Saturday, April 19, 2008

Prabhakaran facing backlash from his friends abroad

by H. L. D. Mahindapala

Pro-Tiger media tends to swing erratically from one extreme to another. When the Tigers are on top they glorify their military advances. When the Tigers are on the run they swing violently to claim refuge under human rights with the help, of course, of pro-Tiger NGOs, media and academia.

Right now they are focusing exclusively on human rights issues, portraying the Sri Lankan forces as violators of human rights conducting a genocidal, anti-Tamil war. Desperate for help to halt the advance of the Security Forces inching their way into Vanni, the pro-Tiger media are now playing up religious issues, hoping to mobilise world sympathy. The tears shed by the predominantly Hindu Tigers for Catholic Madhu Church, weeping about "the spiritual and temporal conquests" (Queroz) of their land, is as hilarious as the headline of the TamilNet: "Lanka ploy of Buddhists for subversive acts in Tamil Nadu". (7/4/2008).

Underlying this propaganda thrust is the subtle line of equating the Tamil Tigers with the Tamil community. Any defeat of the Tigers is projected as a defeat for the Tamils. This propaganda also assumes that the Tigers are the sole representatives of the Tamils. Neither is accepted by the frustrated and disillusioned Tamil community, let alone the world at large. In the early days, when the Tigers were patronised as "boys" by the Tamil community, this would have been valid up to a point. But not now when the Tigers are fighting with their backs to wall.

Despite the brutalities of the Tigers the Tamil community was willing to go along with the Tigers as long as they showed signs of winning concessions from the Sri Lankan government. But the fall of the east and the slow but steady advance into Vanni have wiped out the last rationale that propped up the Tigers. Except for the decreasing hard core Tigers, the rest of the Tamil diaspora and independent analysts can see the writing on the wall. Jane’s Weekly summed it up neatly when it said that the Tigers are as good as dead unless they can stage a decisive military reversal.

The Tigers who were threatening an apocalyptic end if their position in the north and the east was threatened have gone from toning down their rhetoric to studied silence. Of course, they hit back with counter-productive suicide bombers. But this is not going to win them territory, international sympathy or military successes that can rally their forces, particularly in the diaspora, to lift their image as a formidable force that can deliver the promise of the elusive Eelam. So what is Prabhakaran fighting for?

The battle cry of the Tigers now is not so much to defeat "the Sinhala government" militarily as to "stop the war" through external pressures for Prabhakaran to breathe easy. This explains why Vaiko, the hired Indian agent of Prabhakaran, is running around almost begging on his knees for foreign intervention to stop the war. He has appealed to the European Union and to Norway.

Rather late in the day Vaiko, leader of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazagam (MDMK), has pleaded with Erik Solheim, the failed peace negotiator, to revive the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). This was a lifeline thrown by Ranil Wickremesinghe, the then (February 22, 2002) Prime Minister, to save Prabhakaran. But, predictably, Prabhakaran, assuming an invincibility that he does not posses, undercut the ground on which he was standing safely by violating 95% of its terms and conditions. He reached the peak of his power when the international community, together with Wickremesinghe, handed him the north and the east on the CFA platter. But his megalomania, intransigence, hatred of his perceived enemies (both Tamil and Sinhalese) and, above all, inability to read the political realities, have gone as far as they could and are now coming home to roost. After wasting all the opportunities that came his way to consolidate his position politically he is now left with no friends to rescue him.

Prabhakaran’s track record confirms that he can be relied upon to do only one thing for sure: dig his own grave. No Tamil leader has yet beaten his unique record of being his own enemy and that of the Tamils. He has also excelled in piling up and standing on the peak of the highest mountain of dead bodies of Tamils. It is most unlikely that any other Tamil rival is likely to surpass his record in the future. He stands out as the most gruesome and horripilating undertaker of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. No wonder The New York Times and The Hindu (Chennai) have labelled him as the Pol Pot of Asia.

Going by his own logic and commitment, he has a future only if he can get his elusive Eelam. But, after three decades of killing and hitting in all directions to achieve his goal, he is nowhere near his Eelam; nor has he found any backers internationally, despite the labours of his dwindling diaspora. So what is he fighting for? Isn’t he fighting purely for his own survival and that of his fascist regime armed with a ruthless killing machine – the only political system that can protect and sustain him? He cannot and will not enter the democratic stream for fear of exposing him to his Tamil enemies waiting for the day to get even with him for the crimes he has committed against the Tamils. Besides, he is not attuned to live in competitive politics where he has to give equal space to his Tamil rivals. He can survive precariously only in a fascist dictatorship with him running it as a one-man show. So what does the future hold for him and the Tamils who have pinned their hopes on him?

The new spectre haunting him is the international trend rising against him from unexpected quarters. It was spelt out by Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Norway’s Special Envoy for the failed peace process in Sri Lanka, at the conference organised by the Art of Living Foundation of Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar held last week on Oslo. Participants at the conference quoted him as saying: 1) "Norway will not support the establishment of Eelam", according to Jayalath Jayawardene, UNP, MP ; (2) "Norway will not be able to help in negotiations as long as the war rages on," according to Arumugan Thondaman, a Minister in the present government.

The third point was stated Hanssen-Bauer: No 'externally designed solution' will end Sri Lanka's dragging ethnic conflict….. ‘One should not be tempted to try to impose an externally designed solution to conflicts but assist the parties in defining a domestic one…..The common understanding between the government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) has been that talks are aimed at finding a political solution that is acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka,' Hanssen-Bauer told the two-day conference. (IANS – April 13 – 14, 2008).

Hearing these statements Prabhakaran might as well say: "Et tu Brute!" These are statements that the Norwegians never uttered before when they were in the peace process. These statements may end their ever coming back into the peace process because Prabhakaran is not likely to take these comments kindly. Leaving the Norwegian stand aside, it can be asserted that Prabhakaran’s future hangs essentially on the role of India, more so because Norway, too, is playing India’s game and is depended on India to define Norway’s role in Sri Lanka. It is not surprising that Norway is coming out against Eelam because that is also India’s position. India doesn’t want to go along with this proposition for both domestic and regional interests.

Besides, a new factor has entered the equation with Nepal swinging to the Maoists. India is deeply worried that the unexpected swing to the Maoists will upset India’s interests in the region. India is already facing a hostile Pakistan and Kashmir in the west and a not-so-friendly Bangladesh in the east. In the north, India will keep its fingers crossed despite Prachand, the Maoist leader, saying that he will keep an equal distance between China and India. From a point of geo-political strategy, with pressures mounting from east, west and the north, India has to keep its southern neighbour, Sri Lanka, on its side. In fact, it can be argued that India will need Sri Lanka more than Sri Lanka needing India, if things go sour in Nepal.

With Tibet on the boil and with China claiming a huge chunk of India’s Arunachal Pradesh in the east – reviving memories of the Indo-China war over the McMahon line – unfolding events may be put on hold by China till the Beijing Olympics are over by September. It is also on the cards that both China and India will be vying for an influential place in Nepal. The pressures are bound to mount after the Olympics.

