US Ambassador among the six Ambassadors in the delegation

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also known as the Tamil Tigers, has once more demonstrated to the international community that it is a totally ruthless terrorist organization, by firing mortars on February 27, at an international need assessment delegation arriving in Batticaloa in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. The attack is also a show of callous disregard for human life and arrogance and defiance in the face of international censure against Tamil Tiger terrorism.

The delegation on a humanitarian mission comprised the Ambassadors of the US, the EU, Germany, Japan, Italy and France, Resident Coordinators of the World Food Program, UNICEF, FAO and UN security staff. Sri Lanka’s Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe led the delegation. The mission was to assess the ongoing resettlement program currently in progress in the Eastern Province. These areas have now been substantially cleared of Tamil Tigers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently being resettled there.

The US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Mr. Robert Blake and the Italian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Mr. Pio Mariani and the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, were slightly injured in the attack as were several police, air force and army personnel and personnel attached to the government Peace Secretariat and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. Altogether, ten persons were wounded in the attack.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mr. Rohitha Bogollagama, who said that the government of Sri Lanka condemned the attack in strongest terms, said, “I take this opportunity to call upon the international community to support the endeavors of the Government of Sri Lanka to address the scourge of terrorism and to pressure the LTTE to give up terrorism and to return to the democratic fold.” He pertinently commented, “Once again, this is a reminder for the international community to take effective measures to eliminate fund raising and weapon procurement by the LTTE in foreign countries.”

This attack has come on the heels of a crackdown in South India of Tamil Tiger gunrunning. The President of India’s Janata Party Dr. Subramanium Swamy recently voiced concern over reports that “Tamil Tiger killer squads with their weapon-carrying boats were “hibernating” in the backwaters of the Tamil Nadu coastline.” There has been repeated interception of Sea Tiger boats by the Sri Lankan and Indian naval forces recently, along with growing evidence of Tamil Tiger activities in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, fourteen Tamil Tiger front organizations in the US have this week issued a statement to urge the international community to “recognize the current de-facto Tamil state should their authentic representatives exercise the right to external self-determination.” Through three decades of unleashing terrorism on Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers and their supporters have not given up on the demand for a separate state. The government of Sri Lanka, while safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, has been, for the three decades, trying to resolve this conflict by offering maximum possible devolution within a unitary state.

The Tamil Tiger mortar attack on the international delegation has come at a time when the international spotlight is on peace negotiations in Sri Lanka and continuous recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE which has recently received the attention of the Security Council of the United Nations.

The US ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake told a meeting of Sri Lanka's international aid donors in Sri Lanka recently, “I don’t think a military solution is possible without a parallel political strategy. The LTTE has significant capability to attack, using terrorist means. We should not underestimate that. The most important thing, in our view, is to come up with a credible (political) process.”

While the government of Sri Lanka agrees with this view, this attack proves that the Tamil Tigers have no interest in peace and that they have not budged from their initial demand for a separate state they aim to achieve through terrorism.

Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke, who formerly headed the Peace Secretariat in Colombo, commenting on the LTTE excuse that the government had failed to inform them in advance of the movement of aircraft, stated, “Since signing the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002 and even prior to that, there was never a practice of providing information in advance to the LTTE of aircraft movement.”

He also pointed out, “It has been the practice of the Tamil Tigers to complain to the international community about humanitarian situations faced by civilians in the North and the East. However, they do everything possible within their means to prevent relief supplies from reaching the civilians. This is done with the dual purpose of creating a humanitarian crisis and blaming it on the government.”

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

27 February 2007

Home | Sri Lanka-US Relations | Trade | Investment | Travel | Consular | Press Releases |
Statements | Features | Reports & Publications | Archive | Contact I Ideas Line