Saturday, February 21, 2009

The kids are no match of the experienced soldiers

Strategy Page:http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/srilank/articles/20090219.aspx

Crossing The Bloody Line

February 19, 2009: The LTTE efforts to use Tamil civilians to protect their fighters, and provide publicity that would help their cause, have backfired. UN, and other NGOs, have seen and reported on the LTTE ploy. Worse yet, for the LTTE, are the reports of the rebels killing Tamil civilians, in order to terrorize them into not trying to flee the shrinking battle zone. There is now less than 100 square kilometers of LTTE controlled area in the northeast. It's a narrow coastal strip. The army is taking 5-10 square kilometers a day, and encountering more young teenagers, recently conscripted and armed by the LTTE to "defend the homeland." The kids are no match of the experienced soldiers, but progress is still slow because the LTTE still have some landmines, and skill at making booby traps. No one wants to be the last soldier to die in the war.
Many Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates, long the main financial backers of the rebels, are appalled at cynical and callous use of Tamil civilians by the LTTE. The use of terror and suicide bombers always left a lot of Tamils queasy, but they accepted it, along with the propaganda about the oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka. But this turned out to be another case where the cure was worse than the disease. Tamils and Sinhalese have fought each other (verbally and physically) over control of the island for centuries. The bad blood and grudges go way back, and, for too many, nothing is forgiven and forgotten. But the LTTE are seen as crossing a moral line and carrying their terrorism to unacceptable extremes.

As the army has advanced over the last year, the LTTE has moved key assets to prevent capture. But now, many of those portable assets have nowhere else to go, and they are being captured. This includes printing presses, artillery, communications gear and the trucks used to move it all. A large weapons factory was also taken, along with tons of raw materials for landmines, booby traps, mortar shells and so on.

So far this month, 40,000 or more Tamil civilians have fled the shrinking LTTE territory. Over a thousand of these refugees were killed or wounded by LTTE gunmen trying to prevent the movement. There are believed to still be about 100,000 Tamil civilians under LTTE control. At the same time, the remaining LTTE leadership are apparently not planning on surrendering, but carrying out a mass suicide. This is intended to inspire other Tamils to continue the struggle for control of Sri Lanka, or at least a portion of it.

The LTTE has urged its political allies in southern India to do all they can to get India to intervene, and stop the fighting (which is seen as likely to severely damage the LTTE by the end of the month). The pro-LTTE Tamil politicians tried, but the Indian government refused to apply coercion to Sri Lanka to halt its military operations. While the LTTE has many supporters in southern India (which is dominated by Tamils), most Indians have no love for the Sri Lankan terrorists, because many Indian politicians and soldiers have been killed by the LTTE. This has not been forgotten.

February 15, 2009: The air force destroyed two LTTE boats off the short coast the LTTE still controls.

February 13, 2009: Britain caused a major breakdown in diplomatic relations by appointing one of their diplomats as a special envoy to help deal with Sri Lanka's "humanitarian crisis." Britain did not ask Sri Lanka their opinion beforehand, of who to appoint, and this annoyed the Sri Lankan government. For decades, Britain provided many LTTE members sanctuary, and condemned the Sri Lankan government as it sought to deal with the LTTE rebellion. Although Britain eventually saw the LTTE for what it is, the Sri Lankans still resent the British sense of moral superiority, and annoying political correctness (which is typical of most European nations.) The Sri Lankans contrast this with Japan, which consults before appointing and sending a diplomat to look after humanitarian concerns. Moreover, Japan has been more generous in giving aid ($600 million in the last year, compared to $6 million from Britain). Sri Lanka has also halted rebroadcasts of some BBC shows (in Sinhala, Tamil and English) because of disagreements over how Britain tends to favor the LTTE and Tamils in discussions of Sri Lankan affairs.

February 12, 2009: The United States has designated another Tamil charity as a fund raising front for the LTTE (which was declared an international terrorist organization in 2007

Captured Aircraft Testing Site

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Another massive bomb factory recovered

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Northern Battle Front 20 th February 2009

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Troops seize a luxury house of Prabhakaran

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LTTE used pocket torch to navigate planes

*Planes packed with high explosives
*Tigers lacked sophisticated automated systemsFebruary 21, 2009 (AFP) - Tamil Tiger rebels who staged a suicide air raid on Sri Lanka's capital used a pocket torch to navigate, but their planes were packed with high explosives, military officials said Saturday.

