Recent killings of intelligence operatives in Sri Lanka



by Ilankai Tamil Sangam

September 14, 2003

Recent killings of intelligence operatives in Sri Lanka

The Association would like to set straight recent news reports, including alerts by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, that "political opponents" of the LTTE are being killed.

What is not mentioned in these news reports is that those killed are members of paramilitary groups involved in intelligence-gathering and funded by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense or by the intelligence wings of regional powers. Because the military is Sinhalese, they need Tamils for intelligence gathering, etc. Regional powers have their own interests to protect.  Those killed are "security forces informants" according to Iqbal Athas, Colombo's Sunday Times defense correspondent.

Amnesty International regularly reported on the torture activities & involvement in disappearances of these paramilitaries until the ceasefire. In addition, there have been numerous reports of their involvement in criminal activities.

Even during the ceasefire the intelligence-gathering of these groups can be less than innocent, especially taking into consideration the reports of threats on Mr. Anton Balasingam's life on one of his recent trips to Sri Lanka.

Some members of these paramilitaries opposed to the LTTE have been encouraged during the period of turmoil in the Northeast to run for political office to lend their votes in Parliament to the ruling party. The elections these groups participated in were hardly democratic, considering the state of war pertaining at the time. The conflict prevented the updating of electoral lists or impartial poll monitoring. Several EPDP members were elected in 1994 with less than 100 votes from their constituencies in areas under military occupation and were crucial in maintaining PM Kumaratunge's majority in Parliament for years. This hardly makes them realistic "political" opponents.

The Tamil paramilitaries were to be disarmed or integrated into the Sri Lankan armed forces, i.e. cease to exist as independent military formations, according to the Memorandum of Understanding that set up the current ceasefire in February, 2002. If these paramilitaries insist on continuing to engage in their previous intelligence-gathering activities, their lives will continue to be at risk.

The Association condemns the killing of civilians. Civilians should be able to live normal lives without fear or harm.

The Association, however, cannot condone the political uses to which the killings of these security forces informants are being put. This political use is to strike at the legitimacy of the LTTE to run an administration for a people who clearly want their own government free of outside interference.

** Sangam members who wish to distribute the press release on sangam letterhead should contact the Secretary.**