Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sri Lanka fighting kills 34 Tamil Tiger rebels, a soldier

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan troops killed 34 Tamil Tiger rebels in northern Sri Lanka, the military said on Saturday, following the government's formal scrapping of an already tattered truce in the two-decade civil war.

One soldier was killed and 11 wounded in fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula, the northern district of Vavuniya and northwestern district of Mannar.

"Fighting on Saturday in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar killed 26 LTTE terrorists. Eight soldiers were also wounded from the fighting," said a spokesman at the Media Centre for National Security,who asked not to be named in line with the policy.

The military also said fighting on Friday killed eight Tamil Tiger rebels in Jaffna and Mannar, while one soldier was killed and three wounded in three different mine blasts in Vavuniya.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are seeking to carve out an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka, were not immediately available for comment on the fighting.

There were no independent accounts of how many people were killed or what had happened. Analysts say both sides tend to overstate enemy losses and play down their own.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration formally notified mediator Norway late on Thursday it was giving a stipulated 14-day notice period to end the truce.

The Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which kept a tally of violations of the truce agreement, was initially seen as a deterrent to human rights abuses by both sides, but became increasingly ineffective as its access in conflict areas was hampered. Its role ends with the ceasefire.

Sri Lankan gets 5 years for arms deal

Man pleaded guilty to trying to supply Tamil Tiger rebels

Before consummating the arms deal, buyers for a South Asian rebel group needed an expert.

So they turned to Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, a citizen of Sri Lanka and a member of the Tamil Tigers, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Prosecutors say he knew how to inspect the fully automatic weapons and surface-to-air missiles to determine whether they had flaws.

Varatharasa was arrested in Guam after inspecting the military hardware during a clandestine meeting with undercover American agents from Maryland.

In U.S. District Court in Baltimore yesterday, the 37-year-old father of two received a sentence of almost five years in federal prison on charges of conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization and the attempted exportation of arms and munitions.

Varatharasa is one of six suspected South Asian arms dealers who have pleaded guilty to trying to ship restricted, high-tech weapons to rebels in Sri Lanka in 2006.

"I have to conclude that he played a very significant role in the attempt to smuggle very dangerous, sophisticated weapons to an organization that would use them to violent purposes," U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake said.

Varatharasa addressed the judge briefly yesterday, saying through an interpreter that he feared for his life if he had to return to Sri Lanka.

Demand for the weaponry is so high that federal agents were able to set up an elaborate sting centered in Baltimore in the summer of 2006. Immigration and customs officials say their undercover operations have routinely nabbed those seeking banned weapons in Maryland, a state with many defense contractors.

Investigators posed as representatives of a defense company and lured a Singapore arms broker to Baltimore. In July 2006, they put Haniffa Bin Osman up at an Inner Harbor hotel and shuttled him to a shooting range in Harford County so that he could test-fire machine guns he wanted to buy. Bin Osman, who also pleaded guilty, was the one who brought in Varatharasa to inspect the arms before the deal was completed in Guam, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the arms dealers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to export firearms and ammunition, surface-to-air missiles, night-vision goggles and other military weapons and gear. Most were to benefit the Tamil Tigers, a rebel group seeking a homeland for ethnic Tamils on Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka's government officially gave notice yesterday that it is pulling out of a 2002 cease-fire agreement with the Tamil Tigers that has failed to quell the violence.

More than 70,000 people, many of them civilians, have been killed since the Tigers began fighting for an independent state for the ethnic Tamil minority in 1983, according to published reports. The Tamils claim that the Sinhalese majority discriminates against them. Despite the cease-fire, near-daily ambushes, assassinations and airstrikes have killed more than 5,000 people in the past two years.

In the Baltimore undercover operation, Varatharasa helped organize a plan to have at least part of the $900,000 worth of arms shipped to the Tamil Tigers by sea. Then, about 125 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka, the rebel group intended to send out its Sea Tigers naval force to pick up the weaponry, according to court papers.

"There is no telling how many lives would have been taken as a result of the $900,000 arms shipment," Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Warwick said in federal court yesterday.

Defense attorney Archangelo M. Tuminelli argued that Varatharasa was not nearly as culpable as some of his co-defendants.

"He had no involvement in approaching the agents or the brokers or the people who actually arranged for the purchase of these weapons," Tuminelli said.

Recommended sentencing guidelines for Varatharasa called for a prison term of 57 to 71 months.

Prosecutors asked the judge to impose a sentence at the high end of the guidelines. Varatharasa's attorney asked for a sentence of less than 57 months.

Tuminelli urged the judge to be lenient in part, he said, because Varatharasa's father was beaten to death by Sri Lankan officials and his wife was maimed by an explosion inside a temple there.

Blake said she could not determine how accurate those accounts were and that even if they are true, "that cannot excuse or permit a response that does nothing but further the cycle of violence."

by Matthew Dolan, Baltimore Sun

Sri Lanka on high alert across the island

Sri Lanka on Thursday placed its security forces on high alert across the island following its decision to scrap the ceasefire agreement signed by the predecessor Ranil Wickremesinghe government with the LTTE in February 2002. The government justified its decision to dump the peace pact saying that the Tamil Tigers continued
to indulge in ‘senseless violence’ and violated the ceasefire several times with impunity. Peace broker Norway, however, has regretted the decision and warned that it could cause worsening of the war situation in the country.

"The Army, Navy and Air force have been put on the alert after the decision to abrogate the ceasefire agreement. Even earlier, we have been on the vigil as the Tigers stepped up attacks," military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said. The Naval spokesman D.K.P. Dasanayake said the navy was in a state of preparedness "to take up any challenge." The Island police spokesman N.K. Ellangakoon said the law and order machinery had been beefed up.

Informed sources said the government was concerned, mostly, about the possibility of the Tigers unleashing suicide strikes in Colombo and other Sinhala-dominated civilian areas, choosing soft targets at will. It is believed that there are several ‘sleeping’ Black Tigers in the capital awaiting the signal from their headquarters in Killinochchi up north. The government announced the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement within hours after a suspected LTTE claymore mine, blasted by
remote control, killed four persons in a high-security area of Colombo.

