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Once upon a time, it was taken as a fact that the CFA, or the Cease Fire Agreement was hidden from the then President, Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga.  Or rather, that she got to know about it, only when it was signed and delivered, so to speak!  That may have been, since it was a house divided, with a UPFA President  and a UNF Government, with no love lost between them, at that time!

But now, new facts emerging from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission tells an alarming story that even the senior officers of the then Government were unaware of the CFA. We learn, rather surprisingly, according to the submissions of the former Defence Secretary, Austin Fernando to the LLRC, that he had "not been involved with the preparing of the CFA."

He, then comes out that he got to "know about the CFA through the then Army and Navy Commanders!"  A statement that is being hotly contested by the then Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri, who went on record that the armed forces commanders were NOT consulted before the UNF Government signed the agreement with the LTTE, and that they were informed of the decision to sign a CFA only the day before, on the 21st of February, 2002. And that directly after the meeting at Parliament, during which Fernando had been present in the company of  the Chief Norwegian Facilitator Erik Solheim, who then flew off to Kilinochchi in a SLAF chopper from the parliamentary grounds with the CFA in hand!

So then, who is telling the truth? And more importantly, who authored the CFA? Whose brainchild was this piece of paper that gave the LTTE carte blanche to do whatever they wanted ALL over Sri Lanka, and not only in the North and the East?

Will the public, at long last, get to know the real identity of those who authored this infamous CFA? Will the real authors of the CFA now please stand up!

It is said that the CFA was initially drafted secretly by  Anton Balasingham and his good pal, Erik Solheim prior to the Presidential election in 2000, but was put on hold since Kumaratunga emerged the winner, and brought back to life during the UNF regime of 2002 to 2004.

Whilst it could be argued, that the then government in power signed the CFA  in good faith, with nary an adjustment to the original document (we have Bernard Goonetilleke, former Head of the Peace Secretariat on record  that the two amendments,  one with regard to Child soldier recruitments were not heeded by the LTTE!), it seems extremely naïve of the powers that were in government, to have agreed to the Articles which called for the disarmament of all groups opposed to the LTTE, which was an absolute sweep ticket to the LTTE to massacre and decimate all anti-LTTE groups. They also agreed to conditions which called for our Armed Forces to travel on the A9 without their weapons, and for the LTTE to traverse our government held areas for 'Political Work'.

No wonder then that  Anton Balasingham, claimed proudly at the one and only infamous press conference  attended by the LTTE chief, that both their President and the Prime Minister was Prabhakaran! No wonder that they held  'Pongu Tamil' events and hoisted the LTTE flag all over state- held territories, whilst the Armed Forces looked on helpless! They took the fullest advantage of these imprudent, and frankly ludicrous conditions to strengthen its de-facto state by establishing LTTE police stations, and even set up courts!

But the worst casualties of the CFA were the Intelligence Units of the Army, whose identities were revealed in a 'list of names', which then resulted in the Tigers murdering the underground operatives one by one,  with hardly a hum originating from the government or from the useless SL Monitoring Mission, an euphemism for a body, with a mission to only  monitor the Armed forces!

But what these emanations at the LLRC by the senior most public officials bring to light is the uncontested fact that they had absolutely no say in what took place. Whilst it is hard to believe that they just stood and stared and just obeyed their political bosses, what is apparent is their lack of empowerment and their absolute and  utter helplessness in voicing an opinion contrary and in opposition to that of their superiors. They may have believed in the CFA (as Goonetileke and Fernando demonstrated) in good faith, but it is hardly possible that  being  very senior diplomats and public servants, they failed to observe and glimpse the dangers and the risks it placed on the sovereignty  of the country as a whole!
How else could one explain the actions of some of the highest placed public officials, who actually aided and abetted the transport of a large number of containers to be sent to Kilinochchi without being opened by the Customs? Or the gifting of sophisticated communication equipment by the Norwegians to the LTTE? Did they really think that these were innocuous acts, with no adverse effects to undermine the future security of this nation?

Were  these officers and the persons above them who gave them the orders to proceed with these inconceivable actions, so immature, so naïve not to realize that the CFA resulted in a 'pseudo peace' which the LTTE Tigers utilized to re-arm and get ready to wage a war of such proportions - from the air, the sea and over land on our nation? Will these persons be brave enough to come and face the LLRC and to answer honestly and truthfully? Will the country finally know the truth about the CFA?

Yes, there are many lessons to be learnt from this LLRC! We may or may not learn who actually authored the disastrous CFA, but we as Sri Lankans should learn how not to naively believe foreigners who come bearing secretly drafted 'agreements' which favour one party against another. And learn that whilst the Norwegians were in 'great haste' to complete and sign off the CFA, we should have taken our time to study the document, share it with the people, or at least share it with the people responsible for the security of the country, such as its President and the Armed Forces, without leaving them in the dark!

But most of all, we should use the recent findings of the LLRC as a  valuable learning experience, not only for our Diplomats and senior public officials, but also especially for our Politicians! By Shyamalee Tudawe


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