One of the Tigers' two light aircraft was shot down before it could hit its intended target the main airforce base at Katunayaka the military said.

A military source said a search of the wreckage found that the pilot had no night vision equipment to fly in pitch darkness and instead used a pocket torch and a hand-held global positioning device.

"We have recovered the wreckage in almost one piece and found 215 kilos (473 pounds) of C-4 type high explosives," Wing Commander Nanayakkara told AFP. "But the aircraft had very basic navigational aides."

Authorities immediately switched off electricity in the capital when they detected the rebel aircraft heading toward the city late Friday.

Two people were killed and another 58 wounded when the second plane smashed into Colombo's main tax office.

Military officials said they had expected the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to use the planes in a suicide attack before losing them to advancing government forces in the north of the island.

The guerrillas have now lost over 98 percent of the territory they once controlled and are confined to an area of less than 100 square kilometres (38 square miles) along a coastal jungle stretch in the island's northeast.

"Both planes were operated by suicide pilots," Nanayakkara said.

"One plane wanted to hit the air force headquarters, but due to the volume of anti-aircraft fire, it had to change course," he said. "He probably crashed into the Inland Revenue building after taking a lot of ground fire."

Military sources said they suspected the Tigers lacked sophisticated automated systems and had also used basic navigational aides on their previous missions to Colombo.

"It's not easy to fly low at night and it's even more difficult when you don't have the right instruments," a senior commercial pilot said. "These Tiger pilots must have had extensive training abroad."

The guerrillas are known to have at least five Zlin-143 planes smuggled into the country in parts and re-assembled.

Sri Lanka's military has captured all the air strips the guerrillas operated, but the two aircraft took off from a strip of paved road in an area still under their control.

They were airborne for nearly an hour before they were taken down by ground fire.



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Images: http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=41258

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Complete Clip: Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary in PBS - Interview with Tavis Smiley

Los Angeles: In an exclusive conversation, via satellite from Colombo, Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona responded to the genocide allegations made by the Oscar- and Grammy- nominated British born Tamil rapper M.I.A on last night's edition of Tavis Smiley talk show on PBS.

Responding to a question from the host on M.I.A's comment on alleged genocide of Tamil people of Sri Lanka Kohona said "M.I.A. is a great artist and we wish her well," "But, sorry, I think she is misinformed and it's best that she stays with what she's good at, which is music. Not politics."

Addressing the ethnic issue, Foreign Secretary Kohona said there is a whole complex situation on the ground of Sri Lanka.

"The Tamil people are our people. They are our brothers, they are our sisters, they live amongst us. I don't think there is a problem that the Sinhalese have with Tamils. They do have a problem with the Tamil Tigers," he said.

When asked whether the Sri Lankan government is engaged in genocide of Tamil people Kohona pointed out that 54% or more of the Tamil population live normal lives in the government controlled areas among the Sinhalese, Muslims and other races.

If there were genocide what all these Tamil people doing in the government controlled areas, he asked.

"Being the only Tamil in the Western media, I have a really great opportunity to sort of bring forward what’s going on in Sri Lanka, There’s a genocide going on.” M.I.A. said in an interview on the PBS program last month.

Kohona accusing the Tigers of holding civilians as human shields said civilians are paying the price for the ambitions of a small group.

He said the Sri Lankan government is doing all it can to get the civilians to the government controlled areas.


Clip from Tavis Smiley show on PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/video/flv/generic.html?s=tavi08s1fdaq769

Is Sri Lanka heading in the right direction?

It is learnt that the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and US secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, called for an immediate “humanitarian” ceasefire and the need of a ‘political solution’ two weeks ago and last week, the British High Commission announced the appointment of British parliamentarian and former defence secretary Des Browne as Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s special envoy to Sri Lanka.

Des Browne, speaking of his appointment, had said he welcomed the opportunity to act as the Prime Minister's Special Envoy and was looking forward to contributing to the UKs efforts to improve the ‘serious humanitarian situation’ and liaising with all parties that may have a role to play in taking forward work on a sustainable ‘political solution’ in Sri Lanka.

