Saturday, January 19, 2008

30 Tamil Rebels, 1 Sri Lankan Soldier Killed in Battles in North

Sri Lanka's military says more than 30 Tamil Tiger rebels and one soldier were killed in a series of battles along the front lines in the country's north since Friday, January 18th.

The military says the fighting took place in the districts of Mannar and Vavuniya, and at two places on the Jaffna peninsula.

There has been no immediate comment from the rebels about the latest military claims.

On Friday, the military accused the rebels of killing 10 civilians in a village southeast of Colombo, a relatively calm region of the country.

Violence has intensified in Sri Lanka since the government two weeks ago formally pulled out of a 2002 cease-fire agreement with the rebels, saying Tamil Tigers had used the truce to regroup and rearm.

The government says the military has forced the rebels out of their territory in the east in recent months and is now focusing on the rebel-held north.

Tamil rebels have been fighting for more than two decades to create a homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils in the country's northern and eastern districts.

This report was provided by VoA, AFP, AP and Reuters.

Video: The History Behind Violent LTTE Terrorists (Documentary)

Government calls on the people to reject rumours

At a time when the Security Forces are successfully making every effort to eliminate the menace of LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka, there are a few who indulge in an information campaign to create a sense of fear among the public.

The Government calls on the public to be aware of such false propaganda as action has been taken to provide security to the people.

The Government calls on the public not to be deceived by such false claims and warns that action will be taken against those responsible for spreading rumors to create a sense of fear among the people.


Video: Fleeting LTTE Terrorists from Vanni Stronghold

January, 2008

Sri Lanka trip aims to boost college links

Two Edinburgh lecturers are heading out to Sri Lanka next week to explore opportunities for educational partnerships with the country.
David Hiddleston and Fergus Robb from Telford College's design and media department will join representatives from eight other colleges across the UK to look at forging links with Sri Lankan colleges.

They will discuss areas including industry links and employer-led curriculum, progression routes from further to higher education, and quality assurance and improvement strategies.

Mr Hiddleston, curriculum manager for design and media at the college, said: "This visit allows us to look at the way colleges in both the UK and Sri Lanka approach the issue of skills challenges and how we can learn from each other. It could also provide greater opportunities for students looking to study in Scotland."


LTTE planned to abduct Sri Lankan Tamil politician in India

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) The arrest of a Tamil Tiger operative on charges of planning the abduction from India of a prominent Sri Lankan Tamil politician is the first time the rebels have gone this far since the 1991 killing of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

According to home ministry sources, the Intelligence Bureau played a key role in the arrest Thursday night of Thambiturai Parameswaran alias Surli alias Nathan from Madipakkam, a thickly populated Chennai suburb near an IT corridor that is home to many Sri Lankan Tamils.

Nathan, who entered India illegally by sea in February 2007, has been described as a member of the intelligence wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He had been tasked with the responsibility of planning the kidnapping of Annamalai Varadaraja Perumal, the former chief minister of Sri Lanka's northeastern province who has lived in and around the Indian capital for years under Indian protection.

A native of Jaffna, Nathan had bought a van in Chennai that he plied as a taxi to give himself a respectable cover. He had over a period of time moved close to two relatives in the area of Perumal, as he is widely known, and also Douglas Devananda, Sri Lanka's rabidly anti-LTTE Tamil cabinet minister.

Devananda, who has escaped several assassination attempts blamed on the LTTE, is a frequent visitor to India.

Following Nathan's arrest, the Tamil Nadu Police took into custody seven other Sri Lankan Tamil men who were identified only as Reagan, Anand, Kesavan, Paris, Akilan, Sudarsanan and Aravindan.

All seven apparently acted as Nathan's sub-agents, collecting information that was passed on to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

According to home ministry sources, the likely kidnapping of Perumal could have taken place when his eldest daughter was to get married next month in Rajasthan, where he had lived under protection in Ajmer city before moving closer to the Indian capital.

Nathan had reportedly offered his taxi to the relative of Perumal he had befriended so as to drive him to Rajasthan - and thus get close to the intended victim.