While most believe that the government chose to announce abrogation of ceasefire out of frustration at the increased suicide attacks on civilian and military targets, some also feel that the announcement reflected the new sense of emboldened confidence after the military made some significant gains. Justifying the decision to scrap the ceasefire pact, minister Kehellya Rambukwella said, "The ceasefire must have been violated by the LTTE more than 10,000 times." He also said the Cabinet
had decided to withdraw from the ceasefire pact "as we found it futile continuing with it and there is no indication that the LTTE is willing to enter the peace path."

After that, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayaka performed the formal duty of notifying the Norwegian facilitators about the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement. According to the pact, either party should give two weeks notice to the Norwegian facilitators before withdrawing from the ceasefire. The ceasefire was signed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. The peace process was revived after President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power in 2005 but the Tigers "continued their terror acts showing no commitment to the ceasefire," Mr. Rambukwella added. Expressing regret that the government had "taken such a serious step", the Norwegian environment and international development minister Erik Solheim, said, "This comes on top of the increasingly frequent acts of violence perpetrated by both parties."

Asian Age

Benazir Bhutto fell victim to the murderous misogyny of Islamofascism

About 32 years ago, I met Benazir Bhutto at Oxford. We didn't hit it off
straight away. I made a fatuous but innocent remark about how our two
fathers - hers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan,
mine Paul Johnson, historian and journalist - represented the pen and
the sword. "My father doesn't represent the sword," she retorted, eyes
flashing and nostrils flaring. "He brought peace and democracy to
Pakistan!" He also helped to make Pakistan a nuclear power, but never
mind. Soon afterwards he was overthrown by a military coup, tried, and
executed. Though he did not live by the sword, he certainly died by it.

Benazir already had a degree from Harvard and had built a powerful
electoral machine to ensure that she became president of the Oxford
Union, the student debating society whose notoriety as a platform for
the pretentious belied its reputation as a school of statesmanship. At
all events, Benazir was the first Asian woman to run the Oxford Union,
and what she lacked in oratory she made up for in force of personality.

Now she, too, has died, almost certainly at the hands of Islamist
assassins. The murder of Benazir Bhutto leaves Pakistan on the brink of
chaos. Those who warn that 2008 could see Pakistan collapse into a
"failed state" forget that Pakistan has already failed once. It was the
separation of East and West Pakistan in 1971, leading to war with India
and the independence of Bangladesh, which brought Benazir's father to
power. This is an artificial country that has never known stability
since its creation more than 60 years ago.

Yet the future of the Muslim world may depend on the direction taken by
Pakistan, with its burgeoning population of up to 170 million (nobody
knows the true number). Most Pakistanis want the benefits of belonging
to the West and cling to the notion that democracy in Pakistan is
fundamentally sound, despite the fact that the country has been ruled by
military dictators for much of its short history.

Resentment of American influence is widespread, despite more than $10
billion in U.S. aid since September 11. Even before the present crisis,
President Musharraf was struggling to keep the lid on this seething
cauldron of a country.

I cannot pretend that Benazir Bhutto, brave as she was, would
necessarily have known how to handle the situation if she had won the
election. Her previous terms of office between 1988 and 1990 and 1993
and 1996 were not exactly advertisements for democracy and the rule of
law, although Pakistan then faced nothing like today's jihadist threat.

At least her 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, now in his first
year at Oxford, does not pretend that he can succeed where she failed.

Having inherited the poisoned chalice from her mother, Bilawal has
wisely chosen to remain in Oxford until he completes his degree in 2010.
The university is taking advice about how to guarantee his security:
there is no shortage of potential assassins among more than a million
people of Pakistani descent in Britain.

Yes, things have changed beyond recognition since I studied alongside
Benazir at Oxford in the mid-1970s. But the fact that Bilawal Bhutto
Zardari is at Oxford has not changed, and that gives me hope. True: my
alma mater now finds room on its teaching staff for the likes of Tariq
Ramadan, grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and apologist
for Sharia law, and Tom Paulin, who once suggested that Israeli settlers
from Brooklyn deserved to be shot.

But Oxford still represents the best of the West, and it is gratifying
that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is majoring in history. He will come to
know, and I hope to love, the Judaeo-Christian civilization that many of
his fellow countrymen would dearly obliterate.

The immediate future of Pakistan does not, however, depend on this
youth, but on President Musharraf. He is inevitably shouldering much of
the blame for Benazir's murder: to say that her security was quite
inadequate seems an understatement. Yet it is dangerous to encourage
conspiracy theories that accuse him of complicity in her death, as
Hillary Clinton has done.

It is also premature to write him off. Mr. Musharraf has renounced his
post as commander in chief, but as long as he commands the loyalty of
the army - the one institution in Pakistan that enjoys general respect -
he is indispensable to America and Britain, the only two Western powers
that count in Pakistan.

Benazir's epitaph might be her words in an interview on CBS television
back in 1986, when she was living in exile in London: "Every dictator
uses religion as a prop to keep himself in power." She was speaking of
General Zia-ul-Haq, the dictator who had hanged her father and under
whose rule Pakistan came under the influence of radical Muslim clerics.
But it was her own father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who renamed Pakistan an
"Islamic Republic." Once unleashed, jihad is more powerful than any

In the end, the Islamists did her in. A woman prime minister, especially
a Western-educated woman like Benazir, was an anathema to them. Never
has the murderous misogyny of Islamofascism been more vividly
demonstrated than in her assassination.

If Muslim women, not only in Pakistan but everywhere, now see the fate
that awaits them if the jihadists gain power, then Benazir Bhutto will
not have died in vain.

by Daniel Johnson, The New York Sun

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sri Lanka Army Commander tours Jaffna

Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka left for Jaffna today (04). He was welcomed at the Palaly airport by Jaffna Commander Major General G.A. Chandrasiri at the Security Forces Headquarters. The Army Commander discussed at length with the Division Commanders of 51, 52, 53, and 55 Divisions and Brigade Commanders of the Jaffna peninsula about the security situation of the region. Jaffna Commander Major General G.A. Chandrasiri and the top brass in Jaffna peninsula explained the security situation in the region.

The main objective of the tour was to oversee the security situation in the peninsula.

(Media Center for National Security, Sri Lanka)

US stops military supplies to Sri Lanka, Colombo unfazed

Colombo, Jan 4 - The US said Thursday that it had stopped the supply of military equipment and services to Sri Lanka under the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriation Act 2008. But an unfazed Colombo said that its critical needs could still be met under exemptions provided by the act.

