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Archive for September 29th, 2004

The All Ceylon Women’s Buddhist Congress (ACWBC) has written to American Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead seeking an early opportunity for a “small representative group” of Buddhist women to meet him to discuss the recently published International Religious Freedom Report (South Asia) 2004 issued by the US Government.

ACWBC President Indrani Devendra writing to the ambassador had expressed “dismay and disappointment” at the contents of the report as reported in last Sunday’s Island.

“The largely unsubstantiated statements referring to attacks on Christians by Buddhist extremists have obviously been made without any attempt to at least ascertain the views of reputed Buddhist organisations such as the ACWBC. The two Supreme Court decisions referred to in the Report were initiated by our Congress,” Devendra has said.

“They have to be understood in the context of Sri Lanka’s constitution which enshrines the foremost position for the Buddha Sasana while, at the same time, ensuring individual freedom of religious belief. This tradition parallels that of many Western democracies such as the USA which has written in the (Christian) God into its own Constitution, Britain which has its official Church of England and Norway whose official religion is Lutheran Christianity and bars non-Lutherans from holding the highest office of State.”

Urging that “most favoured status” to one religion “does not” preclude the exercise of religious freedom, Devendra has made the point that an objective analysis of the two relevant Supreme Court judgements will indicate that they do not obstruct or preclude the practice of the Christian faith.

“What they do is curb unethical means of conversion by material inducements (i.e. bribery) which, I am sure you will agree, is most dishonourable and undesirable,” she said.

The letter pointed out that it was an unfortunate fact that most of the ‘new Christian’ Sects indulging in this practice rely on large financial contributions from their principals in the USA. Devendra has referred the ambassador to the study of this subject made by sociologist Sasanka Perera in his paper “New Evangelical Movements in South Asia” published by the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies.

“There is a strong suspicion that this Report has been influenced by these groups which have a tremendously powerful lobby – more so in these last few weeks leading up to your country’s Presidential Election,” Devendra has said.

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Contrary to LTTE claims, dissident leader Karuna’s brother Reggie is believed to have been killed by a colleague. “We believe the brother of Karuna’s ex-driver killed them,” a well informed security source said yesterday.

Karuna’s ex-driver Ranjan was executed by Karuna shortly after he quit the organisation in March. Ranjan was believed to have warned a senior LTTE cadre over what the source termed as serious financial irregularities in Karuna’s command.

The military identified Ranjan’s brother as Pushpan. He appeared to have remained with the dissidents despite his own brother’s killing to take revenge.

He killed Reggie and two of his close associates and then surrendered to the LTTE,” the official.

“This is similar to the recent Kottawa massacre where a dissident helped LTTE assassins to kill eight of his colleagues.”

The official said the LTTE reached the scene of the killing sometime after the incident.

According to monitored LTTE transmissions, the LTTE leadership wanted maximum possible security to Pushpan. The LTTE is likely to move him to the Vanni.

The military dismissed the LTTE claim that 40-year-old Reggie and two of his associates were shot dead by the special jungle warfare units of the Jeyanthan Regiment around 5.30 a.m. last Tuesday near the Maduru Oya reservoir. The LTTE also claimed its personnel also recovered communications equipment, weapons with serial numbers erased and some documents.

Another military official said that Reggie carried a satellite phone and was in touch with friends abroad. According to him, Reggie was responsible for a series of successful attacks on LTTE targets in the Ampara-Batticaloa region.

The army pointed out if the Reggie was trapped by so called jungle warfare units in the early hours of Tuesday, the LTTE would have announced it immediately. But the first reports of the killings came on Thursday, 48 hours after the incident.

Senior officers based in the east believe that Pushpan single handedly carried out the killings and gave himself up to the nearest LTTE post. He subsequently led the LTTE to the scene of the killing. According to available information, Reggie had been shot in his face.

However, a Colombo based military official said at the time of the attack, Reggie and a group of associates were on their way to a place in the ‘uncleared’ area in three vehicles. “He is believed to have traveled in a Land Rover. There had been two Land Rovers and a cab. Apparently the cab had led the convoy and managed to escape the ambush.”

Speculation is rife he was returning from Colombo. “We believe he was in touch with a senior EPDP member.” But the sources based in the east said they didn’t believe Reggie traveled in a vehicle. “No way. If they used vehicles, the LTTE would have targeted them earlier.”

