Madhu feast may offer window for
Tigers on parade, Kilinochchi
November 27, 2003 - the only
occassion they haev appeared
School girls ride past a
pro-Tiger mural in Kiran,
Batticaloa last year. It has
since been erasede
Tiger commemorations in
Kilinochchi last week
By Amantha Perera
At 7.05 pm, July 5, 1987, a
bloody legend was born at the government
school in Nelliaddy, a town north east of
Tiger lore has it that
Wasanthan Wallipuram alias Captain Miller,
drove an explosive laden truck into the
school where government troops engaged in
'Operation Liberation' were housed. Miller
drove the bowser truck that supplied
water. He triggered the explosion that
blew him to bits and killed scores more.
The military says a maximum of 15 soldiers
would have died - the Tigers say it is
more, perhaps 40. Nonetheless a bloody
legacy was born.
Tigers say LTTE Leader
Velupillai Pirapaharan had come up with
the suicide truck ploy to thwart the
momentum of troops driving out Tigers from
Soon after the ceasefire, the
Nelliaddy school became the main
commemoration point on July 5, a statue of
Miller was erected and his mother was in
attendance during the events that marked
'Black Tiger day.' The statue is long
gone and now no ceremonies are even
Even government areas had been
decked with the yellow and red flags in
the run up to the commemoration till 2005.
The last two years with confrontations
increasing, pro-Tiger events have gone
LTTE Leader Pirapaharan
invariably lights the flame at 7.05 on
July 5, at an undisclosed location in the
Wanni. This year also he did so and in a
practice that first took off two years
back was surrounded by suicide cadres,
their faces digitally altered in pictures
The Tigers said that since
Miller took the fateful ride, 322 others
have followed him - they include 90 women.
Women suicide cadres have carried out some
of the more infamous attacks like the
Rajiv Gandhi assassination and the failed
attempt on President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
They appear to be taking up suicide
operations more often than their male
counterparts in recent times. In 2003, out
of 243 attacks, 53 were by women. In the
ensuing four years of the 89 attacks, 37
have been by women.
The biggest addition in the
last four years came within the last 12
49 new attacks have been listed, an
indication of the intensity of the
fighting and the increasing use of the
suicide cadres since fighting went through
the roof since December 5.
"There have been
different incidents on
land and in sea; there have been
conventional fighting as well. Most of the
additions are from last year, there could
be some official adjustments as
well," Tiger military spokesperson
Rasiah Ilanthirayan said.
In 2002 Kandasamy Lingeswaran
who was released in a prisoner exchange
told The Sunday Leader that suicide cadres
would become even more important if war
breaks out. "If war breaks out, I
will fight. And in war you make
sacrifices," Lingeswaran said during
an interview in September 2002 soon after
he was released. He never admitted that he
was a suicide cadre but said that he was
ready to give up his life in any manner
his leader wished.
His leader too has realised
the potency of the human bomb - "No
weapon and no technology on earth, can
stop the determination of the LTTE's
suicide bombers. The suicide squad came
into being at a critical juncture in the
history of the Tamil liberation movement
and has taken it to the next stage,"
he was once quoted in the Surdar Oli.
Ilanthirayan said that suicide
cadre boot camp was different from the
usual training. In fact single children
are never taken into the force, even after
training, they are again sent back to the
regular cadres to see if they are really
up for it. Once selected, life changes,
not even the room mates would know the
true nature of a selected cadre's
As the suicide cadres came
back into the headlines, peace hopes
receded almost as soon as they had been
rekindled last week.
Despite reports last week of a
possible Norwegian led initiative to thaw
icy relations between the Tigers and the
the fighting continued.
On July 6, clashes broke out
north west of Vavuniya, just north of the
Mannar Vavuniya main road.
"Defence sources from
Wanni said that a fierce battle erupted
this morning when the terrorists had
attempted to launch a surprise attack at
the troops. Two army soldiers died in the
battle and eight others suffered injuries.
The injured were rushed to the General
Hospital Anuradhapura," the Defence
The Ministry said that the
Tigers had tried to infiltrate government
areas and troops repulsed the attack
killing 10 of them.
As usual the Tigers had a
different version. They said that only one
Tiger has been injured and that the
military had once again tried to enter
areas under their control.
"It was the usual ploy,
but the line of control remains the
same," Ilanthirayan said.
Fighting was also continuing
in the Thoppigala area, with the military
announcing that it had reached the
famous Mennham base. Troops had now
advanced beyond the Narakamulla area, but
the advance had been slow due to
Late Friday reports said that
the Tigers had started firing
multi-barrels and seven soldiers had been
Air raids were also kept up
over areas west of Madhu and Thoppigala.
"It is a complex situation but there
is no slowing down in the fighting,"
Earlier in the week he had
been much more emphatic in blowing up
reports on possible talks. "There is
no environment for talks," he
It was an even more
emotionless Norwegian Embassy official who
end to stories that Norwegian
Special Peace Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was
to fly in within the next two weeks.