'It is the policy of the US to deny applications for licenses and other approvals to export or otherwise transfer defense articles or services to Sri Lanka,' a communique from the US State Department Directorate of Defence Trade Controls said.

But it added that licenses might be granted 'on a case by case basis' for the transfer of technical data or equipment for the limited purposes of maritime and air surveillance and communications.

A $500 billion Appropriation bill passed by Congress had said that before any military supplies were made to Sri Lanka, the Secretary of State should certify that Colombo had improved its human rights record in certain specific areas.

Congress had said the Sri Lankan government would have to show that it had prosecuted military personnel who had helped the recruitment of child soldiers or committed extra-judicial killings.

The island's government would also have to show that it had provided humanitarian groups and journalists access to the Tamil areas of the country.

But a top Sri Lankan foreign ministry official, Ravinatha Ariyasinha, told IANS that the US ban would not affect Sri Lanka vitally, thanks to the exemptions mentioned in the Act.

He pointed out that the Act allowed the supply of maritime and aerial surveillance equipment and communication gadgets, which Sri Lanka needed most.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is fighting for a separate Tamil state in the northeast of Sri Lanka, is dependent on the sea lanes to get its military and strategic supplies.

The Tigers also have a nascent air wing that has conducted three raids, two of them in Colombo, in the past year. To curb their sea and air movements, Sri Lanka needs sophisticated communications and surveillance equipment.

Ariyasinha, who is Director General of Communications, pointed out that the US Act had not banned some key US-Sri Lanka defence related programmes, such as training and intelligence sharing.

It has also left untouched the Access and Cross Services Agreement (ACSA), which envisages the exchange of non-lethal material resources and services between the Sri Lankan and US militaries.

Indo-Asian News Service

Letter: Abrogation of CFA by Sri Lanka and public funds in Norway

Dear Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Member of the Parliament, Mr Hoglund

Dear Sirs:

Sri Lanka has abrogated the CFA agreement and Norway has lost everything it planned for Sri Lanka and South Asia.

The time has come for the Norwegian people to know what was Eric Solhiem and his clan at the Ministry was involved in the guise of ushering peace in Sri Lanka and why the process failed .

Some vital areas to be investigated to open the subject in Norway Parliament and to tax paying public of Norway are:

1. Why and How the Norway failed miserably in this effort?

2. Was Norway's team headed by Eric Solheim honest in their attempts in functioning as a facilitator?

3. What was the total expenditure of Norway in this peace building exercise since signing the CFA?

4. What was the total amount expended on Eric Solheim and others on travel and personal expenditure?

5. What was total amount donated/paid to Sri Lanka and the LTTE since signing the CFA for peace building exercise?

6. What was to total amount disbursed to NGOs in Sri Lanka and Tamil organizations in Norway for strengthening and publicity re peace process since signing the CFA?

7. What are the gains and losses as regards Norway's international image of involving in SL peace process?

8. Will the Norwegian Government investigate it's team's failure and issue a statement to the Norwegian tax paying public ?

9. Will the Norwegian Government compensate Sri Lankan people and the families who were directly affected due to assistance, equipment and facilities provided to the LTTE terrorists by Norway? If not ,why?

10. Will the Norwegian Government list the LTTE as a terrorist organization and ban funding of terrorism from Norway and stop financing the LTTE fronts in Norway and their anti-Sri Lanka publicity programs? If not,why?

We trust that Norway will examine its role in Sri Lanka and take honorable decisions in the name of justice, fair play and commonsense.

We await to hear your views and see your action plan.

Thanking you,

Ranjith Soysa
Spokesperson- World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka
po box 4066-Melbourne-Vic 3170

p.s. Kindly read the article sent herewith which indicates the current unenviable situation of the LTTE.

First time in twenty five years the Tamil Tigers are on the run says Indian newspaper editorial -

Sri Lanka’s Daughter wins People’s Choice Award

Director Salinda Perera’s low-key, low-budget film is set among the needy fishing community eking out a living on Sri Lanka’s stormy coastline, with leading Sri Lankan actress Sangeetha Werraratne. The film was a surprise award winner, having collected the most votes from viewers attending the Dubai Film Festival

The only non-Arab film to win an award at the recently concluded Dubai International Film Festival was Sri Lankan filmmaker Salinda Perera’s debut work, Dheevari (Fisherman’s Daughter). This is because Dubai’s Muhr Awards are open only to Arab filmmakers. This year, Dubai instituted the People’s Choice Award for which the public votes for their favourite film. Salinda Perera was told on the last day to attend the evening event, which gave him his first inkling that he would be on stage as an award winner.

The director stated that the film was shot way back in 1994, but financial constraints led him to get it ready in wearying, stressful stages until it was completed eleven years later. “The negative itself is that old, which has muted its colours and tones”, said Perera.

Set in Sri Lanka of the 70s, Dheevari follows Valli, now no longer a child, and therefore forced to leave the missionary orphanage where she was raised. Fearful of an unknown life ahead, she reluctantly returns to her native fishing village to live with her aunt and uncle. Earlier, Valli’s father had been denied his own boat by the powerful mudalali, the fish-trading village chief. Not to be cowed down, he fashioned his own boat to make his living, but both he and Valli’s mother perished at sea.

The educated and protected Valli initially feels out of place in the rough, earthy life she must adjust to. She learns fast and becomes an asset to her family, warding off the predatory men around her. She balks at the inequities of her new life, especially the prejudices against women. She questions the fisher community’s submission to the traders who exploit them and their belief in self-defeating superstition. They in turn see her as a bad omen, saying that her parent’s defiance led to their death at sea. To them, a woman’s place is on land and never with men out at sea.

With mechanised fishing boats being introduced in Sri Lanka, Valli shrewdly sees the advantages in government incentives offered to fishermen. She urges her uncle and his mate to buy their own boat as a way out of feudal control. To help her, fellow fisherman Kiera uses foolhardy methods to raise quick money for which he is shot and killed by the police. To pay for Kiera’s funeral, Valli takes a job as a domestic in the spacious home of the mudalali, whose young son both admires and covets her. She becomes the pillar of the house with each member treating her with affection and regard. Her brief respite when she gives in to the advances of the young son are shattered when he marries the rich girl his family has found for him. Valli returns to her village determined to blend with its people and improve their lot. She leads them to a more independent life by opposing their beliefs and the conniving traders.