Subsequent to the incident, the LTTE had moved in additional units to track down the group who escaped the ambush.

Meanwhile, senior representatives of the security forces and the LTTE last week met at the Jaffna office of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

Ms Anita Strandberg of the SLMM’s Jaffna office presided over the meeting, security sources said.

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Contrary to LTTE claims, dissident leader Karuna’s brother Reggie is believed to have been killed by a colleague. “We believe the brother of Karuna’s ex-driver killed them,” a well informed security source said yesterday.

Karuna’s ex-driver Ranjan was executed by Karuna shortly after he quit the organisation in March. Ranjan was believed to have warned a senior LTTE cadre over what the source termed as serious financial irregularities in Karuna’s command.

The military identified Ranjan’s brother as Pushpan. He appeared to have remained with the dissidents despite his own brother’s killing to take revenge.

He killed Reggie and two of his close associates and then surrendered to the LTTE,” the official.

“This is similar to the recent Kottawa massacre where a dissident helped LTTE assassins to kill eight of his colleagues.”

The official said the LTTE reached the scene of the killing sometime after the incident.

According to monitored LTTE transmissions, the LTTE leadership wanted maximum possible security to Pushpan. The LTTE is likely to move him to the Vanni.

The military dismissed the LTTE claim that 40-year-old Reggie and two of his associates were shot dead by the special jungle warfare units of the Jeyanthan Regiment around 5.30 a.m. last Tuesday near the Maduru Oya reservoir. The LTTE also claimed its personnel also recovered communications equipment, weapons with serial numbers erased and some documents.

Another military official said that Reggie carried a satellite phone and was in touch with friends abroad. According to him, Reggie was responsible for a series of successful attacks on LTTE targets in the Ampara-Batticaloa region.

The army pointed out if the Reggie was trapped by so called jungle warfare units in the early hours of Tuesday, the LTTE would have announced it immediately. But the first reports of the killings came on Thursday, 48 hours after the incident.

Senior officers based in the east believe that Pushpan single handedly carried out the killings and gave himself up to the nearest LTTE post. He subsequently led the LTTE to the scene of the killing. According to available information, Reggie had been shot in his face.

However, a Colombo based military official said at the time of the attack, Reggie and a group of associates were on their way to a place in the ‘uncleared’ area in three vehicles. “He is believed to have traveled in a Land Rover. There had been two Land Rovers and a cab. Apparently the cab had led the convoy and managed to escape the ambush.”

Speculation is rife he was returning from Colombo. “We believe he was in touch with a senior EPDP member.” But the sources based in the east said they didn’t believe Reggie traveled in a vehicle. “No way. If they used vehicles, the LTTE would have targeted them earlier.”

Subsequent to the incident, the LTTE had moved in additional units to track down the group who escaped the ambush.

Meanwhile, senior representatives of the security forces and the LTTE last week met at the Jaffna office of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

Ms Anita Strandberg of the SLMM’s Jaffna office presided over the meeting, security sources said.

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Army headquarters said the LTTE killed an army informant at Mannampitya last Wednesday night. Rajathurai Sivagnanam (24) was killed at his home on Colony Road in Mannampitya town around 8.30. p.m.

Security forces spokesman Colonel Sumedha Perera said Rajathurai functioned as an informant. “But that was sometime ago. He had been an active cadre of LTTE before he deserted the group.” (SF)

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An advanced party of the first-ever Sri Lankan contingent of troops for the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations left the Sri Lanka yesterday for Haiti aboard a special UN flight, which arrived from Nepal with an advanced party of around 120 soldiers for the same mision.

The Sri Lankan contingent commanded by Lt. Col. Tissa Jayasuriya consists of 120 soldiers which includes 14 officers, mainly from the Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI) The rest of the battalion is expected to leave the country in the early part of october. The full Sri Lankan contingent will be commanded by Col. Amal Karunasekara.

This battalion will be engaged peace keeping operations in Haiti for six months after which a battalion from the next senior-most regiment will replace them, which is likely to be from Sinha regiment.

At a coulourful ceremony at the BIA prior to their departure the flag bearers took their positions in front of the UN contingent in blue berets and the flags were handed over to the contingent commander Lt. Col. Tissa Jayasuriya.

The National flag by the Army Commander Lt Gen Shantha Kottegoda, the UN flag by former Commander of the Army Gen Lionel Balagalle, the Sri Lanka Army flag by the Chief of Staff Major Gen Chula Senaviratne and the regimetal flag of the CLI by Colonel of the regiment and the Security Forces Commander of the East Major Gen Nanda Mallawarachchi.

