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De-escalation Plan proposed by Security Forces Commander, Jaffna Peninsula, Maj. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, to Enable Re-settlement of Civilians in High Security Zones, December 20, 2002

Security Forces Commander, Jaffna peninsula, Major General Sarath Fonseka, outlined a plan to enable the resettlement of civilians (internally displaced persons) in High Security Zones (HSZs) in Jaffna peninsula. He tabled these proposals in a letter sent to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), on December 20, 2002. Primarily, he had called for disarming the LTTE to enable such re-settlement, and for maintaining a ‘balance of forces’ between the LTTE and government forces.

Presented below is the complete text of the proposals.



  1. GOSL [Government of Sri Lanka] and security forces appreciate the most important humanitarian need to resettle people back in the houses in areas affected by the war. In this sense expansion of HSZ [High Security Zone] from time to time has caused displacement of people in the Jaffna peninsula thus creating & humanitarian problem. Therefore GOSL and Security Forces has realized the need to expedite the resettling of displaced people and are keen to find a workable solution to solve this issue.
  2. It is also understood resettling civilians in HSZ can bring about a big political success to the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] and any other interested parties. Therefore it can have a direct impact on political situation in Jaffna which may be most probably go in favour of LTTE under present political situation. While appreciating this situation it should also be born in mind that when talking in term of political situation, political criticism in the south of Sri Lanka also cannot be ignored. Therefore any adjustment or variations in Security Zones should not create a political turmoil in the south and should be considered as critical.
  3. While appreciating the humanitarian achievements, consequences which will affect the Sri Lankan security forces and military gains the LTTE will achieve due to resettling civilian in HSZ should be also taken in to consideration. Therefore resettling civilians in the HSZ should go hand in glove with a de-escalation process agreed by both GOSL and LTTE. While appreciating the urgent need to resettle people in HSZ it is imperative that political mileage which the GOSL has to maintain through out the peace process should not be hindered by creating a weak security environment in the North.

  5. As existence and strength of HSZ is utmost vital for success of defences' and security of Jaffna peninsula and islands, no risks or chances should be taken, to weaken security by making HSZ vulnerable.
  6. As the present dimensions of HSZ are meant to face the present threat weakening HSZs should be done in relation to reduction of LTTE military options ranging from major conventional attacks to asymmetric attacks.
  7. Any normalizing plan which affects the sy [system] of HSZ should go hand in glove with reducing military options available to LTTE.
  8. Armed groups having the ability to get cover behind civilians should not be ignored and leave terrorist to take maximum advantage.
  9. Armed groups if mixed up with civilians to enter HSZ or get Int about HSZ will find it easier to launch physical attacks rather than firing long range wpns as presence of civilians in HSZ may hinder the freedom to fire long range wpns [weapons].

  10. Any armed groups attacking HSZ will want to physically capture or destroy command elements and resources within HSZ rather than trying attack to with long range weapons.
  11. If attacked from near benefited due to the increased ability to close in by mixing up with civilians while facing any attack from front, SF defences in HSZ will fall and face disastrous effects losing lot of life and resources.

  12. If the civilians are allowed to enter, threat on survivability of all HSZ are equally increased including the once facing uncleared areas.
  13. As peace or development will never come without security it is not advisable to weaken security of Jaffna peninsula and also aim at peace and development.
  14. As SF presently does not have 100 % superiority over the LTTE military capability, it is not advisable to take risks unless SF capabilities are developed to be able to remain 100 % superiority over LTTE thus any short term drawbacks can be overcome and regain initiative to avoid disasters

  15. If there is a threat for HSZ from immediate front/close proximity, rear or within due to resettling in HSZ to cater for such a situations, additional troops deployments will be required.

  17. Humanitarian Requirement. Resettlement in HSZ deserves serious concern as per the Humanitarian angle and the whole issue should be seen from following perspectives.

