Wednesday, September 29, 2004

NAC: Govt. in ‘catch 22’ situation By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government is in a dilemma over the outright rejection of its proposal to establish a National Advisory Council on Peace and Reconciliation to facilitate the stalled peace process.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga planned to inaugurate the Council on Monday (4) with the participation of all political parties represented in parliament. Political sources said the decision of the UNP and the TNA to boycott the Council had placed the government in an uncomfortable position. "Without their presence, the whole exercise is worthless. In fact it would not be possible to set up the Council without their participation," government sources acknowledged.

The President recently requested the UNP to name six persons to the proposed Council. The sources said the government expected the UNP to nominate senior partymen, preferably members of its negotiating team that held six rounds of talks with the LTTE. The sources said the SLMC and the Up-country Peoples Front are also under pressure to shun the council.

The UNP and the TNA accused the government of wasting time by engaging in a worthless exercise. UNP Deputy General Secretary (Kandy District MP) Tissa Attanayake claimed the President was ‘playing for time.’ Outspoken TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj (Jaffna District) endorsed Attanayake’s view. Raviraj said the UNP and the TNA had expressly endorsed the LTTE’s stand that talks should begin on the basis of the LTTE’s ISGA proposals.

Replying to questions, Raviraj said, "Our parliamentary group unanimously decided to boycott this. We will not change our stand."

Political sources said the proposal to set up a National Advisory Council on Peace and Reconciliation was nothing new. The President inaugurated what was termed the National Consultation on Ethnic Reconciliation on July 26 two years ago

The UNP boycotted the July function. But the TNA leader R. Sampanthan attended it.

Raviraj said that they would not be deceived by the President’s move. "We don’t need another committee to lead the peace process. Negotiations can resume immediately after the government responds positively to the LTTE’s proposals," he said. He stressed that there would not be a change in the status quo as long as the government did not accept the ISGA proposals as the basis for negotiations. The talks broke down in April 2003.

Raviraj expressed the belief the government would call off what he termed an idiotic exercise that wouldn’t have any impact on the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process. He emphasised that the LTTE wouldn’t accept anything short of an interim self governing authority.

The Deshahitheshi Jathika Viyaparaya (Patriotic National Front) on Monday warned President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government that it would be toppled if it heeded the LTTE’s demand to set up an LTTE-run interim administration in the North-East region

Save Trinco from LTTE, appeals NJC

The National Joint Committee wants President Chandrika Kumaratunga fast to save Trincomalee from the LTTE. Its secretary Dr. Piyasena Dissanayake said:

"President Chandrika Kumaratunga who appeared to be extraordinarily concerned with national security during the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime, and even went to the extent of dismissing the then Minister of Defence over the latter’s lackadaisical approach to the subject, is now painfully slow in taking steps to prevent the LTTE from laying siege to our strategically vital Trincomalee habour. It is no secret that armed forces chiefs have warned the President about the dangerous situation developing in and around the harbour and that the Tigers, had already opened a string of new camps besides re-opening the old ones in the area."

"Since these developments are taking place strictly in Government controlled territory, they amount to a blatant violation of the Cease Fire Agreement. We know from past experience that complaining to the SLMM is of no use. In these circumstances, the President is under obligation to act expeditiously to save the Port."

"Instead, the President has appointed a Committee, comprising mostly of bureaucrats and none from the Services to "look into the matter". Such a step, apart from being unequal to the urgent and important task in hand, sounds irresponsible to say the least. Obviously, what is called for is an urgent professional approach to the problem by the Services Chiefs with clear cut orders from the President."

Double-talk: the real McCoy by Jayantha Rajepakse

The Island and the Daily Mirror of Thursday, 23rd September carried the same report of President Kumaratunga’s press conference at UN HQs - not surprising, because they draw on the same referral source of a Presidential Secretariat press release. The report attributes some extraordinary statements to her, which I set down below in some meaningful sequence.

Calling terrorism "The most dehumanizing and most horrendous phenomenon of our times", she nonetheless says that in the world’s fight against terrorism, the use of force and violence by a state should be the last resort.

Answering a journalist’s question, she had said her Government believes that the way to resolve conflict is through negotiation and dialogue. "Even if the expression of the conflict may take the most horrendous terrorists form, we believe that there are justified reasons for it". She had then argued that legitimate grievances must be considered apart from the acts of violence.

There have been two constant and distinctive features of her public rhetoric ever since that fateful autumn of 1994. On one hand, a mixture in varying degree and proportion of inaccuracies/falsehoods/misrepresentations adding up to incoherence, and on the other, begging many more questions than the points made by her. So again, let me sort this out for you as succinctly as possible.

The LTTE have been widely labelled and prescribed abroad, as a terrorists organization. The President has herself often publicly called them the most ruthless of their kind. The LTTE’s record of massacres of innocent Sinhalese and Muslim civilians (men, women, children and infants), their murders of political rivals and dissenters from Prabhakaran’s fascist rule, the unconscionable killing of Sinhalese and Muslims worshipping at their respective shrines/temples/mosques, and the assassinations of Sinhalese as well as Tamil politicians of the democratic mainstream in the country have been documented in full and gruesome detail, both in our print media and in books - notably SL Gunasekara’s trilogy about Tiger terrorism.

Yet, the President would have the world believe that the LTTE have been forced against their better nature and impliedly perhaps due to state violence and armed force, into engaging in these brutalities because of legitimate grievances which constitute justifiable reason. (I don’t suppose that even she would expect any politically literate and seriously engaged voter-citizen here to swallow this portion of witches’ brew?) So, now for the question/s which these statements beg, and on intellectual bended knee to boot.

i) If the situation is as her statements suggest, namely, that she stands ready willing and able to enter upon dialogue and negotiation with an organization which is moved by the justifiable cause of legitimate grievances, what was the point of that Kadirgamar world tour at tremendous expense to the exchequer, undertaken around 1995-99, canvassing the view that the LTTE was such a terrorist organization as should be proscribed by all those countries visited, much of it at a time when even his own leader had not seen fit to proscribe them here? (now ‘All Countries Seen’ Hameed must have envied Kadirgamar’s luck, watching all that First Class jetting around the globe from his present abode.)

ii) Then again, if the situation is indeed as described by her, are we witnessing tne launching of a second Kadirgamar world tour, this time to ask the USA, UK et al. all who have proscribed the LTTE kindly to lift that proscription, because she (the President) is keenly waiting to commence dialogue and negotiation with the said LTTE on the basis of their legitimate and justifiable grievances?

iii) To expand that thought, is there a hint here of a possible horse-deal, deal, whereby the President will canvass the lifting of present prescriptions of the LTTE abroad, for the quid pro quo of an immediate commencement of talks, not just about the LTTE’s ISGA but also about the Peace Secretariat’s IA as well?

Let me shift the focus now, to another implication of the "residents press conference remarks, and the question/s which that one begs.

She is reported to have said that in the world’s fight against terrorism, the use of force and violence by a state should be the last resort. We here have for long now faced a terrorist-military challenge to the writ of the sovereign and united Sri Lankan state from the LTTE, seeking to carve out a separate fascist-terroristic Tamil state in our North and East. We are not in some esoteric ‘War on Terror’; we are engaged in protecting the sovereign unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, against intended and self- proclaimed Tamil Eelam. So, to hold out the begging-bowl again:

i) Does the President mean, by her use of the phrase "the use of force and violence by a state should be the last resort", that she wishes to see (and remember, she is the Commander-in-chief of our Armed Forces, many of whose senior officers were only too happy during the period 1995-2000 to ‘toe the line'. Whilst Rhinestone General Ratwatte, acting in the name of that C-in-C, led us to huge military defeat our Armed forces metaphorically at least confined to barracks, until the LTTE actually attack us?

ii) Pursuing that line of thought, are we then having here, a hint of the commencement of the dismantling of High Security Zone, and other processes of ‘dropping one’s guard’, designed to instil confidence in the LTTE, during re-commenced talks about ISGA and IA, or whatever else the Peace Secretariat may come up with?