Present in Dubai was leading Sri Lankan actress Sangeetha Werraratne, who plays the role of Valli with compelling subtlety and confidence. Director Perera told the packed house in his post-screening discussion how he was fortunate to get the best in Sri Lanka’s towering acting talent to take on key roles in the film. They lend a powerful realism to the film’s narrative and its visual and visceral immediacy.

Courtesy of Screen India

Sri Lankan opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe accuses government

Sri Lankan opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe looks on as he speaks at a press conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008. Wickremesinghe accused the government of being involved in the killing of his party's slain law maker Thyagaraja Maheswaran and urged an impartial investigation of the case.

(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lanka Demands Rebels Disarm

The Sri Lankan government said Thursday that the Tamil Tiger rebels must disarm before any future peace talks, a day after the authorities decided to withdraw from an internationally brokered cease-fire with the insurgents.

The 2002 truce had largely collapsed a resurgence in fighting between the two sides came two years ago when the Cabinet unanimously approved the prime minister's proposal to pull out from it on Wednesday.

"It's useless talking to them (the rebels) now," Cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Anura Yapa told a news conference Thursday.

"But in the future, due to change of situations if they decide to lay down their arms and come to talks, the government can reconsider," he said.

The cease-fire, brokered by Norway, had been considered the best chance of ending two decades of civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, who seek an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east. But major fighting erupted again two years ago.

"Today it was proposed to the Cabinet by the honorable prime minister that the cease-fire is no longer valid and it's time to withdraw from the cease-fire agreement," Yapa said Wednesday. "All the ministers agreed to the proposal."

Under the agreement, both sides must give 14 days notice before officially withdrawing from the truce.

Peace-broker Norway expressed regret Thursday over the Sri Lankan government's decision, warning that violence could escalate further.

"This comes on top of the increasingly frequent and brutal acts of violence perpetrated by both parties, and I am deeply concerned that the violence and hostilities will now escalate even further," Environment and International Development Minister Erik Solheim was quoted as saying on the Norwegian Foreign Ministry Web site.

The Sri Lankan government declared in July that it has routed the rebels from the east. In recent months, the military has focused on crushing the rebels in their de facto state in the north, with near-daily battles raging along the front lines deep in the jungle.

By KRISHAN FRANCIS, Associated Press

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Norway says Sri Lanka monitors likely to leave

OSLO, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Peace mediator Norway said on Wednesday that a Nordic ceasefire monitoring mission would likely withdraw from Sri Lanka after Colombo said it would end a 2002 truce with the rebel Tamil Tigers.

Norwegian Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim, who brokered the six-year-old ceasefire, said Norway was willing to carry on as facilitator of Sri Lankan peace talks as long as it enjoyed the confidence of the parties to the conflict.

The truce has been dead on the ground since a new phase of the two-decade civil war began in early 2006.

"I think it is most likely that it will have to be withdrawn," Solheim told Reuters, referring to the 30-strong Nordic monitoring mission. "Its presence in Sri Lanka is based on the ceasefire agreement."

"This (withdrawal) would weaken efforts to protect the civilian population, which would be most regrettable," he said in a statement earlier. Norway had hoped that keeping the Nordic monitors in place would provide a foundation on which to build future peace talks.

Solheim said it was not clear how quickly the mission would be withdrawn because the Sri Lankan government was required to give Norway official notice 14 days before abrogating the treaty, and had not yet done so.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission was pared down to 20 monitors from Norway and 10 from Iceland after the European Union labelled the Tigers a terrorist organisation, leading the Tigers to demand that Nordic EU members Finland, Denmark and Sweden leave.

Solheim said he feared the government's decision to end the ceasefire would lead to an escalation of violence in the Indian Ocean island where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are fighting for an independent state.

"It is a negative and sad development," he said, "particularly because it comes at the end of a year of many human rights abuses, disappearances and killings."

"It will most likely lead to a further escalation of violence," he said.

He added in the statement that the pullout from the truce followed "increasingly frequent and brutal acts of violence perpetrated by both parties."

Solheim said he was nonetheless optimistic that the Tigers and government would eventually resume peace talks.

"Outside Sri Lanka hardly anyone believes that this can be ended by anything other than a negotiated agreement," he said.

"They will have to come back to the negotiating table sooner or later. Unfortunately many people may die in the meantime."

The government's announcement that it would pull out of the ceasefire accord came hours after suspected Tamil Tigers bombed a military bus in central Colombo, killing four people and wounding 24.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Video: Terror bomb blast in Slave Island, Sri Lanka

Four people including two schoolchildren and a mother were killed when Tamil Tigers (LTTE) carried out a cowardly bomb blast targeting civilians and an army bus in Slave Island, Colombo this morning (January 2, 2008).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sri Lanka Government Ends Cease-Fire Agreement

SL government has taken a policy decision today (January 02) to abrogate the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE says, official government sources.

Government defence spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella speaking to said that, the government has taken a policy decision to not to have any further agreement with a terrorist outfit since Norway facilitated 2002 CFA has failed. The decision was made by the government following a proposal made by Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wicramanayake, at the Cabinet meeting today.

Despite pledges made by the peace facilitators and international community from the LTTE to renounce its separatist cause, the outfit has violated the CFA over 10,000 occasions, Defence Spokesperson said. Since the election of President Mahinda Rajapakse in 2005, the government has taken genuine attempts to bring the internationally proscribed terrorist outfit to negotiations.

The LTTE withdrew during the Geneva and Oslo peace talks in 2006. There was no genuine commitment from the LTTE to redress the grievances of Tamils; the outfit used its self claimed slogan "sole representative" to shade its brutality while assassinating leading Tamil political leaders including the late Foreign Minister Laxman Kadirgamar.

Speaking further he said, the attempts made so far to have a negotiated settlement with LTTE terrorists could bring no favourable results. Therefore he said that the government views no point of having any attempt to come to a settlement with a terrorist outfit as the government is already in a negotiation process to address grievances of Tamil people with Democratic Tamil political segments.

The February 2002 CFA agreement, in its Article 4 provides provision for either party to enter, amend or to terminate from the agreement. Notice shall be given fourteen (14) days in advance of the effective date of termination.

