http://www.scribd.com/doc/15984471/Lk-Legislation Draft bill to amend the Sri Lanka Constitution: Prohibition of Forcible conversion of religion (L.D.O./INC/7/2004)
By Janaka Perera, Asian Tribune, April 26, 2009
Colombo, Sri Lanka — The Joint Committee of Buddhist Organizations has welcomed the common desire of Christian Churches for an integrated Sri Lankan Nation but notes that some of their activities in enriching national life are highly questionable.
The JCBO has stated this in response to a letter by Christian Leaders to all Parliamentarians on the proposed Anti-Conversion Bill which has been the target of criticism by almost all Christian organizations here.
Twenty four Christian Leaders of mainline Churches are signatories to the letter. They include 18 Catholic Bishops and retired Bishops, Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Baptist Sangamaya, Presbyterian Church and Salvation Army.
They allege that the bill will (a) erode the democratic right of religious freedom, namely the right to choose a religion according to one’s conscience (b) prevent Christians: and indeed the adherents of all religions in spite of their innocence, to stand with the affected and serve one another for fear of legal consequences in spite of their innocence and (c) the interpretation and implementation of certain provisions of the bill are likely to provoke more inter-religious suspicion, tensions and conflict than will resolve them.
The Christian leader’s letter to MPs argues that all religions practiced in Sri Lanka have had their origins outside the island and that over the centuries the Christian Church and Christians have grown to become an intrinsic and integral part of the social fabric of our country.
Following is the full text of the JCBO statement prepared by the committee’s Co-Conveners Gamini Perera and Chitra Wijesekera in response to the complaints and allegations made by Christian Leaders:
On the Background
It is regretful that the Christian Church is attempting to bring Buddhism, which has molded the life, culture and traditions of this peace loving country for well over 2550 years, on par with the Christian Church that had emanated from a colonial background of repression and has existed for a few centuries in Sri Lanka. The barbaric and inhuman manner in which the spread of different brands of Christianity was undertaken is well documented and needs no elaboration here. Despite this, the tolerant Buddhist rulers and the people at the time allowed other believers to merge with the social fabric of the country and even protected the then Catholic community who were being hunted by the Dutch Protestants to the extent of permitting the use of temple premises to conduct their religious activities, and gave asylum to the Muslims who were being attacked by the British. Accordingly all religions not only had a right as claimed but enjoyed all the privileges that the majority Buddhists magnanimously extended to them. There is little doubt that these acts have contributed in great measure to the status they now enjoy.
We were pleased to read that the common aspiration of the Christian leaders has been an integrated nation. However on the basis of past events we respectfully wish to state with responsibility that some of their major activities in enriching national life have been directed at consolidating and expanding Christianity using means which we consider are questionable. Their humanitarian services have been commendable but they have been marred by subtle, long term strategies to attract persons of other religions to their faith by means which an officious bystander will not accept as moral. Particularly in the field of education where they established the infrastructure to impart a good education in their schools, there is evidence that the dearth of good schools has been turned to undue advantage by the respective Churches by alluring non Christian parents with a thirst to impart a good education to their children, to accept conditions which are immoral, for admission of their children to most Christian schools. This has been compounded by the fact that many schools they run on their policies receive sizeable public funds for operating the schools.
The well known long time role and involvement of certain Catholic Bishops with the LTTE, which have hardly drawn any adverse comment or action from the Church, do not justify their claim of co-operation in nation building. On the contrary the activities of some senior Christian clergy have been directed towards attempts to break up the Nation State. Even to this date statements issued by certain Christian leaders are unbalanced in favor of the LTTE.
An unseen agenda which is knitted into many of the activities by the Christian Churches fits in to their overall objectives of Christianizing the Buddhist world as evident from several pronouncements made by Christian leaders. These objectives are very clear from the late Pope’s statement that was made when he visited India, namely, “the task ahead of the Church is the evangelizing of Asia during this millennium”. In 1940 The Rt. Rev. Lakdasa De Mel, on his elevation as Assistant Bishop of the Anglican Church, said: “The task of the Church in Ceylon will not be finished till the remaining ninety percent of the population, who are not Christian, are converted.”
We are very pleased that the Christian leaders have admitted to their past errors and we fervently hope that they will strive to understand the foundations of our ancient heritage and culture and refrain from infringing on the religious beliefs of others through policies and practices for alluring them or their children to change their religious beliefs.
On the Bill on Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Again we respectfully disagree with the Christian leaders that there is any valid reason for their stated concerns about the Bill. The original Bill was placed before the Supreme Court and after hearing two full days of comprehensive arguments by both sides, the Court determined that the main contents of the Bill were acceptable except for a few amendments necessary to qualify it to be passed by ordinary majority in Parliament, which have been attended to. It thus seems naïve to fear that the Bill will erode the democratic right to choose or change to a religion according to one’s conscience. A clear and intelligent understanding of the Bill will prove that there are no provisions in it that will either prevent acting according to one’s conscience or make one who does so an offender. Clearly, offenders under the Bill are those who convert or attempt to convert by force, allurement or fraud, or aid and abet in such conversions. We do not accept Sri Lankan society as presently constituted as a pluralistic society, but this notwithstanding, the Bill in no way undermines or tampers with the right to one’s conscience.
There are many areas of social life were there is some risk of legal consequences in spite of being innocent and the proposed legislation is also no exception. This particular Bill however has special protections to ensure that frivolous actions are not brought before a Court.
Inter religious tension and suspicion are already present and on the increase, due to more recent acts by other religious activists against Buddhists. The evangelical churches, better known as the fundamentalist Christian groups, have been largely responsible. In a letter written by Bishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in May 2000 to the Ministry of Cultural and Religious Affairs he says of these fundamentalists that, “The good relations that exist between the Buddhists and Christian Churches could easily be disturbed because of the unethical manner in which these non traditional Evangelical churches go about their conversions. They have their own ways of reaching out to non Christians to win them over – ways that have been resented by the Buddhist clergy ….” These fundamentalists have no respect for morals and they boldly oppose even Buddhist monks who attempt to defend the freedom of religion and conscience of Buddhists whom they target for converting unethically, often subjecting these monks to threats and violence. Reliable reports from the North where all Christian Churches have had a privileged and active presence throughout, indicate that an alarmingly large number of helpless Hindus have been pushed to change their religion, a blow to religious harmony.
The view of Christian leaders is that the Bill will create more conflict than resolve them, resulting in the country having to take another unaffordable conflict centred on religious tension. The stark reality however is that over 80 percent of the population are legitimately aggrieved due to the absence of a law to make unethical conversions an offence or to give much needed guidance to the Police to deal with complaints, while less than 7 percent of the population with no valid reasons are opposed to legislation. In this environment the logical conclusion that one may reasonably draw is that the chances of a conflict centred round religion is far remote if there is legislation in place to address the legitimate concerns of the large proportion of the aggrieved parties.
On the alternative proposal for an Inter Religious Council
Unofficial Inter Religious Councils have been existent for a number of years without any transparency in their activities, and these Councils have had no impact on the problems faced by Buddhists and Hindus and the tensions created by unethical conversions, long known to all religious leaders. We fail to understand what incentive the various Christian sects that will sit on an Inter Religious Council will have, to solve this problem when their common ultimate goal of Christianizing this entire region is very much alive. The ball is firmly in the court of the Christian churches, and they do not need the participation of others to address the problem they have created and to take a joint pledge with the participation and co-operation of all the mainline and evangelical Churches, to stop all unethical conversion activities so as to make the legislation a dead letter in course of time.
It has become the fashion to lay by a problem by pushing it to a Committee when a solution affects some interested party. We see the proposal for an Inter Religious Council as a red herring drawn across the process that has been activated to have legislation against unethical conversion approved by Parliament. Therefore we respectfully urge all Honorable Members of Parliament to desist from deviating from the course taken on the Bill so far and to have it placed before Parliament and debated to its conclusion.
Source : Buddhistchannel.tv
Commission on Unethical Conversions: Report recommends steps to minimise conversions
The Commission on Unethical Conversions has recommended that written approval from a District Secretary must be made compulsory for the construction or expansion of places of worship to minimize unethical conversion of Buddhists to other faiths.
This applies to Buddhist temples, churches, kovils, mosques and other places of worship and the Pradeshiya Sashanarakshaka Balamandalaya should be notified of this approval obtained from the District Secretary within two weeks, upon which the DS should publicise the requirements of the place of worship, carry out an investigation and then announce his/her decision on the matter, the Commission in its report released recently said.
The commission appointed by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress was headed by former High Court judge Kalubowilage Sarath Gunatilake and comprised Dr. Ariyaratna Lankachandra (former Director of Education), Dr. Pagngnadasa Gardiye Punchihewa (former civil servant ), Herbert Gamini Gunawardane (former Senior Deputy Inspector General Of Police ) Disanayake Mudiyanselage Jayathilake Dissanayake (former Director of Education) , Somaratne Kariyawasam (formerly Commisioner of Buddhist Affairs, Budagoda Arachchige Don Alfred Wijewardana (formerly Senior Suprintendent Of Police ) Kathriartchige Srimathie Chitra Wijesekara (formerly of Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service) and Karuna De Silva (former company directress )
The commission recommended that newly registered religious or missionary institutes should handover an affidavit or take an oath promising only to engage in religious work among already established followers and not convert those from other faiths to that of their own.Article 9 of the Constitution states that the Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14 (1)(e), the Commission observed.
However, that foremost place and fostering does not apply to other religions, the report said.
“The government should conduct investigations on post 1972 religious groups and “cults” that arrived in Sri Lanka, and ban them if they are found to be of a harmful nature, the report said.
The Commission report said the anti-conversion bill presented in Parliament as a private member’s bill had lapsed with the prorogation of Parliament last year, adding that the draft bill which had been prepared by Buddhist and Hindu organisations should be presented to Parliament as a government bill and passed without delay.
The government must formulate proactive laws that would prevent buildings that are constructed by obtaining licenses from local authorities under the guise of buildings for dwelling or business purposes and later being used as places of worship, the report further recommended.
Citing individuals and organisations with a foreign background as those who most frequently get in the way of protecting and fostering the Buddha Sasana, the Commission recommended that an institute that answers to the legislature similar to the Auditor General’s Department be set up as a step towards implementing Article 9 of the republic’s constitution.
Referring to Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) the Commission report said that an authority coming under the purview of the Finance Ministry which answers to the Treasury should be set up to monitor local and international NGOs adding that such an authority could scrutinize the accounts of those NGOs. Introducing legislation necessary for this purpose should be a priority of the government, it said.
Such an authority, the Commission said, should make sure that the NGOs in question operate within the responsibilities and confines imposed by the government. Carrying out projects that directly or indirectly involve unethical conversion by must be banned, the report said.
The proposed authority must have the powers to cancel the license of any NGO that goes against its advice, the report added.
In addition to these, the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) should establish a ‘data centre’ where members of the public can lodge complaints against attempts at unethical conversion, unauthorised construction of places of worship, fundamentalist “praying centres” and other conspiratorial acts that attempt to tarnish the image of the Buddhist clergy and the public, the report said. The assistance of the Maha Sangha, the Buddhist public and Buddhist organisations both local and international should be sought for this purpose, the Commission added.
The report by the Commission on Unethical Conversions appointed to look into alleged unethical conversions of Buddhists to other faiths was released and presented to members of the Buddhist clergy by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress early this month at Ananda College, Colombo.
According to the report among the objectives of the commission were to ascertain information to help identify the general structure and operational mechanism of organisations engaged directly or indirectly in converting Sri Lankan Buddhists to other faiths, to ascertain the sources of funding of such organisations, to investigate the disbursement of financial and other assistance by these organizations to achieve the set goals of these organisations in the fields of education and to ascertain the popular strategies employed to convert unsuspecting people to other religions in urban and rural areas.
The report cited as reasons for setting up the Commission, the “erosion of moral values in Sri Lankan society” following the introduction of the open economy and the alleged involvement of Christian fundamentalists and Islamic propagandists.
The report went on to cite 384 organisations which it said were either church groups or organisations with a religious background operating in the country. There were several schools and education institutes, including many nurseries actively engaged in unethical conversion, the report said.
The Commission Report on Unethical Conversions of Buddhists was handed over yesterday to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka by All Ceylon Buddhist Congress ' President Jagath Sumathipala at the Prime Minister's Office, Colombo.
The All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) appointed the Commission to investigate the conversions of Buddhists into other religions by unethical means and ruses, inspired by the Buddhist Commission Report inquiring into matters relating to Buddha Sasana, which was presented on February 4, 1956.
The Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya (The National Sangha Federation)) and several other Buddhist organisations have reportedly assisted the Commission appointed by the ACBC to prepare the report.
