Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Father's Request front of Daughter killed by Tamil Tigers

Response from President:

SPUR Media Release: Ethnic cleansing of the Sinhalese by Tamil Tigers must be stopped

Why are the International Community and the NGOs Mute?

The Society for Peace Unity and Human Rights (SPUR) unreservedly condemn the brutal acts carried out by the Tamil Tiger Terrorists against Sinhalese civilians and hold the LTTE accountable for their ethnic cleansing acts as they are considered crimes against humanity. Prabakaran and his lieutenants including Pottuamman will be pursued relentlessly by Sri Lankans and together with other civic minded citizens of the world will not rest until this megalomaniac is prosecuted by the world court in The Hague.

Especially significant is the LTTE’s brutal attack on the civilian bus carrying school children at Okkampitiya in the Buttala area on 16 January 2007. Eye witnesses have reported that the LTTE terrorists in a planned ethnic cleansing action, shot the innocent civilians who escaped the Claymore blast. There were also five chena farmers found shot dead by the retreating LTTE. It is heart breaking to watch the pictures depicting wailing school children observing the dead bodies of their friends, teachers and kith and kin laid to rest at the local school. Last reports say that over 30 people died and close to 70 were injured when the bus carrying early morning passengers’ including children was plying between Okkampitiya and Buththala.

The coroner at the Buttala hospital has stated that most of the dead had been shot and that the LTE had not spared infants as small as 6 months in their quest for Sinhala civilian blood. It has also been reported on the 18 January that villages found 9 civilians executed by the LTTE in the Thanamalwila area.

On 25 January 2008, police have found the bodies of 16 youth dumped in a swamp at Kiriketuwewa on the Horoupathana road, six Kilometres from the Kebithigollawa town. The 16 dead Sinhala youth brutalised and mutilated by the LTTE are believed to be a group of Sinhalese peasants who had gone searching for their grazing cattle. The victims had been shot to death and their bodies hacked to pieces. The visiting police examining the forensic evidence had stated that some of the youth had been alive after being shot at the time of being hacked to death.

With these killings, the total number of Sinhalese men, women, and children executed by the LTTE since 01 January 2008 exceed 50. None of these civilians were killed accidentally by the LTTE whilst launching attacks on the armed forces. These assassinations were planned and conserted attacks by the LTTE on Sinhalese civilians as they were first Claymore mined, then shot and finally in some cases, hacked to death.

This is nothing but blatant ethnic cleansing. SPUR wants to put on record that anti-terrorist forces will

  1. Never let Prabakaran, his key lieutenants such as Nadesen (Peace Secretariat), Pottuamman (Intelligence Head) and the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity go unpunished as long as they live. Rights watchers will be pursuing this matter to its just end taking the LTTE leader and his lieutenants to the World Court in The Hague, some day in the future if they survive the current military offensive.

  2. Expose numerous NGO’s who continue to shed crocodile tears over emphasising collateral damage when fighting terrorists. These terrorist friendly orgnizations often collude to do the biding of the LTTE by fabricating outlandish human rights violation accusations against the armed forces and the Government believing that if they throw enough mud, some will stick. SPUR is not surprised by these foreign funded Human Right champions’ deadly silence when it comes to either the mass murder of Sinhalese civilians or the Government’s action to rescue Tamil civilians forcibly kept in bondage by the LTTE.

  3. Challenge international agencies such as the UN Human Rights Council when it makes unsubstantiated, negatively skewed, inaccurate statements about the democratically elected Government of Sri Lanka whilst peddling softly around the terror perpetrated by the Tamil Tiger Terrorists. SPUR is especially disappointed with the international community as often they are reluctant to name the LTTE as the instigators of terror or hold them accountable for their ethnic cleansing type acts catalogued herein.

    Why are the so called righteous international community, the peace facilitator Norway, United Nation entities and individuals such as Ms Louise Arbour, the Commissioner for Human Rights deaf and blind to the ethnic cleansing acts carried out by the LTTE as evidenced above?