Article 4: Entry into force, amendments and termination of the Agreement

4.1 Each Party shall notify its consent to be bound by this Agreement through a letter to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs singed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe on behalf of the GOSL and by leader Velupillai Pirabaharan on behalf of the LTTE, respectively. The Agreement shall be initialled by each Party and enclosed in the above-mentioned letter.

4.2 The Agreement shall enter into force on such date as is notified by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

4.3 This Agreement may be amended and modified by mutual agreement of both Parties. Such amendments shall be notified in writing to the RNG.

4.4 This Agreement shall remain in force until notice of termination is given by either. Party to the RNG. Such notice shall be given fourteen (14) days in advance of the effective date of termination.

U.N. duplicity: Cambodia then Sri Lanka now?

The Long Secret Alliance: Uncle Sam and Pol Pot

The US not only helped create conditions that brought Cambodia's Khmer Rouge to power in 1975, but actively supported the genocidal force, politically and financially. By January 1980, the US was secretly funding Pol Pots exiled forces on the Thai border. The extent of this support-$85 million from 1980 to 1986-was revealed six years later in correspondence between congressional lawyer Jonathan Winer, then counsel to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. Winer said the information had come from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). When copies of his letter were circulated, the Reagan administration was furious. Then, without adequately explaining why, Winer repudiated the statistics, while not disputing that they had come from the CRS. In a second letter to Noam Chomsky, however, Winer repeated the original charge, which, he confirmed to me, was "absolutely correct.''

Washington also backed the Khmer Rouge through the United Nations, which provided Pol Pot's vehicle of return. Although the Khmer Rouge government ceased to exist in January 1979, when the Vietnamese army drove it out, its representatives continued to occupy Cambodia 's UN seat. Their right to do so was defended and promoted by Washington as an extension of the Cold War, as a mechanism for US revenge on Vietnam , and as part of its new alliance with China (Pol Pot's principal underwriter and Vietnam 's ancient foe). In 1981, President Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said, "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot." The US, he added, "winked publicly" as China sent arms to the Khmer Rouge through Thailand.

As a cover for its secret war against Cambodia , Washington set up the Kampuchean Emergency Group (KEG) in the US embassy in Bangkok and on the Thai-Cambodian border. KEG's job was to "monitor" the distribution of Western humanitarian supplies sent to the refugee camps in Thai land and to ensure that Khmer Rouge bases were fed. Working through "Task Force 80" of the Thai Army, which had liaison officers with the Khmer Rouge, the Americans ensured a constant flow of UN supplies. Two US relief aid workers, Linda Mason and Roger Brown, later wrote, "The US Government insisted that the Khmer Rouge be fed ... the US preferred that the Khmer Rouge operation benefit from the credibility of an internationally known relief operation."

In 1980, under US pressure, the World Food Program handed over food worth $12 million to the Thai army to pass on to the Khmer Rouge. According to former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke "20,000 to 40 000 Pol Pot guerrillas benefited." This aid helped restore the Khmer Rouge to a fighting force, based in Thailand , from which it de stabilized Cambodia for more than a decade.

Although ostensibly a State Department operation, KEG's principals were intelligence officers with long experience in Indochina . In the early 1980s it was run by Michael Eiland, whose career underscored the continuity of American intervention in Indochina. In 1969-70, he was operations officer of a clandestine Special Forces group code-named "Daniel Boone," which was responsible for the reconnaissance of the US bombing of Cambodia . By 1980, Col. Eiland was running KEG out of the US embassy in Bangkok , where it was de scribed as a "humanitarian" organization. Responsible for interpreting satellite surveillance photos of Cambodia, Eiland became a valued source for some of Bangkok's resident Western press corps, who referred to him in their reports as a "Western analyst." Eiland's "humanitarian" duties led to his appointment as Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief in charge of the South east Asia Region, one of the most important positions in US espionage.

In November 1980, the just elected Reagan administration and the Khmer Rouge made direct contact when Dr. Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the CIA, secretly visited a Khmer Rouge operational headquarters inside Cambodia . Cline was then a foreign policy adviser on President-elect Reagan's transitional team. Within a year, according to Washington sources, 50 CIA agents were running Washington's Cambodia operation from Thailand. The dividing line between the international relief operation and the US war became more and more confused. For example, a Defense Intelligence Agency colonel was appointed "security liaison officer" between the United Nations Border Relief Operation (UNBRO) and the Displaced Persons Protection Unit (DPPU). In Washington , sources revealed him as a link between the US government and the Khmer Rouge.

The UN as a Base

By 1981, a number of governments, including US allies, became decidedly uneasy about the charade of continued UN recognition of Pol Pot as legitimate head of the country This discomfort was dramatically demonstrated when a colleague of mine, Nicholas Claxton, entered a bar at the UN in New York with Thaoun Prasith, Pol Pot's representative. "Within minutes," said Claxton, "the bar had emptied." Clearly, something had to be done. In 1982, the US and China, supported by Singapore, invented the Coalition of the Democratic Government of Kampuchea, which was, as Ben Kiernan pointed out, neither a coalition, nor democratic, nor a government, nor in Kampuchea. Rather, it was what the CIA calls "a master illusion." Cambodia 's former ruler, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was appointed its head; otherwise little changed. The Khmer Rouge dominated the two "non-communist" members, the Sihanoukists and the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF). From his office at the UN, Pol Pot's ambassador, the urbane Thaoun Prasith, continued to speak for Cambodia . A close associate of Pol Pot, he had in 1975 called on Khmer expatriates to return home, whereupon many of them "disappeared."