Western governments are pretended to be the great supporters of humanitarian issues— provided that the issues involved are not those of their own citizens. These ‘owners of the human rights, champions of interpretations of anything to their own benefit’, are adopting a different policy towards smaller developing nations such as ours, Sri Lanka.

The people of West appear to be peaceful but the leaders of governments of the U.S. and of Britain have a proven taste for carnage, as we see from their actions over the most recent years towards Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan etc (the list goes on), even if we exclude the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians though out the history by these perpetrators.
Let us take one out of several recent examples of disrespect for human lives by these two economic and military powers, just to see if there is any significant change in their taste for carnage with time.

The US-Britain led war against Iraq did not begin in 2003, as many people believe. In fact the US and Britain had been waging an undeclared war against Iraq more than a decade. The aim has been the destruction of Iraqi society enabling the US and Britain to gain control of Iraq's huge oil reserves. As a result of economic sanctions against Iraq, the prevention of the delivery of much-needed medical and other supplies because of US vetoes in the U.N. Security Council, and the carcinogenic effects of depleted uranium left over from the 1991 Gulf Slaughter, over a million people have died including an estimated 600,000 children .

As the entire world is aware now, the alleged "weapons of mass destruction" is just a lame excuse to bomb Iraq several times a week and to maintain sanctions which are slowly killing many of the people of Iraq. This policy by the US and Britain has truly been inhuman, slow genocide certainly, and no amount of hypocritical moral posturing on the part of their leaders can disguise this.

In the military process, it is reported that U.S. and British pilots slaughtered at least 200,000 Iraqi men, women and children. And of course all these murdered human beings were dismissed by the Pentagon as "collateral damage." BBC does not give publicity to these figures, although the broadcaster is all-out to mislead the world when a terrorist ‘in journalist’ cloth was arrested by the Sri Lankan police.

Apart from their ability to dismissals of any crime committed by themselves out rightly, these super powers are champions of justifying and regretting after committing such crimes. Few such justifications and regrets (typical) are;

"The pilot attacked what he believed to be military vehicles, but he dropped his bomb in good faith, as you would expect of a trained pilot from a democratic country. ... The bomb destroyed the lead vehicle, which we now believe to have been a civilian vehicle."

"NATO deeply regrets" the deaths of 80 people which occurred when NATO attacked two refugee columns in Western Kosovo on April 14.”

"NATO deeply regrets" the deaths of thirty nine civilians killed when a NATO missile hit a bus crossing a bridge at Luzane on May 1.”

Thus judging by the above records, the obvious question we have in Sri Lanka is, what moral rights do the leaders of these countries have to advice us on how to improve the so-called ‘serious humanitarian situation’ and to work on a ‘political solution?

‘Humanitarian issues’ and ‘Political solution’ are the last trump cards of the game played by the LTTE propaganda machinery. Almost all printed and electronic media supportive to the outfit are full of statements and media releases issued by the NGOs funded by foreign interests, few notable academics and politicians who are in the payroll of LTTE. These groups appeared to have intensified their battle for their own survival since a successful military action against terrorism may deprive the income of those waging PEACE.

On the other hand, Tissa Vitharana, the Chairman of the ‘FPRC’ (Few Party Representative Committee) appears to be busy in finalising his so-called ‘Political Solutions to Terrorists Problems’ or ‘Square Pegs for Round Holes” as ‘APRC’ (All Party Representative Committee), for a non-existing problem, just to provide the moral support to those holding the ‘Political Solution’ trump card. According to media reports, Vitharana’s ‘FPRC’ is proposing full implementation of the 13tth Amendment and to establish another Assembly consisting of Provincial Members. He is getting ready to put forward these proposals at the end of this month. The 13th Amendment was made to the Constitution amidst fear of Indian invasion and the extent of opposition to the treacherous Indo-Lanka pact was notable when a sailor attacked the Indian PM while the latter was receiving the guard of honour.

Prior to the signing of the 13th Amendment, there had been a belief that the ‘Official language policy" of 1956 was the root cause of the conflict. The 13th Amendment made Tamil an official language overnight as a solution but the charges against discrimination and demand for self-determination continue to be made based on those lines. If official language is the root cause, the conflict would have resolved itself with the implementation of the 13th Amendment language policy.

