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Archive for April 15th, 2008

Money collecting agents representing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in London, a proscribed Terrorist organization in the United Kingdom are once again on the prowl targeting defenseless Sri Lankan Tamil business proprietors across London demanding money to replenish their depleting war chest in order to fund their Eelam War crusade against the Sri Lankan state and armed forces.

Several Sri Lankan Tamil businesses in areas of North and East London have been targeted by LTTE’s agents in recent times demanding sums of up to £2,000 onwards, an amount vulnerable Sri Lankan Tamil business owners, can ill afford to cough up. Sri Lankan Tamil businessman who own convenience stores in the areas of Wembley, Harrow, Ilford, East Ham, Manor Park and other suburban areas across London have been the victims of continued intimidation, death threats and harassment from agents acting on behalf of the LTTE. Despite the fact that the LTTE remains a proscribed banned Terrorist organization in the UK, agents acting for the LTTE have remained undeterred.

Many victims fear exposing these incidents to the Police as such is their fear psychosis. These victims are also fully aware of the LTTE’s capabilities of targeting their dissidents who refuse to give in to or do not agree with to their ideology and dictatorial demands. Details of relatives of these Sri Lankan business proprietors living in Sri Lanka have been mentioned by the LTTE’s money collecting agents and their victims have been warned that their relatives would be harmed if they fail to come up with their demands. Many of these LTTE money collecting agents have been accompanied by a bunch of LTTE hooligans who have recently come into London from Denmark, France and Switzerland to assist their colleagues in intimidating and distressing innocent Sri Lankan Tamil business owners in London into funding and supporting their cause.

The Metropolitan Police’s Borough Commanders across London have been notified by Scotland Yard and their safer neighborhood teams are on the watch so that criminals acting for the LTTE in London can be arrested and prosecuted for their crimes and terrorist violations. One such senior Metropolitan Police officer Chief Inspector Zander Gibson, who heads the Community Policing Unit for the London Borough of Newham is said to be actively working with his safer neighborhood teams in partnership with local Sri Lankan Tamil residents who have been brave enough to face up to the LTTE.

Many more moderate Sri Lankan Tamils who do not conform to the LTTE’s ideology are liaising with the Metropolitan Police’s safer neighborhood teams, which, has resulted in a few arrests. However the LTTE’s main criminal culprits are still at large. The Metropolitan Police and its anti-terrorism branch have appealed to the Sri Lankan Diaspora living in London for more information and assistance that will help bring under control and stop the LTTE’s illegal fundraising in the UK.

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The 50 minute documentary Min Datter Terroristen (my Daughter the Terrorist) attempts to glorify the motivations of two Black Tiger women. The documentary follows the training and indoctrination of Dharsika and Puhalchudar (possibly not the real names) for a suicide mission against the Sri Lankan state. The main emphasis of the documentary is to give some pseudo-justification to the act of suicide terrorism by the LTTE. Sections of the documentary are narrated by Maria (actor playing the role of Mother).

The documentary has been produced/co-directed by two Norwegian nationals Mr.Morten Daae and Ms. Beate Arnestad. Interestingly, Ms Arnestad states that she used a false name Ms Smith when she traveled to Sri Lanka to make the film. Ms. Arnestad has blatantly breached Sri Lankan immigration regulations and also media guidelines for visiting journalists as prescribed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The camera crew was led by Norwegian Frank Alvegg. The Production Company is Snitt Film Production based in Oslo , Norway .

The international rights for the documentary is managed by TV2 World ( Denmark ), Rugaardsvej 25, 5100 Odense , Denmark . As at December 2006, the broadcasting rights to the documentary have been purchased by Radio-Canada Television ( Canada ), TV2 ( Denmark ), Al-Arabia (Satellite Television covering the Middle East), NHK-BS1 ( Japan ) and TV2 ( Norway ).

Financial support for the making of the documentary was provided by two institutions, one a NGO operating in Norway named Freedom of Expression Foundation (Institusjonen Fritt Ord), Uranienborgveien 2, 0258 Oslo . According to the annual report of Freedom of Expression Foundation, financial support of one Million Norwegian Kroner (NOK 1,000,000) was provided. In addition the Norwegian Film Fund, which is a government institution enacted by the Norwegian Parliament in 2001 and functioning under the purview of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture provided 250,000 Norwegian Kroner (NOK 250,00) for the making of the documentary.

