20th June, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 4
9

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ISSUES

LTEE's police and UPFA's silence

By Frederica Jansz

Pedru opening the newest 
LTTE police station in Mannar

Pedru with other invitees and 
LTTE police constables at the opening

Can anyone name a single undivided country in the world where there are two separate armies and a police force under separate command? Only in Sri Lanka.

On June 10, the LTTE opened its 25th police station at Adamban in the Mannar District. The opening did not draw a single dissenting voice from the UPFA despite the fact the police station was opened during a time of ceasefire and under the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

LTTE Police Chief, P. Nadesan recounted to us how in similar vein to previous occasions the LTTE got the parent of a fallen martyr to declare open the police station. On this occasion it was Pedru, the father of the first woman martyr, Maladhi. The latter hailed from Mannar and so was thus honoured. Pedru was the chief guest at this ceremony.

More police stations

The Thamil Eelam Police Chief asserted that the LTTE intends to open more police stations in order to smoothly carry out administering law and order to the Tamil people.

The ground reality is that the writ of the government of Sri Lanka or the President, despite her being Commander in Chief of all three armed forces and Sri Lanka's police force, does not run in the north and east area. When Anton Balasingham told reporters at the LTTE's first major press conference that Pirapaharan, the LTTE chief, is "our prime minister and president" he was not joking.

It is no secret that government agents in the north and east are present at the opening ceremonies of these police stations. What does President Chandrika Kumaratunga do about that? She averts her eyes and focuses on the south. All well and good if the president and the UPFA were of a similar mindset in opposition but far be from it.

Kumaratunga and the UPFA were all gung-ho about the LTTE opening police stations and law courts during the brief reign of the United National Front (UNF).

She cried foul when the LTTE on November 7, 2002 opened their 19th Tamil Eelam police station in the Trincomalee District at Sampoor. A day before, the LTTE had opened another police station at Palugamam 30 kilometers southwest of Batticaloa.

Secret offer

The main bone of contention for the then PA-JVP opposition was how come the LTTE was opening more police stations during the ceasefire while the armyremained in the same areas they have been holding.

The issue raised by the then opposition forced a response from former Interior Minister John Amaratunga who pledged to ensure the matter would be taken up at the next round of peace talks which at the time was scheduled to be held in Oslo.

Before we elaborate on what was said in Oslo by LTTE Spokesman Anton Balasingham in relation to the Tiger police stations we will recall Kumaratunga's own duplicity on this issue.

Remember it was President Chandrika Kumaratunga who made a secret offer to LTTE leader Velupillai Pirapaharan to govern the Northern Province for 10 years without elections, promising the Tiger chief that he could use his cadres as a police force during that period.

By asking the LTTE to use its police force, Kumaratunga acknowledged the Tigers had a fully fledged police force during her tenure, to which police she was prepared to concede law and order in the area. Kumaratunga made these revelations in an interview she gave Time magazine in February 1998.

Pointing fingers

The LTTE began opening its own police stations in 1991 and continued to do so even during the 1994-1995 peace talks it held with Kumaratunga and her former PA government. According to Tiger Police Chief Nadesan, the LTTE continued to open its own police stations right through the seven year rule of the former PA government. Chandrika Kumaratunga, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces as well as Head of the Sri Lanka Police force during this time did nothing to stop them.

Yet, Kumaratunga has repeatedly pointed her finger at Ranil Wickremesinghe when he was Prime Minister, complaining "that there are 'now' Tiger 'courts of law' and 'Tiger police stations.'" What the President true to form failed to admit is that they had been there even when she was negotiating with the LTTE in 1994!

At the time there were not only Tiger courts and Tiger police stations, but a Tiger taxation system and a Tiger army and navy as well. So who pray, does Kumaratunga and her new allies the JVP believe they are kidding?

In actual fact the opening of the new Tiger police station in Mannar did not warrant any comment from the government which was just recovering from having engaged in a ding dong battle in Parliament just two days prior where government MPs physically assaulted and attempted to obstruct a monk representing the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) from taking oaths.

De-facto administration

Leave alone Mannar, Kumaratunga did not even murmur, when in April this year following the end of its internal battle with its renegade Eastern Commander 'Col Karuna' the LTTE took a decision to re-open its Batticaloa District police stations and law courts, which had been closed down in March on orders given by Karuna.