The emerging regional politics will not favour Prabhakaran, who has been accused by the Indian media of helping the Maoists with training and equipment. Maoists, too, have admitted getting help from the Tigers. It is unlikely that the Maoists will reciprocate in kind. But if they do, overtly or covertly, it will add to India’s woes. Sri Lankan diplomacy, too, will have to be activated more vigorously in Khatmandu and in Beijing – a centre that will have increasing influence over the Maoists.

So where does all this leave Prabhakaran? He is hemmed in from all sides with no escape route. As things stand, he must be the only one who is forced to reject the common belief that there is a silver lining in dark clouds.

Iranian President to visit Sri Lanka

The first ever Asian tour of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to start on the April 28 with a two-day state visit to Sri Lanka upon a special request from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. President Ahmadinejad choosing Sri Lanka as his first stop in his first Asian tour is a victory gained by the Sri Lankan President as a political leader in Asia, according to political analysis.

President Ahamedinejad and President Rajapaksa will be laying the foundation stone for the Uma Oya Hydro Power project, on April 29 at Wellawaya.

Iran has come forward to grant financial support amounting to US dollars 450 million for this mega multipurpose hydro power project. The Uma Oya is estimated to produce 100 MW electricity and supply water to irrigate the agricultural and industrial sectors in Hambantota and Moneragala districts.

Government Information Department

Be wary of LTTE tactics, New Indian Express cautions government

In a recently published editorial, "The New Indian Express" cautioned India to be alert on the LTTE's tactics to raise humanitarian issues when losing in the battlefront.

It stated that "it is undeniable that the Tigers are fighting with their backs to the wall" as they are "faced with overwhelming numbers and firepower" and "losing about 500 cadres every month" which the editorial states is an "unacceptable rate of attrition for a small fighting force of about ten to fifteen thousand".

The editorial, published on April 16, dwelled on the military campaign of the Sri Lankan Government against the LTTE and the tactics used by the LTTE to stop this campaign through various ways.

It further stated that the LTTE, which "is indeed the best armed and motivated insurgent group in the world" was encountering the Sri Lankan military which is described as being "very strong in terms of equipment, leadership, troop morale and political backing".

The editorial also states that despite criticism against the Sri Lankan Government for its poor human rights record, the country was also tacitly backed by the US, the world power, and India, the regional power.

The editorial also states "53 percent of the training of Sri Lanka's military is done in India. The Indian and Sri Lankan navies cooperate very closely. Pakistan and China are unabashed backers, and Japan is a big donor" while the "LTTE is also a victim of the post 9 / 11 security scenario marked by tough obstacles to illicit arms procurement and financial transfers, and increased intelligence sharing".

The editorial contends that the LTTE's extraordinary ingenuity, resourcefulness cannot match the sustainability and power of the State, over time.

"The LTTE is aware of its predicament, and has been desperately wanting a ceasefire and peace talks under Norwegian facilitation, has also made direct and indirect appeals to India to stop aiding Colombo militarily and has activated its supporters in Tamil Nadu."

It was also pointed out that the LTTE was trying desperately to give a humanitarian rationale to their demand that India stopsmilitary aid to Sri Lanka, and observed that those who are familiar with the LTTE's tactics know that it raises humanitarian issues and gets its supporters to agitate only when its own interests and survival are threatened. Buttressing this argument, it was pointed out that though the LTTE made an issue of the bombing of their orphanage in the Wanni it had virtually ignored the displacement of 250,000 Tamils in the East in 2006 because it was not its 'heartland'.

The editorial adds a note of caution by stating that "... New Delhi may come under pressure from influential sections in Tamil Nadu to change its stand, but it would do well to tread warily".

Friday, April 18, 2008

Malaysia closes down Tamil daily

Malaysia has shut down a prominent Tamil-language daily critical of the government, a move slammed by the opposition as a crackdown on press freedom and human rights.

The government has suspended the publication permit of Makkal Osai without specifying any reason, the newspaper's general manager S. M. Periasamy said.

The paper's office was informed of the decision over the phone by the Home Ministry. All Malaysian media outfits need a government license, which is renewed annually. Periasamy said the paper, which did not publish its edition today, would appeal to the Home Ministry to reconsider its decision.

The newspaper had its permit suspended for one month last August for publishing a picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other on its front page. The photo had a caption: "If a person repents his mistakes, heaven awaits him."

Opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party has described the decision as a crackdown on human rights by the government. He said the daily was punished for giving too much coverage to the opposition.

The ruling Barisan National coalition of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi returned to power with a small majority in the March 8 general elections. The electoral debacle is being seen partly as a result of discontentment among the ethnic Indian community, which alleges marginalisation.

Makkal Osai or 'The People's Voice' was published as a weekly newspaper for 15 years before it became a daily in December 2005. It has a circulation of 52,000 and employs approximately 100 employees.

Associated Press

Video: Wanni Operation - 14 April 2008

Sri Lanka military liberation of Wanni (in the North) from the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). 14 April 2008.

SLAF turns on heat with midnight strike on Oddusudan

Jaffna Commander: Ground action intensified

With the army stepping up operations on the Muhamalai front, the SLAF will go flat out against LTTE targets in the Vanni theatre.

Although it wouldn’t be an easy task, the SLAF was likely to step up night operations aimed at destroying the enemy’s capacity to wage war, the military said.

Jets launched from Katunayake airbase Tuesday night bombed an LTTE base in the jungles of Mudiyankattukulam, eight Kms northwest of Oddusudan. Airforce headquarters said jets targeted the base subsequent to night surveillance.

SLAF spokesman Wing Commander Andy Wijesuriya said the target was hit at 11.15 p.m. Tuesday’s strike came hot on the heels of another night attack carried out on March 29 targeting the LTTE runway at Iranamadu.

Wijesuriya said the night strikes were successful.

Although the current phase of SLAF daytime operations was the most successful in the entire Eelam war the same couldn’t be said about night strikes which had been few and far between.

The LTTE strike on Anuradhapura air base last October had dented the SLAF’s maritime and ground surveillance capability but Katunayake based fighter squadrons had continued operations.

Meanwhile helicopter gunships based in the Jaffna peninsula swung into action over Muhamalai in support of ground operations spearheaded by armoured fighting vehicles. Helicopters targeted an LTTE bunker line and mortar firing position at 6.15 am.

Jaffna Security Forces Chief Major General G. A. Chandrasiri last evening told The Island his troops engaged enemy positions on the Muhamalai front. Fielding questions, Chandrasiri said troops would step up operations on the Jaffna front as part of the overall strategy against the LTTE. According to him two Divisions which included the elite Mechanised Infantry were ready to open a new front in the northern theatre.

Courtesy: Island

Rice price control decided after consulting millers – Govt.

The Government decided on the new price structure for rice only after consulting the Rice Millers’ Association, Secretary to the Ministry of Trade, Consumer Affairs and Cooperatives Dr. R. M. K. Ratnayake said yesterday.

He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa before taking the decision had pointed out that farmers had been granted a fertilizer subsidy totalling Rs 17 billion and like the farmers, the consumers, too, should be benefited.

Prices paid to farmers by the millers and traders were taken into consideration before formulating the new wholesale and retail price structure, preventing traders from making unreasonable profit, Ratnayake said. There had not been any scarcity of rice in the market and therefore there was no reason for a price hike he argued.

Ratnayake said there was a rich Maha harvest and a good harvest was expected in the coming Yala since the reservoirs were full. Furthermore, the government recently imported 100,000 tons of rice and orders have been placed to import a further 50,000 tons. Traders have no valid reason to increase prices, he said.

He said that in Vavuniya a Kilogram of rice sells at Rs 40 while in Ampara it sells at Rs 25. He warned that the government was monitoring the price structures and stern action would be taken against traders violating the price control

He said that even when paddy was purchased at Rs 25, the cost of production of rice was around Rs 12 to 13. Sri Lanka’s monthly consumption of rice was 173,000 tons but the majority of people in the agricultural sector were not buying rice from the retailer as they had their own stocks.

Courtesy: Island

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tourist arrivals up 8.6% in March

Signs of recovery are shown in the tourist industry with arrivals in March registering an 8.6% growth from the previous year.

For the first three months of 2008, there is a marginal increase of 0.7% in tourist arrivals according to the monthly statistical report released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

The highest performer during the period was the Middle East, which registered an increase of 80.6% in comparison with 2007.

Of the 294.6% growth from the region in March, Iranian tourists formed the major portion with arrivals of 1,300 during the month.

These arrivals were the result of the operation of nine charter flights supported by Sri Lanka Tourism. Among the other markets that performed well were Russia with 58.3% increase between January and March while France registered 93.5% growth and the UK showed a 11.9% growth during March.

Courtesy: Lake House

Reinforcing Ceylon Shipping Corporation in the offing

The Ceylon Shipping Corporation activities are to be reinforced by adding more ships to the fleet.

Completing the restructuring process in the corporation, it is expected to transport every imported items connected to the State sector entities.

The directives to this effect were carried out long before, but the Corporation could not transport all the State sector materials due to the various lapses of the corporation.

However the Minister of Ports and Aviation Chamal Rajapaksa directed the officials to prepare a feasibility report in this respect. He said a colossal amount of State funds are spent when food and other items for public purposes are imported.

The only remedy to shut down the fund flow to private sector is to revamp the Shipping Corporation, said the Minister.

The Ministry is also planning to purchase two vessels from Italy and negotiations are underway in this respect.

by Walter Liyanarachchi, Lake House

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

UNP D-group to join SLFP?

The country is likely to witness a series of changes in the strategic political alliances after the May 10 Eastern Provincial Council election, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa reportedly planning to reshuffle the cabinet and reduce its size, while absorbing 17 members of the UNP Democratic Group to the SLFP fold.

A senior government Minister who spearheads the PC polls campaign said President Rajapaksa was determined to reshuffle and form a smaller cabinet with a reduced number of portfolios taking into consideration the country’s economic and political situation.

“The victory of the government at the PC polls in the East will make an impact and also make it easy for the President to carry out his plans,” he said.

“The thinking of the government is that the UNP Democratic Group members should be given enough time to establish themselves in their respective districts for the 2010 Parliamentary elections if they are to be absorbed into the SLFP. They will be appointed as SLFP organizers after they obtain party membership,” he said.

“Some UNP Parliamentarians who are not in the UNP Democratic Group have expressed their willingness to contest the next Parliamentary election from the East as the government has already consolidated its political existence in the province,” he said.

The appointment of a new Chief Government Whip, an SLFP Treasurer and the filling of positions created by the deaths of ministers Anura Bandaranaike, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and others will also take place after the eastern polls, the Minister said.

“The President does not intend rushing into things at this stage. The country is apparently still recovering from the shock created by the killing of Mr. Fernandopulle. However there is a strong possibility that he will carry out the cabinet reshuffle and reorganization of the SLFP with the absorption of UNP democratic Group members,” he said.

Courtesy: Daily Mirror

The Post editorial board praises the Conservatives for taking on the Tamil Tigers

Over the weekend, counterterrorism police in Ontario and Quebec shut down the Canadian offices of the World Tamil Movement, an alleged fundraising front for the Tamil Tigers. The raids — which proceeded after police acquired a warrant from a Federal Court of Canada judge — demonstrate just how much has changed on the national security front in the nearly two-and-a-half years since the Conservatives were elected. The Tigers are a vicious terror group seeking the independence of northern Sri Lanka. But until Stephen Harper came to power, they were not even designated a terrorist organization for purposes of Canadian criminal law.

The Tigers' terror campaign is often overlooked in the West because their attacks are not directed at Western targets. Still, the Tigers are a very nasty bunch. Over the past two decades, their civil war with the Sri Lankan government has resulted in a combined total of over 60,000 deaths. The Tigers have abducted thousands of children to act as human shields for their bases or to serve as soldiers in their militias. Their agents have assassinated heads of government in both Sri Lanka and India. And their "Black Tiger" suicide squads have conducted over 200 suicide bombing attacks, more than the three main Palestinian terror groups facing Israel, combined.

In one particularly ghastly action, the Tigers swept through villages on Sri Lanka's eastern coast following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and press-ganged more than 100 orphans into paramilitary service. According to Israel's Institute for Counter-Terrorism, the Tigers are "unequivocally the most effective and brutal terrorist organization ever to utilize suicide terrorism."

A large part of the budget needed to sustain the Tigers' terror reign comes from Canada's 300,000 or so Tamils. Hundreds of thousands of dollars each month leave the bank accounts of Tamil-Canadian families and businesses — much of it extorted under threat of violence — to finance recruitment, training and supply of the Tamils' terror army. As the National Post and several human rights organizations have reported over the years, the Tigers are not above holding Tamils in Sri Lanka hostage until their Canadian family members pay the $2,000 a month in "war tax" demanded of many families and the upwards of $100,000 demanded of businesses.

Yet so eager were Jean Chretien and Paul Martin to placate the Tamil voting blocks in Scarborough and other urban Liberal strongholds that they refused on numerous occasions to add the Tigers to Canada's list of outlawed terror groups. This made it difficult for police and security services to move against front organizations they felt were acting as money conduits for the Tigers.

Not coincidentally, the investigations that led to last week's raids stepped up just after the Tories kept a promise from the 2005-06 election to ban the Tigers. For their part, Liberal ministers, while in office, often ignored RCMP and CSIS warnings about suspected Tiger-front groups and attended their fund-raisers and community events anyway. Most recently, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Liberal MP for Etobicoke Centre, and Jim Karygiannis, Liberal for Scarborough-Agincourt, both made speeches at the Canadian memorial service held after the 2007 killing of a senior Tiger commander.

We hear the grumblings all the time from small-c conservatives that the government of Stephen Harper is not different enough from the Liberal governments it replaced. Well, here is one front — one very crucial front — on which they are very different: They take national security far more seriously, and are prepared to withstand tremendous pressure from ethnic lobbyists to make Canada safer. This month's raids are the fruits of that vigilance.

National Post

Rs. 1,500 m housing project to solve shelter problem

COLOMBO: The Government will implement a massive housing project at a cost of Rs. 1,500 million to end the prevailing shelter problem countrywide and to cater to housing needs of those who live below the poverty line, National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) Chairman Mohammed Rafeek told the Daily News.

He said the project will be implemented by the NHDA with financial assistance and guidance from the Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Ministry. Rafeek said the project will be implemented in two different categories. One will be implemented under the Neganahira Navodhaya national programme and the second under the plantation sector housing programme.

He said 3,458 housing units costing Rs. 500 million will be constructed for estate workers in place of the line rooms under the plantation sector housing programme while 10,000 housing units at a cost of Rs. 1,000 million will be constructed Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee districts under the Neganahira Navodhaya programme. He said proposed plantation sector housing project will be implemented by the NHDA in 13 districts.

The proposed housing project will come up in Colombo, Kalutara, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara-Eliya, Galle, Matara, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Badulla, Monaragala, Ratnapura, and Kegalle, he added.

Under this programme a beneficiary family will be allocated Rs. 150,000 including a Rs. 50,000 grant, Rafeek said.

He said 876 housing units will be constructed under the Samurdhi Model village project under the Mahinda Chinthana national programme to mark the NHDA’s 29th anniversary. This project will also be implemented by the NHDA with the guidance of the Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Ministry.

The housing project will be implemented as an integrated housing programme in Padukka, Naula, Gagawatta, Walapane, Kamburupitiya, Sooriyawewa, Mundalama, Kantale, Thamankaduwa, Sevanagala, Akmimana, Divulapitiya, Uva-paranagama, Ibbagamuwa, Kiriella, Warakapola, Kahatagasdigiliya, Ingiriya and Sammanthurai Divisional Secretariat Divisions.

by Mohammed Naalir

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sustainable, conscience - driven development

Speech made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Boao Forum for Asia on Saturday, April 12.

I am greatly honoured to stand here today in this charming city of Boao, amidst a most perfect enchanting environment to address this distinguished audience.

This important forum which is at the vanguard of Asia’s intellectual strength over the last decade has brought about meaningful and thought provoking dialogues helping to charter Asia’s future in the new century.

I am sure this conference too, will no doubt produce much new thinking and perspectives on arriving at an Asian consensus regarding the pressing of Climate Change, and other issues that affect Asia too, which will receive very careful consideration in our deliberations during the next two days, and after that too.

I am here today, because of the importance of this Forum, despite the serious loss that we suffered last Sunday at a sports festival in preparation for the national New Year, with one of my senior ministers being blown up by a suicide bomber and also, because we must continue to address the challenges of climate change, global warming and resource diminution.

Positive attributes

The world, in the last century, had made remarkable progress in science and technology bringing many positive attributes for human development. These saw the significant improvement of living conditions in so many ways, great advances in health care and education, the expansion of industry, widening of opportunity for travel, and overall brought more comforts to a larger number of people.

We have also seen the emergence of many challenges, These include the fight against terrorism that pervades the world today, the continuing spread of nuclear weapons, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, international trafficking in drugs, women, and children; and in recent years the most alarming problem of the depletion of the earth’s natural resources; and the destruction of the environment.

With all the wealth that industrial progress has produced, today, we are gravely threatened by global warming and climate change.

In the face of these challenges that mock our most determined attempts to solve them within established frameworks, we must fashion our policies to enable continued development while addressing the challenges posed. This Boao Forum has a critical role to play in this regard.

If we journey through to ancient Asia, we find that its evolution has been founded on the cornerstones of environmental sustainability. Our forefathers, who have left their indelible footprints in nurturing our civilisations over centuries ago, integrated environmental responsibility into our cultural values. Our gentle cultures, wherever their roots were from, taught us to respect and live in harmony with nature.

Ancient wisdom

The essence of China’s ancient wisdom is that we hold the environment in trust, to be handed down to generations to come without damage or destruction. A great king of Sri Lanka when threatened to reveal the storehouse of his wealth, showed the waters of a massive reservoir he had built for irrigation.

Another great ruler admonished the people not to allow a single drop of water to drain into the sea, without first having watered the crops. Our history, therefore, should provide us with considerable strength as we face our future challenges, especially in the new challenge of facing up to Climate Change, and seeking consensus of how we should restore harmony with nature and the environment.

Industrialisation, the most powerful agent of change that came from the West, saw a marked break with the concept of harmony with nature. We saw the natural environment being defined in terms of man’s right to possess and dominate, with the environment being there solely to be exploited for the benefit of man.

The social and political philosophies that sprang from industrialisation encouraged this selfish approach, for which, we have paid a heavy price since, and will have to do so in the future too.

However in meeting the challenges posed by globalisation today, as well as the challenges faced by the environment, we see the need for a new definition of man’s relationship with nature and the environment. We need to look back at our traditional values, and also look forward to what today’s scientific knowledge can give us to restore our good relations with nature.

World’s wealth

As Asia develops at an extraordinary pace, a major transformation is occurring in the distribution of the world’s wealth. China and India now contribute over half of the world’s GDP and this trend will continue.

China’s extraordinary economic growth has brought immense benefits to its people; and has been a great inspiration for developing countries. Asia’s economic surge, led by these icons of our region, provides us with the opportunity to address some of our global challenges.

This brings hope of change to many in our region to whom poverty and deprivation have been the only birthright for centuries. Asia is now firmly a driver of world growth bringing us our century of hope.

This extra-ordinary economic growth has no doubt brought immense benefits to the people of Asia. The number of people living in absolute poverty has declined from over 920 million in 1990 to about 600 million today.

The living standards have improved and people have become healthier. This no doubt has become a great inspiration for us to move forward in chartering our course for the future.

Despite many challenges, the economy of my country grew by 6.7% last year. To ensure that the benefits of this growth reach all strata of society, my government has pursued a variety of direct initiatives in such fields as gender issues, livelihoods security and rural prosperity.

Asian resilience

The Asian resilience could be vividly displayed in terms of the current global economic environment.

Although the pace of growth in 2008, could beexpected to slow down due to the effects of the new crisis in the US economy, now admittedly approaching a recession, it appears that the slowdown caused by this in emerging Asia will be limited due to strong expansion by China and India.

Further, the region has built substantial buffers against external shocks since the 1997 - 1998 financial crises.

However, Asia is not totally immune to the potential spillovers. Given these risks, Asia’s policy makers need to take the steps necessary to ensure confidence in the global financial markets.

They must continue to pursue sound macroeconomic management and improve structural resilience through deeper and more comprehensive reform efforts, as economic growth will still remain one of the prerequisites in the region. But this growth -oriented strategy will also need to be a sustainable, pro-poor and a more inclusive process.

It is necessary to understand that the rapid expansion of Asia’s dynamic economies, both large and small, has brought with it the predicament of coping with a serious environmental challenge. Asia’s appetite for energy rises steadily, with the need to develop rapidly and further reduce poverty.

As we consume ever increasing quantities of fossil fuels we also emit larger amounts of green house gases. The products that we consume and the waste we create expose our populations to a wider array of potentially harmful consequences than ever before. Significantly, we find that rural eco- systems, which are the bedrock of Asia, coming under enormous pressure.

Abject poverty

We are now at a critical juncture. There are deep-seated economic problems and imbalances that need to be fundamentally reversed. It shall give us challenges as well as opportunities. Despite the progress we have made, there are still millions of people living in abject poverty. There is a huge infrastructure gap in the region.

Urbanisation is putting a serious strain on infrastructure services in Asia’s cities. More than half a billion Asian people have no access to safe water and three times as many live without proper sewage and waste disposal, access to paved roads, electricity and other services is uneven.

We owe it to our people, to ensure that our economic development must continue. However, if we are to protect the environment and safeguard nature as we develop, we must focus more on sustainable energy sources, cleaner production processes, sustainable consumption patterns, efficient technologies and agricultural processes.

We must ensure investment in improved and eco-friendly infrastructure, including better roads and ports, power and rural electrification, irrigation, renewable energy sources, water supply and sanitation and better health services.

Despite the scale of challenges our region now faces, all is not gloomy.

There seems to be a new public awareness building of the dangers of destroying the resources on which our long term health and prosperity depends. Concrete efforts are being taken to address policies and investment that remove barriers and obstacles to the participation of poorer groups in the region.

Free education

There is a particular focus on creation of sustainable employment livelihoods and investment in improved infrastructure, especially rural infrastructure. More importantly, we are aware that these investments need to be matched by adequate investment in good quality education and training.

An education that focuses on awareness of the current needs for a change in attitude towards development, away from one that lays stress only on the exploitation of nature, but rather on achieving partnership with nature and the environment. This is in keeping with the traditional Asian respect for education, and our strong belief that to ensure the future, we must invest in our future — which is our children.

In this context, I must mention that Sri Lanka has a free education system from kindergarten to university level. We are proud of our achievement in ensuring that the needs of our university students, in terms of maintenance, books and other requirements are provided for by the State throughout their undergraduate career. 97 percent of our youngsters are enrolled at school. This is our own investment in the future.

We need to take urgent measures to ensure that we leave behind to our children a planet that is livable with the benefits of sustainable progress. This requires measures to mitigate our impact on the environment being pursed simultaneously, with measures to adapt to the sustainable environment that we will progress to.

I agree with the view that those who ravaged the environment in their dash to development must bear the brunt of the responsibility for addressing the consequences.

They need to assume the main burden for adopting measures that mitigate the harm done and contribute significantly to the new measures that protect nature and favour sustainability.

For, it is they who established the signposts of development and progress from which others are still measured. Yet, having witnessed the ravages they have caused, the responsibility can lay not only with them today. With Asia’s new important role in driving the world economy, we also share this great responsibility.

We also need to concentrate steadfastly on urban environment improvement.

It has become apparent today that the Earth’s natural ecosystems will not cope with the style of industrialization and over consumption seen in the world.

The destruction of the natural resource base through deforestation, destroying fauna and flora, and disturbing the natural environment for various development activities, that are now questionable, needs re-examination in the light of current knowledge.

Adaptation measures

You may observe that the world is already locked into significant levels of climate change and its efforts are already visible in the sea level rise, melting glaciers and frequent storms and natural disasters.

We are still struggling to mitigate the effects of the unprecedented Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and many other Asian neighbours in 2004. Similarly the destructions caused in China in the past couple of months due to unexpected severe snow storms are stark realities of the need to pay attention to this global problem.

This calls for the urgent need to take adaptation measures, which is increasingly getting better recognition in our region. However mitigation and adaptation will have to be pursued simultaneously for a synergetic effect. How do we do this in a systematical environment is the question that needs to be answered today by our national efforts being complemented through regional and global procedures.

In Sri Lanka, despite the ravages of brutal terrorism, we have been able to make significant advances in social and economic development. We stand unique with the longest tradition of representative democracy in Asia.

As one of the first developing countries to promote universal health and education, gender equality and social mobilization, we have been able to achieve exceptional socio-economic indicators; way ahead of those normally expected of a country in the lower and middle-income range.

Today we are moving to achieve or surpass many of the Millennium Development Goals. In recent years we have also seen a welcome rise in the per capita income of our people.

However, a launch pad for a sustainable green Asia remains firmly rooted in the stability of the region. It is in fact a vicious cycle. Without stability, there will not be any sustainability. We in Sri Lanka have been victims of terrorism for over three decades and every single citizen of my country has had to deal with this vicious plague.

A terrorist group, recognized as terrorists by most countries, who seek to create a separate state in the north and east of Sri Lanka has been recently named as one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world.

Eastern Province

The incidents in New York on 9/11 brought the realisation in the world that terrorism is a global phenomenon. The brutal tentacles of terrorism cannot be singled out to any particular locality or region.

But are ones which spread far and wide, over a myriad of areas from financing to smuggling be it in humans or narcotics, all contributing in no small measure to bring misery and hardship to thousands, while further handicapping a country on its path to progress and prosperity.

My belief is that “terrorism anywhere is terrorism” and there is nothing good in terrorism. Therefore, Sri Lanka has taken an upfront position in the global community’s efforts to deal with terrorism.

As a responsible Government, Sri Lanka has faced up to this challenge. We have a cause for satisfaction that the entire Eastern Province has now been cleared of terrorism.

My government has already initiated several development measures in the Eastern Province, which is seeing a new awakening with freedom from terror.

Release from the shackles of terrorism has brought in its wake, for the people of this long afflicted area, economic opportunity in such fields as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and small and medium scale industry.

The programme attempts to rehabilitate and relocate the people in Eastern Sri Lanka with sustainable livelihood projects in a habitable environment.

Local government

A measure of our success is the successful holding of local government elections after 14 years in one District of the East. Another measure is the holding of elections for a new Eastern Provincial Council early next month.

While my Government will pursue a similar strategy in liberating the North from the tentacles of terrorism, we are not unaware of the need for a political solution to bring a negotiated settlement to the national problem in keeping with the common aspirations of all the people of Sri Lanka.

It is our intention to establish in the near future conditions which will enable the implementation of a political solution to fulfill the just aspirations of all communities in our country.

Amongst other problems, Sri Lanka has to deal with her fair share of development perils. While trying to maintain a sustainable economic growth we are determined to reach a more inclusive social development.

The Blue Print of my Government introducing the developmental plan for the next decade has clearly emphasized our vision for a growth-centered pro-poor strategy, injecting fresh vitality and dynamism to the existing development programmes and looking forward to new initiatives.

In this connection I am glad to state that Sri Lanka’s bio-diversity is part of the world’s heritage. At present 13% of land is under biodiversity protection, compared to 8% in the 1950s. Our development efforts and strategies will not let that heritage be lost. They will ensure the protection of our oceanic resources, water, aquatic life, forestry and natural resources.

We are implementing the “Haritha Piyasa” (Green Shelter) programme to reforest the hill country mountain slopes and protect watershed areas with species endemic to Sri Lanka. Steps have been taken to promote commercial forestry in view of the growing timber requirements of the nation. Waste management systems are being implemented both in rural and urban areas to produce fertiliser and solve the urban solid waste problem.

Increasing carbon dioxide emissions are of great concern, especially in urban and industrialized areas. Measures have already been taken to address the energy problem in the country with efforts to launch an energy efficient production system. Experiments are being conducted on renewable energy sources. Energy from, solar, wind-power, and mini-hydro projects is being encouraged.

In protecting the atmosphere from air pollution, the government has formulated various programmes including vehicle emission reduction, quality improvement in gasoline, combined with tax policies on fuel and vehicles.

Current crisis

Sustainable mobility and harnessing the blue sky and the seas will also be top priority taking due advantage of our strategic location with a vision of Sri Lanka as the center of the Asian Silk Route once more.

In this connection the Hambantota integrated development project, being built with Chinese assistance, targeting sustainable rural development will be one of the many projects that would be initiated in Sri Lanka making use of our strategic location in the Asian sea-lanes.

Sri Lanka is only one example of the vast environmentally challenged tapestry of developing countries. While we will take steps to address many of our immediate problems, we will need assistance to adopt measures to mitigate prevailing threats to the environment, and to adapt to demands of the sustainable environment we seek to achieve.

The current crises that face the world, and our own country, has made our resource base even more inadequate to achieve all our dreams on behalf of our children.

As energy costs escalate, Sri Lanka has undertaken measures to address the energy problem with efforts to launch an energy efficient production system, as well as explore alternative energy sources.

A key obstacle for creating a broad based vision for eradicating poverty and providing equitable development opportunities is the resource constraints faced by many governments, particularly in Asia.

Therefore it is important to particularly to involve the private sector in relevant development programmes and harness its resources and capacity in providing solutions to development challenges.

Stakeholder participation in many such programmes allowing them to feel a sense of ownership should be empowered and encouraged. In Sri Lanka such linkages have been successfully created in sustainable energy projects, water conservation & management, bio diversity conservation etc.

We must continue to explore options for developing environment-friendly and cost-effective energy sources. Those who achieved prosperity early at the expense of the environment and our lands must assist those who have been left behind to resort to more efficient energy sources that science has made available today. If not, we will all be condemned to suffer together.

These could be solar energy, wind power or even nuclear energy. All these options must be explored with a view to providing developing countries a better model for development; a model that can be best worked out together with the genius of the Asian region, too. There is need for a note of caution.

The search for alternative fuel sources must not deprive the poor of their food, as we see with the diversion of corn and other food crop lands to produce fuels for motor vehicles. Let us not ignore the hunger pains of the people to fill up the gas guzzlers that brought these threats to our world. Development must be sustainable. It must be conscience driven.

We have watched with admiration the evolution of modern China, its political system, its society and economy to the modern economic giant that China today is. We have closely observed the strategies developed by China’s leaders to pursue Chinese national interest with skillful tenacity.

In the past five years China has seized remarkably the opportunities presented by the coming Olympics in making necessary institutional innovations and structural fine-tuning and made adjustments in the environment in-line with the requirements of the Scientific Outlook on Development, to make progress in all fronts in building a harmonious society.

Internal problems

It is regrettable, though, that attempts are being made today to disrupt this greatest of all sporting events, to which thousands of sportsmen and sportswomen the world over eagerly look forward to, as well as millions of sports fans from all countries, for the purposes of narrow political gain, using slogans of antagonism that have no place in the world of sport and human understanding.

It was not so long ago that we did notice frantic efforts made by some of these same forces that seek to disrupt the Olympics today, stating that it will be a non-starter because of the environmental conditions in Beijing.

We believe that internal problems must be resolved by their own people, if necessary with genuine help from friends outside. I talk with the experience of my own country, where outside forces, often with little understanding of reality or with motives that are not as altruistic as may seem, seek to direct our affairs for us, in the fight against terrorism, which advice they do not give themselves.

I believe that contextual factors are of overriding importance. The solutions we propose must be based on our historical experience, our cultural traditions and our economic and social institutions.

China has utilised a major part of its resources for conservation of energy, water, land and material and also in improving the living standards of the people.

We have observed the very ambitious plan developed by China to setting targets to bring down the energy consumption, reduce the total discharge of major pollutants and increasing forest cover from 18.2% to 20% by 2010. These environmental targets have been elevated by the Chinese leadership as “key mandatory targets”.

In simple terms, the GDP in China could no more be used as an excuse to flunk the national investment plan for pollution control, which I presume, is a very ambitious move for a country with the world’s largest population.

It is also heartening to note that China has the largest area of artificial forests, which is more than 53 million hectares, accounting for 1/3rd of the world total. The latest figures have indicated that the trees planted over the past 25 years have absorbed 5.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide. This explicitly reveals the importance of the forest cover in improving the quality of our environment.

In the latest reforms introduced by China and in the creation of an Environment Super Ministry, we see the seriousness of her policy makers to the need for sustainable growth and face up to the Challenges of Climate hange.

Asia’s development challenges are of such scale that their solutions require regional co-operation to supplement national efforts. Countries and sub-regions within Asia are already at quite different stages of regional development.

If I may turn specifically to South Asia, significant reforms have been made in the SAARC process in trade, investment, industrial and fiscal policies. This has made the growth rates to improve and poverty ratios to decline.

In terms of trade flow, today South Asia is progressing well and simultaneously the realization has dawned upon us of the importance of an inclusive growth in harmony with environment.

The institutional mechanisms are in place and framework arrangements have been developed within the SAARC process to complement the national policies in giving primacy to attaining a sustainable growth and intensifying regional ties.

The world has taken major strides towards meeting the challenge of climate change, moving on from scientific analysis to public concerns, to develop and implement an international convention on the Protection of the Environment and Climate Change. We have cause for hope in an Asian driven consensus on meeting the challenge to Climate Change.

Supporting negotiation

The Nobel Prize for Peace last year saw consensus, with it being shared by an American politician turned visionary on Climate Change and a UN Committee headed by an Indian Scientist that included a Sri Lankan scientist, too.

The recent Bali Conference on Climate Change has created the momentum in supporting negotiation of a new pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocols when it expires in 2012, and important world figures who once rejected the Kyoto Protocols are now thinking of going beyond them, even modestly.