By M.R. Narayan Swamy

Friday, January 18, 2008

LTTE terrorists massacre 10 civilians in remote village - Thanamalwila

A group of LTTE terrorists have carried out a cowardly attack at the civilians at Kalawalgala, a remote village in the Thanamalwila area around 10, last night (Jan 17). According to the latest reports, 10 innocent civilians have been butchered during the night raid carried out by the terrorists.

Initially, it was reported only three civilians were killed and another three suffered injuries when the terrorists opened fire at the civilians in the village. However, reports indicate that those civilians were assisting the civil defence force's personnel after having alerted by the terrorists' presence. It is now believed that the terrorists had been murdering civilians after forcibly taking them into a jungle patch before the villagers became suspicious.

Troops engaged in search operations have found the other 7 bodies this morning. According to defence sources, the terrorists have laid anti personnel mines in the area in order to slow down the army pursuit.

"Nolimit" further expands

Actresses Sabitha Perera, Geetha Kumarasinghe, Sangeetha Weeraratne, and Nilmini Tennekoon at the Pallu showroom launch.

Making another mark in the fashion world, Nolimit expanded its new Pallu showroom in Dehiwela by adding another floor with a new collection of fashionable, stylish and colourful sarees, shalwars and accessories recently. "A special feature of Nolimit Pallu is the special prices offering best value for money in the market," said Marketing Manager of Nolimit Anwar Sadat.

The recent bomb explosion in Nugegoda by Tamil Tigers was set off in front of Nolimit store in Nugegoda.

SLMC appalled at Health Minister’s threat

The Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), the country’s apex body representing the medical profession, in a written communication to Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has stated that it is quite in order for doctors to include the brand name of a drug together with the generic name. This is provided for in the cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Act of 1992, it said.

The letter, forwarded by the Council Registrar, Dr. N. J. Nonis, adds: "We are appalled that the Minister of Health should threaten doctors with imprisonment for prescribing drugs using their brand names. There are many crimes which may need imprisonment but this is not a crime and does not warrant such punishment. It is unbecoming for a Minister of Health in a civilized country to castigate doctors in this fashion."

The SLMC wrote to the Minister, subsequent to a statement made by him and broadcast on television that doctors who prescribe drugs by brand name would be imprisoned.

Dr. Nonis has told the Minister:

"When a doctor prescribes a drug, he must be certain in his own mind that the drug has the desired effect, without deleterious side effects. This responsibility cannot be delegated to the pharmacist. Who ultimately will take the responsibility? Will it be the prescribing doctor or the dispensing pharmacist or sales person? There is an acute shortage of pharmacists in the country and it would be still worse if the responsibility is given to an unqualified, unregistered person.

"Some generic productions may be as potent and safe as the original brand. A branded drug is manufactured in technologically advanced pharmaceutical industries at great cost. The parent company retains the patent rights for a few years and thereafter various pharmaceutical companies produce the drug at a lower cost. Hence, such drugs are cheaper than the original drug for which expenditure was incurred for research and development," he said.

"In Sri Lanka, there is no scientific evaluation of bio-equivalence of a drug in a laboratory in testing each and every drug imported to the country. To perform chemical analysis, quality assurance, bio-availability etc. would be a severe strain on the financial resources of the Health Ministry. Besides, highly trained persons and sophisticated equipment are required for all this. At present, only a few drugs can be tested for their quality and the above parameters.

"It is impossible for any authority or organization to determine the need for a drug. Medicine is a rapidly advancing science and new discoveries of drugs are highlighted in the medical literature every day. Further, even laymen, because of the easy accessibility of information are aware of new discoveries and indications. Is it fair to deprive a patient of such a discovery which often may be life-saving?"

"There are also drugs which cannot be written in generic names such as multi-vitamin tablets, compound preparations, paediatric preparations with a peculiar palatability and inhalers used in asthma. The quality of drugs also depends on transport, storage and shelf-life. Hence, all generic drugs may not be of equal efficacy."

"Before drastic changes to the present policy of drug prescribing, opinions of a broader section of the medical professionals including professional organizations and practicing doctors should have been obtained. We are of the opinion that it is quite in order for the brand name of a drug to be included along with the generic name as stated in the Regulations under the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Act published in 1992."

by Brian Tissera, The Island

UN condemns attacks in Sri Lanka

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has strongly condemned the indiscriminate attacks by LTTE in the south eastern of Sri Lanka, which left over dozens dead and injured.

