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Archive for June 16th, 2008

High drama in Jaffna: suspect killer of senior EPDP member Murdered in Black Maria

Last week, the military was virtually at the gates of the 1-4 base, a sprawling Tiger complex which was long thought to be impregnable. Fierce clashes flared up at the perimeters of the 1-4 base, which has been the hideout of the Tiger chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran during the greater part of the LTTE’s history.

The 1-4 is a cluster of nearly two dozen camps scattered over 20 square kilometres in the Andankulam and Kumulamunai jungles. The 1-4 base is not one large base as its name implies — it is a cluster of nearly two dozen camps. There were 14 camps in the eighties — and hence the name 1-4 base — located in the expansive jungle terrain, protected by the thick jungle cover. These bases are located in close proximity to each other and are well connected with a network of supply routes. These routes are not illustrated in the military maps. This area has for long been uncharted waters for the apparatus of the Sri Lankan Government. These routes are visible in satellite imagery and, hence, the military calls them “satellite routes”.

n 1989 and 90, operating from the cluster of camps located in the thick jungles of Mullaitivu, the LTTE withstood two major military operations waged by the Indian Peace Keeping Forces. This was also the hideout of Prabhakaran at that time. If terror attacks have brought the war to the doorsteps of Colombo, war is also gradually creeping into the Tiger heartland of Mullaitivu.

Pitched battles

Last week, the 59 Division of the Sri Lanka Army continued to advance further ino the Tiger hinterland. This Division, was launched in January this year and is advancing on a 12 km stretch from Janakapura to Ethawettunuwewa on the Weli Oya front.

Last Sunday, troops of this division fought pitched battles in Nittaikulam, located 7 km from the original forward defence lines of the security forces in Janakapura.
Mullaitivu, the nerve centre of the LTTE, is located 14 km from Nittaikulam.
The soldiers attached to the 7 Gemunu Watch and the 14 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment sprung a coordinated assault from five directions on well fortified LTTE positions. Eight soldiers were killed and 18 others were wounded in the fierce clashes that followed.

The army said 17 LTTE cadres were killed and 35 wounded in the same confrontation, including a senior female cadre. The Tigers had anticipated a military onslaught. Their modus operandi was to clear a jungle patch of 200 meters at the perimeters of the camp. This open patch is dubbed a killing zone. Behind the open patch, a bunker line had been dug. These bunkers are built in triangle shape, enabling the defending cadres to counter threat coming from all directions.
Last Sunday, despite stiff resistance, the troops of GW and VIR crossed the open patch and captured five fortified positions which the military described as “strong points” of the LTTE.
Military says these fortified LTTE positions in Nittaikulam are linked with dirt tracks which can be travelled by tractors.

They say the LTTE had mainly deployed female cadres on bunker duty. However, approximately 500 battle hardened Tiger cadres are kept as reserve awaiting deployment to the frontline when required. The Tigers fought back on Thursday, trying to recapture lost ground and were beaten back. One soldier was killed and nine injured in the counter attack carried out by the LTTE.

On the same day, troops captured another bunker north of Janakapura and killed at least five LTTE cadres, the army said. These figures could not be independently verified. The military drive into Mullaitivu is entering into a decisive phase as troops push further into the Tiger stronghold. By last Friday, the military was advancing towards the Thanumuruppukulam tank. Last week, the Commander of the Army Lt General Sarath Fonseka told an interview with the state run Dinamina newspaper that the Army would surge towards the Tiger heartland of Mullaitivu and that the induction of the newly established Task Force Two would expand the military thrust. “The security forces are attacking Mullaitivu, Prabhakaran’s hideout, from several directions. The army’s aim is to capture Prabhakaran, who is holed up in a bunker, alive,” Fonseka was quoted as saying in an interview with the state-run Sinhala language daily, Dinamina, Wednesday
He said troops had captured several hundred square miles and will have to advance a further 21 km to reach the goal.

In 1991, the army launched two military operations to destroy the jungle bases of the LTTE in Mullaitivu. Major General Janaka Perera, then a brigadier, commanded the military mission. The present commander of the army, then a colonel, was his deputy.

Hideout

Adele Balasingham, the Australian born wife of the Tiger theoretician late Anton Balasingham, in her book ‘The will to freedom’ writes about the couple’s visit to the hideout of the Tiger supremo located in the Alampil jungle.

Following is an excerpt:
“Our cadres led us down the steps into a room about thirty to forty feet underground. To our amazement, we could see that this subterranean haven of tunnels and rooms had been chiseled out of the underground rocks. Our room had been carved out, high enough to stand up in and move around comfortably.”
“Prabhakaran’s room was even deeper underground than ours,”
“Low lying roofs constructed over the bunkers, and banks to divert water, prevented the monsoon rains from pouring in and flooding the bunkers.”

“Stronger than concrete, this underground granite structure stood up to the heavy downpour of the monsoon rains when the entire jungle turned into a muddy quagmire.”
“Since we were deep into the earth, where the sun’s heat has no access, the room was absolutely freezing, particularly at night. My bones ached from the cold and I wondered how it could be endured over a sustained period of time. But obviously it had been, and without any ill-effects,” she noted.
In her book, Adele was referring the height of the IPKF operations. The IPKF, after flushing out the LTTE from the Jaffna peninsula, concentrated on the jungle bashing operations against the LTTE. Two major operations – code named Trishul and Viraat – were launched against the LTTE which shifted to jungles in the Wanni. The operations covered the areas from Mannar to Mullaitivu to Elephant Pass to Vavuniya, confining the Tiger cadres further into the jungles. Then the LTTE’s main operation base was the 14 base which was located in Nittaikulam. According to the IPKF operation debrief, on one occasion in February 1988, Prabhakaran was almost captured in Mullaitivu. A senior Tiger cadre named Navam, who was assigned to the security of the Tiger supremo, led a ferocious rearguard attack to enable the escape of the Tiger supremo.