The United Nations was now the instrument of Cambodia 's punishment. In all its history, the world body has withheld development aid from only one Third World country: Cambodia. Not only did the UN-at US and Chinese insistence-deny the government in Phnom Penh a seat, but the major international financial institutions barred Cambodia from all international agreements on trade and communications. Even the World Health Organization refused to aid the country. At home, the US denied religious groups export licenses for books and toys for orphans. A law dating from the First World War, the Trading with the Enemy Act, was applied to Cambodia and, of course, Vietnam. Not even Cuba and the Soviet Union faced such a complete ban with no humanitarian or cultural exceptions.
By 1987, KEG had been reincarnated as the Kampuchea Working Group, run by the same Col. Eiland of the Defense Intelligence Agency The Working Group's brief was to provide battle plans, war materiel, and satellite intelligence to the so-called "non-communist" members of the "resistance forces." The non-communist fig leaf allowed Congress, spurred on by an anti-Vietnamese zealot, then - Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY), to approve both "overt" and "covert" aid estimated at $24 million to the "resistance " Until 1990, Congress accepted Solarz' specious argument that US aid did not end up with or even help Pol Pot and that the mass murderers US-supplied allies "are not even in close proximity with them [the Khmer Rouge] "

Military Links

While Washington paid the bills and the Thai army provided logistics support, Singapore , as middleman, was the main conduit for Western arms. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was a major backer of the US and Chinese position that the Khmer Rouge be part of a settlement in Cambodia . "It is journalists," he said, "who have made them into demons."

Weapons from West Germany, the US, and Sweden were passed on directly by Singapore or made under license by Chartered Industries, which is owned by the Singapore government. These same weapons were captured from the Khmer Rouge. The Singapore connection allowed the Bush administration to continue its secret aid to the "resistance," even though this assistance broke a law passed by Congress in 1989 banning even indirect "lethal aid" to Pol Pot. In August 1990, a former member of the US Special Forces disclosed that he had been ordered to destroy records that showed US munitions in Thailand going to the Khmer Rouge. The records, he said, implicated the National Security Council, the president's foreign policy advisory body.

In 1982, when the US, Chinese, and ASEAN governments contrived the "coalition" that enabled Pol Pot to retain Cambodia's UN seat, the US set about training and equipping the "non-communist" factions in the "resistance" army These followers of Prince Sihanouk and his former minister, Son Sann, leader of the KPNLF, were mostly irregulars and bandits. This resistance was nothing with out Pol Pot's 25,000 well-trained, armed and motivated guerrillas, whose leadership was acknowledged by Prince Sihanouk's military commander, his son, Norodom Ranariddh. "The Khmer Rouge'' he said, are the "major attacking forces" whose victories were "celebrated as our own."'

The guerrillas' tactic like that of the Contras in Nicaragua , was to terrorize the countryside by setting up ambushes and seeding minefields. In this way, the government in Phnom Penh would be destabilized and the Vietnamese trapped in an untenable war: its own " Vietnam ." For the Americans in Bangkok and Washington , the fate of Cambodia was tied to a war they had technically lost seven years earlier. "Bleeding the Vietnamese white on the battlefields of Cambodia" was an expression popular with the US policy-making establishment. Destroying the crippled Vietnamese economy and, if necessary overturning the government in Hanoi , was the ultimate goal. Out of that ruin, American power would again assert itself in Indochina.

The British-who have had special military forces in Southeast Asia since World War II, also played a key role in supporting Pol Pot's armed force. After the "Irangate" arms-for-hostages scandal broke in Washington in 1986, the Cambodian training became an exclusively British operation. "If Congress had found out that Americans were mixed up in clandestine training in Indochina , let alone with Pol Pot," a Ministry of Defense source told Simon O'Dwyer-Russell of the London Sunday Telegraph, "the balloon would have gone right up. It was one of those classic Thatcher-Reagan arrangements. It was put to her that the SAS should take over the Cambodia show, and she agreed."'

Pol Pot's Washington Impunity

Shortly after the start of the Gulf War in January 1991, President Bush described Saddam Hussein as "Adolf Hitler revisited.'' Bush's call for "another Nuremberg " to try Saddam under the Genocide Convention was echoed in Congress and across the Atlantic in London.

It was an ironic distraction. Since the original Fuhrer expired in his bunker, the US has maintained a network of dictators with Hitlerian tendencies-from Suharto in Indonesia to Mobutu in Zaire and a variety of Latin American mobsters, many of them graduates of the US Army School of the Americas . But only one has been identified by the world community as a genuine "Adolf Hitler revisited," whose crimes are documented in a 1979 report of the UN Human Rights Commission as "the worst to have occurred anywhere in the world since Nazism.'' He is, of course, Pol Pot, who must surely wonder at his good fortune. Not only was he cosseted, his troops fed, supplied, and trained, his envoys afforded all diplomatic privileges, but-unlike Saddam Hussein-he was assured by his patrons that he would never be brought to justice for his crimes.

These assurances were given publicly in 1991 when the UN Human Rights Subcommission dropped from its agenda a draft resolution on Cambodia that referred to "the atrocities reaching the level of genocide committed in particular during the period of Khmer Rouge rule." No more, the UN body decided, should member governments seek to "detect, arrest, extradite or bring to trial those who have been responsible for crimes against humanity in Cambodia ." No more are governments called upon to "prevent the return to government positions of those who were responsible for genocidal actions during the period 1975 to 1978."

Such guarantees of impunity for the genocidists were also part of the UN "peace plan" drafted by the permanent members of the Security Council: that is, by the United States . To avoid offending Pol Pot's principal backers, the Chinese, the plan dropped all mention of "genocide," replacing it with the euphemism: "policies and practices of the recent past.'' On this, Henry Kissinger, who played a leading pan in the mass bombing of Cambodia in the early 1970s, was an important influence.

Western propaganda prior to the UN "peace process" in Cambodia concentrated on the strength of the Khmer Rouge, so as to justify their inclusion. UN officials and American and Australian diplomats talked about 35-40,000 Khmer Rouge. "You will understand," they would say, "we can't leave a force as powerful as that outside the tent." As soon as the Khmer Rouge had been welcomed back to Phnom Penh and, in effect, given a quarter to a third of the countryside, they refused to take part in the elections. The tune then changed. They were now "finished," chorused Western diplomats. They were "weakened beyond hope."

In the meantime, the Khmer Rouge was establishing itself as the richest terrorist group in history by selling off tracts of Cambodia's forests, as well as its precious stones, to the Thai, whose government was a signatory to the "peace accords." No one stopped them. They established four large new bases inside Thailand , complete with a field hospital. Thai soldiers guarded the road that led to them. The "they are finished" line remains in vogue to this day Undoubtedly, they have been numerically diminished by defections and attrition, but their number was always a false measure of their true strength. It seems the State Department believes they are far from finished.

