  You have also used food as a weapon of war to flush out the displaced people from this area.  Only 15,000 people are left in this area now and the UN has now warned that these people are undergoing starvation. 

From August 2006, in your military agenda, you have ordered indiscriminate aerial bombing of Tamil civilian targets.  First, you ordered the bombing of a residential camp of High School children - killing about 60 children - , then several villages and hospital areas. 

The LTTE is adhering to the cease-fire agreement and patiently tolerating all your provocation without going into an all-out war, restricting themselves to repulsive attacks only.  Because of this, you are able to continue these war crimes and portray your armed forces as stronger than the LTTE to the Singhalese people and the international community.  Even if the poor Singhalese masses believe you, I do not think you can fool the international community forever.

Your Excellency, while you, your brothers, your adviser Kehalia Rambukwella and your Peace Secretariat chief Palitha Kohana are trying to justify to the international community all your military offensives are retaliatory attacks against LTTE offensives, your army commander has now spilled the beans. The independent Daily Mirror recently quoted Army Chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka as saying in Kandy that the East would be totally rid of the LTTE in two or three months.  "After eradicating the Tigers from the East, full strength would be used to rescue the North," he added. 

Earlier, in an informal year-end interaction with the local and foreign media in Colombo, General Fonseka said that the Security Forces would be able to take the strategic eastern coastal towns of Vaharai and Kadiraweli in about a month.  Only the rains and the slushy terrain were preventing the tri-services from launching an offensive to capture the two objectives, he said. 

These statements from your army commander amount to declaration of war by your government.  If the LTTE takes his words seriously, full-scale war is inevitable in the near future and all your attempts to hoodwink the international community will be exposed.

Your Excellency, whether your army commander’s rhetoric is achievable or not, everyone knows that you need to go for a parliamentary election to bolster your party with a parliamentary majority to avoid the dependency on extremist coalition partners.  We all know that all the military offensives in the East are meant to show a quick victory in the battleground and you intend to use that victory to lure the poor Singhalese voters to your side and secure the parliamentary majority you badly need.  You do not care whatever hardships the Tamils may have to go through for you to achieve this end.

Your Excellency, the recent political history of Sri Lanka teaches us that the election results in Sri Lanka are decided by the actions of one man.  He is no other than the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabakaran.  Therefore, even at this last hour, I would like to quote what the Rt, Rev. Duleep de Chickera Bishop of Colombo appealed to you on the 9th January 2007.  He declared that, “I consequently appeal once again to the President to act for the greater good of all people of all communities. I urge the President to counter the violence of the first week of 2007 by declaring this year as the year of peace; and to immediately declare an unilateral truce, provide relief and humanitarian aid to all trapped communities, and initiate a wise and sincere course of action towards peace conversations. The nation and the world will rally round this healing initiative and make it work.”

Your Excellency, finally I appeal to you from this great Southland to speak the truth and only the truth and, if you are keen on a negotiated settlement, as you profess frequently, to show this by your deeds. 

I earnestly appeal to you to give up all your military agenda and avoid facing a war crimes tribunal in the future, as many leaders who have followed your path have recently done, and save your country from the brink of a disaster.

Yours truly,
Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
Sydney, Australia


CC:

Hon. Jonas Gahr Store, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

Hon. Erik Solheim, Minister of International Development, Norway

Hon. Dr. Condolleeza Rice, Secretary of State, USA

Her Excellency Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, UE Presidency, European Union

Hon. Taro Aso, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Japan

Hon. Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom

Hon. Pranab Mukkerjee, External Affairs Minister, India

Hon. Alexander Downer, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia

Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand

Hon. Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada

Hon. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland

Hon. Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden

Hon. Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland

Hon. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Foreign Minister, Germany

Hon. Minister Massimo D’Alema, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy

Hon. Philippe Douste-Blazy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, France

Hon. D. Miguel A’ngel Moratinos Cuyaube’, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain

Hon. Bernard Bot, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands

Hon. Karel De Gucht, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Belgium

Hon. Dr. Ursula Plassnik, Foreign Minister, Austria

Hon. Per Stig Moller, The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark

Hon. Dermot Ahern T.D., Secretary of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Republic of Ireland

Hon. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa