US embassy cable - 94COLOMBO3119

LIFE UNDER THE LTTE

Identifier: 94COLOMBO3119
Wikileaks: View 94COLOMBO3119 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 1994-06-17 12:29:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PINS PHUM PTER KPRP CE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 171229Z JUN 94
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0056
INFO AMCONSUL MADRAS
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
AMEMBASSY DHAKA
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMCONSUL KARACHI
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 003119 
 
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE 
 
CINCPAC FOR FPA / LONDON FOR N. JOHNSON 
KARACHI FOR LAWTON / PARIS FOR ALLEGRONE 
 
E.O. 12356:N/A 
TAGS:  PINS, PHUM, PTER, KPRP, CE 
SUBJECT:  LIFE UNDER THE LTTE 
 
1.  SUMMARY.  RECENT TRAVELERS TO JAFFNA REPORT THAT 
THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE) CONTINUE 
TO SET UP CIVIL ADMINISTRATION IN AREAS UNDER THEIR 
CONTROL.  A TIGER POLICE FORCE HAS REPLACED THE 
REGULAR LTTE CADRES ON THE STREETS OF JAFFNA, TIGER 
COURTS ARE DISPENSING JUSTICE THROUGHOUT THE 
PENINSULA, AND A "BANK OF TAMIL EELAM" HAS BEGUN 
FUNCTIONING UNDER THE MANAGEMENT OF A FORMER STATE 
BANK OFFICIAL.  THE TIGERS ARE ALSO EMPHASIZING 
ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY BY ATTEMPTING TO PRODUCE 
SUBSTITUTES FOR ITEMS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S "BANNED" 
LIST.  ON THE MILITARY FRONT, THE LTTE IS PREPARING 
FOR A POSSIBLE ARMY ASSAULT ON JAFFNA AND HAS 
THREATENED TO DISRUPT THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL AND 
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS BASED ON CONVERSATIONS 
WITH RECENT TRAVELLERS TO THE LTTE-CONTROLLED JAFFNA 
PENINSULA, INCLUDING THE COLOMBO-BASED BBC AND 
REUTERS CORRESPONDENTS AND THE JAFFNA-BASED BISHOP 
OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA. 
 
3.  RECENT TRAVELLERS TO JAFFNA WERE STRUCK BY THE 
DEGREE TO WHICH THE LTTE HAS SET UP ITS OWN CIVIL 
ADMINISTRATION IN NORTHERN SRI LANKA.  GONE ARE THE 
TRUCKLOADS OF HEAVILY-ARMED TIGERS WHO PATROLLED THE 
STREETS OF JAFFNA AS RECENTLY AS 1992.  THE 
GUERRILLA FIGHTERS HAVE NOW BEEN REPLACED BY 
BLUE-UNIFORMED "TAMIL EELAM POLICE."  THE 
LIGHTLY-ARMED POLICE DIRECT TRAFFIC (MOSTLY 
BICYCLES), RECORD STATEMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AND 
INVESTIGATE CRIMES "JUST LIKE IN COLOMBO," ACCORDING 
TO THE REUTERS CORRESPONDENT.  THE INSPECTOR GENERAL 
WHO HEADS THE FORCE IS A FORMER CONSTABLE IN THE SRI 
LANKAN POLICE. 
 
4.  THE POLICE ARE BACKSTOPPED BY THE LTTE "JUSTICE 
DIVISION," WHICH RUNS FOUR DISTRICT COURTS AND ONE 
APPELLATE COURT.  LTTE "JUDGES"--ALL FORMER 
GUERRILLAS--HEAR CASES AND HAND DOWN JUDGMENTS FROM 
THE BENCH.  ACCORDING TO THE BBC CORRESPONDENT, 
THESE JUDGES RECEIVE SIX MONTHS OF LEGAL TRAINING IN 
AN LTTE "LAW COLLEGE" BEFORE TAKING OVER THEIR 
DUTIES.  EACH JUDGE ALSO HAS A "LEGAL ADVISOR," 
GENERALLY A RETIRED GOVERNMENT ATTORNEY.  THE JUDGES 
THEMSELVES TEND TO BE YOUNG, IN THEIR LATE 20'S OR 
EARLY 30'S.  THE ONE APPEALS COURT JUDGE IS A 
WOMAN.  THE BBC AND THE REUTERS CORRESPONDENTS 
AGREED THAT THE COURTS SEEMED TO BE HANDLING BOTH 
CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES IN A STRAIGHTFORWARD LEGAL 
MANNER. 
 