Navam, who was a lt colonel in the Tiger ranks and who had lost one arm in a previous offensive, later succumbed to injuries received during his defense of Prabakaran.
During Operation Viraat, which was launched in May 1988, the IPKF came across well fortified defenses, including concrete bunkers with electric trenches. The operation involved a force of 15,000 Indian troopers including armored personnel, infantrymen and paratroopers. The LTTE persisted despite heavy casualties and shortage of supplies — 1255 Indian peace keepers were killed and several thousands wounded during their deployment in Sri Lanka. After the departure of the IPKF, Prabhakaran emerged from his jungle hideout. The thrust of the LTTE’s defense is appeared to be shifting to the Weli Oya sector as troops are pushing deeper into the Tiger hinterland. With the Task Force Two expected to be launched in the east of Omanthai, next to the Weli Oya front, bitter battles are likely to break up on the Weli Oya front. On the Mannar and Vavuniya fronts, sporadic clashes flared up in Alankulam, Mampulukulam, Nedunkandal and Periya Madhu, etc.

A female Tiger cadre identified as Iranthani Sabapathi Udayamani alias Madhi Nila (LTTE number Ana 1823) surrendered to the Army in Alankulam after a gun battle in which nine LTTE cadres were killed. Three bodies were recovered by the soldiers. The surrendered cadre (17) had confessed that she had been abducted while attending a puja at the Kilinochchi kovil on 9 August 2006. She had been dispatched to the battle front after one-and-a-half month small arms training. Tiger recruits are transported to the frontlines blind folded and their movements have been strictly monitored by the senior LTTE cadres, she has said in her debrief.

While all eyes were on the Wanni, the LTTE sprung a surprise on Tuesday, launching a sea borne attack on a remote naval detachment in Irukkalampiddi. The detachment guarded by only 15 sailors were overlooking the major Sea Tiger camp Vedithalthivu, which is gradually coming under the siege of the advancing troops of the 58 Division.

In the early hours of Tuesday, six Sea Tiger boats were launched from Vedithalthivu. Approximately 50-70 Tiger cadres were involved in the attack on the remote naval detachment.
Outnumbered by the Tiger cadres, sailors abandoned the detachment after three sailors were killed in fierce gun battles. Two others were injured. The LTTE announced four of its cadres were killed in the naval attack. The navy said five Sea Tigers, including Sea Tiger leader Sirimaran who led the attack were killed and at least one boat was destroyed. Several medium calibre guns including one 50 calibre machine gun, one 50 calibre barrel, two 81 mm mortars, one PK-LMG, one rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPG) and one light anti-tank weapon (LAW) were captured by the LTTE.

The attack was the second of its kind in three weeks. The main objective of these attacks which lack strategic importance is apparently to boost the dwindling morale of the LTTE. Meanwhile, high drama took place in Jaffna on Friday as a suspect in the killing of senior EPDP member and APRC representative Maheshwari Velayuthan was shot dead inside a prison vehicle at Kuppilan on Chunnakam- Palaly road. The deceased, Selvarasa Leptinraj was alleged to be involved in the killing of Ms Velayuthan.

Protective custody

He and his sister were placed in protective custody after they sought refuge at the Jaffna Human Rights Commission following the abduction of three members of his family including his parents and his brother. His cousin was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.In the face of inherent delays in the Sri Lankan legal system, vigilante justice appears to have taken its course in Jaffna. Armed men who were following the prison bus in a hijacked van, stopped the prison vehicle at Kuppilan.

They picked Leptinraj (17) and sprayed him with bullets. Another inmate, identified as Thangaraja Suleshan, was also killed in the shoot out and another was injured and admitted to the Jaffna hospital. The assasins fled the scene on a motorcycle.

The driver of the van used by the attackers was found gagged inside the vehicle. These developments are taking place as the LTTE sends out conflicting signals. A request by the Norwegian peace facilitators to visit the Wanni has been turned down by the government.

A shadowy front of the LTTE, known as the Ellalan Brigade, last week claimed responsibility for the terror attacks on public transport. They described the attacks as a stern message of revenge in return for several attacks against civilians carried out by the security forces inside the Wanni. The two suspects of the Wellawatta train bomb are spilling the beans (see page 3) and police expect them to makemore disclosures in the coming days. In the meantime, the country is bracing for fresh violence.

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Anandasangaree is a man with a mission. He has two goals. One is to ensure that Sri Lankans in general and Tamils in particular live in peace, equality and amity. For this he sees a federal set up on the Indian model as the solution. Secondly, he wants the Tamil people to be truly free. For this he wants the iron grip of the LTTE to be relaxed. He wants the LTTE to reform or face consequences

What has been remarkable about the man is his dogged determination to articulate his viewpoint and advocate a negotiated settlement to the ethnic crisis on federal lines. He speaks out against the war and wants the problem to be resolved peacefully. Sangaree admires the Indian model and wants Sri Lanka to follow that example. He wants ethnic amity and harmony based on justice and equality

Eighteen members were elected to Parliament from the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1977. This was an election of historic importance, where the TULF contested on a separatist platform, saying a victory at the polls was a mandate for Tamil Eelam.

Three decades and more have passed since then. Thirteen of the 18 MPs elected in 1977 are not among the living now. Of the remaining ex-MPs, three have retired from politics. They are K.P. Ratnam, C. Rajadurai and P. Soosaithasan.
The two veteran TULF leaders who are in active politics at present are Rajavarothayam Sambandan and Veerasingham Anandasangaree.

Both are at loggerheads with each other, though Anandasangaree is the TULF President and Sambandan its Secretary General. A legal dispute concerning the party has rendered it virtually inactive.

Keeping the TULF flag flying

Many leaders of the TULF have, in association with three other Tamil parties, formed the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which contested the last elections under the House symbol of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK). Sambandan himself was elected to Parliament from the Trincomalee District.

Anandasangaree, or Sangaree as he is generally known, remains outside the TNA and functions as the TULF President.
The TULF is today a caricature of its former self, mainly due to the terror and intimidating tactics of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

While most of the ‘nominal’ TULF leaders have become puppets of the LTTE, the bulk of the rank and file still remain loyal to the TULF. However, they are unable to assert themselves openly and fearlessly.

Against such a backdrop, it has been the lot of Party President Anandasangaree to keep the TULF flag flying bravely. In recent times, Sangaree has become the personification of the TULF.

In that sense, Veerasingham Anandasangaree is today the last man standing of the TULF leaders. One doubts very much whether there would ever be a TULF after him.

