Poor response to latest amnesty

[TamilNet, Monday, 11 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) Commander, Maj. General R.Daluwatte said today that 5000 SLA deserters had accepted the general amnesty and had returned to their duties during the period the amnesty had been offered to SLA deserters. However, SLA sources in Colombo said the actual response was far less than the official figure.

The sources said that the actual response to the amnesty is not being announced because the low number of returnees to the SLA's impassioned call would demoralise soldiers and would dissuade others from returning to duties.

Some deserters are said to have phoned SLA camps and said that they would return on condition that they are not sent to operational areas, the SLA sources said.

The SLA has stated that returnees would be given a short training program and lecturs before being deployed in combat. Two SLA Brigadiers had been assigned to look after returnees and other related matters, said SLA sources.

The period of general amnesty for deserters ended at midnight local time today. This is the seventh amnesty declared for deserters since "Eelam War III" started in April 1995.

The search for deserters is to begin on Wednesday, the day after Wesak (a Bhuddhist religious day), said the SLA sources.

Meanwhile, the LTTE is planning to mark the anniversary of the SLA's Operation 'Jayasikirui' with exhibitions from May 12 - 14 in Kokkadichcholai, in Batticaloa, said sources there.

Weaponry captured from Jayasikirui troops is expected to be exhibited said sources in the Vanni.

Video footage shot during the SLA operation and the LTTE's counter-attacks, along with photos, models of captured and destroyed SLA tanks and other military vehicles are also expected to be exhibited, said sources.

The SLA launched Operation 'JayaSikirui', its largest ever operation on May 13, 1997 to capture the A9 highway from Vavuniya to Kilinochchi, but it has been struggling against fierce LTTE resistance since.

The SLA's latest recruitment drive and general amnesty to deserters have been prompted by a shortage of troops which, according to the SLA chief, is preventing the succesful completion of Operation Jaya Sikirui.


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