It is our firm conviction that the political will be mustered to see through to a successful conclusion of the process that has begun. Sri Lanka has subscribed to around 40 Environment Related International conventions, treaties, protocols and agreements and will continue to undertake further work programmes towards strengthening the process of implementing these accords.

As I thank the Chinese Government and People and the organizers of the “Boao Forum for Asia” for providing this unique opportunity for such a wide range of views and perspectives to be expressed on one of the most pressing problems of today, I wish to draw attention to the necessity to combine the traditional wisdom of Asia, with the leadership that the Asia has, to face the new challenges before Asia and the world.

As I have earlier mentioned, our region is particularly rich in the resource of traditional wisdom. As we gather here today in this intellectual forum, destined to play an important role in the transformation of Asia and the world, I look forward with optimism to the future.

We must see the best way to harness this reservoir of wisdom, combine it with the political will to make the much-anticipated change mandatory to reconcile development and the protection of environment.

In this respect I suggest that we first achieve an Asian consensus to reach a global climate Agreement by 2009, based on traditional wisdom of Asia, the new knowledge brought to us by science and leadership of those who have helped make this the Asian Century.

The role of history and the influence of Buddhism have conditioned to a great extent the culture and values of Sri Lanka. What I find particularly interesting to note is that Buddhism can provide helpful insights and practices across a wide spectrum of disciplines - and on the protection of the environment too, we discover ancient wisdom in the teachings of Buddhism. Let me conclude by quoting from this great Wisdom of Asia: The Buddha had once said: “A tree is unique. It has unlimited tolerance, patience, and generosity. It provides a congenial atmosphere for many living organisms to survive. It also keeps on providing shade (as long as it stands) even to the man who attempts to destroy the tree with his axe.” May the Triple Gem Bless you!.

Canada: Counterterrorism police move on Tamil group

Counterterrorism police in Quebec and Ontario effectively shut down a non-profit organization for Canadian Tamils this weekend due to allegations it has been raising money to finance terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.

The RCMP was expected to announce details of its unprecedented actions as early as today, but several sources said police had moved in to enforce a Federal Court restraining order against the World Tamil Movement.

The WTM's offices in Montreal and Toronto have been under police investigation for six years, and were raided by police in 2006. While no charges have yet resulted, the decision to seek a restraining order suggests Ottawa is aggressively pursuing the group.

The restraining order pertains to real estate in Montreal and other assets in Toronto.

The recent events are focused mostly on Montreal. Police sealed off the Montreal WTM office on Friday, said Steven Slimovitch, the group's lawyer. He said his clients were barred from entering the premises, disrupting community programs.

"A Federal Court judge has issued an order to seal the office of the World Tamil Movement and to essentially put it under the trusteeship of the federal government," he said.

The order was issued under a section of the Criminal Code dealing with terrorism financing, but Mr. Slimovitch said no defence counsel were present for the hearing and his clients deny the allegations they are financing terrorists.

"My clients have never been charged with terrorism-financing, and my clients have never had a chance to defend themselves against terrorism-financing accusations," he said.

The action is the latest development in two related RCMP-led investigations called Project Osaluki and Project Crible. The probes, by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams in Ontario and Quebec, are examining allegations the WTM has been funnelling money to the Tamil Tigers to finance civil war in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers are an outlawed terrorist group in Canada. Knowingly raising money for the group or financing its activities is against the law and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Many members of Canada's large ethnic Tamil community support the Tigers and their fight to create an independent state for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority.

Police went to court last week to ask for restraining orders against WTM properties in Toronto and Montreal, said a source familiar with the case. Officers were in the process late yesterday of serving official notice to the people associated with the properties.

Police officers were having difficulty finding at least one per-son linked to the group and its properties. The RCMP was apparently waiting for that to take place before publicly announcing the moves it had taken.

This appears to be a first in the realm of terrorism, but the police action is similar to the way police routinely deal with organized crime: Officers will appear before a judge in private and present affidavits seeking judicial approval to restrain properties considered proceeds of crime.

While the property is restrained, the owner cannot sell it, move it, alter it or dispose of it. The order secures the property pending a court hearing. The owners are then notified and can appear before the courts and mount a defence against the Crown's allegations.

A judge will then decide whether the restrained property should be forfeited to the Crown or returned to its owner. The process is similar to how police restrain fortified clubhouses of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and other bike gangs.

The weekend police action in Montreal has disrupted community activities scheduled for the group's headquarters in the city's Cote-des-Neiges district, Mr. Slimovitch said.

"Essentially they're shutting down the entire community -- artistic things, sporting things," he said. "My clients completely deny any terrorism financing. They support the Tamil people and they support the Tamil people's right to self-determination, but they are very much against any form of terrorism."

An official with the WTM Montreal office declined comment and referred all questions to Mr. Slimovitch. The lawyer said he intends to go to court to have the reasons for the order disclosed.

Corporal Elaine Lavergne of the RCMP said the police force could not comment as a result of the secrecy order.

"We are under the authority of a court," she said. She could not even disclose the level of court that issued the order, which she said is sealed from public view. "It has never happened before," she said of the sweeping secrecy provisions.

The president of the WTM's Ontario branch, Sitta Sittampalam, also declined to comment yesterday. "I was asked by my lawyer not to reveal anything on this matter," he said. "I'm not in a position to divulge anything."

Source: National Post
Related: Tamil movement held to account

Video: Wanni Operation - 13 April 2008

Sri Lanka military liberation of Wanni (in the North) from the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). 13 April 2008.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Video: Wanni Operation - 10 April 2008

Sri Lanka military liberation of Wanni (in the North) from the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). 10 April 2008.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Difference between "Tamils" and "Tamil Tigers" - by a Tamil who had insights into Tamil Tigers

* Pirabaharan killed all the persons he worked with before he became the leader of the Tigers.
* After Pirabaharan became the leader of the Tigers, he started killing all Tamil political leaders, elected mayors, university professors and many innocent Tamils who had criticized Tigers.
* In 1990 Pirabaharan wanted 100,000 Muslims in the North of Sri Lanka to get out within 24 hours - a text book example of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
* If all Tamils like Tigers, why is Greater Colombo flooded with Tamils from Tiger controlled areas?
* Why are none of the Tamil business people investing in Tiger controlled areas?
* Last thirty years, Tigers killed more Tamils than any body else.

The story begins:

The actions of Velupillai Pirabaharan, the leader of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) prove he is real tiger. The only business he knows is killing. He killed Kalvian Kaadu Chetty, the person who named the group "Tigers" and the original leader of the Tiger group.

Then Pirabaharan tried to kill the next leader of Tigers, Uma Maheswaran in a shoot out in India. He killed the founding members of the Tigers, Michael and Pat Kunam. Pirabaharan himself tipped off the Police about the then leaders of Tigers, Kuttimani and Thangathurai and their whereabouts. This incident led to Kuttimani and Thangathurai’s incarceration until their terrible deaths in the Welikade jail.