5.  ON THEIR ARRIVAL IN JAFFNA, THE JOURNALISTS' 
BAGS WERE CHECKED BY LTTE CUSTOMS OFFICERS AND THEIR 
PAPERS WERE EXAMINED BY LTTE IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS. 
CHECKING WAS THOROUGH; IT TOOK THE OFFICIALS THREE 
HOURS TO CLEAR THE 150 PEOPLE WHO ARRIVED ON AN ICRC 
BOAT FROM TRINCOMALEE.  NO PASSENGERS WERE ALLOWED 
OUT OF THE CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION HALL UNTIL THEIR 
BONA FIDES WERE ESTABLISHED AND THEY HAD PAID ALL 
APPLICABLE DUTIES ON THE GOODS THEY BROUGHT FROM THE 
SOUTH. 
 
6.  THE LTTE HAS RECENTLY OPENED BANKS IN JAFFNA AND 
OTHER NORTHERN TOWNS.  UNLIKE THE BRANCH OFFICES OF 
COLOMBO BANKS, WHICH ONLY TAKE DEPOSITS, THE "BANK 
OF TAMIL EELAM" ALSO PROVIDES LOANS TO FARMERS AND 
SMALL BUSINESSMEN.  THE TIGERS HAVE MOUNTED A MAJOR 
PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PUT THEIR 
MONEY IN THE LTTE BANKS.  THE MAIN SELLING POINT IS 
THAT THE NEW BANKS WILL RECYCLE MONEY INTO THE 
COMMUNITY RATHER THAN (AS IS NOW THE CASE) TAKING IT 
OUT OF THE PENINSULA.  THE MANAGER OF THE BANK OF 
TAMIL EELAM IS A RETIRED BANK OF CEYLON OFFICIAL. 
 
7.  THE EXISTENCE OF THE LTTE-RUN "TAMIL EELAM 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION" (TEEDO) IS 
ANOTHER SIGN THAT THE TIGERS ARE STRIVING FOR 
SELF-SUFFICIENCY.  TEEDO IS CHARGED WITH FINDING 
ALTERNATIVE LOCAL SOURCES OF SUPPLY FOR "BANNED" 
ITEMS EMBARGOED BY THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT.  IT 
HAS REPORTEDLY HELPED SET UP SMALL-SCALE 
MANUFACTURING ENTERPRISES TO PRODUCE AGRICULTURAL 
IMPLEMENTS, BOTTLED SOFT DRINKS AND OTHER 
HARD-TO-FIND ITEMS.  TEEDO ALSO OFFERS CASH 
INCENTIVES TO PEOPLE WHO COME UP WITH INNOVATIVE 
SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS ARISING FROM THE EMBARGO.  ONE 
SUCH AWARD RECENTLY WENT TO A MAN WHO PERFECTED A 
WAY OF USING "BIO GAS" TO RUN HIS TRACTOR. 
 
8.  ACCORDING TO THE TWO JOURNALISTS AS WELL AS THE 
BISHOP, ALL ITEMS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S "BANNED LIST" 
ARE FREELY AVAILABLE IN JAFFNA, THOUGH OFTEN AT 
PRICES SEVERAL TIMES THOSE IN THE REST OF THE 
COUNTRY.  "PENLIGHT BATTERIES, CHOCOLATES, ANYTHING 
YOU CAN FIND IN COLOMBO YOU CAN FIND IN JAFFNA," 
SAID THE REUTERS CORRESPONDENT.  RETAILERS SIMPLY 
PASS THE EXTRA COST OF SMUGGLED ITEMS ON TO THE 
CONSUMER, WHILE THE LTTE ALSO EXACTS ITS CUT.  WITH 
THE EXCEPTION OF GOLD MERCHANTS, ALL SHOPS AND 
BUSINESSES PAY THE TIGERS A TWO PERCENT TAX ON GROSS 
SALES.  GOLD MERCHANTS PAY 4 PERCENT. 
 