  1. There are about 10000 houses affected due to existence of HSZ.
  2. Due to prolonged displacement education of Jaffna students have been hampered.
  3. Due to displacement cultural values and tradition are been disturbed.
  4. Due to displacement civilian have become more vulnerable to the activities undemocratic forces.
  5. Displaced people have been socially handicapped and virtually face discrimination.
  6. Displaced people will be deprived of the service and infrastructure facilities afforded to normal civilians.
  7. Having displaced people will have a direct adverse impact on the economy of the region.

  1. Political agenda of the government. As the government is committed to the peace process to bring about lasting peace for Sri Lanka it is of paramount importance for the government to be concerned about the plight of the displaced people. Government should take all possible measures in this regard without disturbing the security requirements in order to retain its initiative to achieve long term success. Fol [following] areas should be included in the political agenda of the GOSL.

  1. Take sufficient interest on resettlement followed up with rehabilitation.
  2. Request for foreign donor assistance for development of affected areas and people.
  3. Take necessary steps to win hearts and minds of people affected.
  4. Mobilize all government ministries and departments etc for the purpose of successful resettlement of people by solving infrastructure facility problems.
  5. Provide an environment which encourages and assist in practicing democratic politics.

  1. Security. This is given the highest consideration as resettlements are going to take place within the areas declared as HSZs where most of the key installations are situated. Following factors needs to be given due consideration in order to ensure security is not compromised.

  1. Resettlement of civilians should be arranged in a such a way that SF should not compromise its security at any stage.
  2. Security can be relaxed only in stages in relation to de-escalation of LTTE. ie disarming of cadres and decommission of LTTE long range weapons.
  3. Effective and accurate system of activities has to be planned out for both LTTE and GOSL in coordination with SLMM [Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission] to ensure security will not be hampered and because of the resettlement of troops the defence layout should not be exposed to the civilians.
  4. Security of command and logistic elements to be ensured. Vulnerable and sensitive defenses, air and sea communication agencies should not be sacrificed.
  5. Security of IDP [Internally Displaced persons] also to be considered as equally important because, they may be vulnerable to terr [terrorist] activities, mines/IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] which are available in HSZs.
  6. Govt [Government] infrastructure-facilities transport agencies are vulnerable.
  7. Security of law enforcement agencies had to be considered for smooth functioning of the govt authority.

  1. Infrastructure Facilities. It is important that following facilities are required to be provided before the resettlement proper takes place in the HSZs.

  1. Electricity
  2. Transport
  3. Housing
  4. Medical
  5. Repairs to the road network
  6. Communication systems
  7. Education

  1. Finance and rehabilitation. This requirement will go hand in glove as civilians will require financial assistance to reconstruct their dwellings and also arrangements to be made regarding dry rations. Financial assistance will also be required to develop infrastructure facilities to readjust SF deployment. Assistance may be sought from NGOs.
  2. SLMM representatives. It is required to make an understanding between the SLA [Sri Lanka Army] and LITE in many areas. Following requirements to be looked into.

  1. Expansion of the monitoring mission by additional numbers.
  2. Enhance the mandate to cover more security issues.
  3. Since the LTTE is indirectly interfering with the deployment of security forces, SLMM assistance is required to minimize the security threat. For this purpose SLMM mandate should be amended to give more authority/power.

  1. Neutral body to supervise de-escalation. It is essential to have a neutral organization with sufficient number of staff to make a formidable force to monitor the implementation of the de-escalation process. This neutral body should be in a position to act as mediators with the respective theatres during the implementation of the de-escalation process. This body should work in liaison with the govt, Norwegian facilitators and LTTE regarding the progress of the implementation of de-escalation. SLMM may perform this task better.

  3. De-escalation proposals in relation to resettlement in HSZs are given at annex 'A'.

  5. Implementation plans for resettlement has to be worked out in relation to de-escalation proposals given in this proposal under following headings. It is also required to come to an agreement by the govt with the LTTE under SLMM supervision to work out the implementation.

  1. Areas to be resettled including boundaries to be identified.
  2. Clearing of mines.
  3. Demarcation of prohibited areas/No Go areas.
  4. Enumerate the legitimate ownership.
  5. Financial support and rehabilitation.
  6. Providing infrastructure facilities.
  7. Essential services.
  8. Working out of a detail security system which will be revised from time to time as per deployments oh ground.
  9. Action plan for de-escalation in relation to resettlement.

