Sri Lanka blasts Annan’s statement

[TamilNet, Friday, 18 February 2005, 13:37 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has officially registered his government’s strong objections with the United Nations over Secretary General Kofi Annan’s condemnation of the assassinations on February 7 of E. Kousalyan, head of LTTE's Political Wing in Batticaloa-Amparai district, and his team in a Sri Lanka government-controlled area of the Eastern province, political sources said Friday.

Lakshman KadirgamarMr. Kadirgamar had made Mr. Annan’s office aware of his government’s "displeasure" over his "unwarranted" comments, sources said.

Mr. Annan’s condemnation of the attack, which came a day after the Sri Lankan government’s, had left Mr. Kadirgamar "incandescent with rage," the sources said.

Mr. Kousalyan and his party, including senior members of his staff and a former Tamil parliamentarian, were stopped and shot dead at point-blank range on February 7 by uniformed gunmen on a stretch of the Pollonnorawa-Batticaloa road between the Sri Lanka Army camps at Welikanda and Punanai.

The LTTE has accused the Sri Lanka Army of carrying out the massacre, but the government has denied the charge, blaming gunmen loyal to a renegade LTTE commander, Karuna, instead.

The Sri Lanka government also condemned the attack and on February 9, Mr. Annan issued his own denunciation.

Kofi annan"The Secretary-General condemns the killings of Mr. E. Kaushalyan, a senior political leader of the LTTE Eastern Province Division, and several colleagues traveling with him, when their vehicle came under attack [Feb 7] evening. He extends his sincere condolences and deepest sympathies to the families of all the victims of these callous killings," Annan's statement said.

"The Secretary-General urges all parties to exercise calm and restraint so as to avoid actions that could disrupt the Cease-fire Agreement of February 2002 or the long-term interest of peace in Sri Lanka," it also said.

Mr. Kadirgamar’s official protest to the UN comes amid protests by Sinhala-nationalists, led by members of Sri Lanka’s powerful Buddhist clergy, to Mr. Annan’s comments.

Last Friday, the Patriotic National Movement (PNM), a right-wing Sinhala umbrella group, handed over a memorandum to the UN office in Colombo accusing the UN of attempting to give diplomatic recognition to LTTE.

Mr. Annan is not the first UN Secretary General to provoke Mr. Kadirgamar’s wrath.

In November 1995, after a major Sri Lanka Army offensive on Jaffna displaced an estimated half a million residents, the then Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, called for "humanitarian assistance on a significant scale to minimize the suffering."

But Mr. Kadirgamar "expressed displeasure at the appeal made by [Mr.] Boutros Ghali, whom he accused of exaggerating the situation," the BBC reported on November 6, 1995.

"We do not intend to permit any outside agencies, including the UN...to carry out independent operations [in Sri Lanka]," the BBC quoted Mr. Kadirgamar as saying in response to suggestions the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, engage in relief efforts to assist people displaced from Jaffna.

The state-owned Daily News reported at the time that "Mr. Kadirgamar said he would write to [Mr.] Boutros Ghali about his statement expressing his deep concern about the massive displacement of civilians in the northern province."

"It will be a little sharp," the Daily News quoted Mr. Kadirgamar as describing his letter.


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