Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Soldiers, civilians clash in Jaffna [TamilNet, November 03, 2004 13:47 GMT]

A group of soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)and members of public clashed at Madathady junction along Main Street in Jaffna town Wednesday noon that injured a soldier, police said. Jaffna Police arrested a Tamil youth after the incident.

According to police, a group of soldiers had attempted to attack few youths in the area identified by a Sinhala trader for forcibly removing furniture, which he had put up for sale at that site.

On receipt of information, a group of civilians gathered at the site and set upon the soldiers, police sources added.

Sri Lanka police officers rushed to the scene and diffused the tension, and arrested a Tamil youth, police said.

Tamils concerned over India's moves- TNA MP [TamilNet, November 03, 2004 04:28 GMT]

"Visits of Indian military and naval chiefs to Sri Lanka and Indo-Sri Lanka defence agreement expected to be signed next week in India by both governments during the visit of Sri Lanka's President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge have caused apprehension among Tamils that preparations are underway for another war in the island," said Ms Pathmini Sithamparanathan, Jaffna district Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian in a press release issued Tuesday.

Indian military chief N.C.Vij is currently in Sri Lanka meeting heads of Sri Lanka armed forces and government leaders. Last month Indian navy chief visited Sri Lanka.

"Tamils still want to strengthen the relationship with India. Tamils sighed relief when Government of India announced that it would support the peace process brokered by Norwegian facilitation. However, Tamils have been marginalized by India, which is working closely with the Sri Lankan government without consulting Tamil sections," Ms Sithamparanathan pointed out in her statement

"Tamils, feel that the proposed defence agreement between India and Sri Lanka would encourage Sinhala rulers to prepare for another war abandoning the current peace process", said Ms. Sithamparanathan.

"Sinhala governments in power never accepted the legitimate aspirations of Tamils with sincerity. Due to international pressure the Sinhala rulers accept mediations, negotiations and submit proposals, but have not steps towards finding a permanent political resolution to the ethnic conflict.

"Indian government should rethink signing a defence agreement with Sinhala political leadership that never kept its agreements and pactsentered into with Tamil leaderships in past, Ms Sithamparanathan said.

Introducing a culture of peace in school education

Sri Lanka will host a key peace event in the education sector this week when educationists and student-teachers from South Asia meet to explore ways and means of instilling a culture of peace in school education.

The peace event dubbed "Promoting a Culture of Peace" which began on Tuesday will continue till November 6 at the National College of Education in Pasdunrata, Kalutara.

In addition to international participants, the event will bring together Sri Lankan student-teachers and teacher educators from the National Colleges of Education, as part of a continuation of related activities they had undertaken throughout the year.

Previously, they had participated in events such as a literary competition on peace education and conflict transformation and peace events that linked student-teachers from Ruhuna, Jaffna and Batticaloa and other regions of Sri Lanka.

It is organized by the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education in cooperation with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ)-supported Basic Education Sector Programme (BESP), in association with the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding.

As part of the peace event, a sub-regional (South Asia) workshop with the theme "Education for Democracy, Pluralism and Tolerance" will take place for teacher educators and teachers from India, Korea, Maldives, Japan and Sri Lanka.

This sub-regional workshop seeks to provide a critical conceptual view of Education for International Understanding (EIU) towards a culture of peace.

The participants are to practice a teachers' resource book introducing EIU concepts and methods. Participants in the workshop will thus obtain knowledge and skills enabling them to integrate themes and issues of a culture of peace, human rights, democracy and sustainability into their subject areas and schooling practices.

The workshop will provide opportunities to interact with participants and learn more about current issues related to peace education at the sub-regional level, to strengthen their networking for future mutual cooperation at the sub regional level and to develop a strategy and action plan towards a culture of peace.

Witnesses identify army major and accomplice by Athula Bandara

Major Anuruddha Wijayabahu and his accomplice army soldier Sujeewa Saman Kumara were yesterday re-remanded till November 17 after five witnesses identified them at an identification parade.

They were produced before Anuradhapura Magistrate Harsha Setunga after the identification parade which was held in a special room at the Anuradhapura Court Complex.

The Wattegama police arrested the two suspects on suspicion while they were travelling in a hijacked van after allegedly killing its driver Wanigasekera.

Large crowds had gathered at the court premises to catch a glimpse of the suspects as they were brought into courts under strict security.

They also shouted slogans demanding that lawyers should not defend them as the suspect had defamed the good name of the army and that they be given the maximum punishment and that they should not be released on bail.

On October 11 on the pretext of hiring the vehicle for a trip the two suspects had on the way had allegedly tied up the driver and pushed him down a precipice and fled.

Further questioning of the suspects had revealed that they had on April 11 hired a car from Anuradhapura and allegedly killed the driver at the Manthottam Army Camp in Mannar and had then cut the corpse into six pieces and burnt the body before and hijacking the vehicle.

In the course of the investigations the CID had found a diary belonging to the dead driver inside the army quarters while parts of the burnt body was found buried in the premises and a blood-stained knife which might have been used to cut up the body.

The suspects are said to be involved in the hijacking of 17 vehicles.

Navy stand by report on destroyed LTTE camp

Navy headquarters yesterday reiterated that an abandoned LTTE camp at Palampatar was destroyed a few days ago. This was in response to an LTTE statement posted on TamilNet.

The TamilNet report said: "The SLN has fabricated the story of destroying a LTTE camp in Palampoddaru area along Trincomalee-Kandy road to justify its false claim that LTTE had constructed several new camps in Trincomalee," Elilan, LTTE Trincomalee district Political Head told Tamil Net, reacting to media reports Monday that Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) had destroyed a Liberation Tigers camp.

"There is no truth in the SLN’s claim. Because the LTTE at no stage had old or new camps in the particular place which is located close to army and navy camps," said Elilan.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission did not inform the LTTE about the SLN claim that it had located a LTTE camp in Palampoddaru area," Elilan said.

The SLN in its report said the LTTE camp was destroyed by government troops in the presence of SLMM monitors.

Elilan Tuesday met the acting head of the Sri Lanka Monitor-ing Mission (SLMM) in Trin-comalee regarding the claim of SLN destroying LTTE camp in the presence of SLMM monitors.

SLMM monitors in Trinco-malee are reported to have maintained silence when Elilan poin-ted out that LTTE had no camps in the particular area before and after the ceasefire agreement."


No matter who wins, US will back Lanka to fight terror

Irrespective of who wins the US Presidential election, the US Government will continue to help Sri Lanka to fight terrorism, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage assured Sri Lanka yesterday.

Mr. Armitage gave this assurance in a statement issued yesterday on the occasion of the US Presidential election.

"Let me assure you that no matter who is President, America will fight terrorism and will help our partners, such as the government of Sri Lanka" he said in the statement and urged the LTTE to give up terrorist activities and get back to talks.

"I call upon the LTTE to renounce terror and to return to the negotiating table" urged the US Deputy Secretary of State. Commenting on the US election Mr. Armitage observed that no matter who would ultimately be declared the winner, the election itself is a victory for all Americans.

"With two hundred and eighteen years of elections behind us, the United States is the world's oldest continuous democracy" and with another peaceful election behind the nation the day of the election marked another "victory for all Americans regardless of the outcome of the elections", the Deputy Secretary added.

Quoting former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others" he maintained that just like any other democracy the US democracy too continues to evolve and as a result is in a way "young in political life".

He said both the US and Sri Lanka being democracies, is one of the foremost reasons for the two countries to enjoy " a strong and a productive relationship".

Of the peace process in Sri Lanka, Mr. Armitage said he sincerely hoped that "all Sri Lankans - Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Veddahs and Burghers" will benefit from peace and would together reject a "return of the disastrous wars of the past". In a lighter vein he had added "I am sorry to say that neither President Bush nor John Kerry is likely to deepen the American understanding of the finer points of cricket".

Battle between Muslim sects threatens to spread by Shamindra Ferdinando

The ongoing battle for supremacy in the predominantly Muslim township of Kattankudy, south of Batticaloa, is threatening to spread to adjoining areas.

"We are expecting more violence," a senior security official said yesterday, adding, "Two Muslim religious groups are targeting each other. Unfortunately both groups are armed and are in the process of acquiring more weapons."

The official did not rule out the possibility of both groups obtaining arms and ammunition from LTTE dissidents (Karuna loyalists).

A senior SLMC official emphasised that there was ‘no political link’ while expressing concern over, what he termed was, the deteriorating situation in the area.

