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‘Slain LTTE leaders wanted to surrender’

[Express Buzz, Wednesday, 27 April 2011 21:01 No Comment]

The report of the UN expert panel on war crimes in Sri Lanka says that in the last days of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, three top LTTE leaders had approached the Lankan army’s lines carrying a white flag intending to surrender, but they were reportedly shot dead by the Lankan troops.

“While there is little information on the circumstances of their death, the panel believes that the LTTE leadership intended to surrender,” the report said, according to an extract appearing in The Island on Saturday.

The UN is yet to release the panel’s report officially, though The Island has been publishing extracts on a daily basis, and the Lankan government and other organisations have been commenting on them.

Giving the background to the incident, popularly known as the “White Flag” case, the UN panel said that in the very final days of the war, the head of the LTTE political wing, Nadesan, and the head of the Tiger Peace Secretariat, Pulidevan, were in regular communication with various interlocutors to negotiate surrender.

It was reported that they were accompanied by about 300 civilians. “The LTTE political leadership was initially reluctant to agree to an unconditional surrender, but as the SLA (Sri Lankan army) closed in on the group in their final hideout, Nadesan and Pulidevan, and possibly Colonel Ramesh, were prepared to surrender unconditionally.”

“Their intention was communicated to officials of the UN, and the governments of Norway, the UK and the US, as well as to representatives of the ICRC and others.”

“It was also communicated through intermediaries to Mahinda, Gotabaya and Basil Rajapaksa, former Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona and senior officers of the SLA.”

“Both Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa provided assurances that their surrender would be accepted.”

“These were conveyed by intermediaries to the LTTE leaders, who were advised to raise a white flag and walk towards the army, following a particular route, indicated by Basil Rajapaksa.”

Third Party Barred

“Requests by the LTTE for a third party to be present at the point of surrender were not granted.”

“Around 6.30 am  on May 18, 2009, Nadesan and Pulidevan left their hideout to walk towards the area held by the 58th Division, accompanied by a large group, including their families. Colonel Ramesh followed behind them, with another group.”

“Shortly afterwards, the BBC and other TV stations reported that Nadesan and Pulidevan had been shot dead.” “Subsequently, the government gave different accounts of the incident.”

“While there is little information on the circumstances of their death, the panel believes the LTTE leadership wanted to surrender.”

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