The import of all of this suits Ranil Wickremasinghe very nicely. So, when his Spin-doctor GL Peiris does his little song and dance about the ‘double-talk’ of the two texts of the President’s UNGA Address, he is seeking to divert attention - a.k.a. floating red herrings. The real double-talk has to be looked for in the President’s unscripted remark at that UN/HQ press conference. If she played true to form, we should be having a correction/clarification quite soon, from her Secretariat, denying both contents and import of those news reports mentioned.

Moral: let’s watch the play of the game: hang the cheer-squads.

Pallethalawinna trial: Defence alleges malice in investigations against army By Susitha R. Fernando

The defence in the Pallethalawinne mass murder case yesterday charged that SP Premadasa Udugampola and his police team who acted maliciously against the Army was responsible for the murder of the entire Special Army Intelligence unit.

Inspector R.A.P. Dharmaratne who conducted the investigation into Pallethalawinne incident under SP Udugampola was cross examined by the defence before Colombo High Court-at-bar comprising High Court judges Eric Basnayake (president), Deepali Wijesundara and Sunil Rajapakse.

Defence Counsel Anil Silva cross-examining the witness submitted that the investigation conducted at Athurugiriya simultaneously wih the Pallethalwinne murder incident was done maliciously against the Army.

Questioned by the defence the witness denied the allegation that he along with SP Udugampola worked to get publicity and acted against the Sri Lanka Army. Defence Counsel: Since the fourth to nine accused in Pallethalawinne case were from Army you acted maliciously against Army?

Witness: I have no malice towards the Army.

During the cross examination Inspector Dharmaratne said that while the investigation into Pallethalawinne incident was being conducted another investigation relating to Army Special Intelligent Unit was also conducted.

He said for the investigation into the Athurugiriya incident, findings of the Pallethalawinne investigation were used. He said some arrests were made by the Athurugiriya police in the Athurugiriya incident and the suspects were produced before the Kandy police.

The police Inspector said the investigation into Athurugiriya incident was later stopped on the instructions of the Attorney General.

DC: Do you say that that investigations could be done without the instruction of the AG? Witness: yes

DC: Can you work against AG's instructions? -No

He said there was an order to withdraw the investigation by the AG and subsequently the investigations were stopped. The witness said he was aware that the Athurugiriya case could not be filed before the courts in Kandy.

Inspector Dharmaratne said there was a special commission to investigate into the Athurugiriya incident and he gave evidence before it.

He said he was promoted to the Inspectorate in August 2003 and at this time he was a respondent in a fundamental rights violation case. He said he was cited along with SP Udugampola and Katugastota Inspector Mohottigedara as respondents and they were charged with inhuman torture and illegal arrests of persons.

He said the Supreme Court gave an order against them and ordered SP Udugampola who was then in charge of the Special Investigation Unit at Kandy Police Kennel to pay Rs 300,000.

DC: You applied for promotion to IP while a case was pending against you? Yes.

DC: Did you mention it in your application? Yes.

Continuing under cross examination the witness said that he worked with SP Udugampola and conducted the investigation into the Pallethalawinne mass murder. He refuted the allegation made by the defence that the Pallethalawinne case was made up against the Army.

Cross examined by the defence counsel Tirantha Walaliyadda PC the witness denied the allegation that the arrest of the two suspects at Lunugamvehera on December 31, 2001 was false and the records he maintained about this was wrong.

The witness said on the orders of SP Udugampola he along with a police team went to Lunugamvehera police station but the suspects were not there but later they were arrested at the bus halt in front of the police station. He said there were four bags with the two suspects and there were police identity cards, a bus pass and a passbook from National Saving bank.

DC: Did you inform Lunugamvehera police before you went there?- I don't know whether SP Udugampola had informed. We thought that the two suspects would be kept until we went there.

DC: Do you say the police had released the suspects who were in possession of a police ID card which did not belong to them?-Yes.

IP Dharmaratne denied the allegation that he was giving false evidence and that the two suspects arrested at Lunugamvehera were illegally detained from December 7 to 29 by SP Udugampola in Kandy and the suspects were sent there on December 29. He denied the arrest was a plan made by SP Udugampola.

In this case former Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, his two sons Lohan Ratwatte and Chanuka Ratwatte, and thirteen others were indicted on 72 counts including threatening valid voters to prevent them from casting their votes during the General Election held on December 5, 2001 at Mahaiyawa and Kandy.

Further trial was postponed for October 4.

Two shot dead on Tuesday By Navaratne Samaratunge

Two men were shot dead on Tuesday night at Mollikulam in Palamunai in the Akkaraipattu area, Damana police said.

The victims have been identified as K.B. Lal Wijetillake (27) and K.B. Kularatne (28), of Deegavapiya Buddhist colony. The police said that two men, believed to be LTTEers, who had come on a bicycle to the Mollikulam junction had shot at them and fled leaving their bicycle at the place of the incident.

A Akkaraipattu police officer said a special team from Akkaraipattu had proceeded to Mollikulam yesterday to initiate inquiries.

Five Wanni cadres die in clash By Kurulu Kariyakarawana

At least five cadres were killed along with one female civilian when LTTE Wanni faction and renegade Tiger leader Karuna's party clashed at Panichchankerni, Vakarai last morning.

The clash occurred around 11 am and had lasted for about one hour in the LTTE controlled areas off Valaichchenai.

Two female civilians in Panichchankerni were reportedly struck by a mortar attack and rushed to the Batticaloa hospital where one succumbed to her injuries shortly after admission.

The victim had been identified as 45-year-old Kanthi Seri Kali Pillai. The other casualty is being treated at Batticaloa hospital in a critical condition.

According to unconfirmed security intelligence reports five cadres of Wanni group were killed during the clash and many from both sides have been injured.

Shot at while pasting posters By Navaratne Samaratunga

A person injured in a shooting incident on Tuesday night about 8.30 p.m. at Wambiadi in Akkaraipattu has been admitted to Ampara hospital.

Police have received information that the victim has been shot while he was pasting posters regarding a visit of a powerful politician of the area who is also a minister at present.

The victim is Mohamed Aslam alias Banda. A hospital spokesman said that a T-56 has been used in the shooting and one of his legs is seriously injured. No arrests were made yet.

Dayan Jayatilleka replies Taraki

In a characteristically intelligent and lucidly written article, which must be read as always while reading his spin, columnist Taraki (Opinion, Sept 29) makes reference to me. While he is, I fear, overly complimentary in naming me an "influential opinion maker", he is correct, if a trifle unflattering in describing me as "clamouring for US assistance to defeat the LTTE". I do try not to clamour. The inaccuracy is when he describes me as "former arch anti-imperialist". I'm far less a former arch anti-imperialist than Taraki is a former arch anti-Tiger!

While I support the US in its war against terrorist organisations and their hosts, and endorse America's right of armed self-defence and retaliation (eg. Afghanistan), I remain unreservedly opposed to US aggression against independent states and therefore its policy on Iraq and Cuba. I am in excellent company because that is the position of the majority in the United Nations. Taraki also classes me implicitly as a "Sinhala nationalist who seeks to preserve the unitary state with foreign military assistance". "Sinhala nationalist", yes perhaps (though I'd prefer Sri Lankan), "foreign military assistance" for sure, but the "unitary" state, no. Taraki is far too literate to have unintentionally confused "united" with "unitary".

Dayan Jayatilleka

Courageous fighter of people’s rights EPRLF salutes memory of Comrade Valli Sundaram

Comrade Valli Sundaram was a warm, hospitable and a genial man. When he was gunned down by the fascist goons of the LTTE at 2.30 p.m. on 29th September 2004 he was 61 years old. This frail old man was killed at Maruthanamadam while he was riding his motorcycle.

Com. Sundaram has long history of struggle for the rights of our people. He was a worker in the KKS cement factory and when he started working with EPRLF, he was an active trade unionist. He has been a courageous and outspoken critic of the LTTE fascists who has trampled underfoot every civilized value of the Tamil civil society. He steadfastly fought for democracy, human rights and social emancipation of the most oppressed sections of our society.

