Archive for the ‘Source Island’ Category

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Guns to the left, guns to the right

September 30, 2006

Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka inspects LTTE weapons and explosives captured by  troops during his inspection tour in Jaffna yesterday.

Tribute to Sri Lankan Armed Forces

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Mahinda – JVP consultations continue

August 6, 2006

President Mahinda Rajapakse continues to be in intense consultation with the JVP which he would very much like to take into the government. But whether his red ally who helped elect him would agree to tone down its hard line on the approach to the peace process and push for a military solution if the LTTE remains recalcitrant is the big question.

The JVP’s entry into the government will help Rajapakse to resolve his problem of parliamentary numbers and stabilize the government. Also, the government would be much less exposed to a possible war on the trade union front if the JVP is in the government.

But it is a moot point on whether the JVP will be willing to adapt its stance to suit the exigencies of government. However helpful the hierarchy may want to be to Rajapakse, a Marxist party working on the tenets of democratic centralism will have to follow what the majority of its members want. A harsher approach to Norway, not appeasing the LTTE and going to war if that is the clear option appears to be all part of the current majority view of the JVP. This was reflected in a party meeting last week when the government’s militaristic tilt in the east won approving nods.

Doing what it now does from the opposition will be a “no, no’’ if it does join the government and such restrictions will not be an attractive proposition. But the JVP has to balance that with the reality that if it forces Rajapakse’s hand to dissolve parliament and go for an election, its parliamentary strength will drop to half the present number. That too cannot be an attractive proposition. Whether last week’s events on the security front will be a sweetener for a possible JVP entry to the government remains to be seen.

Ranil mending fences

The UNP anticipates the possibility of an election and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has been passing this word down the line. Hence the appointment of new electoral organizers where they are considered needed. The green party is also trying to overcome the in-fighting within the leadership and the fact that Prof. G.L. Pieris, suspected as a prime candidate for defection to the government, last week made a statement on behalf of the party suggests that some fence mending has begun. “We have to use the resources we have,’’ a party senior said. “It is futile for us to keep fighting each other and let personal likes and dislikes prevent us using capable people to good effect.’’

Fighting for Muttur

The fighting in Muttur last week held the national center stage. Despite the lives lost and the flood of refugees forced to flee their homes, neither side has been able to notch-up a victory. The plain-speaking head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Major General (Rtd) Ulf Henricsson, has made the point that the Mavilaru anicut remains closed. All hell broke out in Muttur once again focusing on the importance of the Trincomalee district to the LTTE.

Both sides have been throwing around figures of who lost how many to demonstrate that their opponent has been second-bested. Most people do not take these numbers seriously but know very well that both the government and LTTE sides have suffered considerable losses. On top of that, the fighting has heaped heavy burdens on the backs of people whose lives were already difficult.

Once again the strategic importance of Trincomalee was underlined by the intensity of the fighting. The LTTE’s push for Muttur was very much a part of getting within striking distance of the eastern harbour town where the Sri Lanka Navy’s main base is located. Hopefully, as Minister Sarath Amunugama has publicly said, “the stupid CPC unions’’ trying to dislodge the Indians from Trincomalee should at least now understand the security implications.

BBC analysis

In a news analysis from Colombo last week, the BBC’s Dumeetha Luthra noted that the dispute that began over the closing of the Mavilaru anicut has now grown into something larger and more dangerous with the potential to trigger a wider conflict. “The paradox is both sides insist they want to abide by the ceasefire signed in 2002, but are doing nothing to show that,’’ her report said.

The conflict escalated into a situation where the government threw in its air power to neutralize the LTTE behind its lines and the Tigers demonstrated an ability to target the vital naval base with its long range artillery. Hopefully the SLAF neutralized that capability, given that there was no repeat attempt.

According to Luthra’s analysis, “elements of the military have been desperate to have a go at the Tigers arguing that a short sharp war was a viable option. Perhaps the water dispute was perceived as the ideal opportunity.’’

“But what’s in it for the Tigers?’’ she asks. Replying this question, Luthra says that since the Karuna breakaway, the LTTE faces the same guerilla tactics from Karuna’s forces that the Tigers use against the army. “Adding to their woes is the fact Col. Karuna has been receiving tacit support from parts of the military.’’ She quotes some analysts expressing the view that what the LTTE has been doing has been an attempt to show that it has not been militarily weakened in the east.

