B. Muralidhar Reddy

6,261 security forces personnel have died ever since military operations began in 2006, says Brigadier Nanayakkara

U.N. Secretary-General hails Rajapaksa’s assurance on amicable solution

There are many challenges such as relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconciliation

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Sunday said that from the day the ‘Wanni battle’ took a fierce turn, over 9,100 LTTE cadres have surrendered to them.

Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told The Hindu that the continuous defeats of the LTTE made its cadres to abandon the outfit in large numbers.

“Over 7,237 terrorists who had surrendered to the military are now being rehabilitated at various centres. Among them are 1,601 women. Another batch of 202 terrorists, including 80 men, are in IDP camps.”

They were identified by the military and separated from the refugees in the welfare camps.

He said “they surrendered to the troops when the military offensive got tough. The 202 terrorists, including women, are well-trained.” Brigadier Nanayakkara said that over 2,379 cadres, who fled from the LTTE clutches in the last phases of fighting along with civilians, were identified by the military.

Over 2,065 men cadres surrendered to the troops at the Forward Defence Lines as they were disillusioned with their leadership. “They had sensed the defeat and realised that the LTTE cadres had to fight to protect the life of the LTTE leader and not for Eelam.”

Brigadier Nanayakkara said that while the military killed over 22,000 Tigers, 6,261 members of the security forces died ever since military operations began in August 2006, while 29,551 were injured with 2,556 having been left disabled.

Protection sought

The spokesperson said that over 271,967 refugees had sought protection under the government and majority of them had been kept as hostages by the late LTTE leader. They fled the No-Fire Zone in Puthumathalan despite the tough warnings by the Tiger cadres from April 20 to 22.

“Having successfully concluded the world’s biggest hostage rescue operation, the military saved the lives of over 1,80,000 people without firing a single round of bullet. The Internally Displaced Persons are being facilitated in government welfare centres in 29 locations, including schools.”

Joint statement

Meanwhile, a joint statement by Sri Lanka and the United Nations issued here at the conclusion of U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon’s 24-hour visit to the island nation said both sides agreed that the post-war situation offered opportunities for long-term development of the North and for re-establishing democratic institutions and electoral politics after two decades.

“The government expressed its commitment to ensure the economic and political empowerment of the people of the North through its programmes. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development.

“The Secretary-General welcomed the assurance of the President of Sri Lanka contained in his statement in Parliament on May 19, 2009 that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved. President Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as well as to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties in the new circumstances, to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka.”

The statement said that Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Ban discussed areas in which the United Nations would assist in the ongoing efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in addressing the future challenges and opportunities.

With regard to the IDPs, the United Nations would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the IDPs now in Vavuniya and Jaffna and the government would continue to provide access to humanitarian agencies.

“The government will expedite the provision of necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as means of livelihood necessary for the IDPs to resume their normal lives. The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by the government expressing its intention to dismantle the welfare villages at the earliest as outlined in the Plan to resettle the bulk of the IDPs and called for its early implementation,” it said.

The statement said the government sought the cooperation of the international community in mine-clearing, which was a prerequisite to expediting the early return of the IDPs and the Secretary-General called for donor assistance towards the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) jointly launched by the GOSL and the U.N., which supports the relief, shelter and humanitarian needs of those in IDP sites.

“President Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General recognised that the large number of former child soldiers, forcibly recruited by the LTTE, as an important issue in the post-conflict context. President Rajapaksa reiterated his firm policy of zero-tolerance to child recruitment.”

The joint statement said the Government of Sri Lanka faced many immediate and long-term challenges relating to issues of relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconciliation and Mr. Rajapaksa informed the Secretary-General of the ongoing initiatives relating to rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-combatants.

“Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations.”

TULF’s appeal

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to the Competent Authority in-charge of welfare of IDPs, Tamil United Liberation Front leader V. Anandasangaree urged sympathetic consideration of the pathetic plight of expectant mothers among the IDPs and release them from the welfare centres for specified short periods.

“I need not remind you that, till they were rescued from Mullivaikal they underwent immense hardships. With no proper food and rest and with limited supply of Triposa, they are much under-nourished and weak. They could have access to any of their requirements only after coming into the welfare centres.”

He claimed that there were about 1,000 such cases in various camps in Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna and all of them had relations and friends in the North.

“I do not think that this category of persons is of any security threat. I shall consider it as a great favour if the mothers who had delivered of babies and the expectant mothers in an advanced stage of pregnancy are handed over to the relatives or friends who are prepared to take charge of them and look after them for a specified period, which you consider as reasonable.”

In another letter, he urged the competent authority for the release of 132 lorries engaged by the Government Agent of Vavuniya to transport goods from Vavuniya to the combatant area on January 29, 2009 and before.

“It is very unfortunate that apart from the lorries, the owners and drivers and cleaners got caught in the combatant area. The most unfortunate thing is that of these owners, drivers and cleaners, some got killed, and of the balance some got injured and all of them are now in one or the other of the welfare centres.”