After handing over of the flags by the Generals to the contingent commander, the troops marched past the children and soldiers who were waving Sri Lankan and UN flags as hundreds of family members and friends who had come from faraway places to see their loved ones off watched with misty eyes.

Commander of the Battalion Col Amal Karunasekara

said the advanced party will make all the necessary arrangements and preparations before the full complement Sri Lankan troops arrive there.

“We have the best for the mission in Haiti” he said adding that in choosing their ability, discipline and track record have been taken into account”, he said.

The experience gained by the Sri Lankan troops in engaging in a twenty-year civil war gives them an advantage though their mission is not to go in for battle, he said.

Army Commander Lt Gen Shantha Kottegoda said if a permanent peace is achieved in the country, Sri Lanka would be able send more troops for peace keeping operations. “Other than the much needed foreign exchange earned by the country, we wil also gain intrernational recognition”.

He said the former Commander of the Army Gen Lionel Balagalle played a pivotal role in getting this opportunity for our trrops when he was the commander.

Prior to the main ceremony religeous ceremonies of all faiths were held for the Haiti bound soldiers by the respective priests.

The Sri Lankan contingent will be deployed in the headquarters in Leao Gne, Kilk and Peti – Goave all locations west of the Capital Port-au-Prince, Col Karunasekara said.

Certain other parts of Haiti are flooded but Sri Lankan troops will not be deployed there. Altogether 6,000 troops will be deployed in Haiti on the Peace Keeping mission with contingents from Neapal , Brazil , Peru, Chile, Argentina and a contingent from the Canadian AirForce. Overall Commander of the troops will be Brazilian Major General Preira.

Our troops will be paid a stipend of 1028 US dollars per month with 68 dollars for clothing and five dollars for a personal weapon and 10% from the congingent who are specialists in tvarious disciplines such as doctors , engineers e.t.c. will be paid an extra 303 dollars , What is unique is that all in the contingent are paid an equal stipend said Col Karunasekara.

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Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs are scheduled to meet the Mahanayakes of the Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters on October 11 in Kandy to brief them on the political situation as well as the stalemate in the peace process, party spokesman Suresh Premachandran MP, said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the leader of the LTTE’s political wing S. P. Thamilchelvan awaited the agenda from the Mahanayake Thero of the Malwatte chapter Ven. Tibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thera for a much awaited discussion to be held shortly in Kilinochchi, the leader of the UPF Periathambi Chandrasekaran MP said.

TNA convenor Premachandran said that Parliamentary group leader R. Sampanthan was scheduled to lead a delegation of TNA MPs on October 11 to meet the two Mahanayakes, Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thero from the Malwatte chapter and the Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thero from the Asgiriya chapter.

The Tamil people want their MPs to meet the Mahanayakes to discuss the present political situation in the country, the aspirations of Tamil people and urge them to bring pressure on the government to recommence peace talks with the LTTE on the basis of the ISGA,” he said.

They would also explain how the LTTE has been urging the government since November 2003 that it’s always ready to start peace talks on the basis of the ISGA, which was essential to carry out Rehabilitation, Resettlement, Reconstruction and Development of a war-ravaged North-East and a return to normalcy before discussing the final solution.

The TNA MPs will also brief the Mahanayakes on the inconsistency in the governments stand on the peace process due to its main coalition partner, the JVP opposing the ISGA as a basis for the resumption of talks, he said.

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UN Secretary General Kofi Annan received President Chandrika Kumaratunga at his office at the UN Headquarters in New York on Sept. 23.

At the meeting the President discussed a wide range of issues with the Secretary General. Mr. Kofi Annan briefed the president about the plans for the UN Millennium Development Goals and UN reforms.

The proposed reforms and a 5 year review of achievements in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals Programme will be part of the agenda of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly next year. The Secretary General requested the President to be present at these sessions next year.

The UN proposed reforms were discussed.

The President said Sri Lanka was fully committed to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and is working towards achieving these goals. She said considerable work has already been done in the education and health sectors.

The President briefed the Secretary General on the present status of the Ceasefire Agreement and the peace process. The Secretary General expressed his fullest support to the efforts being undertaken by the Sri lankan Government towards a lasting peace and said the UN stood ready to extend whatever support her government may require for the process.

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