New Rata Perata draft

The JVP has prepared a revised draft of the Rata Perata policy program which the party’s general secretary, Tilvin Silva, presented to President Rajapakse last week. The draft was discussed by a group including Messrs. Somawansa Amarasinghe, Wimal Weerawansa and K.D. Lal Kantha on the JVP side and ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Susil Premajayanth and Anura Priyadharsana Yapa representing the SLFP. Further discussions will take place in a week’s time.

Disturbed by telephone threats on his life, Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana accompanied by Minister Dinesh Gunewardena complained to Rajapakse about the calls he was receiving. The president placated Moulana saying, "What nonsense Alavi, no one will kill you. This is somebody’s joke. So don’t think too much about it.’’

He added that the veteran SLFP trade unionist should be in his cabinet rather than doing his present provincial council related job. So saying Rajapakse deftly diverted Moulana from his death threat preoccupation and got on to other pressing business that included conferring a deputy ministry on yet another UNP defector.

Facing South for luck

The SLFP’s Galle District leaders, Amarasiri Dodangoda, Piyasena Gamage and Gunaratne Weerakoon were waiting to see the president at `Temple Trees’. They had brought along UNP MP Lionel Premasiri, one time SLFP Mayor of Galle who was now defecting to the government.

Rajapakse banteringly asked Premasiri who was being sworn as Deputy Minister of Social Services, "So Lionel, which direction should you face when I administer the oath?"

"The South is good Sir, and the auspicious time 9.30," Premasiri said.

"Yes, the South is the best," agreed Southerner Rajapakse saying “let’s get this work done now’’ and duly swore Premasiri as deputy minister and gave him the relevant papers of appointment.

Once the swearing-in was completed, the president in a conversation with those present complained about some ministers not doing their jobs. Paddy from the last harvest remained piled up in warehouses with no plan to distribute it to the people. While urgent pubic work remained to be done, too much attention was focused on gaining more privileges. It is essential that everybody should be more focused on the work they must do, Rajapakse stressed.

President cautions some TV channels

With the war situation in the East worsening with fighting between the LTTE and the security forces in Muttur, the president summoned an emergency meeting of the National Security Council where some of the service commanders complained about irresponsible reporting by some private TV channels beaming programs helpful to the LTTE.

Rajapakse summoned a meeting of media heads to Temple Trees and asked them to give the national interest priority. "We may have political differences but helping a terrorist group is not in the national interest," he said. "I can use tough measures but I am only making a request."

Once the work in hand was done, the president invited the media heads for tea and exchanged pleasantries with them with no reference to the subject on which the meeting had been summoned.

Plaudits for Mahinda S

Disaster Management & Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe received an urgent message from the president that food was urgently needed in Kantalai, Somapura, Seruwawila and Muttur. Samarasinghe moved quickly to contact UNICEF, ICRC and the World Food Program who agreed to organize supplies. NGOs volunteered to ensure that food stocks reached Trincomalee by Thursday morning. Samarasinghe stressed that the supplies should reach not only government controlled areas but also rebel held areas. The NGOs praised the minister for his liberal and proper approach.

Reginald’s jest

Western Provincial Councilor Prasanna Ranatunge hosted a party at his Udugampola home last week. The event was attended by Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Chief Minister Reginald Cooray and several other Gampaha District Provincial Councilors.

The occasion provided an opportunity to discuss matters relating to the SLFP’s Gampaha District organization as well as the Western Provincial Council.

While the discussion was going on, the telephone rang in the Ranatunge home and President Rajapakse came on the line. "What’s happening there Prasanna?," the president asked. "I am told that there is a group getting `set’ there."

"No Sir, there is nothing special happening. A group of us have got together to map out a political course for the future and strengthen our organization."

"Oh, I wondered where there was a conspiracy," Rajapakse said. "Never mind. Tell the others that I also extended my good wishes."

Given that there are rumours of CBK looking at a comeback and Gampaha is her home base, Rajapakse may have wondered whether anything was brewing, an analyst said. This could be especially so given the guest list which included loyalists like Fernandopulle and Reginald Cooray. The president, cannily, would have wanted to pas on the message that he had his ear to the ground.

Once the preliminary business was completed, a rollicking good time was had by all. Ranatunge wined and dined his guests and Chief Minister Reginald Cooray demonstrated his singing prowess in the sing song that followed. His rendition of some golden Sinhala oldies attracted applause particularly from the ladies and a wag chuckled "You are getting support from the opposition!"