There is hardly any difference between the Quasi-Federal Indian government and the form of government forced on us by the Indian constitutional draftsmen. In fact, some argue that the Indian Constitution has vested more powers with the Centre than those made under the 13th amendment in this country and when implemented in full Sri Lanka’s system will surpass the Indian’s quasi-federal system.

Thus, the unitary nature of our Constitution was shattered with the establishment of Provincial Councils. The powers once devolved, especially along ethnic lines, though the Centre has the power to dissolve any provincial council, will be irreversible and, if an attempt is made to reverse them, the consequence would be disastrous.
An additional Assembly consisting of Provincial Members will add more burdens to economy similar to the Provincial Councils and will help only the politicos who have nothing else to do.
Is Sri Lanka heading in the right direction?

by S. Akurugoda

Wanni Operation - 18 Feb 2009

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Northern Battle Front - 18 Feb 2009

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Tamil Tiger Fronts Back To Extortion & More Violence

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

MEDIA RELEASE
February 18, 2009

LTTE Fronts back in the Extortion Business and Manipulating Tamil Youth to Violence

Stories of extortion of Tamil Diaspora members especially in the Scarborough area are once again being whispered by members of the community, as collectors for the banned Tamil Tiger terrorists fan out demanding funds to procure weapons for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which is now confined to a narrow strip of 80 square kilometers in the jungles of Mullativu, Sri Lanka. Money is being demanded again (as earlier reported on by Human Rights Watch in March 2006), with those refusing to accede having to give written explanations concerning such refusal to contribute the sums on demand. It is certain that weapons procured at this stage will not be of any help to save the Tamil Tiger fighters who are folding up faster than a pack of cards. Diaspora members are left to wonder if the LTTE fund collectors are making a last minute bid to line their pockets before the game is up for the terrorist movement
in Sri Lanka?

Violent Acts on the part of the Tamil Youth is being witnessed in the GTA, with the ugly incident of attempting to burn the National Flag of Sri Lanka at the York University campus yesterday as reported in the student publication, 'ExcaliburOnline' being the latest such incident:

"Police called after Sri Lankan flag set on fire after rally
Written by By Scott McLean, Assistant News Editor
Wednesday, 18 February 2009"

Previous to this, the demonstrations orchestrated by the Tamil Tiger fronts saw Tamil youth forcing their way into the Sri Lankan Consul General's office on the fourth floor of an office tower on St. Clair Avenue West creating a disturbance and videotaping the staff on duty at the time. This is a violation of the space belonging to the official representative of a friendly country and member of the Commonwealth with whom Canada has ties which go back several decades. This was not an isolated incident, as these so called pro-Tiger demonstrators intruded their way to the Sri Lanka Day event held at the Harbour Front, and also threw sand and other missiles at the bus carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team which participated in an international tournament to which they were invited by Cricket Canada last October.

A breach of the peace is likely to occur with the high handed manner in which the pro-
Tiger supporters have chosen to demonstrate their support for the LTTE terrorists and their failed aim of breaking up Sri Lanka by force of arms and suicide terrorism to establish a mono-ethnic, fascist state exclusively for Tamils in the northern and eastern regions of that country. We hear of extreme steps such as 'self immolation' being talked about at a demonstration in Toronto or one planned to be held in Washington DC. Politicians dependant on the Tamil Diaspora votes in the GTA refer to the extreme conduct of these demonstrators as their deep commitment to their cause as they woo their votes, and expect to throw a life-line to the dying Tiger Terrorist movement by calling for yet another ceasefire in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan authorities will not heed the cries of these politicians and their gimmicks, as they want to regain the country from the canker of LTTE terrorism that has devastated the nation for the past three decades.

Yours very truly,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Honorary President

LTTE airplane manufacturing plant found

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PBS, Tavis Smiley Show with Foreign Secretary at 7PM on Wednesday, Feb 18th

According to Ananda Wickramasinghe, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Los Angeles, the PBS TV network has now agreed to provide a live TV coverage to explain the position of the Sri Lankan Government about its efforts in bringing everlasting peace and harmony to all Sri Lankans including Tamil citizens, who are trapped by the LTTE and being used as human shields. Appearing on Tavis Smiley Show on the PBS last week, Sri Lankan born U.K. based music rapper Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A.) accused the Sri Lankan government of genocide.

Accordingly, Tavis Smiley Show on the PBS TV network will telecast a live interview (via satellite) with Dr. Palitha Kohona, the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka.

The live telecast will take place as follows:-

In Los Angeles, it will air on Wednesday, February 18th 2009 - KCET - PBS on "Tavis Smiley" at 7.00 PM (Pacific Time). Please check with PBS for your local timings.

Repeat telecast at 11.00 PM (Pacific Time).

For more info, check this site:
http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/200902/20090218.html

For your local timings and channels please visit the link below:
http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/broadcast/

If you have not seen the interview of M.I.A., check this link:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/video/flv/generic.html?s=tavi08s1ddeq6f6

Help Save Innocent Civilians From Ruthless LTTE Terrorists

As our brave soldiers in Sri Lanka fight the final battles to save our Motherland from clutches of terrorism, and our innocent Tamil brothers and sisters are held hostage by the ruthless LTTE terrorists, it is time for us to join together to stand, and urge the US to pressurize the LTTE to release the innocent civilians.

The pro-LTTE diaspora is planning a rally to spread their malicious false propaganda about 'genocide', and will be gathering in large numbers. This is the last time we can show our strength against the LTTE, before the entire region now held by the LTTE is liberated by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

If ever there was a chance of showing your gratitude to the brave brothers and sisters fighting to protect our Motherland, this is it! Join us in a peaceful rally to urge the US authorities to pressurize the LTTE to release the innocent Tamil civilian hostages, and to stand up against the scourge of terrorism that has plagued our Motherland for decades.

Please bring a Sri Lankan national flag with you, and invite your friends - non-Sri Lankans too! Signs, placards, banners and distribution material will be provided at the venue. Please bring snacks for yourselves.

Date : Friday, February 20, 2009
Time : 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location : The Ellipse - South of the White House
Street : 17th Street & Constitution Av NW
City/Town : Washington, DC

There will be several buses / coaches arriving from different parts of the country for the rally, please contact the individuals given below to organize transport from your area:

New York:
Queens

Mr. Kelum Kandegedara - 917 292 6021

Staten Island
Mr. Suranga - 718 541 2622

Long Island
Mr. Dayananda Peiris - 631 734 7140
Mr. Sunil Herath - 631 949 2602

New Jersey:
Ms. Shanika De Alwis - 718 807 1051
Dr. Kanchana Mudalige - 732 749 0697

Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia:
Mr. Daya Weerakkody - 240 423 1210
Mr. Sanath De Silva - 202 776 0816
Dr. U.B. Gunasinghe - 703 930 4320
Mr. Manjula Dissanayake - 240 460 8491

North Carolina:
Dr. Claude Luvis - 704 824 1600

Georgia:
Dr.A.W. Amarasinghe - 770 506 7738
Mr. Daminda Manamendra - 404 358 1908
Mr. Ranjith Siyasena - 404 275 8061

Florida:
Mr. Percy Fonseka - 407 583 9769

- We are Sri Lankan, srilankan@wearesrilankan.com

Need for New Global Conventions

By Thrishantha Nanayakkara, Radcliffe Fellow, Harvard University

On Feb. 9, an LTTE suicide bomber killed herself inside a crowded transit camp maintained by the government for displaced Tamil civilians in northern Sri Lanka. She killed and injured scores of Tamil men, women, and children awaiting transport to safer areas. A day later, the LTTE shot and killed 19 civilians as they attempted to cross over to government held areas. The incident was not widely reported in international media, perhaps due to its low political appeal. However, it is absolutely imperative that we resolve—as a global community—that no rebel group or government be allowed to commit such crimes against humanity again.

As a Sri Lankan who has spent most of his life in a brutal conflict between the government and the LTTE—also known as the Tamil Tigers—I have seen many instances in which crime against helpless civilians could have been avoided had the global community devised better mechanisms and conventions to those affected by conflict.