The fact that a Norwegian government institution provided funding for the production of a documentary that glorifies suicide terrorism against the State of Sri Lanka is in contempt of the friendly relations between the two countries. Furthermore Norwegian government funding was provided to a film Director that used a false identity to operate in Sri Lanka is a serious matter.

(Asian tribune)

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Amnesty International (AI) has criticised the LTTE for deliberately targeting civilians in an extended series of attacks.
The London based human rights group notes that it is a basic principle of international humanitarian law that persons fighting in armed conflict must, at all times, distinguish between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives.

“It is not unlawful to target combatants for attack, where legal means and methods are used; however specific rules aim at protecting civilians and other non-combatants.

They must not be the object of attack. Indiscriminate attacks, including attacks on military objectives that are expected to cause excessive loss of civilian lives or damage to civilian objects (the principle of proportionality) are similarly prohibited, as is the use of civilians as human shields,”

AI said in a statement relating to the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in which several civilians were also killed.

The organisation is alarmed that since the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka on January 16, the conflict continues to involve the intentional targeting of civilians and indiscriminate attacks.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 180 civilians died in the first six weeks of 2008 and nearly 270 more were injured in a series of attacks on civilian buses, railway stations and individuals in Colombo, Dambulla, Kebhitigollewa, Madhu, Okkampitiya and Welli Oya.

AI further says that as suicide bombs kill and injure civilians in the south of Sri Lanka, ongoing offensives in the north and east continue to affect families in conflict-affected areas.

One continuing example is the situation near Madhu Church in Mannar District in the north of Sri Lanka.

“As a result of intensifying fighting, a historic statue of the Virgin Mary has been removed for safety from the Madhu shrine. The LTTE is reported to have used communities around the Church as ‘human shields’ and Amnesty International has in the past raised concerns about the recruitment of children by the LTTE from families living in the locality.

The government for its part in April 2008 reportedly shelled civilian areas around the Church. The Mannar Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph has repeatedly appealed to both sides to respect the Madhu area as a no-conflict zone,” AI added.

AI notes that under international humanitarian law, parties to armed conflicts, including non-international ones such as in Sri Lanka, must take special care to protect cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion, from damage unless there is imperative military necessity to do otherwise.

AI is urging the LTTE to stop immediately any direct or indiscriminate attacks on civilians, condemn all such acts publicly and state that they would not be tolerated; to immediately suspend any persons suspected of participating in (including ordering) violations of international law from any position or placement in which they may commit additional violations and to ensure that their forces take special care to avoid damage to cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion.

AI also urges the government to ensure that all security force personnel respect obligations under international human rights humanitarian law, ensure that its armed forces take special care to avoid damage to cultural property, including buildings dedicated to religion and allow the establishment of an independent, international human rights monitoring presence on the ground without delay.

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TO SAY rice is Sri Lanka’s staple food is an understatement. Rice is politics in Sri Lanka. Not only that, we are also in love with rice. Take my case. My day is not complete if I do not eat rice for my lunch. There are times I eat rice for all three main meals. Take a ride on a taxi along Colombo’s busy roads during lunchtime.

One would be sure to see hundreds of vendors sitting under huge umbrellas and selling parcels of cooked rice. The price was reasonable — at least till the beginning of the year. But then there was a sudden increase in the price of rice — and everyone is talking about it.

One woman said the kilo of local rice which she bought at Rs 80 last month was being sold at Rs 112. The imported Indian rice, which two months ago fetched, a price of Rs 60 a kilo in Colombo’s retail markets is now sold at Rs 100 — and the stocks are fast vanishing.

My grocer predicts that the prices will go up further in the coming weeks. But our government says it will not allow the situation to get out of hand. It was only a few months ago that the government asked the people to eat more rice when flour prices went up. But today, rice is beyond the common man’s reach.

In the early 1990s, Sri Lanka achieved self-sufficiency in rice for the first time in several centuries. Where did we go wrong?

In the recent past, a coterie of big-time rice mill owners with political backing was blamed for hoarding and artificially jacking up the prices. But this time, it was the weather.

The rain came down heavily in March — a usually a dry month during which the rice farmer would collect his harvest. The unusual weather pattern was blamed on factors related to global warming. Tens of thousands of paddy land went under water with thousands of farmers becoming destitute overnight, unable to reap the harvest.