Today (June 15) is a significant milepost for Sangaree as he celebrates his 75th birthday today.
Born in Point Pedro in June 1933, Anandasangaree grew up in Atchuvely as his father was a school principal at Sri Somaskanda College in neighbouring Puthur. Sangaree himself studied at Sri Somaskanda, Christian College Atchuvely, Hartley College, Point Pedro and also Zahira College, Colombo.

Before taking up law, Sangaree was a pedagogue teaching at Hindu College Jaffna, Poonakari MMV, Kotalawela GTM School, Ratmalana and Christ King College, Ja Ela.
He passed out as a lawyer in 1967 and continued practicing until 1983, when the TULF leaders refused to take oaths under the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. He has not worn the black coat ever since.

Entering politics

Like many political leaders on both sides of the ethnic divide, Sangaree too began his politics as an ardent Trotskyite. He was an active member of the Lanka Sama Samaaja Party (LSSP) Youth League from 1955 to 1965.
His first experience in running for electoral office was in 1959 when he contested the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) on the LSSP ticket. His opponent was none other than the uncrowned king of Colombo Municipal politics, V.A. Sugathadasa, who was also Mayor then. It was a baptism of fire in Colombo for the 25-year-old Jaffna youth.
The March 1960 elections saw the LSSP under Dr. N.M. Perera make a determined bid for political power through electoral politics. The party contested 101 seats in all parts of the island and NM himself was projected as the future prime minister of the country.

NM asked Sangaree to contest the newly-carved rural constituency of Kilinochchi as a LSSP candidate. Anandasangaree, having no links to Kilinochchi, was reluctant.

NM encouraged him to plunge in saying that even if the “unknown” Sangaree lost, then he would win the seat in 10 years time. NM’s words in 1960 were prophetic and in 1970 Anandasangaree was elected for the first time to Parliament from Kilinochchi.
Only he was no longer a Trotskyite but a Tamil Congress candidate, having embraced Tamil nationalism. The LSSP, however, fared poorly, winning only 10 seats.

Sangaree contested the March 1960, July 1960 and March 1965 elections in Kilinochchi under the Key symbol of the LSSP. He got 1,114, 2,011 and 1,804 votes respectively. He lost both times in 1960 to S. Sivasundaram and in 1965 to K.P. Ratnam, both from the Federal Party (FP).

In 1966, the LSSP now aligned with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), adopted the communal “Dudleyge Bade Masala Vadai” line and opposed the reasonable use of Tamil as an official language in 1966. Sangaree, like many Tamil LSSPers, quit the party.

Kilinochchi win

He joined the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by G.G. Ponnambalam Snr. in May 1966. Earlier, he contested and won the Kilinochchi town ward in the Karaichi Village Council.

He functioned as its Chairman from 1965 to 1968. In 1968, it was elevated to Town Council status. Sangaree contested, won and became the first Kilinochchi TC Chairman. He functioned in that capacity till the end of 1969.

January 1970 saw Sangaree become Youth Front President of the Tamil Congress. In May 1970, he won Kilinochchi on the cycle symbol of the ACTC and defeated Alalasundaram of the FP by 657 votes. The ACTC got 9,049 to the FP’s 8,392.
The Tamil United Front (TUF) was formed in May 1972. This became the TULF in May 1976. This period saw Anandasangaree’s stock rising in Tamil politics. The Tamil Congress had three MPs in 1970. They were Arulampalam of Nallur, Thiyagarajah of Vaddukkoddai and Anandasangaree of Kilinochchi.

Arulampalam and Thiyagarajah opted to join the United Front government. Sangaree, despite his left leanings and respect for NM, refused to cross over and remained in the ranks of the Tamil nationalists. His stature increased greatly because of this.
In 1977, the TULF swept the elections riding the crest of a Tamil Eelam wave. Sangaree contested Kilinochchi again and polled 15,607 votes obtaining a majority of 11,601.

The 1983 violence and the 6th Amendment saw the TULF out in the political wilderness. Sangaree, like many other TULF figures, relocated to Madras but kept shuttling between India and Sri Lanka.
In 1989, the TULF re-entered the political mainstream. Sangaree contested the Jaffna electoral district in 1989 and the Wanni District in 1994 on behalf of the TULF and lost in both.

Topping the list

In 2000, Anandasangaree was the chief candidate on the TULF ticket again in Jaffna. The TULF got three seats and Sangaree got the highest amount of preferences.
In 2001, the TULF contested as part of the TNA under the party symbol of the Rising Sun. Again Sangaree topped the list gaining over 36,000 preferences.

Anandasangaree was elected senior vice president of the TULF in 1993 and proved to be a tower of strength to the party when it was at the receiving end of systematic violence by the Tigers. He was instrumental in reviving flagging fortunes of the TULF in Jaffna by taking over the Jaffna Municipal Council election campaign in 1998.

At a time when the TULF was under grave threat from the LTTE, it was Sangaree who rallied the party around and provided moral strength to withstand the pressure. He planted himself in Jaffna and spearheaded the Jaffna Municipal poll campaign. It was this success which helped the TULF restore lost prestige and regain a firm footing in Jaffna politics again.

Yet the very same TULF, which owed its current existence to this man’s courage and dedication, turned against him when the LTTE wanted him out. The man displayed a rare fighting ability after his defeat.

Instead of slinking into political oblivion with tail tucked between hind legs or going out to pasture with his children in Britain, Canada or Denmark, Anandasangaree chose to remain in Colombo and fight it out. Instead of keeping mum or adopting the path of least resistance, Sangaree opted to take the bull by its horns – or the Tiger by its jaws.

Sangaree has always been a brave fighter. Contesting as a 26-year-old man from Jaffna against UNP Colombo Mayor V.A. Sugathadasa in 1959; parachuting as an unknown outsider into the unknown Kilinochchi in 1960 as LSSP candidate; going against his two Tamil Congress parliamentary colleagues and voting against the 1972 Constitution; combating the “powerful” campaign of SLFP Tamil Cabinet Minister Chelliah Kumarasuriar in 1977; engaging in bitter acrimony with fellow TULF members over his demand to carve out Kilinochchi as a separate district from that of Jaffna; defying the LTTE during Jaffna Municipal elections and its aftermath; resisting his ouster from the TULF boldly instead of caving into Tiger pressure, etc., are all indicators of his courage and determination.