Com. Sundaram has been a father figure for most of our young comrade. He has by word and deed taught us how to lead simple lives, to be true to our principles and to be resolute in our struggle for freedom and social emancipation. He has inspired confidence in hundreds of our cadres and won the respect of many more.

The EPRLF expresses its deepest sympathies to Com. Sundaram’s wife and to his two children.

This is yet another example of the callous and the barbaric character of the fascist L TTE, which has carried out a ruthless campaign of eliminating Tamil intellectuals, human right activists and political activists of other Tamil political organizations.

Though the fascists have physically eliminated an indefatigable fighter of people’s rights his ideas will remain in our memories forever. They will inspire us to fight even more valiantly to uphold the principles and values that he cherished

(EPRLF Release)

The waiting Tiger: Are the forces fully prepared? By B. Raman

Will there be another flare-up in Sri Lanka, if the present deadlock continues? Having been used to peace for over two years, will the SL Army be prepared to fight with the same determination, against the LTTE, as it had done in the past?

The initial hopes of a negotiated political solution stand belied, at least partly, if not fully, as yet.

After the proclamation of the ceasefire on February 22, 2002, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, at an international press conference held at his headquarters in Wanni, in the Northern Province, had clearly indicated that his organisation was prepared to seek a political solution within a federal set-up.

However, as the talks continued, it became obvious that what the LTTE was not seeking a final definitive solution to its political demand, based on a compromise, but an interim political arrangement under which, it would acquire de facto and de jure control of the Northern and the Eastern Provinces, in the form of an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA), headed by it, as a pre requisite to its participation at a fresh round of negotiations, for a final solution. It was seeking an interim arrangement similar to that of the Palestinian Authority, headed by Yassir Arafat, which has acquired a certain political legitimacy in the West, while negotiating with Israel for a final solution.

The SL Army's continued presence in Jaffna was a bulwark to its de facto control of the Northern Province. Therefore, the withdrawal of the SL Army and the dismantling of the Government's high security zones, became a pre condition for further progress in the talks. Consolidating its de facto control of the Eastern Province, depended on its ability to keep its officials and troops within the Province supplied by its naval wing. Therefore, it raised the question of the Government agreeing to grant de facto status to its Navy, a demand which, to the surprise of the Government and not-openly-expressed concern of the government of India, enjoyed the tacit support of the Norwegian facilitators.

Its overseas procurement network continued to indulge in the clandestine procurement of arms and ammunition abroad and its naval wing ,their transport into the areas controlled by it, particularly in the Eastern Province. This was a serious violation of the ceasefire accord. The failure, or reluctance, of the Norwegian ceasefire monitoring mission, to take serious notice of it, came in for criticism from President Chandrika Kumaratunga, though not so expressively from then Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Differences developed between the LTTE and the Government, even as to the nature of the process of negotiations. What the LTTE had apparently in mind was a two-stage process. The first stage would be between the government of Sri Lanka (GSL) and the LTTE as a militant organisation, to pave the way for the enthronement of the LTTE as the interim ruler of the Northern and Eastern Provinces and, the second would be between the GSL and this interim government, to reach a final agreement on, how Sri Lanka would be constituted into a federal set-up and, what powers the Tamil component of the federation would have.

The expectations of the LTTE became clear after it released to the public on October 31, 2003, the details of its proposal for an ISGA. It contained some disturbing features---some open, some hidden--- from the point of view of the Sinhalese majority. Firstly, its intention to retain its military and naval capability without agreeing to its disbanding or merger with the Sri Lanka Armed Forces, as part of a final solution. Secondly, its determination to retain its political primacy in the two provinces and, any role for other Tamil parties and the Tamil-speaking Muslim minority of the Eastern Province subject to their acceptance of its unchallenged supremacy. It was at this stage that the hopes initially evoked by the ceasefire and the start of the negotiations started evaporating and the differences between Chandrika Kumaratunga and her then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as to his handling of the political process, led to a final parting of the ways between the two, leading to the exit of his government, the suspension of its facilitation process by Norway in November, 2003, (since resumed after the elections of April, 2004) till the political situation in Sri Lanka clarified itself, fresh elections and the coming into power of a new coalition called the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) consisting of Chandrika Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the left-oriented Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) as its principal constituents.

After having successfully achieved the induction into office of a coalition led by her party, Chandrika Kumaratunga softened her anti LTTE and anti Norway rhetoric and, made a number of overtures to the LTTE leadership, to persuade it to return to the negotiating table. Her efforts have not succeeded so far. The first reason being, the yet irreconcilable differences between her government and the LTTE, as to the nature of the negotiating process. Her government insists on two parallel negotiations--- one on the formation of an interim ruling authority in the Northern and Eastern Provinces as demanded by the LTTE and, the other on the main features of the final solution regarding the future of the Tamil-majority areas.

Her position, that any interim arrangement should fit into the overall final solution, enjoys the support of the government of India. The LTTE, on the other hand, is not prepared to embark on talks for a final political solution unless and until, an ISGA headed by it, is set up in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, with full powers and capability for the autonomous administration of the area and, with an assured role in the conduct of its external economic relations in matters such as, the re-negotiation of the agreements relating to the economic resources of the Tamil-majority areas, entered into in the past by the GSL, with foreign powers or institutions.

It seems to be having in mind agreements, particularly relating to the exploitation of the fisheries off the coastal areas of the North and East and, the lease of the oil storage tanks in Trincomalee, in the Eastern Province, to the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). Blame for the present stalemate has to be shared by the various political combinations of the Sinhalese majority, as well as by Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe. There cannot be a negotiated political solution acceptable to the Sinhalese majority, unless it has the support of Chandrika Kumaratunga's SLFP, Ranil Wickremesinghe's UNP and the JVP. Keeping this in view, the initiation of the political process should have been preceded or, at least accompanied, by an effort at reaching a national consensus, among these parties, on the nature of the political process, on the acceptable contours of a final solution and, on how the negotiations would be conducted.

The historic rivalry between the SLFP and the UNP and, ego clashes between Kumaratunge and Wickremesinghe came in the way of such an attempt at a national consensus. Instead of presenting a united front to the LTTE, the three political formations, as well as Kumaratunge and Wickremesinghe indulged in shadow boxing among themselves over the political process, thereby undermining one another's credibility.

Wickremesinghe committed four major tactical errors. First, he sought to deny any meaningful role for the country's anxiety for peace, he embarked on the political process without first working out a road map, which would be acceptable to the Sinhalese majority. As a result, his negotiating style was more reactive than proactive. He, unwittingly created an impression that it was the LTTE, which was calling the shots. Third, he kept his eyes closed to the violations of the cease-fire accord by the LTTE lest open articulation of his concerns made the LTTE even more recalcitrant than it was. His reactions to the various demands and proposals made by the LTTE either at the negotiating table or through the media after the LTTE withdrew from the talks were ad hoc and ill-considered.

So long as he was the Prime Minister, he even failed to openly express the position of his government on the LTTE's detailed proposal for an ISGA. Fourth, he believed, mistakenly as it was found to be in retrospect, that international pressure on the LTTE would make it more amenable for a compromise acceptable to the Sinhalese majority. Peeved at her being kept in the dark about the political process by her then Prime Minister, Kumaratunge hit back from time to time with open statements and reactions, which were often abrasive and tended to weaken the hands of Wickremasinghe while he was engaged in a delicate political process in an attempt to bring to an end the LTTE's militancy. Two new complicating factors have arisen since the beginning of this year, which do not bode well for the success of the political process in the foreseeable future. The first was the revolt in March, 2004, of an unestimated number of the cadres of the LTTE in the Eastern Province, led by "Col". Karuna (real name Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetheran ), a legendary leader of its military wing in the Batticaloa district of the Eastern Province, against the allegedly discriminatory policies of the organisation's North-dominated political leadership towards the Tamils of the Eastern Province.

