Friday, November 16, 2007

US Treasury Targets Charity Covertly Supporting Violence in Sri Lanka

November 15, 2007

Washington - The U.S. Department of the Treasury today targeted the support network of the designated terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by designating a charitable organization that acts as a front to facilitate fundraising and procurement for the LTTE. Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) was designated today under Executive Order 13224, which is aimed at financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks.

"TRO passed off its operations as charitable, when in fact it was raising money for a designated terrorist group responsible for heinous acts of terrorism," said Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The LTTE is a terrorist group that has waged a violent secessionist campaign for over two decades to secure a separate state for Tamil-majority regions in Sri Lanka's North and East. The conflict between the LTTE and Sri Lankan military forces has claimed over 60,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan citizens.

In the United States, TRO has raised funds on behalf of the LTTE through a network of individual representatives. According to sources within the organization, TRO is the preferred conduit of funds from the United States to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

TRO also has facilitated LTTE procurement operations in the United States. Those operations included the purchase of munitions, equipment, communication devices, and other technology for the LTTE.

TRO's efforts worldwide reportedly have allowed the LTTE to use humanitarian aid, which TRO collected from the international community after the December 2004 tsunami, to launch new campaigns to strengthen LTTE military capacity.

According to its website, TRO maintains a headquarters office in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka and operates branch offices throughout Sri Lanka and in seventeen countries worldwide, including the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The LTTE oversees the activities of TRO and other LTTE-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Sri Lanka and abroad. Directives issued by the LTTE suggest that LTTE-affiliated branch representatives are expected to coordinate their efforts with the respective TRO representatives in their locations and report all activity to the LTTE.

Recent information indicates that the LTTE has ordered international NGOs operating in its territory to provide all project funding through local NGOs, which are managed collectively by TRO. This arrangement allows TRO to withdraw money from the local NGO accounts and to provide a portion of the relief funds to the LTTE. The LTTE has reportedly exerted pressure to comply on a few international NGOs that have resisted these arrangements.

The U.S. Department of State designated the LTTE a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on October 8, 1997, in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. On November 2, 2001, the U.S. Department of State named the LTTE a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under E.O. 13224. Additionally, the LTTE is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and Canada.

The Treasury Department is taking this action today pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from transacting with the designees.

The United States continues to support a just, negotiated political settlement to the conflict in Sri Lanka that meets the aspirations of all communities, including Sri Lanka's Tamils. The U.S. will continue to vigorously support efforts to stop human rights violations against Tamils, including abductions and threats against Tamil journalists.

Identifier information for Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation, including AKAs and address information for its branches worldwide, can be found at the following link:

Press Release

LTTE Destroys Tamil Culture - Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda

In Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese and Tamils lived in harmony for many centuries. They shared customs, cultures and traditions which helped to maintain a harmonious lifestyle in our country.

In Buddhist temples there was always a place of worship for Hindu devotees. The Buddhists even believe that the God Vishnu is the protector of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. God Subramanium or Skandha who is supposed to have resided in Kataragama is respected by most Sri Lankan Buddhists.

In fact all Sri Lankan Buddhists, when they perform any religious service, transfer merit to these deities.

During King Mahanama’s reign in Anuradhapura some monks who belonged to the Abhayagiri Vihara were exiled as they accepted the Vaitulya Vada tradition. The monks who lived in Danakataka Vihara in Southern India were supported by Tamil Buddhists. It is also stated that during the Anuradhapura period, Sinhalese monks have lived in Danakataka Vihara. Ven. Buddhagosa the well known Buddhist commentator who composed, The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) may have been a Tamil from South India.

Ven. Anuruddha, another Buddhist scholar who wrote Manual of Abhidhamma was a Tamil monk too.

In recent years Professor Ananda Coomaraswamy, a distinguished Sri Lankan Buddhist Tamil scholar, taught Buddhism at Harvard University. He can be introduced as one of the pioneer Buddhist propagators in the U.S.A. It must be mentioned, that a few of the Sinhala Buddhist monks, who turned out to be world renown scholars learned English in Colombo and Jaffna from Tamil scholars.

Some notable facts that I wish to state here, are my own. Before 1983 the majority of students in the Colombo and Peradeniye Medical College and the Engineering Faculty were Tamil. In Sri Lanka, there were numerous Tamil doctors, engineers, and civil servants. We had a beautiful rapport with everyone, Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Burghers. So why is it different now?

It is obvious the root cause is due to the ruthless, terrorist organization led by Velupillai Prabhakaran. The LTTE cadre forced the educated professional Tamils to flee the country. The terrorists did not leave the families of the immigrants alone. They were harassed, ransoms demanded, jewelry and property taken by force. The children were kidnapped, forced into army training camps. It did not end there; the Tamils who remained were tortured by the LTTE. As a result, anyone who could afford migrated to Europe, Canada, U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, etc. We are sad that over three million innocent people, left their motherland reluctantly due to the atrocities of the LTTE.

The LTTE killed not only the Sinhala politicians such as President Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayaka, Lalith Athulathmudali, but also killed Amirthalingum, Kadiragama, Tiruchellum and many other distinguished, educated politicians. The LTTE killed the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi, an international figure in May 1991. This resulted in a no faith attitude towards the Sri Lankan Tamils by the Indians. Moreover due to the LTTE terrorist activities the world has begun to shun not only Sri Lankan Tamils, but all Tamils.

Even though the Tamils are a religious and non-violent group of people who try to preserve their ancient traditions, yet the world has come to view them in a different light. Today, some Tamils who fear the LTTE have come to Colombo, the capital to live with the Sinhalese. In fact, now in Colombo the majority are Tamils.

The Tamils who live in the North and East of Sri Lanka are in an unfortunate situation. They cannot escape from the North to go anywhere. They are controlled by the LTTE, during the past 25 years most of the Tamil children were not allowed to study. They were trained to kill non-believers of the LTTE. They instilled anger, hatred and ill will in the children. The Tamils, were mostly Hindus and vegetarian, they were a non-violent group. Unfortunately the LTTE destroyed their culture. However, Prabakaran’s children are studying in the U.K. along with the children of the leading LTTE cadres.

For human beings, the most valuable period in life is their childhood. At this time they should be nourished, have parental care and love, be allowed to play and think freely without fear, and be given a good education. None of the above was given to the children in the LTTE controlled areas.

As teenagers, they should have the freedom to socialize, in maturity they should be allowed to marry. The youth in these areas had none of these opportunities.

Why aren’t the Human Rights Organizations condemning the LTTE’s activities? Why do they blame those who try to liberate the innocent people?

In world history, we cannot find a single organization that has destroyed a great Sri Lankan Tamil culture and civilization. Yet because of fear, the average Tamil is turning a deaf ear to the happenings.

In the past there would have been instances of wrong doings due to lack of spiritual understanding, due to the greediness of politicians and a lack of vision. However in Sri Lanka the situation is different now. This generation has mutual respect, problems can be solved by discussion and negotiations. Lives have been lost needlessly on both sides, due to a lack of communication and a lack of commitment to peaceably solve our problems.

This is the time to close the chapters of the past and open new avenues. We must respect each other and strive to live in peace as one nation.

(By Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Nayake Thera of America)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sri Lanka to promote liquid milk

The Livestock Development Ministry has taken steps to promote liquid milk under the slogan of "Drink liquid milk to Strengthen our Nation".

The Ministry, under this programme is aiming to eradicate malnutrition by providing fresh milk while providing the farmers engaged in dairy farming to earn a good income.

Addressing a press briefing yesterday, Livestock Development Minister R.M.C.B. Ratnayake said the Ministry has taken steps to save Rs. 15,000 million which is spent on 60,000 mt. tonnes of milk powder imports annually. "We have planned to increase our dairy products up to 50 per cent by 2010. It was at 15 per cent when the PA Government came to power," the Minister said.

Since the country produces only 17 per cent of its milk requirement, Sri Lanka imports 83 per cent of the local milk demand, Ratnayake said. Therefore the Ministry has considered strengthening the dairy farmers.

Accordingly, dairy farming villages have been set up under the theme Kiri Govi Gammana and the Government has directed a fixed price for liquid milk. In addition cows with healthy pedigrees will be distributed among farmers while 200 newly recruited veterinary surgeons will assist these farmers. The amount of collecting centres will be increased up to 100 by April next year.

"Unlike other countries Sri Lankans consume more powdered milk. We have to change this culture and use liquid milk instead since liquid milk is fresh and nutritious than powdered milk.

Therefore the Ministry has been developing a network aimed at delivering fresh milk at the door step in every part of the country and franchise sales outlets for liquid milk will also be established, the Minister said.

Development drive after end to cruel war

The humanitarian operations conducted by the Security Forces under the direction of the President who is the Commander-in-Chief will end the cruel war which dogged the country for over two decades and lead the path to a vigorous development drive throughout the country, said Agriculture, Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara.

Minister Nanayakkara was addressing the gathering after inaugurating a Wap Magul ceremony at the Buttala Yudaganawa paddy tract under the Wellassa Udanaya development programme.