The founder of the Sangha Sammelanaya and the Chief Advisor to the Commission , Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera said, according to their findings over 400 NGOs operating in the country are responsible for unethical conversions.
"Several Christian fundamentalist and evangelical groups have been carrying out these conversions mainly in poverty stricken villages where people are easy prey for their conversion methods such as giving food items and by promising them to heal their wounds or to cure them with various religious rituals they conduct in small houses and huts," he pointed out.
"A considerable number of Tamil speaking people have become their victims," the Thera said.
These groups have infiltrated into Sri Lanka under the guise of NGOs . We have detailed information about these goups and their activities, he said.
Jan 8th, 2009
The Commission Report on Unethical Conversion of Buddhists, launched Tuesday, states that it has overwhelming evidence of Sinhala Buddhists, along with Tamil Buddhists and Tamil Hindus, being converted to other religious by unethical and unfair means due to poverty and unemployment. The Report recommends the government appoint a Special Investigation Division to probe into all harmful religious groups and cults which were set up after the 1972 Constitution and take measures to proscribe them.
Article 9 of the Second Republican Constitution of 1978, accords Buddhism the “foremost place” and commits the government to protecting and foster the religion The report proposed that all religious and missionary institutions when registering should take an oath or pledge that they will undertake to uplift the religious wellbeing of their adherents and not that of other religions, and also to refrain from engaging in conversion by unethical and undue means.
The Commission was
established in Mihinthale on Poson Poya Day,on June 11, 2006 to inquire into
the conversion of Buddhists into other religions through unethical means and
ruses and was headed by retired High Court Judge Sarath Gunathilake. All Ceylon
Buddhist Congress (ACBC) President Jagath Sumathipala, Cultural Affairs
Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene and Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga
and Mahanayakes and members of the Maha Sanga were present at the lauch..
It also recommended that the government take immediate steps to re-present the Bill against Unethical Conversion which lapsed with the prorogation of the Parliament as a State Bill, and that all Buddhist organisations at grass-root level should pressurise their representatives for its due enactment. Full details of all places of worship, prayer centres, pre-schools, day-care centres, elders and children’s homes, non-governmental organisations and special projects should be provided to the District Secretariat and that necessary legislations for the due supervision of the same be enacted.
US pressures Lanka on Anti-Conversion Bill
February 8, 2009
Lankan ambassador to the United States,
Jaliya Wickramasuriya, received a letter recently, signed by 15 US Congressmen, requesting that Sri Lanka
shelve the proposed legislation outlawing religious conversion.
This is the html
version of the file http://theloveherald.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=198.
Sri Lanka: Constitutional Amendment in Violation of International Religious Freedom
(Wednesday, 05 October 2005) - Contributed by The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) - Last Updated (Wednesday, 05
WASHINGTON The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expresses concern about a
proposed amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka that has been put before the Sri Lankan Parliament. Put forward
by the Jathika Hela Urumaya party of Buddhist nationalists and scheduled for a vote Tuesday, October 4, the proposed
19th Amendment to the Constitution would make Buddhism the official religion of Sri Lanka.
Of particular concern are other articles in the amendment that would violate the internationally guaranteed rights primarily
of members of the majority Buddhist community as well as minority religious groups. The same amendment was
proposed last year and found to be unconstitutional by Sri Lanka's Supreme Court."Passage of this amendment would
jeopardize the rights of all Sri Lankan citizens as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," said Commission Chair Michael Cromartie. Article 9.1 of the
proposed amendment states that "The Official Religion of the Republic is Buddhism. Other forms of religions and worship
may be practiced in peace and harmony with Buddha Sasana." The establishment of one religious community as a
country's official religion is permitted under international standards for freedom of religion or belief, and thus is not, in and
of itself, problematic. However, such a development can become of concern when, as a consequence, there is the
discriminatory or unjust treatment of individual members of that officially sanctioned group, any other religious groups, or
non-believers. The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that "the fact that a religion is recognized as a state religion
shall not result in any impairment of the enjoyment of any of the rights under the [International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR)], nor in any discrimination against adherents of other religions or non-believers."The
Commission has previously noted the increase in recent years of violence against institutions and individuals belonging
to religious minority groups in Sri Lanka, reportedly carried out or inspired by members of Buddhist nationalist groups,
and the inadequate government response to that violence. Against that backdrop, the vague wording of the second
clause of article 9.1 presents cause for potential concern because it leaves subject to interpretation what precisely
constitutes practicing "in peace and harmony" with the Buddhist community, which would under the amendment enjoy a
constitutionally privileged status. Two articles in the proposed amendment are particularly troubling. Article9.4 requires
that the inhabitants of Sri Lanka "professing Buddhism are bound to bring up their children in the same"; Article 9.5 states
that It is prohibited to convert "a Buddhist into other forms of worship or to spread other forms of worship among the
Buddhists." Both of these articles are in clear violation of international standards with regard to freedom of religion or
belief.Article 18 of the ICCPR states that signatory states must "respect the liberty of parents to ensure the religious and
moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions." Article 18 of the UDHR states that the right to
freedom of thought, conscience, and religion "includes freedom to change religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or
in community with others and in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and
observance."If this amendment were to pass, these rights of individuals of the majority Buddhist community would be
directly threatened, as their internationally guaranteed rights as outlined in the above documents would be abrogated. "A
traditional religion is not protected by violating the rights of its adherents. The voices of extremism in Sri Lanka should not
be emboldened through the passage of this anti-democratic amendment," said Cromartie." "The Commission calls on the
U.S. government to make every effort to urge the government of Sri Lanka not to alter its constitution in such a way that
puts it in violation of its international obligations."The Commission has in the past raised concerns about proposed
legislation restricting religious conversions in Sri Lanka, legislation that would have fallen short of international standards
with regard to freedom of religion or belief. The Commission has urged all the parties involved in these issues to work
together to restore a climate of religious tolerance in Sri Lanka and expressed the hope that the Sri Lankan government
would pass laws that are consistent with international standards.
From The Times
May 29, 2009
Catherine Philp and Michael Evans
On Wednesday evening the Sri Lankan delegation at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva was celebrating after its victory in fending off an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by its army.
Sri Lanka’s Government has consistently denied killing civilians in the battle to wipe out the Tamil Tigers and blamed the rebels for any deaths. It hailed the vote by the council as a vindication of its action.
An investigation by The Times into Sri Lanka’s civilian casualties, however — which was conducted in a week-long visit to Sri Lanka — has found evidence of a civilian death toll of 20,000, almost three times that cited previously. The majority perished under government guns.
Confidential UN documents, the testimony of witnesses who lived through the bombardment and expert analysis of photographs that were taken on a helicopter flight over the no-fire zone attest to the deaths of thousands of Tamils, killed while acting as unwilling human shields by the Tamil Tigers, who claimed to be their liberators.
Intended as a haven for civilians, the no-fire zone became a killing field instead for the thousands trapped between the rebels and the army.
Summaries of UN documents leaked this month confirmed almost 7,000 dead in the first four months of the year.
More than 13,000 civilians were killed until May 19, the day after the death of Velupillai Prabakharan, the leader of the Tigers, was announced.
That figure is based on the growth in the intensity of shelling in May, resulting in an average of 1,000 civilian deaths every day. “These figures are not even complete yet,” the UN source said. “It’s going to end up way more.”
The Times has acquired a full set of the documents showing the previously unreleased breakdown of the weaponry that caused each death and revealing the scale of carnage from shelling which defence experts said could have come only from the army’s side.
The UN figures until the end of April, which are based on death records, show that 2 per cent of deaths in January, the beginning of the final offensive, were caused by gunfire and more than 80 per cent by shelling.
Many of those shot were killed by the Tamil Tigers when they opened fire on civilians to prevent them from escaping after being held as hostages in the no-fire zone.
In February, 15 per cent were killed by gunfire as more civilians attempted to escape and 64 per cent were killed by shelling. The numbers killed by shelling doubled from March to April, with an average of 129 every day.
Three independent defence analysts who examined photographs of army and rebel firing positions taken over the no-fire zone confirmed that the range of the rebel weaponry and the narrowness of the zone make it unlikely that rebel munitions caused significant civilian casualties.
One told The Times that rebel mortars would have hit civilians only if their weapons had malfunctioned.
“It’s possible that some of the mortars might have misfired causing some of the damage but this sort of occurrence is rare,” Charles Heyman, a former army officer and editor of the magazine Armed Forces of the UK, said.
“It looks more likely that the firing position has been located by the Sri Lankan Army and it has then been targeted with air-burst and groundimpact mortars.”
Mortars are an indiscriminate weapon employed usually to take out groups of fighters on an open battlefield. Use of imprecise weapons of this kind in densely populated civilian areas is a war crime under Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Convention — to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.
Mortars — the Sri Lankan Army has 81mm, 82mm and 120mm rockets — can detonate on the ground where the impact would be absorbed partially, or between 100ft and 200ft above the ground, causing a mass of shell fragments.
Air-burst and ground-impact mortars can cause wide destruction and reduce trees to burnt stumps — one of the sights seen frequently in The Times photographs.
According to a former Sri Lankan army officer, the Tamil Tigers did not possess air-burst mortars. Their heavy weaponry had a range of 7 to 27km, meaning that most of their fire would have fallen outside the zone.
UN projections based on the last five days of April predicted an average May death rate of 341 every day, but the month was to prove bloodier.
Until the end of April, the death toll was collated from the number of bodies arriving at improvised medical centres or reports from doctors, priests and humanitarian workers inside the no-fire zone.
Bodies taken to the medical centres or casualties who died undergoing treatment accounted for not more than 19 per cent of the total death toll. In one day, when the names of 198 dead were collected, only 39 bodies were taken to the medical centre.
In the four days leading up to and including May 13, an average of 220 bodies were taken to medical points. On the worst day, the toll reached 480. Workers were unable to collect reports of other deaths because of the intensity of the bombing.
Based on the previous ratios, a conservative estimate still comes out at more than 1,000 civilian deaths each day, one UN source noted.
Counting of any kind was abandoned on May 13 when the bombardment reached such an intensity that most humanitarian staff had left and others were unable to leave their bunkers.
Still unaccounted for are 3,000 wounded civilians who were left in the last medical post in the no-fire zone when the remaining medical staff fled.
One humanitarian worker told The Times that makeshift hospitals had been repeated targets for the Government, which claimed that rebels were hiding in them.
In some cases, he said, the medical posts were bombed within hours of doctors telephoning their co-ordinates to the International Committee of the Red Cross so that the military could avoid bombing them.
UN sources accused the Government of waging “a war without witnesses”.
“They didn’t want anyone left to say what had happened,” one said. Three Sri Lankan doctors who reported on civilian casualties within the no-fire zone are being held on charges of spreading false information.
UN sources said that their workers were trying to discover the fates of thousands more who are missing. The task is complicated by the internment of Tamil civilians in military-run camps beyond the reach of humanitarian organisations.
No independent observers have been given access to the war zone. The Times was able to photograph the no-fire zone while travelling with Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General.
It is the only British publication to do so. The Times has made two official visits to Manik Farm camp in the last week, during which those who had fled the no-fire zone testified to their grim experiences there.
With the backing of its power ally China, there appears little prospect that the Government will be investigated for alleged war crimes. All of the Tiger leadership have been killed, leaving only middle-ranking cadre to face justice.
Common Article Three of the Geneva Convention prohibits the use of indiscriminate fire against civilian areas, even when a military force is using them as a shield, as the Tigers can be seen to have been doing in the photographs. The Government’s restriction of humanitarian law may constitute a war crime.
Sri Lanka’s 2006 Geneva Conventions Act purports to enshrine the conventions in its law but, according to the Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Project at the Geneva Academy of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, it specifically excluded internal conflicts.
Legal experts said, however, that the loophole, designed to exclude the war with the Tamil Tigers, did not exclude Sri Lankan commanders from international prosecution.
The Government’s words
January 31 President Rajapaksa
I urge the LTTE, within the next 48 hours, to allow free movement of civilians to ensure their safety and security. For all those civilians, I assure a safe passage to a secure environment.
April 27 President’s office
Our security forces have been instructed to end their use of heavy calibre guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons, which could cause civilian casualties.
April 28 Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara
We have not used any shelling or mortaring, only small arms. We know how we are fighting.
May 1 Palitha Kohona, Foreign Secretary
As long as the retaliation is proportionate it is perfectly legitimate and what we did exactly was locate these guns and retaliate against those guns. But I would challenge anybody to say that these shell holes were created once the civilians moved into the area May 11 Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Nothing could be as ridiculous as a claim of more than 2,000 civilians being killed in a single barrage.