9.  ELECTRICITY, SHUT OFF BY THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT 
IN 1990, IS NOW SUPPLIED BY LTTE GENERATORS TO SOME 
15,000 COMMERCIAL SUBSCRIBERS.  RATES ARE SAID TO BE 
TWENTY TIMES THOSE IN COLOMBO:  100 RUPEES (USD 
2.00) A UNIT VERSUS 5 RUPEES A UNIT.  SOME SHOPS, 
HOTELS AND NEWSPAPERS HAVE THEIR OWN GENERATORS 
WHICH RUN ON A MIXTURE OF KEROSENE AND VEGETABLE 
OIL.  THE LTTE ALSO HAS ITS OWN 200-LINE FIELD 
TELEPHONE SYSTEM, ACCESS TO WHICH IS SO FAR LIMITED 
TO LTTE OFFICES AND OTHER KEY INSTALLATIONS. 
 
10.  LTTE SPOKESMAN ANTON BALASINGHAM TOLD THE 
VISITING JOURNALISTS THAT THE TIGERS' SEE 
NEWLY-INDEPENDENT ERITREA AS THE MODEL FOR THEIR OWN 
INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE.  BY SETTING UP CIVIL 
ADMINISTRATION IN AREAS UNDER THEIR CONTROL AND 
WORKING TOWARD ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY, THE TIGERS 
HOPE TO ACHIEVE DE FACTO SOVEREIGNTY.  WHEN THE 
REUTERS CORRESPONDENT POINTED OUT TO HIM THAT THE 
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT WAS STILL RUNNING SCHOOLS, 
STAFFING HOSPITALS AND DISTRIBUTING FOOD IN THE 
NORTH, BALASINGHAM REPORTEDLY SHRUGGED AND SAID "WE 
CAN'T DO THAT, SO WE LET THE GOVERNMENT DO IT." 
 
11.  ON THE MILITARY FRONT, THE TIGERS ARE PREPARING 
FOR A MAJOR ARMY ASSAULT ON JAFFNA.  TRAVELERS 
REPORT THAT THE LTTE IS DIGGING TRENCHES AND 
PREPARING DEFENSES THROUGHOUT THE PENINSULA.  THE 
LTTE ALSO REPORTEDLY REQUIRES EVERY FAMILY IN JAFFNA 
TO PROVIDE A NUMBER OF HOURS OF FREE LABOR EVERY 
MONTH.  EACH FAMILY HAS BEEN ISSUED A "LABOR CARD" 
TO BE STAMPED BY THE TIGERS UPON COMPLETION OF THE 
FAMILY'S REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION.  WHEN ASKED ABOUT 
THE LULL IN FIGHTING SINCE LAST YEAR'S BATTLE AT 
POONERYN, BALASINGHAM EXPLAINED THAT "BOTH SIDES" 
HAD SUFFERED HEAVY LOSSES AND WERE IN THE PROCESS OF 
RECRUITING AND TRAINING NEW FIGHTERS.  WHEN THE 
BISHOP QUERIED BALASINGHAM ABOUT THE LTTE'S ABILITY 
TO WITHSTAND A FULL-SCALE ARMY ASSAULT ON JAFFNA, 
BALASINGHAM TOLD THE BISHOP NOT TO FORGET THAT "WE 
STILL HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO STRIKE COLOMBO.  OUR 
BOYS ARE THERE." 
 