"These latest deadly attacks coincide with the expiration today of the ceasefire agreement. The Secretary-General reiterates his firm belief that the only way to stop further violence in Sri Lanka is through dialog," UNSG spokesperson said in an statement.

He urges the parties concerned to undertake genuine efforts to achieve a peaceful negotiated solution, the statement added.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Video: LTTE terrorists kill 27 civilians and slaughter 6 farmers

MCNS, 16 Jan 2008 - 22:24
BUTTALA: Death toll from today’s claymore explosion on CTB bus rises to 27 dead & 49 injured, one person succumbed to injuries a while ago.

Updated story with images: Ministry of Defence

Be resolute and calm in face of provocation - President

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has unequivocally condemned the LTTE's savage attacks on a civilian bus at Buttala and a village Okkampitiya, has called on the people of Sri Lanka to be vigilant in the face of provocation by terrorists, remain calm, and assist the security forces in their efforts to eliminate terrorism from Sri Lanka.

The President states: This further act of savagery on the part of the LTTE should attract to it the opprobrium of all in Sri Lanka and abroad concerned about safeguarding democracy and achieving peace in Sri Lanka. This is a brazen demonstration to the whole world of its unchanged commitment to terrorism and the absolute rejection of democracy and all norms of civilized behaviour, in the pursuit of its unacceptable goal of separation, which threatens the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

Text of the President's statement:

I unequivocally and severely condemn the explosion carried out by the LTTE at Niyadella in Buttala today, and the subsequent armed attack on the village of Dambeyaya at Okkampitiya, targeting innocent civilians including women and children, and reject with contempt the renewed message of terror and violence sent by the LTTE through these acts of unmitigated brutality.

I wish to first express my sincere condolences to the families and kin of those killed, and send my good wishes for the speedy recovery of all those injured in these brutal attacks carried out by the terrorists of the LTTE. I also thank all those who have readily volunteered to assist the victims of these attacks in many ways, despite the hardships of the terrain where they have taken place.

These acts of savagery by the LTTE once again exposes its total commitment to violence and terror, despite the many attempts made to show that it stands for peace in Sri Lanka. It appears that this attack has been carried out to coincide with the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement, which comes into effect today. The terrorists of the LTTE may be attempting by these acts of savagery to show Sri Lankans and the world that it is the decision of the government to abrogate the Ceasefire Agreement that is the immediate cause for this carnage caused by it.

On this occasion we recall how the LTTE carried out a similar act of savagery at Kebethigollawa on 11th July 2006, killing 67 persons and injuring a similar number. There too all the victims were innocent civilians including many women and children. It is also sufficient to recall this and many other similar acts of savagery carried out by the LTTE while this agreement was in place, to show that the LTE had at no time respected the Ceasefire Agreement.

This further act of savagery on the part of the LTTE should attract to it the opprobrium of all in Sri Lanka and abroad concerned about safeguarding democracy and achieving peace in Sri Lanka. This is a brazen demonstration to the whole world of its unchanged commitment to terrorism and the absolute rejection of democracy and all norms of civilized behaviour, in the pursuit of its unacceptable goal of separation, which threatens the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

On this occasion I call upon all people of Sri Lanka who value democracy, human values and peace to be even more resolute in their determination to rid this country of the menace of terrorism. I also call upon them to be vigilant in the face of provocation by terrorists, remain calm, and give all assistance to the security forces in the exemplary efforts to eliminate terrorism from our land and bring about a genuine and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Exports Fall on Weaker Demand for Textiles

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's exports fell in November for the second time in four months as weaker demand from the U.S. and Europe reduced shipments of rubber, textiles and clothing.

Overseas sales dropped 5.1 percent to $591 million from $623 million a year earlier, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said in a statement today. Imports rose 15.4 percent to $1 billion.

Asia's export-reliant economies are suffering as the worst housing recession in 16 years in the U.S. damps demand in the region's largest market. Sri Lanka will also be ``most at risk'' in South Asia from the lifting of European and U.S restrictions on some Chinese textile exports at the end of this year, the World Bank said last week.