May 17 Mahinda Samarasinghe, Human Rights Minister
Soldiers saved all Tamil civilians trapped inside the war zone without shedding a drop of blood May 21 The government minister, former Tiger leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan There are casualties and we have to appreciate the casualties because without them you can’t rescue the people
30 May 2009, 0102 hrs IST, AGENCIES
than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final days of Sri Lanka’s
military operation to eliminate the Tamil Tigers, The Times newspaper reported
Call for a Dhamma Summit in Sri Lanka
-- to heal the wounds of war and to launch a cooperative effort for socio-economic development
Sri Lanka led by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa should be complimented for winning a spectacular and decisive war against terrorism which has impeded development efforts for nearly three decades. Now is the time for India to reach out to the Sri Lankan leadership and offer the fullest cooperation respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Sri Lanka nation, a valued neighbour of India, and a civilizational partner in a Hindu-Bauddha dhamma continuum.
It is a proud moment in Sri Lankan history that the Mahasangha of Sri Lanka has conferred His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa with the highest national honour Vishawakeerthi Sri Threesinhaladishwara.
I suggest that the Mahasangha of Sri Lanka and Dharma Acharya Sabha should embark on a Dhamma Summit as soon as possible to rekindle among the people the memories of abiding civilizational relationships which transcend recent times, transcend recent divisive mis-adventures.
Sri Lanka is just emerging out of the trauma of almost three decades of divisions among the people exemplified by two onslaughts: terrorism by LTTE and violence called conversion by evangelization groups.
rehabilitation work is to be put in place, the real and present dangers of
intensified evangelization have to be countered by reaching out to the
war-ravaged civilian population in Sri Lanka.
Esha dhammo sanantano
to peace lies in evoking the great saying of Gautama, the Buddha: esha dhammo
sanantano, referring to the Sanatana Dharma which governs the gestalt of both
Indians and Sri Lankans.
practice Bauddham in Sri Lanka
hold the land that the Buddha walked as sacred and make their pilgrimages to
Bauddha pilgrimage sites in India.
as dhammo sanantano continuum holds the key to re-awaken the essential cultural
unity which binds the people of India
and Sri Lanka.
Together, India and Sri Lanka can launch into a new era
of cooperation in an Indian Ocean Community which can be a counterpoise to the
European Community. Sri Lanka
has already shown its reverence for Sri Rama by opening up Ramayana tourism
programmes in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka ’s Constitution contains a
separate chapter on Buddhism. This chapter contains of Article 9, which reads
“The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and
accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana,
while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Article 10 and 14 (1)
(e)”. (emphasis added). http://www.srilankanchristians.com/article6.html
Sri Lanka's population practices a variety
of religions. 70% of Sri Lankans are Theravada Buddhists, 15% are Hindus, 7.5% are Muslims and 7.5% Christians.
See locations of the religions in the following maps:
1980s, the population of Christians (mostly concentrated in the southwest of Sri Lanka) reached 1,283,600, 8% of Sri Lanka's
population. Of these Christians, about 88% are Roman Catholics and the rest are Anglican and
Protestant. By the 1970s, there has been a movement for all Protestant churches
to join together in a united Church
of Sri Lanka, though this
has been strongly opposed by the Sinhalese
mythical Apostle St. Thomas of India
is also supposed to have visited Sri Lanka (as noted in the
Wikipedia article cited above). As in India,
the myth continues to govern evangelisation activities in Sri Lanka. As
in India, Sri Lanka is
also wrestling with the problem of preventing conversions to christianism,
despite the fact that the Sri Lanka Constitution accords Bauddham the foremost
place (short of declaring it as State religion).
dangers of intensified evangelisation in the war-ravaged regions earlier
controlled by LTTE are real. This may be gleaned from the following report:
As the civil war rages on in Sri Lanka, Christian relief groups are doing their best to meet the huge and desperate needs of displaced war refugees in government camps.
Sat, May. 16, 2009 Posted: 01:24 PM EDT
As the civil war rages on in Sri Lanka, Christian relief groups are doing their best to meet the huge and desperate needs of displaced war refugees in government camps.
The U.N. estimates about 250,000 people are in need of aid in the north, including more than 160,000 people who escaped from the conflict zone since safe passage was opened last month.
With local and international partners, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) is providing emergency meals and temporary shelters to 15,000 Sri Lankan civilians in camps located in the northwestern and central portions of the country, the group reported Friday.
The food program will provide new arrivals with two meals a day that meet their nutritional needs until they qualify for food staples from the World Food Program.
In addition to food, CRWRC partners are providing temporary shelter to displaced families who had been living with multiple families under one tent. With the aid project, one family will receive a 12’ x 12’ tent. The project is providing $30,000 worth in temporary shelters.
Also Lutheran World Relief and Gospel for Asia, with the help of local partners, have delivered aid to displaced Sri Lankans.
Earlier in May, Lutheran World Relief said its partners delivered food packages and clean water to people living in refugee camps. LWR staff reported that living conditions inside the camps are difficult and some children in the camps have been separated from their parents.
“The situation at the camps is distressing with cramped living spaces, short food supplies, and limited water,” says K. Thampu (Nalee), LWR’s acting country program manager for Sri Lanka. “However the most painful thing for most people is being separated from their families.”
Some of the Tamil civilians escaping the conflict area are Christians, noted Barnabas Fund, a U.K.-based group that supports persecuted Christians. Although Christians make up less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s overall population, they comprise 20 percent of the Tamil population.
Barnabas Fund is working with the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) to launch an appeal to pray and provide aid to these displaced Christians. The groups plan to send food parcels to the camps as well as school packs to help children resume their education in local schools.
Gospel for Asia-supported missionaries are also providing books for the makeshift schools operating in the camps, along with sandals and food. The ministry said many of the displaced civilians had worn out their own sandals while fleeing to the camps.
Sri Lanka for nearly 30 years has been caught up in a civil war between the rebel Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government. The Tamils Tigers claim the minority Tamils suffer from discrimination from the Sinhalese majority and say they are fighting to create a separate state for their people.
But in recent months, the Sri Lankan government has captured almost all of previously rebel-controlled areas in the north. On Saturday, the military said it has taken control of the island’s entire coastline and has cut off the sea escape of Tamil Tiger leaders, essentially trapping them in a tiny area.
The Sri Lankan government is hopeful that with the latest military advance it can end the 26-year fighting on the island nation.
Michelle A. Vu
27 May 2009
A great honour from Bhikkus. It is time NOW to stop conversion of Hindus by Christian evangelists, since both Hindus and Srilankans practice esha dhammo sanantano.
5/23/2009 8:24:44 PM
http://www.defence.lk/img/20090523_Pic01.jpg His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has been conferred with the highest national honour Vishawakeerthi Sri Threesinhaladishwara .
The prelates of Malwathu and Asgiri chapters awarded the title to the president at the national ceremony to mark the reunification of the country and honour and invoke blessings on the President and war heroes for liberating the country and nation from terrorism held at the historic Magul Maduwa of the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy today (May 23).
An emotionally moved President said the blessings of the Maha Sangha was the greatest strenght in the effort to unite the divided nation after thirty years, and placed his reverence at the feet of the venerable maha sangha. He recalled with gratitude the yeoman service rendered by the Defence Secretary, Service Chiefs,IGP and the gallant armed forces in the battle to protect and unite this country.
"As a cabinet minister, I was conferred the 'Sri Rohana Jana Ranjana' title at this historic venue.While conferring that title, the late chief prelate stated what he expected from me.If he was alive today,I know he would have been the happiest, as his dream to unite this nation has come true', the President recalled to memory.
Continuing the President said the most urgent task was to build a just society and added that because of a prolonged cruel war, the state would not have met all needs of the Maha Sangha."We shall from now, meet all such needs to build a just and free society", the President asserted. He further noted that all must work according to the Buddhist doctrine towards such a noble objective to build a righteous society.
On this occassion, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Air Chief Marshall,Donald Perera, Army Chief, Gen.Sarath Fonseka, Navy Commander, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Air Chief Marshall, Roshan Goonetilleke, IGP,Jayantha Wickremeratne and Civil Defence Chief, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekere were awarded "Sthuthi Sthroththa Pathra" (Scroll of facilitation) in recognition of their worthy contribution towards uniting the nation.
Prabhakaran, an ordinary mortal, dead
Prabhakaran: the man is dead, the myth destroyed
Prabhakaran may not have visualised his own macabre end as a mud-covered and
practically naked corpse on a makeshift stretcher, but that is how it turned
out to be. Despite the inherently cruel voyeurism of officially publishing the
pictures of his body, Sri Lanka had to do so if only to prevent mythologies
from being built around someone whose childhood hero was 'Phantom: the ghost
/20/2009 8:33:01 AM
V. Prabhakaran , the self claimed "son god" who ordered tens and thousands of Tamil youth to ware cyanide capsules around their necks and asked them to commit suicide if captured was found by troops of 53 Division today (may 19).
Ironically, he was found with no cyanide capsule, but with his Identity card and the dog tag, as to prove his identity if he managed to seek refuge with some unknown savior. He was certainly not a man enough to fight a single battle against Army. Instead, he tried to save his life until the last moment. Not for a single second he wanted to commit suicide, he tried to escape betraying his most loyal followers before a soldier shot him down. We are not going to comment on how he died..... Simply, he was the best of the cowards.
Vinayagamoorthi Muralidaran, Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, who once fought for LTTE and Daya Master, former media spokesperson of the outfit, positively identified the body of Prabhakaran. It is only K.Padmanadan, LTTE's in charge of cross border terrorism and pro terror media that continue to have hope on Prabha's life.
Minister Muralidaran after identifying the terror chief's body thanked the president and the armed forces for freeing the Tamil people from the clutches of the megalomaniac. Daya Master said that the villain's death would be a great relief to the people in the Wanni.
Indeed, heroic soldiers of Sri Lanka Army finally brought justice to 19 million Sri Lankan citizens who suffered most horrendous acts of terrorism for three decades. The mad man who sent thousands of child soldiers to battle, who ordered his brain washed followers to kill thousands of men, women and children in most abominable orgies of violence , and who spelt the most implacable curse on the Tamil people is no more.
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 20 May 2009, 04:20 GMT]
Noting that the slow genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka accelerated to more than 10,000 killed in the last few months, far exceeding the horrors of Srebrenica, Professor Boyle in conversation with Los Angeles KPFK radio host, Michael Slate, Tuesday, accused Sri Lanka Government of bulldozing and destroying evidence of massacres in the Safety Zone while preventing access to the Red Cross and UN agencies. Boyle added that the United States Government with spy satellites would be knowing exactly what Sri Lanka's actions are in the Safe Zone, and stand implicated along with UK, France, and India in allowing the genocide to happen.
"Today ICRC still does not have access when the area should be flooded with food and medicine to urgently attend to the 300,000 Internally Displaced Tamils held in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) supervised camps," Boyle said, adding, survivors from the Safety Zone, from starvation, resembled escapees from Nazi death camps.
The situation was similar to what happened in
Gaza, Boyle said, but in Gaza people had access to food via under ground
tunnels, whereas the Tamils holed up in the Safety Zone were completely cutoff
from the outside and were entirely dependent on food transported by the ICRC
KPFK radio interview with Prof. Francis Boyle, Univ. of Illinois College of Law
Dr. Subramanian Swamy Tuesday , May 19, 2009 at 14 : 57
The outcome of the recent elections in Tamil Nadu has been the defeat of the most faithful of the LTTE touts in India. These financial orphans of the LTTE have been thoroughly exposed because Tamilians do not care for the LTTE, contrary to media projections. The common joke today is that 'Puligal' (Tigers) have been reduced to 'Eligal' (Rats) because they (the LTTE) have had to hide in holes in the ground to try save themselves.
But the end of the LTTE does mean the end of Sri Lanka's human rights crisis. The Sri Lanka crisis is the consequence of a festering wound from the past, which however fortunately, is neither malignant nor cancerous. The wound that has festered had been originally inflicted by the tactics of the British imperialists when to administer the colony that Sri Lanka had become, they relied on the Tamils of the island for the purpose, and also brought to the plantations indentured Tamil labourers to exploit the fields.
But, instead of sincerely brokering peace between the Tamils and Sinhalas to rectify justified grievances, the Indian government under the leadership of Mrs. Indira Gandhi decided to train the Tamil militants including the LTTE in various camps in India.
But the LTTE was a disloyal renegade from the very first day. The irrationally jealous Prabhakaran leading the LTTE snared in the Jaffna jungles and got the leaders of other militant Tamil outfits assassinated, and soon in the vacuum, the LTTE emerged as the main and dominant militant organisation. In the classic pattern of guerilla organisations, the LTTE began to spread using the weapons of narco-terror and by buying influence using monetary means. The LTTE ferried Saddam Hussein's illegal shipments of crude oil in their tankers using Panamanian and other dubious flags, drug-running for Afghans and Thais, weapons trade for the Sicilian mafia from Palermo in Italy and even antique smuggling for the highly placed in India. It became, through the ill-gotten funds, a purchaser of weapons in the grey and clandestine markets. The Tamil diaspora whose families were in Jaffna were subject to extortion, while some others romanticised their proximity to the 'leader' and paid handsomely for it later. Indian politicians, academicians, journalists, lawyers, and retired diplomats began receiving donations for speaking up for the LTTE and for denouncing the opponents of the LTTE.