Just as gravity pulls together the local chaotic movements of water droplets to orchestrate the outer geometric identity of a waterfall, conventions pull together human turmoil to orchestrate the notion of humanity. The Tamil Tigers can perpetrate the above crime and face mere condemnation from a few countries, because almost no convention to protect war-affected communities exerts enough pressure on rebel groups who abuse civilians. Nearly all mechanisms are devised to limit the scope of military action that a government can take to face a rebellion, which has been proven insufficient to protect internally displaced persons. Moreover, this pressure imbalance is often abused by parties with vested interests to interfere in the internal politics of war-affected countries like Sri Lanka, further compounding the vicious cycle for those affected.

>> Full story on Harvard Crimson

LTTE propaganda stunt exposed: images manipulated to satisfy diasporas

To smother its humiliating string of defeats at the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces LTTE propaganda clouts have taken to what they have known best over the years 'manipulation and distortion' of true ground situations, what is viewed as rough efforts to satisfy the war mongering diaspora communities world wide.

Following images were posted by a main LTTE propaganda web portal on 6th February, 2009, which according to our technical investigations reveal as pictures taken on October, 2008. According to our informed sources, the war mongering LTTE donors have denied raising further funds for the outfit, expressing dissatisfaction, with its efforts to stall the current military surge into the remaining LTTE hideouts. These images were posted in order to satisfy those funding the 'LTTE perpetrated crimes against humanity' the sources said. "This is how they (LTTE) generate money from the disapora who are hooraying on the suffering of their own brethren", a defence observer asserted. As it is evident the LTTE spin doctors have taken these images well in advance and have also made a twist in the original time settings. According to the image properties available, the time settings were reset with a 12hour difference.

>> Full story and pictures HERE

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More children victims of the conflict, says UNICEF

COLOMBO, 17 February 2009 – With a growing number of children being recruited by the LTTE and scores of children being killed or injured in fighting, UNICEF today expressed its gravest concerns for children, as Sri Lanka’s conflict enters a new phase.

“We have clear indications that the LTTE has intensified forcible recruitment of civilians and that children as young as 14 years old are now being targeted,” said Mr Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka. “These children are facing immediate danger and their lives are at great risk. Their recruitment is intolerable.”

From 2003 to the end of 2008, UNICEF has recorded more than 6000 cases of children recruited by the LTTE. “Child soldiers suffer physical abuse, traumatic events and face death. Instead of hope, fear defines their childhood,” said Duamelle.

UNICEF also said it was extremely alarmed at the high number of children being injured in the fighting in the northern area of Sri Lanka known as the Vanni. “Scores of injured children have been evacuated in the past week,” said UNICEF’s Duamelle. “Children are victims of this conflict by being killed, injured, recruited, displaced, separated and denied their every day needs due to the fighting.”

Full story on UNICEF

Wanni civilians expose Heinous crimes perpetrated by LTTE - 16 Feb 2009

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Sri Lankans against LTTE in Milano, Italy - 15 Feb 2009

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UN says 'civilians killed' by LTTE

Tamil rebels have prevented thousands of civilians from leaving Sri Lanka's war zone and also used force against them, the UN says.

The LTTE, or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, is holding non-combatants in a patch of coastal jungle in the northeast of the island, where they have been cornered by government forces, the world body said in a statement on Monday.

It said: "A growing number of people trying to leave have been shot and sometimes killed."

The LTTE is also recruiting child soldiers as young as 14 years old, the UN said.

It urged both the LTTE and government forces to work harder to ensure that civilians are not killed by disease and the continuing fighting.

Government forces say they are on the verge of routing the LTTE after more than 25 years of civil war.

But more than 200,000 civilians are trapped in the conflict zone as the Sri Lankan army moves against the Tigers.

The LTTE says it is fighting for an independent state for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka, a majority Sinhalese nation.

Conflicting accounts

The UN said in its statement that it welcomed a declaration made last week by the Sri Lankan army of a larger "safe zone" for civilians on the country's northern coastline, but noted that there had been fighting even within that area.

"Reports from yesterday indicate that there was some fighting inside the zone. This fighting led to the deaths and injury to yet more civilians," the UN said.

"The United Nations calls for the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE to refrain from fighting in areas of civilian concentration."

But Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a Sri Lankan army spokesman, said there had been no fighting on Sunday in the new no-fire zone.

"There is no resistance from the area, and there are no confrontations there," he said.

