According to SLMM statistics, the LTTE has committed the
highest number of atrocities in the recruitment of children and
1,143 cases of forced child recruitment have been ruled by the
monitoring organisation as being in total violation of the
The Tigers have also been found guilty of having abducted
304 adults during this period while causing harassment in 167
separate incidents. The SLMM has further ruled that the LTTE
during this time also committed 50 hostile acts against the
civilian population while the government in this context stands
guilty of eight incidents.
The biggest charge in terms of numbers against government
forces stands at 40 incidents of harassment which the Scandinavian
monitors have ruled as being direct violations of the ceasefire
There are nine cases of torture and 65 incidents where
the LTTE has been found guilty by the SLMM of obstructing measures
to restore normalcy. The
Tamil Tigers also stand guilty of moving within the zone of
separation on 18 occasions, constructing eight new positions and
guilty of moving military equipment 11 times from February 2002 to
April this year.
While the incidents have been placed on record and after
due investigation, the matter ends there. Neither side appears to
take the SLMM seriously enough to stop committing the violations
and senior sources within the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat confided
that since the SLMM is not in a position to police either party,
the entire issue is laid to rest with only a mere documentation of
the number of incidents.
The violations however are not going unnoticed by either
the government or the LTTE. In the last few weeks tensions have
been running high. So much so, the LTTE has begun to accuse
government forces of hiding its former rebel Eastern Commander,
Col. Karuna whom the Tigers accuse of being responsible for
staging killings of LTTE cadres and supporters.
The accusation followed the brutal slaying of Tamil
journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan who was gunned down while riding his
bike in Batticaloa. The entire north and east virtually came to a
standstill last Thursday when a massive hartal campaign was
launched in protest of the journalist's killing.
However, Defence Secretary Cyril Herath has been quick to
respond and on Thursday chided the Tigers for making "wild
accusations." In a strongly worded letter to SLMM Chief,
Trond Furuhovde, Herath said the military totally rejected the
allegations leveled against them by the Tigers stating,
"Those allegations are without any substance, and we totally
The LTTE for its part is also not mincing words. They
have warned the government that if the killings of LTTE loyalists
in the north and east continue, "the people of Sri Lanka
might have to face a calamitous period."
The Tigers suspect the government of foul play following
the murder of the Tamil journalist who had recently criticised the
government and security forces.
Nadesan was murdered just days after Kumaravel Thambaiah, a
senior lecturer in the Eastern University was shot dead by
unidentified gunmen at his home in Batticaloa town around 4:30
p.m. on Monday, May 24.
In a meeting organised by the SLMM in the Batticaloa
District on June 2, LTTE's Special Commander (Batticaloa-Amparai
region), Col. Ramesh pointed out to Overall Operation Commander
(Eastern Province), Sri Lanka Army, Shantha Kottegoda that
elements of the army were involved in the recent killings in
Batticaloa and that the army was associating closely with the
renegade Karuna group.
On the other hand, the government too has lodged a strong
protest over a series of killings of political leaders and former
intelligence operatives by the Tigers in violation of the truce.
Official figures show that about 25 military informants,
operatives and Tamil political activists had been gunned down
since the LTTE entered into the Norwegian-brokered truce on
February 23, 2002.
The Scandinavian team monitoring the truce continue to
say the attacks pose a serious threat to the stability of the
ceasefire but beyond making such statements the monitors are
powerless to police either side.
The monitors themselves have come under scathing attacks
while on many occasions being accused of partiality.
The University Teachers for Human Rights Jaffna (UTHR),
an academic outfit that has made a critical assessment of the
20-year civil war and the anti-LTTE Eelam People's Democratic
Party (EPDP), have separately accused the Norwegian led SLMM for
remaining silent over a string of LTTE murders.
The UTHR said the Norwegians were maintaining a
"notable silence" on these killings and only referred
complaints against the LTTE to the police.
The teachers' human rights group has also blamed the
government saying that the police lower rankers did not have
proper instructions from the top on how to handle these LTTE
killings due to the ongoing peace process.
The UTHR accuses the LTTE of having gunned down soldiers
belonging to a till-recently secretive deep-penetration unit that
once hunted the LTTE leadership in the jungles and also having
targetted rival EPDP cadres as well.
LTTE death squad
The teachers say that both in the Tamil populated north
and east, as well as in greater Colombo areas, the LTTE has mobile
pistol-squads operating on motorbikes who act as a rapid
deployment force when scouts spot a target.
