- the sole authority for north east
LTTE may be still appearing to be dilly dallying over whether to step up
to the negotiating table once again, but the moment it does so, it would
be the one and only organisation in the north east that can take full
advantage of the monies flowing in.
that there ever was any doubt that any other organisation could
challenge the hold the Tiger's have over the north east population.
manner in which the North East Needs Assessment report was compiled
shows how the LTTE is in a position to control the situation.
week's back World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka, Peter Harrold
told The Sunday Leader that when the report was put together, there most
certainly were consultations with the ordinary people in the
uncontrolled areas along with other parties. He was dismissing lingering
criticism that report was just the reflection of the needs of the LTTE.
who had a very close range view of the compilation of the report have
now come forward to say that while the World Bank may have consulted the
people, it cannot be said of the report as a whole.
report was the result of the World Bank working with UN agencies, the
Asian Development Bank and other multilateral agencies. Bilateral
donors, meaning individual donor countries did not take part in the
compilation but were involved in workshops.
Needs Assessment (NA) was prepared at the request of the LTTE and the
government. The agencies involved took it upon themselves to carry out
the ground work on various sub-sectors and finally the research was put
together as a report after consultation with the government and the LTTE.
The first leg of the work was under taken in January this year.
Asian Development Bank handled
the sub sectors infrastructure, micro finance and small and medium
enterprise development, the World Bank
focused on education and housing,
FAO agriculture, livestock and fisheries, WHO health, UNHCR
resettlement and protection and UNDP micro finance along with ADB. (UNDP
was billed to compile the section on governance, however that section
never appeared on the report. Critics have argued that the absence was
at the insistence of the LTTE). ILO handled employment and training
while UNICEF helped the World Bank in handling the education sector.
of these agencies had a team leader and teams worked under that office.
The size of the teams varied from organisation to organisation but
almost all hired experts were from outside.
teams were given direction
by a 'management team' representing advisors from the UNDP, team leaders
and representatives from the government as well as the LTTE.
the initial work that commenced in mid-January, the agencies were to
present their reports at a meeting from March 19 to 22. Initially the
meeting was to be held at a neutral venue close to the uncleared areas.
The LTTE however let it be known that the 'validation meeting' should be
held in Kilinochchi. So hundreds of participants from the teams, from
the government and the LTTE, NGOs -
international, national as well as local ones from the areas
under preview, representatives from multilateral as well as bilateral
donors, academics and others flocked to Kilinochchi for the meeting.
LTTE got a windfall by the shift of venue, according to some sources
that The Sunday Leader has spoken to. The payments reached the LTTE
through SIHRN. Agencies taking part in the meeting bore the costs for
meals, auditorium facilities and translators.
two workshops followed during the last week of March and the first week
of April. These workshops were at Pegasus Reef Hotel in Wattala and
Trans Asia Hotel, Colombo. During the sessions each multilateral agency
presented a revised draft of what each presented at Kilinochchi. At
these meetings the LTTE was represented by J. Maheswaran and two other
consultants drawing pay cheques from
a multilateral donor.
government also made a request at the Kilinochchi meeting, a politically
prudent one, given the bickering that takes place. The government
requested the agencies
prepare a separate assessment for the areas outlying the north-east.
These areas were from the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa,
Monaragala and Puttalam.
some of the sub-sectors these areas had in fact been looked into. But
the agencies prepared a separate assessment for the areas following the
two documents, one for north-east and another for the adjoining areas -
as requested by the government were presented officially to the
government and the LTTE on April 7. The documents were placed by the
government on its Peace Secretariat web site. The government also wanted
the public to come forward with its views and observations on the
despite some heavy criticism that the reports were lopsided, the
government has so far not reacted to the public's reactions.
late-May the multilateral agencies presented the final draft which was
then presented at the Tokyo meeting.
The Sunday Leader spoke to said that neither the government nor the LTTE
gave any official feedback. Some felt that since it was an initiative
taken by donor agencies, the government did not want to be identified
too much with it.
the LTTE did not officially provide any feedback, two of their nominees
were consultants to the NA and several LTTE members commented and gave
information in the course of preparing the NA, making them an active
party to the document," one source said.
situation, considering that Anton Balasingham in one of his by now many
missives to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe sent on April 21 had
raised reservations about the Needs Assessment.
LTTE is also using the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) to liase
with multilateral agencies, NGOs and other entities who are flocking to
the north east.
is registered with the Social Service
Department as required by law. However, it is an open secret that TRO is
an outstretched arm of the LTTE. One agency that is dealing with TRO is
the World Bank.
weeks ago Harrold commented that the Bank has been working in the north
east at least since three and a half years back.
was referring to the North East Irrigation Agriculture Project (NEIAP).