Sick evacuated

Some sick and injured civilians were evacuated from the no-fire zone on Monday by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

About 400 injured and their accompanying relatives were shipped out for "further medical treatment," Sarasi Wijeratne, a ICRC spokeswoman, said.

The ICRC earlier said that a "humanitarian catastrophe" was unfolding in the region where "hundreds" of civilians perished this year.

The aid organisation carried out similar sea evacuations twice last week, bringing 745 wounded from Puttumattalan, within the government-declared safe zone, to the government-controlled northeastern seaport of Trincomalee.

More than 70,000 people have been killed over the course of Sri Lanka's civil war.

(Courtesy: Al Jazeera)

Hillary Clinton and Misunderstanding the LTTE

By Stephen Long, Los Angeles, California

Ever since I started voting I have generally supported the Democratic Party, its policies, and its candidates. Early in the recent Presidential Primaries I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I felt that she had what it took to steer America on a safe course through the troubling times that I felt were ahead for this country once the “bubble had burst.” When Barrack Obama won the Democratic Party’s nomination I supported him in the General Election as vigorously as I could. I now feel very comfortable that Mr. Obama is the right man for the job at the right time, and I have high hopes that he can turn America around, solve its myriad problems, and set the course for peace and renewed prosperity.

At one point during the early Primaries we learned that Mrs. Clinton had unknowingly accepted campaign contributions from an LTTE front organization. To her credit, when she discovered the source of the bad money she returned it, but she failed to clearly and fully condemn the LTTE for the atrocities it had committed against the people of Sri Lanka. Instead she made the weak, ambiguous statement that it was “wrong to put all terrorists into the same category.” I was appalled.

It is my opinion that violently shedding human blood is wrong in all circumstances – no matter who commits the crime – no matter what the country. As far as I am concerned terrorists are all in the same evil category. Mrs. Clinton’s statement disappointed many Sri Lankan-Americans who had faith in her, and I think she lost their confidence and support. I had hoped that she would correct or refine her position and come out with a stronger statement that categorically condemned the LTTE, and call it the wretched beast it truly is. She did not do this.

When Mrs. Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State I sincerely hoped that she would further educate herself on the situation in Sri Lanka, and demonstrate a greater level of understanding in regards to its struggle to protect itself against the most evil of all extremist terrorist organizations – one who just a few days ago sent a thirteen year old girl to blow herself up and kill twenty-nine people who reached out to offer her food on a Buddhist holiday.

Last week, however, Mrs. Clinton missed an important opportunity to show she had learned better when she and the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued a joint statement saying “The time has come to resume political discussions is now, and we will continue to work with the Tokyo Co-Chairs, the Sri Lankan government and the UN to facilitate such a process.” After learning of this ridiculous, watery statement I can’t decide if Mrs. Clinton is suffering from misinformation or naiveté – or if she has succumbed to the influence of LTTE propaganda mongers and Beltway lobbyists such as Bruce Fein, the former US Deputy Attorney General who has been on the payroll of various LTTE front organizations for the past year and a half.

Instead of following the US Government’s policy of “not advocating that the Government of Sri Lanka negotiate with the LTTE” Mrs. Clinton announced in her joint statement with Miliband that they should, in fact, do so. Why would the US Secretary of State express such a misinformed opinion that was completely contrary to her Government’s official policy?

I suspect that the LTTE has somehow gotten the ear of Mrs. Clinton. She, like many officials from many governments around the world, seems to have bought the LTTE lies, which have been fed to her by the well-paid likes of attorney Bruce Fein. In my view this is not acceptable under any terms. I strongly suggest that she review her statement and come out much stronger against the LTTE if she is to be believed as a senior international statesman who truly opposes all terrorist activity.

With this article I am calling upon her to revise her statement and tell us directly that she is willing to let Sri Lanka work out its internal problems on its own, and that she supports the Government’s efforts to finally end the reign of terror that has plagued Sri Lanka for the past twenty-six years. I want to hear it straight from her mouth that the LTTE is not to be negotiated with under any circumstances, that they do not represent the majority of Sri Lanka’s Tamils, that they will not be tolerated by any civilized country on the planet, and that they should lay down their arms and surrender at once.