Dogged determination

His finest hours, however, have come during his twilight years as a septuagenarian. Sangaree has been struggling to keep the party alive amidst great adversity.

What has been remarkable about the man is his dogged determination to articulate his viewpoint and advocate a negotiated settlement to the ethnic crisis on federal lines. He speaks out against the war and wants the problem to be resolved peacefully.

Sangaree admires the Indian model and wants Sri Lanka to follow that example. He wants ethnic amity and harmony based on justice and equality.

Anandasangaree is a man with a mission. He has two goals.
One is to ensure that Sri Lankans in general and Tamils in particular live in peace, equality and amity. For this he sees a federal set up on the Indian model as the solution.

Secondly, he wants the Tamil people to be truly free. For this he wants the iron grip of the LTTE to be relaxed. He wants the LTTE to reform or face consequences.

While there are many voices within the Tamil nationalist spectrum and among the human rights community to condemn the state and its minions, there are comparatively few voices amidst Tamils who criticise the LTTE.
The Tiger is a holy cow for most Tamils and few Tamils dare to differ, let alone criticise it. It has become in the words of famed Tamil poet Subramania Bharathy the “Pesaap Porul” – or unspeakable theme.

But not for Sangaree. He has been wading into these dangerous waters without hesitation. He has been branded traitor and as one who has sold his soul, etc. Yet he firmly stands his ground continuing to do what he thinks is right.

By doing so he has touched on many issues that are “untouchable” among Tamil political and media circles. Sangaree has also succeeded in giving voice to the unexpressed sentiments of the silenced Tamil majority. He is often the voice of the voiceless Tamils.

Sangaree, like the mythical Sisyphus, keeps trying to roll the boulder upwards not only with Tamil hardliners but also with Sinhala hawks. He has engaged in discussions with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU).

Sangaree has met with UNP and SLFP leaders. He has interacted with Indian, Norwegian, Canadian and officials of other countries. His passion is for a federal solution where all communities could co-exist peacefully.

Even recently he reiterated his commitment to a federal solution before the President despite Mahinda Rajapaksa’s preference for a unitary state. Sangaree has also objected strongly to the appointment of Douglas Devananda as head of the Special Task Force for Northern Development.

Personal loss and suffering

His abhorrence of war and espousal of non-violence stems very much from very personal loss, suffering and pain. Sangaree has lost many relatives to political violence and terror.

His elder brother Rajasangaree was the Chairman of Chavakachcheri Citizens’ Committee during the Indian Army period. Rajasangaree spoke out against Indian Army atrocities and was killed by the EPRLF on October 26, 1987.

Anandasangaree’s younger brother Gnanasangaree was killed in Kilinochchi by the LTTE for criticising the Tigers publicly. This happened on February 10, 1988. Two of Gnanasangaree’s sons spoke out publicly against their father’s killing. They were taken away by the Tigers for questioning. They never returned.

Another brother, Ganeshasangaree’s son was Yogasangaree. This nephew of Anandasangaree was elected as an EPRLF Member of Parliament for Jaffna District in 1989.

On June 19, 1990, Yogasangaree was in Madras for an EPRLF meeting at Kodambakkam with Secretary General Padmanabha. LTTE assassins suddenly entered and sprayed the hall with machine gun fire. Fourteen, including Padmanabha and Yogasangaree, died.

On July 7, 2005, terrorists in Britain set off human bomb explosions in subway trains and a surface bus. One of those killed was a young girl of Sri Lankan origin. She was Sayanuja, the daughter of another brother of Anandasangaree named Parathasangaree.

So when Anandasangaree speaks out against war and political violence and speaks of a negotiated settlement and peaceful coexistence, he speaks from the heart. Despite the overwhelming odds, he has remained steadfast to his political mission.

In that sense, the past few years are perhaps the best and most productive period of his life. The LTTE and its minions may slander and condemn him as a traitor but all right thinking people with a proper understanding of what is going on in Sri Lanka will have only praise for this man’s dedication and courage.
This column wishes him well on this day as he reaches the magical age of 75!

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The deliberate targeting of civilians has been used as a weapon of war throughout the history of mankind with various degrees of success.

Hitler deliberately bombed London targeting civilians, but Churchill had stubbornly and famously declared  “we shall fight on the seas and oceans, ?we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,? we shall fight on the beaches, ?we shall fight on the landing grounds, ?we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, ?we shall fight in the hills; ?we shall never surrender.”

12 weeks before the surrender of the Nazi’s, the British carpet bombed the German city of Dresden, resulting in an estimated 25,000 to 40,000 German civilian casualties.

Hitlers targeting of British civilians and the British targeting of German civilians did not result in any significant military advantage to either party.

However, it could be argued that the American targeting of Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brought that conflict to an end resulting in the surrender of the Japanese.

After the war, the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions and The Hague conventions, established and strengthened the laws of war and the targeting of civilians.

This did not stop the targeting of civilians.

In Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan civilians have been targeted, sometimes deliberately but on most occasions as what is termed as collateral damage.

The press has also been targeted. In 2001 the US airforce bombed the Al Jazeera office in Kabul. In 2004 U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described Al Jazeera’s coverage as “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.” Al Jazeera was broadcasting live pictures of civilian casualties.

In all the above instances, deliberate or otherwise, the targeting and civilian casualties did not belong to a particular ethnic group. In Iraq and Afghanistan Western military action did not seek out a particular tribe or ethnic grouping for specific targeting.

However, the LTTE’s recent target selection in Sri Lanka is increasingly indicating that the LTTE is deliberately targeting a particular ethnic community in Sri Lanka with the deliberate intention of causing harm to this ethnic community.

The legal definition of genocide is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Article 2, of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

In the Sri Lankan conflict civilians have been killed on both sides of the ethnic divide. But there is a distinction in conduct between the two sides.

In the early phases of the conflict there was, one believes, deliberate targeting of civilians by both sides.

In some instances, Government forces are suspected to have deliberately targeted Tamil civilians in the misguided belief that by putting pressure on Tamil civilians, they would pressure the LTTE to cease armed action.

The writer is aware of one incident, before the IPKF intervention, when a senior officer of the air force ordered a pilot to release bombs over Nallur. The Pilot refused stating that he had friends living there and turned the aircraft back. During this period there are indications of a deliberate policy of targeting civilians, periodically.