  1. Following hotels and houses can be vacated for intended use/resettlement as early as possible as follows.

  1. Subash Hotel - By Mid June 2003.
  2. Gnanam Hotel - By End March 2003.
  3. Houses around above two hotels in Jaffna Town - About 80 in numbers - By Mid July 2003
  4. Private houses in Chavakachcheri - By End 2003.*
  5. Private houses in other areas - By Mid 2004.*

* Above 'd' and 'e' would facilitate handing over of houses occupied by the Security Forces on a continuing basis, as and when alternative accommodation is constructed.

  1. As recommended by the Sub-committee on De-escalation and Normalisation on 14 December 2002, it is expected financial requirements are provided by the government to SLA, commencing mid January 2003. Further, as stated in Oslo during the last negotiations, the SLA does not anticipate any objections from the LTTE on new relocation sites, as such responses would cause further delay.
  2. Following areas can be considered for early resettlement provided De-escalation proposals have been finalized and agreed as per the security requirements stated in the annex 'A'.

  1. Area west of Keerimalai. (Annex A)
  2. Kovilakkandy. (Annex B)

  1. This report/proposals will have to be studied and approved by the higher authorities.

Date: 20 December 2002

Major General
Security Forces (Jaffna)

Secretary of Defence
Comd of the Army
Comd of the Navy
Comd of the Air Force






Resettling of displaced persons to be carried out only for those families lived in the area before 1991 in Palaly HSZ and before 1995 in Nagarkovil, Muhamalai Thanankilappu, Ariyalai and beach road Jaffna.

Resettlement of Armed groups aid sympathizers in close proximity to camps.

Possible only in selected areas.

Restriction on visitors into resettled areas is required.


Enforcing deterrent Police action against violence.

Provoke people against SF to discharge violence.

Restriction on unlawful assemblies

Explore legality of imposing restrictions over areas outside HSZ and within HSZ.


SLMM mandate to be enhanced to check suspected safe houses of armed groups org [organisations] in cleared areas and create a system to monitor availability/distribution of arms ammo [ammunition] found in uncleared areas too.

Availability of LTTE military hardware including missiles in the cleared areas and uncleared areas.

SLMM/neutral observers to guarantee the removal of the threat before resettlement.



Conducting of counter insurgency operations

Develop military capability in HSZ

No resettlement.



Declaration of permanently abandoning of suicide missions and remove of such personnels with assistance of Police/SLMM intentions are identified.

Suicide cadres threat on SF movements and VIPs/VVIPs.

Will differ resettlement

Detrimental effect on confidence buildings


SLMM to prevent terrorist taking control over selected areas and ensure safe passage of SF. Conduct sporadic checks of safe houses and offices by SLMM to monitor above.

Hinder the mobility of SF confined to a restricted area by armed groups activities.

Resettlement to commence if the threat is eliminated.

SLMM mandate to be enhanced


Take all measures to prevent armed groups achieving the capability mentioned in identified threat. SLMM to continue spot checks on SF request for arms and ammo. Withdraw of LTTE weapons in forward lines and dumping them in rear/storage south of Kilinochchi under SLMM supervision.

Create situation within cleared areas. Tie down available troops in the belly thus depriving assistance to FDLs.

No resettlement unless the preventive measures are successful.



Police to be geared to take actions against hostile elements.

Hostile behaviour of people IDPs not yet resettled.

Expedite the resettlement process/ relocate where resettlement not possible.

Requirement of housing projects.


Ensure present security systems are effectively practiced and SLMM to keep checks on fishermen and sea tigers going to sea from uncleared areas.

Fishermen resettled in coastal areas sympathetic to armed groups movements.

Resettlement must not hinder the defence potential.

More applicable to defences facing Lagoons.


SLMM to remove such facilities available with LTTE. Also decommissioning of indirect weapon systems to be arranged.

Capability of passing accurate information to bring down accurate indirect fire by the people resettled.

Restrict the area of resettlement as there should not be radio communication from close proximity of HSZs.

Amend SLMM mandate.





