While listing ‘national’ security threats faced by genocidal Sri Lanka, its Defence Secretary and presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa included the name of TamilNet and said that it is controlled by the Tamil Coordinating Committee, led by Nediyavan, which in turn has control over most of the assets of the LTTE’s international organisation. Gotabhaya who said it on 13 June, while addressing the Kotelawela Defence University, also said that now all the various intelligence services of his State are brought under one Chief of National Intelligence, who reports directly to him (as Defence Secretary). What Gotabhaya said on TamilNet either shows the ignorance of his intelligence or his intention to distort TamilNet’s image. TamilNet challenges him on the truth of his statement.
The LTTE’s “former procurement chief Kumaran Pathmanadan, better known as KP, took control over this [LTTE] network and indicated that it would continue to work for the separatist cause through peaceful means. However, a breakaway faction emerged almost immediately, led by Nediyawan, who wanted to continue Prabhakaran’s ideology of violence. Nediyawan’s group, was previously known as The Tamil Eelam People’s Assembly or the Tamil National Council and is now known as the Tamil Coordinating Committee, Based in Norway, this group has been working with other international groups to promote the LTTE’s separatist cause in many parts of the world. The Tamil Coordinating Committee has control over most of the assets of the LTTE’s international organisation, including its media networks such as Tamil Net,” Gotabhaya said.
In November 2012, the International Crisis Group (ICG), in its Asia Report, Number 239, published a similar statement on TamilNet, but silently withdrew it after challenged by TamilNet.
It is likely that one of the sources that fabricated the story about TamilNet, and is keen in reasserting to it, has now advanced it through Gotabhaya’s written speech. Such is the state of affairs of Sri Lanka’s ‘intelligence’.
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Gotabhaya was lecturing on “Sri Lanka’s National Security Concerns” to the faculty and students of the Kotelawala Defence University, on the occasion of the university’s inauguration of M.Phil/ Ph.D programme.
Kotelawala Defence University seems to have now become the hub for evolving an intelligence-based, elite military rule of the island. In his speech, Gotabhaya was envisaging that “as Sri Lanka moves forward, it is hoped that the Intelligence agencies will be able to keep track of and contain domestic National Security concerns.”
Last month, Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Professor in Singapore, Rohan Gunaratna came out with all praises for the Kotelawala Defence University and its military Vice-Chancellor, General Milinda Peiris. He projected the military university a model for higher education in the island and wanted other universities to follow it.
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Describing internationalization of the Sri Lankan situation as a main national security threat, Gotabhaya was talking of “keeping adverse external influences at bay.”
He was referring to India training LTTE in Tamil Nadu, the Thimpu talks arranged by India and the grave consequences that would have come had Sri Lanka not refused to the demands and India directly intervening in 1987 as the first phase.
In the next phase of internationalization, the Norway-mediated Ceasefire Agreement came, he said, adding that in 2009, the foreign ministers of France and the UK attempted to intervene in the military campaign.
Gotabhaya was viewing the Geneva Resolutions of 2012 and 2013 as further internationalization.
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According to Gotabhaya, one third of the TGTE members, “loyal to Nediyawan went against the leadership of Rudrakumaran because they wished to engage in more radical action,” the GTF emerged with many of the same members as the BTF, and all the LTTE-linked groups are coordinated by the GTF and united by one overarching objective.
“Some of the efforts of these LTTE-linked groups have been successful to a certain extent in that despite the war having ended four years ago, the internal affairs of Sri Lanka have been kept at the forefront of the UNHRC’s Sessions as well as at the top of the agenda of several prominent international NGOs even in the recent past.”
“Though they [Tamil political parties in the island] appear to have a democratic face, their actions and remarks clearly show that the extremist separatist ideology has not yet disappeared. Their ultimate objective is achieving the division of Sri Lanka. As a result of their actions and statements, it is very much a possibility that certain radical elements will feel empowered to once again attempt to take up arms in the name of separation. This is a major National Security threat that needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness.”
Gotabhaya was equally vilifying the Muslims:
“After the LTTE’s defeat, some of these groups [Muslims] have begun to engage in activities that stem far beyond self-protection. There is some information that some of these groups have even tried to link up with the global Islamic terrorist movement.”
