Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Taming the Tamil Tigers
From Here in the U.S.
They are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. They have murdered some 4,000 people in the past two years alone and have inspired terrorist groups like al Qaeda. And they have operatives here in our own backyard. Learn how we are working to stop the Tamil Tigers.
As terrorist groups go, it has quite a résumé:
- Perfected the use of suicide bombers;
- Invented the suicide belt;
- Pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks;
- Murdered some 4,000 people in the past two years alone; and
- Assassinated two world leaders—the only terrorist organization to do so.
No, it's not al Qaeda or Hezbollah or even HAMAS. The group is called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or the Tamil Tigers for short.
Needless to say, the Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. For more than three decades, the group has launched a campaign of violence and bloodshed in Sri Lanka, the island republic off the southern coast of India.
Why should you care? Certainly because of the suffering and bloodshed that the Tamil Tigers have caused. And because its ruthless tactics have inspired terrorist networks worldwide, including al Qaeda in Iraq. But also because the group has placed operatives right here in our own backyard, discreetly raising money to fund its bloody terrorist campaign overseas, including purchases of weapons and explosives.
The U.S. government has designated the Tigers a foreign terrorist organization, so their activities here are illegal. And we're determined to stop them, using the full range of our investigative and intelligence capabilities.
In April, for example, we struck an important blow when our Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York arrested the alleged U.S. director of the Tigers. The man supposedly held several fundraising events at a church and various public schools in Queens and in northern New Jersey in 2004. He is also accused of arranging high-level meetings between the group's leaders and U.S. supporters.
For More Information on Our Cases
We've also arrested another 11 Tamil Tiger-related suspects in the New York City region. And in Baltimore, following a multi-agency investigation, a pair of Indonesian men pled guilty and were sentenced recently for working with others to export surface to air missiles, state-of-the-art firearms, machine guns, and night vision goggles to the Tigers in Sri Lanka.
You can help by being careful with your donations. Like other terrorists, the Tigers have raised funds under a variety of cover organizations, often by posing as charities. A great deal of money, for example, was raised for the Tigers following the 2004 tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka and many other countries.And please report any suspicious activities to your local field office or anonymously through this website .
Posted by media at 2:58 PM
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
Sri Lanka's civil war has been raging for more than two decades, but President Mahinda Rajapakse is now betting he can win it. After formally withdrawing from peace talks last week, his government commenced a major offensive in the Tamil Tigers' northern stronghold. This is a risky gamble, by many measures.
Mr. Rajapakse is right to argue that it's well past time to end to the conflict. More than 70,000 people have died so far, with more than 5,000 perishing in the past two years. Last week's assassination of Thiyagarajah Maheshweran, a Tamil member of the opposition United National Party (UNP), plus a roadside bombing in Colombo on the same day, triggered the abrogation of the cease-fire.
Mr. Rajapakse is also right to note that the Tigers aren't negotiating in good faith on behalf of the Tamils, a minority ethnic group. The Tigers -- also known by their formal name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -- employ child soldiers and target civilians. The U.S., European Union, Canada and Australia all label the group a terrorist organization and have cracked down hard on its funding.
Yet despite this moral high ground, Mr. Rajapakse and his party, the People's Alliance, have done little to win over moderate Tamils -- the surest way to undermine the Tigers. After a terror attack in Colombo in June, for instance, the government rounded up hundreds of Tamils and literally bused them out of town. After last week's political assassination, more than 200 Tamils were hauled in for questioning. Meanwhile, tongues are wagging about Mr. Maheshweran's death: Just before he died last week, the Tamil legislator publicly threatened to unveil evidence of government involvement in human rights abuses in Jaffna.
In hindsight, Mr. Rajapakse's commitment to the negotiated cease-fire has always been shaky. He won office in 2005 largely by vowing to take a tougher line with the Tigers than his predecessor. His government has done little to reach across the aisle and draft a political solution, not to mention legislation to address discrimination against Tamils by the majority Sinhalese. Part of the blame goes to Mr. Rajapakse's weak political coalition, which is heavily reliant on the support of the hawkish People's Liberation Front.
Now, the military solution is all Mr. Rajapakse has left, and it's not a sure bet by any means. The army is taking on the Tigers where they're strongest -- in the north. The military also hasn't consolidated its recent victories, particularly in the Eastern province. That, plus the uptick in bombings in the capital -- the Minister for Nation Building, another Tamil legislator, was killed by a car bomb in the heart of Colombo on Tuesday -- doesn't inspire confidence.
Meanwhile, it's ordinary Sri Lankans who are suffering. The Colombo bomb attacks are scaring away tourists. Investment is in decline, and the stock market is listless. The Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which monitored human rights violations during the truce, is pulling out of the country.
Mr. Rajapakse declared last month that "there is no point in talking about a political settlement without first defeating terrorism." That's true. Mr. Rajapakse may yet prevail in the military battle in the north. But if he doesn't figure out a lasting political solution, he'll never win the war.
Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal
Posted by media at 1:15 PM
More than 50 Sri Lankan hospitality and leisure sector companies are expected to participate in the ITB travel and tourism exhibition in Berlin, Germany.
This being one of the world’s largest travel trade show, is to be held from March 5 to 9 setting new records for a number of exhibitors where 10,923 companies from 184 countries will present the latest products and services from the travel industry. The number of trade visitors will break the 100,000 barriers.
“In terms of quality and volume ITB Berlin continues to strengthen its position as the world’s leading marketing platform for the travel industry.
The industry has been able to form a picture of the changes that will take place in global demand as a result of climate change:
“At the same time Berlin Exhibition Grounds were the background to an excellent level of business, providing the basis for commercial success in 2007,” COO of Messe Berlin Dr. Christian G”ke said.
Each year ITB Berlin becomes an even more international event. Whereas in 2003 approximately one third of all trade visitors came to Berlin from abroad, this year they accounted for 43 per cent of the total, a further two per cent rise over the previous year.