    The practise of making innocuous statements requesting the LTTE to refrain from indulging in terror must be revisited The onus is on the so called leading western democracies who allow flow of funds to the LTTE to directly confront the LTTE and warn its leadership, the fellow terrorists and their fronts of the real possibility of being prosecuted for Crimes against Humanity and genocide at The Hague.
The citizens of Sri Lanka and its Diaspora who abhor terror have been watching and waiting patiently for justice, whilst facing unprecedented provocations from the increasingly desperate LTTE. It is time that the international community and the foreign funded NGO’s support unreservedly the democratic forces abandoning the clawless, toothless and very soon the lifeless Tiger in Kilinochchi.

Dr. Dasarath Jayasuriya
President, SPUR Australia

Friday, January 25, 2008

Prabha escapes air strike as army makes headway on Mannar front

The government yesterday acknowledged that it hadn’t been able to confirm whether LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had been present when jets zeroed-in-on an LTTE base east of Iranamadu tank in Kalmadulam, Kilinochchi at 11.25 am on Wednesday.

"We haven’t been able to verify this," an authoritative spokesperson said. He declined to comment on whether the targeted base had been hit before and discuss the combination of the jets involved in the attack.

Well informed sources said that at least 15 LTTE cadres were believed to have been killed in the strike. The targeted base, situated within a high security zone used by LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had been devastated by the attack but at the time of the bombing the LTTE leader hadn’t been there.

Late last November, the government claimed that jets launched from Katunayake air base bombed an underground facility west of Kilinochchi used by the LTTE leader and that the same was attacked two days later. But this claim too hadn’t been substantiated.

However, the army engaged in operations on the Mannar front continued to make significant headway with LTTE defences crumbling under intense military pressure. The military said that troops had secured the area west of Yoda Wewa and brought the road that runs from the northwest towards southeast by late Wednesday. (SF)

Video: News collection of latest Sri Lankan military offenses in North

SLAF pounds LTTE transport base - Kilinochchi

Sri Lanka Air Force supersonic fighter jets raided an LTTE transport base located at Kilinochchi area this morning, January 25.

According to the Air Force sources, air sorties were conducted at 7.30 a.m and the targeted LTTE base located at 2Km south west of depot junction in Selvanagar, Kilinochchi.

The air raid was launched based on information received through intelligence sources and air surveillances conducted for a long period, Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Andy Wijesooriya further said.

The pilots confirmed that the target was hit accurately.


India backs interim ‘all-party’ solution in Sri Lanka

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday welcomed the recommendations of a multi-party committee in Sri Lanka that has reportedly sought implementation of a Constitutional amendment which followed the 1987 India-Sri Lanka accord.

Delhi's remarks came after the Sri Lankan Government – significantly – shared the recommendations made by the All Party Representative Conference (APRC) in an interim report submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday. The interim proposals were “a welcome first step,’’ an Indian Foreign Office spokesman said.

Following the 1987 Rajiv Gandhi-J R Jayawardene accord, the 13th Amendment introduced provisions in the Sri Lankan Constitution which were meant to bring about a political settlement to the Sinhala-Tamil ethnic dispute. The amendment recognised Tamil as an official language along with Sinhala, merged Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces and devolved more powers to the provincial councils.

But over the years, there was little to show on the ground. The temporarily merged provincial councils got ‘de-merged’ through a court order and they never got the freer hand to govern that the 13th Amendment had envisaged.

The APRC was set up to study if the provisions in the amendment could be implemented. The country’s main opposition United National Party however has walked out of the “all party’’ panel.

According to news reports from Colombo, the committee in its initial report has called for setting up of an interim provincial council in the north and elections to the council in the east.

“It has consistently been our view that a settlement of the issues in Sri Lanka is to be done by the Sri Lankan people themselves in a manner acceptable to all communities within the framework of a United Sri Lanka.,’’ the Indian spokesman said.

“The Government of India will continue to work with Sri Lanka and its people to bring about such a settlement of the issues in Sri Lanka.’’ He added: “To the extent that the APRC proposals contribute to such a settlement, they are a welcome first step.’’

Ashwani Talwar, Express Network

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Group of youth hacked to death by LTTE terrorists in Kebithigollawa

Police have found several bodies of youth dumped in a swamp at Kiriketuwewa on the Horoupathana - Kebithigollawa road by suspected LTTE terrorists this evening, January 24.