``China's position will start to bring some pressure on margins. This is something we have been preparing for,'' said Hasitha Premaratne, head of corporate finance at apparel maker Brandix Ltd., the island's biggest exporter. ``We can't compete with China on scale so there may need to be some streamlining, consolidation and repositioning.''

Sri Lanka is seeking to boost exports as a 2 1/2-decade civil war and borrowing costs at a five-year high threaten economic growth. The $27 billion economy expanded 7 percent in the third quarter, accelerating from 6.4 percent in the previous three months, as shipments of tea and rubber increased.

Civil War

The government today formally ended its 2002 cease-fire accord with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, saying the rebels had used the cease-fire to rearm, recruit and prepare for further attacks. Heightened violence in the island's civil war contributed to a 1.1 percentage point ``falloff'' in economic growth last year, the World Bank said.

The value of Sri Lanka's industrial exports such as clothes, jewelry and rubber-based products fell 13.8 percent from a year earlier to $422.3 million in November, the central bank said today. Agricultural shipments rose 21.6 percent to $137.1 million due to higher earnings from tea.

Sri Lanka's trade deficit in November widened 66.1 percent from a year earlier to $418.7 million, the report said. The overall balance of payments posted a surplus of $616 million. The country's foreign currency reserves were $3.15 billion at the end of November, it said.

Exports rose 11.3 percent in the first 11 months of 2007, faster than the 8.4 percent pace of the previous year, according to today's statement. The central bank expects overseas shipments to increase 10 percent this year.

Textile Quotas

Sri Lanka's textile exporters may see weaker growth in their overseas sales next year as restrictions on some Chinese clothing exports to the European Union and the U.S. expire at the end of 2008.

``In the EU market, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mauritius, Peru and Sri Lanka appear to be most at risk with more than 40 percent of their 2006 exports in product categories for which China is currently still subject to quotas,'' the World Bank said in its report last week.

The Dominican Republic, India and Sri Lanka are the only three countries that export more than 20 percent of their textiles and clothing to the U.S. in similar categories, the report said.

LTTE terrorists target schoolchildren in bus bomb - Monaragala

LTTE terrorists have carried out a cowardly bomb blast targeting innocent school children at Okkampitiya, Monaragala this morning (16 January).

According to the available information the bus which was plying from Buttala to Okkampitiya with large number of school children has been targeted in the explosion.

Police sources in the area said that the bomb has been placed inside the bus. The explosion has taken place around 7.40 am at a location close to the 3rd mile post at weliara, Okkampitiya. Over 67 casualties have been taken to the Monaragala hospital, the sources added. According to the Hospital sources more than 23 people have been killed in the incident. These figures can be increased, sources further added

LTTE is a ruthless terrorist outfit notorious for crimes against women and children. In its pursuit for a mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils, the outfit has killed and maimed over tens and thousands innocent children in ethnic cleansing raids, indiscriminate bomb attacks and by using child soldiers at the battle fronts. FBI in a recent report called LTTE the most dangerous terrorist outfit in the world.

More information will follow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Boosting the Sri Lankan film industry

10th Dhaka International Film Festival
In conversation with Somaratne Dissanayake

FOR the fourth consecutive time renowned Sri Lankan director-writer-producer Somaratne Dissanayake has come to Dhaka to participate at the Dhaka International Film Festival. His films -- Saroja, Punchi Suranganavi, Sooriya Arana, Punchi Suranganavi and Samanalu Thatu -- have captivated audiences from all walks of life, all over the world. Sooriya Arana is apparently the most popular Sri Lankan film. Dissanayake received the Sri Lanka National Icon Award as the Best Non Performing Artist in 2005.

Though on previous occasions he came to Dhaka with his films and even won an award at the competition section in 2000, at the 10th Dhaka International Film Festival he has come as a producer of the film Sankara directed by Prasanna Jayakody. Dissanayake spoke to The Daily Star regarding his movies and more.

Commenting on the reason behind producing a movie, Dissanayake said, “I'm quite popular at home and abroad. Now, I believe, is the right time to do something for the development of the Sri Lankan film industry. I am trying to promote the younger directors of Sri Lanka. With the profit from my films, I've financially supported a potential young director Prasanna Jayakody.”

