June 4, 2011,
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has told German Ambassador Jens Plotner that he had violated protocol by writing to him over last Monday’s incidents at the Katunayake Export Processing Zone (EPZ). The Defence Secretary called an urgent meet at the Defence Ministry with the German envoy immediately after receiving a two-page letter warning him of police excesses, which could have a detrimental impact on existing and future investments made by Germany.
Government sources quoted Rajapaksa as having told the envoy that by writing to the Secretary to the Defence Ministry, that he in fact raised a contentious issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who holds the Defence portfolio.
Plotner had been told that he should have written to the External Affairs Ministry if he was concerned about the incident. The Ambassador had inquired whether the President would be concerned about the protocol, sources said.
The Defence Secretary also pointed out that the elite Special Task Force (STF), too, hadn’t been involved in the incident, though the German embassy accused the police commandos of storming German factories at the Katunayake EPZ.
Apologizing for the oversight on his part, Plotner had told the Defence Secretary that he responded to the situation urgently, though he came to know of the steps taken by President Rajapaksa following the incident subsequently.
Sources alleged that Ambassador Plotner had ignored how unruly protesters provoked the police by causing injuries to 25 officers and men, including DIG Ravi Wijegoonewardene. However, the government admitted that provocation couldn’t justify the police opening fire at the protesters causing one death.
Although, Ambassador Plotner had taken up the Katunayake issue, he had sought to hush up a previous threat on the German embassy, sources said.
Responding to a query by The Sunday Island, some time ago German embassy went to the extent of canceling a major event it had planned in post-war Jaffna after receiving threats from those supportive of the LTTE’s Eelam cause.
Eelamists had threatened the German embassy of dire consequences if it went ahead with the project in spite of their opposition. The embassy cancelled the event, which coincided with the last Football World Cup, though it never publicly admitted what caused the cancellation, sources said.
The government has advised the police and the military to be extremely cautious in handling large scale anti-government protests to thwart Opposition attempts to exploit the situation. The bottom line was that the Opposition expected the police and the military to cause deaths among protesters to cause a situation similar to that triggered massive protests in the Middle East, official sources said.
President Rajapaksa has personally warned the security top brass of the danger in allowing disruptive elements in the Opposition to exploit legitimate public grievances to support their political agenda.
Although the government repeatedly alleged the JVP of causing mayhem among the working class, there were other interested parties hell-bent on undermining post-war Sri Lanka sources said.
Among them was a group which on more than one occasion sought to halt US trade concessions citing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka during the war against the LTTE, they said.