The ITB Convention Market Trends & Innovations proved to be a major attraction, with participation up by a quarter and a total of more than 9,000 trade visitors.
On Saturday 68,419 members of the general public came in search of ideas for their next vacation, compared with the 68, 270 who attended on the Friday afternoon and the weekend at last year’s ITB Berlin.
Over the five days of this trade show the halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds were visited by a total of 177,154 visitors.
by Hiran H. Senewiratne, Lake House
Posted by media at 9:44 AM
Frankfurt - A Sri Lankan Airbus A340 was damaged in an accident at Frankfurt airport shortly before it was due to take-off, police said on Thursday.
The incident happened when a towing vehicle started pulling the SriLankan Airlines plane towards its starting position while an aerobridge for passengers was still attached to it.
The bridge tore a 20-to-30-centimetre gash in the aircraft's fuselage over a length of 14 metres, police said.
The 290 passengers on board had to leave the aircraft and were rebooked on other flights.
Not one was injured in the accident, which occurred on Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for the airline said.
Posted by media at 12:32 AM
COLOMBO: Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE) said on Thursday that they want to continue the 2002 ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government, a week after Colombo officially withdrew from the truce.
"We are shocked and disappointed that the government of Sri Lanka has unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire agreement signed in 2002," B Nadesan, the group's political head, said in a statement.
It was the group's first public reaction to the government's decision.
The Tigers were "ready to implement every clause" of the Norway-brokered truce and respect it "100 percent", he said.
The rebel group is banned in the United States, India, the European Union and Canada as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Nadesan blamed successive governments of historically cancelling pacts. He also called on the international community to "immediately remove the bans it has placed on the LTTE believing the false propaganda of the Sri Lankan government."
Nadesan's comments came after a meeting with Lars Johan Solvberg, the head of a European truce-monitoring team that lost its mandate with the truce's end.
Violence has escalated, since the government pulled out of the cease-fire Jan 3.
Violence across northern Sri Lanka killed five insurgents Thursday, a defence official said on condition of anonymity citing government rules.
Soldiers set off a bomb targeting a rebel bunker across a defence line in Kilali of Jaffna peninsula, killing two rebels, he said.
The two sides also fought two separate battles in Muhamalai and Nagarkovil regions of the peninsula, killing three other insurgents, the official said.
On Wednesday, troops clashed with guerrillas in the districts of Vavuniya and Mannar on the border of rebel-held areas, leaving at least 24 rebels and one soldier killed, a defence ministry said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Five other rebels were killed in gun battles on Wednesday on the northern Jaffna peninsula, military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The rebels could not be reached for comment. Each side routinely exaggerates the other's casualties and plays down its own.
Also Wednesday, police commandos fatally shot a senior rebel leader identified as Shankar who was hiding among civilians in the east, Nanayakkara said. Shankar was the insurgents' top leader in eastern Sri Lanka, a region the government said it liberated from rebel control in July.
Courtesy of Times of India
Posted by media at 12:12 AM
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Heavy monsoon rains have driven more than 31,000 people out of their homes in Sri Lanka’s eastern district of Ampara, disaster officials said Wednesday.
Incessant rainfall over the past few days have made some roads impassable, the disaster management centre said. Those displaced are being housed in schools, temples and other public buildings and are being provided with food by state and private charities, said the country’s deputy director for emergency relief, Ramya Sriwansha. No deaths have been reported, he added.
Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation but the seasonal downpours frequently cause loss of life and damage to property in low-lying areas. The island’s two main monsoon seasons run from May to September and December to February.
Posted by media at 12:33 PM
Hon Lakshman Kadirgamar’s May 2003 speech on the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).
Statements on the recent abrogation by the Government of Sri Lanka of the Ceasefire Agreement of 2002 attribute it variously to the ‘hard-line Sinhala nationalism’ or ‘militarism’ of the incumbent administration of President Rajapakse, and/or the alleged influence on it of the radical ultranationalist JVP (and, in some versions, the JHU). This distorted interpretation is given the lie by the Parliamentary speech of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar delivered in May 2003, which also makes extensive reference to the early criticism of the CFA made in a letter by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, days after Prime Minister Wickremesinghe signed the agreement in Feb 2002. Both the 2002 Presidential statement and the 2003 speech contain trenchant criticism of the CFA and the role and functioning of the Nordic SLMM. Hon Lakshman Kadirgamar goes on to warn that the CFA would turn Sri Lanka into “a sovereign shell”.
President Mahinda Rajapakse was elected in December 2005. His recent decision to abrogate the CFA puts an end to and reverses the dangerous erosion that the late Foreign Minister, murdered by an LTTE sniper, strenuously cautioned Sri Lanka against.
“Our contention is that from the very signing of the Ceasefire Agreement on 22nd February 2002 the sovereignty of Sri Lanka has been steadily and visibly eroded to the point where Sri Lanka is in danger of being reduced to a nominal sovereign State. Soon Sri Lanka will be a sovereign shell, the major attributes of a sovereign State - the capacity to govern, to resolve justifiable issues, to enforce the law, to protect its citizens throughout the entirety of its territory are being drained away by stealth, fractured by assault and worn down by attrition. This process commenced, with, and is being facilitated by, the Ceasefire Agreement itself, a structurally flawed document whose imperfections have now been clearly revealed, and are being deeply felt, as the weeks and months go by”.
– Hon Lakshman Kadirgamar May 8, 2003
Full Speech: Official Website of the Government of Sri Lanka
Posted by media at 6:57 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
'Necessity is the mother of invention'
Sri Lanka an Agricultural country from time immemorial shed its ‘Green’ luster with the disturbances the country underwent with foreign invasions later leading into domination under the British Empire in the nineteenth century.
An island kingdom, the kings of yore encouraged and patronized agriculture to the extent that a king’s greatness was measured by the economic stability of the era. This was proved by the reigns of Devenampiyatissa and Dutugemunu in the Anuradhapura period and King Parakramabahu 1 in the Polonnaruwa period. The Kings set the example for the economic revival and greatness.
