Tigers object to COMNORTH declaration
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 30 April 2002, 05:45 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers have objected to the Northern Navy Commander declaring the islands off the Jaffna peninsula as military zones. The LTTE has sent its objection in writing to the Sri Lanka Peace Monitoring Mission's (SLMM) office in Kilinochchi, sources in the Vanni said Tuesday.
Under section 1.13 of the cease-fire agreement between the Liberation Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka, Colombo can deny the LTTE access to specified military areas. The Tigers say that there are large Tamil populations on the Jaffna islands among whom they are entitled under the terms of the cease-fire agreement to engage in political and rehabilitation work.
The Sri Lanka Navy's northern commander (COMNORTH) wrote to the SLMM last week that the islands of Kayts, Punguduthivu, Nainathivu, Eluvaithivu, Analathivu and Mandaithivu are military zones.
Tamil politicians charge that elections in the islands were completely rigged in 1994, 2000 and 2001 with the tacit backing of the military to prop up the paramilitary group deployed there to assist the Sri Lanka Navy in operations against the Liberation Tigers.
Goons of the paramilitary group, the EPDP, attacked an election rally of the Tamil National Alliance on 28 November 2001 in Kayts with assault rifles and machetes, killing two and grievously injuring several senior Tamil politicians.
In the past, the paramilitary group has barred political parties, including the ruling United National Front, from entering the islands to engage in political work. Supporters of political parties in the islands have been beaten, tortured and killed, allegedly by the paramilitary group.
"COMNORTH has declared the islands as military zones to protect the EPDP and its racketeering in the islands", said a source close UNF Minister Mr. T.Maheswaran.
The EPDP exports to Colombo the produce of private coconut plantations in the islands whose owners say they are scared to take up the matter with the authorities, fearing retaliation. The group also claims exclusive rights over the produce of the sea around the islands such as lobsters, sea gherkins, prawns etc.,
UNF sources in Jaffna allege that the Navy has a vested interest in the EPDP's profiteering activities in the islands.
The Liberation Tigers point out in the communication to the SLMM that the COMNORTH's declaration of the islands as military zones aimed at denying them access to the populations there is a clear violation of the cease-fire agreement.
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