Nanayakkara said the Api Wawamu, Rata Nagamu agricultural development programme launched countrywide by the Government was making rapid progress with the active co-operation of all sectors including various institutions, media and the people. This was a good omen for peace and prosperity in the country.

Nanayakkara who noted that the country's per capita consumption of rice had decreased from 135 kilos to 95 kilos per annum said per capita consumption of wheat flour had increased by about 35 kilos per annum.

Consumption of imported wheat flour, sausages and sauce was detrimental to personal health and hygiene and the time had come for people to spurn such food items and get more accustomed to rice based food items.

Subsidiary Food Crops Development Minister Dharmadasa Banda, Nation Building Minister S. M. Chandrasena and Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services Kapila Lanerolle also participated.

90% of foreign scholarships will go to residency doctors in North and East

Hereafter, all the foreign scholarships awarded to Health Ministry will be given to doctors serving in North and East provinces and remote areas instead of medical directors or those who are serving in leading hospitals, said Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva.

Out of all the foreign scholarships, 90% will be given to doctors opting to do residency in areas in the North and the East. Furthermore, residency doctors who are serving in the North will be given a free air ticket once in every three months in order to visit their homes. Minister said that 185 residency doctors have been appointed to the North this year.

Fall of Rajapaksa Govt. will strengthen the LTTE – Karu Jayasuriya

"Disunity has always led the country to chaos. This should end at least now…"

KANDY – The fall of President Rajapaksa’s Government would mean the strengthening of the LTTE. This cannot be allowed at any cost. So we of the Democratic United National Party decided to support the government and strengthen the hands of President Rajapaksa, Home Affairs and Public Administration Minister Karu Jayasuriya said at a meeting of the United national Party's Democratic Group in Kandy on Sunday.

Deshabandu Karu Jayasuriya leader of the Democratic Faction of the UNP said that his group took a firm decision to save the country from disaster by supporting the government in accordance with the general consciousness of the country at this crucial state.

Disunity has always led the country to chaos. This should end at least now. Terrorism which lasted for over two decades caused the loss of invaluable human lives and property apart from retarding development, Minister Jayasuriya said.

"We as a responsible political party should stop dreaming of political power wasting time and energy. With this vision we took the decision with good intention to strengthen the hands of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is committed to the task of wiping out terrorism," he said.

The leader of the 17 member dissident group of the UNP, stressed the need to liberate the country from terrorism, and put party politics behsind.

All the political groups except the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) are now with the government. In fact this a national government, he added.

Construction and Engineering Affairs Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne accused the UNP and opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe of damaging the illustrious history of the United National Party (UNP) by getting it defeated at 14 consecutive elections including two Presidential elections.

by Cyril Wimalasurendre

'Lankan Govt sincere on negotiated settlement'

N. Manoharan , a senior fellow of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi

The Sri Lankan Government's overall sincerity towards a negotiated settlement should not be doubted, states N. Manoharan , a senior fellow of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi stated in an article published in the Indian Express yesterday. Manoharan said President Mahinda Rajapaksa wants to weaken the LTTE as much as possible while pursuing peace talks.

The article:

Jubilation switched sides when the Sri Lankan Air Force killed the LTTE political wing leader, S. P. Tamilselvan, earlier this month.

It is a severe blow to the LTTE's morale, which was high after the recent combined air and ground attack on the Sri Lankan air base at Anuradhapura.

According to the Sri Lankan Government, the killing of Tamilselvan was facilitated by precise intelligence and aerial surveillance. The Government vowed that it would kill other LTTE leaders "one by one". Its defence secretary even observed, "This is just a message that we know where their leaders are. I know the locations of all the leaders, that if we want we can take them one by one, so they must change their hideouts. When the time comes only, we take them one by one."

Undoubtedly, the chief of the LTTE's political wing was one of the prized targets for the Government. Also known as "Dinesh", Suppayya Paramu Tamilselvan joined the LTTE in 1984 at 17 and passed out in the fourth batch of the LTTE training in India.

He served as one of the bodyguards of the LTTE chief Prabhakaran and was his close confidante. Later, he was a key figure in fighting the Indian Peace Keeping Force during 1987-89, especially in the Jaffna peninsula. He also took part in a key operation to overrun the military base located at Elephant Pass in 1991.

He, however, had to wait for another nine years to witness the fall of the strategic Pass to the LTTE. While participating in a campaign to overrun an army base in Pooneryn in 1993, Tamilselvan suffered a leg injury, which made him dependent on a walking stick.