Laws of nature seldom change. The need and necessity has arisen again for an urgent upliftment of the agrarian sector. In this sense 7th January 2008 marks a landmark in emphasizing the urgency of the need to get back to an Agrarian economy by setting an example from the houses of politicians to lead the way. It is ridiculous that a Green country like Sri Lanka should look up to foreign nations to supply the daily needs of food, milk, and grain, Sri Lanka once known as the ‘Granary of the East’ now seeks to go with a begging bowl for its grain. Year in and year out Sri Lanka’s vote on imports keep rising in dollars and euros. Time has come to turn pages into our past and review the glory that we enjoyed as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. These should not be confined to words or rhetoric alone, but put into concrete action.
While the state and the statesmen give the leadership, it is the responsibility of every citizen small or great to serve the mother land in this hour of need. Every door must be open to the call of the hour when the country is in peril. Love of the motherland should prevail upon every one and contribute their mite towards uplifting the nation from what it has fallen to.
Prices of goods keep soaring. Land is being under utilized. Foreign exchange keeps draining as brains do. Immediate solutions to these problems lie in our own hands. Today with the revival of the concept of ‘Grow More Food’ the possibility of ending the dependence on ships to deliver our goods would soon cease, if all rally round this concept. It would not only mean a dollar saver but also a way of getting back to our indigenous healthy food that our forefathers were used to.
It is no secret that white rice, refined wheat flour, refined sugar, fibreless vegetables, milk powder do not mean a wealth of health for us. Being a country blessed with plenty of sun shine, seasonal rains, fertile river banks and soil, enough and more manual labour and an instinct for tilling the soil, Sri Lanka can emerge as a number one agrarian country.
Vegetables, grain and fruits could be grown in plenty. Every little home garden, balcony or terrace could be adorned by a worth while plant instead of useless, imported weeds or plants not bearing any flower or fruit. The contribution of housewives in this national endeavor is enormous.
By Neetha Sirimanne
Courtesy of Government News, Sri Lanka
Posted by media at 11:47 PM
COLOMBO, 9 January 2008 (IRIN) - The rapidly deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka has already affected the ability of aid agencies to work in the conflict-ridden north.
In mid-December, all international agencies working in Mullaithivu District and parts of Kilinochchi District (both under the control of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka's north) were asked by the Tigers to cease operations in those areas and move staff out.
According to officials with the UN and international aid agencies, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) informed them through the government agent in Mullaithivu, Imalda Sukumar, in mid-December that they could not guarantee the security of international staff based in Mullaithivu.
"We take the security of staff very seriously and we had to take the decision to move out," Deputy Country Head of World Food Programme (WFP) Jean-Yves Lequime told IRIN. "The Mullaithivu staff were relocated to Kilinochchi after we received the information."
The access restrictions affect 21 international agencies working in LTTE-held areas in Sri Lanka's north. They include UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
WFP unable to deliver food to 32,000
The WFP pullout has meant it has been unable to deliver food to 32,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mullaithivu District over the past three weeks. The curtailment also meant no food supplies for other programmes, including Food for Education (FFE), Food for Training (FFT), Food for Work (FFW) and Mother and Child Nutrition (MCN), in the district, according to an Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) situation report released on 20 December.
"Movement restrictions within the Mullaithivu District over the past three weeks are affecting humanitarian activities such as FFE, FFW, FFT, MCN and other livelihood support programmes," according to a 2 January IASC situation report. [LINK TO IASC REPORT/S]
The IASC report said the restrictions applied in areas east of Kilinochchi, the political and administrative nerve centre of the Tamil Tigers, 250km north of Colombo. The LTTE warning came as confrontations along the line of control southeast of Mullaithivu increased in mid-December.
To respond to the impending food shortages in her district, the government agent in Mullaithivu, Imalda Sukumar, undertook to transport WFP supplies brought to Kilinochchi back to Mullaithivu. "I sent lorries to Kilinochchi to bring the supplies," Sukumar told IRIN. "The agencies having to limit their work here due to security has already had a bad impact."
The few international agencies, including WFP and ICRC, that continue any assistance projects in Mullaithivu now travel to the district during the day and return to Kililinochchi at night, according Sukumar. "No one stays here overnight any more."
The WFP sends staff three days per week to oversee distribution of supplies in the district, WFP's Lequime said. "We told the Tigers and the government agent that WFP officials have to be present when distribution of food supplies takes place," he said.
Conflict set to escalate?
More fighting is expected in the coming weeks following the Sri Lankan government's withdrawal from the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), a truce with the Tigers signed in February 2002. The truce will formally end on 16 January.
"In my view, currently Sri Lanka [government forces] is trying to enter through the A-32 [highway] to Pooneryn [on the northwestern coast], or use the A-34 [south of Mullaithivu] to advance through Oddisuddaan," senior Tiger leader K. V. Balakumaran said in an interview with a Tiger-run TV station two weeks ago. "One of these highways will result in being renamed the highway of death."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned of an escalation of violence and requested the fighting parties to ensure the safety of civilians. "The Secretary-General urges all concerned to ensure the protection of civilians and enable humanitarian assistance to be provided to affected areas," the UN said in statement on 3 January.
International agencies, including WFP, are taking each day at a time and constantly re-evaluating the security situation in the north. "As in all areas of conflict we are constantly in touch with all the parties evaluating security; we will only work if there are security guarantees given on our staff safety, not otherwise," WFP's Lequime said.
Posted by media at 11:42 PM
MEDIA RELEASE, 9 January 2008
SPUR unreservedly condemn Tamil Tiger Terrorists cold blooded assassination of Hon D.M. Dassanayake, the Government of Sri Lanka’s Minister of Nation Building. We offer our sincere condolences to the Minister’s family as well as to the family of all other deceased personnel from this dastardly act. SPUR also extends well wishes to all those recovering from injuries sustained from the bomb.