Rajiv Gandhi tried to rectify that. The Indian government dispatched a 100,000 troops to the northern areas of Sri Lanka to safeguard the Tamils and get implemented on the ground the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord signed by Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister and Jayewardene as President of Sri Lanka. The LTTE disinformation machine by now well established went on an over drive with salacious stories of the atrocities of the Indian army. Their Indian stooges held rallies and published booklets within India to discredit the IPKF. Rajiv Gandhi, by now beleagured by the Bofors scandal and the betrayal of the new President of Sri Lanka, Premadasa who had entered into a pact to fund the LTTE, agreed to withdraw the IPKF in a phased manner. However, RG lost his party's majority in the elections to Parliament in 1989, and his successor V P Singh whose allies openly supported the LTTE, immediately withdrew the IPKF. The LTTE, thus, was portrayed in the anti-India media as having "defeated" the world's third largest army, and thus acquired a larger than life image. It used its hero status with a vocal minority in Tamil Nadu who were the LTTE's large financial beneficiaries to build a network of supply chains within the Tamil Nadu state. They had access to hospitals for their injured cadre, supply of diesel, kerosene, and medicines for the Jaffna supporters, small arms manufacture units in Coimbatore, uniform stitching factory in Erode, and a modern wireless communication centre in Trichy. The second rank leaders of the LTTE traveled freely within the state in cars using the ruling DMK party flags to evade the police.
But the situation changed soon enough. The V P Singh government got toppled in 1990, and a government headed by Chandrashekhar took office. This author was the senior-most Minister in that government and also perceived as the architect of the new government formation. Rajiv Gandhi extended his party's support to the government. Within two months in office and under my supervision, the DMK government in the state was dismissed on the ground that there was collusion of the Chief Minister with the LTTE. The LTTE supply chain was thereafter destroyed.
The problem worsened for the LTTE with the declaration of mid-term elections to Parliament. The media hype, whether it was genuine, misinformed, or contrived disinformation, made out that Rajiv Gandhi would return with a majority in the elections, and become Prime Minister again. Having learnt of Rajiv Gandhi's unguarded remarks that he would "fix" the LTTE once he returned to office, Prabhakaran set into motion a plan to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.
But Prabhakaran needed to obtain two things, to carry out his assassination plan successfully. First was to ensure that RG came to Tamil Nadu to be accessible to the LTTE assassins, and second, some people (as allies) highly placed in India, and so powerful that the blame for the assassination would not be pinned on the LTTE.
These two pre-conditions were understandable since trusted Tamil-speaking LTTE cadres could not move around secretly and freely anywhere in India except in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Hence the assassination had to take place in Tamil Nadu.
But more importantly, seeing the popularity amongst Tamils of Chandrashekar government's decision to dismiss Karunanidhi's state government, the LTTE could ill-afford the stigma of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. They had to have a powerful clique in India that could divert the investigative agencies from pursuing the LTTE as the suspects in the assassination.
The Rajiv Gandhi assassination is an important question of national security for Indians because the LTTE was a foreign terrorist organisation that killed our leader in our country, merely stating that because his policies were not to the LTTE's liking he had to be killed. Can we be safe if we allow such a terrorist organisation to strike roots in our neighbourhood and have a terror infrastructure than can vitiate the democratic politics of India with money, narcotics, and plain murder?
The LTTE from day one has been part of the problem of the Tamil-Sinhala conflict, and not a part of the solution. Part of the problem is the inability of the Sinhala majority to share power with the Tamil minority. Such a sharing can be best done in a Constitution with sufficient devolution --by replacing the present unitary Sri Lankan one with a quasi-federal Indian type or fully federal US type.
Tamils and Sinhalas are one people. They have the same DNA structure. There is thus no ethnic difference between them. They all had originated in the Indian mainland and today speak sister languages, Sinhala and Tamil, with a large vocabulary in common with Sanskrit and Pali, both Indian languages. Their scripts have both evolved from the Brahmi script. Thus, there is no fundamental linguistic difference either. Their religions, Hinduism and Buddhism believe in the same distinguishing and fundamental theology of darshan, re-incarnation and karma. In fact, Buddhism began as a reform movement of Hinduism and these reforms have been absorbed by Hinduism. Hence, there is also fundamentally no religious difference between a Sinhala Buddhist and Tamil Hindu.
The two communities grew apart during the colonial period because the Tamils had access to the British imperialist invaders, due to their earlier contacts with them on the Indian mainland. This gave the Tamils professional and educational advantages. The Sinhala majority upon getting independence used their brute majority to try and close the gap by undemocratic equalisation procedures and denying power to the Tamils by adopting a unitary constitution that had no safeguards for the Tamil minority. This of course backfired, in fact has landed Sri Lanka in to spiraling crisis.
The way out today, consistent with India's national security aims, is for Sri Lanka to immediately adopt a resolution in their parliament to implement a devolved constitution, and for India to assist liberally Sri Lanka since the LTTE insurgency menace is now finished off. The US, China and Israel, nations which can contribute for the implementation of this solution, must back India in this intervention. A word of praise for the resoluteness of President Rajapakse would also not be out of place. India must formally honour him for putting an end to the organisation that killed Rajiv Gandhi and so many democratic-minded leaders. At this hour I remember also Gamini Dissanayake who was murdered by the LTTE merely for promising us Indians that if he came to power in the Presidential Elections he would extradite Prabhakaran to India.
(The author is a former Union Law Minister)
http://www.scribd.com/doc/15616823/prabhakaran (with images)
5/19/2009 3:21:47 PM
Commander of Sri Lanka Army General Sarath Fonseka has confirmed that the body of V.Prabhakaran, psychopathic leader of world's most barbaric terrorist outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been found short while ago (May 19). According to the defence sources, the LTTE leader who has ordered thousands of Tamil youth to give up their lives for him has tried to save his life until the last moment.
Troops of 53 Division commanded by Major General Kamal Goonarathne, have found the bullet ridden body of the terrorist leader lying on the bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon.
Ironically, Interpol wanted terrorist K. Padmanathan alias KP this morning told pro LTTE media that the LTTE leader was safe and sound. With the news appeared on media, thousands of Tamil civilians living in Colombo capital joined celebrations of the security forces' victory saying that the curse placed on the Tamil nation has finally removed.
The Tamil Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and his senior lieutenants have been killed by government forces, the authorities in Colombo have claimed.
By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who is reported to have been shot dead Photo: AFP/GETTY
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the defeated leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was killed on Monday, according to state-run Sri Lankan television.
"With the killing of Prabhakaran and his two senior leaders, Pottu Amman and Soosai, the entire leadership of the Tiger terrorists has been eliminated," a report said.
The claim could not be verified independently.
Lt-Gen Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's army commander, said: "We have liberated the entire country by completely liberating the north from the terrorists. We have gained full control of LTTE-held areas. Today we finished the work handed to us by the president to liberate the country from the LTTE."
Reports said that Prabhakaran had been killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack as he tried to escape the war zone with his closest aides. Soosai, the leader of his "Sea Tigers" navy, and Pottu Amman, his intelligence chief were also killed in the attack.
His death was initially denied by an army spokesman who said he was alive and surrounded by elite troops deployed to seize him.
Their search for Prabhakaran was mounted after demonstrators attacked the British High Commission in Colombo and burned an effigy of David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, who they alleged is an apologist for the Tamil Tigers. Mr Miliband had earlier accused the Sri Lankan government of shelling civilians in a "no-fire zone".
Officials released television footage showing the dead body of Prabhakaran's son, Charles Anthony, and confirmed that several other senior Tiger leaders had been killed but not Prabhakaran, the dictatorial leader who once inspired fear among both his own people and the government in Colombo.
The latest hunt for him began after the LTTE's head of international affairs announced on Sunday that the group was laying down its arms to end the country's 26-year civil war. In a statement on the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, said the leadership could no longer bear the number of high numbers of civilian deaths.
The Tigers had been penned in to a tiny patch of ground less than a square mile in size where they had kept an estimated 50,000 civilians as human shields. Many of them had been forced to retreat with the Tigers as the army intensified its advance in January and swiftly over-ran LTTE resistance.
According to the Sri Lankan defence ministry, all remaining civilians escaped in the last 72 hours before the Tigers' leadership finally surrendered. They said the remaining Tigers in the zone were now blowing up all remaining "assets" and documents, while there had been a number of explosions which may have been "suicides".
By Express News Service
Prabhakaran is safe, claims MDMK chief
MADURAI: LTTE chief Prabhakaran was safe, asserted Vaiko, the MDMK general secretary, here on Sunday after visiting Ayyanar at Apollo Hospital in Madurai on Sunday.
Ayyanar had attempted suicide on Saturday after hearing the news of Vaiko’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.
Less than a km from the remaining part of NFZ: Army
COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Thursday said it was less than a kilometre from the remaining part of the No-Fire Zone (NFZ) where the LTTE top brass and cadre had been holed up holding an estimated 20,000 civilians as hostage even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that “humanitarian operations” in the North are coming to an end.
At a specially-convened meeting of the diplomatic community based here, Mr. Rajapaksa said the war with the LTTE was rapidly nearing its conclusion and hoped that democracy would flourish in the North again.
Mr. Rajapaksa told the envoys that his only concern was the well-being and safety of the civilian population presently in the NFZ and those displaced people in the cleared areas. He appealed to the international community to join hands with Colombo in the daunting task of tending to the immediate need of the displaced and pressure the Tigers to surrender arms and free stranded civilians.
Nearly 2,00,000 civilians, who have crossed over into the government territory in the last few months, are accommodated in 44 temporary camps spread over the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna.
The military believes that the LTTE leaders, Velupillai Prabakaran and members of the top brass of the organisations, are hiding among the civilians. The question uppermost on everyone’s mind is can Prabakaran slip out after encircled from all sides by the military and the Navy.
The Defence Ministry said here troops advanced towards Karayamulliavaikkal and captured a part of the LTTE-built earth bund early on Thursday following heavy confrontations.
Mr. Rajapaksa told the diplomats that his government was in the process of completing a Master Plan for a long-term reconstruction of the war ravaged region.
“While eliminating terrorism militarily and freeing the remaining hostages from the LTTE, a sustainable political solution based on a Sri Lankan agenda is in the process of being worked out. The All Party Representative Committee is formulating a set of political proposals which would be submitted once the environment is free of terrorism”.
He told the gathering that the government expected to conduct Local Government Elections in the Jaffna and Vavuniya areas very soon and steps were being taken to call for nominations early May.
Separately, the pro-LTTE TamilNet in a feature by an unnamed political commentator said the U.S. had a responsibility to set right the balance disturbed by it “by a timely action such as sending the fleet without waiting for political changes in India”.
“It is the last chance for U.S. to strike a political balance in the island, if it is really keen in seeing meaningful ‘post-conflict’ process”, said the political commentator.
THE CONFLICT IN SRI
LANKA: A CORNERED TIGER IS STILL DEADLY
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart (May 6, 2009)
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told parliament May 5 that he believes Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is among the large group of Tiger militants trapped in a 4-square kilometer coastline area near Mullaitivu. The area around Mullaitivu has been the final focal point of a recent larger government military offensive aimed at restoring government control of northeast Sri Lanka and crushing the South Asian country's separatist rebels, who have controlled large parts of the region for the past several years.
The Tigers' battlefield losses have been compounded by the severe disruption to their formerly extensive financial network (primarily concentrated among the Tamil diaspora in Western Europe and Canada) after the European Union placed the group on its terror list in 2006. This led to tightened sanctions by Europe, the United States and Canada against the Tigers, as well as greater international cooperation in arresting Tiger smuggling rings. Some of the Tigers' main financiers have since been arrested, and many of their assets have been frozen. It takes a lot of money and equipment to wage a conventional war, and those resources have become far harder for the Tigers to come by of late.
As STRATFOR has previously noted, if Sri Lankan troops manage to crush the remnants of the Tigers' hard-pressed conventional military forces, the Tigers will have little choice but to give up on conventional warfare (at least for the time being). But the Tigers' separatist struggle is more than 30 years old and has been marked by great brutality on both sides. Because of this, there is very little chance the Tigers will simply accept defeat and fade into history. Instead, now that the government has the military advantage, the Tigers can be expected to continue their war against the government by melting back into the populace and resorting to guerrilla tactics and terrorism.