"Yes, I have always been getting support from the opposition side," countered Cooray referring to his current predicament in the WPC. "That’s the scene in the Provincial Council even now.’’ -The Sunday Island

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Having a heart for the heartless

July 14, 2006

Even if Prabhakaran were to ask for medical assistance, we believe, he should be brought for treatment. Perhaps, Angoda or Mulleriyawa will be the best place for him.

LTTE spokesman Daya Master was rushed to Colombo on Wednesday, for treatment following a severe cardiac arrest, with the help of the security forces. The government was right in having positively responded to a request from the LTTE to escort him and facilitate his hospitalisation. In a civilised society, the sick must be looked after, irrespective of who or what they are. While seeking the government help to remove its spokesman, the LTTE, true to form, carried on its killing spree. Two policemen were killed in a mine blast in Jaffna.

How can the LTTE, which is not at least capable of looking after a senior cadre with a heart condition claim to run a de facto separate state? In a terrain devoid of basic healthcare facilities, what will be the situation of the ordinary civilians if war breaks out?

The LTTE is said to be ruthless but we consider it more shameless than anything else. Otherwise, how could it ask for an escort within weeks of the assassination of Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga in Colombo and within months of the brutal killing of SSP Charles Wijewardena in Jaffna, let alone other assassinations like that of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and the attempt on the Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s life.

What the Sri Lankan governments have been doing is in stark contrast to the way the so-called five star democracies are dealing with their terrorists. When the US invaded Iraq, it unleashed hell on that country; even the chemicals used for water purification were banned and as a result thousands of children have died of dysentery and allied infections. Would Washington have ever allowed an Al Queada leader to be escorted by the US troops for treatment in Iraq or Afghanistan? Would Britain have escorted a terrorist involved in 7/7 attacks to a London hospital for treatment? We pose these questions to those who pontificate to this country on human rights.

India, too, expresses humanitarian concerns whenever clashes erupt here. But how did it treat its terrorist, Veerappan, who was partially blind and seriously ill at the time he was finally trapped? He was done to a cruel death. Given his condition, any decent person would have expected India to rush him to hospital. India, it should be recalled, refused Anton Balasingham passage in 2002, despite his plea that he was seriously ill, as the LTTE had killed former Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi. Here, the LTTE has killed an incumbent President (Ranasinghe Premadasa) and almost succeeded in assassinating another President (Chandrika Kumaratunga). But, Sri Lanka helps the LTTE leaders receive treatment in Colombo, which they have bombed many times. Apart from escorts, we have had a Defence Secretary-Austin Fernando is his name-visiting a senior LTTE combatant in a Colombo hospital with a basket of apples!

The survival of the LTTE has been possible due to the humaneness of the much maligned state. It is dependent on the very state it is hell bent on destroying. While living off the food and medical supplies the state sends to the areas under its control, the LTTE has to concentrate only on procuring arms, abducting children, extorting money from the war affected, manufacturing bombs and assassinations. The outfit won’t have a cat in hell’s chance without supplies from the state. Terrorism thrives, as we have pointed out in these columns, in a democracy. It fizzles out when it meets its match in an equally ruthless political regime. The well established Italian Mafia ceased to exist under Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. That’s why sympathizers of terror groups become ardent champions of democracy to prevent states from resorting to ruthless counter terror. Let it be immediately added that we don’t advocate either sanctions or counter terror, lest our comments should be misconstrued.

James P. Grant, the visionary Executive Director of UNICEF, who declared war on ‘global silent emergency’ (read deaths of millions of children from preventable diseases) considered Sri Lanka’s conflict a ‘civilised one’ in that the state feeds the LTTE and wounded LTTE cadres receive treatment in state-run hospitals. The Tigers have been biting the hand that feeds them.

Being humane and democratic is not without problems. But a civilised society has no alternative. The government has come under heavy fire from some quarters for its magnanimous gesture. While the consternation of anti terror activists could be understood, it should be realised that a democratically elected government of a legitimate state cannot act like a terrorist outfit and deny medical or surgical care to the sick. Even if Prabhakaran were to ask for medical assistance, we believe, he should be brought for treatment. Perhaps, Angoda or Mulleriyawa will be the best place for him.

-Island Editorial

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Give those cars to military officers

July 8, 2006

If the many consignments of armour-plated cars are counted, we should have around fifty vehicles which were ordered in haste and air freighted at tremendous cost to the tax payer to be distributed among members of the Cabinet including the President who were considered under threat from the LTTE.