All evidence associated with the Claymore roadside bomb set off at Ja-Ela points towards the LTTE. These terrorists are systematically undermining Sri Lanka’ democratic way of life by brutally assassinating members of the parliament. The blood thirsty Prabakaran’s New Year resolution must be to maximise the demise of parliamentarians. The year started with a LTTE pistol gang member shooting dead Hon. T. Maheswaran whilst he was praying at a Hindu Kovil in Kotahena. It is rumoured that Mr Maheswaran did not heed LTTE’s instructions to stop leasing his fleet of ships to the Government of Sri Lanka to transport essential goods to the people living in the Jaffna Peninsula. He was also rumoured to have short changed the illegal taxes collected by the LTTE for transporting goods to Jaffna. However, Hon. Maheswaran paid a hefty price for his recalcitrance.
Hon D.M. Dassanayake, the Member of Parliament for the Puttalam District was responsible as the Minister of Nation Building for taking a leadership role in providing the infrastructure for the recently liberated areas of the North and East. He had an excellent rapport with all the communities living in the East and was venerated by grateful Tamil and Muslim people who lived under the jackboot terror of the LTTE for over a decade in squalor conditions. The Minister was instrumental in planning and executing actions to provide essential infrastructure such as roads, hospitals and schools for the long suffering- recently liberated people of the East.
The LTTE would have plotted to assassinate Minister Dassanayake to retard the progress made by President Rajapaksa’s government in providing relief to the people of Eastern Sri Lanka. The international community must unreservedly condemn this beastly act and read the riot act to the LTTE without mollycoddling it. Recent statements issued by a number of countries such as the Nordic countries, Australia, France and the EU were critical of the Sri Lankan Government’s decision to withdraw from the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). This would have emboldened the Tamil Tiger Terrorists. Other tacit NGO type supporters of the LTTE such as the National Peace Council would be perversely pleased with the outcomes of LTTE’s cowardly act as it favours the indefinite continuation of the fatally flawed CFA as it provides a fig-leaf of cover for the brutality perpetrated by the LTTE. Shame on them for being pretend democrats and persons valuing human rights.
We urge President Rajapaksa and the International community not to bow down to terrorism. Appeasing Prabakaran’s insatiable thirst for blood has no happy ending. Hence it’s the duty of all democracies to support Sri Lanka’s Government in every way it can including providing militarily aid to annihilate Prabakaran, permanently defeat terrorism and usher in sustainable peace to Sri Lanka whilst protecting its unitary state and keeping its territorial integrity intact.
DR DASARATH JAYASURIYA
PRESIDENT, SPUR AUSTRALIA
Posted by media at 11:28 PM
Here is a chronology of major attacks blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), fighting for an independent stae since 1983:
April 1987 - Car bomb explodes at Colombo central bus station, killing 113 people and wounding scores.
April 1989 - Car bomb explodes in the eastern port of Trincomalee, killing 51 people shopping for traditional new year.
March 1991 - Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne is among 19 killed when a car bomb is detonated in Colombo.
May 1991 - Former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is killed in southern India by a suspected LTTE suicide bomber.
Aug. 1992 - The army chief, Lieutenant-General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, is killed in a landmine blast in Kayts, in northern Sri Lanka.
Nov. 1992 - Navy chief Clancey Fernando is killed in a suicide bombing in Colombo.
May 1993 - President Ranasinghe Premadasa and 23 others are killed by a suicide bomber in Colombo.
Oct. 1994 - Presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake is one of 52 killed in a bomb blast at a Colombo election rally.
Jan. 1996 - A truck filled with explosives rams into the Central Bank building in Colombo, killing up to 100 people and wounding 1,400.
July 1996 - Two bomb blasts on a rush-hour commuter train kill 57 people and wound more than 250.
Dec. 1999 - President Chandrika Kumaratunga is wounded in an attempted assassination by a suicide bomber; at least 34 are killed in two explosions. She lost an eye.
June 2000 - Industrial Development Minister C.V. Gunaratne and 21 others are killed in a suicide bomb blast in Colombo.
July 2001 - An attack on the country's main air base and only international airport kills at least 12 people and destroys 13 aircraft.
Aug. 2005 - Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar is shot dead at his home in Colombo.
April 2006 - Army Commander Major General Sarath Fonseka is badly hurt in an abortive suicide attack on Army HQ in Colombo.
May 2006 - Kethesh Loganathan, deputy head of the government's peace secretariat, is shot dead by a suspected Tiger gunman at his Colombo home.
June 2006 - Army Deputy Chief of Staff Parami Kulatunga killed as suicide bomber rams a motorcycle laden with explosives into his vehicle outside Colombo.
June 2006 - A mine attack on a civilian bus in the central district of Anuradapura kills 64.
Oct. 2006 - Nearly 100 people, mostly navy sailors, are killed in a suicide bombing on a convoy near the town of Habarana, northeast of Colombo.
Dec. 2006 - Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, narrowly escapes a suspected Tiger bomb attack on his convoy in central Colombo.
April 2, 2007 - A bomb blast hits a civilian bus in the eastern district of Ampara, killing 16 people, mostly women and children, during a Buddhist holiday.
Nov. 28, 2007 - Suspected Tamil Tigers kill 18 people in two bomb attacks in the capital Colombo.
Dec. 5, 2007 - Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels kill 16 people in an attack on a crowded civilian bus, 45 km (28 miles) from the town of Anuradhapura.
Jan. 1, 2008 - Main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian T. Maheshweran is shot dead at a Hindu temple in Colombo. Government blames the rebels, but the opposition blames the government.
Jan. 8, 2008 - Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake is killed by a roadside bomb planted by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the town of Ja-Ela, 12 miles (19 km) north of Colombo.
Posted by media at 4:10 AM
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
COLOMBO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A bomb exploded in a phone booth in a block of flats in the business area of the Sri Lankan capital on Tuesday evening, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties, the government said.