Authority to search houses and personnel on suspicion. Also to continue regular checks on entry/ exit points. LTTE will not be allowed to do politics in HSZ.

Military cadres with forge identities will enter HSZs.

Only the people provide their legitimate ownership before 1991/95. LTTE members will not be allowed to resettled.



People resettled will not be allowed to go into prohibited areas.

Ability to attack VPs, VIPs possible

Only in selected areas.



Depriving communication facilities and decommissioning of indirect weapons to be done under SLMM supervision.

Accurate indirect fire could be brought down.


Relocation of IDPs in crown land elsewhere where required.


Declare prohibited areas and legitimate search and arrest within HSZ and also decommissioning of missiles to be done.

Threat on security of air crafts and ships from within HSZ.




Access to be denied to prohibited areas for civilians.

Ability to identify voids of defences.




LTTE stop recruiting, total disarming of cadres and hand over weapons to SLMM

Reduce overall operational efficiency by reducing log [logistic] elements in HSZs. Thereby causing reduction of troops in the peninsula.

Resettlement to start after implementation



Avoid resettling of civilians in places from where Air port/ Harbour can be threatened and conduct regular checks and searchers and necessary to find hidden weapons etc. declaration of non-execution of underwater / seaborne suicide mission is also needed.

There will be a threat on harbour/air port when civilians resettle close to those locations.

Impose time restrictions on Entry/Exit points. Movement restrictions to be imposed during night. No entry/exit for fishing in HSZs. Resettlement on the coastal belt only in selected areas.

Make necessary arrangements to acquire land to enhance security/ development of harbour /airport


Retain buffer zones as much as possible for the defences specially in HSZs.

Armed groups mixed up with civilians may launch attacks where SF will not have sufficient reaction time.

No go areas to be declared separate. Entry/Exit points for different blocks of resettlement and also road networks should be worked out for selected resettlement areas. Such terrorist intentions will totally terminate resettlement.

Additional defence measures to be arranged.


Ground of tactical importance should be held by SF and any indication of such threat will be considered very seriously and preventive, deterrent action be taken immediately.

Options open to prepare fortifications in Ground of Tactical importance or selected areas. Eg: Vasavilan, Kadduvan, Thelippala and Keerimalai.

No resettlement in such areas

Maintain military strong points in Grounds of Tactical importance


Ownership of houses of displaced personnel who left before 1991/95 will be seriously considered when resettling.

Resettlement of sympathizes with forged identities to assist terrorist in offensive ops [operations] against SF.

Only in selected areas

Psy [psychological] ops and civil affairs operations to take special care of these families


Maintain and increase intelligence/survailance and early warning facilities and conduct regular searches of suspicious elements to enhance security of command, fire control and logistic elements

Possible attacks in VHSZs to paralise comd and control system support and log elements thereby prevent efficient conduct and supporting of def ops on FDLs.

Strict security checks on the civilians including house searches as required



Reduction of LTTE cadres in areas opposite cleared areas. Weapons withdrawn to be kept under SLMM custody.

SF is forced to contract or vacate certain part of HSZs thereby weakening/reducing the present military superiority in JFN [Jaffna] hence the power projection of LTTE beyond that of SF.

Resettlement will continue parallel to disarming

SLMM mandate to be enhanced and numbers to be increased.


To retain necessary amount of depth for the defences at any cost.

If resettled in HSZs as forced the defences to contract, SF will be forced to sacrifice depth of defences.

Resettle in the areas excluding areas which provide the depth.

Can be considered once threat has been reduced/ decommission-ing of weapons had taken place.


LTTE to deescalate by disarming and to retain a balance of power parallel to reduction of SF positions.

If the conflict escalates unable to go back to the original positions to regain initiative after civilians have been resettled.

If the threat is eliminated resettlement is possible



Reduce LTTE offensive capability by disarming and decommissioning of indirect weapons.

Due to the presence of civilians secrecy of SF defences will be sacrificed thus making defences vulnerable to armed group attacks.

Resettlement programme to be parallel to elimination of threat



Source: Tamil Guardian, London, December 25, 2002





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