Since then, he was unable to participate in active military operations and was put in charge of the political wing. But does his killing have any impact on the LTTE ?

The importance and stature of Tamilselvan in the LTTE have been acknowledged by Prabhakaran, who had accorded him with the highest military rank of 'brigadier'. In Prabhakaran's own words, Tamilselvan's was an "unparalleled loss" for the Tigers.

However, since Tamilselvan had not been an active part of the fighting forces, his demise may not have much of an impact on the Tigers militarily, although his advice will be missed. It is on the political front, however, that the real vacuum has been created.

Tamilselvan had been the key person in LTTE's negotiations and was well-versed in the political aspects of the conflict and his clarity of thought and articulation was evident in the various interviews he had given the media. Although heading the political wing, Tamilselvan was a hardliner.

It is important to note that not much was achieved in the talks he attended as head of the LTTE team. The LTTE responded very quickly to this death and has asked its police chief, Nadesan, to hold additional charge as political wing leader. But Nadesan's experience as a political spokesman is nowhere near that of Tamilselvan.

He is, at best, a stop-gap arrangement till a more capable person takes over. It is difficult to agree with the argument put forward by those sympathetic to the LTTE that the Tamilselvan killing underlines Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa's insincerity towards a negotiated solution.

Rajapaksa, it appears, wants to "crush terrorism" first and weaken the LTTE as much as possible while pursuing peace talks. Given all this, the killing has increased the possibility of a further escalation of violence.

The Tigers have openly stated that Tamilselvan's killing "would not go unanswered". They are sure to launch a counter-offensive and target Sri Lankan government officials, and Rajapaksa has asked all his colleagues to be extra-cautious about their security in the days ahead, even as the Government carries on with a "relentless pursuit of terrorists".

Conflict is now more entrenched in the Sri Lankan reality than it has been in a long while.

UNP provincial councillor Duminda Silva joins government

A leading activist of the UNP, Provincial Councillor Dumindha Silva has joined the government. He said the government has provided relief to the people through the budget.

He noted that it was prepared with a view to bring about development in the country. There were many proposals to sort out economic problems. Addressing a media briefing in Colombo today, Dumindha Silva said he wants to strengthen the President by extending support to him. There is a clear difference between the President and the Opposition Leader. He had clearly witnessed this difference when he met the President. He was optimistic that the budget had been targeted at the poorest sectors. Although the Opposition Leader has accountants surrounding him, they have not even improved their companies. However they gather some figures and announce over the TV. As an Opposition Leader, Dumindha Silva said Ranil Wickramasinghe should be aware as to who has the ability to work. The budget encourages local production. A guaranteed price has been assured for milk. The provincial councillor was optimistic that the President had the necessary strength and courage to end the war by mid next year. He claimed that he had many supporters in the Dumindha Silva Foundation and pointed out that they too would be following his footsteps.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

President of ‘Mawbima Lanka’ proposes solutions for soaring prices

President of the Mawbima Lanka Foundation Ariyaseela Wickramanayake has said that a local solution can be found to control the soaring world market prices of flour, milk powder and oil. He referred to the budget, which has brought many proposals towards increasing the local production and pointed out that Sri Lanka can stand up independently against this backdrop.

Everyone is disturbed that oil prices will reach 120 dollars. It is nothing new. He recalled the period when oil prices were 26 dollars. He said they were aware that the price would hike to a considerable extent. The challenge has to be surmounted. It will take sometime for Sri Lanka to extract oil. Mr. Wickremanayake queried whether the country required wheat flour. It is being consumed only in countries where paddy cannot be cultivated. Sri Lanka should cultivate both seasons with paddy as it has a substitute for flour. Consuming wheat flour should be immediately stopped. Referring to milk, he said the price in the world market increased last month from 2000 to 5000 dollars. He said between 3000 and 5000 cattle are killed daily. The president in his budget speech announced that 50 thousand rupees would be fined if a cattle is killed. This is a prudent decision. The payment of 40 rupees per litre is a wise decision taken to encourage dairy farmers. He was optimistic that Sri Lanka can become self sufficient in milk within a short period. It is not necessary to import milk for a green country such as Sri Lanka. The expenditure incurred on the import of oranges, grapes, milk powder and flour last year was more than the amount spent on import of oil. If this is stopped, it does not matter for the country by how much the price of oil increased.

Vehicles emitting excessive smoke will be banned

The Ministry of Transport has taken measures to ban vehicles that emit excessive smoke, with effect from 1st January.