The blast came hours after suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed a government minister with a roadside bomb between Colombo and the island's international airport.
"It was an explosive. They have put a bomb inside a telephone booth in a block in Regent's flats," said Lakshman Hulugalle, director general of the Media Centre for National Security, referring to a building on a roundabout near the Lake House, government newspapers company.
"So far there are no casualties or any damages," Hulugalle added. "Definitely it is the work of the Tamil Tigers."
(Edited by Mawbima Team)
Posted by media at 11:01 PM
COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lankan government minister D.M. Dassanayake died in hospital Tuesday after his convoy was hit by a powerful roadside blast near the capital, doctors said.
Police said a fragmentation mine -- a device frequently used by Tamil Tiger rebels -- was detonated as the minister's convoy passed the town of Ja-Ela, 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of the capital.
"The minister was on his way to parliament when his vehicle hit the Claymore... his vehicle has been damaged," Nanayakkara said, adding that those injured have been rushed to a nearby hospital.
Sri Lankan police and security forces have been on high alert for possible Tamil Tiger bomb attacks after the government announced it was pulling out of a tattered ceasefire agreement with the ethnic rebels.
The Norwegian-brokered truce, which was signed in 2002, officially comes to an end next week.
The latest attack also came five days after a similar roadside bomb in Colombo targeted a military bus, killing five people. The authorities blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for that attack.
Posted by media at 1:46 PM
"Today we face the challenge of developing the country. To meet this task we have to utilize new technology and increase production. We have set off on this arduous journey," said President Mahinda Rajapaksa participating in the inaugural ceremony of the Bataatha Agro-Technical Gardens in Hambantota today (07).
On this occasion a well planned vegetable garden and medicinal herb garden were declared opened by the President. This was a concept of Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Ports and Aviation, Chamal Rajapaksa.
Speaking further President Rajapaksa added that Hambantota was a meeting point in agricultural development and politics.
"The challenge of eradication of poverty was a serious one and the Government was taking steps in this direction. Marching ahead with the development drive while preserving the country's social values is a big responsibility."
President Rajapaksa said that rising prices of goods is a world phenomenon.
"In spite of it the Sri Lankan Government was doing all it could in the way of development. The Government has provided tax concessions to essential consumer items," he said and pointed out that the Government has also made big allocations for University education and expansion of universities.
The President noted that every year the number of Mahapola scholarships has been increased. He alsi mentioned that sports facilities were not confined to the urban areas alone, but taken to the village areas as well. In the health sector too hospitals receive due support from the Government.
He reminded that the massive development programs such as development of ports in South and East, the Airport in Weerawila, the Sourthern Highway and the Negenahira Navodaya or the Reawaking of the East programme were making their headway.
Commenting on the war against terrorism President Rajapaksa remarked that the Government is doing its best to liberate and restore normalcy in those areas and the Government never allowed development work to suffer.
President Rajapaksa remarked that there were attempts by certain quarters to label the Government on Human Rights violations by putting all types of killings including LTTE atrocities and homicides on personal rivalries on the Government and simultaneously to whitewash the crimes against humanity committed by the LTTE.
The President requested all parties to unite in the name of the nation, shedding political differences to bring peace to the motherland and relief to the masses.
Posted by media at 9:53 AM
By Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Nayake Thera of America
Let us face life – realistically. The only way there will ever be peace in Sri Lanka is if all political factions accept the reality of living in the present. Here in the present, where life really takes place, we all have the opportunity of creating a better future based on our ability to let go of the past.
Yes, in the past wrongs have been committed—the wrongs committed by the LTTE and the wrongs committed by some of the Sinhalese. But let us learn from these errors in action. These misdeeds are a part of our history. We cannot undo them, even though some scholars try their best to re-write history; but we can pay attention to it and learn its lessons. The study of science teaches us that everything changes moment by moment – nothing ever stays the same. This is the Buddha’s primary teaching of Impermanence. Since nothing is permanent – why do we hold on to the past? Holding on to the past especially the unpleasant becomes a distortion of the event. The memory is not real and clouds our vision so that we cannot see the possibilities that exist today for peace.
Sri Lanka today has a great opportunity to rid the land of terrorists and make a new beginning in peace. When the north and east is free of the LTTE, we can acknowledge the wrongs of the past, make appropriate apologies, make the necessary amends, and move forward as one country.
I have already spoken about our history in previous articles. Now I will appeal to your higher natures, and express my confidence in my fellow Sri Lankans – all of us – Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, and Burghers.
When you think about it, every country in the world has a troubled past; there are no exceptions. At some point, however, each and every country either has the opportunity to come to terms with the troubles of the past, through addressing the grievances of all to seek a healing by letting go of the anger and hate that revisiting past wrongs generates.
I have lived in America for thirty-three years, and during this time I have witnessed a great deal of healing, and great strides toward building unity and harmony among the diverse peoples living there. A perfect example is the African-American community. Until the early 1960’s this group was oppressed, disenfranchised, and victimized by racial prejudice. Now, this group can completely participate in mainstream America – and racial oppression is not only illegal, but these days mostly viewed as a relic from the past – an unfortunate mistake in the evolution of the U.S.
America, I’m happy to say, has moved on from its past in this regard, and a great deal of healing has taken place. The healing, of course, is not perfectly complete – not by any means – but it is farther along than it has ever been, and the process continues in a positive direction.
Sri Lanka must follow this example. We must begin to effect a healing if we are all to live together on this small island in peace. Healing begins with each and every one of us when we make the effort to let go of the anger that clouds our perception so that understanding and compassion can grow. Then we will be able to develop compassion for the other. Once we can have compassion for one another peace can begin to grow.
I make a strong appeal to the main opposition party: stop slinging mud at the government – learn to work with the government. Learn to put your priorities for the country as a whole – rather than on your party and special interests. We all want a peaceful country for our children. We must all work together to establish this.
