Friday, March 14, 2008

US State Department report is a cut & past from tabloid-like Sunday Leader

Lazy Rice "cuts & pastes". Blake where were you?

Colombo: The U.S Department of State on March 11 2008 issued a series of Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in the year 2007. In its report on Sri Lanka, it projects the nation as a virulent violator of human rights.

In seeking an expert's opinion on the Report, The Colombo Post spoke to an eminent Mass Media and International Rights expert, renown amongst the academic circles in Sri Lanka. Due to the sensitivity of the subject, he chose to maintain his anonymity.

Speaking on the contents of the Report issued by the U.S. Department of State, the expert noted his disbelief at the manner in which the report appears to have been compiled.

He noted "I am extremely surprised and perturbed at the contents of the report, not because of the information it cites but because of the way in which it seems to have been compiled. By carefully analyzing the report, it seems obvious that there has been a great deal of reliance on a politically motivated newspaper publication as the fundamental source of information for the report. Stunningly, there are complete sections of information which has been derived from this newspaper, in some cases replicated word to word!"

Whilst the eminent academic noted his surprise at the lack of professionalism displayed by the U.S. Department of State, he further stated "despite the report citing incidents that are factually correct, the worrying trend seems to be the lack of research to underpin the authenticity of the report."

"The report did not contain adequate primary research and instead has relied on secondary sources, it admits in certain sections, for example in the 'arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life' that 'numbers reported by different organizations differ widely'. I believe that the United States government should have been more responsible in its approach to the compilation of this report, because it has the ability to drastically impact on the reputation of the Sri Lankan government by shaping perceptions and tarnishing the image of the nation. A critical evaluation of the contents should have been carried out by the Department of State without merely parroting the content of a politically motivated newspaper".

He continued to note; "this report only further substantiates the common view that the US Department of State is operating with a motive at hand, one that incites a scenario of bias to their observation of the situation in Sri Lanka. In fact, many of Sri Lanka's independent academics are disturbed and doubtful of the intentions of the United States especially as recent actions by the US government has worked towards the strengthening of the LTTE; one of the world's most feared terrorist organizations and one that they themselves have proscribed".

Colombo Post

Conspiracies Against President Rajapakse & Family

“Throw Away the Serpents in The Sack” - It is Time to Be Cautious

There are many reports in the news media these days about LTTE attempts to harm President Rajapakse, First Lady and family utilizing different contacts working closely with President Rajapakse or his family. “There is no smoke without fire” and it might just be prudent, to take heed and be cautious for the sake of the entire nation and the patriotic/ national interests of this country. Enemy forces both within our country and overseas who are working hand in glove with the terrorists will make every attempt to destabilize the country by making attempts on the lives of President Rajapakse and his family for their mutual benefit.

A few headlines that have hit the print media during the past month read as:

  • “The LTTE Bomb Attack That Silenced The Catholic Bishops Conference”(Sunday Divaina-7-2-2008),
  • “Suspects in Custody for Smuggling Suicide Kits to South”(Daily Mirror-23-2-2008),
  • “An Attempt By LTTE to Kidnap First Lady Has Been Exposed”(SundaySinhala Lakbima-24-2-2008),
  • “The Plans of LTTE Terrorists To Assassinate President Rajapakse and Family”(Sunday Sinhala Lakbima-24-2-2008),
  • “Tiger Plans to Abduct First Lady Bared”(SundayEnglish Lakbima-24-2-2008),
  • “Cop Turned LTTE Agent Planned to Assassinate President Rajapakse”(The Island-5-3-2008),
  • “Prostitution LTTE Ploy; They Almost Killed The President”(SundayEnglish Lakbima-9-3-2008),
  • “A Massive Network of LTTE Plans Exposed By A Prostitute- the suicide bomber Nadarajah who committed suicide at Modera is one link”(Sunday Sinhala Lakbima-9-3-2008),
  • “A Police Inspector and LTTE Suicide Bomber on The President’s Travel Pathway”(Sunday Rivira-9-3-2008),
  • “Security Plans for President Rajapakse Has Immediate Changes-A Police Officer Handling Road Security Leaks Information to LTTE”(Sunday Sinhala Lakbima-9-3-2008),
  • “A Coordinated Plan By NGOs and Foreign Intelligence Agencies to Character Assassinate Leaders Representing National Interests”(Sunday Divaina-9-3-2008)
No doubt, the elimination of LTTE terrorism from this country will drastically reduce the power of The Catholic Church in the Northern region which ofcourse, they will never want. It is now no secret at all, regarding the involvement of Christian Churches within the LTTE movement.

To remind readers again, it is important to remember how The Catholic Church and Archbishop Oswild Gomis together with Dr Lalith Kothelawela of “SOLO-U” fame together put paid notices in all newspapers( in all three languages) with their “Christians Awake!” warned Christians against voting for Mahinda Rajapakse at the 2005 Presidential Elections. All Catholic Churches from Wattala to Negombo distributed warning pamphlets after the Sunday Mass immediately before the elections against voting for Mahinda Rajapakse. This cannot be taken lightly at all. This sentiment has not died down merely because he overcame the odds and became President of Sri Lanka. We have seen all these individuals meeting The President in an attempt to erase the image they created with their treacherous plans. Hand shakes, smiles on the news media are all ploys to cover up! The President must take heed. It is not so long ago that Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero was murdered by similar conspirators but all investigations were diluted with money, to hide the truth to this day- that is the power of the Christian Church in this country.

When the attempt to defeat Mahinda Rajapakse at The Elections did not succeed, immediately these people changed their ploys. Now we see Ceylinco and Drs Lalith and Sicille Kothelawela photographed together with The President and First Lady and even their son Namal Rajapakse who heads the “Tharunyate Hetak” Programme. These are extremely dangerous and it would be well for the President and his family to distance themselves from such enemies of the nation. It is well known that only a “Katussa”(Chameleon) changes colours to camouflage and play safe- and these are the Katussas, working for their own benefit and not that of the country. To be seen in photographs together is only to erase the negative image they have created for themselves. We must not forget, that it is this Mr. Kothelawela who gave a press conference in Middle East in which he justified the LTTE movement by saying that they were justified to demand for a Tamil Homeland! True to the Chameleonic nature, these individuals must never be trusted. There is also no secret about the fact that they are also working hand-in-glove with The Catholic Church to destabilize the government efforts to eliminate terrorism.

The President, First Lady and their sons must distance themselves from and boycott all activities in which such Chameleons participate for their own security. Let no one be in a position to point a finger at The First Lady to say that she was party to the crime.

When it is becoming more and more evident that our Armed Forces are forging ahead with their coordinated strategies to overcome the LTTE terrorists, all “Chameleonic enemies” will band together which includes NGOs, INGOs, Donor Organisations, unpatriotic forces within the UNP opposition, Christian Churches, Congress of Religions( another ploy to hoodwink Buddhist Monks with the “Inter-religious Amity” slogan), western governments sympathizing with the terrorists who are attempting “ to throttle the GOSL “with their various nefarious sanctions and even UN organizations which have been exposed without doubt, to spell doom to Sri Lanka. If the war is over- no more arms sales and no more income, if the war is over- no more employment opportunities for INGOs & NGOs and their luxurious lifestyles in Sri Lanka, if the war is over- their hold on crucial administrative functions within this country will all have to be abandoned- the best way to do it, is to eliminate President Rajapakse and his government so that they can come forward again and raise their heads as “Saviours of The Nation” with their programmes!

There is no doubt, that millions of dollars and rupees are being thrown all round, for the success of the enemy forces and we must also never forget, that even in 1962 there was an attempted coup against the then government of Mrs.Bandaranaike in which the hand of the Catholic Church was exposed. Let us learn from past experiences and the current attempts and take steps to play safe.

Protecting our national interests and our sovereignty is not a crime- but working hand-in-glove with the enemies of a nation is certainly and definitely a heinous crime where the entire nation suffers due to vested interests.

(Edited version of article by Darmitha-Kotte)

Sri Lanka's Tigers in crisis

By G H Peiris

In the past few weeks there have been many media reports that point to the prevalence of confusion and disarray among the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the face of heavy losses inflicted by the armed forces of the government of Sri Lanka.

Apart from many references to the injury sustained by the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in the course of an aerial bombardment in November 2007, there was some speculation that he may even have died. (Claims of Prabhakaran's death may be set to rest after Prabhakaran's "public appearance" at the funeral of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance member of parliament, P Sivanesan, in the rebel-held Wanni area, of which the LTTE released photographs on March 9).

The details that embellish these reports, though ignored by spokesmen for the LTTE, have been refuted with disdain by several pro-LTTE writers. Given the questionable credibility of "news" originating from either side of the great divide, it has seldom been possible to sort out the truth from fiction in the stories on the Sri Lankan conflict.

What can, consequently, be attempted is to contextualize the recent surge of media attention on turbulence in the shrinking Tiger habitat of the "Vanni" in northern Sri Lanka, without speculating on whether its leader is dead or dying or hibernating prior to a deadly leap at the jugular. Then, the information must be synthesized into the situation that prevails at present, and taken from sources uncontaminated by propaganda.

In the checkered history of the LTTE, spanning the past three decades during which Prabhakaran has held sway as its supreme leader, there have been several spells during which its insurrectionary capacity suffered serious setbacks.

Prominent among such recessions were: the brief eclipse of the LTTE in the aftermath of the Indian peacekeeping intervention in 1987; the worldwide anti-Tiger sentiment evoked by the assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991; the strategic losses stemming from its expulsion by the Sri Lankan armed forces from the Jaffna peninsula in 1995; the constraining effects on its international operations generated by the global tide of hostility towards terrorism following the al-Qaeda attack on the United States in 2001; and, more far-reaching in impact than any other, the internal revolt led by "Colonel Karuna" in March 2004.

The impression conveyed by the experiences in each of these episodes, however, is that the LTTE possessed the inner resilience and the external support required for recovery, if not entirely unscathed, at least with sufficient strength to persist with its campaign of warfare and terror. By contrast, the losses suffered in the more recent past appear to constitute an irreversible and aggravating trend featured by indications that could well portend a final collapse.

Despite the weakening of its grip on the eastern lowlands that resulted from the calamitous breakaway of the Karuna group, the LTTE leadership persisted with unswerving commitment to its goal of establishing a sovereign Tamil nation-state - Eelam - encompassing the entire northeast of Sri Lanka, the pledges of the ceasefire agreement of February 2000 notwithstanding.

As in earlier times, its efforts were directed mainly at enhancement of military strength, expanding the territory under its control in the Northern and Eastern provinces and eliminating its rivals in that part of the country, mobilizing international support for its cause, and destabilizing the government of Sri Lanka through carefully regulated intimidation and terror. Instigating a Sinhalese backlash of violence against the Tamils living outside the northeast - a re-enactment of 1983 - also remained a prime objective as was underscored by the assassination of Sri Lanka's charismatic foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, a provocative outrage committed in the final days of Chandrika Kumaratunga's presidential tenure.

Colombo-based politics of the country during this period remained in a state of flux, featured by both frequent changes of the power configuration as well as intense electoral rivalry. Given the fact that the release of the foreign aid pledged by the donors remained conditional on progress being made towards a negotiated settlement of the conflict, government policy had to accommodate two mutually conflicting needs - that of strengthening security and defense in the face of the mounting Tiger threat, and persistence with credible peace overtures to the LTTE. The latter encountered the almost insurmountable problem of fierce inter-party dissension on what could be offered to the Tigers without endangering the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

On the eve of the presidential election of November 2005, Prabhakaran enforced a boycott of the polls in the north and parts of the eastern lowlands where Ranil Wickremasinghe, former prime minister and a frontrunner of the presidential stakes, would have attracted substantially more support than his rival, Mahinda Rajapakse. This decision appears, in retrospect, to have been a monumental blunder that marks the onset of a drastic change in the fortunes of Prabhakaran's Eelam campaign. The boycott decision was evidently based on the premise that Wickremasinghe, hailed internationally as the "peace candidate", would, with his commitment to power-sharing under a federal system of government, place in serious jeopardy the case for a secessionist campaign.

Prabhakaran's expectation was that Rajapakse, backed as he was by electoral allies vehemently opposed to a political compromise involving devolution of power to the northeast, would actually attempt to implement his campaign pledges to jettison the ceasefire agreement, to evict the "White Tigers" (Norwegians) from their role as facilitators of peace negotiations, and to discard the notion of the LTTE being the sole representative of the Tamils. Such a hawkish approach, the LTTE leadership believed, would pave the way for a resumption of military confrontations in earnest, backed by vastly enhanced international sympathy and support for the rebels' cause.

Having contributed to Rajapakse's victory at the election, the LTTE leaders began to test the resolve of the new president. Thus, while articulating with greater vehemence than ever before their earlier demands for government intervention in disarming the Karuna group, and for constitutional power over the northeast pending a final resolution of the conflict, they launched a series of guerrilla attacks and acts of terrorism which, in April 2006, reached the heart of Colombo's defense establishment in the near-successful attempt to assassinate the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka.

The sharply escalating level of violence did not evoke a retaliatory response from the government, at least for some time. Rajapakse persisted with his pursuit of peace, risking, in the process, the support of some of his parliamentary allies. He established an "All-Party Representative Committee" tasked with formulating constitutional reforms based on the axiom of devolution. He backed the Norwegian efforts at facilitating fresh peace negotiations, expressing a solemn hope that the brief meeting between delegates of the government and the LTTE, staged at Geneva in February 2006, would mark the resumption of a continuing dialogue with the Tiger leadership.

Rajapakse was also reported to have made a "secret" attempt to establish direct contact with the LTTE high command, knowing full well that the attempt would not be concealed from Sri Lanka's friends abroad. The intensifying LTTE violence, however, could not be ignored indefinitely.

From the commencement of Rajapakse's presidency up to the bomb attack on the army commander (approximately 150 days later), 150 armed services personnel, in addition to about 150 civilians, had been killed by the LTTE. The animosity between the LTTE and the security forces had reached such a fever pitch, and the nationalists' pressure for some retaliation had become so intense, that the president was eventually compelled to initiate a series of air strikes on identified LTTE bases.

Nevertheless, as the president had surmised, the continuing belligerence of the LTTE, on the one hand, and the show of restraint by the government, on the other, did resonate in the policy stances, vis-a-vis Sri Lanka, of several Western governments, both in a substantially enhanced flow of aid as well as in the imposition of sanctions on the LTTE, in member-states of the EU and in Canada in May-June 2006.

The repercussions of Prabhakaran's capricious gamble at the presidential polls soon instilled into his strategy a sense of desperation. This found expression in a series of "Sea Tiger" attacks (including an act of piracy) that evoked strictures from several quarters including the secretary general of the UN and the head of the Scandinavian "Ceasefire Monitoring Mission" stationed in Sri Lanka.

Prabhakaran retaliated by demanding the removal of all non-Norwegian members of the Monitoring Mission from the northeast. The tempo of violence was increased further with a spate of attacks on military and civilian targets in all parts of the country. Then came the major military showdown in the eastern lowlands that began on July 20, 2006, in the form of a "riparian" confrontation in the irrigation channel system of Mavil Aru (south of Trincomalee) which compelled the government to retaliate in earnest, with a nod of approval from the US. Thereafter, following a series of bloody battles that lasted up until mid-2007 - in the course of which the LTTE incurred heavy losses - the rebels were finally evicted from the entire Eastern Province.

Throughout this period of intense military activity in the east, confrontations between the security forces and the LTTE elsewhere in the country took various forms. The Forward Defense Lines (FDL) of the government-controlled areas in the Jaffna peninsula and in the hinterland of Mannar continued to be venues of low intensity clashes, with occasional flare-ups.

In localities adjacent to the FDL in Vavuniya District, army killings of suspected insurgents and LTTE claymore-mine attacks and ambushes of army patrols occurred in routine fashion. The severe maritime losses suffered by the LTTE during these months included the sinking of 11 of its vessels off the east coast. Most significant, as an ingredient of the LTTE military debacle, was the destruction caused by the constant aerial bombardments in which Thamilchelvan, head of the LTTE's political wing, perished on November 3, 2007, and Prabhakaran suffered injury on November 27, 2007.

These military defeats constitute only one (albeit the key) component of the current LTTE crisis. The mutually interacting "external" misfortunes of the Tigers in the recent past include the death in December 2006 of Anton Balasingham, who had served for well over two decades as by far the most effective international spokesman and propagandist for the secessionist campaign.

The impact of the loss of its carefully nurtured image of invincibility has been even more profound, especially on the support from the expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil communities whose responses to fluctuating fortunes of the LTTE have never been devoid of elements typical of "cheer-squad" reactions.

Recent reports also indicate that the increasingly stringent enforcement of anti-terrorism regulations in some Western countries has curtailed both diaspora funding as well as other operations of LTTE agents and "front" outfits abroad. The crescendo of their desperate campaign for UN "humanitarian intervention" against the alleged proliferation of human rights violations in Sri Lanka has achieved a measure of success in generating external pressures against the country's war effort, but has had no mitigating effect on the pariah status of the Tigers.

Foremost among the internal causes for the present LTTE crisis is the prevailing trend towards factional disintegration of its leadership which, as the related evidence suggests, could well represent the emergence subterranean rivalries that had been in existence all along.

It may be recalled that the departure of Karuna caused a mini-purge in the Tiger leadership. Thereafter, when Thamilchelvan was killed in November 2007, certain critics (among them, S R Balasubramaniam, Congress Party leader in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu), cast doubt on the "official" explanation of the death, and pointed to the possibility of Thamilchelvan having been killed by Prabhakaran in the same way he had liquidated other potential rivals in the past.

In addition, throughout recent years, there has been the barely concealed animosity between two of the highest-ranking Tiger leaders - "Pottu Amman" (aka Shanmuganathan Sivasankaran, the feared head of the Tiger intelligence network whose spectacular "hits" include the masterminding of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination) and "Soosai" (aka Thillaiyampalan Sivanesan), the charismatic "Sea Tiger" admiral.

According to an analysis of this rivalry by the journalist D B S Jeyaraj, when Soosai (who had been accused by Pottu Amman of connivance with the renegade Karuna and the Indian external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing - RAW)suffered serious injury in 2004 while engaged in a speed-boat maneuver (though the injury was officially attributed to an accident) the widespread and lingering belief within the LTTE that it was the consequence of an attempt by Pottu to murder Soosai had given rise to clashes among its rank and file which took a long time to subside.

Factional rivalries of this type in the Vanni and their repercussions outside the country are likely to intensify if, indeed, the reported weakening of Prabhakaran's grip over the LTTE is true.

Yet another internal dimension of the crisis is seen in the recent resurgence of several anti-LTTE political organizations among the Tamil community of Sri Lanka, most of which were reconciled to a shadowy existence in the heyday of the Tigers in the past.

Tamil critics of the LTTE have become bolder in expressing their views than ever before. Some among them repeatedly announced that the "Eelam" campaign is doomed. A distinction between the LTTE interests and those of the Tamils of Sri Lanka is being drawn with clarity and vehemence. There is also a publicly expressed suspicion that the recent spate of murders of several pro-LTTE activists operating outside the northeast represents the work of such organizations, the members of which rank among the innumerable victims of LTTE terror.

As a barrier to statutory recognition of the entire northeast as a ethnically distinctive entity (which, of course, constitutes the conceptual basis of the secessionist campaign), the Supreme Court announced on October 16, 2006, that the then-existing amalgamation of the Northern and Eastern provinces as a single unit of Provincial Government (a sequel to the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987) had all along been constitutionally ultra vires. This is an even more insurmountable measure than the military eviction of the LTTE from the east.

The cumulative impact of these complex military and political defeats on the LTTE has been devastating, producing the most acute crisis of the group's existence. Sustained government operations in the north now have the capacity to inflict progressive damage on the rebel infrastructure and support base, increasingly undermining any residual potential for recovery and consolidation.

(G H Peiris is a professor emeritus of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why are they all ganging up on Sri Lanka

By AMEEN IZZADEEN (Dateline Colombo)

EITHER the world is ganging up against Sri Lanka or there is something wrong in the country where President Mahinda Rajapaksa is at the helm of affairs. In recent weeks, the International Commission of Jurists, the Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch and top UN officials fired salvo after salvo on Sri Lanka, putting the government on the back-foot to defend itself.

The international human rights community’s attacks were too much for a government which is fighting a lone battle against what it calls a ruthless terrorist group which is waging a violent campaign to set up a separate state for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils living in the north and the east.

While the security forces fight a valiant battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and make slow but steady progress in their march towards the rebel heartland, government politicians and diplomats are also fighting an equally tough war to defend the country’s human rights record at world fora. While Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe last week went to Geneva to participate at the annual Human Rights Council sessions where he faced a series of allegations based on case studies and well-compiled reports, International Trade Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris left for Brussels and London on Sunday to plead for duty concessions for our exports.