Since these early years the level of professionalism and training in the Sri Lankan armed forces have increased several fold.

Even now, Air force action over the Vanni has resulted in civilian casualties. But there is no evidence to indicate that civilian casualties have arisen as a result of deliberate targeting of civilians.

Unlike previously, today, the air force has far superior intelligence and disciplined intelligence led targeting. Tamilchelvan was a victim of this efficiency.  One of the contributory factors of civilian casualties in the Vanni is the LTTE’s deliberate policy of locating their bunkers close to schools and hospitals.

There is for example a bunker under the government medical facility in Vakarai, built by the LTTE during their occupation of the area. A foreign national photographed this bunker and provided the evidence to this writer several years ago.

The LTTE is also known to use ambulances and civilian transport to facilitate the movement of their leaders to evade military targeting. Some of these vehicles have been targeted over the years, but there is no evidence to indicate that these were deliberate targeting of civilians as policy by the state.

If targeting Tamil civilians was the motive, there is no need for the army to risk the security of some of their best soldiers to carry out attacks deep in the Vanni against Tamil civilians, when it could be done far more easily in some other easily accessible places.

The LRRP is deployed to seek out and destroy specific targets and targeting Tamil civilians not only compromises their entire operation, it also renders the entire operation quite useless. At a time when the strategy is to encourage alternative Tamil political formations in the East and now the North, the targeting of Tamil civilians is completely counter-productive and simply does not take place as a policy of the state.

But there are indications that the LTTE is deliberately targeting the Sinhalese community. There is a general pattern that is emerging from the LTTE’s targeting priorities.

The LTTE retains the capacity to carry out bomb attacks in any part of Sri Lanka as the recent incident near the Sambodhi Viharaya in Fort demonstrates. The incident was in a high security zone. The Sri Lankan authorities had prior intelligence of a possible attack in the Fort area earlier that week and took the precaution of alerting traders in the Fort area to be on the lookout. The Fort area was saturated with intelligence personnel. Despite the prior intelligence and the precautions the LTTE succeeded in carrying out the attack utilising a motorcycle suicide bomber.

There are indications that some pro-LTTE Tamils holding British and other foreign passports living in Colombo are increasingly being used to transport material and give instructions to LTTE operatives in the city.

The pattern that is emerging is that the LTTE carries out specific targeting of Sinhalese civilians taking precautions to avoid other ethnic communities. The LTTE is deliberately targeting the Sinhalese Buddhist community that forms the support base of Mahinda Rajapaksa. The CMC today has a Tamil/Muslim majority. The targeting methods used in this area is more precise, targeting military personnel such as the army Commander Sarath Fonseca and the Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse or in the instance of the Sambodhi Viharaya, the attempt was on perhaps Pillaiyan or a Government minister. The Fort railway station is targeted as it is used predominantly by Sinhalese commuters.

Outside the CMC area, the targeting is more general and the targeting is Sinhalese civilians in Sinhalese neighbourhoods: January 16th passenger bus in Buttala, February 2nd passenger bus in Dambulla, February 3rd Fort Railway Station, February 23rd passenger bus bomb in Mt. Lavinia,  April 25th bus bomb in Piliyandala, May 26th Dehiwala passenger Bus Bomb, June 4th Wellawatta bus bomb, June 6th Moratuwa and Kandy bus bombs. Several other such passenger bus parcel bombs in Sinhalese neighbourhoods were detected and defused.

All these incidences highlight the deliberate targeting of civilians of one particular ethnic community. This is not collateral damage as is found in Air Force action or LRRP targeting of LTTE leadership. This is planned deliberate action to target Sinhalese civilians and almost in all cases, the poorest and the most vulnerable sections of the Sinhalese community.

In attacking what the LTTE perceives as being the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s support base, the LTTE perhaps expects the government to stop its military operations.

The LTTE is as usual shooting itself in the foot.

With elections on the horizon the UNP is struggling to make cost of living the priority issue in the electorate. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in a tooting vehicle horns protest in Colombo trying to kick off a campaign of making the cost of living a priority to undermine the Rajapakse administration.

The mode of this UNP campaign was a failure, as the photos published of UNP bigwigs tooting horns in their luxury vehicles are bound to make the Sri Lankan rural electorate hostile towards the UNP, rather than join hands with them. It would have caused more harm than good for the UNP. The photos of Mr Hakeem in a super luxury vehicle tooting the horn with Mr Wickremesinghe in the background will particularly send a negative message to the rural constituency.

The behaviour of a senior Police officer during the protest highlighted that the Rajapaksa administration was concerned about the protest, but they should not have been, as the LTTE has come to the rescue of the government.

By targeting Sinhalese civilians, the LTTE has negated the UNP’s efforts to make cost of living a priority and given a fresh impetus to Rajapakse’s anti-terrorism agenda.

The bus bombs have enraged the Sinhalese constituency and more determined than ever to rally around the government’s defence effort.

(Island)

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India’s policy towards the internationally proclaimed terrorist organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now requires to be sharply defined before it is too late. Now is the moment of truth for clarity and transparency. Otherwise one more neighbour will float into the US sphere of influence.

At present there is confusion in India’s approach to Sri Lanka because of a hidden compulsion of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Notice that May 21, the unfortunate anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, passed by last week without a single Congress leader demanding the avenging of his death or the extradition of the prime culprit—LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran. Even the four LTTE-DK activists sentenced to death on May 12, 1999 by the Supreme Court have yet to be hanged for involvement in the dastardly act because of an inexplicable letter from Sonia Gandhi to the President of India pleading clemency for the four.
The confusion is manifested in the following contradiction:  On the one hand, the Indian government has banned the LTTE ( by Narasimha Rao) as a terrorist organisation because of its murderous activities, including the killing of Rajiv Gandhi,  yet on the other hand, despite the continuing assassinations by the LTTE of pro-Indian Sri Lankan politicians and its open interference within India by financing pro-LTTE politicians and training terrorist organisations, the Indian government supports  the “peace process” of the Sri Lanka government with the LTTE, i.e., talks that could end up legitimising the same terrorist outfit and making the ban meaningless.