In many ways, this will resemble events in Iraq and Afghanistan, where a militarily weaker force melted away in the face of a more powerful conventional military force. The Tigers, however, have a far more experienced and effective terrorist apparatus than either their Taliban or Iraqi counterparts. This struggle will therefore remain bloody in Sri Lanka (and perhaps even abroad).
The Tigers are battling for the creation of an independent Tamil homeland for the country's 10-15 percent Tamil minority, the dominant ethnicity in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. The Tigers are struggling against the majority Sinhalese Buddhist-controlled government, which has fought the Tigers in a bloody civil war that has lasted nearly three and a half decades. Over the decades, the Tigers have developed an extremely sophisticated paramilitary organization. This force consists of not only ground forces (complete with artillery and even some armor), but also a sea wing that engages in arms smuggling and naval attacks against the Sri Lankan Navy -- to include suicide boat attacks -- a small air wing, and an elite force of militants trained to conduct assassinations and terrorist attacks known as the Black Tigers.
The Black Tigers became famous for suicide bombings (one of which killed former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991), and we are hard-pressed to think of another militant group that has assassinated as many VIPs, including several Cabinet ministers and numerous members of parliament, as have the Black Tigers. Last year alone, they killed a Sri Lankan member of parliament on Jan. 1, the minister for nation building on Jan. 8, and the highway minister on April 7. They also killed the Sri Lankan foreign minister in August 2005.
The Tigers' fortunes have fluctuated over the years. Several times they have brought large swathes of northern and eastern Sri Lanka under their exclusive control, only to lose them to government offensives, such as an offensive launched in January 2001. As mentioned, international pressures on their finances and logistics in recent years, plus the loss of the strategically significant Elephant Pass in January -- formerly a key logistics hub for their resupply efforts and an important base for their naval efforts -- mean the Tigers are now in an uphill battle for survival. Compounding the Tigers' woes, the government now is far better prepared, equipped and trained than it has been during previous military offensives. But despite being so hard-pressed and having taken such significant losses, there are no signs that the Tigers have lost the will to fight. They continue to hold out rather than surrender, and we have not seen news of desertions.
The Tigers' material losses will be more difficult to overcome than their loss of personnel. They should be able to find new volunteers (or conscripts) among Sri Lanka's Tamil population. Their ability to recruit should be aided by the Sri Lankan military's policy of forcing Tamils into internment camps, something the Tigers also have leapt on as an international propaganda opportunity. Tiger militants are well-trained and are also subject to rigorous political indoctrination. With rare exception, the Tigers prefer to fight -- or take their standard-issue cyanide capsules -- and die rather than surrender.
This willingness for self-sacrifice is best seen in the Black Tigers, which were early adopters of suicide bombing attacks and have been among the most frequent users of the tactic. The Black Tigers also have employed more female suicide bombers than any other group. (They used a female suicide operative in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.) The Black Tigers reportedly have a waiting list of militants seeking to enter the unit -- suicide bombers reportedly are held in almost mythical esteem by their ordinary Tiger colleagues -- and Prabhakaran reportedly handpicks each member.
Insurgency and Terror
As seen from Iraq, Afghanistan and any number of historical examples, it is very difficult to eradicate an insurgency that can blend in with a sympathetic local population. Doing so is even harder when the insurgents can exploit international borders to create a place of refuge. Although Sri Lanka is an island, it is located very close to the coast of India. It lies just a few miles from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, an Indian state that, as its name implies, has a substantial ethnic Tamil population. Some Indian Tamils are sympathetic to the Tigers, and the Tigers have established a sizable presence in Tamil Nadu.
Sympathy in Tamil Nadu for the Tigers came into view May 5, 2009, when a large group of pro-Tiger Indian Tamil activists blocked a convoy of Indian army trucks in the city of Coimbatore because they believed the trucks were carrying supplies destined for the Sri Lankan military. The activists reportedly damaged and ransacked some of the trucks.
Support in Tamil Nadu means that the Tigers can -- and do -- exploit the international border to their advantage.The Tigers use India in much the same way that the Taliban and al Qaeda use Pakistan. The Tigers' logistical and training infrastructure in India is especially important during times (like the present) when the Sri Lankan government is hammering them. The Tigers also have a long history of working with an array of other militant groups in India and the general region. This cooperation is not based on ideology, but rather on mutual benefit, such as bolstering the groups' ability to smuggle weapons and other goods.
Another truism about insurgency is that it takes far fewer resources to sustain an insurgency than it does to fight a conventional war. The amount of ordnance expended in a single conventional battle can sustain months or even years of insurgent activity, especially if the insurgents can acquire ordnance from their enemy during their operations. Conducting terrorist attacks requires even fewer resources than insurgent attacks; terrorism is a cheap and time-tested means of hitting a militarily superior foe. When properly conducted, terrorist attacks are the ultimate exercise of asymmetrical warfare.
For a militant group to effectively wield terrorism as an asymmetrical weapon, however, it must gain mastery of a range of tactical skills that we refer to as terrorist tradecraft. These skills include, among other things, the ability to operate without being detected, the ability to collect intelligence on potential targets, the ability to procure munitions, the ability to recruit operatives, the ability to plan effective strikes and the ability to construct reliable improvised explosives devices (IEDs).
Through decades of trial and error, the Tigers have developed all of these skills, as evidenced by their large number of successful assassinations. In fact, they have a record of tactical success that would make any jihadist group green with envy. The Tigers excel at collecting intelligence, and their female operatives form a significant part of their intelligence apparatus, since they generally can travel more widely than males can and do not tend to arouse suspicions to the extent male operatives do. Female Tigers who are already willing to serve as suicide bombers not surprisingly have been willing to use seduction to obtain information critical to their cause.
The group has also long demonstrated the ability to operate in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, as well as in other non-Tamil majority areas. And it has conducted scores of attacks against military, financial and political targets and civilian soft targets in non-Tamil areas. The group conducted five suicide bombings in Colombo alone in 2008, and several attacks against soft targets like passenger buses and commuter trains. The group also has a cadre of very polished and experienced bombmakers who make reliable and effective IEDs.
Perhaps most spectacularly, the Tiger air wing launched a 9/11-inspired airborne suicide attack Feb. 20, in which their two remaining aircraft were loaded with explosives and sent out after dark on a suicide mission to attack Colombo. One of the planes was shot down, but the other plane reached the capital and struck the 12th floor of the 15-floor Inland Revenue Department, where it exploded -- a scene captured by a Sri Lankan navy infrared camera and posted to YouTube.
It is thought that the Inland Revenue Department was not the intended target, but that the plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and accidentally struck that building. According to Sri Lankan sources, the intended target may have been either the headquarters of the Sri Lankan air force, which is next to the building that was hit, or the president's house or army headquarters, which also are close by. The decision to use the remaining Tiger aircraft in this type of suicide operation against the government in Colombo rather than risk losing them to advancing government troops is a prime example of the Tigers' mind-set.
Mayhem in the Forecast
With the Tigers' air wing now apparently gone, further 9/11-style suicide planes are unlikely. The Tigers, however, will almost certainly plan more terrorist strikes. Such attacks will be seen as retaliation against the Sri Lankan government. They also will be used to hurt the economy (and thus the government's ability to finance its military efforts). And they will be used to force the government to divert troops from the northeast to provide security to other parts of the country, thus taking pressure off the Tamil heartland. The Tigers also have shown a limited cyberwarfare capability, which they can be expected to use to score propaganda points and wreak economic havoc when possible.In addition to assassinating VIPs and attacking passenger trains and buses, the Tigers have a long history of attacking villages and massacring Sinhalese Buddhist and Muslim civilians to foster a sense of terror.
We anticipate that small Tamil units will resume operations to massacre civilians, in particular Sinhalese Buddhist and Muslim civilians. The Tigers also probably will attack crowds of civilians and commercial centers. We also anticipate assassination attempts to be launched against military and political VIPs in Colombo, and against local/regional leaders and military and police commanders in the northeast. Attacks against passenger trains and buses also can be expected.STRATFOR sources in Sri Lanka advise that the Tigers are likely to strike at the Yal Devi Express, a train that runs from Colombo to Vavuniya and is of great symbolic value to Tamil-Sinhalese coexistence.
We believe there will be numerous attacks and ambushes targeting traffic on the A-9 road that leads from Colombo to Jaffna aimed at both military and commercial targets, blending terrorism and insurgency. Such attacks could involve ambushes and roadside IEDs, a tactic the Tigers have used with success in the past, such as with the roadside IED used in the January 2008 assassination of the minister of nation building.
Due to the long history of conflict in Sri Lanka (which has sometimes been fueled by external meddling), we do not share the assessment by some in the Sri Lankan government that the Tigers are all but dead. They may be severely damaged as a conventional military force -- for a time at least -- but the group's cadre of dedicated, zealous militants will certainly spill a lot more blood in their quest for independence and vengeance against the Sri Lankan government.
This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com.
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 May 2009, 18:52 GMT]
Professor Boyle of University of Illinois College of Law, an international expert on Boznia and crimes of Genocide said Tuesday, "[s]ince the outset of this latest crisis in January, the GOSL has exterminated about 7000 Tamils in Vanni, certainly a "substantial part" of the Tamil population in Vanni and Sri Lanka. If not stopped now, the GOSL's toll of genocide against the Tamils could far exceed the recent horrors of Srebrenica." Prof. Boyle's call for urgent food drop to the civilians close to starvation in the Safe Zone, has gathered momentum, and international media are seeking his comment on the urgency of humanitarian support.
In a note sent to TamilNet, Prof. Boyle says, "[t]he slow-motion genocide by the Government of Sri Lanka against the Tamils in Vanni is now accelerating to the point of outright extermination in violation of Genocide Convention Articles I, II(a), II(b) II(c), inter alia.
Professor Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law.
"Every state in the world has the obligation "to prevent" this GOSL genocide against the Tamils as required by the jus cogens, erga omnes rule of customary international law set forth in Article I of the Genocide Convention. These peremptory norms of international law apply to every state in the world, including the Member States of the United Nations Security Council, and especially its Permanent Members such as the United States, Britain and France, as well as to India.They must all exert maximum political, economic and diplomatic pressure upon the GOSL for an immediate cease-fire in conjunction with the massive provision of food, water, medicine and other humanitarian relief supplies by land, sea and air to the dying Tamils in Vanni.
"A generation ago the world turned away from the Nazi genocide against the Jews--and lived to regret it. Humanity is at a similar crossroads today. A generation ago the world designed the Genocide Convention to prevent a repetition of what Hitler and the Nazis had done to the Jews even "in part," according to Article II of the Genocide Convention. In the Bosnian case I convinced the World Court that the proper interpretation of this term taken from Article II of the Genocide Convention meant a "substantial part." The World Court later found that the Serbian extermination of 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica was genocide in violation of the Genocide Convention.
"Since the outset of this latest crisis in January, the GOSL has exterminated about 7000 Tamils in Vanni, certainly a "substantial part" of the Tamil population in Vanni and Sri Lanka. If not stopped now, the GOSL's toll of genocide against the Tamils could far exceed the recent horrors of Srebrenica," Boyle warns.
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 May 2009, 18:57 GMT]
The UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize 2009 has been awarded posthumously to Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, assassinated by a government death-squad in January. Wickremetunga, long-standing editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper, was one of the few journalists who continued to criticise the militarist, hardline government of President Mahinda Rajapakse. In a statement marking the award, his wife, Sonali Wickrematunge, described the government’s military campaign in the north as a “racist war” in which future charges of genocide would not be surprising and pleaded for international action.
Sri Lanka's plight highlighted at World Press Freedom Day
05 May 2009 09:55:00 GMT
Written by: Andrew Stroehlein
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.
I just returned from the World Press Freedom Day conference in Doha, Qatar. It was a fairly typical affair as these sorts of conferences go -- until the final award ceremony, when murdered Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge was posthumously given the World Press Freedom Prize 2009.
His niece, Natalie Samarasinghe, read out a statement from his widow, Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge, which was so forceful and so impressive, I feel it deserves a much wider audience than the few hundred people who gave it a standing ovation in the room on Sunday. With permission, I am publishing it in full below.
For more, also have a look at the forthcoming websitewww.unbowedandunafraid.com, to be launched on 8 May, the four-month anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge's murder. "Unbowed and unafraid" was his credo.
STATEMENT BY SONALI SAMARASINGHE WICKREMATUNGE
WIDOW OF LASANTHA WICKREMATUNGE, 2009 UNESCO WORLD PRESS FREEDOM LAUREATE
"Your Highness, Mr Director-General, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of my late husband and fellow journalist, Lasantha Wickrematunge, I wish to thank you most sincerely for this great honour you have done him. Lasantha would have been so proud, so humbled, to have known that an august, independent, international jury of his peers had seen in him, a fit candidate to receive this prize. On his behalf, and on behalf of fellow journalists worldwide who continue to risk life and liberty, to provide for us, all the freedoms we so cherish, from the bottom of my heart I thank you. His parents and his children will be so proud, to know of the recognition you have given their son, their father... as indeed am I, now his widow.
