LTTE political wing leaders asked to surrender were shot dead

May 20th, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 20 (ANI): The Sri Lankan Army has been reportedly accused of killing two senior LTTE leaders of the political wing, who were trapped in the war zone and wanted to surrender as per the Lankan Government’s instructions.

In a flurry of emails, text messages and telephone calls that passed between NGOs, a Norwegian Government and Sri Lankan officials in Colombo, the two LTTE political leaders frantically inquired as to how they could give themselves up.

But the attempt to surrender by the head of the LTTE’s political wing Balasingham Nadesan and Seevaratnam Pulidevan, who led the Tamil Tigers peace secretariat, failed, The Independent reports.

They were shot dead sometime between midnight on May 17 and the early hours of the next morning.

The chief intermediary for the two men was the Norwegian Government’s Environment Minister Erik Solheim, apparently received calls from LTTE figures who said they wanted to surrender.

Trine Eskedal, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, said: “The minister said he spoke with Pulidevan at midnight, who gave him the message that the political leaders wanted to surrender (to the ICRC). At the time he could hear gunshots in the background.” She said that an official, then contacted both the ICRC and the Sri Lankan Government.

The ICRC confirmed last night that it had received word from the Norwegians that the two leaders were looking to give themselves up.

The Sri Lankan Government’s point man in the negotiations appears to have been Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona. He said that in the days leading up to Sunday evening, he had received a number of messages indicating that Nadesan and Pulidevan wanted a way out.

Kohona said that his response had been that “there was only one way to surrender that is recognised by military practice.” He said they should obtain a white flag and give themselves up. “I kept saying this for three days,” he added.

Kohona produced a text message stored on his phone which he had sent to the NGO at 8.46 a.m. on Sunday, 16 hours before the Norwegian minister had his final conversation with the LTTE leaders.

The message - in response to a question from the NGO as to whether the two political leaders would be safe if they gave themselves up - read: “Just walk across to the troops, slowly! With a white flag and comply with instructions carefully. The soldiers are nervous about suicide bombers.”

LTTE’s International Relations Head S. Pathmanathan on Tuesday accused Colombo of treachery in the killing of the political wing leaders, and said it is a crime against humanity that needs to be investigated.

“We were instructed to make contact with the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan forces in the war zone, un-armed and carrying white flags. B. Nadesan and Puleedevan were un-armed and carrying white flags and were called on by the Officers of the 58th Division to come forward for discussions. When they complied they were both shot and killed,” he added. (ANI)

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