Although the LTTE has officially denied any involvement in the assassinations, such a denial cannot be taken seriously because the LTTE has always denied its involvement in any terrorist activity, including murder, arson, extortion and drug trafficking. The LTTE for example denied any part in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. However, the Supreme Court of India in its 400-page judgment delivered on May 12, 1999 and re-affirmed on review on October 5, 1999 has laid bare what a huge blatant lie that is.

However India cannot formulate a policy on LTTE with the Sri Lanka government as an active partner. If India is presently confused due to some mysterious compulsion, the Sri Lanka government suffers from delusion. For example, despite the murder of their Foreign Minister Kadirgamar and the attempted murder of their then President Chandrika by the LTTE, the Sri Lankan authorities are suffering from the “Stockholm Syndrome” of capitulating to their tormentors by agreeing to talk with them at a moment’s notice, and are thus unable to deal with the murderous LTTE. The Sri Lanka President’s first reaction after the murder of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar (a Tamil) was that the island government would not suspend the so-called peace talks with the killers, a further indication of the same tragic syndrome that seems to petrify them.

Sri Lanka thus seems a crumbling failed state that has lost its collective nerve to combat and confront terror of the LTTE.

If the Sinhala majority really wanted to rid the island of the LTTE, then they should force their government to unilaterally announce the adoption of a quasi-federal Constitution, much like India’s, to replace the present unitary one. Then India can without reservation help the Sri Lankans to combat the LTTE. But India cannot wait around for the Sinhalese to make up their minds.

Hence, Indians have to take stock now and decide what to do to remove the fault line in India’s policy towards the LTTE, and thus secure national interests in its geographical neighbourhood. There is no time to lose.

India has had a close call because the LTTE could have been legitimised by now by the Sri Lanka government aided by an inane Norwegian facilitation and the initiatives of the busy body Japanese. Both sought to placate the LTTE and got egg on their face.  Such Chamberlainian surrender if it had come to pass, would have been a disaster not only for Sri Lanka’s integrity, but more importantly for India’s national security because of that outfit’s links with India’s terrorists such as Naxalites and ULFA,  and with ISI of Pakistan and even Al Qaeda (which now has established camps in Chittagong, Bangladesh) as well as with separatist Indian political parties such as Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Dalit Panther and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), not mention 38 paramilitary terrorists outfits roaming the forest areas of Tamil Nadu.

But India has escaped that, because of the LTTE’s hubris and the consequent ire of the US. Hence, the EU has been now forced to issue a diktat to member-nations to ban the LTTE as a terrorist outfit and freeze their fund extortion activities in Europe. The LTTE is now in a Catch-22 situation—go to war and be eliminated by superior international force or climb down and be discredited. There is no third way. India has been gifted time to set her policy in consistent shape—which necessarily has to be anti-LTTE if for nothing else than for the unforgivable perfidy of killing India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Even if Rajiv Gandhi’s widow and the Congress party (of which he was President) for some obscure compulsion show scant interest today in bringing to book the LTTE’s supremo Velupillai Pirabhakaran for this crime against the nation, patriotic Indians cannot forget Rajiv Gandhi’s martyrdom nor LTTE’s treachery. India has to fix Pirabhakaran someday by bringing him to justice or otherwise justice to him, for his lack of respect for India’s sovereignty that the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi represents.

Thus, India has a national security imperative and an unavoidable moral obligation to get involved to free the island of Sri Lanka of the LTTE’s brutal terror, if for nothing else but to secure her own environment and punish those seek to overawe India’s people with terror.
I thus see five specific reasons why India has this obligation:

First, India had trained the LTTE in 1980s and created the Frankenstein monster. Hence, India has to atone for it by actions to disband and unravel the LTTE.

Second, despite enjoying India’s hospitality for years, and after welcoming the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement in 1987, the LTTE betrayed India by killing more than a thousand Indian army personnel of the India Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) sent to the island to enforce the said agreement. The betrayal and loss of lives of India’s valiant jawans have to be avenged to keep up the morale of the Indian armed forces.

Third, as the Home Ministry 2005 Annual Report to Parliament states, LTTE has been targeting pro-Indian Sri Lanka politicians and assassinating them. For the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, an Indian trial court has declared accused number one Prabhakaran as a proclaimed offender, and the Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice for apprehending him. India is thus obligated to search for Prabhakaran and to teach the LTTE a lesson in a language they will understand, and to immobilise them enough to deter them in the future from engaging in any murderous and terrorist activities against India and Indian interests.

Fourth, the LTTE interferes in the internal affairs of India by financing stooge Indian political parties, in providing training to Indian militant and extremist organisations, and had extended insurgency infrastructure to bandits such as Veerappan and his forest gang. It also launders black money of Indian politicians through its illegal Eelam Bank in the Jaffna area. India cannot allow such erosion of law and order within its own borders.

Fifth, the LTTE is a part of the international terror network of Al Qaeda and is aided by ISI of Pakistan to smuggle narcotics into India, circulate fake currency notes to buy medicines and diesel, to smuggle antiques, and engage in passport fabrication, and hawala operations.
The question thus is: To discharge these obligations what should India do? Obviously it cannot depend on the Sri Lanka governments of today or near future to help bring the LTTE to book. Sri Lankan political parties are either capitulationist or chauvinist. President Rajapaksha agreement with JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or People’s Liberation Front) is that they will defend the present failed unitary constitution. This shows that the Tamils are squeezed between the devil (LTTE) and the deep sea (Sinhala chauvinists). Hence India has to initiate action to meet its own obligations, and can expect no worthwhile cooperation from the Sinhala parties.

The first move India should make is to initiate action and steps to revive the hunt for those of the LTTE who have to be booked and prosecuted under Indian law. This includes the LTTE supremo Prabhakaran and his sidekick Pottu Amman, and whoever else has tried to help them to escape the arm of India’s law enforcement.

In 1998, the Parliament had set up under the CBI a multidisciplinary monitoring agency (MDMA) to hunt for these wanted persons. But the National Democratic Alliance government waffled after it was set up and failed to pursue the matter. The present UPA government has been worse on this issue. It has been wobbling on the question of extradition of Prabhakaran. When Sri Lanka President Chandrika had come to India, India agreed to let the LTTE to be a party in the Tsunami relief work and have its share in the $3 billion international aid commitment. It was only after the US declined to provide the funds, if LTTE was involved, that Chandrika was stopped from disbursing the money through the LTTE.