The concessions granted under the European Union’s GSP+ (Generalised System of Preference) policy to Sri Lanka is up for review and it will be renewed only if the EU is satisfied that the Rajapaksa government is committed to good governance, which includes a commitment to respect human rights.

However, reports from Geneva and Brussels say that Sri Lanka is facing an uphill task. Human Rights Minister Samarasinghe made a frantic telephone call from Geneva to President Rajapaksa to tell him that the case against Sri Lanka was strong. Even Britain, which usually was sympathetic towards Sri Lanka, was up in arms this time, with its Foreign Office Minister Malloch Brown raising questions regarding disappearances, extra-judicial killings and violence against journalists.

Brown said UN Human Rights Chief Louise Arbour who made a visit to Sri Lanka in October last year was shocked by the weakness of the rule of law and the prevalence of the culture of impunity. He charged that those who were responsible for human rights violations remained free.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowark in his report to the HRC said torture was widely prevalent in Sri Lanka though there were legal steps available to eliminate the inhuman practice.

Making Sri Lanka’s task in defending itself tougher, the New York-based Human Rights Watch released a 241-page damning report to coincide with the ongoing Human Rights Council sessions.

The report titled “Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for Disappearances and Abductions in Sri Lanka,” placed the responsibility for the human rights abuses squarely on President Rajapaksa.

HRW’s deputy director Elaine Pearson said, “President Rajapaksa, once a rights advocate, has now led his government to become one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances.”

The fact that a government-appointed one-man commission had absolved the security forces of all responsibility for thousands of disappearances said to have taken place in Sri Lanka after Rajapaksa assumed office was lost on the international community.

The commission chairman, Mahanama Thilakaratna, a retired judge, noted that unidentified groups were blamed for the incidents and most of the disappearances were to do with private disputes, money transactions, love affairs, adultery and even cases of stage-managed incidents to gain foreign visas.

But the international community appears to be not impressed.

There was further evidence that the international community was not taking a serious note of government measures in improving its human rights record when a panel of international independent eminent persons (IIGEP) headed by former Indian Chief Justice PN Bhagwati announced last week that they were terminating their operations in Sri Lanka.

The panel was set up at the invitation of Rajapaksa in the aftermath of the massacre of 17 local aid workers of a French aid group in the northeastern Mutur area in August 2006. The eminent persons were to ensure the impartiality of a presidential commission probing 16 incidents of extrajudicial killings alleged to have committed by both the security forces and the LTTE.

The eminent persons said, “there has been and continues to be a lack of political and institutional will to investigate and inquire into the cases…”

Also last week, the International Commission of Jurists issued a strongly-worded statement, accusing both the government and the LTTE for numerous violations of international law and universally-accepted human rights norms and practices.

It is true that international law recognises the international community’s right to question human rights abuses and their right to intervene in a limited manner in the affairs of a country when there is a humanitarian crisis. But what is unacceptable is the manner in which the international community exercises this right and contributes towards sanctions on less powerful countries.

The United States stands accused of committing gross human rights in Iraq and adopting despicable torture methods such as waterboarding. President George W Bush on Saturday spurned the human rights community’s concerns and protests when he vetoed a bill that would have banned the CIA from employing waterboarding and other coercive interrogative methods to gain information from terror suspects.

It’s true, the international human rights community would issue strong condemnations on Bush, but they will stop at that. If, for instance, Rajapaksa had taken a similar horrendous measure, the international community would go beyond the condemnation and call for sanctions on Sri Lanka.

The rich and powerful — like the United States and Israel — escape with only condemnations but the poor and the weak are punished.

One wonders whether Rajapaksa was right when he told his Human Rights Minister, now in Geneva, that there was an international conspiracy against Sri Lanka. But one also wonders whether Rajapaksa is inadvertently playing into the hands of the conspirators by giving them room to find fault with Sri Lanka’s human rights practices.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interim PAFFREL Report on the Batticaloa Local Government Elections

Press Communiqué

Interim PAFFREL Report
on the Batticaloa Local Government Elections

The local government elections held in the Batticaloa district on March 10, 2008 took place in a peaceful environment. The incidents observed and reported by Paffrel monitors and by the international monitors of the Nonviolent Peace force in the field were of a minor nature. The voter turnout was in excess of 56 percent and the elections were keenly contested in several areas. The absence of violence and the presence of large numbers of police personnel was a significant feature of these elections.

No incidents of violence and injury have been recorded by 15 mobile units that traveled to all parts of the district. The observations made at 50 of the 51 polling stations of the Muncipal Council, 15 polling stations in the central, south and south eastern part of the district and 21 polling stations in the north and north central part of the district indicate that polling was peaceful and free from major incidents (out of a total of 285 stations).

Long lines of voters were present by 10 am at the polling stations in the southern part of the Vakarai. Observers noted that by midday in this region, i.e. Korala Paththu North, in 7 polling stations (out of a total of 16 for Pradeshiya Sabha area) more than half of the designated votes had been cast. Voting appeared to be less brisk in other areas. In the north and south eastern part of the district, more women were observed among the voters. At all polling stations the Senior Presiding Officer indicated that the station did not encounter any problems. This seemed to refer to the absence of serious incidents.

In the areas without serious competition, i.e. Vakarai and areas where the population was mostly Tamil, the situation appeared to be calm. In areas with predominant Muslim areas the electorate and the polling stations were somewhat more turbulent. The public officials including the Police and armed forces at the polling stations or in the vicinity were conducting themselves with courtesy and care.

  • In areas with predominant Tamil populations, polling agents of parties other than the TMVP was very rare.
  • A very heavy police and armed force presence observed
  • Active voting observed in the morning
  • IDs were required, but last minute changes (non acceptance of military issued IDs seemed to cause some confusion) discretion used in some areas, Vakarai did not have polling agents of competing groups

Among the many features of the observations, the following items appear to be note worthy.

In the Korale Paththu North (KPN or Vakarai):

  • In areas with predominant Tamil populations, polling agents of parties other than the TMVP was very rare.
  • High proportion of votes were cast early, this is related with the fact that fishing is a dominant occupation of the households
  • At all polling booths observed, (11 out of 15) only TMVP was represented by polling agents of the TMVP
  • Later in the afternoon, groups of young men were observed near polling stations (within about 10-20 m) and they were organizing persons who came to the polling stations to vote
  • One complaint of was lodged by a candidate of the Independent Group 1 (EPRLF/EPDP/PLOTE) regarding vote rigging by TMVP in the vicinity of the polling station. We observed a throng that the police dispersed after we arrived
  • SPOs mentioned that the polling was without serious incidents or problems
  • Armed policemen inside the polling stations

In Valaichchenai

  • the polling booths were very lively, many agents (SLMC, UPFA, Ind 3, INd 4) were observed, heated arguments ensued (after 3 pm)
  • A tense atmosphere was noted near polling stations, people gathered at a distance
  • We observed a group of riot police moving people away, somewhat forcefully.
  • Incidents and tensions were observed related to presentation of fake ID cards and the SPO and election officers were acting decisively, even ejecting persons from the station.

Paffrel was supported by the Nonviolent Peaceforce in aiming to reduce election related violence through independent international monitoring.

Assessment

The entire course of the election, from the time of its announcement, was free of overt violence. However, during this period Paffrel received several reports of intimidation of candidates which is not acceptable in a democratic process. One positive feature that was observed by Paffrel’s long term monitors from the Nonviolent Peaceforce was that weapons were not carried in public.

The decision of the TNA and UNP not to contest the elections was explained by them as being on account of their fear of violence. Their decision not to contest deprived the electorate of a fuller range of choice. In some areas there was no real contest and as a result the normal surveillance of the electoral process by the contesting parties was inadequate. Paffrel monitors observed that in some areas there were no polling agents of parties other than the TMVP.

The relatively healthy turnout of voters is an indication of the desire of the people for a change from the conditions of war and militancy and for a restoration of democratic institutions. Paffrel therefore believes that it is incumbent on all political parties to participate positively in the effort to restore normalcy and the democratic process.

Kingsley Rodrigo
Chairman

People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL)
93/10, Dutugemunu Street
Colombo 6
SRI LANKA

2008-03-10

Video: Tamil Tigers : Racket in Paris

Rattlesnakes and the Foreign Ministry

Rattlesnakes are crawling all over the place waiting for a chance to take a bite at the Foreign Minister. These venomous reptiles are not found only in Colombo but also overseas.

Recently they snapped at Dayan Jayatillake in the hope that it would spur President Rajapaksa to recall him, for having done his duty by the country. Their attack on Dayan was given prominence in the media but to no avail.

It must be admitted that if Dayan had overstepped his mark, he should have been warned and told to correct himself instead of Circulars being sent out to all Ambassadors representing the country ordering them to keep their traps shut.

Sri Lanka’s biggest problem so far has been that most of its Ambassadors have been doing just that except at cocktail parties thrown by other Embassies where their tongues get loosened after partaking of the goodies laid out.

Mr. Minister, in one circular, your office tells the country’s Ambassadors to take immediate steps to respond to the LTTE’s propaganda and contradict their position. But this has been followed by another circular ordering the Ambassadors to shut their traps and obtain Your Secretary’s clearance to open their mouths. This is just what the LTTE has been trying to achieve.

I wonder how Ambassadors like Dayan can immediately react to anti- Sri Lanka propaganda while keeping his trap shut.

I would therefore advise you Mr. Foreign Minister to ensure that circulars sent out by your Ministry do not contradict each other, for the blame will fall on you and the rattlesnakes will get the opening they have been eagerly looking for and not even a snake stone could save you.

Talking of rattlesnakes trying to bite you and the others, the latest victim is Pamela Deen. She is a Sinhala Buddhist, I am told, but the rattlesnakes in the Sri Lankan Embassy in Holland are leaking stories about her treatment of servants. Surely, the employment of a domestic servant and paying her has nothing to do with the government’s foreign policy. As far we are concerned she is trying to nullify the wrong attitude taken by the government of the Netherlands towards Sri Lanka. But now, she has another mission to think about and that is to ward off the attacks of the rattlesnake deputies in her own Embassy. One of the stories planted by these rattle snakes is that she is trying to buy a Benz car. A photograph of the car is also displayed. What the Sinhala readers do not know is that, whether it be a Benz or a Bentley, after five or six years there is no second hand value for such limousines in the West.

The reason being that the price of such cars plummet, insurance goes up and a repair would cost more than the actual value of the car. During the time of Lakshman Kadirgamar, it was decided that after five or seven years a new car should be purchased. It is not Pamela Deen but the Foreign Ministry which is buying this car. But a rattlesnake deputy, who is aiming at becoming the Ambassador, is leaking untruths to the media. I fully endorse the fact that if she has failed in her duties as Ambassador, she must be exposed. We are keeping a close watch on these missions. But not when she has a problem with her domestic or tries to buy a car which has been approved for by the Treasury.

The story to be learnt from these leaks is that the Foreign Ministry is full of rattlesnakes who get together to make life miserable for anybody who is not a Foreign Ministry appointee. But when an Embassy has no Ambassador, they conspire against each other and become so ferocious that they are capable of killing each other. Naturally Mr. Minster you are in pit full of rattlesnakes. Is not this the ideal situation for the LTTE? Instead of fighting the LTTE, the Foreign Ministry is involved in fighting against those they believe are political appointees and on the other hand fighting amongst themselves. Just what the LTTE wants.

Island

Liberating East & North - why it is so painful to LTTE

Any military movement to bring about peace is characterized by a set of clearly defined strategic objectives. In the recent past, the Sri Lankan security forces conducted operations in the East to liberate the civilians from clutches of the world's most dangerous terrorist group, the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). The objective behind the whole operation was to let the people in the East enjoy the fruits of democracy while minimizing civilian and military casualties.

This week we saw how the people in the East enjoying that freedom by electing their democratic representatives who would replace terrorists and proxies of terrorists. The East is re-awakening with fast advancing new infrastructure projects sweeping the hearts and minds of the tired civilians with hopes for a better future for their young ones. Now they can rest without the fear of their children being abducted by the LTTE to be human bombs, enjoy seeing their children going to school, and experience the power of peace and harmony. On the other hand, the security forces are proud to watch this uprising that they brought forth with unprecedented low casual rates.

The security forces are now determined to rescue the civilians in the remaining spots in the North. In the documentary film titled "No more tears sister - an anatomy of hope and betrayal", the slain Prof. Rajini Thiranagama's sister Nirmala says that when she was with the LTTE, she had pleaded with the higher ranks to allow medical supplies to reach the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to save the dying civilians. The blunt reply of the LTTE had been "we need more dead bodies to fuel our international campaign". This has been the barbarian motive of the senior ranks of the LTTE that gave rise to 1983 riots, and subsequent misery of a large number of productive civilians.

Therefore, the Government should not delay the rescue operation in the North. However, the Government is very confident of the fact that we are doing this operation to rescue civilians, but never to push them into greater misery. Since the distribution of the population in the North is different from East, the phase and pattern of advancement has to be planned to minimize civilian casualties. Therefore, the security forces have been very careful in planning their missions that have been very successful so far. The coordinated attacks of the three forces have crippled LTTE to a mere mob gang while minimizing damage to civilian property.

This is an unbearable heartache to the senior terrorists of the LTTE. This frustration was clearly marked in the speech given by B. Nadesan, the so-called political head of the LTTE, in a recent funeral, where he expressed his deep concern about the cautious approach taken by the security forces to liberate the civilians trapped in Wanni. He expressed excitement of a more rapid advancement leading to more civilian casualties. This reflects the blood thirst of many senior LTTE cadres.

Therefore, we wish to re-assure the Tamil civilians in the remaining spots of the North that they will soon be free, and that they will live to see that freedom. However, they are urged to be patient because the Government forces have to take all measures to minimize damage to their settlements.

