TamilNet: You were part of the LTTE delegation in Geneva. How do you view Colombo’s commitment to the peace process?
Nadesan: We have been involved in many talks with Sri Lanka, from Thimpu talks in India to the present one. But it has always been the agenda of Colombo to eventually opt for a military solution. The outcome of talks with the assistance of a neutral international facilitator will thus be favourable to Tamils. The International Community has now glimpsed the true face of the Sinhala Government that we are forced to deal with. In the past we have conducted talks with the Indian Government and various Colombo Governments. What we saw in Geneva was that the present Government in Colombo lacks maturity. The way their delegates spoke at the table clearly showed where they are. They also lack political maturity to deal with the ethnic question and to make use of international facilitation. For example, the Sri Lankan IGP (Inspector General of Police) [Chandra Fernando] who came to Geneva, instead of exploring ways to end the present cycle of violence launched a tirade about the early killings such as those of Alfred Duraiyappah so and on. The point about negotiations should be to resolve the problem, not just point fingers. We could also come to the talks and cite tens of thousand of grave crimes against humanity by the Sri Lankan regime. But it is not the way you go forward with the issues in the talks. Did they come to Geneva to attend a court proceeding or for serious negotiations to end the violence? The aim of these talks was to discuss and find a way to solve the issues on the table. But the IGP behaved like a policeman in Sri Lanka, who files cases without evidence under their PTA and Emergency Regulations. He did not behave like a delegate of a state trying to solve a national crisis at all. Again, after the Geneva talks, the IGP issued a premature statement to Colombo Press about our Chief Negotiator’s response to his accusations. He denies the existence of Tamil paramilitary groups. He has not understood the prevailing situation regarding the peace process in Sri Lanka. The International Community on various occasions has also raised the problem of Tamil paramilitary groups that he denies. Even the recent report issued by the US State Department names the Tamil paramilitary groups. But the Sri Lankan IGP insists that there is only one paramilitary - the Special Task Force (STF) in Sri Lanka.
TamilNet: What are the main areas of concern of the Thamileelam Police during the Ceasefire between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka?
Nadesan: There was a big change in Police requirements in the area we administer since the peace process began. A good example is traffic management. Following the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002, we had to strengthen traffic routines to prevent accidents. One would have observed a big difference between the number of accidents in Sri Lanka Army controlled areas and the areas we administer. Our Policing style and approach are designed to be people-friendly in attitude and conduct. We interact with various civil institutions such as schools to nurture respect for the traffic rules and practices. We set out measures to educate students, the younger generation and workers on traffic rules and regulations, winning their respect for a dedicated and effective implementation. It is the inclusive approach that helps us to enforce the procedures. Our leader, Mr. Vellupillai Pirapaharan is very specific about this user-friendly policing approach. It begins even with the blue Police uniform which was designed to symbolise a friendly approach, this is in contrast to the traditional semi-military khaki uniform worn by police in many other places. Mr. Pirapaharan is very particular about this attitude: we are at the service of the people. Another issue that we had to deal with increasingly during the CFA was that many individuals suspected of or responsible for committing serious crimes within the Sri Lanka Army controlled areas attempt to escape into our territory and vice versa. We are in the process of building structures to deal with these challenges.
TamilNet: Outside the Police, what kind of infrastructure and administration-related issues are being addressed by the Liberation Tigers?
Nadesan: New administrative structures are being developed. For example, Tamils were deprived of computer facilities during the wartime due to Colombo’s economic embargo. In particular, Tamil children need to enter the Information Age. Almost all the fields in education need to absorb new knowledge and we need structures to deal with that challenge. We can’t wait for a political solution to address these important issues. We are continuously engaged in establishing ways to address the pressing requirements of our society. For example, there are new Laws being tabled by the Thamileelam Judiciary. An example is the recent Land Distribution Law. It is our intention that no single individual should be landless in our society. Our national leader specifically urged our Judiciary to research and find out ways to ensure distribution of land to all those landless in the areas under our administration. A law has now been enacted and is being implemented. There is a structure similar to a Land Department Authority under the jurisdiction of the new Law. Another example is building construction. There are many contractors engaging in building constructions during peace - time. A law is codified and being implemented with necessary structures to ensure that adequate standards are maintained. This type of additional structures are necessary to enable the entry of our people into the modern competitive world on an equal footing with the people of any other country. It is the responsibility of a freedom movement like ours to ensure this.
TamilNet: How does the Thamileelam Police interact with the International NGOs?
Nadesan: We closely co-ordinate with the ICRC, UNHCR, and the UNICEF. The ICRC, which works with Human Rights issues and the welfare of prisoners, is provided access to all our police stations and the prisons. They have access to all the documents. They conduct regular monthly visits. We have, in our Police Training, introduced advanced Human Rights courses like the new Police Training programs in many other countries. These courses specify the interpretation and adaptation of International Human Rights practices to meet the realities on the ground. The UNHCR also conducts, from time to time, workshops and seminars on gender violence and fundamental Human Rights for our policemen. Our women Police officers participate in seminars with UNICEF on Gender Violence and Women’s and Children’s Rights.
TamilNet: What measures do the Police undertake to defend the rights of Women and Children?