The fact that Lasantha is the second journalist to be honoured posthumously since this prize was created 12 years ago is testimony to the risk many journalists run in the pursuit of their calling. Two years ago you honoured Anna Politkovskaya, an unapologetic critic of military and political excess, who was brutally murdered in Moscow in October 2006.
The life trajectories of Anna and Lasantha bear bizarre similarities. They were both born in 1958. They were both courageous critics of state-sponsored violence and spoke fearlessly for human rights. They were both threatened with death over a period of years. They both suffered repeated attempts on their lives. And they both chose not to flee, but to stay on and fight to the end. They both knew full well that they would pay with their lives. And they both knew who their murderers would be.
But the fate that befell Anna and Lasantha is not an isolated one. In Sri Lanka, it has become the norm for journalists to be killed in the pursuit of their profession. No less than 16 dissident media professionals have been assassinated-all of them in commando-style attacks-since President Mahinda Rajapakse took office in November 2005. That is about one in every two months. Presses and television stations have been destroyed in these raids, as indeed have the newspapers Lasantha and I edited.
Apart from those who have lost their lives, we need to remember also those journalists who languish in Sri Lankan prisons with no charge or with only the flimsiest and most childish of contrived charges pressed against them. In other cases, false charges are levelled so as to harass dissenting journalists.
Dozens of journalists-including myself-have been forced to flee Sri Lanka. I have no doubt that should I return to Sri Lanka, my remaining days would be few indeed.
Other journalists have been threatened personally by the president or his brothers, three of whom he has elevated to high public office. Indeed, on 11 January 2006 Lasantha too, was personally threatened by President Rajapaksa.
The free Sri Lanka in which I was born no longer exists. Our country has entered a Dark Age characterized by tyranny and state-sponsored terror, where the government publicly, cynically and unapologetically equates democratic dissent to treason. The sinister white van in which the state abducts its perceived enemies including journalists, many of them never to be seen again, has become a symbol of untold dread. Yet, we need to remember that violence against journalists is only the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands of ordinary Sri Lankan civilians-men, women, children, and the aged-have been herded into concentration camps where they are held against their will. There they languish in the most horrible of conditions, trapped behind barbed-wire fences and beneath the radar of a world which, perhaps rightly, is more concerned with the arguably greater tragedies unfolding in places such as Darfur. But what has been their crime? They belong to an ethnic minority living in an area infested by the Liberation Tigers, one of the most murderous terrorist organizations the world has ever seen. The Tamil civilians of Sri Lanka's north are caught in a vice-like grip between LTTE terrorism on the one side and state terrorism on the other. And I use that word advisedly, for the Sri Lankan government is perhaps the only one on this planet that persists in bombing its own civilian citizenry.
That this is a racist war is not a secret. I would not go so far as to use the word genocide, but it would not surprise me to see it used in future international legal action against the government. At any rate, the government itself has plastered the countryside with enormous placards lauding the military with the slogan, in Sinhala, the language of the Sinhalese majority to which I too, belong, stating: "Soldiers, our race salutes you!" Not "the people", not "the country", but the race. And all these placards exhibit the stated provenance of the Ministry of Defence or other government institutions. Interestingly, none of these hoardings are in Tamil, the language of the people the government claims it is seeking to liberate.
I make this point because it is urgent and important that the world realizes what is happening in Sri Lanka before it is too late.
Sadly, even those who should see best are blind to the plight of the innocents caught in the crossfire as state terrorism seeks to counter the LTTE's terrorism. It frustrates me that even people who should know better do not seem to. A few days after Lasantha's murder an international Journal opined that "For all those who argue that there's no military solution for terrorism, we have two words: Sri Lanka." It is a pity that even journalists often fail to see the distinction between terror perpetrated by terrorists and terror perpetrated by governments. This Journal might just as well have said to all those who argue that there's no military solution for terrorism, they have just one word: terrorism. For that is the solution the government of Sri Lanka has chosen: terrorism against civilians, terrorism against journalists, terrorism against dissidents of all kinds.
It angers me, as it did Lasantha, that we have learned so little from history. I beseech you and anyone who will listen not to allow Sri Lanka's government, under the cover of a war against terror, to engage in acts of terror or crimes against humanity. Soon it will be too late, and history will not forgive us if we do not act now.
What then, of Lasantha's murder? Within hours of his assassination, President Rajapakse promised a full inquiry and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. Of course, no such thing has happened. Almost four months have passed, and all we have seen is a cover up. There has been no meaningful investigation, no trace of the vehicles used in the assassination, no call for information on the murder weapon, and even the cause of death has been deliberately smudged so as to derail a future investigation.
But by recognizing his life and work as you have done today, you send an important message to tyrants everywhere, that killing the messenger is not a solution. If by nothing else, it is by gestures such as the one you have made here today that the point is made ever more strongly that the human spirit cannot be subdued by violence-no, not even by murder. And so it is that even in death Lasantha's name draws more hits on Google than the prime minister of Sri Lanka.
Your Highness, Mr Director General, Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for your patience and, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of Lasantha and the community of journalists who fight on to make ours a nobler, more just and humane world, I thank you most sincerely. I want you to know that you have earned the gratitude not just of myself and all those who loved and admired Lasantha, but also of those to whom his life and his example will serve as a beacon in the future.
To the readers of the newspaper he edited he left a final message. And I would like to leave you with my husbands' last words.
"We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves", he wrote. "We have made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I-and my family-have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am-and have always been-ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when."
Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge
Visit www.unbowedandunafraid.com - launching 8 May, the four-month anniversary of Lasantha's death - to read more.
Prabhakaran’s hideout located; his choices: suicide, escape, get killed
It is a sad commentary on the media that the focus is on Prabhakaran without focusing on the Tamils, Hindus of Srilanka.
Rajapakshe may win the battle but lose the war if he fails to reach out and create an Eelam for Hindus living in Srilanka.
LTTE rightly blames Sonia for the death of Hindus in Srilanka. She has to atone for many political sins of the dynasty.
Sri Lankan army locates Prabhakaran's hideout
Colombo, May 4, 2009
The Sri Lankan army has satellite pictures of LTTE
chief V. Prabhakaran's hideout in the no-fire zone.
Headlines Today was given the secret document by the army on Monday which shows the hideout, located in the southern part of the no-fire zone and surrounded by civilian settlements.
It also shows communication towers, boats and trenches. The 24-hour surveillance has been made through Israeli made equipment, officials said.
Prabhakaran will kill himself: IPKF officials
New Delhi, April 21, 2009
With the Sri Lankan army steadily moving into the ‘No Fire
Zone’ where LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran is believed to be holed up with
the remnants of his shattered force, key officials of the Indian Peace Keeping
Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka
say it is unlikely the Tiger supremo will be captured alive.
"If I know anything about Prabhakaran, it is that he will never be captured alive. He will prefer to use the cyanide capsule he wears around his neck," says Lt General A.S. Kalkat (retired) former IPKF commander whose troops relentlessly hunted the Tiger chief in the jungles of northern Sri Lanka in 1990.
The IPKF's military intelligence wing set up a special unit to track his movements and inputs were fed to a special unit of the elite 9 Para commando battalion. The closest the Paras came to catching Prabhakaran was when they obtained precise inputs on his bunker in Alampil, 10 km south of Mullaitivu, not far from the present ‘No Fire Zone’.
"When we reached Prabhakaran's bunker, all we found was another bunker with an exit tunnel nearly 5 km through the forest. The tunnel was barely enough for one man to pass through at one time. Prabhakaran had fled," says Lt General H.S. Lidder (retired), former commanding officer of the 9 Paras.
Colonel Hariharan, former head of the IPKF Intelligence who set up the special team to track Prabhakaran says there is only a 30 per cent possibility of Prabhakaran being captured alive and a 'zero probability' of surrendering. "Troops on the ground nearly succeeded in catching him, but the point is we did not," Hariharan says.
Why Prabhakaran will kill himself
New Delhi, April 21, 2009
There’s an LTTE legend about the time over two decades ago when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) troops were hunting Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in northern Sri Lanka. The rebel leader kept hopping from hideouts with his bodyguards and always kept an AK-47, wore a glass capsule filled with cyanide and, interestingly, kept a jerrycan filled with petrol, at hand.
The cyanide was to kill himself and the petrol was for his followers to cremate his body. For the Indian Army to declare mission accomplished, it had to either capture Prabhakaran alive or display his body, the Tiger chief only had to elude them to claim victory. Prabhakaran was clear about his body not being displayed as a trophy by Lt General Kalkat’s troops and he was probably borrowing from another dictator Adolf Hitler whose body was burned by his SS bodyguards (using petrol siphoned off his fleet of cars) after he and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide in the bunker beneath Berlin’s Reichschancellery.
Prabhakaran never got down to using any of his accessories and the IPKF were pulled back. Now, nearly twenty years later, after the guerilla leader has lost practically all the territory he assiduously wrested away from the Sri Lankan government, the same dilemma probably racing through his mind.
The survival of the LTTE, described as the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization and built on a mountain of carcasses—Sinhala, Tamil and Indian—now rests solely on his survival. What does he do when the endgame in the No Fire Zone finally ends? Take his life a-la Adolf Hitler and have his body cremated or crawl sheepishly out of a spider hole, hands held high like Saddam Hussein.
Anyone who knows the guerilla leader who virtually institutionalized suicide attacks as a form of terrorism in the 20th century, says the Tiger supremo will prefer to chew the glass capsule around his neck. Prabhakaran, the loneliest man in Sri Lanka today, must envy Osama bin Laden and Sheikh Nasrallah. The Al-Qaeda chief is hiding out in the rugged Af-Pak tribal regions, away from the airborne drone assassins and special forces of the world’s only superpower; Sheikh Nasrallah has continued to elude the Israeli Defence Forces in the ghettoes of Beirut’s urban jungle.
Prabhakaran does not have the luxury of either time or the terrain and even his last shield—thousands of civilians are slipping away. With fewer than 1000 Tiger fighters corralled in a tiny 18 squre km patch in the NFZ ringed by the 60,000 advancing Sri Lankan divisions, the grains of sand are fast slipping away in his countdown clock. His surge— from pro-LTTE parties in Tamil Nadu and the Tamil diaspora overseas has failed.
With the options fast running out, the existentialist question hangs heavy once again like it did for Gary Cooper, perched on the edge of a precipitous building in Frank Capra’s ‘Meet John Doe’. Death will turn Prabhakaran, a father of three children, into a mythical Che Guevara-esque guerilla figure.
A T-shirt and a slogan which will continue to inspire Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism years after its military spine has been broken, PERHAPS EVEN A MANI RATNAM BIO-PIC WITH MOHANLAL IN THE LEAD. Capture will mean a life in ignominious solitary confinement like Abdullah Ocalan, the bushy moustached Kurdish separatist leader now completing a decade as the sole inmate of a Turkish prison island.
LTTE brass may escape in six hidden boats
Colombo, April 30, 2009
LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran,
his intelligence chief Pottu Amman and Sea Tiger commander Soosai have six
boats, hidden at an unknown location in the No Fire Zone, ready for a possible
escape that could be attempted at any moment.
This has been revealed according to fresh intelligence inputs received by the Sri Lankan Army. The inputs, apparently extracted from LTTE cadre who surrendered to the troops two days ago, suggested that the six boats are fitted with GPS consoles, high- power communications equipment, anti- aircraft weapons and essential food ration.
The input was declassified shortly after foreign minister Rohitha Bogolagamma said there was no doubt that Prabhakaran and his men were still very much in the five- squarekm stretch of land, and that he had definitely not escaped.
The Sri Lankan Navy said that it was tracking a number of Sea Tiger boats off the coast of Mullaitivu and had, in fact, destroyed and sunk four suicide boats and one attack craft early Wednesday morning.
In a related development, pro- Tamil news site Tamilnet continued to report that the Sri Lankan military, particularly the navy, was violating the government's promise not to use heavy weapons. A report on the site stated that the Sri Lankan Navy shelled hospitals and civilian hubs in Mulivaaykal with heavy deck artillery, killing several people on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the morning, British foreign secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, were in Colombo to impress upon the Rajapaksa government on the immediate need for a ceasefire. Their attempt, though, came to a naught.
No wonder, Miliband cynically referred to the army's declared safe area as the "so called No Fire Zone". He said: "No one in the international community has been calling for a ceasefire or a stop to the fighting to save Prabhakaran.
We have come here because of an overwhelming concern for the need of civilians and the need for long- term peace in Sri Lanka." The Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE, meanwhile, admitted intense fighting was on in the No Fire Zone. With every passing day, the government's announcement of a "conclusion to combat operations" is appearing far from the reality. Not just the Tamil Tigers, but the army itself is also fighting.