To the Tamils around the world I say “Stop supporting the LTTE because by doing so you are killing your own people!” You may feel a strong desire for a Tamil homeland. You may strongly believe that an independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka is the answer. You give in to requests for financial donations to support this Idea. You send your money to LTTE-connected organizations thinking that you are helping to build a new country for your people.
Please understand that every dollar that gets into the hands of the LTTE is a dollar spent on death. Death for Tamils, death for Sinhalese, death for peace.
In closing, I would like to remind you about the story of Aravinda Rupasinghe that appeared in the September 28, 2006 edition of the Divaina, a Sinhalese newspaper. Aravinda was a 14-year-old Sinhalese boy who woke up one day speaking fluent Tamil. He forgot his real identity and firmly believed that he was a Tamil girl who lived up north in Jaffna. That day he suddenly announced, “My father is a supporter of LTTE.”
After a few days of counseling and therapy Aravinda came to accept who he really was now, and to understand that the Tamil girl was someone whose life he had lived in a previous birth.
This story reveals how a Tamil girl who died in Jaffna was reborn as a Sinhalese boy in Katana, which is near Columbo. This story also demonstrates that we can be reborn into any religion, any race, or in any country; we are not necessarily reborn as we are in our present life. The Buddha mentioned that samsara is without discoverable beginning. It is not easy to find a being who in this long course has not previously been your mother or your father, your brother or your sister, your son or your daughter, therefore we should be compassionate toward all.
The point is, any of us, whether we are currently Sinhalese or Tamil, could easily have been – or will be in the future – born into the opposite group! So why hate and kill one another? We are all one people, one country, and we can have one peace.
Posted by media at 9:24 AM
Monday, January 7, 2008
Accusing the government of "war-mongering", Sri Lanka's main opposition party Monday claimed the decision to scarp the ceasefire had benefitted Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) aspirations for a separate state, weakened the country and "disappointed" the international community, including India.
"This self-serving decision of President Mahinda Rajapakse has weakened us (Sri Lanka) both internationally and domestically; it benefits only the LTTE's aspirations for a separate state," PTI reported here quoting Sri Lanka's United National Party statement.
"Friendly countries such as the US, Japan and India as well as the UN have voiced their strong disappointment and disapproval of the current situation. Many donor countries are of the same view," it said reacting to the decision to scrap CFA with effect from January 16.
The UNP said military assistance to Sri Lanka from the US, India and the UK "symbolized the international community's faith in the ceasefire agreement and their backing for the ongoing peace initiative".
"It is clear that not only have the blood-thirsty and war-mongering rulers of this country lost touch with reality but they do not have the capacity to learn from past experiences -- both internationally or locally," the UNP said.
The party sought to know how the President intended to conduct peace talks with the LTTE from "this weakened position".
"President Rajapakse should explain to the people of Sri Lanka why he was abandoned the framework for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in the country.
Posted by media at 11:42 PM
COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka's Supreme Court slapped restrictions on search and arrests by security forces amid mounting international concern over the country's human rights record.
Chief Justice Sarath Silva ordered authorities halt the night-time operations where areas are sealed off and searched after human rights groups accused authorities of harassing and intimidating residents.
The order came after international human rights groups expressed concern about civilian safety and threats to civil liberties after the government announced it was formally quitting a truce with Tamil Tiger rebels next week.
Monday's ruling marked the first time the court has intervened to impose limits on military action in carrying out the cordon-and-search operations, court officials said.
Last week the London-based Minority Rights Group International said Colombo's decision to withdraw from the ceasefire deal would result in more violence and rights abuses against minority Tamils and Muslims.
"There is now going to be a greater void in the monitoring and reporting of human rights abuses in the conflict zone," Minority Rights Group's director Mark Lattimer said at the weekend.
The court also ordered the swift release of 198 people rounded up by police last Sunday as it screened 75,000 people entering Colombo, a city of 650,000 people.
"The court ordered police to release the suspects at the earliest," a court official said. "The police were also told there should be no night-time search operations in neighbourhoods unless there are extraordinary reasons.
"The authorities were also told there should be at least one police officer when the army conducts search operations."
Sri Lanka has been under emergency rule since December 2006 when president Mahinda Rajapakse's defence secretary brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse survived a suicide bomb attack blamed on Tamil Tigers.
The emergency gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without trial in a country where fighting has been escalating between the rebels and government forces.
Meanwhile, fighting along northern frontlines left at least 25 rebels and government troops dead, the defence ministry said, as peace monitors began winding down operations before the 2002 Norwegian brokered-truce ends on January 16.
In a series of attacks across the island's north, the military said it killed 22 Tamil Tiger rebels, losing three soldiers in the past 24 hours that ended on Monday afternoon .
According to government figures, 95 rebels and six soldiers have died in fighting since the start of the month. Independent verification of casualty figures is not possible as journalists are not allowed into rebel-held areas. Both sides are known to make sharply varying casualty claims.
The Supreme Court issued its order while hearing a petition filed by a minority Tamil political party against mass arrests last month in Colombo.
In June, authorities evicted 400 minority Tamils from low-budget hostels in Colombo and took them to the troubled northern and eastern regions where Tamils are concentrated in the majority Sinhalese nation.
The expulsion was internationally condemned.
Rights groups have said the arrests were a "collective punishment" for minority Tamils for attacks by Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for an independent homeland in the island.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the 35-year-old conflict, one of Asia's longest-running wars.
Posted by media at 11:10 PM
COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka took exception to a statement by Nordic nations which voiced distress over the situation in the Indian ocean island, where the government abrogated an Oslo-arranged truce.
The foreign ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland said in a joint statement last week that they were "deeply concerned about the worsening situation in Sri Lanka."
The remarks followed Colombo's decision to withdraw from a 2002 ceasefire on January 16. Quitting the truce sparked fears of further violence in a country where 6,000 people have been killed in fighting between rebels and government soldiers in the past two years.
The Sri Lankan government said the Scandinavian statement was unhelpful and could lead to further polarisation of the ethnically divided nation, where Tamil Tiger rebels are fighting for full independence.
