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H. L. D. MAHINDAPALA SAYS THE KIDNAPPING OF THE SEVEN SOLDIERS HIGHLIGHTS IT IS  TAMIL TIGERS WHO ARE CALLING THE SHOTS IN LANKA
By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

The former editor of Colombo’s Sunday Observer H. L. D. Mahindapala said the kidnapping of seven soldiers by the LTTE highlighted once again that it was the Tamil Tigers who were calling the shots and Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government as usual was surrendering to them without a murmur.

Mahindapala, who is a leading Sri Lankan journalist considered very close to former UNP Prime Minister the late Dudley Senanayaka and former UNP President the late Ranasinghe Premadasa said the incident highlighted the plight of the UNF government which dare not question the violations of the Memorandum of Understanding by the LTTE

He said, “Their solution for peace is to either turn a blind eye to the violations of the ceasefire agreement by the Tamil Tigers or give in to everything they demand. Are they bargaining for peace with justice to all? Or are they bargaining to keep Ranil Wickremesinghe in power by selling the nation down the river at Sattahip?”

As critics raised hell against the LTTE and the government’s leniency towards the terrorist group the parents of the kidnapped soldiers who became very much perturbed over the refusal of the rebel group to release the soldiers made a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

Though the Sri Lanka monitoring Mission initially said they were optimistic of getting all seven soldiers released immediately, after traveling to Trincomalee to discuss with LTTE military leaders Hagrup Haukland , Deputy Head of the Norway led monitoring mission said he was only able to get one soldier released on humanitarian grounds. This particular soldier according to army sources is scheduled to give blood to a very sick child of his.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission representatives who met the terrorist representatives reportedly told them that the kidnapping of the soldiers was not only a direct violation of the MOU but a grave provocation.

Mahindapala said, “The story in brief is this: the lawfully elected government of Sri Lanka which is supported fully by the elected Tamil MP’s has arrested the Tiger terrorists for violating the terms and conditions of the MOU by carrying arms in government controlled areas. What do the Tigers do? In a tit-for tat act they capture seven soldiers who had gone to collect sand in no man’s land.

“ The latest reports say that the Tiger leader who is holding the seven soldiers has refused to give-in. Alarmed by the new violation Hagrup Haukland , the deputy head of the ceasefire monitoring team said , “ We are afraid that this sensitive issue could escalate and threaten the truce.” (EOM)

(02/10/02 go2lanka.com)

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