Army camps in North that US did not know
Daily Mirror Editorial
Feb 24, 2011

In the run-up to the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) the United States was seen intensifying its shuttle diplomacy to Sri Lanka with renewed calls for what it called ' justice' for 'war victims' and 'demilitarization' of the North.

The last of the contentious demands by the US came in the form of a request made by Maria Otero, the Under Secretary for Democracy to Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa that Sri Lanka should remove army camps in the Northern Province.

It's quite obvious that the US diplomat, many of her colleagues and several others who are talking about Sri Lanka today presume that the military camps in the North were set up during or just before the war to help fight the LTTE. This is wrong. The bulk of the camps in the North and also in the East came into being under what was called Operation Monty (named after Major Montague Jayewickrema) launched in 1951 by the then government to fight human and material smuggling between India and Sri Lanka. A reference was also made to the need to prepare the country against external aggression by the time the bases were set up.

As a sovereign state, obviously these remain the areas of paramount importance to Sri Lanka even today.

The first camp to open in the North was one in Mannar soon to be followed by similar establishments in Pooneryn, Palaly, Elephant Pass, Thalladi, Karainagar and Mullativu and later to other areas in the North and the East also.

Apart from those, Trincomalee which functioned as a military base even under the British continued to operate even after the British vacated it.

By demanding the dismantling of camps what the US and its allies ask for is the destabilizing of a security mechanism that was in place for the last sixty years.

With over 1000 military bases over the world and some 205,118 of the 1.5 million servicemen stationed overseas, all for its own security interests, the United States surely is not in a position to ask Sri Lanka or for that matter any other country to do away with its legitimate arrangement made to sustain internal security measures.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka