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Lankan officials held for links with LTTE

So far, over 20 Sinhalas have been held for alleged links with the rebel LTTE, reports PK Balachandran.

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An un-named senior official of the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry and a Director of an NGO, both belonging to the majority Sinhala community, were arrested last week for alleged links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Confirming it, Defence spokesman Kaheliya Rambukwella told Hindustan Times that the arrests showed that the government was "non-discriminatory" and that a person's background did not matter when the state moved to protect national security.

Refusing to identify the detenus, he said: "We have taken them in for questioning, and if found innocent, we will release them."

So far, over 20 Sinhalas have been held for alleged links with the LTTE. Some of them had even got military training from the LTTE.

Reflecting a general antipathy among the majority of Sinhalas towards leftists, NGOs, and peaceniks, who they think are agents of the LTTE, the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT) had recently carried out a poster campaign seeking action against the "Madhya Koti" (Media Tigers); "Vama Koti" (Leftist Tigers);and "NGO Koti" (NGO Tigers).

Asked to explain the recent phenomenon of Sinhalas having links with the Tamil Tigers, Rambukwella said that the LTTE had started buying Sinhalas to do its job, as it was unable to infiltrate the Sinhala areas to indulge in terrorist activity because of the tightening of security.

"The love for money has no end, and people have a price," he remarked.

Mystery killings

There is widespread concern here over the discovery of five decomposed bodies with bullet wounds in Muthurajawela, north of Colombo late last week.

And Mano Ganesan MP and head of the non-government Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) which keeps track of abductions and involuntary disappearances wondered if the victims were Tamils.

"Last December, two of the five bodies found in Avissawella (on the Colombo-Kandy road) were of young Tamils, one from Colombo city and the other from the suburb of Wattala," Ganesan told Hindustan Times.

In the past 12 months, 78 people (almost all Tamils) had disappeared or had been abducted. Out which, 15 were released, 12 were killed and the fate of 50 was not known, Ganesan said.

UN intervention: the new bug

With the US, EU and the UN complaining about a "climate of impunity" prevailing in Sri Lanka, there is a growing fear in the country that the UN may send a monitoring mission and make its report a basis for imposing economic sanctions.

In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa dated December 13, 2006, the sacked Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had warned of such a possibility and had gone on to plead for an improvement in the government's human rights record to avert such a mission.

On Sunday, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) leader A Vinayagamoorthy called for a UN peace keeping force to protect the Tamils.

But objecting strongly to any such intervention, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader, Somaswansa Amarasinghe, wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week, telling him that the UN had no mandate to intervene in Sri Lanka as the ethnic conflict in the country "posed no threat to any of its neighbours in particular or world peace in general."