Police said the victims are believed to be a group of civilians who had gone searching for their cattle.

The victims were apparently hacked to death, the sources added.

More information will follow.


Video: Sri Lanka Troops enter Uiyilankulam, Mannar

Security Forces have succeeded in entering Uiyilankulam in Mannar where LTTE camps are sited. The troops had overrun the LTTE post at Uiylankulam after heavy fighting.

ITN representative Anura Dorakumbura reporting from within the Uiylankulam check point said the area was under the control of the LTTE a few days ago. The troops took control of it after heavy fighting. The LTTE Forward Defence Line is located a few metres off this site. The Security Forces will soon destroy the location continuing their advance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

All Party proposals handed to President

The report of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on measures to be taken to fully implement the provisions of the present constitution, towards seeking a political solution to the ethnic question, was handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening (Jan 23) at the Presidential Secretariat.

The main proposals in the report are the following.

1. Enforce as far as possible the 13th amendment introduced under the Indo-Lanka Accord.

2. Effectively enforce the existing official language policy.

3. Hold elections in the Eastern Province.

4. Set up an interim administrative body for the Northern Province since holding elections there at this stage is not practical.

* Police powers of the North and East Provinces will remains under the President like as other Provincial Councils.

The signatories to the proposals were the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, United National Party (D), Jathika Hela Urumaya, Ceylon Workers Congress, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, All Ceylon Muslim Congress, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, National Unity Alliance, Up-Country People’s Front, Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Eelam People’s Democratic Party, National Congress, Western People’s Front and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

Equal rights in a divided world: A continuous fallacy

by Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana

Based on the Keynote address delivered by Dr Athula Sumathipala (MBBS, DFM, MD, MRCPsych, PhD), Kings College, University of London and also the Honorary Director Institute for Research and Development in Sri Lanka, at the seventh Annual Convention of Sri Lanka Foundation Institute

The WHO constitution defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. This, by now, has become the classical definition of health, conceived in the aftermath of the Second World War when peace and health were taken as inseparable.

Although, according to its critics, widening the definition of health to psychological and social dimensions was a major advance, and also conceptually important, it had no direct operational value. According to many of the critics; ‘This definition is a fine and inspiring concept and in its pursuit guarantees health professionals unlimited opportunities for work in the future, but is not of much practical use’.

In today’s troubled world, this definition has run into most serious problems at the conceptual level, which in turn has impaired its guiding role when the conflict between health needs and resources has become of paramount importance both nationally and internationally.

The universal declaration of human rights Section 25 Article, states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate enough for health and well-being of himself and his family including food, clothing and other basic components. It also discusses the right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health including reproduction and sexual health. However, the biggest dilemma is the fact that 89% of annual global expenditure on health is spent on 16% of the world population, which bears only 7% of global disease burden.

The dilemma continues as although more than 90% of the world’s potential years of life lost belong to the developing world, only 10% of global health research funds are given to that part of the world where 90% of the disease burden is. Adding to the woes is another finding by a study analyzing five leading international medical journals, which shows that only 7% of research output originates from the 90% of disease burdened countries. These findings cast great doubts about the ‘evidence based medicine’ being currently practiced. Also when taken into consideration in the same context, the situation about mental health does not have much of a difference where the leading American and British Journals has only published 6% of research from the 90% of disease burdened countries, called in other words as developing world countries.

In the light of these developments, the all important issue that comes to light is whether evidence from 10% of the global population should be applied as a general measure to 90% of the population?

To complicate the inequality issues further, the drugs for neglected tropical diseases, such as many protozoan, fungal and helminthe infections, are not available for billions of poor people in our part of the world. Out of 1233 drugs developed between 1975 and 1997 only 13 were for tropical diseases. This scarcity will get worse by the introduction of the WTO administered international Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This agreement will affect the prices of many essential drugs further.