The Ministry said revenue licences will not be issued for such vehicles. It is compulsory for the vehicles to obtain a smoke emission report, from next year. Arrangements will be made to provide special equipment to conduct the smoke emission control scheme. The Ministry has informed that the aim of the programme is to minimise environment pollution, fuel wastage and increase efficiency of vehicles. The inauguration ceremony of the programme will be held at the BMICH under the Environment Ministry.

Suspected LTTE attack triggers panic among fishermen in TamilNadu

Suspected LTTE cadres attacked Indian fishermen and forcibly took away diesel from their boats “inside the country’s territorial waters off Rameshwaram coast”, the Newindpress website reported today.

Armed men suspected to be members of the LTTE had moved towards a group of around 20 fishermen and demanded diesel. Fishermen who gave diesel willingly were paid while others were robbed off their stocks, the report further said. A fisherman by the name of Arokiam was injured when the gang members hit him with a beer bottle.

Suspected militants had left with 150 liters of diesel after ordering the fishermen to bring engine oil the next turn. The attack has triggered panic among fishermen in Rameshwaram, the report further added.

12 Nov 2007 - 19:52

Senator Leahy’s Statement – Towards his Better Understanding of the Sri Lankan Problem

By Neville Ladduwahetty

In his address to the US Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy stated: "We also recognize that the LTTE should not be equated with the Tamil community. There are many ethnic Tamils living in and outside of Sri Lanka who do not condone acts of violence and terrorism against civilians. Many have been victims of the LTTE themselves" (Sunday Times, November 4, 2007). Continuing, he added: "We want Sri Lanka to succeed in stopping terrorism, and we recognize that military force can be necessary against terrorist tactics". But there is no military solution to the Sri Lankan conflict…"(Ibid).

Many believe that while Sri Lanka’s conflict cannot be resolved purely militarily, its resolution requires the neutralization of the LTTE’s ability to resort to terrorism as a tactic that it uses to realize its political goals. Initiating negotiations prior to reaching such a point would mean negotiating separate arrangements, one with the LTTE and another with the Tamil community, because the two entities cannot be equated as acknowledged by Senator Leahy. This difference makes each entity seek political arrangements with different horizons.

This is the dilemma that the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) would face if negotiations are initiated without addressing the capabilities of the LTTE. The failure to appreciate the nuances of caste and social mores within the Tamil community, and consequently with the conflict situation in Sri Lanka has caused prominent and influential members of the International Community (IC) such as Senator Leahy to recommend policies that in fact subvert the efforts of the GOSL to reach a required vital stage without which the conflict cannot hope to be resolved.

Unlike other entities resorting to violence in order to redress grievances where there is a convergence of interests between those engaged in the conflict and those on whose behalf the conflict is conducted, the inability to forge a common cause between the LTTE and the Tamil community makes Sri Lanka’s conflict unique. The military capabilities of the LTTE are what enable the perpetuation of the divergence of interests. For interests to converge it is necessary for the military capabilities to be neutralized to a state that makes the rewards of negotiations more meaningful than the prospects of armed conflict. It was only upon reaching such a state that it became possible for conflicts in the Northern Ireland and Banda Ache to be resolved.


The Tamil community would settle for a political solution not involving military capabilities. The LTTE on the other hand, would only settle for a political arrangement that ensures retention of their military. Since the LTTE is not likely to voluntarily give up their capabilities to commit violence, the GOSL has no option other than to take steps to neutralize such capabilities. A political arrangement with these capabilities intact is not an acceptable option either for the Sri Lankan nation or for the Tamil community. This is the strategy the GOSL is currently engaged in. The option of allowing the LTTE’s military capabilities to remain intact would result in the situation continuing to simmer endlessly without closure. This is not acceptable either for the Tamil community or for other communities, if Sri Lanka as a nation is to develop and pursue its collective aspirations.

There is a growing impatience in the country to proceed with containing the ability of the LTTE to engage in violence. They see the lack of security to their personal selves being a direct result of the LTTE’s ability to resort to violence. At the same time they realize that the LTTE is not in a position to realize its political goals through violence. These realities have resulted in a growing consensus in the country that the Government should neutralize effectively, the LTTE’s capabilities to engage in violence once and for all. In this background, the Senator Leahy’s comment that: "We want Sri Lanka to succeed in stopping terrorism and we recognize that military force can be necessary against terrorist tactics" is welcome. If Human Rights violations are to be minimized in the process of the desirable goal of "stopping terrorism", the US is in a position to help Sri Lanka with technically sophisticated military hardware to minimize harming civilians, and target specifically, the military capabilities of the LTTE.