Sharing his observation on the 10th Dhaka International Film Festival Dissanayake said that he has special interest in the festival, as it promotes Asian filmmakers. But, this year's arrangement does not strike him as “attractive”. According to Dissanayake, “This year not many films are being screened like the previous years. And the number of the viewers is also fewer. I talked to the organisers and they just said that they are facing some problems. However, I'm still optimistic regarding the festival.”

Dissanayake believes that the Sri Lankan film industry has potentials. In his words, “Though there is no functioning film institute and no proper technical support available in Sri Lanka, young filmmakers who have studied cinema at foreign institutions, are winning awards at prestigious international film festivals like Cannes and Toronto. I believe this is high time to work together and boost the film industry in Sri Lanka. At present we produce around 25 movies a year.”

While working in the medical field in Australia, Dissanayake studied film and television in depth, and obtained a post-graduate Diploma in Professional Arts from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Directing from Sydney University. Returning home Dissanayake started making films, TV plays and writing stage plays. All of his films have won scores of national and international awards, and most interestingly, all the films have set new box office records in his country. He is in a habit of setting a new record every time with a new film.

On the secret behind the success of his films Dissanayake said, “Though I touch social or political issues in my movies, I can communicate with the audience through my films in an uncomplicated format, which is very important for the popularity of a movie. I always try to strike a chord with the viewers. Moreover, I'm aware of self-censorship. I think that is the secret behind the success of my films.”

by Ershad Kamol

India helped countering LTTE: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Navy has praised India for its help in countering the LTTE, and said the militant group's ''backbone has been broken'' after the destruction of several rebel vessels.

''Co-operation with India has been extremely successful in countering the LTTE. Every year, the Indian Navy with the Indian Coast Guard and the Sri Lankan Navy holds four bilateral discussions. We are conducting coordinated patrols with the Indian Navy as well,'' Navy Chief Wasantha Karannagoda said.

''We have broken their backbone by destroying their supply vessels and floating warehouses, several war-like materials which would have allowed the Tigers to sustain this conflict,'' Karannagoda told the 'Colombo Post' newspaper.

The Navy chief asserted that the LTTE was not strong enough to sustain its fight against the government for long and that the outfit's naval power was badly weakened after several losses.

''The Navy has destroyed almost all LTTE vessels that could have assisted the Tigers in attacking the armed forces,'' he said adding, ''Within one year we have destroyed eight floating warehouses, which had carried more than 10,000 tons of war-like material''.

This included artillery, mortar, dismantled parts of three aircraft, bulletproof vehicles, underwater delivery vehicles, scuba diving sets and radar, among other things, he said.

On its part, the Sri Lankan Navy has acquired new ships and boats and is also building indigenous vessels to counter the LTTE threat, Karannagoda said.

Earlier, the LTTE warehouses were stationed off the island's coast and whenever the need arose they came up to about 300 kms from land and transferred the arms cargo on to trawlers, which brings them ashore, the Navy chief said.

He said the Navy had successfully put an end to this type of arms smuggling, severely weakening the LTTE.

Press Trust of India

LTTE front organisations running riot in UK

LONDON: Sri Lanka has alleged that millions of dollars are still being raised in the UK and mainland Europe by thinly-disguised front organizations for the LTTE, even as it argues for the British government to ban an active UK-based charity it claims to be supported by several southern Indian film stars.

A spokesman for the Sri Lankan High Commission said on Monday that the charity called 'White Pigeon' held a big-ticket in London over the weekend. This was followed by two shows in Paris. All were billed as mega-star events and were advertised as fronted by "South Indian musician Shiyam, senior Tamil actor Sathyaraj, his actor son and heart throb Sibi, actress Sri Lekha, actor Jeeva, actor Nanda, actress Mathumitha, Kerala actress who also plays leading roles in Tamil films Bhavana, male singer Karthik, male singer Krish, female singer Vinaya, and male singer Mano".

The Paris shows were expected to raise at least two million pounds.

According to some reports, White Pigeon is the successor to the US and UK-banned Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), which has allegedly raised millions of dollars across Western capitals to funnel arms to the LTTE.