12.  BALASINGHAM SAID THAT THE LTTE DID NOT ATTEMPT 
TO DISRUPT THE LOCAL ELECTIONS IN THE EASTERN 
PROVINCE BECAUSE THE POLLS WERE "NOT IMPORTANT" AND 
THE COST OF DISRUPTING THEM WOULD HAVE BEEN HIGH, 
BOTH IN TERMS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES AND LTTE 
RESOURCES.  HE WENT ON TO TELL THE REUTERS 
CORRESPONDENT THAT THE TIGERS WOULD NOT VIEW THE 
UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL AND GENERAL ELECTIONS WITH 
SUCH EQUANIMITY.  "OUR OFFICIAL POSITION," SAID 
BALASINGHAM, "IS THAT WE ARE OPPOSED TO THE HOLDING 
OF ANY ELECTION IN THE NORTH AND EAST UNLESS AND 
UNTIL A POLITICAL SOLUTION IS WORKED OUT TO THE 
SATISFACTION OF OUR PEOPLE."  THE REUTERS 
CORRESPONDENT TOLD POLOFF THAT BALASINGHAM SAID OFF 
THE RECORD THAT THE TIGERS WOULD WITHOUT QUESTION 
DISRUPT THE POLLS IN THE EAST. 
 
13.  ACCORDING TO THE JOURNALISTS' ADMITTEDLY 
UNSCIENTIFIC SURVEY OF THE JAFFNA CITIZENRY, SUPPORT 
FOR THE LTTE REMAINS FAIRLY STRONG.  THE REUTERS 
CORRESPONDENT ATTRIBUTED SOME OF THIS SUPPORT TO THE 
MILITANTS' LOW PUBLIC PROFILE AND THE GENERALLY 
FAVORABLE ATTITUDES TOWARD THE NEW CIVIL 
ADMINISTRATION. "PEOPLE ADMIRE THE DISCIPLINE OF 
THE LTTE ADMINITRATIVE SERVICE AND APPRECIATE THE 
FACT THAT THE ARE NOT HARASSED," HE SAID.  THE BBC 
CORRESPONDENT SAID THAT THE GENERAL LEVEL OF SUPPORT 
FOR THE LTTE HAS "MORE THAN I EXPECTED."  BOTH 
CORRESPONDENTS AGREED WITH THE BISHOP'S STATEMENT 
THAT GIVEN A CHOICE BETWEEN THE ARMY AND THE LTTE, 
THE MAJORITY OF JAFFNA RESIDENTS WOULD CHOOSE THE 
LATTER. 
 
14.  THE POPULAR PERCEPTION OF THE SRI LANKAN 
GOVERNMENT AS ANTI-TAMIL IS REINFORCED BY THE 
APPARENTLY RANDOM MANNER IN WHICH THE ARMY LOBS 
ARTILLERY SHELLS INTO JAFFNA.  THE REUTERS 
CORRESPONDENT RECOUNTED TWO SUCH INCIDENTS WHICH 
OCCURRED DURING THE WEEK HE HAS IN JAFFNA.  IN ONE 
CASE A SHELL LANDED IN A CROWDED FISH MARKET, 
KILLING TWO CIVILIANS AND WOUNDING SEVENTEEN.  TWO 
DAYS BEFORE, A WOMAN AND HER TWO CHILDREN WERE 
INJURED WHEN A ROUND FELL ON THEIR HOUSE WHILE THEY 
WERE SLEEPING.  "I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY DO 
THIS," THE REUTERS MAN SAID, "BECAUSE THE LTTE 
DOESN'T EVEN HAVE CAMPS IN THE AREAS BEING 
SHELLED." 
 
15.  COMMENT.  THE LTTE'S FREQUENT INVOCATION OF THE 
"ERITREA" MANTRA CONVENIENTLY LEAVES OUT THE FACT 
THAT ERITREA ACHIEVED ITS INDEPENDENCE BECAUSE THE 
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN ADDIS ABABA COLLAPSED; THE SRI 
LANKAN GOVERNMENT IS UNLIKELY TO FOLLOW SUIT. 
NONETHELESS, THE BURGEONING TIGER CIVIL 
ADMINISTRATION INDICATES THAT THE LTTE IS STEADILY 
WORKING TO MAKE "TAMIL EELAM" A FACT.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
MANN 

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