It is evident from the recent attacks on the Commander of the Army and the Deputy Chief of Staff that the LTTE considers the top rung of the service command as prime targets for assassination. In the past, the LTTE successfully hit the leadership and those of the second rung who were likely to resist their demands.

It appears that the LTTE seeks to undermine the strength of the armed forces by taking out senior experienced officers, whose absence will leave the Army, Navy and Air Force under the command of relatively junior officers. It is not my intention to cast aspersions on the capabilities of officers to assume command when the need arises as it must under operational conditions.

It would be correct to conclude that the threat from the LTTE falls on the high command of the services and not on those presidents and ministers along with their entourage who enjoy the safety of armour plated Mercedes limousines. Some of the dangers that these politicians face might arise from the wrath of citizens who are burdened by the intolerable cost of living and their incapacity to handle the LTTE. -U. L. A. Gunasekera

Will the politicians who run these limousines consider the priorities and surrender the cars for the use of the service command before the LTTE hits their intended targets who go about their duties in tin boxes which are easily destroyed?

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Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunge RSP USP

July 3, 2006

"Though with the last arrow gone,

My blood dyes heaven and earth,

My spirit shall return, shall return

To defend the Motherland"

(Poem by Japanese Lt Gen Ushijima just before he died in 1945)

Lt. Gen. P. S. B. (Parami) Kulatunge, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, along with his driver Sgt. Gomez and bodyguard Corporal Buddhika paid the supreme sacrifice to the motherland on 26 June 2006 at Pannipitiya. They were killed by a LTTE suicide bomber.

When the LTTE killed Parami they killed a man who worked positively to help bridge the divide between the majority community and the minorities. It was among the Tamils he did best. He counted many Tamil friends while in school and in Jaffna and Vavuniya during his tours of duty. The insane LTTE murdered an exceptional officer and gentleman who bore no malice and harboured no prejudice. While he carried out his duties fearlessly he held fast to his beliefs that decency and humanity mattered very much especially in war. His death is a great loss both to the country and the Army he served with pride, distinction and dedication. It will certainly be one more murder that Prabakaran will most certainly have to answer to all the people of this land at the correct time.

Lt. Gen. Kulatunge was the much loved youngest child of Lionel Kulatunge, a former MMC, and Leela (nee Talwatte) and beloved brother of Samantha, Indu and Lumbini. He was born in Lewella, Kandy on 9th October 1951. He had all the qualities of those indomitable hill men whose courage protected the Kandyan kingdom from the ravages of colonial incursions over 300 years. He also represented the gentle and well mannered Kandyan way of life which has an abiding respect for elders and the traditions of the Sinhalese which they guard unobtrusively but with pride.

Parami was a typical product of Trinity College, Kandy. Joining the Army in1971 he received his initial training at the Officer Cadet School at Diyatalawa, precursor to the SL Military Academy. He was commissioned into the Gemunu Watch, (King DutugemunuOwn) in 1972. He first served as a platoon commander in B Company under Major Anandasunderam when Lt. Col. A. W. Thambirajah (later Brigadier) was in command. He also attended many courses in India mainly. The high point of his training was in the US Army War College.

Parami was a devout Buddhist. He tried as all Buddhist soldiers must to reconcile his duties in the Army with the Buddhist precept that prohibits taking life. It was especially difficult to do so when fighting a terrorist organisation that knows no limitations to brutality when it was one’s duty to also protect the lives of one’s countrymen. Instead to the last he with touching innocence and very strong faith believed that a person who bore no ill will nor harmed another human being should fear nothing.

Parami lived without ostentation, loved children, and always had time to interact with his soldiers, officer colleagues and friends. He was well known to the highest in the land almost from the time he started his career but it was not of his own seeking.

Lt. Gen. Kulatunge was an amiable giant of a man standing well over 6 foot with broad shoulders, weighing many pounds more than recommended. He was also magnanimous, generous and straight forward and honest. He rarely if ever lost his temper or spoke in anger. In his junior service when chastised he would simply keep quiet rather than seek to get away with an explanation. He had an enviable record of service showing excellent qualities of leadership both in the field and in the staff He "fought in many a fray and fought and won" including the gallant and epic relief of Elephant Pass in 1990 when he commanded the 6th Battalion. As 52 Division Commander in the battle for Jaffna following the reverses at Elephant Pass in 1998 he turned back the marauding LTTE at Varaani. They never came back again. In between he commanded 22 Brigade and later 11 Division. He was also at different times Security Forces Commander of Jaffna and recently of Vavuniya. He held staff appointments with distinction from the rank of Captain to Major General.