The gap between the income of the richest and poorest 20% of people in the world increased from a nine fold difference at the beginning of the 20th century to a 30 fold difference by 1960 and rapidly increased to over 80 fold difference by the year 2000. As a result of all these social and economical phenomena, poverty and health has significant and strong relationship with low income, impoverishment, indebtedness, female gender and low education, particularly with mental illness both in developing as well as developed countries. As a result, out of the first 10 most important diseases that burdens the whole world; five are mental illnesses, the top one being major depression.

Professor Solomon Benatar, the Professor of Medicine at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, said that"despite spectacular progress in science and technology during the 20th century, as we enter the 21st century the world is more inequitable than it was 50 years ago. Disparities in wealth and health within and in between nations are widening inexorably and the rapidly expanding global economy has failed to reduce poverty and improve health for all. This is evident both in terms of access to health care for individuals and in relation to health of the whole population. Billions of people live in degrading poverty with little if any access to health care and the universal declaration of human rights remain an unrealized aspiration for majority of "world’s people".

Unfortunately this is the stark reality that stares at us although we never seem to notice it.

In an era characterized by widening disparities in health and human rights across the world, it is necessary to reflect on the extent to which human rights considerations are selectively applied for the benefit of most privileged nations. Are human rights only for intellectual debates and discussions behind closed doors or is it for the benefit of poor common man on the ground?

There had been 16,000 major disasters over the last hundred years and over 500,000 deaths. In 2006, 44% of disasters happened in this part of the world, in Asia. Disasters cause destruction, death, disease, displacement, disappearance, distress, and disarray. All these have short and long term physical as well as psychological implications.

A fact that should also be taken into consideration is that the global divide and disparities that already exist within societies become even more exaggerated in disasters, especially in the developing countries, as well as in underdeveloped regions in the developed countries.

Furthermore, disasters by their very nature result in vulnerability of individuals and of social groups, particularly the disadvantaged communities, whether they live in the developed world or developing world.

Few excerpts from various American and world media during ‘hurricane Katrina’ will give ample evidence to strengthen this observation; "Hurricane Katrina aftershock hurt the conscience of every American and deeply dented American self image as a dedicated, united nation able to offer quick response in different situations". To look at a another quote from London Times; (David Aaronovitch) "It isn’t the failure to act in New Orleans that is the story here, it’s the sheer, uninsured, uncared for, self-disenfranchised scale of the poverty that lies revealed. It looks like a scene from the Third World because that’s the truth. It’s a quiet disaster that’s been going on for years - a pudding-basin-full-of-poverty situation".

Two years after Katrina, lack of adequate medical care has become an important growing problem.

Next in line is the issue of right to health in the local context. As a habit, Sri Lankans only talk about the weaknesses in our country, culture and society. But in contrary to the popular belief and way of doing things, it is much more pragmatic to take a balanced view by both looking at weaknesses and strengths. In that order of things, we will take a look at the strengths of Sri Lanka in the field of health. Sri Lanka has a high literacy rate in the region. Also Sri Lanka’s high life expectancy, health indices, crude birth rate, and maternal mortality rates, are highly comparable with the west.

Sri Lanka has an extensive public health network, and has a health institution for each 1.4 sq. kilometers. In terms of world health report, Sri Lanka’s rank is 76 in comparison to India’s 112 and China’s 114. The reader should understand that the picture is not very rosy as it seems and that there are also many weaknesses in our health system. In spite of this, Sri Lanka’s health sector has an excellent infra-structure well complemented by an extensive education network.

During Tsunami, Sri Lanka did not have any outbreaks of communicable disease. Basic needs such as toilets and sanitary water facilities were set up without delays. In terms of rapid mobilization and accessibility, the country is equipped with extensive public health infra-structures. But, when it came to psychological health, Sri Lanka was not up to the mark in order cope with a large scale psychological health problem affecting a large swath of the population before the Tsunami.

Only 30 qualified psychiatrists existed in Sri Lanka at the time of Tsunami and most of them were based in Colombo. There were more Psychiatrists of Sri Lankan origin based in UK and Australia than in Sri Lanka at the time and the situation has not undergone any significant changes. There were no community psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses or social workers, meaning that no proper system existed.