"The continuing good faith of the government of Sri Lanka received no plaudits from Scandinavia," the government's Peace Secretariat said in a statement.
"Continuing acts of terror by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) received no criticism."
"Nordic worries about possible increases in violence and human suffering could well have been expressed earlier, and it is sad that they emerge only in the context of criticism of the government," the statement said.
Norway was instrumental in persuading the government and the Tamil Tigers to sign a truce in February 2002, and has since then tried but failed to secure progress during successive rounds of negotiations.
With fighting escalating in recent months, Colombo now believes it has the upper hand over the rebels and is in a position to capture the Tamil Tiger mini-state in the north.
Posted by media at 11:08 PM
The present military operations leading to the Wanni, the last bastion of LTTE terrorists, will not be affected by the false and distorted campaigns carried out by the unpatriotic media or the diplomats, Army Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka said.
He blamed some media personnel for their highly irresponsible role in reporting on fighting terrorism in the country. Gen. Fonseka said that there were no major obstacles for the military in their operations as these unpatriotic media, non governmental organisations, some diplomats and certain foreign organisations had tried to show the world.
"They are trying to distort present military operations to discredit and discourage the military intending that we would give up our offensive in the Wanni. It will never happen as the Sri Lankan military is getting stronger now", he said.
The Army Commander said that the Army is five times stronger than earlier and our defence lines are stronger", he said.
According to Gen. Fonseka, the military has the capability to remain in the East while extending the military operations towards the Wanni. He said that East had not been weakened unlike in the past, where the military captured Jaffna using its all resources and abandoning the East.
by Shanika Sriyananda
Posted by media at 12:53 PM
Sri Lanka's government should divert funds from agriculture subsidies to improving market linkages of rural farmers on the lines of successful models built by firms like Hayleys and MAS Tropical Food Processors, a new study said.
The island has much potential to develop its spices sector mainly consisting of over 200,000 small farmers using pro-poor agribusiness models to revive smallholder spice cultivation, the Institute of Policy Studies said.
Some 70 percent of production of spices like cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamoms, nutmeg and mace comes from smallholder farms of less than one hectare of land.
"Increasing competitiveness and strengthening their linkages with agri-business firms which ultimately improve the capacity for participating in modern supply mechanisms will be useful in creating a conducive production environment for small farmers," the IPS report on the state of the economy said.
Given the government's limited resources and competing demands, the best use funds allocated for agriculture development was "to improve technology, rural infrastructure and build market linkages rather than using them for economically insignificant subsidies which have no long-term development impact."
This year Sri Lanka is slated to spend 15 billion rupees on fertilizer subsidies after spending 10 billion last year to fulfill election promises. Critics say on the other hand, agriculture extension services get only a fraction of the amount.
The report highlighted what it called the innovative approach adopted by a few firms like listed conglomerate Hayleys and the unlisted MAS Tropical Food Processors.
Hayleys is Sri Lanka's sole exporter of gherkins to the international market today while employing thousands of people through its out-grower and subcontractor network.
The firm has set up hundreds of production centres in many parts of the country, mostly in rural areas.
"As a result, the company has been able to form an important link between Sri Lanka's rural hinterland and its global customer base, and has been able to penetrate and make use of the valuable resources that are available in the rural areas," IPS said.
Its factories in underdeveloped areas help increase the income generating capacity of people living in different parts of the country, creating employment opportunities for thousands of rural workers.
They also enhance the local value addition of manufactured goods due to the use of domestic raw materials and other inputs.
MAS serves food marketing companies like Nestle, Unilever and SriLankan Airlines, supermarket chains like Cargills and Keells, and export markets.
It provides better farmer training, supplies inputs to farmers and arranges for better storage, collection and transport of spices.
This supply chain model is significant in providing a source of livelihood and fighting poverty in rural farming communities, the IPS report said.
The government can help by providing necessary infrastructure like roads, and a suitable policy and legal environment especially in the areas of trade, land and labour.
"The main constraint from the side of small holder farmers is the poor market link between farmers and exporters," IPS said.
Middlemen buy farmers' produce at lower prices and sell them at higher prices creating a large gap between the price received by farmers and the auction or FOB price.
Posted by media at 12:44 PM
Indian Police have busted a major LTTE fundraising scam involving the use of fake credit cards. In a major operation, a police team arrested two Sri Lankans in this connection on Saturday night in Mangalore.
The arrested persons have been identified as Baala Ruban alias Ruban alias Kadiravelu Gunaselvan (22) from Vavuniya and Nallatambi Jayasheelan alias Sheelan (25) from Jaffna.
Acting upon a tip-off, the police conducted a raid in a lodge in Mangalore and arrested the accused. The police have also seized 11 duplicate credit cards, duplicate passports and gold worth Indian Rs 300,000.
The arrested have confessed that they purchased gold ornaments at Karkal and Mangalore. Primary investigations revealed that the accused were collecting funds for LTTE through fake credit cards.
At the time of arrest, the duo were waiting for another Sri Lankan who was said to be the mastermind behind their operation.
During interrogation, the youths informed police that a Sri Lankan gave credit cards to them. They were asked to purchase gold ornaments from different jewellery shops from Karkala and Mangalore using fake credit cards.
Following his instructions, the youths purchased gold jewellery worth around Rs 300,000 and were waiting for the Sri Lankan kingpin to hand them over to him at the lodge. The youths have been assured a commission for the task by the kingpin.
It has been found that their SIM cards contained phone numbers of various persons in many parts of the world. The police suspected the involvement of international hands behind this racket.
The police have filed a case against them in connection with illegal migration and the use of fake credit cards.
Baala Ruban, one of the arrested, had been in Chennai in June 2006 and Sheelan had been India in January 2007.
They were stealing information from the shops by using credit cards. They were using software absorbing devices for stealing information.
The Dakshina Kannada district police have warned businessmen, bankers and other financial institutions to be cautious about fake credit cards.