Although we were from same regiment and played rugby together, we first worked as a team only when I was appointed Officer Commanding (OC) Troops in Jaffna in 1980. He was a captain and the G3 staff officer and had been there the previous year when the situation was very tense there. Parami met me at Jaffna railway station around 5.30 am and took me straight to Pallaly where HQ Task Force One our superior HQ commanded by then Colonel, (later Major General), Gratien Silva was also located. The slightly senior staff officers in Task Force One were rotated during the year and included some of the best young officers of the time such as Majors Udena Gunawardene, Harin Malwatte, Mangala Ratnayake, Abdul Zaheer and Neil Dias (Later Maj. Gen. and Army Chief of Staff). They held Parami in great affection and humoured his methods of getting things done. He was a veteran of Jaffna!

Parami though quite young at the time had gained a lot of experience working with many future Army Commanders. What was very important was that he had an excellent rapport with the important officials, civil and religious dignitaries and many members of the public in Jaffna. The Task Force had also started teaching spoken Tamil to all troops. Parami set an example by attending all the classes. I’m sure it stood him in good stead later on. It was to be the last year that there was no terrorist violence in Jaffna.

Whether it was operational training to hearts and minds efforts, Parami ensured all arrangements were done on time and effectively. The PR efforts certainly brought us many friends. The Pallaly officers’ mess was always full of delightful Jaffna folk on many occasions. We had blood donation campaigns in the Jaffna General Hospital. The first to donate blood was the priest in charge of the Kankasanthurai (KKS) Temple, Rev. Mahinda at his own request. The KKS temple was never attacked by the militants ever as the priest was the saviour of any Tamil who thought he was in danger. The lady doctor in charge of the blood bank finding out probably from Parami that the OC Troops was present took me to task for not sending B positive donors that were on her list at a time when there was an urgent demand for blood. Parami very gently told her that the soldiers in Jaffna were routed (transferred) regularly every 6 months. He had personally checked our list before he sent what the Army calls a nil return. That intrepid little lady was not overawed either by the OC Troops or his engagingly handsome 6 foot staff officer. That is the Jaffna I knew where you gave way to the cyclists, often school girls, riding abreast. We respected their tradition built over 50 years.

Another occasion was when a donation was made to the Illaveli Girls’ Orphanage with the collections received from the always generous troops serving in Jaffna but organised by the staff officers with Parami. At the orphanage we were entertained by the orphans to a programme of singing and oriental dancing after which one very pretty little girl made a speech in English saying that she never thought that the Army would help them as they believed we had "iron hearts". They had instead been pleasantly surprised more so because the Mother Superior had told them how generous was our contribution. Everyone clapped and we all stood up to go. Parami without any warning announced that I would speak. I had no time to think. I mumbled that we were delighted to help and overwhelmed by the reception we were given. I then blurted, not without some trepidation as were in a convent, that never before in my life had I seen such beautiful little girls. This was translated into Tamil by the Mother Superior and even though they were very small girls they nearly brought the house down. That was the only time Parami had abandoned me!

We went on detachment visits which included Madagal, Vellvatithurai, Elephant Pass, Mullativu and Vavuniya and had a great time testing their battle readiness called Fitness for Role (FFR) in the Army. Parami, I believe, thought the OC had a pathological belief in being ready for war. Sadly it was he and most of the others then in Jaffna who had to face the music when things heated up as I had retired from the army by that time.

Nevertheless he and Captains Malik Deen and later Hiran Halangode also prepared the first SOPS ever issued. They were considered at that time only as items to be collected. Also issued amid some controversy were the white and meant to be yellow cards which informed the troops of their obligations before opening fire and after arresting persons found violating the law. The instruction not to open fire if some one ignored an order to halt at check points was criticised. The staff officers loyally defended the measure knowing that the chance of a pregnant woman who was being taken past a check point being shot was not an option. In May 2006 this could have been considered treason after the AHQ suicide attack! Another controversial measure was the one that required the troops to inform the next of kin (NOK) where arrested suspects would be held. Here too their loyalty was worth more than a ton of cleverness that some of the detachment commanders displayed in criticising these measures.