Ever since the inception of the militancy in the early 1980s, the LTTE has had two faces---as a ruthless and dreaded terrorist organisation and as a well-motivated and well-trained conventional army, which has had many successes to its credit in its military operations against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. While Prabhakaran has the dubious credit for the creation of its terrorist face, considerable credit for the creation of its conventional military capability should go to Karuna and his Eastern recruits. The revolt was triggered by the feeling among large sections of the Tamils in the Eastern Province that their valour and sacrifices in the conventional battles of the LTTE against the SL Army have not been adequately recognised by the North-dominated leadership and reflected in the decision and policy-making organs of the LTTE, where they were under-represented.

For Prabakaran, the real heroes were his suicide bombers and others who participated in spectacular acts of terrorism, and not those who fought in conventional battles against the SL Army. Moreover, while more than two years of the cease-fire have brought a certain peace dividend to the Northern Province in the form of a flow of funds from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in the West and non-governmental organisations for its economic reconstruction, the Eastern Province has not had the benefit of any such peace dividend.

<> The Northern Province has shown at least some signs of economic recovery during the last two years, the Eastern Province continues to be in a dilapidated state. The revolt of the Eastern Tamils led by "Col" Karuna as a result of their accumulated grievances came as a surprise and a shock to the North-dominated LTTE leadership. While Prabhakaran and his associates seem to have succeeded in putting an end to this revolt forcing Karuna to flee from his Eastern Province, one does not know where, the scars left by the revolt show no signs of healing. This could be seen from the frequent incidents of violence involving the LTTE and the supporters and sympathisers of Karuna, reported not only from the Eastern Province, but also from Colombo. Even if Prabhakaran is able to re-establish effectively his military control of the Eastern Province, winning over the hearts and minds of the much alienated Tamils of the Province would be a much more difficult task for the North-dominated LTTE leadership. Karuna's revolt provided, for the first time, a possible opportunity to Sri Lanka and India to work towards an alternative LTTE leadership, which would be more amenable to a reasonable political compromise acceptable to the Tamils as well as the Sinhalese. India faces a dilemma vis-a-vis the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka due to some factors. Firstly, whether India likes it or not, the LTTE is bound to emerge as the supreme leader of any ruling dispensation in the Northern and Eastern Provinces as a result of an interim or a final solution. Secondly, so long as his health remains good, Prabhakaran would be the head of any such ruling dispensation.

Thirdly, in view of his orchestration of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, India's former Prime Minister, at Chennai in May,1991, and his figuring as an absconding accused in the case in India relating to the assassination, the governments of India and Tamil Nadu would find it difficult to do business with any ruling dispensation in the Northern and Eastern Provinces led by him. So far, no thought would seem to have been given in the government of India to the question of the political and national security implications of an LTTE government headed by Prabhakaran one day coming to power in the Tamil-majority provinces and also to the question as to what would be the options available to India and how to get over this dilemma. To be continued. (The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter).

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter.)

Protesters quit after police explain arrests by Norman Palihawadana

A group of about 50 persons, who staged a protest and shouted slogans condemning the police, in front of Lindula police station, over th arrest six persons at a police checkpoint , dispersed after senior police officers explained that the arrests were made in the discharge of normal police duties.

Police said five of those arrested had been involved in the assault of a Reserve Police Constable, who was on duty at the checkpoint on Tuesday (28). Police had stopped two three-wheeler taxis at the checkpoint for a routine check and the passengers, who had been under the influence of liqour had become abusive and then turned aggressive. They had assaulted a RPC and the police had found it difficult to bring them under control.

The police said they had no other alternative but to place the group under arrest and among those arrested was asergeant of the Sri Lanka Army, who had also received injuries in the melee .

DIG, Nuwara Eliya District Wimal Ariyaratna said that the arrested persons were handed over to the Lindula police station, while the injured soldier and policeman were admitted to the Nuwara Eliya Hospital.

The group had also damaged a walkie talkie and torn the Entries register maintained at the checkpoint. DIG Ariyaratne said that a full investigation into the incident was being conducted by his office.

...Kausalyan Europe bound, Ramesh under probe

The LTTE has included its Ampara-Batticaloa political chief Kausalyan in a delegation undertaking a European tour as part of its strategy to emphasise its control over the Ampara-Batticaloa region.

But his colleague former Ampara-Batticaloa chief T. Ramesh was under investigation over what a senior security official said was a massive fraud. According to monitored LTTE radio messages, Ramesh had misappropriated Rs. 15 million. But his successor Banu had managed to recover Rs. 13 million, the official said. Ramesh is in Kilinochchi.

Kausalyan boarded an Air Force helicopter with LTTE political chief S. P. Thamilchelvan, head of Thamileelam police, P. Nadesan, head of judiciary, Para and Secretary General of LTTE Peace Secretariat, Pulithevan, on Tuesday afternoon.

The government deployed a Bell 412, a four-rotor version of the Bell 212 exclusively used for VVIP/VIP transport, to airlift the group.

Authoritative sources said as the entire delegation wasn’t able to board the chopper, a few had to take the overland route to Bandaranaike International Airport. The delegation stayed several hours at a nearby hotel under heavy security before taking a flight out of the BIA. The delegation is expected to be away for about three weeks. (SF)

Karuna attack kills six Tigers LTTE turns guns on village by Shamindra Ferdinando

A woman died at Panichchankerni around noon on Tuesday when LTTE cadres fired indiscriminately after being attacked by Karuna loyalists.

Senior military officials based in the East and Colombo said LTTE cadres fired rocket propelled grenades and mortars at random for about one hour after dissidents mounted a commando-style assault on an isolated road block situated a few kilometres away from the Kadjuwatte army camp.

The incident took place in the LTTE-held area.

This particular point is manned by about six personnel during the daytime and about 12 in the night. The military believes at least six LTTE cadres were killed in Tuesday’s attack, undoubtedly the biggest gun battle since the LTTE claimed it had routed forces loyal to Karuna in the second week of April.

The LTTE moved reinforcements to cordon off the area to track down the attackers.

"Two women with shrapnel wounds were rushed to the Valaichenai government hospital shortly after the firing ceased. One of them succumbed to injuries and the other was subsequently transferred to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital," an officer based in Colombo said. At least two others who had suffered minor injuries entered the government-controlled area, he said.

Another officer based in the area said, "troops deployed at Kadjuwatte heard several explosions. We believe several mines, probably claymores were detonated during the confrontation."

The military ridiculed the LTTE claim that the ‘shelling came from the direction of the Kadjuwatte army camp’, as a very poor attempt at misinformation.

The office of the Scandinavian truce monitoring mission in Batticaloa declined to confirm whether the mission received a complaint from the LTTE.

U.S. funds community police training

Several hundred policemen throughout Sri Lanka will soon benefit from new equipment and training offered by the United States under a programme aimed at improving the performance of local community policemen. U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey. J. Lunstead and Sri Lankan Inspector General of Police Indra De Silva signed a Memorandum of Agreement today at the U.S. Embassy outlining details of the programme.

Valued at US$ 250,000 it will run for two years and is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice under the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP).

"We’re proud to be able to offer this assistance to local Sri Lankan policemen as a tangible benefit of the peace process," said Ambassador Lunstead. "Hopefully this programme will lead to better public relations within the communities where they work," Lunstead added.

Mini armoury in makeshift stall by Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon Kohuwala corr.

The Maharagama Police recovered a hand grenade, live ammunition used for T56 and pistols hidden under a makeshift stall on the Dehiwala-Maharagama road on Monday(27), police said.

Following a tip-off from an anonymous telephone informant a police mobile patrol examined the makeshift stall and found the ‘mini-armoury’, police sources said. During interrogation, the stall owner who was arrested told police that he was totally unaware of the concealed arms.

Salary issue of police personnel by Saparamadu

It has been announced that the Government will increase the salaries of public servants in the next budget to be presented in Parliament on November 12.

As police personnel are also public servants, it has to be conceded that the approval of the National Council for Administration and the Police Commission both appointed President Kumaratunge will not be bypassed. Hence, as a citizen of this country, may I appeal to the Chairman of both these Institutions - not to consider the average policeman merely as another public servant when approving a salary increase. He is neither another pen-pusher.

There should be a substantial increase salary-wise more than that of personnel of other Government institutions in view of the extraordinary duties they are expected to perform and that too under trying circumstances. As we all know, it is often a 24 hours duty with great stress and risks to their life, no other public servant is expected to perform.

