Thursday, June 25, 2009

“Vasantham TV” transmissions from today

Independent Television Network, celebrating its 30th Anniversary introduced a new Tamil TV channel, “Vasantham TV” launched its transmissions today morning.
Chairman of the Independent Television Network, Anura Siriwardena opined that transmissions which will initially cover the Western Province, will shortly be extended islandwide. Transmissions will be undertaken through VHF Channel Nine. Arrangements are in place to telecast to the entire country through the Dialog Satellite Channel. PEO TV of Telecom will also be used.

In addition, it will also be available on Cable TV in Colombo and other areas.

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Dhammapada Presentation to the Australian Parliament

On the 15th of June 2009 a Buddhist delegation presented the Dhammapada Buddhist text to the Speaker of the House of Representatives The Hon Harry Jenkins MP .

The Speaker will formally request the Clerk of the House to place it in a despatch box in the Chamber. The idea arose from a visit to the House by Brian Ashen, President of the Australian Buddhist Councils when a guide explained the Bible, Koran and other spiritual texts were contained within the despatch boxes.

The text presented was the Pali Dhammapada , a translation by K.R. Norman, a foremost expert on early Indic languages. The Pali Dhammapada was the first Buddhist text to receive a critical edition and translation into a European language and has been translated countless times in the modern era.

While this version is by far the best known , versions of the Dhammapada exist in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit and other languages. The details of these texts differ, but the essential teachings are common to all schools of Buddhism. Hence the Dhammapada was chosen to be placed in Parliament for its central importance within all the living Buddhist traditions. It offers spiritual guidance from a Buddhist perspective that is meaningful for all, whether Buddhist or not.

The Buddhist delegation comprised of

Venerable Sujato – Abbot Santi Monastery Bundanoon NSW
Venerable Thich Quang Ba, Abbot Van Hanh Monastery ACT
Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim Abess Seon Centre Victoria
Lama Choedak Rinpoche, Spiritual Head Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra
Venerable David Lungtuk President Australian Sangha Association

Mr Brian Ashen, President Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC)
Mrs Mohini Gunasekera, Honorary Vice-President FABC
Mr Jim Ferguson, Buddhist Council of Queensland

The other participants in the ceremony were

Hon Harry Jenkins MP – Speaker, House of Representatives
Mr Ian Harris – Clerk , House of Representatives
Ms Cora Trevarthen- Adviser, Speaker’s Office
Ms Indra Kuruppu – Senior Researcher, Department of Parliamentary Services

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Child soldiers fight LTTE ghosts

AMBEPUSSA (SRI LANKA): Kumudha absent-mindedly fiddles with her left forefinger. Then, looking embarrassed, she hurriedly tucks it into the folds of
her skirt. She often forgets that she has no forefinger. Only a stub.

The finger was sliced off by a sniper's bullet while she was guarding an LTTE bunker in Konavil village in Kilinochchi in 2008. Heavy fighting had broken out as the Sri Lankan army pushed ahead in the north. This was just a couple of months after bullets pierced her right thigh and she was hospitalized.

In 2004, in the midst of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire, the LTTE was on a recruitment spree. Kumudha, barely 20 and all set to get married, was among the 100-odd young men and women and children hustled along a jungle trail from Amparai to Valaichenai in Batticaloa district in the eastern province. For nearly five years, she was forced to fight for the LTTE until she finally managed to flee in early 2009 from Visuvamadu.

On March 16, 2009, Rani (name changed), 17 years, was dragged from her house in Puthukudiyiruppu, kicking and screaming. She hugged her mother tight, shouting at the LTTE cadres to leave her alone. Despite her pleas, Rani was carried away to Valaignarmadam, north of Mullivaikkal. For five days, the girl, along with others aged between 12 and 17, was trained in handling rifles and grenades.

"In the camp, the young children would cry, begging me to take them home. I felt helpless," says Rani. For five days, she stayed in the Tiger camp and finally decided to make a run for it. LTTE cadres opened fire at her. "Bullets grazed my shoulder," she says. Injured, she managed to reach her home and her mother.

