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Army says no LTTE fighters surrendered during war’s end

07 Nov 2022

  • Responds to RTI application
By Buddhika Samaraweera Contrary to the statements made earlier by several parties, including the Sri Lanka Army, that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters had surrendered to the Army during the last stage of the war, Army Designated Officer under the Right to Information (RTI) Act told the Right to Information Commission of Sri Lanka (RTICSL) last week that no LTTE fighters had surrendered in this manner. Journalist D. Nirosh Kumar had made a request under the RTI Act seeking information pertaining to the number of LTTE fighters who surrendered to the Army, officials who supervised such incidents, number of LTTE fighters who were arrested during the last period of the war, and officials who supervised such arrests. As the Information Officer of the Army had not provided him with the information, Kumar had later filed an appeal with the RTICSL, and the relevant appeal was taken up last Thursday (3). The Army had previously informed Kumar in writing that those who surrendered during the last period of war surrendered not to the Army, but to the Government. However, the Army's Designated Officer under the RTI Act Brigadier N.K.N.K. Nagahawatte, when the appeal was taken up before the RTICSL, stated that LTTE fighters did not surrender to the Army, but that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) did. He informed the RTICSL that it was the Army that transported such IDPs to IDP camps, and that such camps were under the purview of the Bureau of Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. He subsequently claimed that certain persons who were among them had told the said bureau that they were LTTE cadres. In response to his statement, Attorney-at-Law Swastika Arulingam, who appeared for the appellant, submitted to the RTICSL three documents that contained statements made by Ministers Sivanesathurai Santhirakanthan alias Karuna Amman, Douglas Devananda, and a former Army Media Spokesman that LTTE fighters had surrendered to the Army. When the Commissioners queried Brigadier Nagahawatte regarding the relevant documents, he said that there was no change in his position on the matter.  Accordingly, the RTICSL informed journalist Kumar to make written submissions before 17 November if there exist any facts to prove that LTTE fighters surrendered to the Army, and gave the Army two weeks of time to respond to such. The appeal is to be taken up again on 4 January 2023. The appeal was taken up before RTI Commissioners, Attorneys Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Jagath Liyanaarachchi, and A.M. Nahiya on Thursday (3). Brigadier. Nagahawatte appeared for the Army, while Arulingam and journalist Tharindu Iranga Jayawardana appeared for Kumar.  

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