(The writer is a Tamil Government Servant in Batticaloa, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SLUNA's Media Release on Bruce Fein's comments

SRI LANKA UNITED NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
Box 55292, 300 Borough Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M1P 4Z7 Canada
Website: www.sluna.org E-mail: sluna@idirect.com

MEDIA RELEASE, March 10, 2008

Bruce Fein labours to Justify contractual payments of $30,000 each month from the Tamil Tiger Terrorist Front called the Tamils For Justice

Bruce Fein a Harvard Graduate and a Reagan era Deputy Attorney General of Justice attached to The Lichfield Group who in an article published in the Washington Times dated February 3, 2004 fully endorsed the banning of terrorists including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers. He subsequently offered his services effective October 1, 2006 to lobby on behalf of the Friends of Sri Lanka to have the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran brought before an appropriate tribunal for war crimes, and to bring criminal charges against supporters and sympathisers of the LTTE in the US Courts amongst other services at a fee of $25,000 per month. He renewed his offer in February 2007 to defend the listing of the LTTE for a fee of $40,000.

Strangely, the same Bruce Fein offers his services in 2008 to a front organization of the LTTE called the Tamils For Justice to seek de-proscription of the LTTE and win US support for establishment of a separate Tamil State in the north and east of Sri Lanka, this time seeking $30,000 each month for a contractual term of nine months. He certainly appears to know that the Tamil Tiger coffers are stacked with illicitly earned green backs from trading in narcotics, smuggling of humans, extortion, credit card fraud, and every conceivable crime, and are desperately in need of whitewashing or laundering of their dirt in the western capitals to stall the fast receding boundaries of their usurped territory in Sri Lanka.

Despite his highly acknowledged credentials as a lawyer, what we saw as mere laymen was that Bruce Fein’s strategy is partial disclosure of events and historical data that he highlights to support his case, with his very subtle spin aimed at misleading the reader or listener into reaching conclusions that are far removed from the truth. In other words, he is not truthful and does not state facts as they are, but distorts the real position to mislead persons in the US who are far removed from the history, politics and everyday issues of Sri Lanka. It is not surprising to understand that Americans know little of the outside world and especially a tiny island such as Sri Lanka. In fact, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program called “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” found that a good proportion of US citizens did not know that their neighbour Canada was an independent country. Bruce certainly lacks knowledge of Sri Lanka, and obviously puts out the doctored separatist propaganda provided by the LTTE front, the Tamils For Justice group that he represents.

Having read his article in the Washington Times of January 29, 2008 and his subsequent address at the Brookings Institute, it is necessary to bring out some of the inaccurate statements that he relies on to make a case for de-proscription of the LTTE and break up Sri Lanka into two separate states to be dominated by the Tamils and Sinhalese instead of the multi-ethnic whole:
  1. Bruce Fein claims that the Sinhalese denied citizenship and disenfranchised a million Tamils immediately after independence from Britain in 1948.

    The fact is that the Tamils of Indian origin who were brought in by the British colonial regime as indentured labour from Tamilnadu for work on newly established plantations set up on lands confiscated from the indigenous Sinhalese land owners without a penny in compensation, did not qualify for citizenship in terms of the seven year residency stipulated in the Citizenship Act. These Indian Tamils were migrant workers who considered Tamilnadu their home, often returned to India with their earned wages. The Citizenship Act was passed in parliament by the elected members from the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher communities, and not just by the Sinhalese as stated by the lawyer Bruce Fein. The case of the stateless Indian Tamils was amicably resolved in 1963 with Prime Minister Shastri agreeing to take those opting for Indian citizenship, and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike undertaking to absorb the rest. A balance of 94,000 who did not proceed to India as earlier decided were also granted Sri Lankan citizenship in the 1980’s.

  2. Bruce claims that the Tamil minority has been oppressed by a brutal regime controlled by the majority for the past 50 years, which entitles them to seek a separate breakaway state.

    Bruce is merely parroting Tamil separatist propaganda without studying the underlying facts. The Tamil minority of 11 percent in pre-independent Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were a privileged minority community that benefited immensely during the 145 years of British colonial rule under the latter’s divide and rule policy. The new Christian Missionary Schools were established in Tamil areas such as Jaffna for the dual purpose of propping up the minority against the majority and also with an eye to converting the Tamils who suffered indignities due to a strict caste system prevailing under the dominant Hindu culture. Fewer schools were started in the rest of the country to cater to the multicultural communities outside Jaffna, creating a serious imbalance in access to education. As a result, the Tamil minority came to dominate the majority in almost every field of economic activity, in that they demanded balanced representation for the 11 percent Tamils with the 78 percent Sinhalese in the new parliament popularly called the 50:50 cry, which the Commission set up by the British under Lord Soulbury rejected as an insidious attempt to make a minority of a majority, and instead recommended the grant of universal franchise to all citizens over 21.

    It is not oppression of the minority, but a minority that wanted to retain their dominance over the majority even after the departure of their British colonial fairy godmother following independence. Instead of adopting a cooperative approach they decided on a confrontational stance on ethnic lines, which naturally caused friction and hostility giving rise to serious clashes on certain occasions. It is unfortunate that the Tamils have always organised themselves on communal lines and avoided joining mainstream national political parties. The cry for balanced representation later turned to a separatist cry adopting the infamous Vadukkodai Resolution of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976, based on myth and fantasy of a traditional Tamil homeland in the north and east of Sri Lanka which they could not substantiate. This false claim was used by the TULF to mislead the Tamil youth and encourage them to take up arms against the Sinhalese to gain their separate state of “Eelam”. (Ref. Justice Sansoni Commission Report)

  3. BF – The 1958 Sinhalese Only Act was a landmark in the history of Tamil oppression, which reflected a Sinhalese policy of “separate and unequal” that has persisted for 50 years.

    The Sinhala Official Language Act and not the ‘Sinhalese Only Act’ was introduced in 1956 to recognize the language spoken by 78 percent of the people, and to replace the alien language of English spoken by just about 5 percent of the population, due to the limited access to English education in spite of 145 years of British colonial administration. It was a measure adopted to give redress to the vast majority of the population that had been marginalized throughout colonial rule. In India, Hindi spoken by 44 percent was made the official language as a unifying measure, just as much as the USA keeps English as the official language even though it has become a mixing bowl of a multitude of languages and cultures.

    The Sinhala Official Language Act merely required that official records of the state would be kept in Sinhala, and it further required those public sector employees to acquire a working knowledge of the official language assessed at the Grade 8 level within a space of 5 years, failing which, with the option of retiring from public service with full pension rights. Contrary to what BF states, every Tamil child was provided with opportunities to be educated in the Tamil medium from the kindergarten to university free of charge at state expense.

    Furthermore, a Reasonable Use of Tamil Language Act of 1958 was adopted, formalizing a set of Tamil language rights which also required public servants to have a working knowledge of Tamil to be able to serve in Tamil areas. Added Tamil linguistic rights and concessions were introduced in 1965 by the government led by Dudley Senanayake. Tamil language was enhanced as a National Language by the Second Republican Constitution of 1978 enshrining an array of rights far exceeding those enjoyed by English Canadians in Quebec and French Canadians in the rest of Canada. Thus within a short space of 22 years Tamil linguistic rights gained ascendancy to meet levels acceptable to most Tamils. Tamil was again elevated as an official language in the 1990’s bringing it on par with Sinhala. It must be added that language is not a fundamental right and needs to be won through the political process by gaining support of the constituency.

