Category Archives: security

The Gash Files IV: The War on Land

Michael Roberts, with emphasis in bold being my imposition

I will be reproducing pertinent sections of Lt Col. Gash’s “Situation Reports” (or Sitrep) verbatim below in single spacing with the date of each despatch specified at the outset, while indicating blacked out sections where pertinent. These reproductions are extensive and demand careful reading. Vital bodies of information will be highlighted in red as a guideline for readers; but they are encouraged to form their own appraisals.

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April 16, 2018 · 10:59 am

TIGERS AT THE GATE from ABC: Mark Corcoran reads Prabhakaran in Mid-1999

After seeing the ABC production in the FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT SERIES entitled Tigers at the Gate” in mid-1999 I had the temerity to criticize the ABC and its producer Mark Corcoran. I should have attended to the blurb which presented this documentary on the ABC web site. This note ran: “The truth is a political solution is as impossible as a military breakthrough because for the (Tamil) Tigers its all or nothing– a homeland or glorious death.” (signed Mark Corcoran).

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The Gash Files II: LTTE’s Strategic Design

Michael Roberts

In Despatch COL/2/08 of12 March 2009 Lt. Col Anton Gash has this summary appraisal for his superiors: The LTTE has been forcing the civilian population to move in accordance with their tactical requirements. The NFZ is rigorously policed and patrolled by LTTE cadres, who control access to food and medical facilities, ensuring that their own needs are met before any capacity is allowed for civilians.”

This is a critical observation pointing in the right direction. Nevertheless, it falls short of the mark. The mass of Tamil civilians was not merely a tactical element. They were a central pillar in the LTTE’s grand strategy. For one, they constituted a defensive formation: just so many sandbags restraining the full deployment of the government forces’ military weaponry. While the standard description of the civilians as “hostages” in HR and Western circles does point in this direction, the terminology is “weak” and does not fully capture the overarching strategic purpose of the corralled civilian mass. In addition to serving as a restrictive ‘bund’, the civilian mass provided an active incentive for Western intervention in favour of a ceasefire and some sort of “political solution.

 a tent citty in the Tigers’ last redoubt –-Pic from UNPoE circa February 2009

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Looking Down a Ship’s Cannon: Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah in Q and A

Manjula Fernando, in Sunday Observer, 27 August 2017, where the title is “”I was always the target of the LTTE” …. Note: the highlighting is my imposition and see additional references at the end — Editor, Thuppahi

Speaking about his ascension to become the topmost Naval officer in the country, the son of a Tamil Naval doctor who developed a love for the service as a little boy, he says, “I was destined to be a front line executive officer to go out to sea, and carry out certain missions which would have changed the tide of the war with the LTTE.”

 

MANJULA FERNANDO’s QUESTIONS

Q: There is a popular perception that war heroes are born in a particular genre of schools. Are you the first Trinitian to be appointed to this prestigious post?

As the Navy Commander yes, I am the first. But, it doesn’t mean Trinitians haven’t gone to war. Trititians have fought in World War 1 as well as WW 11. Many Trinitians have served in the security forces but unfortunately, none have lived long enough to rise to the top. There were Trinitians, like Commander Shanti Bahar, Gen. Densil Kobbekaduwa and Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunga who made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of this country. I represent all of them. Continue reading

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The Gash Files I: About Lt. Col. Anton Gash

Michael Roberts

Lt Colonel Anton Gash was the “Defence Adviser” attached to the British High Commission from February 2007 to June 2009 and therefore observed and commented on the ongoing war to the UK Foreign Office. In this capacity he was a key figure in organising the training given to the SL armed services on International Humanitarian Law etc, between the 3rd and 8tth March 2008 under the supervision of Commander Alan Cole. Both Cole and Gash were specifically thanked by the SL Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, on this occasion.

Of upper class background, Anton Gash was educated at Eton (1978-83), read Classics & Literature & Linguistics at Oxford (1984-88) and completed his Defence Studies at Cranfield University and Kings College over the years 1996-98.

  Lt. Col Gash meets the SL Navy Continue reading

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Our Government Changes Course at Geneva: Dayan’s Incisive Summary

Dayan Jayatilleka,in Island, 30 March 2018, with title as Geneva: A shift in the government’s discourse”


The UNHRC session this month in Geneva succeeded in punching through to the news pages, despite the overwhelming dominance of stories about the no-confidence motion. However, there was no acknowledgement of the two most important aspects.

The first was from the government delegation or more correctly the discourse of the government team. Foreign Minister Marapana whose views are known to be a huge improvement on those of Minister Mangala Samaraweera, was accompanied by two nominees of the President, namely Dr Sarah Amunugama and Faiszer Mustapha. All in all, it was a decent team, lacking only State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vasantha Senanayake.

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The History of Civil Society Organisations in Sri Lanka

Vinod Moonesinghe

Although the role and importance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society organisations (CSOs) have diminished since January 2015, they continue to play a significant role. While the level of their co-operation with the state is fairly high, this has not always been so. The eruption on in July 2014 of a controversy regarding the political and media activities of civil society highlighted its long-standing friction with the state. Relations between state and civil society have been characterised by periods (of varying duration) of familiarity and of remoteness, of alliance and of antagonism.

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