Lunch and tea-break a public servant daily enjoys is alien to the average policeman.

I had the rare opportunity of witnessing a true incident, where the OIC of a Southern station went to his quarters a few yards away at about 2.45 p.m. to have his lunch. When he was half way partaking of his meat a constable came to say that a Buddhist monk had come to the station wanting to meet the OIC immediately, even after being told that the OIC-was at his quarters having lunch. Interrupting his lunch, the OIC rushed to the station and returned to his quarters only in the night.

Incidents more exacting than this could be quoted to illustrate under what trying circumstances a iceman has to work almost daily.

There is still frustration among a sector of the police over the recent promotions. A significant salary increase will certainly go a long way to appease the situation.

We should take the example of the developed countries in this regard, where the police personnel are paid a substantial salary so that they could maintain their dignity and integrity when performing their duties. Hence, the authorities in Sri Laka, if they desire to have a clean, supportive and satisfied police force, should place the policeman on a higher salary scale leaving them to be independent financially.

Ven. Elle thera threatens to topple govt

The Deshahitheshi Jathika Viyaparaya (Patriotic National Front) on Monday warned President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government that it would be toppled if it heeded the LTTE’s demand to set up an LTTE-run interim administration in the North-East region.

The nationalist front played a pivotal role in the UPFA campaign that paved the way for President Kumaratunga to dissolve the then UNF government on the basis of deteriorating security situation and go for parliamentary elections in April.

The warning was given by Ven. Elle Gunawaansa thera at a well attended meeting at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. "We’ll not hesitate to do the same if this government goes against the wishes of the people."

Speaking ahead of JVP parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa, the thera urged the government not to give-in to what he termed as the unreasonable demands of a terrorist organisation.

He praised the government for taking a series of commendable steps beneficial to the people since the last parliamentary elections in April. Acknowledging the government was now under tremendous pressure by the LTTE and its supporters here and abroad, the outspoken monk emphasised that the nationalist forces wouldn’t permit the institutionalisation of the ISGA as it would lead to the division of the country on ethnic lines.

The thera explained that they wouldn’t oppose talks on an interim arrangement if it was part of the final settlement. This is compatible with the JVP stand. (SF)


Uproar over alleged police attack on HR officers By Kurulu Kariyakarawana and Senaka de Silva

While policemen in Sri Lanka have been notorious for alleged cases of torture of people held in custody,Monday's alleged assault on a regional commissioner of human rights in the presence of a UN volunteer in Jaffna is likely to create an uproar locally and internationally.

Police chief Indra de Silva has ordered an inquiry into the assault of Jaffna Regional Human Rights Commissioner Ruwan Chandrasekara and Human Right investigative officer Feroze by a group of 25 to 30 police constables in civvies in the Jaffna police barracks on Monday.

IGP de Silva said though they initiated a prompt inquiry on a verbal complaint made by Human Rights Commission Chairperson Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, they were unable to proceed further as Mr. Chandrasekara and others who were allegedly assaulted had failed to make a statement. Mr. Chandrasekara had said they would make a written complaint through the HRC.

HRC Investigations and Inquiries Director Nimal Punchihewa said he was aware of a complaint that two of the commission's officers were abused and assaulted in the presence of a UN volunteer.

According to him, Mr. Feroze was not permitted to visit the police station where the two suspects were detained. He said as the headquarters inspector and the duty officer were not in, Mr. Feroze informed his regional commissioner Chandrasekera who approached Jaffna ASP Daya Seneviratne who had granted permission.

In the presence of the UN volunteer identified as Patrick, Mr. Chandrasekara and Mr Feroze proceeded to the barracks upstairs as they heard screams from that direction.

Mr. Punchihewa charged while they were approaching the place around 25 to 30 policemen in civvies abused them in filth, assaulted and pushed them away. He said in the meantime they had seen a person bundled into a truck that fled away.

But ASP Seneviratne had a slightly different version. He said on Sunday, two suspects were arrested in Jaffna for a series of robberies and were taken into custody.

One of them, against whom there were nine warrants, escaped the same day and sounded off others that he was allegedly tortured.

ASP Seneviratne said the suspect was re-arrested on Monday. He also said Mr. Punchihewa, and the UN volunteer came and met him seeking permission to visit the place as they were informed that there were yells from that direction..

ASP Seneviratne said he had sent them with a constable and five minutes later he heard a commotion from that direction.

He said the HRC officers and the UN volunteer had later come to him and divulged what had happened. However, he said, he had only permitted them to visit the particular room requested by them and not the police barracks which is their private living quarters.

Asked whether he saw a man being bundled into a truck that drove away, ASP Seneviratne said he saw the truck but noted that it was the vehicle that supplied food for the police mess. ASP Seneviratne said the man with nine warrants was produced before the Jaffna Magistrate yesterday.

Mr. Punchihewa said if there was no police action taken, the HRC would be forced to go before the Supreme Court as they had been prevented from performing their duties and in terms of the HRC Act they were empowered to visit places of detention. They were also attacked in the course of their duties.

Tigers move towards SLA's Thenmaradchi MSR [TamilNet, September 30, 2000 12:30 GMT]

Battle units of the Liberation Tigers, having overwhelmed Sri Lanka Army positions on the supply route linking the SLA garrison in Nagar Kovil with the main military base in Eluthumadduval, have crossed the road in the direction of the general area between Mirusuvil and Varani, civilians who fled the war zone Saturday told TamilNet. The Sri Lanka army Saturday allowed about 1500 civilians fleeing the war zone in Jaffna's southern sector to leave Thenmaradchi according to TamilNet's Vadamaradchi correspondent.

The SLA's positions at Eluthumadduval junction on the A9 highway have been withdrawn to the interior closer to the main base here which is located to the west of the main road.

Sources in Jaffna said that the SLA is beefing up its strength in the Varani area because the move by the LTTE on Saturday is perceived as a direct threat to the only road that is now open as the lifeline to the Sri Lankan security forces in Thenmaradchi.

The SLA has been depending on the Kodikamam-Nelliyadi through Varani to supply its troops in Thenmaradchi. The other two link roads remain interdicted.

The two SLA garrisons in the Eluthumadduval-Kilali sector are located west of the A9 to facilitate emergency supply or even withdrawal by the lagoon.

The civilians who fled the fighting in Thenmaradchi have sought refuge in the premises of the Sella Sannithy temple in Thondamanar in the Vadamardchi division.

Meanwhile the SLA opened up a barrage with artillery and Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL) on LTTE held areas southeast of Jaffna town from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. An army officer in Jaffna town told TamilNet that the artillery and rocket attack was aimed at preventing the Tigers from massing up. The firing was in the direction of Poompuhar, Kowtharimunai, Kalmunai and Maniyanthottam sources said.

Colombo to probe assault on Jaffna HRC officials [TamilNet, September 30, 2004 02:47 GMT]

Federal judge Victor Marrero, who presides U.S. District Court in New York City, struck down Wednesday a key part of the U.S. Patriot Act, which granted to the FBI surveillance powers to demand company records from businesses without court approval, as unconstitutional, media reports in the U.S said.

"The legislation bars companies and other recipients of these subpoenas from ever revealing that they received the FBI demand for records. Marreo held that this permanent ban was a violation of free-speech rights, CNN website reported.

The provisions of the Act had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Although the ACLU's suit was filed on behalf of an Internet access firm, the ruling could apply to other entities that have received FBI secretive subpoenas, known as national security letters.

"This is a landmark victory against the Justice Department's misguided attempt to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans in the name of national security. Even now, some in Congress are trying to pass additional intrusive law enforcement powers. This decision should put a halt to those efforts," Aljazeera website quoted ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero as saying.