  4. BF states, in 1983, the Sinhalese Government originated race riots that culminated in the slaughter of 4000 Tamils, and that no Tamil was compensated.

    It is true that Tamils suffered at the hands of a mob that ran amok in 1983 after the non-transfer of bodies of 13 Sinhalese soldiers killed by Tamil militants by a claymore mine attack and simultaneous machine gunfire, to the respective families to conduct last rites, a decision apparently taken at the time to avoid the identical situation as display of badly battered bodies in the several townships and villages had the potential to trigger similar riots in the country. It was not originated by the government though certain elements are suspected of having participated. Also, it was the government led by the United National Party and not “the Sinhalese Government” that was in power at the time, which had representatives of the Tamil and Muslim communities in the cabinet.

    The number of Tamil deaths according to official sources was 400, whilst BF has given an exaggerated figure of 4,000, both of which are unreliable. Most Sinhalese took steps to protect their Tamil neighbours and friends from the mob at great personal risk, of which little is said by those so protected. The Sinhalese have acknowledged the serious crimes committed against the Tamils during the riots in 1983 and have publicly apologised, whilst the state took steps to compensate the victims and apologise to the Tamil community both at the local and international forums.

    BF and most Sri Lanka observers have failed to note the prevailing situation in the period prior to 1983 which contributed to the building of communal tensions such as the forced eviction of the 27,000 Sinhalese residents in the Jaffna peninsula in the late 1970’s following the adoption of the Vadukkodai Resolution, the forced closure of the Sinhala stream at the University of Jaffna necessitating the evacuation of 400 Sinhalese students to safety in 1981, and the blatantly false propaganda carried on outside the country by the Tamils to demonize the Sinhalese. These factors have been ignored and left out in determining the causes for the unfortunate eruption that occurred in July 1983, in the aftermath of the killing of the 13 soldiers that triggered the mob violence.

    The riots of 1983 involving the Sinhalese who had hitherto treated the various minorities with respect was clearly an aberration. The Sinhalese who have regretted the action of the mob have remained calm despite numerous brutal attacks carried out by the LTTE with intent to deliberately provoke them, such as the killing of 144 pilgrims at the Sacred Bodhi Shrine in Anuradhapura, killing of 33 Buddhist monks at Arantalawa, regular bombing of passenger buses and trains and targeting of civilians in public places, attack on the world renowned Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, and untold massacre of thousands of Sinhalese residents and Muslims in the north and east of Sri Lanka to ethnically cleanse the region of non-Tamils, in areas sought for their mono-ethnic Tamil racist separate state comprising 1/3rd of the land and 2/3rd of the coast for residentTamils numbering less than 4 percent of the island’s total population.

    Notwithstanding the riots of 1983, the temporarily displaced Tamils have been able to return to their homes and livelihoods in the City of Colombo and other places in the south, whereas the ejected Sinhalese and Muslims have not been able to get back to their former places of residence due to the danger to their lives. In fact, a larger proportion of Tamils have taken up residence in Colombo and its suburbs and other southern townships to live in mixed ethnic surroundings midst the Sinhalese majority, as they have opted to distance themselves from the influence and control of the self-declared sole representative of the Tamils, i.e. the LTTE. Today, the Tamils account for the second largest group in the capital city of Colombo following closely on the Muslims who are in the majority, whilst the Sinhalese community are in third place.

  5. BF – General statements on Discrimination of Tamils in education and employment.

    The oft repeated statement that Tamil students had to score higher marks than Sinhalese students to gain admission to universities is a distortion of the truth. In
    1972, Sri Lanka introduced a scheme of standardization as a temporary measure to assist children in less developed areas (districts) having schools with sparse facilities in respect of teachers, libraries, science laboratories, and other extra-curricular activities, to be able to enter higher educational institutes with a lower aggregate of marks as against students in districts such as Colombo, Kandy, Matara, Kurunegala, Jaffna, etc. that had far superior facilities. This enabled students in Tamil areas such as Kayts, Vanni, Vavunia, and Sinhalese areas such as Moneragala, Hambantota, Ampara, to be admitted to universities with lower scores, while both Sinhalese and Tamil students from the better facilitated city schools requiring higher scores had to give up some places to their rural counterparts. It has been wrongly described as a measure to restrict the admission of Tamil students, whereas it was to assist the deprived students notwithstanding their ethnicity.

    In fact, Jaffna earlier regarded as a district with superior facilities has deteriorated following the upheaval caused by the long drawn out separatist conflict in the north and east, is today the beneficiary of the standardization scheme, enabling Tamil students to acquire places in universities with a lower aggregate.

    As regards employment, the Tamil cry of discrimination does not hold when you examine the proportion of high positions held by members of this community. In 1981, when the Tamil minority population was only 12.6%, they had 34.9% of the engineers, 29.9% surveyors, 35.1% doctors, 38.8% veterinary surgeons, 30.2% medical technicians, 41.5% life scientists, and 33.1% accountants in the public service in Sri Lanka. Tamils have held high offices such as Chief Justice, High Court Judge, Attorney General, Army Commander, Navy Commander, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Heads of Departments, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, which is most commendable for members of a minority community. Tamil judges and other senior officials have been held in high esteem by the public.

  6. BF – The oppressed Tamil minority should have the right to break up a sovereign nation and establish separate statehood as in the case of Kosovo.

    Sri Lanka founded over 2600 years back by the indigenous Sinhala people has a pre-history still being unravelled by archaeological experts. She has never invaded others lands. Sri Lanka has welcomed friend and foe, and permitted even defeated Chola and Pandyan Tamil invaders of South India to make it their home. Amongst Sri Lanka’s ethnic mosaic are the majority Sinhalese comprising 78.5 percent, Sri Lankan Tamils roughly 7.8 percent, Muslims (Moors) making up 7.8 percent, Indian Tamils numbering 5.4 percent, whilst Malays from Indonesia and Burghers who are descendants of the Portuguese and Dutch colonialists make up the balance of approximately 0.5 percent. The Tamils who initially came as invaders to pillage and plunder came as settlers only around the 11th century. The homeland of the Tamils is Tamilnadu in South India where an estimated 61 million Tamils live.

    Today, Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country with no exclusive homeland of any single ethnic group, with the majority of the people living in mixed ethnic surroundings except for some parts of the north which were ethnically cleansed in recent times by Tamil militants who forcibly evicted the long resident Sinhala and Muslim people. The Tamils like all other citizens enjoy equal rights as enshrined in the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Nation’s Constitution. As a result of favoured treatment meted out to Tamils by the British colonial ruler for over 145 years, they have arrived at the notion that they are more than equal and should therefore continue to dominate the other communities, or have a separate state for their exclusive domain for which they have engaged in armed warfare for the past three decades.

    The people of Sri Lanka are not willing to grant the demand made by a segment of the Tamil community for a separate state, but are agreeable to devolve some power to the periphery to a unit yet to be determined such as the district council, and to share some powers at the centre to enable the minorities to participate in the day to day governance.