Nadesan: Our leader, in his periodic briefings to me, use to remind me that the Police should be proactive, with an attitude to serve, and seek advice from competent people to acquire relevant knowledge. He would also remind that the Police, in the minds of the people, should not be viewed as an entity preoccupied with prosecuting cases. We are working on procedures and training on how to work with women related issues in urban society, in towns, and in rural areas, The awareness of certain rights need to be instilled in the minds of housewives and working women. The Police service is thus a cornerstone in creating a consciousness of Social Independence. Shedding crocodile tears, the Sri Lankan government, which readily bombed Tamil schools and caused severe malnutrition amongst our children during the war, is now talking about child soldiers and engaged in a propaganda campaign against the Tigers on child recruitment. They go around with statistics compiled before Karuna’s administration was brought to an end in the east. It was because of Karuna our leadership had to tackle with the problem of forced child recruitment. I was specifically asked by our leader to extend our Police administration in the East, as were the Chief of Intelligence [Pottu Amman] and Chief of Finance [Thamilenthi], as there were complaints and reports about irregular conduct and corruption under Karuna. That is why Karuna publicly named me and the other two as his prime enemies, soon after rebelling. The first thing our leader did after defeating Karuna’s rebellion was to secure the release of many under-aged youths in his camps. Now Karuna is with the Colombo government and we see he is still engaged with the same tactics from the opposite camp.
Our Judiciary is also working with codification of Child Rights. A dedicated division on Women and Children’s Affairs is operating in the Police service and it is to be expanded with its own building and programs. Our policemen are continuously trained and put on courses on these issues.
TamilNet: What reaction does this draw from the international community?
Nadesan: Whether the NGO representatives in Kilinochchi openly say it to media or not might be a matter of politics, but we have on various occasions received positive feedback from the visiting officials and from those I have met in my visits to Europe. Policy makers are appreciative of the effective functioning of our Police. For example, a top level ICRC official who met Mr. Anton Balasingham, myself and Mr. Thamilchelvan in Geneva, was appreciative of our working relationship with their delegates here.
TamilNet: How do you gather and incorporate knowledge into training?
Nadesan: First of all, we provide education in the history of our liberation struggle and its politico-social history to all our police personnel. Our people have undergone a lot of hardships. A policeman with political sensitivity and historical understanding would be committed to serve and safeguard the society from corruption and crime. Otherwise you will end up like the Sri Lankan Police with underworld elements inside the police itself. You get insight and maturity with knowledge. Our policemen are entirely different to the Sri Lankan police. They are polite when addressing the public and have earned the respect of the people. Acquiring expertise and adopting it and applying it to our local conditions is a continuous process. We have for example the Thesavalamai, the traditional law, which was codified in the beginning of the 17th century. These laws are specific to Tamil society and differ in significant areas from that of the Sri Lankan traditional law in the south. Our Thesavalamai gives equality to both women and men while the Sri Lankan traditional law favours men. Such traditional laws and practices are compared to modern knowledge and practice.
We also study the Training Manuals and the Code of Practice of various Police forces from around the world. How are we going to be prepared to tackle computer crime in future? The British Police has a dedicated branch to deal with Internet Crimes. We have started training selected police officials with IT knowledge. We have recently established a Computer Section. There are also sophisticated technologies that we have begun to adopt, from DNA forensics to dog handling. We have already begun using fingerprints and are in the process of acquiring the technology and tools for using and analysing photographic evidence. We are training our officers in DNA analysis. Although we don’t have organised crime as such in our areas, we need to be prepared to cope with the challenges in future. There are even probabilities of persons involved in such crimes in other countries, engaged in such crimes in the Diaspora community, entering our homeland. We are studying the crime patterns among the Diaspora communities in various countries in exile and are aware of the developments in this regard and the requirements. I have suggested to some Police officials whom I have discussed such matters in the West to actively disseminate knowledge to the youngsters via their parents to develop respect for law enforcement.
Tamil Net: Do you maintain contact with the Sri Lankan Police.
Nadesan: No. We have no contacts with them. In the Sri Lankan military occupied territories of Tamils, there are many problems. Some of the issues are caused by a pre-planned agenda of the military institutions. They distribute and allow free flow of narcotics and porno films to divert the attention of the youth in degenerative directions. There is also an environment allowed and nurtured to seduce Tamil youth into crime. These are only a few to mention. We can’t allow our citizens to be corrupted and destroyed. We have now established a Police station in Pallai to conduct investigations in Sri Lanka Army controlled parts of Jaffna. There is an efficient Judicial Courts in Pallai to attend the cases from SLA controlled Jaffna area also.
TamilNet: Three Sri Lankan Policemen who entered the LTTE controlled area in Mannar were in the custody of the Tigers for some weeks. This was interpreted as a tactic to secure the release of the LTTE cadres in Sri Lankan custody.
Nadesan: It is a misinterpretation. There were six Sri Lankan policemen who together entered the LTTE administered area in Mannar searching for an international criminal. Three of the policemen were released soon after the group was held. We do also have our intelligence sources within the Sri Lankan Police force. We had credible reports to give us sound reasons for detaining the other three. Two of them have now been released at the request of the LTTE leader. One is still in our custody.
TamilNet: You were part of the LTTE delegation in Geneva. How do you view Colombo’s commitment to the peace process?