Army headquarters has authorised the deployment of troops in Kattankudy in support of the police. Despite heavy joint police-army presence, attackers managed to mount attacks on Mosques over the past few days. Violence erupted on Sunday (31).

Security sources based in the east said followers of Rauf Mowlavi attacked the orthodox Irumbu Thaikka Mosque on Monday night. "It was a revenge attack," a senior policeman said. "They were responding to the previous night’s attack on their Sufi Mosque also in Kattankudy," he said, adding that over a dozen houses and business establishments were targeted. Monday’s attack wounded 18 persons. Some of the wounded had been admitted to the Batticaloa government hospital.

Rival groups set fire to the Badoorya Rahumania and Eibrahim Mosques during the clashes.

The sources said that a policeman had been shot at and wounded by a rampaging mob.

The sources said Rauf Mowlavi had a hardcore following of about 3,000. The sources said Mowlavi Rauf had challenged the Jammiyathul Ulema, Kattankudy. "This led to a lot of friction and now violence was threatening the entire community," the sources said.

Spin wizard Murali urges peace with Tiger rebels by Joe Ariyaratnam

KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka, Nov 2 (Reuters) - One of Sri Lanka's most successful bowlers, Muttiah Muralitharan, on Tuesday urged the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to resume stalled talks to turn a truce into lasting peace after two decades of civil war.

Spin bowler Muralitharan, a Tamil himself, made his plea during a three-day tour of the war-torn north with representatives of the United Nation's World Food Programme and foreign donors.

The tour included a visit to the political and administrative stronghold of the Tamil Tigers, whose bloody war for autonomy killed more than 64,000 and ruined swathes of the north and east.

"As a sportsman, all I can say is that Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims come together to play cricket side by side," Muralitharan said after a one-hour meeting with Sudha Master, the deputy political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"Likewise, the politicians and the LTTE must come together and make peace for the good of this country's people," he told Reuters after seeing the destruction caused by years of fighting.

"The LTTE is willing to come to the peace table and, although I don't know about the government's position or the procedures involved, the people of the south want peace. The government must fulfil their wishes and come for negotiations."

Cricket is an exceedingly popular sport in Sri Lanka, enthusiastically played by Tamils and Sinhalese alike.

Muralitharan has used a break from international cricket after a shoulder operation in August to focus on humanitarian work in disadvantaged communities in Sri Lanka's rural areas.

The 32-year-old was invited to the northern towns of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya as a "partner against hunger" by the United Nation's World Food Pragramme, which is providing aid to thousands of the war's innocent victims.

Muralitharan has just returned to Sri Lanka, after a global tour to raise funds, to raise funds for his own charity, the Gunasekera-Muralidaran Foundation, which runs about 60 community projects in the south.

A controversial off spinner who bowls with a super-flexible wrist and locked elbow, Muarlitharan broke Courtney Walsh's 519-wicket Test record in May but since his injury has been overtaken by Australia's Shane Warne.

Muralitharan will travel to Australia later in the month for a check-up of his bowling shoulder by his surgeon David Young. His rehabilitation has gone smoothly and he hopes to be fit enough to tour New Zealand in late December and January.

Poppy politics and LTTE poppycock by Janaka Perera

Another Poppy Day will be held on November 11 with a ceremony at the War Memorial in Colombo. As usual, many motorists are already displaying small wreaths of artificial poppy flowers in front of their vehicles. The revenue from these sales, as we know, go to serve Sri Lankan soldiers disabled during the conflict in the Northeast.

Unlike prior to 1980, Poppy Week is today a reflection of the deep divisions and complexity of the Sri Lanka’s national crisis. But todate no government has been willing to admit this fact publicly, though the Parliament has been divided over both war and peace right through the past 20 years.

In many other states, whether it is India fighting the Kashmiri, Sikh or Nagaland rebels, Russia fighting the Chechen rebels or the United States fighting Al Queda - both the government and the Opposition are largely united in fighting against separatists or other forms of terrorism. But it is not so in Sri Lanka.