Time is now at hand to energise the MDMA to get moving to apprehend the wanted criminals and bring them to book. For this India may have to dispatch a squad of commando force to Jaffna, a force that India has trained in Israel since 1994 in batches. Helicopter gunships covered and GPS-satellite guided, these commando squads can easily locate where Prabhakaran would be hiding and smoke him out. UN Resolutions empower India to do so—the right of hot pursuit of terrorists.


Second, India must assist and nurture the democratic elements in the Sri Lankan Tamil population, those that have demonstrated capacity to stand up to the LTTE such as SC Chandrahasan, and breakaway LTTE group that had opposed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, viz., the Karuna group, among others, to form a non-violent and democratic alternative to work out with the Sinhala majority the federal constitution that would serve the purpose of power-sharing.

Third, there are LTTE sleeper cells in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and other cities of Indian stooges of the LTTE in political parties, media and government, who have to be identified and imprisoned under a new anti-terrorist law. These cells work under anonymity to sabotage any patriotic effort made to nail the LTTE. At present, terrorists of various hues are active in 29 of the 35 states and union territories of India. The common link of all these terrorists is the LTTE-ISI nexus because Jaffna is close by and Pakistan and Bangladesh (and soon Nepal) are sanctuaries for all these terrorists. Hence one day all of sudden these terrorists and LTTE sleeper cells may coordinate and cause a huge bloody incident by which India’s recent international fame in reforms, fast growth, and IT development could all go up in smoke. We have guard against such contingencies by pre-emptive action.

Time is at hand for India to effectively contribute to the war against terrorism and in promotion of democracy by targeting the LTTE sincerely and effectively in the larger national interest of security and national integrity. There is today a window of opportunity due to international consensus against the LTTE, and we must seize it now. LTTE’s hubris and being caught in a cleft stick gives India the opening for it.
The author is a former Union Law Minister.

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LTTE terrorists have attacked a naval outpost in Talei Mannar island yesterday morning. Tamilnet told that “Sea Tigers attributed the mission to the memory of Lt. Col. Kadaafi, a commander of the Sea Tigers Special Engineering Division, who was killed two months ago.” Folks, what we experienced today is a commemorative attack, perhaps first of its kind in the world.

How wonderful it is to conduct a remembrance service, for a fallen terrorist colleague by attacking a Naval outpost? Now, wait a minute, who is this Kadaafi??? Have we being informed of the fallen terrorist one Mr Kadaafi at the first place? Naughty Taminet never told us that this hero of a terrorist was killed two months ago. Perhaps this Kadaffi chappie was blown up by the deep penetration arm of the Sri Lanka Army. We all know that the LTTE terrorists convert such attacks in to civilian deaths in Vanni.

Probably LTTE terrorists are scared of Diaspora knowing about the deaths of their top rankers. They are increasingly forgetting to tell their readers about the top rank terrorist deaths these days. For example, LTTE terrorist woman’s Brigade deputy leader Selvi has passed away few weeks back. Good old Tamilnet was silent. Perhaps the editor of the web site was not in good terms with Ms Selvi, who knows?

That reminds me, the deputy of the terrorist outfit, Tamilchelvam was killed by SLAF attacks almost a year ago. That incident occurred just few days after the LTTE terrorist raid of the Anuradhapura SLAF base. I am sure SLAF has “commemorated” their losses by bumping off Tamilchelvam in his own bunker! However, from the LTTE terrorist side, nobody attacked anyone commemorating Tamilchelvam. Poor Tamilchelvam’s death was forgotten. Same goes for Charles. Charles was killed by the deep penetration unit of the SLA. However we are yet to see the LTTE terrorists commemorating Charles death. Discrimination or what?

Coming back to Wednesdays attack, the GOSL announced that the Navy has killed 5 LTTE terrorists and the leader of the gang who came for the attack, one Sirimaran was also killed. The million rupee question is if the LTTE terrorists are planning to attack SL defense forces commemorating Sirimaran’s death too?

Finally, I want to know how they commemorate  Balaraj’s death. Balarj died of a heart attack (at least that is the official version). Will the LTTE terrorists attack Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo General hospital, to revenge and commemorate Balaraj’s heart attack?

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Despite a concerted lobbying campaign by Colombo, Sri Lanka lost its seat on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in an election held by the UN General Assembly on May 21. The loss was a humiliating blow to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his government, which desperately wanted to retain the seat as a means of obscuring its own appalling record of abusing democratic rights.

The election was to choose 15 of the 47 UNHRC members. Six countries—Bahrain, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and East Timor—competed for the four seats allocated to Asia. Sri Lanka and East Timor came last—obtaining only 101 and 97 votes from the 192 countries eligible to cast a ballot.

The Sri Lankan government spent millions of rupees lobbying countries for support. In the weeks preceding the vote, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama personally went to New York to speak to politicians and diplomats. Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe was sent to Geneva to make a presentation before the Universal Periodic Review panel of the UNHRC on May 13, a week before the vote.

Sri Lanka’s permanent UN representative in Geneva, Dayan Jayatilleke, along with Peace Secretariat Chief Rajiva Wijesinha, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, UN Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam and Attorney General C.R. de Silva all addressed international forums on Sri Lanka’s human rights record. However, even in the cynical atmosphere of these international human rights bodies, the abuse of democratic rights in Sri Lanka is too obvious to be completely ignored.

Rajapakse set the course for a return to war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) soon after he won the Sri Lankan presidency in November 2005. After a covert war of provocation and murder, the government ordered the military onto the offensive in July 2006, seizing LTTE-held territory in the Mavilaru area in breach of the 2002 ceasefire. After overrunning LTTE strongholds in the East, the army commenced operations in the North. In January 2008, the Rajapakse government formally tore up the ceasefire agreement.

While not opposing the Sri Lankan government’s return to war, the major powers have made muted criticisms of its human rights record. The island is under emergency rule that allows for indefinite detention without trial. Journalists have been threatened, detained, beaten up and in some cases murdered for making even limited criticisms of the military or the war. Ministers have accused striking workers, protesting students and angry farmers of being traitors. The security forces treat the Tamil minority as a whole as “Tiger terrorists”. Hundreds of people have either “disappeared” or been murdered by death squads operated by the military or allied paramilitary groups.