“It is clear that there are some in the Tamil community who identify themselves more with the Tamil community of Tamil Nadu than with their fellow Sri Lankans. This has been encouraged by some parties overseas who wish to promote the idea of a greater Tamil Nation.”
“Similarly, it has been observed that there are some foreign groups that wish to encourage Sri Lankan Muslims to identify themselves more with the global Muslim community, thereby reducing their integration within Sri Lanka.”
Gotabhaya was defending the racism in Sinhalese as a response to Tamil and Muslim politics.
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The presidential sibling targeted India and the West with a special reference to Tamil Nadu:
“In addition to military supplies, the LTTE’s cadres were initially trained at bases in Tamil Nadu. Given the recent activities of LTTE-linked organisations outside Sri Lanka and particularly in Tamil Nadu, this is very much a current threat even today.”
He was referring to “incidence of pirate fishing in Sri Lankan waters by South Indian fishermen.”
“Protecting our waters from these fishermen, as well as from others who might seek to exploit our other oceanic resources including oil and gas, will be one of the key maritime security challenges for Sri Lanka in the future.”
In today’s environment, the possibility of foreign interference in our internal affairs remains a significant National Security concern. With the involvement of countries like India, Norway, and the United States of America in Sri Lanka as a result of the terrorist conflict, matters relating to this country’s internal affairs have gained increased visibility within the international community.”
“India in particular is very sensitive to what is going on in Sri Lanka because of the large Tamil population in its influential southern state of Tamil Nadu. Especially during the elections cycle, Sri Lanka figures large in its power politics.”
“In the recent past, we have seen even the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu attempting to pressurise the central government into opposing Sri Lanka internationally. This is a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s security, and perhaps even its sovereignty.”
“There is a possibility that some western powers wish to have a Sri Lankan Government that is closely aligned with their interests, and will seek to influence Sri Lanka’s destiny so that it cannot pursue the independent course it is following at present.”
“The likelihood of the United States showing more interest in the region and aligning more with India is a factor that may affect Sri Lanka. Further, its establishment of a base in the Maldives is also changing the complexion of the region. These are developments that need to be monitored from the point of view of Sri Lanka’s national security.”
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In facing his ‘national’ security concerns, Gotabhaya was harping on intelligence, militarization on North and East, biometric ‘nationalisation’ of even body, and strengthening special relationship with China and Russia:
“It is essential for the military to be placed in strategic locations throughout Sri Lanka. Particularly in the North and East, where we know that there are still potential threats to National Security.”
“It must also be underscored that as a Sovereign nation, Sri Lanka has every right to place its security elements in any part of the country it so chooses.”
According to the Defence Secretary, his genocidal Sinhala military enjoys a ‘cordial’ relationship with Tamils:
“While some in the international community talk about the so-called militarisation of the North and East, and some political parties in Sri Lanka decry the presence of the military in these areas, it must also be understood that the people of the North and East mostly have a very cordial relationship with the military.”
Gotabhaya, learning from the West on making every human body a matter for scrutiny by State, wants a new biometric identification system for the peoples of the island as well as visitors:
“To address this critical weakness [in the existing identification system], the Registrar of Persons Department was brought under the Ministry of Defence & Urban Development, and a new identity card system that uses biometric information will be introduced shortly.”
“The problem of people coming into Sri Lanka and staying here illegally under false pretences will be addressed through the introduction of a proper border control system in which biometric information will be incorporated into the passport and international standards used for identity verification.”
“Finally, with regard to external threats, it is of the utmost importance that Sri Lanka maintains cordial relationships with its allies.”
“Despite the present pressure from Tamil Nadu, it is essential to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with India.”
“Relations with the many countries that helped us in the past, both in economic terms and through political support, should be strengthened further through skilful diplomacy and further development of mutual ties.”
“It is essential to further strengthen the existing cordial relationships with powerful nations such as China and Russia, which have permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council and can influence any international action on Sri Lanka more significantly than other nations,” Gotabhaya concluded.
However, including the genocidal approach to the national question of Eezham Tamils, the policies, orientation and actions of Gotabhaya as a US citizen, cannot really be in contradiction with the ‘national security concerns’ of the USA, political observers said.
Political solution figured nowhere in Gotabhaya’s speech that was calling for ‘Sri Lankan-ness’ and was talking of military, economy, and diplomacy.