Senator Leahy will I am sure concede that it is not possible to stop terrorism sparing civilians completely. The GOSL has at no time adopted strategies to put civilians in harms way as part of a deliberate strategy in order to stop terrorism. The best that can be hoped for is that violations are minimized and that this minimum is a result of unintended consequences. Violations can be minimized by superior technology. In this regard, assistance from the US and other members of the IC can be invaluable. In fact, strategies to minimize violations would be far more effective from a humanitarian standpoint than monitoring violations after they occur, which is the proposal of the Senator when he recommends "the establishment of a field presence of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka"(Ibid).


However divergent the interests between the LTTE and the Tamil community may be, they have common cause on the issue of territory. Even though they may differ in regard to the scope and extent of political power they are both committed to the territorial claim of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is this single issue that makes Sri Lanka’s national question so intractable. The overwhelming majority see the territorial claim for the two provinces that together constitute 1/3 the land mass of the island, along with the resources along 2/3 of its coastline, unreasonable and unjust. This majority sees devolving power to such a region as a division of the country in whatever shape or form it is packaged and presented to the public. Consequently, attempts by successive governments to arrive at a compromise to satisfy the majority as well as the Tamil community have failed, and will continue to fail as long as this remains a demand. The recent developments in the Eastern Province demanding political identities separate and independent from the Northern Province, makes the territorial claim for a merged unit even more unjust.


Territory being central to any political solution, successive governments have attempted to base solutions on the Northern and Eastern Provinces as a single political unit to satisfy the territorial expectations of the Tamil community. Since the concept entails a revision to the Constitution, acceptance of the proposal requires 2/3 approval by Parliament as well as approval by a referendum. Obtaining the consent of 2/3 in Parliament is an unrealistic proposition because the perception of a considerable majority is that a political unit comprising the Northern and Eastern Provinces would divide the country however innocuous its political powers. Aside from the perception of vulnerability to the territorial integrity of the country, the play of coalition politics in Sri Lanka is such that a 2/3 majority would require mustering the support of the small peripheral political parties represented in Parliament. Since the support base of these parties are from the traditional segments of society, a merged unit would be politically unacceptable to them. This is no different to the recent development in India where the US-India nuclear deal was squashed by a coalition party. The alternative of the two major parties getting together is equally unrealistic given their open rivalry.

The result of these existential realities is that any political proposal that involves a Constitutional revision is unrealistic. The prospect for Sri Lanka thus boils down to settling for the existing constitutional arrangements with any possible revisions and improvements that can be implemented within existing provisions, and in the meantime, for the necessary steps to be taken that would make the country safe from terrorism. This may be a disappointing proportion for some but it is the hard reality and the country has to have the courage to accept it.


Senator Leahy’s conclusion that even as LTTE terrorism must be dealt with militarily, there is no military solution to the problem, is acknowledged by many. The GOSL itself is aware that a political arrangement should go parallel with its efforts to neutralize the capabilities of the LTTE to engage in terrorism and violence. It is this realization that caused the current Sri Lanka Government to set up the All Party Conference (APC) and the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to work out an acceptable political proposal. Despite serious efforts by these Committees little headway has been possible because of the complexities and nuances associated with Sri Lanka’s national question.

At the heart of this is the unreasonableness of the expectations of the Tamil community. The original expectation was a 50-50 share for minorities in the Cabinet of Ministers. A counter offer of 60-40 was rejected. This has been followed with a territorial demand for 1/3 the land mass of the island that involves 2/3 of its coastline. Powers devolved to such a politico/territorial unit is perceived by a considerable majority of Sri Lankans as a threat to the security to the nation, arising from a very real vulnerability to the territorial integrity of the state. Consequently, reaching a consensus on the contours of the territorial claim has been a daunting task for the APRC.

Even if a hypothetical consensus is reached within the confines of the APRC, the proposals would entail a revision to the Constitution. This would require approval by 2/3 of the members of Parliament and approval by an island-wide referendum. This is very unlikely, given the prevailing political formations in Parliament that are the upshot of the current electoral process. On the other hand, a southern consensus may be possible if the Government Ruling Party and the JVP with their 39 Parliamentary members could arrive at a common politico/territorial formula. This however, would not meet the expectations of the Tamil community and meet those of the LTTE even less.