However, of all that is wonderful, two years later, the World Health Organization claims that ‘mental health services were more or less based on institutional care and lacks public health, primary care and multi disciplinary perspective. Like most tsunami affected countries, Sri Lanka did not have a mental health policy. But Sri Lanka collectively achieved some strategically important steps such as developing the agenda for mental health as opposed to psychiatry bringing the public health perspective into play and the multi-disciplinary perspective to the fore and translating policy into practice. The repositioning the agenda in the right direction was a major achievement’.

All good things come after a price. A certain number of dedicated professional had to struggle collectively in order to achieve the above WHO lauded results.

We are a capable nation but the issue remains as to how we utilize our capabilities to achieve national development. If the experience of Tsunami to be taken as an example, there is ample evidence to illustrate how inappropriate external interference can impact the disaster management processes negatively, the threats brought by those interferences can act as fueling agents to various types of tensions which follows.

An example of inappropriate external interference is unnecessary promotion of compulsory counseling; counseling for everybody. Compulsory counseling is not recommended even in the contemporary west, but, in Sri Lanka, there were French groups advocating counseling whose members could not even communicate in English.

The unseen danger in imposing help to disaster survivors is that it can make them dependent, which is not considered as successful disaster management. Correct management approach should be aimed at empowering the victims to independently cope with individual losses and problems.

There were also other important issues raised at the time of Tsunami, particularly the lack of respect for dignity of individual people. Sri Lankan people affected by the Tsunami lost everything but the dignity. There were donations of expired medications, unnecessary products labeled in foreign language and products not registered in Sri Lanka, and the government had to spend millions of rupees just to dispose these unwanted products donated with good intentions.

Cultural intrusion through imposing culturally inappropriate interventions, ignoring traditional support systems in the country is serious mismanagement which opens up many avenues for debate. Another serious problem is pathologising the normal reaction to trauma. Inability to sleep, feeling frightened and other reactions are considered normal after a trauma. But, in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami, there prevailed a situation where normality was considered as abnormal and counseling was recommended as the universal method of therapy. Of course counseling has an important place among all recognized methods of treatment as it has strength if used properly. But it is not and should not be taken as the solution for every psychological problem.

As end solutions, important rights issues and the way forward should be discussed. In that sense, disaster preparedness should be a multi-sectoral approach where protection of the vulnerable survivors of disasters should be the ultimate basic step.

When all these issues are taken into consideration as a whole, clinical and research ethics become very important in order to deal with all the inequalities that exist. This should be highlighted as opportunistic exploitation of survivors for easy and cheap research has become common practice.

In this background, only ethical research should be promoted. Ethical research can be conducted even under disaster situations if only ethics are considered as a friend of research. Another important fact is the non-existing universal template for disaster management due to the reason that resources are not universally the same.

Lessons are to be learned from international experience in this regard. However, locally appropriate, culturally sensitive, simple but effective interventions are much needed in the local context.

Ultimately, the state has to be in charge of disaster management process; mobilization and co-ordination. In that context, the responsibility of academics, intellectuals, and researchers is to promote building existing strengths, particularly the statutory services, health, education and social services in order to promote local appropriate management. Lester B. Pearson, in his public address at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, June 13, 1972 on the occasion of the presentation to him of the Victor Gollancz Humanity Award said stated; "There can be no peace, no security, nothing but ultimate disaster, when a few rich countries with a small minority of the world’s people alone have access to the brave, and frightening, new world of technology, science, and of high material living standards, while the large majority live in deprivation and want, cut off from opportunities of full economic development; but with expectations and aspirations aroused far beyond the hope of realizing them".

Sri Lankans, as citizens of a proud nation with thousands of years of history and civilization, cannot simply leave a fallacy of history as the only escape route for future generations.

The task is to leave the future sons and daughters of this blessed land a just, fair and developed society along with the true spirit of equity and equality, without the pressure of external forces, considering the value and power of unity of different people living in this country.

In Sri Lanka, there will be no development without health, and there will be no development of health without the development of mental health.

As citizens of this country, it is our duty to work collectively in order to develop a healthy and wealthy nation, whose basic rights, health, education and livelihood will be guaranteed sans discrimination based on language they speak, the religion they observe, or the geographical location they live.