The group maintains, reports of surveillance, harassment
and abduction by the rebels have also increased. Warning of more
killings, the UTHR insists the Tigers are taking advantage of the
present truce to carry out murders.
In a 23-page report issued on May 2, 2003 that
painstakingly documents details of many political killings by the
LTTE, the human rights group said even after the United States,
now widely considered to be a key player in the resolution of the
Sri Lankan problem, requested the LTTE to renounce violence and
also heaped praise on the peace process, the LTTE appeared more
confident about killing its political opponents, with the Ranil
Wickremesinghe government's complicity regarding such matters
taken for granted.
The report maintains that as far as the assassinations
are concerned, the situation in the east is way out of hand. It
says, "Having got the message that the MoU will do little to
prevent or punish political killings, the LTTE is now quite open
about it. Members of opposition parties particularly in the east
dare not leave their political offices. They visit their homes at
great risk." The incidents illustrate the kind of impunity
the LTTE enjoys now.
Subtle and chilling
"Even in the heart of Batticaloa town, LTTE spies
quite openly hang out with cellphones. When they spot a target
they summon the death squads who would come promptly on
motorcycles or auto rickshaws. Under the MoU, the LTTE's political
opponents have been deprived of the weapons they had for their
protection, while the LTTE goes about with arms and has shot
people in public, while the police and the army do nothing. In
Jaffna things can be subtler and for that reason more
On a more positive note though, since the ceasefire,
there has been a noticeable improvement in the human rights
situation throughout the country, albeit no measures have yet been
taken to redress past violations. In addition to reducing further
displacement, these improvements also benefit Internally Displaced
People (IDPs) in their current locations by increasing their
prospects for durable solutions, especially their return to areas
Article 2.1 of the ceasefire MoU provides that "the
parties shall in accordance with international law abstain from
hostile acts against the civilian population, including such acts
as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and
Although the list of 'protected' rights is not
exhaustive, both sides tend to interpret that other rights, such
as the freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom from
unlawful detention, are not covered by the MoU. Thus, they are not
incorporated into the monitoring arrangements put in place to
verify the fulfillment of the agreement.
It has further been suggested that the SLMM may be
hesitant to include monitoring of human rights violations as part
of its regular functions, as this might jeopardise the peace
At the conclusion of the March 2003 sessions of peace
talks, the government and the LTTE requested their international
human rights advisers to develop three aspects of a proposed road
map on human rights for adoption at the seventh session.
Three suggestions were put forward, proposing first the
drafting of a declaration of human rights and humanitarian
principles to ensure respect until an eventual constitutional
arrangement provides for federal and local law; second, the
planning of human rights training programmes for LTTE cadres,
government officials, police and prison officials as well as human
rights education and awareness for other sections of the
population and third, a proposal for the strengthening of the
Human Rights Commission to develop its capacity for effective
During 2003 the government generally respected the human
rights of its citizens; however, there were serious problems in
some areas. There were no reports of security forces committing
politically motivated killings and no reports of disappearances.
A report submitted to the US State Department reiterates
however the military and police reportedly tortured, killed and
raped detainees. There were reports of arbitrary arrests during
During 2002, the government released more than 750 Tamils
held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Only 65 Tamils
held under the PTA remained in custody. The PTA, like the
emergency regulations repealed in 2001, permitted warrantless
arrests and non-accountable detentions.
Unlike in the recent past, there were few reports that
security forces harassed journalists. An exception of course was
the harassment by police in Mount Lavinia this year of Editor of
the popular and pro-LTTE Tamil website Tamilnet, D. Sivaram.
But the number of cases against the government is
negligible as against the LTTE which according to SLMM reports has
continued to commit serious human rights abuses. The LTTE is held
responsible for arbitrary arrests, torture, harassment,
disappearances, extortion, and detention.
Through a campaign of intimidation, the LTTE has
continued to undermine the work of elected local government bodies
in Jaffna and the east. On occasion, the LTTE has even prevented
political and governmental activities from occurring in the north
There is overwhelming evidence that the LTTE killed more
than 36 members of anti-LTTE Tamil political groups and alleged
informants during the year. There were also instances of
intimidation of Muslims by the LTTE, and there was fighting
between LTTE personnel in the east and Muslims that left several
The LTTE has denied those under its control the right to
change their government. The Tigers still do not provide for fair
trials, infringe on privacy rights, use child soldiers, and
continue to discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities.
Back to the headline