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Jewellery found from LTTE occupied areas: Army

Sri Lankan security forces have recovered 100 kgs of gold jewellery and a large amount of cash from an area in Wanni in north of the country where senior Tiger leaders were hiding.

A sum of Sri Lanka Rupees 64.91 lakh in cash and a few boxes containing about 100 kgs of jewellery were found during search operations by the troops, the army said.

"On Information, received from a LTTE cadre in custody, troops on Tuesday found large amount of money and jewellery from Velamullivaikkal area in Mullaittivu where senior Tiger leaders were hiding during their final days of the battle against the troops," it said.

It may be recalled that in middle of last month, the family of Sea Tiger Chief Soosai was caught in Mullaittivu escaping with a large amount of money with them.

Air craft missiles, grenade launchers, and an assortment of various types of bombs, including mortar bombs, Arun bombs and white phosphorous bombs were among items recovered on Tuesday during the ongoing search and clear operations by the army.

While Task Force 8 made the recoveries in Vellamullawaikkal and other areas in the former no-fire zone, troops of the 22 Division found a claymore mine and 400g of C4 explosives in Uppuweli area of Trincomalee in the east.

Separately, STF troops of Kalvanchikudi camp conducting search operations in Thoppigala and Sooriyadi in the east recovered 744 g of explosives among other military items.

Vavuniya police acting on a tip off found four suicide jackets, three with four kg of explosives and one with 10 kg.

Stockpiles of arms hidden or abandoned in the areas occupied by the LTTE in the north remain a major impediment to the early resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons, the news website "Lankapage" reported.

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry said troops of Task Force -8, while conducting search and clearing operations at the Vellamullaivaikkal coast, Mullaittivu have uncovered an LTTE submersible vehicle.

The 24ft long, 4ft height vehicle was found several meters off the Vellamullaivaikkal coast, military sources said.

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Sri Lanka's east to set up no-firearm zone soon

COLOMBO, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's once volatile Eastern Province held by various extremist groups is to be free of firearms next month, defense officials announced on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defense has set a rigid deadline of July 2 for all extremist groups holding firearms to surrender the weapons.

"The government has asked all groups to surrender weapons," A. L. M Hisbullah, a provincial government official told the media.

The police said the directive was aimed at some Muslim groups carrying firearms in the Batticaloa district's Kathankudy area.

"There were people who took up arms in self defense due to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) problem. Now the LTTE is not there anymore," Hisbullah said.

In 1990, the LTTE massacred around 100 Muslim devotees in the Kathankudy mosque.

The multi-ethnic Eastern Province where almost equal proportions of all three ethnic communities -- Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils -- live has seen peace prevailing since the government troops expelled the LTTE from the province in 2007.

Local elections were held in 2008, resulting in an ex-Tamil militant group, Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP, Tamil People's Liberation Tigers) gaining control of the province.

The TMVP themselves surrendered their weapons late last year.

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US says LTTE transitional government not recognized, Tigers listed again,State Department insists not blocking IMF loan

By Easwaran Rutnam

The United States says it does not recognize the provisional transnational government of Tamil Eelam announced by the LTTE head of international relations S. Pathmanathan and once again listed the Tigers as a terrorist outfit following its latest review.

Speaking during a live web chat last night from the US State Department, senior U.S. State Department official Gregg Sullivan said that although the US welcomed reports that the LTTE has renounced violence and will now pursue its objectives through peaceful means there is a long way to go before the Tigers can be considered a reliable entity.

“Towards the end of the conflict, their (LTTE) efforts to keep civilians in the war zone, block their departure from war-ravaged areas and their firing from civilian areas put civilians at risk. They're going to have to demonstrate clearly that the tactics they've used for the last 30 years really are in the past. Aside from the passage of time and a

clear record of constructive engagement, I'm not sure I have any other advice for how the LTTE shows a different face to the world. But, the case of Libya illustrates how a nation or organization can change its terrorist path and chart a new course. All I can say is we'll be watching for clear signs of such a change,” he said in response to a question posed by Daily Mirror.The U.S has designated the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization since 1997 and that designation remains in effect because of their consistent use of methods that both deliberately and indirectly target civilians.