Air Force raids "X-ray base": terrorists' nerve center in Kilinochchi

Sri Lanka air force fighter jets have raided the terror hub in Kilinochchi, known as "X-ray base" around 11.15, this morning (January 23). Air Force fighter jets in a low flying mission have targeted the base located East of Iranamadu Tank in the Kalmadukulama area, with the pin point accuracy, air force sources said.

According to Air Force Spokesperson Wing Commander Andi Wijesoriya, the air sorties were carried out on information obtained through real-time air surveillance and ground reconnaissance. Also, he said that the targeted location has been a regular visiting place of terror chief V. Prabhakaran. Fighter pilots have confirmed that the target was accurately hit , he added

Defence intelligence sources said that the air raid was timed with a "special" activity that was going on at the LTTE base. However, the sources refrained from commenting further on the issue. Also, the sources said, the targeted terror hub was located in a thick jungle patch, North of LTTE's "runaway" in Iranamadu. The area has been long demarcated as a "high security zone" and a "no go' area for civilians, the sources added.

LTTE is a ruthless terrorist outfit that has been fighting for a mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka since 1983. Last week, LTTE terrorists butchered 47 people in the Monaragala and Thanamalwila areas at the behest of their psychopathic leader V.Prabhakaran.

Video Playlist: Walk the Talk with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

NDTV Walk the Talk with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (4 videos in playlist)

It’s 20 years since the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) carried out its operation against the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. At a time of renewed fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the rebels, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24x7’s Walk the Talk. In the first part of the interview, he says sending back the IPKF was a wrong political decision taken by the then president, Premadasa.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Troops come under fire in Thanamalwila

THANAMALWILA: Troops conducting search operations today (22) in SIRINANDAPURA area were fired upon by terrorists hiding in near by jungles at around 12.30p.m.

Two troops who sustained minor injuries in this incident were sent to the THANAMALWILA hospital where one was admitted for treatment and the other was released after treatment.


Sri Lanka to hold second line-up on legislator slaying

COLOMBO, Jan. 21 -- A Sri Lankan court on Monday allowed the police to conduct a second line-up of the suspect held in connection with the slaying of a Tamil minority legislator.

Thiagarajah Maheswaran, a legislator of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) was gunned down on Jan. 1 inside a Tamil religious temple in north Colombo.

The lawyers representing the late legislator's family were not happy with the first line-up where the witnesses failed to identify the suspect being held.

The State Attorney on behalf of the Attorney General told the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ravindra Premaratne that he had no objection to a second identification if the late Maheswaran's lawyers needed it.

The magistrate then ordered that the second line-up be held on Jan. 25.

The police's Colombo Crime Division reported to the court that adequate security could be provided to the witnesses to appear in court for the line-up if they had any safety fears.

Maheswaran was the sole UNP legislator representing the minority Tamil community.

He became the third Tamil legislator to be gunned down since the end of 2005 in the upsurge of violence in the island's separatist armed conflict.

Two Tamil National Alliance legislators, Joseph Pararajasinghamand Nadarajah Raviraj, were killed in 2005 and 2006 separately.

by Gao Ying, Xinhua

Sri Lanka gov't not pursuing military solution to conflict

COLOMBO, Jan. 22 -- Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday that his government was not pursuing a military effort to end the island's armed conflict despite his decision to unilaterally abrogate the truce agreement.

"I do not believe in a military solution. This needs a political solution," Rajapakse told local and foreign journalists at his heavily guarded official residence.

The president said his government's decision to abrogate the Norwegian brokered 2002 ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had come after careful study of the rebels' behavior.

"I watched it over two years. When they started killing civilians I thought I must take action," Rajapakse said, referring to his government's pull out on Jan. 16 from the ceasefire agreement.

He said the present military campaign against the rebels was not meant to gain the rebel controlled territory in the Northern Province.

"We are only hitting back at them," said the president, adding that terrorism must be eliminated before a political solution could be offered to the Tamil minority.

He said he believed that the already approved 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution which paved the way for the province based unit of devolution was the best solution to be offered as a solution.

He was waiting for the All Party Representatives Committee to come out with its draft proposal later this week.