However sincere and committed the GOSL may be, the existential realities are such that forging a political solution that would address the security concerns of the Sri Lankan nation and meet the expectations of the Tamil community has proved elusive. The LTTE’s military and terror capabilities are a distraction to this entire process. The only realistic option open to the GOSL at the present time is to make existing provisions as effective as possible and modified to include minority participation at the center within existing constitutional provisions and focus on the development of the country, with some special attention to those areas neglected due to the conflict. The single most important contribution that influential members of the IC and the US, such as Senator Leahy can make is to recognize that the uniqueness of the situation in Sri Lanka makes bold initiatives in the sphere of political proposals an unrealistic undertaking; a recognition that must convince the IC that a different stance is necessary regarding their recommendations and policies towards Sri Lanka.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Drastic rise in health, education, transport budget

Defence expenditure up by only 19.3%, but health and education allocations up by 29.3% and 23.4%. Transport budget up by 39.1%

UPFA National List MP Basil Rajapaksa yesterday dismissed allegations that the Government has only increased the defence expenditure since the allocations for post development, transport, health and education sectors too have been increased.

Starting the Budget Debate on behalf of the Government after UNP MP Kabir Hashim, Rajapaksa said the increase of defence expenditure by 19.3 per cent should not be taken in isolation.

The Government has increased the allocation for transport by 39.1 per cent while health and education sector allocations have increased drastically by 29.3 per cent and 23.4 per cent.

The MP also pointed out that people should look at this defence expenditure in terms of the achievements by the Security Forces during the past two years.

“You should add all the allocations for the defence expenditure for the past 20 years and compare the achievements within the last two years,” the MP added.

He also pointed out that the defence expenditure represented only 3.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. “Compared to the defence expenditure ratio of countries like Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Bhutan our defence expenditure ratio is lower than those countries,” he added.

He however said the budget proposals for 2008 are primarily aimed at protecting the Motherland and improving the local economy. He also invited those talking about people’s liberation to join hands with the Government.

US gifts surveillance system and inflatable boats to Sri Lanka

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake, Jr. formally handed over a radar-based maritime surveillance system and several Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to the Sri Lankan Navy yesterday at the Naval Dock Yard in Trincomalee.

Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda received the equipment on behalf of the Government. Both the surveillance system and the inflatable boats are designed to enhance maritime security by increasing the Navy’s ability to detect off-shore smuggling activity, the US Embassy said.

In his remarks at the handover ceremony, Blake expressed the US Government’s hope that the radar system and the inflatable boats would help the Navy to interdict arms shipments to the LTTE, which was designated a foreign terrorist organisation the United States in 1997.

The equipment was provided under Section 1206 of the US National Defense Authorisation Act, which provides authority for the US Department of Defence to assist in equipping and training partner nations to deter global terrorist activity.

The US has also helped Sri lanka to set up an ultra-modern port and container security system.

The Ambassador also urged the Government to pursue a negotiated settlement to the conflict.


Budget at a glance

* The 15 per cent VAT and Excise Duty on petrol will be reduced to five per cent from January 2008.

* Price of a bottle of liquor will be increased by Rs.35 while a cigarette by Rs.2.

* Granting upto maximum Rs.1 million to all Co-operative Societies to be setup modern outlets to distribute essential commodities.

* Co-Operative Societies and associated Rural Banks will become tax free enterprises.

* Distributing a welfare pack containing essential commodities at tax free prices to low income groups through the Laksathosa, Co-operatives and budget shops.

* Purchasing of a ship to be registered under the Sri Lankan flag will be exempted from the Port and Airport Development Levy.

* A Cess of Rs.50 per kg. is proposed to be imposed on textile imports for domestic consumption.

* Number of year five scholarships to be increased from 10,000 to 15,000 to facilitate the education of low income groups.

* 15,000 graduates to be recruited in 2008.

* Introducing an Environment Conservation Levy Act ensuring environment conservation.

* Increase of the Economic Service Charge on the sale of liquor and motor vehicles from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.

* Granting of a 5 year tax holiday for any investment over Rs.50 million and generating employment for over 50 people for the development activities under the Negenahira Udanaya.

* VAT exemption for milk and diary products.

* VAT on local sugar and rice based products removed.

* A Rs.15,000 million allocation to continue the fertiliser subsidy.

* Increase of the Social Responsibility Levy from 1 percent to 1.5 percent in support of further strengthening the National Action Plan for children.

* Extension of tax concessions on the importation of essential equipment required for the production of films and tele-dramas.

* Increase of tax relief granted on investments for production of films from Rs.25 million to Rs.35 million.

* Public servants to receive a cost-of-living allowance of Rs.2,500 from January 2008 and Rs.2875 from July 2008 in addition to their monthly salary.