At the end of the year I left Jaffna and I believe Parami went to Trinco. I left the army in 1981 for reasons that have no place here. We met again when the Gemunu Watch Ex Servicemen’s Association (GWESA) was formed and then regularly on our periodic visits to the Regimental HQ at Kuruwita. We saw how much Parami has done for the troops especially the disabled who have a wonderfully well maintained swimming pool. The renovation of the Officers’ Mess and the Library are examples of the super self help efforts he made. He was also the moving force with Maj. Gen. Patrick Fernando in the recruitment drive that quadrupled the intake to the GWESA. Parami also took pains to ensure that new members’ subscriptions were collected regularly. This has helped very much to enrich the coffers of GWESA. We had looked forward to welcoming him on his retirement in 3 months time. It was not to be.

On a personal note I wrote to Parami a week before his untimely death officially thanking him for helping GWESA.

Though the letter was official I for the first time in a letter wished him and all ranks of GW the blessings of the Triple Gem. Everyone knew the dangers they faced. Unfortunately he tempted fate.

May the country in this time of peril remember with gratitude and pride, the devotion and courage of Parami, Sergeant Gomez and Corporal Buddhika and all our brothers and sisters who while playing their part in establishing peace, goodwill and justice among the people of our land, have made the supreme sacrifice. Their efforts will not be in vain. We will not forget them.

May his stay in Samsara be short and may he attain Nibbana.

Lalin Fernando
(Late Gemunu Watch)

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Solheim desperate to make Tigers talk

June 9, 2006

Tamilselvan wants Minister to lead Government delegation

The LTTE has announced, in Oslo, that its full delegation cannot hold direct talks with the the government delegation since the latter, is not represented by a Cabinet Minister. If at all, any direct talks take place, the LTTE would be represented only by its Peace Secretariat leader S.Pulithevan, since the government delegation is led by Secretary General of the Government Peace Secretariat Dr. Palitha Kohona.

The new development has pushed the government delegation into a predicament and Norway’s International development Minister Erik Solheim, after being apprised of the situation, is reported to be desperately trying to make the two sides meet each other.

LTTE delegation leader S. P. Thamilselvan claims that he informed government of Sri Lanka two weeks ago, through the Norwegian facilitators, that the government delegation should be represented by a Cabinet Minister. He blamed the government for failure to nominate a Minister.

Thamilselvan has further said that representatives of Denmark, Finland and Sweden, who form part of the delegation of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission for the Oslo talks, should be removed since they are from the European Union which imposed a ban on the LTTE little over a week ago. by Dinasena Rathugamage

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Visiting British navy chief takes Dvora- ride, sees Tiger-held Sampoor

June 5, 2006

The visiting Chief of Naval Staff of Great Britain Admiral Sir Jonathan Band Saturday evening met President Mahinda Rajapakse, at Temple Trees, after an unprecedented visit to the Trincomalee Navy base, where he boarded an Israeli-built Dvora Fast Atack Craft (P 474) to tour the inner and outer harbour. The British Navy chief had a glimpse of LTTE held Sampoor coast, the scene of on and off confrontations between the navy and the Sea Tigers, a military official said.

Sir Band, on a high profile four-day visit, is believed to have commended the young commanding officers of fighting vessels for their exceptional performances under difficult conditions during his visit to the base, the nerve centre of naval operations in the northern and eastern waters.

Admiral Band Sunday travelled to Kandy by train to pay homage at Dalada Maligawa.

On Friday Admiral Band addressed a group of Navy officers, from the South Asian region, who had completed a British funded course on International Humanitarian and Maritime law.

"All of us fight against terrorism and it is the same challenges we all face. These are the sort of challenges that we face now and are likely to represent an even greater challenge in the future," he said.

"Globalisation is now a fundamental part of the way that we do business and its continued operation is absolutely vital to the economies of just about every country. Interrupt the free movement of products and raw materials as a result of regional conflict, terrorist attacks or conflicts over resources and the global economy will be hit hard," he added.

"So it is in all of our interests to work together as nations to strengthen international peace and stability with our Armed Forces alongside other agencies, collectively acting as a force for good around the world," Admiral Band said.

"We need an international system based on the rule of law which is better able to resolve disputes and prevent conflicts and we need to work together more closely to achieve effective and secure regional neighborhoods," he said.

The week long course was designed to highlight the role of law and to emphasize the necessity of regional cooperation in campaign planning at the operational level for joint operations and multi- national peace keeping operations.

"It is difficult for any country to stand alone and be self sufficient…even for a developed nation like the UK," he said in his address. (SF)