According to inputs from both the sides, there has been seven suicide attacks by the LTTE, a truck bombing attempt, heavy shelling by the Sri Lankan Navy, the sinking of nine LTTE suicide boats and craft and the " collateral deaths" of 20 Tamil civilians.
In a fresh report, the army stated that troops from the 58 Division captured a 200- metre- long earth bund following "hours of intense close-quarter fighting".
Courtesy: Mail Today
30 Apr 2009, 0159 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: As India
prepares to prevent infiltration by LTTE cadres along its southern coast, the
media arm of the Tigers is going all out to further fuel the rage against India. The
Tamil Puthinam website, which is said to be linked with the LTTE's political
wing, has launched a vicious campaign against Congress president Sonia Gandhi
blaming her for the death of Tamilians.
India on Wednesday alerted Navy's Southern Command and Coast Guard to prevent infiltration as intelligence agencies again warned of a strike by LTTE terrorists in the country.
In a recent article, the Puthinam website alleged that Sonia was trying to avenge the death of her husband Rajiv Gandhi and that she wouldn't rest in peace "till the last nail is hammered in Prabhakaran's coffin". It went on to state that Sri Lanka was waging war against Tamilians in the island nation at the behest of India. It said that it was essentially India's war and Colombo was no more than a puppet in the hands of India.
The website concluded by saying that it was actually India, and not Sri Lanka, which was the real enemy of Tamilians. Another website called Nitharsanam, which is also associated with LTTE, recently carried a caricature of Sonia in which she was shown as a blood-thirsty goddess.
In fact, Sonia seems to have been singularly targeted by the pro-LTTE media in Sri Lanka. PM Manmohan Singh and other senior ministers have been spared any major criticism.
While India is going out of its way in offering humanitarian aid to displaced civilians in the country, security officials fear such slanderous campaigns will evoke hate against India. LTTE still retains capability for guerrilla warfare and officials believe it might be the end of only the first phase of the war.
The LTTE political leadership remains intact, as does its fund-raising capacities and its international "business" operations. "Until the command and control of the LTTE is destroyed, this organisation will continue to be dangerous," said an official.
According to Indian estimates, around 1.65 lakh civilians came out of the conflict zone in the last one week and between 5,000 and 20,000 are still trapped there. According to LTTE, 4,500 people died during the conflict between Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tigers. India believes that while casualties are inevitable in a war, every effort should be made to get civilians out of the conflict zone.
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 April 2009, 16:32 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army is expected to embark upon the worst phase of massacre any time soon in the narrow stretch of land, 5 km long and 1.5 km wide, remaining in the so-called safety zone congested with nearly 120,000 civilians, sources in Vanni said. SLA attacks normally begin in the early hours. Heavy 100 mm cannon fire and machine gun fire from naval craft of the Sri Lanka Navy already began around 4:00 p.m. A total of 300 are feared killed in the latest use of heavy weapons. Meanwhile, reports from Colombo indicate that 'ministerial diplomacy' of UK and France failed to bring in ceasefire or in sending international observers to the war front. The latest phase of Colombo's spree of carnage escalated after discussions with two Indian bureaucrats last Friday.
Rescue workers discovered 160 dead bodies of civilians Wednesday morning north of Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal.
Around 150 civilians are feared killed after 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the rescue workers further said.
9 patients were killed and 15 sustained injuries when the hospital came under artillery/cannon fire by the Sri Lankan forces around 4:00 p.m., according to medical sources.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wednesday said only 15,000 to 20,000 civilians remain in the strip of the so-called safety zone. Earlier, Rajapaksa and his war allies in India were insisting on a total figure of only 70,000 in the safety zone. However on Wednesday Rajapaksa put the number of captured civilians alone at 180,000.
"Mr. Rajapksa's lies are aimed at blunting international concerns and starve the remaining civilians in the so-called safety zone," an NGO official in Vanni told TamilNet.
Sri Lanka vows to destroy LTTE
4/28/2009 8:40:13 PM
The 58 Division troops continuing with its forward march to rescue the remaining civilians held hostage with LTTE have liberated the Rektavaikkal junction located 2km South of Valayanmadam, this afternoon (April 28).
According to ground military sources, terrorists have put-on stiff resistances mounting continuous heavy mortar attacks along with sporadic artillery shelling from locations in general area Mullivaikkal.
The fighting ensued between troops and LTTE since early this morning, with battlefront sources confirming heavy damages to terrorists. The Terrorists have fled in total disarray taking refuge with the entrapped civilians inside the remaining 6.5sq.km of the No Fire Zone.
"Terrorists are mounting heavy mortar attacks targeting the forward perimeters of the NO Fire Zone, forcing civilians to take shelter further South at Mullaivaikkal, along with the remaining terrorists. As soon as the civilian are moved, their make-shift shelters are burnt down and destroyed while the abandon swathe of land is turned into a heavy mine filed by the LTTE", our Wanni correspondent said citing ground military sources.
"These civilians are facing more horrific experiences as they are subjected for 'blood extraction camps' run by LTTE to treat its battle casualties", the sources further said.
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 April 2009, 14:22 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) fired at least 2,600 Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) rockets, more than 1,000 artillery shells and at least 2,000 heavy mortar shells from 6:00 p.m. Monday till 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, LTTE officials in Vanni told TamilNet. Most of the shells fired by the SLA hit civilian shelters in Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal, Thaazhampan, Ottaip-panaiyadi and Iraddai-vaaykkaal areas.The Tiger officials put civilian casualty figures at more than 200 killed and said three medical centres treated hundreds of wounded civilians throughout the day. Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bombers attacked Ottaip-panai and iraddai-vaaykkaal areas by deploying cluster bombs, LTTE officials further said.
LTTE medics, two Thileepan medical centres with first-aid facilities and the makeshift hospital in Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal run by the RDHS of the two districts, have treated over thousand wounded within the past 3 days, according to Tiger officials.
Independent verification of casualty figures was not possible as shelling continued throughout the day.
Sri Lanka Vows to Destroy Rebels as U.K., French Envoys
By Paul Tighe
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka said it will prevent Tamil Tiger rebels rebuilding during the army’s halt to combat operations, as U.K. and French envoys visit the island nation to discuss the plight of civilians caught in the conflict.
Halting the operation is to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone and not for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam “to resettle into another brutal war,” said PresidentMahinda Rajapaksa, according to the government’s Web site.
The government two days ago ordered a halt to the use of heavy weapons and combat aircraft, saying it is concentrating on rescuing as many as 20,000 civilians still held by the LTTE.
Sri Lanka says the LTTE is facing defeat after a 26-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland and has only 500 fighters holding out in a strip of land on the northeast coast. The United Nations is leading international calls for the government to end the conflict and allow food and medicines to reach an estimated 250,000 people in need of aid in the north.
U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchnerwill meet with their Sri Lankan counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama today in Colombo, the government said on its Web site.
The report didn’t mention Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who said yesterday he was denied a visa when he was scheduled to travel to Colombo with the envoys.
Sweden will recall its charge d’affaires from the capital for consultations, Bildt said yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s decision on Bildt is a “grave mistake” that “will have repercussions in Europe and will influence the further relations between the government and the European states,” the Czech Republic’s Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating six-month European Union presidency, said yesterday.
The military says Tamil Tiger fighters, including their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, are holding out in a government- declared security zone near the northeastern port of Mullaitivu after being driven from their bases since January.
India, which has about 73,000 mostly Tamil refugees from the Sri Lankan conflict in its southern state of Tamil Nadu, wants Prabhakaran to surrender and hold talks with the government, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said yesterday, according to India’s NDTV.
“Now, the Tigers are fighting out of uniforms and it’s hard to distinguish between Tigers and civilians,” Brigadier Shavendra Silva, who is commanding troops in the Mullaitivu area, told reporters yesterday. “This forced us to slow down offensives for fear of causing harm to civilians,” he said, in comments posted on the government’s Web site.
The “final chapter” of Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism is being written, Rajapaksa said two days ago. The LTTE is designated a terrorist organization by the EU, the U.S. and India.
Sri Lanka is facing two crises with tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the combat zone near Mullaitivu and “swollen camps that are filling up with 200,000 people who fled the fighting,” said John Holmes, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, who is visiting the country.
“We believe that there are critical levels of hunger and large numbers of people needing medical treatment,” Holmes said yesterday in a statement. The LTTE must let civilians leave and the government should allow aid workers into the area, he added.
The army has fired more than 1,000 artillery shells and 2,600 rockets in the past two days in the security zone killing civilians, TamilNet, a Web site that gives reports from the Tamil perspective, said yesterday, citing the LTTE.
As the shelling continued, a Red Cross ship brought rice, oil and sugar to Mu’l’li-vaaykkal yesterday, TamilNet said, citing unidentified medical officials.
Accounts from the battlefield are difficult to verify because outside observers are barred from the area.
The government and LTTE “need to live up to their word,” U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said at a briefing in Washington yesterday. The government has said it won’t engage in further combat operations and the LTTE said it wouldn’t carry out other military operations, he added.
Last Updated: April 28, 2009 21:28 EDT http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=aGP6dDrOybeI&refer=india
Can’t MuKa’s friend be a terrorist? After all, as J. Jayalithaa rightly notes, MuKa is enacting a drama. Are people so dumb that they cannot see through the farce?
Srilanka has timed its offensive during the elections in India where UPA is in the last stages of demitting office. Frustrated politicos cannot become statesmen caring for the welfare of common people everywhere and respecting the rights of Tamils in Srilanka.
A special meeting on the situation in Sri Lanka was convened at the residence of
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New
Delhi Wednesday night. At the end of the urgent
meeting Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was quoted by the
Press Trust of India as saying: "We are very unhappy at the continued
killing of innocent Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. These killings must
stop." PTI also reported citing Mr. Pranab Mukherje that India asked
LTTE to stop "barbaric" attempt to hold civilians hostage.
Indian Defence Minister A K Antony, National
Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon also
took part in the meeting.
The meeting was convened amid mounting pressure
from Tamil Nadu parties on the Centre to stop war in Sri Lanka, the report further said.
Meanwhile, sources in Colombo
said Basil Rajapaksa, the brother and adviser of Sri Lankan President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, was scheduled to leave for India shortly as a special envoy to
discuss the war.
It is accused that India
is running a proxy war in the island
of Sri Lanka along with Colombo government
against Tamil national aspirations.
Somini Sengupta (NY Times, April 23, 2009)
NEW DELHI — The United States on Wednesday accused Sri Lankaof causing “untold suffering” among civilians in its push to end a 25-year-old conflict with Tamil separatists, as people continued to pour out of the war zone and the government announced the surrender of two prominent rebels.
“I think that the Sri Lankan government knows that the entire world is very disappointed that in its efforts to end what it sees as 25 years of conflict, it is causing such untold suffering,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday.
The United States has repeatedly called on Sri Lanka to halt the fighting long enough to negotiate the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone. The government has been accused of firing into areas where civilians have been huddled. Washington has also called on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which it considers a terrorist organization, to release civilians stuck in the shrinking five-square mile area of coastline under its control.
The United Nations Security Council scheduled a session on the crisis for Wednesday evening, while the Indian government convened an emergency meeting late Wednesday night.
Since Monday, according to the Sri Lankan government, nearly 85,000 civilians have fled the area. Government forces on Monday destroyed a huge rebel-built earthen wall that had prevented civilians from fleeing the area. The Tigers on Tuesday said the government had killed 1,000 civilians as it advanced into the area this week.
How many civilians had left the area and how many remained was impossible to verify, because the government has sealed off the conflict area to journalists and many aid agencies. Government-shot video footage showed women carrying infants wading through waist-deep water to get to safety while thousands waited for food.
“It is 60,000-plus and counting, and we have heard various reports of up to 110,000 coming out,” said Gordon Weiss, a United Nations spokesman in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, according to Reuters. He cautioned the reports were preliminary and unconfirmed.
Those arriving from the war zone were placed in overcrowded government-run camps in Vavuniya, in the government-controlled area of northern Sri Lanka near the rebel-held territory. More than 400 wounded patients have been admitted to the hospital there in recent days, Doctors Without Borders said in a statement. Most have injuries from shrapnel and landmines, it said.
There is no freedom of movement between the camps and only a minority of the refugees have been able to find out any information about family members who might be in other camps, Doctors Without Borders said.
In another development Wednesday, Daya Master, the former media coordinator for the separatists, surrendered at a Sri Lankan army defense line Wednesday morning along with his family, the military said in a statement. Kumar Pancharathnam, a former English translator to S.P. Thamilselvan, the late head of the political wing of the group, also surrendered, the military said.