Full Budget Speech

LTTE Leader Thamilchelvan Killed in an Air Strike

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa welcomed the news of the killings of Mr. Thamilchelvan and the others, and said the Sri Lankan military would pick off the rest of the Tigers' leaders one by one.
"This is just a message, that we know where their leaders are. I know the locations of all the leaders, that if we want we can take them one by one, so they must change their hideouts," he told Reuters.

"When the time comes only, we take them one by one."

The LTTE has conferred its highest military rank, Brigadier, to Mr. Thamilchelvan.

Mr. Thamilchelvan was one of the LTTE's internationally recognized political officials, having been a negotiator for the Tigers since 2002 and having headed the Political Wing from several years before that.

The LTTE has conferred its highest military rank, Brigadier, to Mr. Thamilchelvan.

Late last year Mr. Thamilchelvan was appointed Chief Negotiator by the LTTE, taking over from Mr. Anton Balasingham, whose failing health compelled his retirement.

Air Force bombs LTTE leaders' gathering place and Black tiger base - Kilinochchi

Sri Lanka Air Force supersonic fighter jets simultaneously carried out two air sorties targeting a gathering place of LTTE leaders and a Black Tiger base in Kilinochchi this morning, November 02.

According to the air force sources the air raid was launched at 6.00 a.m based on the information received from intelligence sources and continuous air surveillances conducted for a long period of time.

One of the targets located at Thuruaiaru in Iranamadu which is believed as an LTTE leaders' hideout and the other, a black tiger base located at North-East of Iranamadu, were completely destroyed due to the air raid, pilots confirmed.

Air Marshal Roshan Gunatilleke on LTTE attack on Anuradhapura Air Base

Air Marshal Roshan Gunatilleke commenting on the LTTE attack on the Anuradhapura Air Base, said that when the security forces carried out successive victorious operations against the LTTE in the recent past with Air Force providing ample support, the very people who now criticise the Air Force did not utter a word of praise.

In the Anuradhapura incident, he said it was because the Air Force personnel were on alert that much destruction had been averted. When the LTTE cadres cut the barbed wire fence, the SLAF personnel fired but when the LTTE return fire was accurate and that was the main cause for the debacle, Air Marshal Gunatilleke said.

"We have broken the LTTE's backbone and they were out to take revenge on us. That was one reason why they launched this attack on our air base", he further said.

On the downing of the helicopter at Doramadalawa in Mihintale, he said that various theories are being floated but we have ordered a top level inquiry and the truth will emerge at the end of the inquiry, he said. He said that the SLAF still thinks the mishap could have been due to a technical fault.

92,648 new recruits to SL security forces since Mahinda came to power

The government's newest MP Basil Rajapaksa yesterday said a large number of youth had joined the security forces since President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power and sought the support of all political parties including the main opposition UNP, the TNA and the JVP to crush terrorism and bring peace to the country.

In his maiden address in Parliament during the emergency debate, Rajapaksa said the TNA should support the government because the Tamils were those who suffered most as a result of the conflict.

Rajapaksa said the UNP was the party that suffered most due to LTTE terrorism, losing several great leaders like R. Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali and Ranjan Wijeratne.

He said, therefore, the UNP should help the government to wipe out terrorism."We can indulge in politics after defeating terrorism. Even during the Second World War the political leaders were united to face the war," he said. Rajapaksa also thanked the JVP for supporting the government while criticizing it at the same time.

He also told the House that India had assisted the government in an unprecedented manner in the fight against terrorism. He said that the government had not deviated from its stand to work out a political solution to the problem while negotiating matters with democratic Tamil leaders.

Meanwhile speaking during the debate on the extension of the emergency MP Rajapaksa said that the government had also recruited 34,900 persons to the Civil Defence Force (CDF) to be deployed to provide security to villages identified as vulnerable to terrorist threats. He said that 10,548 youths had been recruited to the police and another over 1000 to the Special Task Force while procuring modern arms and ammunition to replenish the arsenal of the security forces which had been depleted at that time.

The MP said that 31,588 youths had joined the army during the last two years, while 10,891 joined the navy and 4621 the air force after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ascended to power.

Mr. Rajapaksa pointed out that the government identified 566 villages in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, , Vavuniya and Ampara, as being in the danger of being attacked by the LTTE."Home guards who are now attached to the CDF have been stationed at these villages for the security of the people. Every month the government spends Rs. 400 million as salaries to these persons. These moneys are now in ciculation in these villages," he said.

Of this amount, Rs.137 million is spent on a monthly basis for 147 villages in Anuradhapura, Rs.60 million for 93 villages in Polonnaruwa and Rs. 10 million for 49 villages in Trincomalee.