Under that designation, the US has restricted LTTE funding operations, their travel, and their organization activities through various laws and seizure of assets. Mr. Sullivan said that following a five-year review the decision was taken to continue listing the LTTE as a terrorist entity with all the restrictions on their activities.

“We have long condemned their use of terrorist tactics, including assassination, kidnappings, suicide bombings, and intimidation of the local population. Nor, do we recognize the Provisional Transnational Government Government of Tamil Eelam. We do not take issue with the Sri Lankan Government’s view of the LTTE as a terrorist entity or their efforts to counter their terrorist activity,” he said.

The senior US official also said that despite the activities of the LTTE, there is an essential element that needs to be addressed if Sri Lanka is going to meet its aspirations as a stable, tolerant, unified, and democratic nation.

“I want to underscore that our highest priorities in Sri Lanka right now are addressing the humanitarian needs of the displaced population, facilitating their prompt return to their homes, helping the Government of Sri Lanka heal the wounds of the conflict, and working toward building a democratic, prosperous, tolerant and united Sri Lanka. One of our paramount goals is to convince the Sri Lankan Government that it is in their own interest to reach out to Tamils and promote political reconciliation. Responsible Tamil leaders need to come forward to engage with the Sri Lankan Government constructively,” he said.On the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan the US official said that Sri Lanka and the IMF are currently in the process of negotiating a Stand-by Arrangement and the US is taking a fresh look at the agreement. He however insisted the US is not threatening to block the loan and we will carefully assess any program in light of the conditions in Sri Lanka at the time.

“We are The Department of Treasury is in the lead for the U.S. Government on IMF issues and we will coordinate closely with them as the Sri Lankan Government-IMF negotiations proceed,” he said.

He noted that right now Sri Lanka has an opportunity to get back to its status in the 1980s as one of the ''Asian Tigers'' with vigorous economic growth. If the Sri Lankan Government moves forward with policies that embrace the civilian Tamil community, bring the Tamils into the reconstruction process, empower responsible Tamil leaders through implementation of the 13th Amendment, and foster a new political and economic integration of the Sinhala and minority communities, it can be an example for all other countries that have suffered ethnic conflict, he said.

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Tamil tabloids con and cheat the community

Unless a community is infantile and immature or exceedingly naïve the media organizations especially the publishers of tabloids would not have prospered as they appear to have done over the years among the Tamil Diaspora. This is true of the Tamil communities in their new homelands be it Canada, US, UK, France, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Australia.
The LTTE may be wiped out in Sri Lanka but in these countries, the bullying presence of LTTE standard holders is more than evident. Though in total disarray, each one and each group eying to appropriate for themselves the incredible LTTE funds and fortunes squirreled in various places and forms, the community is being held captive to the belief that the Eelam War is still on and in course of time Eelam will be achieved.

This is key to the continuing con that enables to cheat the Tamil community for more funds for the Eelam course. All kinds of novel ideas are being hatched from wanting to build toilets in Wanni to setting up an Eelam government in exile, all of which costs money. Fund collectors also need funds to pay the mortgages for their mansions and other commitments of personal nature.

The most popular idea to fuel anti-Sinhala hatred and give legitimacy to whatever the LTTE did immaterial whether they carried out massacres, enlisted child soldiers or forced young girls into becoming suicide bombers, is to point the fingers at the government to say they committed genocide.

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Melbourne Business College chief arrested

suspected of Tamil Tiger terror offences

AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have arrested, at the request of the FBI, a director of a Melbourne Business College believed to be linked to the Tamil Tigers over alleged terrorism offences in the US. Thulasitharan Santhirarajah, 34, is expected to face extradition proceedings after his arrest on Monday when AFP agents raided homes and businesses around Melbourne, including the office of his Melbourne International College.

The raids were conducted at the request of the FBI, which has been cracking down on the fundraising activities in the US of members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. A spokesman for federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland yesterday confirmed the US had requested that Mr Santhirarajah be detained.

“The man is wanted to face prosecution for alleged terrorism offences in the United States of America,” the spokesman said. “As this is an ongoing law enforcement matter, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the case.” Mr Santhirarajah appeared briefly in Melbourne Magistrates court on Monday and was remanded in custody until next month.