On July 10 this year, the spokesperson Nicholas Burns let slip that Khmer Rouge strength ran into "thousands. "

The real threat from the Khmer Rouge comes from their enduring skill at deception and infiltration. Before they seized power in 1975, they had honeycombed Phnom Penh . This process is almost certainly under way again. As one resident of Phnom Penh said recently, "They're everywhere." The "trial" of Pol Pot this year was a wonderful piece of Khmer Rouge theater cum-media-event, but was otherwise worthless as an indication of the organizations strength and immediate aims. The truth is that no one on the outside can really say what these are, and that alone is a measure of the organization's strength and resilience. The Cambodian leader Hun Sen, for one, clearly retains a respect for the veracity and menace of their ambitions.

The media relish Pol Pot as a unique monster. That is too easy and too dangerous. It is his Faustian partners in Washington , Beijing , London , Bangkok , Singapore , and elsewhere who deserve proper recognition. The Khmer Rouge have been useful to all their converging aims in the region. Eric Falt, the UN's senior spokesperson in Phnom Penh at the time of that manipulated organization's "triumph" in Cambodia, told me with a fixed smile, "The peace process was aimed at allowing [the Khmer Rouge to gain respectability." Unfortunately, many ordinary Cambodian people share his cynicism. They deserve better.

by John Pilger

Sri Lanka set for price increases as war escalates

COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka is set to raise the prices of basic foods such as potatoes and sugar as well as cooking gas, officials announced Tuesday, fanning fears of galloping inflation in the conflict-wracked island.

Inflation is already running at 17.5 percent in the tropical country, whose economy has been slowing amid an escalating war between government forces and Tamil rebels fighting for an independent homeland.

Liquefied petroleum gas used for cooking was slated to rise by nearly 12 percent Wednesday, the Royal Dutch Shell company said, blaming the increase on high global prices.

Import duties on sugar, potatoes, canned fish and lentils were to be raised by 15 to 30 percent Wednesday, the trade ministry said, attributing the increase to a jump in global commodity prices and removal of subsidies.

"Food accounts for about 60 percent of our inflation index. The rise in food and energy prices will push inflation further this year," said Vajira Premawardhana, research head at stockbrokers Lanka Orix Securities.

Consumer prices hit a decade high of 20.5 percent a year ago.

Sri Lanka's economy grew by 7.0 percent in the three months to September compared with 7.7 percent in the same period a year earlier.

"The government has little choice but to reduce inflation, otherwise it will erase gains on economic growth. The ongoing war is not making things easier for the economy either," said Premawardhana.

Sri Lanka raised its 2008 defence budget by 20 percent to a record 1.48 billion dollars and Colombo has vowed to militarily crush the Tamil Tigers, who are fighting for a separate Tamil homeland.

Daily Mirror reflects distorted picture on government-owned security company

The Daily Mirror, a Sri Lankan English daily, both on its printed and online editions, on January 1 carried an article named "Top Government Official's firm to takeover SLRC security" which has been carefully worded to mislead the public over the issue.

The newspaper quoting unknown "Defence" and "Informed" sources says that moves are being made to hand over the security of the state owned TV station to a company privately owned by a top secretary to a government ministry.

"It is true that a decision has been taken to hand over the security of Rupavahini Corporation to Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited since the previous company had failed to live up to the expectations. But it is a blatant lie to say that the company is privately owned by the defence secretary or any other government official per say" a senior official at the Defence Ministry said.

When inquired more about Rakna Lanka Limited, he explained it as a company incorporated as a public company under the Company act No 17 of 1982. "It is a government owned commercial security company functioning directly under the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order. It is established to provide high quality commercial security service to government and private institutions" he added.

Explaining further he said, that the company is invested by the treasury and managed by a board of directors appointed by the government.

Edited version of article

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Alleged Tamil gunman arrested on killing of UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran

An alleged Tamil gunman was arrested today morning (January 01) following the assassination of UNP Colombo district parliamentarian and his body guard, at the Kotahena Sivam Kovil, defence sources reveal.

The alleged gunman was wounded in return fire from a personal security officer of Mr. Maheswaran, Kotahena Police said. The suspect, identified as a resident at general area Gurunagar in Jaffna, is under close custody of Police and receiving treatment at the National hospital- Colombo, sources further added.

Meanwhile, expressing views to a political analyst said, the immediate arrest of the gunman has dismantled attempts of opposition party and pro-LTTE agents to cast doubts on the killing of Mr. Maheswaran.

More information will follow.

Press Briefing

Hon, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Defence Spolesman expressed his deepest regret over the assasination of Mr. T.Maheshwaran the M.P. for the Colombo district. On behalf of the government he condemned the assassination by an undentified gunman who had used a micro - pistol, at the press briefing held today 01 at the MCNS.

Describing the incident, the Defence Spokesman said Mr. Maheshwaran as usual had prayed at a kovil in Kotahena and was leaving the temple when he was shot at His security guards had retaliated wounding the fleeing suspect who is now warded in the national hospital. 11 others received injuries and rushed to the General Hospital Colombo and one had succumbed to his injuries.

The Defence Spokesman said the late Mr. T.Maheshwaran had been one of the most active parliamentarians who voiced the grievances of the Tamil population. His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapakse had the highest personal regard for him and heeded his comments and took remedial measures to solve any problems pointed out by him. His Excellency has issued a condolence message and has ordered immediate investigation.

The Defence Spokesman said the late parliamentarian was an affable and sincere colleague.

Answering a question, the Defence spokesman said the late Parliameentarian was provided security based on the recommendations of the Threat Assessment Unit. Unfortunately, he did not change his routine, which fact had apparently helped the assailant.

The late Mr. Maheshwaran was provided additional security when he traveled to Jaffna. He explained that we are dealing with the most dangerious terrorist outfit in the world. In these circumstances, it is unfortunate. that certain disgrunted elements are trying to make capital out of this incident.

Vehemently denying the news report that the security of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation was entrusted to a Company owned by a government officer, the Defence Spokesman said the institution mentioned is a government concern established with the consent of the cabinet and is functioning under the Ministry of Defence Experienced retired personnel from the security forces are manning the institution he added.

Mr. Alavi Maulana the Governer of the Western Province, Mr. A.H.M.Azwer President's Advisor, Lakshman Hulugalle Director General of the Media Centre for National Security, Military Spokesman V.U.B. Nanayakkara, DIG N.K.Ilangakoon, Police Spokesman, Air Force Media Spokesman Wing Commander Priyantha Weerasinghe also participated.


