LTTE refutes SLMM's controversial statement

[TamilNet, Thursday, 11 May 2006, 20:26 GMT]
Liberation Tigers Political Head, S. P. Thamilchelvan, in a letter to Major General Henricsson, the Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Thursday said that the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission's statement issued earlier Thursday, stating that the Tigers have no rights at sea, was in contradiction to SLMM's earlier stand, as expressed in a Press Release on 25 April 2003. Sea Tigers existed prior to CFA and it contributed to the balance of power that resulted in the CFA. The LTTE statement attached three letters sent to SLMM explicitly asking the SLMM to stop boarding Sri Lankan naval vessels as the Lankan vessels have come very close to the shores of LTTE area firing at their naval bases.

11 May 2006

Major General Henricsson
Head of Mission
SLMM


Subject: Sea incident and the bombing of Vanni on 11 May 2006

It is a simple truth that any military CFA is based on a balance of power and in order to maintain the CFA that military balance of power must remain. Sea Tigers existed prior to CFA and it contributed to the balance of power that resulted in the CFA. Sea Tigers used the seas adjacent to our areas of control.

This fact was confirmed by the SLMM in its Press Release on 25 April 2003 where it said:

"When the Ceasefire Agreement was signed on the 22nd of Feb 02, the LTTE fighting formations, including the Sea Tigers, existed. Consequently, the LTTE Sea Tigers exists as a De Facto Naval Unit...Balance of power is one of the basic elements for the present Ceasefire. Hence, to maintain their Forces‚ capabilities both Parties must have the right to carry out training and exercise in designated areas."

LTTE has since been warning the SLMM, on several occasions, verbally and in writing, that it will move Sea Tiger Naval vessels, armed or otherwise, in the seas adjacent to the land areas under LTTE control. We have repeatedly informed the SLMM that we will retaliate if SLN vessels intercept us. For this reason we have warned and requested the SLMM Naval Monitors to refrain from boarding SLN vessels. The three letters sent to SLMM are included below.

It was in this background, we were exercising in the seas adjacent to our land areas on 11 May 2006, when SLN vessels attempted to interfere with our movements and attacked us. As we have warned we retaliated.

In this unprovoked attack on the Sea Tiger vessels by SLN, four of our fighters lost their lives and two of our fighters are injured.

SLMM Press Release on 11 May 2006 relating to this incident said, "The sea surrounding Sri Lanka is a Government Controlled Area. This has been ruled so by the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in line with international law. Non-state actors cannot rule open sea waters or airspace. The LTTE has therefore no rights at sea."

We like to point out to you that you are contradicting your own earlier statement that Sea Tigers are part of the balance of power and therefore must have the right to carry out training and exercises.

In spite of this and in spite of our warning, the SLMM has put its naval monitors at risk to provide protection to SLN vessels. At the same time, the SLMM has not provided protection to our fighters and our naval vessels. Even worse, the SLMM has ruled this incident a CFA violation against us.

Following this incident, Sri Lankan Air Force has bombed Vanni region. Sri Lankan armed forces have also carried out blind shelling and artillary attacks on heavily populated areas in the Sampur region of Trincomalee. These attacks are serious CFA violations. Yet, the SLMM has not condemned these attacks for the serious CFA violations that they are.

We are shocked and disappointed by the partiality demonstrated by the SLMM.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

S.P.Tamilselvan. Head of the Political Wing.

Attachments:

The three letters sent to SLMM requesting it to refrain from boarding SLN vessels:

Letter One sent on 18th April:
Re: SLMM Naval Monitors on board Sri Lankan Naval Vessels

In recent times Sri Lankan Naval vessels boats have carried out several attacks on areas in our control along the Northeast coast. There were two such very serious attacks along the Trincomalee coastal areas. Cannons fired from Sri Lankan naval vessels have fell on civilian homes and work places along the Northeast coast. We have sent several complaints to you about these attacks.

Sri Lankan naval vessels have come very near the shores of our sea area and have fired at our Sea tiger Naval bases. In this context, situation may arise when we will be forced to return fire. Also, given the failure to arrange internal transport of our members, we may also be forced to use our own naval vessels for the transport of our members. If Sri Lankan naval vessels attempt to attack us we will be forced to take defensive action.

We are totally committed to the protection and safety of all SLMM members working in the Northeast. Therefore, given the above scenario, we request you to avoid boarding Sri Lankan naval vessels immediately on receiving this letter. Please inform all your Naval Monitors as soon as you have received this letter to stop boarding Sri Lankan naval vessels. We regret to state that if any SLMM members are hurt while in Sri Lankan naval vessels we cannot be held responsible for it.

Letter Two sent on 10 May
Re: SLMM Naval Monitors in Sri Lankan Naval Vessels

We refer to your letter dated 18 April 2006, in response to our earlier letter where we requested SLMM monitors to refrain from boarding Sri Lankan Naval vessels for the sake of the safety and security of the SLMM monitors.

We thank you for this reply dated 18 April.

We believe it is our responsibility to inform you of the threat to your safety and security, which we have done. It is of course your decision to act on that advice and we respect that.

We, however, wish to reiterate that we cannot be held responsible for any harm to SLMM monitors while on board a Sri Lankan Naval vessel.

Letter three sent on 11 May 2006
Subject: SLMM Monitors on board Sri Lankan Naval Vessels


We have on several occasions verbally informed you to refrain from boarding Sri Lankan Naval vessels. We have also given this request in writing to you twice so far. This is the third request from us to you to refrain from boarding Sri Lankan Naval vessels.

Sri Lankan Navy is entering the sea adjoining the land in our control and disrupting the fishing activities of the people. It is also disturbing the LTTE exercises in doing so. If Sri Lankan Navy disrupts our activities we will definitely retaliate.

SLMM monitors are used by the Sri Lankan Navy as human shields in order to continue with these disruptions.

We urge you for the last time not to be on board Sri Lankan Naval vessels until further notice from us. If you chose to ignore our warning and request, we are not responsible for the consequences.

Please take this as the last warning to you to not board Sri Lankan Naval vessels.


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