    There are absolutely no parallels to the Kosovo situation in Sri Lanka. The UN Security Council Resolution Number 1244 of June 10, 1999 recognized that Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia and formed part of Serbia’s sovereign territory. Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and recognition of Kosovo as an independent sovereign country by the USA, UK, France, Germany and some others is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and Resolution adopted by the Security Council in 1999 of which the USA and UK are key members. The USA is now backtracking from its earlier position as contained in the UN Security Council Resolution, and has now claimed that the unusual combination of factors found in the Kosovo situation allows her to recognize the breakaway state of Kosovo. The USA further stated that Kosovo cannot be seen as a precedent for any other situation in the world today.
Bruce Fein’s position on the claim for Tamil statehood in Sri Lanka is untenable and lacks any legal, historical or other basis to support it. The only reason that he touched on it is probably to make some undue turbulence to justify the high fees charged to his client. If the Tamils are unwilling to live as equals within the common homeland of Sri Lanka, they are free to move back to their motherland of Tamilnadu in South India, Bruce Fein country or any other place where they would be free to become true worshippers of the ‘Sun God’, as the LTTE’s sun gradually sets in the Vanni and the separatist fires fade away.

Yours very truly,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Honorary President

Video: Bomb blast in Tamil dominate Wellawatta by LTTE (03-Mar-2008)



March 10: A powerful roadside bomb exploded by Terrorist Tamil Tigers early Monday in Sri Lanka capital killing a civilian and injuring three people, the police said.

The bomb was hidden in a flower pot along the Galle Road in Tamil dominate Wellawatta. The explosion destroyed a large planter that divides the road.

Hospital sources said that 2 school girls and 2 school boys are among the victims who admitted to the Kalubowila teaching hospital. One of them is in critical condition, hospital sources further said.

Not UNP, but wild elephants held up Sri Lanka vote

COLOMBO (AFP) — Security forces armed with loud hailers were deployed in eastern Sri Lanka Monday to drive away wild elephants blocking access to polling booths, police said.

Villagers in Wellaveli told the authorities that they were unable to vote at the first local elections in 14 years because a herd of elephants had blocked their polling booth, a police official in the area said.

"We sent a team of commandos in armoured personnel carriers and loud hailers and sirens to drive away the elephants," the official said. "The roads have now been cleared."

Security had been stepped up in the area with the deployment of over 6,000 police and soldiers amid fears that Tamil Tiger rebels could try to disrupt the council elections in an area from where they were driven out in July last year.

Statement of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights on the decision by the IIGEP


PRESS RELEASE
Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights
Sri Lanka
07th March 2008

Statement of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights on the decision by the IIGEP to wind-up their operations in Sri Lanka

The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), is a unique structure hitherto not encountered in any fact finding exercise anywhere in the world and is mandated to function over a period of one year. On 30 November 2007, the IIGEP by its letter addressed to His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa, communicated its decision to end its mandate by the end of March 2008. The IIGEP embarked on its work in February 2007 which means that, within 8 to 9 months of the commencement of its mandate, and prior to fulfilling a full year, such a decision to quit was taken.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights regrets the haste with which this decision was taken, especially in the context of the public inquiries that have started and are ongoing in two important investigations, namely: the investigation into the deaths of 17 aid workers belonging to the Action Contre La Faim in Muttur and the killing of 5 youths in Trincomalee. Public inquiries into the slaying of 10 Muslim civilians in Pottuvil are also due to commence shortly.

In its public statement of 17 December 2007 the independent Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Alleged Serious Violations of Human Rights (COI) has pointed out that:

  • “The IIGEPs assert that they have attended 76 sessions of investigations of the two cases investigated, namely; the killing of 17 Aid Workers belonging to Action Contre La Faim in Muttur, and the killing of 5 youths in Trincomalee.

  • The COI notes that in fact out of the total number of 76 sessions of investigations conducted, only one member of the IIGEP has been present at 37 of these sittings while only 02 members have been present at 02 sittings and 03 members have been present at 01 sitting. (The total number of IIGEP members appointed by the President is eleven). The attempt to portray the Assistants as representatives of the IIGEP at the proceedings is contrary to the Presidential Invitation which only permits their appointment “to provide necessary assistance” to a Member of IIGEP. In any event only one or sometimes two Assistants out of 10 Assistants have been present at 76 sessions. 8 Assistants have been present at 01 session while 02 have been present at 50 sessions. Thus the IIGEP has not been present to observe over half the proceedings and therefore the credibility of any comments made by the IIGEP must necessarily suffer from the consequences of such absence.

  • The COI is of the view that the IIGEP’s attempt to observe (without a continued and uninterrupted presence of at least one member of the IIGEP) the working of the COI does not do justice to the functions entrusted to them by the Presidential Invitation and accepted by the IIGEP. The undoubted Eminence and wide experience of the IIGEP cannot be a substitute for on the ground observations by the IIGEP. Otherwise the IIGEP will be reduced to making their comments with regard to the work of the COI on the basis of hearsay which is undoubtedly contrary to international norms and will militate against the credibility and value of such comments.

  • The COI further notes that due to the lack of an adequate presence of the IIGEP at the sessions, the collective wisdom of the eleven members of IIGEP is unfortunately, not reflected in the observations of the IIGEP as was intended in the Presidential Invitation to the IIGEP.”
The Ministry has also noted that the IIGEP’s public statements have been calculatedly released whenever the Human rights Council meets in Geneva. The decision communicated in November to relinquish their mandate at the end of March has been given publicity once again to coincide with the Human Rights Council sessions even before the expiry of the IIGEP’s mandated period.

The unique concept of the IIGEP is owned by the Government of Sri Lanka and the 11 experts were appointed in their individual capacities to this unique structure with a one year mandate. Although the 11 experts to OK a decision as far back as November 2007 to relinquish their mandate at the end of March, this does not mean that the concept of the IIGEP has been dispensed with. If the present 11 experts, for whatever reason, feel that they do not want to be part of the IIGEP after the end of March, the Government of Sri Lanka may exercise its rights to source and appoint such number of experts who would be able to discharge the mandate given to the IIGEP to observe and comment on the functioning of the COI.

No doubt, if this is done, the new experts will be able to observe and contribute towards the functioning of the CoI in the most interesting and significant phase of its proceedings – viz. its public inquiries into the several important cases before it.

P. Dias Amarasinghe
Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights

Monday, March 10, 2008

India Pledges Maximum Support for the Anti-Terrorism Drive by Sri Lankan Government

Sri Lanka's Army chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka stated that, Indian defence officials have pledged maximum support for the Governments plan to completely eliminate terrorism and bring ultimate Peace to Sri Lanka.

The visit aimed at enhancing 'better understanding between the two armies in terms of defence and training, He also confirmed that the current programs in the pipeline are on schedule.

During this official visit he met with Defence Minister A.K Antony, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major.

The Army Commander also visited Jammu and Kashmir for an operational briefing on the situation at the Line of Control (Loc) that divides the state between India and Pakistan.

He also thanked all the neighboring states for the support that is extended in combating and eliminating terrorism from Sri Lanka.