Rajapakse and his ministers, however, have flatly denied allegations of abuses, ignored recommendations by human rights bodies and in some cases accused those making the accusations of being in the LTTE’s pay. Last year Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the president’s brother, accused the UN of “bullying” Sri Lanka over democratic rights and absurdly claimed that the international body had been thoroughly “infiltrated” by the LTTE over the previous 30 years.

After a visit to Sri Lanka last October, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour noted: “There is a large number of reported killings, abductions and disappearances which remain unresolved.” During her visit, 200 people gathered at the UN compound in Colombo to present a long list of complaints to her, mostly concerning the abduction or disappearance of their loved ones.

A week before Arbour’s visit, UN Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak visited Sri Lanka and submitted a report with 25 recommendations. The report stated that he was “shocked by the brutality of some of the torture measures applied to persons suspected of being Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam members, such as burning with soldering irons and suspension by the thumbs”.

Nowak also expressed concern at the inhuman conditions in cells where the suspects were held, adding: “Under the emergency regulations, most of the safeguards against torture either do not apply or are simply disregarded, which leads to a situation in which torture becomes a routine practice in the context of counter-terrorism operations.”

Nowak’s recommendations included the establishment of mechanisms for the protection of torture victims and witnesses, reducing the period of detention under the emergency regulations and the repeal of other emergency restrictions on basic human rights. Sri Lanka’s written submission on human rights to the UN General Assembly in April neither answered the allegations nor proposed any steps to implement Nowak’s report.

On May 13, Attorney-General C. R. de Silva responded to criticisms of Sri Lanka’s record by lamely declaring that the systematic abuses were the work of a few “bad apples” in the security forces. Addressing the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review, de Silva said he and his predecessors had instituted criminal proceedings against 599 members of the security forces for abductions, unlawful detentions and extra-judicial murders over the past decade. He deliberately avoided stating the number of convictions—there have been only a handful under the Rajapakse government. Even where individuals have been found guilty, some have been allowed to continue in their positions and even given promotions.

According to a recent US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, figures released by various governmental and non-governmental sources suggest that more than 1,500 people were reported missing between December 2005 and December 2007. HRW referred to data from the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), which found that of 948 individuals reported missing in the northern city of Jaffna between December 2005 and October 2007, 684 remained unaccounted for.

MTV, a Sri Lankan television channel, reported on May 24 that 166 persons had been either abducted or detained without charges during the fortnight between May 8 and 24. The fact that these incidents took place while Sri Lanka was conducting its international campaign to retain its UNHCR seat is a testimony to the scant regard and contempt in the government and security forces for democratic rights.

Official cover upIn one particularly glaring case, 17 local aid workers attached to the French-based Action Contre la Faim (ACF) were lined up and murdered execution-style in August 2006 in the eastern town of Muttur. The killings took place after the army retook the town from LTTE rebels. The Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, which oversaw the 2002 ceasefire, issued a formal finding that concluded: “There cannot be any other armed groups than the security forces who could actually have been behind the act.”

The murders, along with the killing of five young Tamils in the same month, provoked widespread international condemnation forcing the Rajapakse government to establish a National Commission of Inquiry in November 2006 to investigate selected violations of human rights. To provide a façade of international legitimacy Rajapakse established an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) in May 2007 to oversee the investigation.

However, when the IIGEP complained of undue influence by the Attorney-General in the commission’s investigation, the Presidential Secretariat replied: “The President did not require the Commission to any way consider, scrutinise, monitor, investigate or inquire into the conduct of the Attorney-General or any of his officers with regard to or in relation to any investigation already conducted by the relevant authorities.” Faced with being thoroughly compromised, the IIGEP withdrew from Sri Lanka.

In this context, former US President Jimmy Carter, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Adolfo Prez Esquivel of Argentina headed a coalition of more than 20 international non-governmental organisations in urging UN members to oppose Sri Lanka’s re-election to the UNHRC. Several NGOs active in Sri Lanka also appealed to the UN, accusing the government of using “its membership of the Human Rights Council to protect itself from scrutiny”.

This campaign reflects certain nervousness in international circles about the renewed war in Sri Lanka. The major powers have been insisting for some time on the establishment of a field office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka. The concern is not so much with the democratic rights of ordinary working people, but to establish a tighter control over the Colombo government. While there has been no criticism of the tearing up the 2002 ceasefire, Rajapakse’s reckless prosecution of the war is producing disquiet about the impact in Sri Lanka and the broader South Asian region, particularly neighbouring India.

The pro-war media in Colombo has responded to Sri Lanka’s loss of its UNHRC seat with bitter denunciations and demands that Rajapakse take no notice. In an editorial on May 23, the right-wing Island declared that “on no grounds” should the government “give in to pressure and subscribe to the not-so-surreptitious moves being made in some quarters to undermine the country’s sovereignty, and rescue the cornered tigers [LTTE]”.

Within 24 hours of the UN vote, 17 civilians including women and children, travelling on a bus in LTTE-held territory in the Vanni were killed by a mine. The LTTE immediately blamed the military’s Deep Penetration Units, which are notorious for murderous operations behind the lines. On the same day, Keith Noyahr, defence analyst for the Nation, was abducted, tortured and then dumped near his home with serious injuries. He said his interrogators were demanding the names of sources for his articles, which have been mildly critical of the military.

In retaliation for the campaign of international NGOs at the UN, the government has imposed tough new conditions on the issuing of visas for their foreign staff and on their work inside Sri Lanka. The Controller-General of Immigration and Emigration will be able to investigate the background of NGO personnel, including any security concerns, in consultation with the Ministry of Defence and Sri Lankan intelligence agencies before granting entry or residence visas.

The government’s actions confirm its determination to pursue its bloody communal war and its blatant abuse of basic democratic rights, despite the impact on its image on the international arena.

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At least 09 were killed and more than 40 were injured when a suicide bomber came in motor cycle triggered a blast in front of the police station at Vauniya a short while ago.

The bomber exploded near at the gate of the Vauniya police station when the policemen and women came out to daily duties,a senior official said.

(more…)

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