No plans for visit
"There are no plans for
visits, it is all speculation,"
Embassy Spokesperson Erik Nurenberg said.
Twenty four hours after he spoke,
Government Spokesperson Minister Keheliya
Rambukwella also told the press that the
government had not sent any communication
to Norway to revive talks.
Press reports a week back had
spoken of Special Presidential Advisor
Basil Rajapakse communicating with Erik
Solheim and informing him that the
government was ready to facilitate a trip
by the Norwegians to Kilinochchi. Two
earlier trips by Norwegian Ambassador Hans
Brattskar had been cancelled due to the
absence of government security clearance.
Nurenberg did not comment on
the invitation by the government, but that
too was laid to rest the day after by
nevertheless held discussions with
the Tiger Peace Secretariat last week.
Head of the SLMM Lars Solvberg and
Spokesperson Thoffinur Omarsson were in
Kilinochchi between July 5 and 6.
But both parties described the
meeting as routine. "It was routine,
the SLMM top level has not held
discussions with the Tigers, this was our
follow up meeting after having met with
the Government Peace Secretariat
officials," Omarsson said.
"Nothing exciting just
routine," Ilanthirayan who was part
of the Tiger delegation headed by
Peace Secretariat Head S.
During discussions with the
SLMM the government had indicated that it
wanted the monitors to explore the
possibility of getting the ICRC to
accompany supply ships to Jaffna. The ICRC
had suspended the role last August
following the Tiger refusal to give
"That was not
discussed," Omarsson said. Both him
and Ilanthirayan said that the possibility
of new peace moves was never discussed at
the meeting. "That was not on the
agenda, we leave that to the
facilitators," the SLMM spokesperson
there could be a window of
opportunity in the coming weeks,
ironically in an area where there has been
so much of fighting, west of Madhu.
The most famous Madhu feast
falls on August 15 and the Tigers have
indicated that they might cease fighting
in the area to allow pilgrims to attend
If that becomes a reality,
some Western diplomats in Colombo may also
use the window to visit Wanni.
Even last week, while the
supposed Norwegian visit was debunked,
European diplomats did say that there was
a possibility of a visit in the coming
months once the diplomats return
from summer break.
missing bullet - ICJ
The continuing controversy
over the investigation into the murders of
the 17 aid workers in Muttur last year
took another turn last week, with the
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
calling for an investigation into a
controversial bullet and a journalist
receiving death threats after reporting on
the last ICJ report.
"There is an urgent need
to investigate and clarify if a 5.56 mm
bullet was recovered from the skull of one
of the victims. Dr. (Malcolm) Dodd, an
independent, Australian pathologist who
was invited by the government to observe a
re-examination of the bodies in October
2006, concluded that one 5.56 mm
projectile was removed from the skull of
one of the victims. The Government Analyst
was provided with the ballistic exhibits
removed from the bodies during the
re-examination and prepared his report
dated February 19, 2007 which was
submitted to the Kantale Court on
March 7, 2007. In his report he
identifies only 7.62 mm bullets or parts
of bullets," the ICJ said last week.
A week before the government
led by Peace Secretariat Head Rajiva
Wijesinha had called for the ICJ to
withdraw the statement that it had made,
that a 5.56mm bullet may have been
The ICJ did not go that far,
to rescind the findings of its observer
Michael Brinbaum, QC but repeated earlier
worries over the investigation.
"There are serious
concerns about significant flaws in the
police investigation, reflecting a lack of
impartiality, transparency and
effectiveness, as well as about the
ballistics evidence," it said.
ICJ said that it felt that the
police had assumed the crime was committed
by the Tigers even before the
investigation proper took off.
"The collection of
evidence has been incomplete and
inadequate. In particular, as of March
2007, eight months after the killings took
place, the ICJ was informed by the CID
that no member of the Sri Lankan security
forces had been interviewed nor any Tamil,
apart from the family members of those
killed. The ICJ has sought an update from
the government on the investigation.
The Sri Lankan security forces
will need to be extensively questioned
about their knowledge of the killings and
surrounding circumstances, especially
those present in Muttur around the time of
the killings. The local Tamil community
should also be interviewed, as well as
further interviews with other members of
the community. This will require extensive
questioning of people who were in Muttur
at the time and the establishment of an
effective witness protection programme."
ICJ welcomes moved by the
government to allow the Australian
forensic experts access to evidence and a
pledge by President Mahinda Rajapakse to
widen the investigation.
However reporting on the
incident landed a seasoned journalist,
Sadaruwan Senadeera in trouble. "We
had reported on the ICJ release on our
website, and that night I got an email,
threatening me with death," Senadeera
told The Sunday Leader.
He runs the popular Sinhala
news site lankanews and said that
following the email, a caller using a
private number had made the same threat.
"It was not a prank call,
that is why I alerted the
Amnesty International sent out
an alert on the threat to its members that
said - "He also received a death
threat as an email which said, "When
Journalists change the truth and keep
country and nation in danger, me and all
innocent people have one wish. You all get
either 5.52 mm or 7.62 mm bullet one day
and sooner is better."