Why has Kumaratunga failed to do anything about this? Or is it that she has already lent tacit approval for a de-facto law and order administration to be run parallel to the Sri Lanka Police force. Sri Lanka in effect has a Southern Police Chief Indra de Silva and a north eastern counterpart who has been designated as Chief of the Thamil Eelam Police, P. Nadesan.

Why don't the Sinhalese ask Kumaratunga and her Marxist allies what they plan on doing about this situation?

The fact of the matter is that the Sinhalese have lost the ability to ask these very necessary questions. And this is part of the reason why they still cannot see that Sri Lanka today is lost as a nation. We have all lost our souls - reduced as we have been to nothing but ridicule and shame by politicians who can only be viewed with nothing but contempt.

The matter of the LTTE police stations obviously does not even bother the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Indra de Silva who has not uttered a contrary word even after the LTTE's commander for Ampara and Batticaloa, T. Ramesh, in April this year addressed the media in Batticaloa, and said that to maintain law and order in the LTTE-controlled areas, they have decided to re-open these 'police stations' and 'law courts'.

What a slap in the face for Indra de Silva and even more so that one of his own colleagues who was part and parcel of the Sri Lanka Police force for well neigh 11 years, P. Nadesan is today chief of the LTTE police. But the Sinhala born IGP is the least bothered by these turn of events.

Nothing new

And on December 3, 2002 Anton Balasingham the Tiger's chief negotiator told reporters in Oslo that the LTTE would continue to open more police stations in Tiger controlled areas in Sri Lanka, but that the movement's police and law and order systems would not extend into areas controlled by the Sri Lankan government.

Balasingham on that occasion said, "these courts and police stations have been functional for the last 12 years and the ground reality is that as a consequence of this war the LTTE has established control over 70 per cent of the area in the north-east. There are huge populations here and we have to administer them and for the purpose of maintaining law and order, or rather social order and cohesion we need to have certain institutions. These police stations have been functioning ever since. Even during President Kumaratunga's government when we had discussions with her these police stations were operating in Jaffna."

He adds that as far as the LTTE is concerned these police stations are necessary instruments to maintain law and order "because we cannot allow anarchy and social disorder in areas controlled by us."

"These police stations are not a new phenomena. When we reach a final settlement - we are looking for a regional autonomous model - we have to have a regional police. This police can become legitimised at a later stage. Until such time we have to operate within these administrative structures that are essential for maintaining law and order in areas controlled by us," he said.

The truth

Answering a question on the status of the LTTE's law and order system and judiciary in a future political settlement, Balasingham reiterated "It is too premature at this stage to elaborate on how these two systems can be harmonised. What we envisage is a future model in which this could be discussed in depth and in detail. And both parties have to agree on how this regional police could function. I do not want to go into details because this is going to be central to the discussions in the coming months."

He added for good measure, "Don't forget that government institutions are still functioning in areas controlled by the LTTE. We do not interfere with those. We have only taken over the enforcement of law since our armed cadres are confined to barracks. And there we are expanding civil administration. Some day you have to accept a Tamil regional police force and we have to discuss how it would harmonise with the national system."

And Balasingham's statements are indeed bearing fruit today. No doubt the UPFA has to accept a Tamil regional police force. Nothing has changed since Balasingham made these comments except the JVP has been silenced from talking about Manirasakulam, LTTE court houses or police stations.

Reducing crime

LTTE Police Chief, P. Nadesan last month told The Sunday Leader that three more police stations are to be established in the north-east LTTE controlled areas within the next 30 days. "In our controlled areas we have got 22 police stations. And in the future also we have decided to open about three to four police stations, especially in the east and in Wanni and at Mannar."

Nadesan is of the view that there was an increase in the crime rate when these areas were under government control. "See how the crime rate increased when Jaffna was under government control. Not only that the crime rate increased, but the people were suffering a lot," he told The Sunday Leader in an interview, adding that this is why he thinks a Thamil Eelam Police is necessary. Nadesan worked for 11 years for the Sri Lanka Police in Colombo having joined the force in 1973. From the time the LTTE began opening its own police stations in the north and east he has been in charge - as inspector general of police for the LTTE.

Nadesan says the LTTE police even has a special arm calling itself the STF in identical vein to the Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force.

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