Though the project commenced three and a half years ago, according to
sources familiar with the project, it only extended into the Wanni with
the MoU last year.
social mobilisation component of the NEIAP was handed over to TRO. World
Bank procedure stipulates that local or national NGOs should be
subcontracted to carry out the project. But whether it could have chosen
another organisation other than TRO remains unanswered. Queries
forwarded to the Colombo office last week remained unanswered.
say that the World Bank and other organisations should not be dealing
with TRO, with its LTTE affiliations. TRO according to them does not
submit annual accounts to relevant authorities thus, not fulfilling
of the criticism goes even beyond TRO. There is a charge that one of the
district coordinators in the NEIAP is a close relative of a top LTTEer.
This does not disqualify him from holding office. But such affiliations
only add to the existing situation in the Wanni, where the population is
held hostage by the LTTE.
some researchers and aid workers lament that they are denied access to
the Wanni populace, others are now charging that agencies like the World
Bank might be gaining
unhindered access, as claimed by Harrold, probably due to forging
relationships with the likes of the TRO.
it is not only the World Bank that is establishing such links. UNICEF
recently signed an MoU with TRO for the setting up of transit centres
for the rehabilitation of child soldiers. TRO and UNICEF will co-manage
the centres which would be overseen by local probation officers. Once
again TRO's links with the LTTE have cast doubts over how successful
such centres would be. And
also over dealing with those responsible for the recruitment of children
- if ever such action is taken.
the Children is another organisation that is building a rapport with TRO.
In May, Save the Children sponsored a Sri Lankan delegation attending an
international conference in Stockholm in Sweden.
of the delegates, representing TRO was not a Sri Lankan.
are a few non-nationals now working
with TRO. Some are married to Tamils living overseas. And two such
non-nationals were working on the NA - both sponsored by a multilateral
agency. One was a retired Tamil expatriate who functioned as the LTTE
representative in the management team. Sources who have had to deal with
the two are of the opinion that both lacked professional competence to
take part in the NA and have questioned the selection criteria used by
the multilateral agency when footing the pay cheque.
LTTE's all consuming authority in the north east is but one of the
requirements for gaining peace. Whether the south is willing to
acknowledge and accept such power is still unclear. Tiger's actions
since the MoU is significant - that whatever the south would like to
believe, peace or war - there would be but one thumb print of power.
has shed arms for the time being" -
LTTE's unrelenting behaviour has meant that 'I told you so's'
are flying right into the government's face. There is no
denying that the LTTE is out to gain full control of the north
east politically.Velupillai Pirapaharan wants the whole nine yards
and lecturer at the Colombo University and one time minister of
EPRLF ruled North East Provincial Council, Dayan Jayatileke last
week observed that it was foolish to even entertain the thought
that the LTTE was ever going to allow the civil population some
his view, the LTTE is not a movement of the masses, representing
and fighting for the rights and needs of the population. "We
are not seeing any change over from this."
it is the contrary that is true. The LTTE, Jayatileke charges, is
using the population as a battering ram.
was the case in Jaffna on Friday when the Tiger sponsored Pongu
Thamil festival was celebrated. The LTTE had two weeks back put a
stop to a celebration of peace, scheduled at the Jaffna
University. The ceremony was organised to hand over medals to
peace activists. The undergraduates were not for it and in fact
turned the varsity premises into the organising ground for Pongu
life drew to a halt with everything other than schools closed
shut. It was an 'unofficial' bank and public holiday in Jaffna
courtesy of the LTTE.
But Jaffna University Students Union which was in charge of the
festival was doing it in style. There were even Buddhist monks in
attendance. Even press cards were issued.
behaviour in turn has resulted in fears being expressed that there
was no certainty that the Tigers would not go back to arms.
Jayatileke for one believes that it is ridiculous to refer to LTTE
cadres operating outside the un-controlled areas as unarmed:
"they have just shed arms for the time being."
on top of that the LTTE has not showed any inclination to allow
activists from other parties and organisations to operate in areas
under its control.
die hard 'peaceniks' are beginning to see that the LTTE would have
to change its manners if it is to be welcomed with open arms into
the democratic frame.
an organisation that seeks politico-administrative power in the
north east, the LTTE needs to demonstrate it can be entrusted with
the powers of governance in a manner that respects rights and
basic democratic freedoms, such as the right to life and respect
ethnic and political pluralism. Taking the peace process forward
is not simply a matter of peace talks between the government and
LTTE aimed at sharing powers of governance. It is also about a new
discourse in which the use of coercion and violence is abandoned
and outlawed," Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council
said last week.