The rains not only washed away all the hopes of the farmer but also put a damper to the New Year, which has its origin in the harvesting festival.

A desperate government pleaded with India, Pakistan and Myanmar to sell some rice. We are told that India, which has banned rice, exports to avoid a food crisis in that country, has agreed to sell 100,000 tonnes of rice to Sri Lanka. But other reports say we have just got a promise from India. The promise was more than enough for the government to feed us — not rice but hopes and propaganda.

The World Food Programme in a recent report listed Sri Lanka among eleven countries identified as “hunger’s global hotspots”. The other countries on the list are Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Experts attribute the global rice in food prices to several factors, including prolonged droughts or floods in food-exporting countries, the diversion of crops to make bio-fuel, the rise in transport costs as a result of increased oil prices and restrictions on export of food by countries such as India.

Is the Sri Lankan government prepared to face the upcoming crisis? It is no simple matter, for rice has been the core of Sri Lanka’s politics since we gained independence in 1948. Rice politics has accounted for the rise and fall of many governments. Independent Sri Lanka’s first major social upheaval was over rice. The world rice prices had skyrocketed because of the Korean War.

The then United National Party government found it difficult to maintain the subsidy on rice. It increased the price of a measure of rice from 25 cents to 70 cents. The Left parties led by the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) organised a day of civil disobedience or strike on August 12, 1953. The response was overwhelming. The government panicked and deployed the army to crush the agitation. Scores of people died and hundreds were arrested. But at the general election held three years later, the UNP suffered a humiliating defeat.

The fall of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike government in 1977 was also attributed to rice politics. She came to power, promising that she would give every Sri Lankan two measures of rice free. When the opposition queried as to how she would find the rice, she said her party would bring it even from the moon. Obviously, she could not fulfil her promise and she lost the general election in 1977.

Will Sri Lanka witness food riots in the coming weeks or months? The main opposition United National Party recently organised demonstrations against the rising food prices but not many people joined the protests. The reason: The people still believe that the government is winning the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and once the LTTE is defeated, there will be economic boom. But it is only a matter of time before the people question the government’s promises of better times ahead. The signs are already visible.

Last week, a newspaper carried a story saying rice was available at Rs 60. The following day, a group of housewives held a protest outside a newspaper office demanding to know where they could find rice at Rs 60.

(Khaleejtimes)

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The incidents of child recruitment and forcible conscription are on the rise in the Wanni and is getting worse with each passing day, a Sea Tiger escapee told the Daily News.

Following an appeal by Security Forces to LTTE cadres to surrender with the promise of transforming their lives, around 54 Tiger cadres including Sea Tiger cadres and sympathisers had given themselves up at the Rehabilitation Centre in Jaffna during the last three months.

The Rehabilitation Centre was established in 1995 for LTTE surrendees but this was disrupted due to the continuing conflict in the Northern front. The Security Forces once again reactivated the Centre in February and placed in direct charge under the Presidential Secretariat.

“Since the Security Forces announcement to the LTTE cadres to give up terrorism and surrender themselves, around 54 Tiger cadres had given themselves up at the centre from February to March. They were between 17 and 50 years,” Co-ordinating Officer Colonel J.J. Mohotti said.

The LTTE surrendees will be rehabilitated at the centre by providing vocational training which will prepare them even for foreign employment.

“We are providing vocational training to the LTTE surrendees such as sewing, wiring and motor mechanics. The duration of the training will range from six months to one year depending on the training category. Those who wish to seek foreign employment will be given an opportunity to find jobs abroad. We have already sent one such LTTE surrendee for overseas employment,” the Colonel added.

Colonel Mohotti said parents and guardians of the LTTE surrendees were allowed to visit them on Sundays and Wednesdays. The centre is operated with the assistance of the ICRC, UNICEF, local government agencies and other sources.

“We are confident that the LTTE surrendees will be reformed. We are aware of their real reasons for surrendering. Therefore, we hope they will be good citizens,” he said.

The LTTE which is fast losing control in the Wanni is disrupting civilian life. “Child recruitment, proscription and intimidation are high,” Colonel Mohotti added.

