Feature Article

'Terrorist intentions will totally terminate resettlement' – Maj. Gen. Fonseka

[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 December 2002, 08:53 GMT]
The furore over the Sri Lanka Army's High Security Zones (HSZs) in Jaffna orginated this week with a letter sent by its Jaffna commander to the Liberation Tigers, demanding the 'total disarmament' of the movement before Tamil civilians would be allowed back into occupied villages. In his hostile and belligerent letter, littered with grammatical and spelling errors, Maj. Gen. Fonseka addressed the Tigers as 'terrorists' and protested that easing the difficulties of the people of Jaffna would enhance the LTTE's image.

In a document sent to the LTTE through the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Maj. Gen. Fonseka insisted that the SLA would only consider allowing any of the hundreds of thousands of displaced villagers back into their homes in the areas declared as High Security Zones (HSZs) only if the LTTE agrees to the "disarming of [its] cadres and decommission of [its] long range weapons."

The full text of Maj. Gen. Fonseka's letter, said to have been leaked to the Sunday Times before the LTTE received it, was this week reproduced in full by the London-based Tamil Guardian newspaper. The weekly broadsheet also published a map of the Jaffna peninsula marking the high security zones and the location of major SLA positions in the peninsula.

"Resettling civilians in HSZ can bring about a big political success to the LTTE and any other interested parties," he said. "Therefore it can have a direct impact on political situation in Jaffna which may be most probably go in favour of LTTE under present political situation."

Admitting that "expansion of HSZ from time to time has caused displacement of people in the Jaffna peninsula thus creating a humanitarian problem," Maj. Gen. Fonseka insisted "no risks or chances should be taken [by the government], to weaken security by making HSZ vulnerable [through resettlements]."

He warned the Sri Lankan government of Sinhala opposition to its agreements with the Tigers. "Any adjustment or variations in Security Zones should not create a political turmoil in the south," Maj. Gen. Fonseka said. "political criticism in the south of Sri Lanka also cannot be ignored."

"It is not advisable to weaken security of Jaffna peninsula and also aim at peace and development," he counseled the government.

To this end, he felt international cease-fire monitors ought to "withdraw LTTE weapons in forward lines and dump them in rear / storage south of Kilinochchi under supervision."

"As SF presently does not have 100 % superiority over the LTTE military capability, it is not advisable to take risks unless SF capabilities are developed to be able to be able to remain 100 °/o superiority over LTTE thus any short term drawbacks can be overcome and regain initiative to avoid disasters," he pointed out.

Although the cease-fire agreement signed by both sides stipulate the military should have vacated all occupied private homes, schools, places of worship and other public buildings by August 2002, Maj. Gen. Fonseka said that troops would remain in occupation until "alternative accommodation is constructed."

If this happened, he envisaged some houses in Jaffna town might be released to their owners by mid-July 2003, those in Chavakachcheri by the end of 2003 and those in other areas by mid 2004.

However, he warned that "resettlement of civilians should be arranged in a such way that Security Forces should not compromise its security at any stage."

In some areas, internally displaced people would simply not be permitted back into their homes, he said, adding that "relocation of IDPs in crown land elsewhere where [is] required."

Furthermore, "LTTE members will not be allowed to resettled," Maj. Gen. Fonseka said. If 'LTTE sympathizers' were settled, the SLA would need to conduct "psyops [psychological operations] and civil affair operations to take special care of these families."

To ensure military security after resettlement, he expected the security forces would need to "conduct counter insurgency operations" in resettled villages. International cease-fire monitors should help troops by "conducting sporadic checks of safe houses and offices" amongst the resettled, he argued.

LTTE will not be allowed to do politics in HSZ," he declared. "LTTE [will] stop recruiting, total disarming of cadres and hand over weapons to SLMM."

The SLMM should "prevent terrorist taking control over selected areas and ensure safe passage of security forces," Maj. Gen. Fonseka felt.

Noting the "[past] hostile behavior of people not yet resettled," Maj. Gen. Fonseka said the "Police [should] be geared to take actions against hostile elements" and there should be a "restriction of unlawful assemblies."

Civilians should not be allowed to take communication radios to their homes lest they "pass accurate information [to the LTTE] to bring down accurate indirect fire" and "restriction on visitors into resettled areas is required," he said.

"There will be a threat on harbour / airport when civilians resettle close to those locations," he warned further, adding that the SLA intends to "impose time restrictions on Entry/Exit points [into resettled areas]."

Maj. Gen. Fonseka also warned that "terrorist intentions will totally terminate resettlement," without specifying what these intentions might be.

External Links:
Tamil Guardian: 'Impact of resettlement on political situation in Jaffna may go in favour of LTTE' - Maj. Gen. Fonse


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