On the present security instability in the southern parts of the island as a result of a military campaign by the LTTE, he said it was a rebel tactic to divert the military's attention on the thrust in the north, but his government was prepared to face the rebel threats.

At least 47 people including three policemen have been killed in the southeastern Moneragala district since the ceasefire agreement officially ended on Jan. 16.

He dismissed accusations of human rights violations against his government as exaggerations and stressed that his government would not condone any rights violations.

The LTTE has been fighting since 1983 for an independent state for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority in the north and east claiming discrimination at the hands of Sinhalese-dominated governments.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in one of the world's longest running ethnic conflict.

by Du Guodong, Xinhua

Video: President visits the villages LTTE terrorists attacked

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured that all arrangements are in place to halt inhuman activities of the ruthless terrorists and wipe out terrorism.

The President gave this assurance after paying last respects to villagers murdered by the LTTE terrorists in the Thanamalwila, Kalawelgala and Hambegamuwa areas. The President, who toured the area this morning, expressed deepest sympathies to family members of the victims. He told the villagers that an unfortunate situation has surfaced, as groups from among them are encouraging terrorism. He said maintaining a constant vigil on them is necessary.
The President also paid his last respects this afternoon to Piyadasa Amarasinghe, a senior SLFP member. The body was placed at his residence at Middeniya.

10 villagers were killed in a brutal attack unleashed by the terrorists targeting innocent civilians. Troops on foot patrol in the area had monitored a suspicious group and ordered them to stop. But the group had opened fire. In the confrontation three were killed. Another seven died in a encounter during a search operation. Among the dead were home guards, members of the police and civilians. Parliamentarians and Defence Chiefs visited Thanamalwila on the instructions of the President. Minister Jagath Pushpakumara had discussions with the civilians and provided immediate relief to impacted families. Parliamentarian Basil Rajapakse assured that the government was adopting strategies to defeat the terrorists. The civilians of Thanamalwila said they are always prepared to be a strength to the armed forces in their endeavour to defeat terrorism.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Video: Advancing troops in vicinity of LTTE stronghold Mullaitivu

Conflicting advice on Sri Lanka safety

Sri Lanka’s fragile peace was shattered last week by a new wave of violence that threatens to destroy the island’s struggling tourist industry. A week after the Sri Lankan government ended the five-year-old ceasefire, Tamil Tiger rebels bombed a bus in the town of Okkampitiya, 150 miles east of Colombo, leaving 38 dead and wounding scores more.

As Amnesty International warned of “a dramatic rise in indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population”, the ferocity of the attack and, crucially, its location in the tourist heartland of the south, has led the German government to issue a travel advisory warning, and some German tour operators to suspend departures to the island.

Here, the Foreign Office (FO) has stopped short of issuing similar advice, maintaining instead its long-standing warning against travel to the north and east of the island. “Our position is that British nationals are most at risk in those parts of Sri Lanka,” it said. “The south has so far been relatively unaffected by the violence, and the decision to advise against travel there is not one that we would take lightly.”

No attack on tourists has yet taken place in Sri Lanka, but there is increasing evidence that the rebels are bringing their struggle for independence from their northern strongholds to the south of the island. Last year, Tamil Tigers moved into Yala National Park, in the southeast of the country, and since October 2006, at least 89 people have died in a dozen attacks around the capital.

The British Tamils Forum has called on British tourists to boycott the island, urging holidaymakers “to think of the deaths and destruction that their money will eventually cause among the Tamils of Sri Lanka, and to kindly avoid such travel”.

Jean-Marc Flambert, of the Sri Lankan Tourist Board, disagrees. “About 90% of our tourist infrastructure is privately owned,” he said, “so if you boycott, you’re hurting the people, not the government.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) has warned that the UK’s biggest holiday companies are now considering cancelling Kenya itineraries for the rest of the season. “Demand for the country has dropped right off since the trouble started,” said the FTO’s Andrew Cooper, “and operators are now faced with a commercial decision as to whether it is cost-effective to reimplement their programmes.”

by Chris Haslam

Up to 48 killed in latest fighting: Sri Lanka military

Heavy fighting raged across Sri Lanka's north with the military destroying rebel bunkers and killing at least 46 guerrillas, the defence ministry said.