Pirabaharan killed all the persons he worked with before he became the leader of the Tigers. He even killed the last surviving Tiger group founding member Sabalingam who was residing in France, because Sabalingam started writing about Pirabaharan's power hungry killings.

After Pirabaharan became the leader of the Tigers, he started killing all Tamil political leaders, elected mayors, university professors and many innocent Tamils who had criticized Tigers. Pirabaharan banned all Tamil political organizations for the last twenty years and finally the international community including USA, Canada, European Union, India and Australia has banned the Tigers, mainly due to Tigers' continuous use of child soldiers and their terror activities.

Pirabaharan also killed hundreds of people who were members and supporters of Tamil political organizations. Pirabaharan killed the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He even killed the Sri Lankan President Premadasa who had provided helicopter loads of weapons and money to Tigers.

Pirabaharan clearly knows that under any circumstances except at gunpoint, majority of Tamils won't accept his leadership. That's why he killed all other Tamil Political leaders, to become as the so-called "Sole Leader of Tamils".

Ramachandran a.k.a MGR, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu gave Pirabaharan more than 1.25 billion rupees in 1985. Tamils provided their support to Tigers at gunpoint only and never helped Tigers to grow to this extent. Without MGR massive financial support and Premadasa's supply of weapons and money, Tigers won't exist today.

Tigers are terror loving trigger-happy killers, created by MGR and Premadasa. Tigers' killings are severely affecting the future of Tamils since the killings created a huge political vacuum.

In 1990 Pirabaharan wanted 100,000 Muslims in the North of Sri Lanka to get out within 24 hours, leaving their belongings and treasured valuables - that was a text book example of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Prabhakaran made Idi Amin look like an angel as Idi Amin had a heart to give the Asians in Uganda three months to leave the country and not 24 hours.

Most of the young people who are younger than 35 years, do not know the history of Tigers. They believe that, Tigers became so powerful, because of continuous outpouring support from majority of the Tamils.

If Tamils like Tigers, why is Greater Colombo flooded with Tamils from Tiger controlled areas? If majority of Tamils like Tigers, Tiger controlled areas should be flooded with Tamils from other areas. Why are Tamils trying to escape Tiger controlled areas, rather than migrating to Tiger controlled area?

If Tigers lift the exit pass system and allow free movement in the Tiger controlled areas, except the people on Tigers' payroll, every body else will leave Tiger controlled area. The only supporters of Tigers are that they either do not know anything about Tigers or gain benefits from Tigers.

Why are none of the Tamil business people investing in Tiger controlled areas? Why are even farmers leaving Tiger controlled areas? Why are Tamils living abroad trying to help their relatives to leave Tiger controlled areas? In Tiger controlled areas nobody can express any political opinions or different ideas.

Only things allowed to say are those that support Tigers. No way can anyone criticize Tigers and live the next day in a Tiger controlled area. Tigers that do not care about human lives will never understand even the basics of human rights. Even the hardcore Tiger supporters are not willing to relocate to Tiger controlled areas.

Majority of the Tamil refugees, who claimed asylum in western countries, told the authorities that they were running away from Tigers. If majority of Tamils who live abroad support Tigers, why do they have to be threatened to collect money for Tigers as reported by the Human Rights Watch?

If majority of the Tamils who live abroad support Tigers, those Tamils would line up in front of the Tiger branch offices to drop off money. The major serious problem Tamils are facing right now is there are hundreds of very young terror loving trigger happy Tigers who know only one thing, which is killing another human. Last thirty years, Tigers killed more Tamils than any body else. Also more Tigers were killed by Pirabaharan than any body else.

Majority of Sri Lankan Tamils are patiently hoping, praying and waiting for a new young democratic political visionary as a leader. Until then, gunpoint Tiger culture and never ending killing spree by Tigers will grow and continue.

Norway opposes 'external' solution to Sri Lanka conflict

Oslo, April 12 (IANS) No 'externally designed solution' will end Sri Lanka's dragging ethnic conflict, a senior Norwegian diplomat has said, as an international conference here called for a negotiated end to decades of fighting.

Norway's special envoy to Sri Lanka, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, told the two-day meeting that ended late Friday that Oslo would be more than happy to back 'any solution endorsed by the Sri Lankan people'.

'One should not be tempted to try impose an externally designed solution to conflicts but assist the parties in defining a domestic one,' Hanssen-Bauer told the meeting organised by the Art of Living Foundation of Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

'The common understanding between the government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) has been that talks are aimed at finding a political solution that is acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka,' he said. 'For Norway, any solution endorsed by the Sri Lankan people is acceptable.'

Although Sri Lanka has withdrawn from the Norway-brokered ceasefire agreement of 2002 with the LTTE, Oslo remains the designated mediator between the Tamil Tigers and Colombo.

Hanssen-Bauer's comments follow criticism from ruling circles in Sri Lanka that Norway has been biased towards the LTTE and that it wants to foist on the island a solution to the conflict not acceptable to the majority.

Reflecting his own style of functioning, Hanssen-Bauer added: 'In our view, mediation works best when the mediators opt for a low profile and avoid visibility on their own behalf.

'They should aim for a limited role, be more obsessed with process than results, and stay involved through the complex ups and downs of a typical peace process.'

Participants from Sri Lanka appealed for negotiations to end one of the world's longest running conflicts that has claimed more than 70,000 lives since 1983 and led many more to flee the country and take shelter in other countries.

Arumugam Thondaman, the Sri Lankan minister for youth empowerment and socio-economic development, said he was 'strongly of the opinion that there is no military solution (to the conflict). It is essential to evolve a political solution'.

Buddhist monk Seevali Nayaka Thero said it was time for both the government and the LTTE to think about the lives being lost because of the war.

'In any place, in any country, only by war you cannot solve the problems. Only peace talks and reconciliation can solve the problem,' he added. 'This is exactly the message Buddha conveyed 2055 years back. It is very important we have to stop the war, we cannot take any more loss of lives.'

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has in the past visited LTTE-held areas in northern Sri Lanka, spoke about the importance of spiritualism in resolving any conflict.

'Whether it is inter-religious conflict or intra-religious conflict or it is a conflict between communist or capitalist ideology, it all starts in the minds of people, in the hearts of people.

'When such conflict begins, they shut themselves from reasoning, prejudice overtakes, and communication goes haywire. It's here we need to build the trust among the communities. Spiritual leaders, religious leaders, can play a bigger role in this.'

Among others who took part in the conference were India's MDMK leader Vaiko, Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramvichar Netam, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann and Nirj Deva, Rajiv Wijesinha of the Sri Lankan Peace Secretariat, Colin Archer of the International Peace Bureau (Switzerland), Sri Lankan MP Jayalath Jayawardene and Maduluvave Sobitha Nayaka Thero (Sri Lanka).