The ruling was the latest blow to the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that terror suspects being held in U.S. facilities like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can use the American judicial system to challenge their confinement. That ruling was a defeat for the president's assertion of sweeping powers to hold "enemy combatants" indefinitely after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In January Judge Audrey Collins in Los Angeles declared Patriot Act's addition of "expert advice and assistance" to the definition of material support was unconstitutionally vague. Judge Collins enjoined the U.S.Government from enforcing the USA PATRIOT Act's prohibition on providing 'expert advice or assistance' to foreign terrorist organizations against the plaintiffs Ralph Fertig, Dr. Jeyalingam, the Humanitarian Law Project, the Ilankai Thamil Sangam and its members, and the Tamil Welfare and Human Rights Committee and its members.

"It is the first time that a court has struck down a portion of the controversial law approved by Congress six weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks," Washington Post said of Judge Collins ruling.

Colombo to probe assault on Jaffna HRC officials [TamilNet, September 30, 2004 02:47 GMT]

Mr.Ruwan Chandrasekara, Jaffna regional co-ordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), was summoned to Colombo Wednesday amid reports that Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the HRCSL high command are to hold high level discussion regarding the assault on Mr.Chandrasekara and his colleagues at the Jaffna police station Monday by several policemen, sources said.

At the time of the assault, the HRC officials were trying to investigate a complaint from the parents of a missing youth. The parents complained that their missing son was arrested by the Police and held incommunicado at the main police station in Jaffna.

On Tuesday, Mr. Chandrasekara and his associate, Mr.Feroz, went with their counsel to Jaffna police station and made a complaint against the assault on them, sources said.

HRC sources said that officials of the rights commission are to launch a protest against the failure of the Government of Sri Lanka in taking action against policemen who assaulted the commission's officials Monday.

Meanwhile, the youth, Mr. Ratnasingham Chandramohan, 21, whose parents had complained to the HRC, was later on Tuesday produced by the police before the Jaffna Magistrate, Ms. Srinithi Nanthasekaram, and she remanded the youth till October 8, legal sources said.

Mr. Chandrasekara and Mr. Feroz Wednesday visited the Jaffna prison and recorded the statement of Mr. Chandramohan, HRC sources said.

Tigers slam rejection of mediation [TamilNet, September 30, 1999 13:12 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers today condemned the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministers rejection of international mediation to resolve the island's ethnic conflict and said it reflected the "narrow, intransigent and uncompromising attitude" of the government.

"We regret to note that Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, in a press interview in New York on Monday, has rejected international mediation as unwanted and unnecessary," the LTTE said in a statement released today.

"Mr. Kadirgamar's statement reflects the narrow, intransigent and uncompromising attitude of the Sri Lanka government which has been seeking a repressive military solution to the ethnic conflict by committing widescale human rights violations against the Tamil people," the statement said.

"Having rejected the assistance and involvement of the international community in seeking a peaceful negotiated settlement, Mr. Kadirgamar has done irreparable damage to peace efforts and driven a deeper wedge between the warring nations in the island," the Tigers said.

The LTTE said it was in favour of international mediation because direct talks between the parties in conflict have failed due to mutual distrust and hostility.

"The leadership of the LTTE has also openly declared the necessity of third party mediation for a negotiated political settlement," the Tigers said.

"We are surprised to note that Mr. Kadirgamar, who has been pleading with the international community to interfere and take repressive measures against the LTTE, is reluctant to seek international assistance to end the ever escalating war and violence in the country," the statement said.

Killing in Mutur raises 'homeguards scare' again [TamilNet, September 30, 2001 18:28 GMT]

Fear prevails in the interior villages southeast of Mutur following a shooting on Friday night in which a civilian in Thanganagar was killed and another was wounded. Residents of Thanganagar said that Sinhala homeguards working with the Sri Lankan security forces in the Serunuwara Police division had shot the two men while they were watching TV at home. Sinhala homeguards massacred seven villagers on 2 October last year in the Thanganagar area. Tamil villagers in Thanganagar-Poonagar area said they fear that the homeguards may strike again.

Kanagasuntheram Mohan , 26, was killed on the spot when persons suspected to be Sinhala homeguards opened fire on him and his friend, Sinnappu Jeyarajah, 26, on Friday night. The wounded youth has been admitted to the Trincomalee hospital.

"The Police and the army visited the scene of the shooting. They were obviously not too keen to implicate the homeguards in the killing," a relative of the wounded youth said.

Villagers complain that the homeguards operate with impunity in their area under the protection of the Police and the army.

Homeguards in many parts of the east are drawn by the Police and the SLA from Sinhala families that were settled strategically in this region by the Sri Lankan government with the aim of altering the demographic complex of the region.

Human rights NGOs in the eastcoast attribute to the homeguards many violations and other social evils prevalent in the region now.

'Trinco Hindu temples singled out for destruction'-TNA MP [TamilNet, September 30, 2002 00:43 GMT]

"From Thennamaravadi, north of Trincomalee district, to south Killiveddy, several Hindu temples were destroyed in the war but places of worship of other faiths did not suffer any damages," said Tamil National Alliance (TNA) national list parliamentarian Mr.K.Thurairatnasingham addressing a meeting held at the office of the Trincomalee District Young Men Hindu Association (TDYMHA) Sunday evening. Hindu temples in Trincomalee district should be safeguarded to ensure the identity of the traditional Tamil villages, said Mr.Thurairatnesingham.

Mr.Thurairatnesingham paid glowing tribute to the services rendered by the TDYMHA to the villagers in the district when they were forced to flee for safety.

The seventh annual prize-giving event of Hindu religious schools run by the TDYMHA was held Sunday evening with its Deputy President Attorney K.Sivapalan in the chair. Mr.Thurairatnesingham was the chief guest. Mr.T.Mahendrarajah, district cultural officer was the special guest.

Mr.K.Sivapalan said the TDYMHA served the people of the Trincomalee district at a time when the war played havoc in the lives of villagers. In addition to religious services, the TDYMHA implemented several social development projects in the war-affected villages.

Mr.Thurairatnesingham said that "military operations has destroyed the entire Tamil village of Thiriyai and the people had sought refuge in other areas, but a Buddhist Vihare close to the village is not damaged".

Guests awarded prizes to students who won places in religious competitions.

Youth shot in Kiran, two killed in Ampara [TamilNet, September 29, 2004 08:17 GMT]

Unidentified gunmen shot and wounded a youth in Kiran, 28 kilometres north of Batticaloa, Tuesday night, Police said. In another incident two Singhalese were found shot to death on the Akkaraipattu-Ampara road, 64 kilometres south of Batticaloa, Tuesday night around 10 p.m. Police investigating the murder said murder was over a private feud. Mr.Kanapathipillai Vivekanandarasa, 19, the youth who was shot in Kiran, told Police that he was not affiliated to any party or paramilitary and that he was a salesman.

He said gunmen had come to the house in Kiran where he was staying and had shot him after calling him out. Mr.Vivekanandarasa is from Manjanthoduvaai, a suburb on the southern outskirts of Batticaloa town.

Officer In Charge of Valaichenai Police station, Mr. C.I Dharmawardena is investigating the shooting.

Meanwhile, Police in Akkaraipattu said the two Singhalese were riding a motorbike when they were shot dead. The motive for the killing is not clear, they said.

Tigers train guns on Valikamam SLA [TamilNet, September 30, 2000 18:39 GMT]

Long range artillery fired by the Liberation Tigers fell in the Sri Lanka army's high security zone in the general area of Punnaalaikadduvan, 13 kilometers northof Jaffna town. SLA sources said that there was no damage but added that the ability of the Tigers to reach so far inside the Valikamam division has caused some concern because Punnailaikadduvan is near Palaly and the main base of the 51 division.

The Tigers have also stepped up artillery attacks on the army's new 're-adjusted' defence lines in Kilali and Eluthumadduval Saturday evening SLA sources in Jaffna said.

Meanwhile, a civilian, Sinnathurai Suthaharan, 25, of Hospital road in Atchuvely was wounded seriously in a rocket explosion Saturday night around 7.30 p.m. He was admitted to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

Suthaharan told doctors that he was hit by shrapnel of a rocket fired by from a Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher.

Tigers sink FAC in Kalpity [TamilNet, September 30, 2000 12:33 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers attacked and sank an Israelai built Dvora Fast Attack Craft (FAC) of the Sri Lanka Navy Saturday afternoon in the sea off Kalpity on the northwestern coast of the island, security sources said.