Sri Lankan sources claim the LTTE is using 'White Pigeon' "openly to fund raise, for the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) in Paris, banned in many countries for pumping money to the coffers of the Tamil Tigers".

Walter Jayawardhana, information minister at the Sri Lanka High Commission said "unchecked fundraising in Western capitals undoubtedly affects the effort to fight terrorism".

Unconfirmed reports said at least six of the 11 advertised Indian artistes did not show up at the European shows because they were refused British visas. This meant only 2,000 British Tamils attended the London show, leaving the 10,000-capacity venue relatively forlorn.

It's understood that the Sri Lankan authorities asked the British and French governments a few weeks ago to crack down on 'White Pigeon' and are still waiting for action.

The weekend Tamil shows come just weeks after the Sri Lankan government complained about the attendance of three high-profile MPs of Britain's governing Labour Party at a several-thousand-strong expatriate Tamil event here.

On Monday, the Sri Lankan government reiterated that the expat Tamil event "openly violated anti-terrorism laws. The police have sent evidence about the violators to the crown prosecutor's unit for the culprits to be charged."

The Sri Lankan authorities claim that even though 'White Pigeon' had agreed with the London Metropolitan Police not to violate Britain's strict Anti-Terrorism laws and only fund-raise for charity, rather than the LTTE, "in the past all such assurances by the fronts of the LTTE were futile that finally resulted in the banning of the TRO."

Sources reiterated that the United States government, on November 15 designated TRO "as a fundraising front organization for the terrorist group LTTE and the TRO's offices in 18 countries, including the one in Cumberland, Maryland USA were also designated".

They said that "immediately, after the US ban, the United Kingdom followed suit. Australian investigations revealed that millions collected from Australians to aid victims of the Tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka have been used by the TRO to the procurement of arms for the LTTE. Sri Lanka froze assets of the TRO first and confiscated them later".

Times of India

Japan committed to Sri Lanka

Lars Bleyman, a member of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), packs up office belongings in preparation to winding up operations, in Colombo on Monday.

COLOMBO: The Special Peace Envoy of Japan, Yasushi Akashi, on Monday pledged his country’s continuing commitment to Sri Lanka and to extending economic assistance, in his discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Mr. Akashi is in Sri Lanka to study developments following the government’s decision to abrogate the Cease Fire Agreement with the LTTE and to apprise Colombo of the Japanese government’s stance vis-À-vis the latest developments.

According to official sources, Mr. Akashi expressed Japan’s satisfaction at the efforts made by Mr. Rajapaksa to reach a consensus on arriving at a negotiated solution to the ethnic question.

On the occasion of Pongal, Mr. Rajapaksa greeted the Tamils in the nation and expressed the hope that peace and greater trust would prevail in the coming year.

“In observing the traditions of Thai Pongal, the Hindus of Sri Lanka will show their commitment to protecting a rich cultural heritage, and in keeping with the spirit of revival and rededication that is part of this festival, they will also look to the future with hope and optimism, shared by all people of our country”, Mr. Rajapaksa said.

Meanwhile, at least two soldiers and a home guard were killed in a claymore explosion triggered by suspected cadres of the LTTE in Vavuniya even as the Air Force claimed to have pounded an LTTE “intelligence hideout” in Mullaittivu.

The Hindu

Monday, January 14, 2008

What do you think is the solution for the long-running conflict in Sri Lanka, involving the Tamil Tigers?

Riz Khan - Question of the Week - 14 Jan 08

More on YouTube:

Sri Lanka has a right to take action against terrorists: Pranab

Sri Lanka is well within its right to take action against terrorists, but the government should also continue efforts to arrive at a solution to the problem of ethnic minorities, including the Tamils, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

Mukherjee has refused to criticise Sri Lanka for abrogating the ceasefire pact with the LTTE, saying that India was "not party to it (the ceasefire agreement)".

Answering a query on the abrogation of the ceasefire on Karan Thapar's "Devil's Advocate" programme for CNN-IBN to be telecast on Sunday, Mukherjee said: "We shall have to see what impact it has."

"Of late the clashes between Sri Lankan forces and LTTE terrorists have increased. So far as the terrorism is concerned, our position is that India's position is zero tolerance. So any country that takes action against terrorists are free to do so within their legal system," he said.

