A statement issued by the Council of Hindu Organisations and signed by its president Yogendra Doraiswamy and its secretary S.P. Nadarajah was published in the Island of 11th April 1991. In prefatory comments it stated :
"On June 11th 1990 renewed fighting suddenly erupted between the Government of Sri Lanka and the L.T.T.E. in the North-East province. No public statement was issued, either by the Government or the L.T.T.E., as to the issues discussed and the points of disagreement during the fifteen months of warm and cordial relationship that preceded the renewed conflict.
Nine months have passed and there is no indication of a cessation of hostilities. Destruction of persons and property is taking place on a large scale. Though the Government had announced at the outset that this war was not against the Tamils but only against the L.T.T.E. every month innocent civilians are dying by the score and a large number of public buildings and private houses are being destroyed. Refugees numbering one million are eking out an existence in very poor living conditions.
Normal life is at a standstill and people are suffering great hardships and untold misery. The North-East province is turning into a waste land, a scorched earth and many people are leaving the area in desperation".
Proposals: The following proposals were then put forward after arguing that present troubles are largely a result of the failure to implement the Indo-Lanka Accord.
"As advocates of a united Sri Lanka, where every citizen should enjoy freedom, equality and justice, we wish to suggest a package of proposals to alleviate the situation in the North-East province and restore peace and normalcy. The Government of Sri Lanka:
1) to announce an immediate cessation of hostilities. the L.T.T.E. to respond positively.
2) to ensure that sufficient supplies of food, fuel and medicines are sent regularly to the International Committee of the Red Cross, who in coordination with the Government Agent, will distribute them.
3) to announce that it would fully implement without delay the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of July 29th 1987.
4) to nominate an Interim Council for the North-East province in Consultation with the parties who were elected to the NorthEast Provincial Council. The Interim Council should proportionately comprise representatives of parties elected at the Provincial Council elections. The L.T.T.E. should be invited to join. Subjects assigned to the Interim Council should also include law and order, education, health, land development, relief and rehabilitation of refugees. The Interim Council should function till the Provincial Council comes into being after a free and fair election.
5) to initiative negotiations with the L.T.T.E. after the cessation of hostilities takes effect. This should lead to laying down of arms and reciprocal measures by the Government. A practical approach is necessary in this regard. The Government of Sri Lanka is the other party to this conflict and cannot expect to supervise or monitor the cessation of hostilities and the laying down of arms. A neutral force is, therefore, necessary for this purpose. An Indian Peace Keeping Force could be invited for this operation as India guaranteed the IndoSri Lanka Agreement of July 29th 1987. If India is unable to send a Peace Keeping Force, then a friendly country like Canada, Australia, Sweden or Norway could be approached. Arms should be laid down by all militant groups, home guards and private militias. Simultaneosly, the Sri Lankan Government should close down all security forces camps established since 1977 and the security forces in the remaining camps should be confined to their barracks. This applies to the North-East province. It was with the 1977 General Elections that the fight for Eelam started and the T.U.L.F. was returned in large numbers on this ticket. The Government took counter measures by opening new camps and sending large contingents of security forces to the North. The status quo ante should be restored as at 1977.
The Police should maintain law and order as in normal times and early action should be taken to hold Provincial Council elections. Opportunity should be given to the Provincial Government and the Council to function without let or hindrance. The Peace Keeping Force should remain till the Provincial Government had been in office for a period of three years.
Any issue like the question of linkage of the former Northern and Eastern provinces, may be raised after the Provincial Government had been in office for three years. Such questions could be settled by negotiations between the Centre and the North-East Provincial Government. Time will play a role in viewing the problem in its correct perspective."
The appeal concluded by requesting the government and the LTTE to come up with the necessary courage and statesmanship to overcome mutual suspicion and distrust created by long years of bitter conflict. It added :
"We have made these proposals in the firm conviction that their implementation would not only restore peace, human rights and democratic institutions, but also would set in motion a process which would create mutual trust and understanding between the two peoples".
About mid-night on 20th January (0000 hrs 21st), some vehicles approached Talaimannar village. Subsequently there were knocks on several house doors. Those who opened the doors were blinded by torches flashed by the intruders. After looking over the inmates, certain persons pointed out were taken. The others were threatened to remain silent, and the intruders left. In all, nine persons, including one woman, were taken. After dawn, the villagers went to the army camp at Talaimannar Pier, 1 1/2 miles away. The army denied any knowledge of the incident.
DISAPPEARANCES IN MANNAR
The officer-in-charge of the camp was known by his nickname Chamakkoli (Mid-night Cock) because of his habit of being active at midnight. Previously in late December, the entire village had been ordered to assemble at the local church at mid-night. No one was then taken. The Brigadier then in charge of Mannar made no bones about his inclinations. During his public relations exercises he used to boast about knowing how to deal with terrorists, and how he had presided over the killing of 3000 terrorists where he had been posted in the deep South, during recent JVP troubles. NGO's were warned to be careful and that he had seen from a helicopter, their vehicles being used by terrorists. Given the sensitive nature of Mannar as a prospective refugee settlement, following the disappearances, concerted pressure from NGOs resulted in the Brigadier's transfer to Trincomalee.
The Officer-in-Charge at Talaimannar Pier was also transferred. The new OIC visited the village and gave an assurance that such unfortunate things will not happen again, and wanted the villagers to report if anything happened. The new Brigadier gave similar assurances to the public and promised the families that he would inquire into the fates of those taken.
So far the families have been told nothing despite having applied through various channels, including the ICRC. Leading persons who knew those taken are convinced that they had no involvement with the LTTE, but only may have had relatives in the LTTE.
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