As well as the city office of the college, AFP agents raided five properties and businesses in Narre Warren, Dandenong and Lysterfield. It is understood police questioned some colleagues and business partners of Mr Santhirarajah, but later released them. Staff at the college yesterday refused to comment on the raids or Mr Santhirarajah’s arrest.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Status of Livelihood Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Fishing restrictions lifted in the Northern and Eastern seas

In order to uplift the livelihood of the fishing community in the Northern and Eastern provinces the government has decided to lift all restrictions which were in force to prevent LTTE illegal activities. The decision came into effect after a discussion held by Senior Presidential Advisor Hon. Basil Rajapaksa MP with the fishing community in the two provinces on the directions of the H.E the President. The fishermen in both provinces can now engage in fishing activities in day and night time. Sri Lanka Navy has taken the measures to ensure the safety of the civilians involved in fishing activity. Furthermore, ferry movement in the Delft island is permitted without time restrictions under Naval supervision.

Transport goods through A-9

Private traders/transporters are allowed to transport consumer goods by lorries through A- 9, Kandy – Jaffna highway. A convoy of 40 lorries will be permitted twice a week to travel through A-9 highway. So far nearly 300 private lorry owners registered with government authorities for transport of essential goods to the North. The government is also planning to allow public transport along the road during day time once de-mining process is completed.

Northern rail track extended to Omanthai

Reconstruction work of the northern railway track will be extended upto Omanthai within the next three months. Earlier, the railway track was extended to Thandikulam and the Thandikulam railway station was ceremonially declared open recently.

Water and Sanitation ( Vavuniya welfare centers)

The water supply for the IDSL welfare centers has increased. In addition to the existing 3 .5 km pipeline laid by The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) which supplies water from the Kallaru river, the 1st Phase of a joint project with UNICEF assistance has been completed by the NWSDB. The project consisted of the laying of a 5.5 kms of pipeline from Malwathu Oya to Zone 03. The pipeline makes available 4000 cubic maters of water per day which is sufficient for 200, 000 persons on a basis of 40 litres/person/day. In addition water bowsering is on going to all IDP sites. Average water use for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene is 15 litres/person/day.


The Ministry of resettlement and Disaster Relief Services has provided a revised update of the resettlement figure for the Musali DS Division in Mannar. The 1st Phase returned 109 families consisting of 369 persons on 30 May 2009 in the Shaveriyapuram Grama Niladhari Division. The 2nd Phase returned 542 families consisting of 2,040 persons in 13 GN Divisions on 09 June 2009. A total of 642 families consisting of 2,397 persons have been retuned to their origina

Monday, June 22, 2009

SL President has no intention to be in power beyond peoples mandate

The United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA) led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa firmly believes in the peoples' mandate and the freedom of the voters' franchise rights, and has no intention to be in power beyond the period mandated by the ballot, asserted Minister of Mass Media,Information and Enterprise Development,Anura Priyadharshana Yapa today(21).

The minister made these observations in response to a news report, in a Sunday Weekly today that the President was requested by some sections within the government to continue in office without holding a Presidential Election.

He pointed out that the President was very popular and moreover a person who firmly believed, strongly upheld and placed his faith in the system of democratic governance and norms.'Therefore, President would decide on the matter of re-election at the appropriate time stipulated by the procedures enshrined in the Constitution,' Minister Yapa opined.

According to the minister, the President can call a presidential election after November19, 2009 or after he completes his first term in office in 2011.

He further opined that the UPFA and its main constituent, the SLFP, were political parties that firmly believed in democracy and recalled how the SLFP opposed the referendum to extend the life of parliament during President JR Jayewardene's administration.

'We beleive in people's mandate and the democratic right of the ballot and this we have demonstrated many many times.The people have positively responded in large majorities to elect representatives to all bodies in a democratic manner', Minister Yapa asserted.

While acknowledging that there was indeed a popular call by the people for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to continue for a further period uncontested, the Minister emphasized that the wish of the President was to seek re-election following democratic norms.

'He is today a very popular President and the people will definitely respond positively in his favour at an election to express their gratitude to a leader who saved his nation and his people from the clutches of cruel terrorism to make headway towards development", Minister Yapa added.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eastern revival