Fighting across the Nagarkovil defence line in Jaffna early Monday saw at least 15 rebels killed and more than 30 injured, the military said, placing their own losses at just two dead.

"Troops launched a multi-pronged surprise assault at LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) positions ahead of Nagarkovil defences... forcing terrorists to flee with soaring casualties," the statement said.

Elsewhere, the rebels lost 31 cadres in fighting across Vavuniya, Mannar and Weli Oya, all in the northern area of the mainland, on Sunday, the defence ministry said.

Since the start of this month, 551 rebels have been killed against just 24 government soldiers dead, according to defence ministry figures.

The figures cannot be independently checked as no journalists or rights groups have access to the embattled areas.

The fighting came after the military accused the Tigers of killing at least 10 civilians late Thursday in the relatively calm south. A roadside bomb last Wednesday killed 27 bus passengers.

Sri Lanka formally ended a six-year peace truce with the Tamil Tiger rebels last week, accusing the guerrillas of using the Oslo-brokered pact to rearm and strike military and civilian targets.


Video: Vanni operations will not be paralyzed in the face of LTTE attacks in South

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sri Lanka opens railways to fibre optic operators

Sri Lanka will invite a private operator to build an optical fibre backbone in partnership with the state-owned railway system, a senior minister said.

Sri Lanka’s transport ministry which runs the railways department had been given approval to start looking for a telecom operator to lease the country’s 1,200 kilometres of railway tracks, Information Minister Anura Yapa said.

The transport ministry has already completed a preliminary study with the help of the island’s telecom regulator, a note submitted to the cabinet by the ministry said.

Several telecom firms had already asked permission from the railways department to build a fibre optic network on railway land.

The ministry has sought approval to tender for a private sector partner to set up an "enterprise with the co-ordination of the state and the private sector."

Sri Lanka’s rail network radiates from Colombo to the north up to Jaffna, though trains now operate only to Vavuniya town as territory beyond the town is controlled by the Tamil Tigers.

Another track runs to the east towards Trincomalee and Batticaloa in the east. Tracks also go along the western coast northwards to Puttalam and the south to Matara.

Another track goes to the Central Hill region and terminates in Matale while yet another track winds its way towards Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya.

Sri Lanka’s railway department is cash strapped and its tracks need maintenance. In some countries partnerships with fast growing fibre optic firms have become a new source of value for ailing railways.


Security Situation in the North

LTTE area leader killed

JAFFNA : The LTTE area leader of THENMARACHCHI, KENGAN was shot and killed by Army troops today (20) around 4.30 p.m. at KAITHADI North, JAFFNA in retaliatory fire when troops conducting a search operation were attacked. Consequently, following arms and military equipment were recovered.

Suicide Jacket - 01
T 56 weapon - 01
Pistol - 01
GPS - 01
Mobile Phone - 01
FM Radio - 01 and a stock of rounds.

Heavy Clashes Erupt in Wanni; terrorists beaten off from Pallaikuli

Heavy clashes have erupted between army and LTTE on the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya battlefronts since this morning (January 20) said the defence sources.

On the Mannar front, troops advanced further in to the Pallikuli area in Admapan and dislodged terrorists' fortified positions. According to the sources, army infantrymen after a heavy battle captured the trench defence manned by the LTTE terrorists around 8, this morning. During the subsequent search troops found two bodies of LTTE female cadres along with two T-56 riffles. Troops suffered no casualties in this incident. Ground troops said that the terrorists were driven off from the area with heavy casualties.

On the Vavuniya front troops confronted with LTTE terrorist at two separate incidents around 9.a.m. According to the sources two terrorists were killed in a confrontation took place in the Madhu area and another two were killed in a similar incident in the Periyathmapanai area. No casualties to the own troops in either of the incidents, sources added.

Meanwhile on the Welioya front, troops clashed with a group of LTTE terrorists in the area North of Kiri-ibbanwawa around 1.50, this afternoon. Troops confirmed that two terrorists were killed and one injured in the incident. Also, one soldier went on missing and one suffered injuries due to the clash.

Media Center for National Security & Ministry of Defence