The arrested had confessed that the fake passport found in the name of Kathiravelu Gunashelvan was prepared at Chennai. Mangalore North Police have registered cases against the arrested.
Posted by media at 12:36 AM
Twenty LTTE terrorists were killed when Troops advanced and destroyed two bunkers in the Adampan area, and another six bunkers in the Parrappakandal area in Mannar on Friday (05) morning around 9.00 am in two rapid and fiercely executed encounters.
Among the 20 dead was the LTTE Military Intelligence Chief Shanmuganathan Ravishankar alias "Charles " of Jaffna aged 35. According to intelligence sources it is confirmed that he was responsible for the organization of many suicide attacks targeting VIP's as well as attacks on targets in Colombo and Kandy.
There were three other junior terrorist leaders killed in the confrontations identified as Sivapalan Sridharan alias "Sukahanthan from Jeyapuram and Pararjasingham Sudhan alias " Veeramaravan " from Mallawi and Sinnathamby Kanagadharan from Wattakadchchi .
"Charles" was responsible for the attack on the historic "Dalada Maligawa" ( "Temple of the Tooth") in Kandy which houses the Tooth relic of the Buddha, the "Enlightened One" in 1998 . The attack damaged the entrance of the "Dalada Maligawa" killing a few soldiers on duty. The "Maligawa" is venerated by the entire Buddhist world built over 500 years ago by the Kings of the Kandyan Kingdom.
He was also responsible for the attack using suicide bombers to drive a truck loaded with explosives into the Joint Operations Command (JOC), at Flower Road , in 1992 which killed nearly 70 people and injured several others including children as well as damaging houses in this fashionable area of Colombo 7. He was involved in the planning and preparation which led to the assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi on 21st May 1991 at Siriperumbudur, in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu.
The attack on the Central Bank, in the heart of Colombo in 1996 killed nearly hundred . Over two hundred were seriously injured and severely damaging the Central Bank and surrounding buildings of the Colonial era . In 1992 "Charles " organized the attack using a suicide bomber riding a motor cycle on the road which adjacent to the Galle Face Green around 8.40 in the morning. The powerful explosion killed the Sri Lanka Commander of the Navy, Vice -Admiral Clancy Fernando opposite Taj Hotel. The suicide bomber rode a motor cycle and triggered the explosives while riding beside the car in which the 52 year old Vice - Admiral was traveling . The explosion killed him , his bodyguard , driver and Flag Lieutenant.
He was also responsible for the attack in Rajagiriya in the year 2000. He had planned several attacks using suicide bombers on the EPDP Minister Douglas Devananda. However these attacks on the Minister were all unsuccessful. The other attacks planned by "Charles" targeted the Ratmalana Air Force Base in 1997 and the attack on the Galadari Hotel in Colombo Fort in 1997.
Media Center for National Security
Posted by media at 12:17 AM
The Californian Government and the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry have signed an agreement to recruit 1,000 Sri Lankan nurses to Californian hospitals by the end of this year, Ministry sources said.
Director General Health Services Dr. Ajith Mendis and Deputy Director General Nursing Service Bietrice Samaranayake participated as Sri Lankan representatives to sign an agreement with California Government officials last month.
Meanwhile, many European countries have requested Sri Lankan nurses to their hospitals.
Officials in USA, Australia, Canada, UK and Italy have requested the Health Ministry to send Sri Lankan nurses to their hospitals.
Therefore, the Health Ministry decided to send 500 nurses each year to UK, Canada, Australia and Italy and 1,000 nurses to California, the sources said.
“The nurses will be paid attractive salaries,” Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said.
The Minister said the Ministry has launched a special programme to train 15,000 nurses during 2006, 2007 and 2008.
“Under this programme, 12,900 nurses are receiving training while in 2008 and 2009, we have decided to recruit another 10,000 youths who have passed the A/ Level examination in the Science stream,” de Silva said.
Posted by media at 12:10 AM
Sunday, January 6, 2008
COLOMBO, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Tamil Tiger rebels claimed Sunday that their head of intelligence was killed by the Sri Lankan Army's deep penetration units (DPU) in the rebel controlled area in the northern district of Mannar on Saturday.
The pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) website Tamilnet said that Shanmuganathan Ravishankar alias Colonel Charles and three others were killed due to a claymore mine explosion triggered by the Army on the van they had been travelling at Pallamadu area in the Mannar district.
However, the military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara denied such an operation by the Army. "We do not operate deep penetration units. They must have been killed in our operation in Adampan (Mannar) yesterday (Saturday). We destroyed six LTTE bunkers there and found six bodies including two females of LTTE," Nanayakkara told Xinhua.
Restrictions on the operation of deep penetration units by the Army figured as one condition in the February 2002 ceasefire agreement between the Tamil Tigers and the government.
Under the DPU operations the Army units deployed themselves in the LTTE controlled areas under cover and carried out assassinations. The Army has repeatedly denied such operations.
The ceasefire agreement is now set to come defunct on January 16 in 10 days time. The government has already given the 14 day notice required to abrogate it.
During the near six years of its existence, both sides were accused of its violations, most of which was blamed on the LTTE, including the assassination attempts on the Army Commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka and the Sri Lankan President's brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse who is the top civil servant overlooking the military campaign against the rebels.
- Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka
Posted by media at 12:29 PM
Applications are invited from prospective Sri Lankan students for nomination to undergraduate course in Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Medicine (MBBS), bachelor of Pharmacy course under the Self Financing Scheme for the academic year 2008-09 against reserved seats of Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi.
The application form for the above course could be collected from the Education Wing, High Commission of India, Colombo on any working day between 1400-1600Hrs on production of GCE 'O/L', 'A/l' (Sri Lanka/London) Certificate and British Certificate.
Sri Lankan students who are studying (10+2) in India can also apply with pending final declaration of their 10+2 examination results.
Last date for receipt of completed application forms is 28th February 2008.
Posted by media at 12:27 AM