I did not call Mervyn - Gotabhaya

COLOMBO: Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says that he never called Deputy Minister Mervin Silva after last Thursday’s incident as reported in certain newspapers.

When asked if he called Silva to extend his support, the Defence Secretary said, "No. I never called him." Rajapaksa added that along with the President and the Security Forces, he was concentrating on his mission to rid the country of terrorism.

Colombo Post

Monday, December 31, 2007

Sri Lanka Cricket chief resigns

Colombo - Sri Lanka's cricket chief Jayantha Dharmadasa on Monday stepped down, clearing the way for former captain Arjuna Ranatunga to take over in the top job.

"He has offered his resignation in writing to the Sports Ministry secretary and will cease to be in office with effect from this evening," Sri Lanka Cricket spokesperson Samantha Algama said.

Dharmadasa's resignation as chairperson of Sri Lanka Cricket's interim committee comes in the wake of a government decision to appoint Ranatunga.

Ranatunga, currently a ruling party legislator, led Sri Lanka to their lone World Cup triumph in 1996. He quit international cricket in 2000 after playing 93 Tests and 269 one-day internationals.

He is expected to be appointed next week, sources close to President Mahinda Rajapakse's office have confirmed.

The interim committee will then be reconstituted, with the sports minister nominating members to the new panel.

Dharmadasa, a prominent local businessman, took over as chairperson in 2005 after the then government decided to suspend the democratically elected cricket administration headed by Mohan de Silva.


Mervyn Silva - a shame!

Video: LTTE Casualties in Thoppigala operation

Courtesy: DefenceNet

Royal Asiatic Society 2nd Research Conference - Call for Papers

Sri Lanka's oldest academic body, the 164 year old Royal Asiatic Society Sri
Lanka will be holding its second research conference on March 28th and 29th 2008. It has now called for abstracts of papers to be presented on topics relating to the history, culture and society of Sri Lanka.

Since its inception as the first "modern" academic body in this country, the
RAS had concentrated on the history of this country. Its initiatives among others gave rise to the National Museum, Department of Archaeology and National Archives. As part of a series of fresh initiatives taken over the last few years such as an extended study of the Portuguese Encounter, the RAS initiated these research conferences. History of Sri Lanka will be a major focus. The closing date for abstracts is January 15, 2008 and the final papers will be due on February 29, 2008.

Researchers are requested to send their abstracts to

Secretary, Royal Asiatic Society,
Mahaveli Center,
96 Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha,
Colombo 7.

India a major factor in Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa

Colombo : India is "a major factor" in any resolution of the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict and Sri Lankans must realise this, says Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Asked about India's role in finding a solution to the dragging conflict, Rajapaksa told the state-run Sunday Observer: "India is a major factor and we have recognised it from the very beginning.

"Lots of people talk about the international community but we believe that India is the major factor in our problem.

"We have to realise the importance of India because it is becoming a superpower," he added.

Rajapaksa, a brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, added: "It is true that India has concerns over us. When they are powerful, they have to think about their security. It is natural they should be concerned about what is happening around them. So we have to be concerned about their concerns.

"Whatever steps we are taking, we are briefing them. We do not have anything to hide. We have won their confidence. We do not want to do anything that will harm their security and their concerns.

"They know that we are not against the Tamil community and we are doing all these only to defeat terrorism," he said.


Where are Sri Lanka's aboriginals, the Veddas?

As the ethnic war in pearl of theIndian ocean rages between the Sinhalas and the Tamils theundisputed original settlers of Sri Lanka- the Veddas- havealmost disappeared from the country says a new book.

"Practically unseen, they became the stuff of folklore-and tended to be remembered as elf likecreaturesw whoexisted in half-legend and half-reality. Knosn as 'Yakshas' insome Sinhalese accounts, a mystical mask is imposed on theiraboriginal identity," says the book 'Sri Lanka, A Land inSearch of Itself', by Mohan K. Tikku. A Senior fellow of theIndian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Delhi,Tikku was Hindustan Times correspondent in Colombo throughthe IPKF years.Those among the Veddas who were assimilated by the dominantculture and community, lived in the cities and the villagesto a settled life style, naturally, they lost touch with theothers who were left behind in the jungles. Most did not evenknow if they still survived, or how, the book says.

The Veddas inhabited the island at least 14,000 yearsago. If anyone, they are the original Sri Lankans. For itlooks like that at some point in pre-history- and quite closeto Sri Lanka's Neolithic period- these people crossed theshallow waters of what later came to be known as the PalkStrait to reach the island.

Like the Ho and Birhors of Chota Nagpur in Central India,the Vededas belong to the Austro-Asiatic family. Among theirother cousins are the Kubus of Indonesia, The sakai inMalaysia and the Aborigines of Australia, the author says.

Strangely, the people who inhabited the island long before either Tamils or the Sinhalese appeared on the scene have not been part of the 'me first' debate and the argument it generates. If at all, they have been practically ignored-pushed as they were beyond the margins of society.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

SLA overruns LTTE stronghold: several LTTE leaders injured- Mannar

Security forces advanced further into non-liberated Wanni area, today (December 29) following hours long artillery duel with LTTE elements in general area Parappakandal at Mannar defences, ground sources said.

Troops forced and held into the LTTE defences at Parappakandal, Mannar, a major terrorist fortifier, military sources said. Latest ground reports confirm several LTTE leaders including 'Adavan master' and Susilan were among the terrorist casualties.

According to troops, advancing military units were met with heavy LTTE resistance during the pre-hours since this morning at around 6.15a.m. 'Intel' reports citing intercepted LTTE communication said, hundreds of LTTE elements were on the flight due to increasing strife among its ground leaders following heavy beating at the hands of security forces. Bahnu, Laxman, Parthivan, Susilan and Adavan master were identified to have led LTTE terrorists during the heavy fighting today, ground sources further revealed.

LTTE terrorists have engaged heavy artillery barrages including 130mm and 122mm guns during its last efforts to hold the defences, security sources said. Troops launched decisive long range heavy gun fire before consolidating its positions, military sources added.

Meanwhile, MCNS reports stated, twenty terrorists were killed including two LTTE senior cadres.

More information will follow.