Two SLN sailors were killed and two have been reported missing.

Seven sailors were rescued by Navy boats that were sent to the area following the attack by the Sea Tigers, the sources added.

Terrorism conference seeks curbs on financing [TamilNet, September 30, 1999 15:57 GMT]

The 14th symposium on International Terrorism, which concluded today in Colombo decided to support efforts to adopt the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing at the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly, said a press release by the Sri Lankan government's Information Department.

The Secretary General of the INTERPOL Mr.R.E.Kendol delivered the inaugural speech at the event which was attended by 70 delegates from 37 countries and 5 international organizations, the statement said.

"This symposium, disturbed by the escalation of terrorism acts, which are being carried out world wide stressed the need to strengthen further international co-operation between states and between international organisations and agencies, regional organisations and the United Nations as well as through INTERPOL," the statement said.

"The symposium also strongly condemned all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable and reiterated that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons or political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable," it said further.

"The symposium recalling its earlier decisions, adopted a recommendation that all member-states of the INTERPOL should implement provisions of general assembly known as Cairo Declaration against terrorism to increase the effectiveness of joint international action to guarantee international peace and security," the Information Department said.

The countries represented at the symposium were Portugal, Canada, Jordan, Norway, Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Netherlands, Argentina, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Algeria, France, Romania, Italy, Maldives, Nepal, Hongkong, Kenya, South Korea, Japan, China, U.S.A., Indonesia, Austria, Croatia, Nigeria, Spain, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Phillipine, Iran, Russia and Sri Lanka.

The international organisations which attended were International Air Transport Association, International Federation of Airline Pilots' Association, International Civil Aviation Organisation, Airports Council International and the United Nations.

Waldorf: The bills and spills by Our Political Editor

It would seem that the front-page story in this newspaper last Sunday announcing that President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her entourage to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York would be staying at the posh Waldorf-Astoria Hotel generated much public debate.

The state-run newspaper Daily News howled 'The Sunday Times lies bared', and only went on to, unwittingly maybe, confirm the story, asking where else could the President stay if she was to meet other heads of state. It was one of those cases where a newspaper writes the headline first and then wonders how to fit in the article to suit the headline.

Since the article appeared in The Sunday Times, the President's Office has not said a word, though our reporter has subsequently stated that there was one error in the report; the President was not hosting a reception at the Waldorf-Astoria where she was staying. Instead, she chose the UN dining hall for her reception. The state media could not even point that out.

From all accounts there wasn't a single Head of State present at her reception. The state-run Daily News which impressed on its readers the importance of the President having to meet world-leaders could only report in its front-page under the headline 'President meets world leaders' that the highest ranking personalities present at her reception were the Foreign Ministers of East Timor and Gabon!!!

The only world leaders she met were Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whom she seems to have met at another reception (going by the video footage available) and Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf whom she had to call on.

In Sri Lanka, there were others too, who asked this question. "Can the President entertain at a buth-kade?" asked one irate reader, uncertain whether there were, in fact, buth-kades in New York. Which reminds one of the story of a certain Sri Lankan newspaperman who having downed five too many drinks at a cocktail party in New York (while covering a previous visit of the President) asked his host to get him a three-wheeler to get back to his hotel.

Many other readers were not amused. Most of them were angry because the next story they would have read is that they, the yakkos (proletariat) having already faced sky-rocketing prices in food and essential items like gas and fuel, were now being warned of still higher prices in the days to come, of not only food, gas and fuel, but also of an upward revision of electricity rates.

And then at the bottom of that page they must have seen a story of how some unknown persons were given valuable state land by President Chandrika Kumaratunga ostensibly to develop the property. They did sweet nothing, but 're-sold' it to an arms dealer who made big bucks thanks to selling armaments to the Sri Lankan Forces during the many failed (and some successful) military operations during her previous tenure.

In the process, those favoured persons netted in Rs. 150 million just for having been given this state land by President Kumaratunga. That figure is, of course, the over-the-table figure, as the story said.

Such behaviour is what makes Sri Lanka a typical third-world, third-rate, country. A so-called Republic, rivalled only by some Banana Republics in Latin America or some of the African states, where the leaders have the time of their lives while the poor grovel for a living, and the in-betweens make a killing as the front-men for their leaders.

The 'President Kumaratunga entourage in classy Waldorf' story not only caused a stir among the ranks of Government, but in the Opposition as well.

One good thing is that they are still concerned about public opinion. It's just that they try not to do anything about it. The story also referred to former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe leaving behind a staggering US dollars 26,000 telephone bill at the UN Plaza Hotel when he visited UNGA last year with a team of hand-picked journalists.

Sri Lanka's former Ambassador to the UN, Charlie Mahendran, a one-time career diplomat and later UNP card-carrying member, has promptly denied this, saying the sum was much less, and that it included not only the phone bills of the former Premier's entourage, but much more. This is what Charlie Mahendran says;

"I was the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in September 2003 when (Prime Minister) Ranil Wickremesinghe visited New York (for the UNGA). I distinctly remember that the entire cost of the delegation which included hotel charges, limousine service and official taxes and telephone calls which was strictly monitored was under US $ 26,000 and was paid by the Permanent Mission in New York".

It's a kind of blanket denial that does not throw much light. So the newspaper reporter was detailed to contact him and ask him to explain further. Then, he says that when The Sunday Times had written about former premier Wickremesinghe's delegation leaving behind such a staggering phone bill, his explanation had been called for, and that he gave a full break-down of the expenditure at the time.

He says the total expenditure for the then PM's delegation was US $25,700. He goes on to say that the expenses of the " others " were paid by the different ministries (as if that is not tax-payers' money). He then goes on to make an unsubstantiated statement that he has heard from his former staff at the UN Mission in New York that the Foreign Ministry has allocated US $120,000 for the President's current visit, and that would not be enough. Unfortunately, the Foreign Ministry will not confirm anything nowadays.

When we asked our reporter in New York Michael De Silva who filed last week's story for his response to former Ambassador Mahendran's letter, this is what he had to say;

On November 16 last year, The Sunday Times itself published an article from New York titled "With UN dues still unpaid, Sri Lanka could lose voting rights". The article said: "At a time when ministers and senior officials are on junkets every week at taxpayers' expense (the last ministerial and media delegation to the UN left a $21,000 phone bill, along with a cable TV bill for porn movies viewed in their hotel rooms), why is it that the government cannot afford to pay its UN dues on time as it did in earlier years?"

Michael de Silva goes on to say that neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Sri Lanka Mission to the UN (which was headed by Ambassador Mahendran) denied this-- either formally or informally. Our story went unchallenged. Why has Ambassador Mahendran disputed this story now, why has be maintained his stony silence for so long?, he asks.

Here, quite apart from Ambassador Mahendran's stony silence for so long, we do notice a discrepancy in the figures. While our story refers to US $26,000, the reference seems to be to US $21,000. A distinction without a difference, but a difference nevertheless.

So, if we go on the basis that the sum of US $21,000 is the sum total, former Ambassador Mahendran is still unable to say what that phone bill amounted to. He limits his formal answer to saying that the total cost of the delegation " was under US $26,000 ", then when asked subsequently goes on to distinguish the PM's delegation (whose bill was $ 25,700, yes, that is under $ 26,000 - by $ 300) from the " others " (whose bills were paid by other ministries, whoever they may be).

Mahendran therefore, does not seem to be able to say for sure, what the telephone bill of the "others " was. Our reporter now adds, that the bill not only included telephone bills but in-house cable tv bills, which as everyone knows, mean in-house movies.

This is what our reporter says; "The former UN envoy is generous enough to provide a figure for the total bill (which we are told is also in dispute). But can he recollect the breakdown for the phone bill and the hotel's cable tv bill? We have been told that the phone bills not only included charges tagged onto the hotel room (where usually rates are exorbitantly high for overseas calls), but also charges on cell phones (which the Sri Lanka delegation and some of these hand-picked journalists were armed with), and on phones used from an office rented out for the delegation in the UN Plaza Hotel. Even while that office was kept locked during the night, some of the reporters had convinced the reception desk to give them access primarily to use the phone to call friends and relatives all over the world, not just in Sri Lanka. Additionally, the phones in the Sri Lanka Mission were also used for private calls to Sri Lanka. And they all add up to the monumental figure".