If Mrs. Clinton doesn’t issue this sort of a statement I will fear for Barrack Obama because Mrs. Clinton surely has his ear. I would hate to think what would happen to the US’s official policy on Sri Lanka if he became as misinformed as she was.

And while Mrs. Clinton is at it, I suggest that she start investigating attorney Bruce Fein and find out who exactly is paying him. In other words: follow the money. I still can’t figure out how he can legally represent the front organizations of a banned terrorist organization and still have the right to practice law in the United States.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mass anti-LTTE Protest in London

More than 100,000 patriotic Sri Lankan Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims participated at an anti-LTTE protest in London on February 14th, 2009. One of the largest protests in London lasted for nearly five hours.

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Middle East travellers to Sri Lanka surge by 24% in 2008

Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, SLTPB Middle East Director

Bucking global economic recession and a downward spiral in the tourism industry worldwide, Middle East travellers visiting Sri Lanka surged by 24% in 2008 according to Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) Middle East Office.

“The year 2008 has been one of promising growth, driven by heightened consumer awareness in the Middle East, and the growing desire for culture and adventure among regional travellers,” said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB.

She noted that the strongest growth markets included UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iran. “Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is anticipated to make rapid strides, owing to increased travels related to wellness and spas, culture and adventure purposes,” said Ms. Al Mansoori.

“Declining costs of travel, changing lifestyle patterns, consumer friendly travel facilities, and good child care and maid facilities for Arabs travelling with families have been key growth drivers,” Ms Al Mansoori observed.

Cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining are some of the factors that draw modern day Arab travellers to their preferred destinations and Sri Lanka offers a good product that scores on all counts and is less than four hours flying time away from the Gulf.

The Middle East has outperformed all other regions of the world, by becoming the fastest growing source market for Sri Lanka. Other travel origin markets for Sri Lanka that had positive growth included France, Switzerland, Russia, Singapore and Thailand among others.

About SLTPB’s Middle East

“Sri Lanka is one of the best kept secrets in the world as a travel destination, especially for Middle East travellers. The food is exotic and wonderful, the people are gracious and friendly, the accommodation options are first rate and many of the sights are unparalleled anywhere in the world,” said Ms. Al Mansoori.
SLTPB’s Middle East office is responsible for all tourism promotional activities in the Arab markets including exhibition participation, marketing visits, presentations and road shows, advertising, brochure distribution, public relations, as well as familiarization visits to the island for influential business and travel journalists. Factors such as government support for the tourism sector, and expansion of low-cost carrier services are also contributing to the growth of the industry. The tourism industry is one of Sri Lanka’s economic pillars and is keen to develop business from the Middle East region by enhancing its position as a tropical paradise.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sri Lankan Air Force sink two rebel boats

The military in Sri Lanka said the Air Force sank two attack craft of Tamil Tiger rebels and destroyed another in the northern Mullaittivu district in air strikes on Sunday (Feb 15).

"Sri Lankan Air Force MiG-27 fighter jets launched precision air strikes at identified LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) attack craft sinking two, while destroying another, north of the Mullaittivu lagoon at around 1 p.m. (0730 GMT)," said the Ministry of Defense in a statement.

Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said the three LTTE craft were located near the wreck of the Farah-III, Jordanian cargo vessel which was pirated by the LTTE on Dec. 23, 2006.

Government troops are on a full-scale military offensive against the LTTE, which the government said has been cornered in an area less than 200 square-km in the Mullaittivu district.

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Live Air and Ground Attacks - Northern Battle Front - 14 Feb 2009

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Sri Lanka's ruling coalition wins provincial polls

Sri Lanka's ruling coalition won control of two provincial assemblies, according to election results Sunday, in a victory seen as an endorsement of government efforts to defeat separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

The governing United People's Freedom Alliance coalition won 34 of 56 seats in the Central provincial council and about 65 percent of the votes counted for the North Western provincial council in Saturday's elections, the Department of Elections said. Counting in one electorate was still not complete.

Recent military victories against ethnic Tamil rebels have boosted the popularity of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition government among ethnic majority Sinhalese.

Rajapaksa's main rival, the United National Party, has favored negotiations with the Tamil Tigers but has been largely sidelined amid the government's military successes.

(Associated Press)