On the issue of ethnic minorities, Mukherjee said, "So far as the solution to the problem of ethnic minorities, including the Tamilians, is concerned, so that their legitimate aspirations are fulfilled within the Sri Lankan system, that part should not be lax and efforts must continue to arrive at a solution."

On the invitation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend Sri Lanka's 60th Independence anniversary celebrations, Mukherjee said that no decision has been taken yet. "As and when it will be decided we will let you know but no decision has yet been taken".

He added that the prime minister will attend the Saarc summit to take place in Colombo later this year.

Indo-Asian News Service

Sunday, January 13, 2008

LTTE peace overtures a joke: official

Colombo (PTI): Dismissing LTTE's offer on resumption of the ceasefire agreement as a "joke", a senior Sri Lankan official has said the the rebel chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran had resorted to such tactics whenever he was in trouble to "rearm" the outfit.

The LTTE started waging war on the Indian Peace Keeping Force despite signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord in 1987, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative in Geneva Dayan Jayatilleka said, stressing that the outfit could not be trusted.

"The LTTE should have implemented the CFA of 2002 in 2002 and not in 2008," the ambassador said accusing the rebels of violating the ceasefire for successive years.

"The LTTE now says that it is willing to implement the 2002 CFA in its entirety without any changes. This is a joke," he said.

"How can that be? In July 1987, the LTTE chief Prabhakaran said he was willing to accept the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord. But on 10th October 1987, he started waging war against the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF)," Jayatilleka told the BBC's Sinhala unit yesterday.

"This is what Prabhakaran always does. When he is in trouble, he says that he is ready for peace negotiations. But, later the LTTE rearms itself and attacks. We place no trust in anything that the LTTE says," he said.

Sri Lanka donors voice concern as war toll climbs

COLOMBO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's main foreign donors voiced concern on Saturday at the island's escalating civil war, calling on the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to respect human rights as the death toll steadily climbs.

Fifteen rebels and one soldier were killed on Saturday in the northwestern district of Mannar, where troops fired mortar bombs into Tiger territory, the military said, adding 59 rebels and two soldiers were killed across the north on Friday.

The military says it has killed over 200 insurgents since the government announced last week it was formally scrapping a 6-year ceasefire which degenerated into renewed war two years ago, and analysts and diplomats are bracing for more bloodshed.

Over 5,000 people have been killed since 2006 amid near daily air raids, land and sea battles, ambushes and bombings.

"The Tokyo Co-Chairs (Norway, Japan, United States and European Union) jointly express their strong concerns about the termination of the 2002 ceasefire agreement by the government of Sri Lanka," the donors said in a joint communique.

"The Co-Chairs emphasize their belief that there is no military solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka, and reiterate their support for a negotiated settlement."

The donors called on the foes to protect civilians, allow humanitarian agencies access to affected populations and urged "continued monitoring of the human rights situation by such means as to assure an appropriate role for the UN".

They also called on the government to allow them access to the Tigers in their northern stronghold and to finalise a long-delayed political devolution proposal -- which the rebels have already rejected as a non-starter.


The government's move to annul the ceasefire, which expires on Jan. 16, has shocked the international community and is seen as ruining any hope of resurrecting peace talks any time soon.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government argues the rebels used the peace pact, which Nordic monitors said the Tigers violated thousands of times, to buy time to regroup and rearm and that they were not sincere about talking peace.

Increasingly isolated amid accusations that elements of the military were respsonsible for rights abuses, the government has rejected calls for a U.N. rights monitoring mission.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are seeking an independent state in the north and east, were not available for comment on the military's latest death toll claims.

There were no independent accounts of what had happened and the government has told the Nordic monitors they must leave the island next week.

The Tigers, who the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation describes as "among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world", said on Thursday they were now willing to fully implement the terms of the truce. They also warned they were ready to face a full-scale war if the government wages one.

The government says it will wipe out the Tigers militarily, setting the stage for what many fear will be a bloody battle for the north as a death toll of around 70,000 people since the war erupted in 1983 climbs daily.

Army Commander Sarath Fonseka says he aims to defeat the Tigers by the end of the year, though analysts say the Tigers remain a formidable opponent and see no clear winner.