"Incidentally", says Michael De Silva, "as an example in lessons learnt, a ministerial and media delegation which went to Washington DC months later from Colombo was warned that the Sri Lanka embassy will not be responsible for any overseas phone bill charges made at the hotel. All or most overseas calls were made only through cell phones which were personally monitored by an embassy official to prevent the New York debacle. The Sri Lanka Mission to the UN had no such monitoring. Perhaps Ambassador Mahendran was too busy to keep tabs on the misuse of phones by Sri Lankan delegates -- even though some of his staffers were more diligent. Perhaps he was not aware of what was going on under his own watch".

While former Ambassador Charlie Mahendran has tried valiantly to defend his party leader and former Premier, the Minister of Tourism, Investment and Industries Anura Bandaranaike has also entered the fray, or at least his faithful servant, A.H.M. Onais, his private secretary has done so on his behalf, clearly not only on the Minister's instructions, but also with help by the Minister in New York. The Minister writes to The Sunday Times, referring to his own trip to New York as part of his sister's delegation. He says "I shall explain at the proper forum, at the proper time, about the benefits of my travel to the country.." in response to a question the newspaper seems to have raised about his many overseas trips.

One would suppose the "proper time" is right now. In his letter he does not still say what he was doing in London for four days prior to his journey accompanying his President-sister to New York when she arrived there to catch a connecting flight. Nor does he say in his letter what on earth he was doing in New York in the first place.

Then, typically, Minister Anura Bandaranaike goes off at a tangent to avoid the question at issue. He says; "I shall also table all the many foreign travels and its cost, travel costs, and other related expenditure of cohorts, in Parliament of J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa and wife, and Ranil Wickremesinghe, in full, for posterity. Even lesser UNP mortals like Foreign Minister A.C.S. Hameed stayed at the very same Waldorf-Astoria fourteen times!

He asks the newspaper whether it is only interested in the costs of Bandaranaike-led Governments, and then says; "The many travels of Ranil Wickremesinghe, hotel bills, travel costs, names and designations of varied 'cohorts' and 'vast entourages', monies paid to his foreign-speech-writers will also be tabled in Parliament - and let the fun begin', asking how the newspaper is going to handle that one.

We might safely say, that we will handle 'that one', the same way we are waiting to handle the 'other one', i.e. his great boast that "more heads will roll at the BOI " after he sacked two officials and made the headlines with that statement. It's over four months now, and no more heads have rolled.

But we welcome his boast (not so much his boast, but if he can put the tax-payers' money where his mouth is, really) that he will divulge all the costs of all those VVIP travels - over the years, at state expense.

And yet, when it comes to his own turn, what does he do? The newspaper had yet another report last week which pointed out that when Minister Bandaranaike went on a previous trip to London (in June this year), he had exhorted the newspaper to get the bills of his stay from, among others, the Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK.

When the newspaper asked High Commissioner Faiz Musthapha for these bills, telling him that Minister Bandaranaike wanted us to get these from him, the lawyer-turned diplomat opted to deflect the issue by arguing a case for having to send the bills to some accounting officer in Colombo.

That is how things are covered up in this country. So, when Minister Bandaranaike says he will do a full monty on all these expenses, which must of course, include himself and not be just selective, we must welcome it.

I have seen in this very newspaper several editorials during the Ranil Wickremesinghe period calling on Government Ministers to restrict their opulent styles, particularly their foreign jaunts at state-expense, especially when a Government is calling upon the people of this country to make sacrifices.

The cost-of-living is unbearably high. And even if some of the factors contributing to this are outside their control like rising fuel bills, curtailing foreign trips can be one area of sacrifice by the leaders.

Whatever his other shortcomings, former Finance Minister Kasi Choksy was someone who set an example by doing business by telephone and other ways, rather than finding any excuse to fly to some capital or other like many of his colleagues in the UNP Government would do. No one grudges President Kumaratunga a stay at the Waldorf. But the excuse that she needed to stay there to meet other world leaders can only come from her propagandists.

Indeed, US President George W. Bush stayed at the Waldorf. But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Palace Hotel) and Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharaff (Roosevelt Hotel) did not stay at the Waldorf, they stayed in smaller hotels - and all of them got to meet President Bush. President Kumaratunga was at the same hotel as President Bush and did not get to meet President Bush.

The New York based widely circulated India Abroad described Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit as " traditional, extensive and devoid of hype". The headline ran " No tamasha for Manmohan Singh's visit."

In fact, Manmohan Singh met President Bush for an hour-long breakfast meeting shortly before the latter's UN address and strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries. Gen. Musharraf and even Aghanistan President Karzai met Bush separately. No one knows whether President Kumaratunga wanted to see President Bush. The point is that staying at the same hotel does not mean that you get to see any other State leader merely because he stays there as well.

President Bush and his neo-conservative Republicans are funny people. After-all, they even sent a message that they were not going to give British Conse-rvative Party leader Michael Howard an appointment if he visited Washington. Howard is not only a deeply committed Atlanticist, but also a possible Prime Minister of Britain. It’s just that Howard opposes the war in Iraq.

Michael Portillo, the former Conservative Minister who now writes a popular column to the London Sunday Times says "they (the Bush party) do not entertain even a whiff of heresy". So what chance would President Kumaratunga have had in meeting him, whether she stayed at the Waldorf or anywhere else.

But she did get to meet President Bush at the UN building on the day she and the US President made a speech (on day 1) of the UN sessions. That was at a luncheon - they were at the same table - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's table, where she raised her glass of white wine to a toast proposed by President Bush welcoming these world leaders to the United States of America.

That opportunity of sitting at Kofi Annan's table with the US President was surely not afforded to President Kumaratunga because she was staying at an expensive hotel like the Waldorf. The UN cannot be so snobbish, could they? No, Kofi Annan had President Kumaratunga at his table on the opening day the last time she spoke as well (on that opening date) - even when she was staying at the Harley Hotel, in the UN neighbourhood.

Anura Bandaranaike says he will be rushing back by today to attend the commemoration ceremonies connected with the death anniversary of his late father, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who was ironically assassinated on the eve of his departure to speak at the UN General Assembly in 1959. Sister Chandrika will not be here for the occasion as she has opted to stay back in London over the weekend.

No official communique has been issued by her office about her whereabouts - it is almost as if the people of Sri Lanka don't care where she is.

To say now that the free-spending foreign jaunts of Cabinet Ministers were never an issue cannot be true. It was a matter of such concern that President Kumaratunga herself introduced a Code of Ethics for them. In it, she specified that no Minister should travel overseas more than four times each year.

This is thoroughly unrealistic and should have had some exemption clauses. But exemption clauses give rise to excesses and the President, in her wisdom, kept to the four-trip rule. Her own brother has been the second to break her rule, only after Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The JVP, which inspired this Code and the four-trip rule sings a slightly different tune as well now. They probably see things differently, now that they are in the corridors of power.

In his interview with this newspaper last week, their General Secretary Tilvin Silva appears to have moved an amendment to the rule. He says something like, yes, it must remain four trips per year, but any amount of private trips are permitted. What he must know is that the same people who voted his party to office, and those who did not, are commonly groaning under the weight of price increases. His new Government has no money to pay for subsidies to cushion these blows.

Neither does his Government have money to spend on his Government's Ministers, including those from his party going on foreign trips. The situation is so bad that one UPFA Cabinet Minister left an unpaid hotel bill in India earning Sri Lanka a terrible name in the hospitality trade of that country. Missions throughout the world are called up to pay these bills, and the Foreign Ministry is now complaining that they just cannot go on paying and calling for the relevant Ministries to meet their bosses' bills.

But who is to speak up for the taxpayer, including those millions called upon to pay indirect taxes who are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their own bills and now must ultimately foot all those accumulated Ministerial bills as well.