K. Robinson, 27, was recruited to the LTTE Sea Tiger Wing at the age of 14 in 1995.

“I have received training in the Mullaitivu seas and taken part in four sea attacks against the Navy. I was among those deployed for sea attacks in Kalpitiya, Pulmodai, Nayaru and Pesalai seas. I lost part of my right leg in 1998. I was also a member of the Black Tiger reinforcements in an attack targeting a Navy ship in Mamunai,” he said.

During the ceasefire agreement, Robinson left the outfit and moved to Jaffna to start a new life.

“I got married and began a new life in Jaffna, but the LTTE never let me settle down. They were looking for me and threatened my family members and compelled me to rejoin the outfit. I was assisting the LTTE to carry out claymore attacks against the Security Forces in Jaffna,” Robinson said.

He asserted that he is safe with the Security Forces and was positive of turning a new leaf in life. “I have surrendered to the Security Forces denouncing terrorism and look forward to the future with a new ray of hope. I am awaiting foreign employment,” he said.

He said the LTTE has lost the sympathy of the Tamils.

“They don’t fight for the Tamils. People in the Wanni front are made to suffer and they forcefully recruit children to the outfit. Every family is forced to sacrifice one member to the battle field”, he added.

K. Thevarasan, 37, a father of three joined the LTTE in 1987 and surrendered to the Security Forces on February 2008.

“I was recruited to the LTTE when I was 17 years and left the outfit when the Indian Army was in Sri Lanka after three years of combat,” he said.

“In order to start a new life, I continued my studies and became a Manager at the Palmyra Corporation in Chavakachcheri. I also got married and have three children. While I was continuing my normal life, I started receiving threats from the LTTE and their intelligence was looking for me.

Initially, I surrendered to the Human Rights Commission in Jaffna last year and I was later produced before the Jaffna Magistrate and remanded.

Following the Security Forces announcement of an amnesty, I surrendered at the centre and feel safe. I am positive of a bright future for myself and my family”, Thevarasan added.

(DailyNews)

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Sri Lankan soldiers patrol along the ‘de facto’ frontline at Nager Kovil in the Jaffna Peninsula, north of Colombo, on April 6, 2008. Security forces smashed through defences of Tamil separatists in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least five rebels as the country marked the traditional new year, the defence ministry said Monday.

Security forces smashed through defences of Tamil separatists in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least five rebels as the country marked the traditional new year, the defence ministry said Monday.

Government troops captured eight bunkers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Jaffna peninsula on Sunday, the day of the new year shared by the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, the defence ministry said.

It said a total of five guerrillas were killed and another 16 wounded in clashes on Sunday while military losses were placed at one soldier killed and another wounded.

The ministry figures show that at least 92 guerrillas had been killed since Saturday. However, the LTTE said in a statement on Saturday night that they lost only three of their fighters and claimed killing 25 soldiers.

At least 2,850 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed by government troops since the start of the year, while 172 soldiers have lost their lives during the same period, according to defence ministry figures.

Verification of casualty claims is impossible as Colombo bars journalists and aid workers from travelling to embattled areas.

Tens of thousands of people have died since 1972 when the Tamil Tigers launched an armed struggle to carve out an independent homeland in the island’s north and east for Tamils.

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Sri Lankan soldiers patrol along the ‘de facto’ frontline at Nager Kovil in the Jaffna Peninsula, north of Colombo, on April 6, 2008. Security forces smashed through defences of Tamil separatists in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least five rebels as the country marked the traditional new year, the defence ministry said Monday.

Security forces smashed through defences of Tamil separatists in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least five rebels as the country marked the traditional new year, the defence ministry said Monday.

Government troops captured eight bunkers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Jaffna peninsula on Sunday, the day of the new year shared by the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils, the defence ministry said.

It said a total of five guerrillas were killed and another 16 wounded in clashes on Sunday while military losses were placed at one soldier killed and another wounded.

The ministry figures show that at least 92 guerrillas had been killed since Saturday. However, the LTTE said in a statement on Saturday night that they lost only three of their fighters and claimed killing 25 soldiers.

At least 2,850 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed by government troops since the start of the year, while 172 soldiers have lost their lives during the same period, according to defence ministry figures.

Verification of casualty claims is impossible as Colombo bars journalists and aid workers from travelling to embattled areas.

Tens of thousands of people have died since 1972 when the Tamil Tigers launched an armed struggle to carve out an independent homeland in the island’s north and east for Tamils.

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