The men were among the most prominent representatives of the rebels who regularly spoke to correspondents visiting the former rebel headquarters of Killinocchi. Mr. Master coordinated a rare news conference by the rebel founder and leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, in a jungle redoubt in the spring of 2002.
The Tamil Tigers did not confirm the surrender or capture of the two men Wednesday. A dictate issued by Mr. Prabhakaran calls on followers to wear cyanide-filled vials to be taken in case of capture, a recourse followed by many captured fighters in the past.
It is not known if Mr. Prabhakaran, 54, remains in the last bit of territory held by the Tigers — or even if he is alive. A pioneer in the tactic of suicide bombings, Mr. Prabhakaran created a squad called the Black Tigers that has carried out scores of attacks over the years. Even when the conventional war ends between his forces and the Sri Lankan military, the Tigers are expected to continue a guerrilla war.
Sri Lanka has ruled out giving rebel cadres amnesty.
Mark McDonald contributed reporting from Hong Kong, and Sharon Otterman from New York.
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 17:55
Contrary to Colombo’s propaganda, major part of the civilians who escaped capture by Sri Lanka Army are moving towards the LTTE side from Valaignar Madam to Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal, in large numbers, Tiger officials told TamilNet Wednesday. LTTE’s Political Division official C. Ilamparithi said almost 200,000 civilians are still in the LTTE area. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister has convened an emergency meeting of ministers and officials to discuss Sri Lankan situation, BBC reported Wednesday. Same day, the US government has urged Colombo to allow international observers to the battlefront and UN access to all points of civilian movement, said a State Department spokesman in a press conference. Unless there are significant changes and swift action from the side of the US, positive developments can hardly take place, Tamil circles commented.
Heavy fighting was reported in Pokka'nai Wednesday and civilians are moving from Pokka'nai and Valaignarmadam towards LTTE territory in Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal. Around 700 seriously injured patients are staying in the compound of the makeshift hospital at Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal, medical sources said.
Around 400 seriously injured have been transferred in the ICRC ship Wednesday, amidst much difficulty, deliberately caused by the shelling of the Sri Lanka Army, reports further said.
As Colombo’s war taking all international attention, the food situation of the civilians of Vanni is not cared for, said the medical sources. Colombo government Tuesday blocked the shipment of WFP emergency food supplies.
In the meantime, Sri Lanka president’s brother Basil Rajapaksa is leaving for New Delhi Wednesday reportedly to take the edge off of the LTTE ‘propaganda’ and to clarify India of the ‘true’ situation in Vanni, according to news reports.
India unhappy over continued killing of Tamil civilians
New Delhi (PTI): India on Wednesday night voiced unhappiness over the continued killing of innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka and asked LTTE to stop "barbaric" attempt to hold civilians hostage as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the situation in the island nation.
A special meeting, attended also by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon was convened amid mounting pressure from Tamil Nadu parties on the Centre to stop war in Sri Lanka.
"We are very unhappy at the continued killing of innocent Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. These killings must stop," Mr. Mukherjee told reporters after the hour-long meeting called to discuss the situation in the island nation.
Who then is a terrorist? (Editorial, The Hindu, April 23, 2009)
As the end game, involving the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians, is being played out on a tiny sliver of coastal land in Sri Lanka’s North, Tamil Nadu’s electoral politics is witnessing some strange contortionist feats and crossovers by the leaders of key political parties. Each of the two main alliances, one led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the other by the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, hosts within it contradictory political positions on the separatist quest for ‘Tamil Eelam.’ More materially, each alliance hosts within itself diametrically opposed positions on the character and legitimacy of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which has been banned or designated as a terrorist organisation by some 30 countries led by India. Against this murky background, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s characterisation, in an interview to NDTV 24x7, of LTTE supremo V. Prabakaran as “my good friend” and not a terrorist, and his assertion that the terrorism that had regrettably crept into the movement was “not Prabakaran’s fault” has stirred up a hornet’s nest. While the Congress has dissociated itself from the stand of its ally, AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has posed embarrassing questions to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. As if that were not enough, virtually every party in Tamil Nadu, other than the Congress and the DMK, has faulted the United Progressive Alliance government for letting the Tamils down.
Unlike many of the political leaders, the people of Tamil Nadu have been clear-sighted about Sri Lanka’s principal national question. There are plenty of indications that they are able to differentiate very clearly indeed between the fate of the terrorist LTTE, which they certainly don’t want back in Tamil Nadu, and the lives, welfare, and democratic interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils, for whom they have strong feelings of solidarity. The truth is that after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 by an LTTE squad under direct orders from Prabakaran (who is wanted by India as Accused No. 1 in the case), every government at the Centre and in Tamil Nadu has acted soberly and responsibly on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. Among other things, they have been of one mind in continuing the ban on a terrorist organisation that has carried out a large number of assassinations and massacred scores of innocent people — Tamils, Muslims, and Sinhalese. It is worth recalling that the DMK government concurred with the UPA government on extending the ban on the LTTE for a period of two years from May 14, 2008. As for Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s differentiation between the idealistic freedom-fighter Prabakaran, the LTTE’s unchallenged supremo, and the “terrorism [that] crept into the outfit,” it is like saying that Osama bin Laden is an idealistic Islamist and not a terrorist — but the al-Qaeda is!
LTTE Prabhakaran's days are numbered (5 April 2009)
India breaks another LTTE weapon smuggling ring
New Delhi (IANS): India has broken yet another Tamil Tiger ring that sought to smuggle war material to the rebels, arresting four men including a British national of Sri Lankan origin in Chennai.
Acting painstaking sleuthing, the four were formally detained on Friday from the southern Chennai suburb of Thiruvanmaiyur. They included a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
It is the first crackdown on the LTTE this year in Tamil Nadu, which is separated from Sri Lanka by a strip of sea and where political passions are running high due to the war against the Tigers in the island that has reached a decisive stage.
Informed sources said the LTTE activist was known only as Sahanthan. He belonged to Mullaitivu in Sri Lanka's north - where the LTTE is waging a last-ditch battle to save itself from annihilation - and had arrived in India about a year ago.
His mission was to coordinate activities aimed at supplying the LTTE war material, the sources told IANS. He travelled extensively in Tamil Nadu for this purpose.
Arrested with him was British national Jayanathan, who flew into Tamil Nadu recently and who reportedly has had links with the LTTE in the past.
The other two arrested men were identified simply as Babu of Rameswaram and Guhan of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. Both are Indians and said to be linked to the Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), a pro-LTTE group in Tamil Nadu that is now allied to Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK.
Seized from them were several satellite telephones, global positioning system (GPS), night vision devices as well as medicines that had been neatly packed in crates.
Much of the goods had been bought abroad, underlining that Tamil Nadu seemed to be a transit point for war material that a bruised LTTE desperately needs to battle the relentless military advance, the sources said.
The last major arrest of LTTE suspects in Tamil Nadu took place in December 2008 when the police swooped on Amir Antony Paranthaman. The arrest led to the seizure of satellite telephones and GPS system sent from Switzerland.
The police also then seized 500 kg of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser component used to make explosives.
5 Apr 2009, 1445 hrs IST, AP
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan forces have killed 420 Tamil Tigers in
the last three days and pushed the rebels back into a ``no-fire'' zone set up
to protect civilians trapped in the fighting, the military said on Sunday. ( Watch )
Government troops captured the entire Puthukkudiyiruppu area, the last rebel stronghold on the edge of the safety zone in the last pocket of land in the island's war-ravaged north, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
He said the Tamil Tigers are now confined to the ``no-fire'' zone in a narrow strip of land along a beach in northeastern Sri Lanka.
Government forces have been saying for months they are in a final push to defeat the rebels - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - and end 25 years of civil war, after a string of major victories in which the rebel administrative capital and main bases were captured.
A military statement said the rebels are ``now facing a total annihilation as the soldiers are engaged in a man-to-man combat against them in the last terror pocket.''
The military does not give figures for its own casualties, and accounts of battles cannot be verified because independent journalists are barred from the war zone.
The ``no-fire'' zone was declared earlier this year by the government as a place for tens of thousands of civilians trapped by the fighting to go. The small strip of coastal land measures just 7.7 square miles (20 square kilometers).
The military and aid organizations have already accused the rebels of firing artillery shells from the ``no-fire'' zone and holding the civilians there as human shields. The rebels have denied the charges.
The United Nations and aid and rights groups have expressed serious concern about the civilians caught in the fighting.
The U.N. says an estimated 150,000 to 190,000 people are trapped, resulting in dozens of deaths each day. But the government says more than 23,000 civilians escaped last month and 30,000 to 40,000 still remain.
The Tamil Tiger rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have faced decades of marginalization by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.
420 Tigers killed, troops seize key area
05 Apr 2009 03:06:27 PM IST
COLOMBO: Fighting the Tamil Tigers in their last bastion, Sri Lankan troops Sunday captured the Puthukkudiyiruppu area, killing over 420 guerrillas in three days of fighting, the military said.
The 53 and 58 divisions of the Sri Lankan Army also inflicted heavy damage on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Mullaitivu district, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
have also seized three 130 mm long-range artillery guns from the rebels.
Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu had been a major base for the past two decades where the LTTE maintained several military and naval bases as well as its armoury.
"Over three days including today the troops have recovered over 420 LTTE bodies. Several known LTTE leaders such as Vithusha, Nagesh, Thurga, Theepan and Gadafi were among those killed in the operation," Nanayakkara told the national television.
Theepan was in charge of the LTTE military wing for the island's north while Gadafi was known to be the personal bodyguard of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. Vithusha was the LTTE women wing leader.
He said that Bhanu, one of the LTTE military leaders, had been reportedly wounded in the clash. The fate of the LTTE chief is not known.
The defence ministry earlier in the day said that all senior LTTE leaders "are now hiding in the no-fire-zone holding the civilians as protective shield.
"A majority of the battle hardened LTTE leaders (have been) killed while the most senior cadres are getting ready to send the child soldiers to the frontline," it said.
The ministry said its soldiers were locked in "man-to-man combat" in Mullaitivu.
"The remaining LTTE cadres still forced to fight the Sri Lankan Army in the no-fire-zone are facing total annihilation," it said.
recent seizures were a 30 mm anti-aircraft machine gun, three 12.7 mm
anti-aircraft machine guns, seven multi purpose machine guns, 43 T-56 assault
rifles, two 40 mm grenade launchers, four 5.56 mm weapons and three rocket
propelled grenade launchers.
Several vehicles, including a luxury jeep believed to have been used by LTTE leaders, have been recovered.
According to the defence ministry, the 53 and 58 Divisions Wednesday made a "spectacular military" push to divide "the remaining LTTE fighting cadre into several isolated groups and surrounding them separately".
The troops have asked the trapped LTTE cadres to surrender.
"We called them to surrender via their (LTTE) radio frequencies," a senior ground commander was quoted as saying by the defence ministry.
There was no reaction from the LTTE, which has been fighting to carve out a separate state in the island's northeast over the past quarter century.
Sunday, 05 April 2009 17:43
Latest battlefield reports received, confirmed heavy loses to LTTE during last -ditch fighting that erupted between troops and LTTE, East of Puthukkudiyirippu today (April 5).
According to battlefront sources, LTTE's 'artillery wing' head Manniwannan was killed in the fighting Sunday (5), following hours after troops claimed total control of Puthukkudiyirippu.
Meanwhile, military citing intercepted LTTE communication revealed that Adithyan, LTTE's former in-charge of Welioya was also among the deceased terrorists. Lawrence and Bhanu, were also reported injured while the latter, over-all in charge of LTTE's artillery and mortar unit has sustained sever injuries, military said citing intercepted LTTE communication.
LTTE's shadow chief cum 'intelligence wing' head Pottu Amman has broken into tears and apologized with cadres now encircled in the anterior of the NFZ and facing annihilation from the Sri Lankan security forces. "Forgive me. This is it. Everything is beyond my control", he was quoted as saying in reply for the constant appeals made by the trapped terrorists for reinforcements.
Troops are continuing with mop-up operations in the area.
Sunday, 05 April 2009 15:43
The capture of LTTE Leader is only a matter of time, Sri Lankan Defence Ministry Secretary Col. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.
The Defence Secretary was speaking in the immediate aftermath of the Sri Lanka Army troops captured the last strategic LTTE stronghold of Pudukudirippu.
He said that it was one of the greatest victories of the Armed Forces whose conscientious military strategy which enabled them to capture the last LTTE stronghold successfully by surrounding them and also in combating the Tigers who tried to infiltrate the advancing troops.
However, he declined to comment on a deadline where the LTTE Leader would be captured or killed by the advancing troops as it depended on a mixture of factors such as the forcibly fighting Tigers in the backdrop of the civilians who were stranded in between.
He also commended the support services of both the Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Air Force in the entire operation.
There is a lot of work to be done from now on in respect of brining stability to the area and also the security, he added.