For decades, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces have been accused of being the Tamil people’s enemy and therefore any Tamil who buys a poppy flower risks being called a traitor to the cause of the LTTE-sponsored "Tamil Liberation struggle." The fact that a few Tamils today serve in the military establishment (which ironically had a Tamil - the late Major General Anton Mutukumaru - as Army Commander) has greatly boosted this Tiger propaganda campaign. They, however, conveniently ignore that the "anti-Tamil" Sri Lankan military has been frequently providing transport and armed escorts to LTTE leaders, during the ceasefire period.

Therefore, the majority of Tamils are obviously reluctant to have any part in honouring our troops, despite the fact that a number of Tamil undercover operatives have helped the Sri Lanka military and that the LTTE has killed many Tamils who refused to toe its line. This truth is best illustrated in the words uttered by a young Tamil female colleague when I was on the editorial staff of a now-defunct newspaper, during Poppy Week about five years ago. She said, "I like to buy a poppy flower but I am scared." That explained a lot.

Moreover, to a section of the Sinhala ultra-Left, the Sri Lankan military has been waging an unjust war to suppress the Tamils’ "Right to Self-Determination." According these "socialist" panjandrums, the only way to ensure democracy and peace in the North and East is to give the LTTE what it demands.

In 1930s, the firebrands of the Left treated Poppy Week as pure and simple poppycock - a means of colonizing the minds of natives, who gained nothing from the "Imperialist War" (First World War). The Left launched a counter-offensive in the form of the Suriyamal (Sun Flower) Campaign that gained immense popularity. Suriyamala became a symbol of defiance against British Imperialism.

Then came World War II with the Nazi German invasion of Poland in 1939. To the Left, this global conflict too was just another "imperialist war" - that is until Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the world’s first socialist state. Suddenly, the local Left found itself in a dilemma. Doctrinaire Socialists split hairs over the Nazi offensive. What was until then an "imperialist war" became a "people’s war" to the Stalinists. The Trotskyites refused to fall in line and expelled Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe and M. G. Mendis from the LSSP. Promptly, the Stalinists parroting their mentors in Moscow accused the LSSP of being "Fascist Agents" and "Fifth Columnists."

However, with the end of the World War, Suriyamal was slowly forgotten and Poppy Week gradually regained its former status, especially after the JVP insurgency of April 1971 when soldiers of post-independence Sri Lanka had their first combat experience. That was also the first and the last time both the government and the Opposition stood solidly behind the military in defending the state.

Since the 1980s, patriotism and peace in our country has come to mean different things to different people.

SLA strengthens sentry points in Jaffna [TamilNet, November 04, 2003 16:39 GMT]

Soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army are strengthening their sentry points in Jaffna town. SLA personnel were seen Tuesday constructing new sentry points replacing old ones on Stanley Road,the Clock Tower road junction and the entrance to the 512 Brigade headquarters in the Jaffna town, civil sources said.

Senior officers of the SLA were seen Tuesday supervising the work, the sources said.

After taking control of the Jaffna peninsula in 1996, the SLA established its town headquarters in the Jaffna city encompassing Victoria Road, Clock Tower Road and Power House Road.

SLA clears verges over ambush fears [TamilNet, November 04, 1997 23:59 GMT]

The Sri Lankan army has asked residents in Kokkuvil and Kalviankaadu to cut down trees along the road side and inside lanes. The people in these areas have also been ordered not to thatch the lower side of their fences by the lanes and roads.

This follows the detection of four Improvised Explosive Devises attached to and hidden in trees by the side of some lanes and roads in Kokkuvil and Kalviankaadu frequented by the army.

The military intelligence in Jaffna has informed Sri Lankan troops that an LTTE unit in these areas is preparing to launch a series of small scale ambushes using the IEDs in the smaller lanes which are sometimes used by the army's foot patrols.

The Sri Lankan army has asked residents in certain parts of Valigamam and Vadamaradchi also to do the same.

Tiger ambush behind SLA lines [TamilNet, November 04, 1997 23:59 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers ambushed a group of Special Forces Commandos travelling in a tractor at Nayinamadu killing five and wounding several others last evening around 5.30 p.m.

The LTTE exploded a claymore mine in the ambush. The commandos belonged to the 53 division.

Sources close to the army in Vavuniya said that the Jayasikurui commanders were very alarmed that the LTTE has been able to launch this daring attack in the heart of an area dominated by the army.

1000 SLA troops killed - LTTE [TamilNet, November 04, 1999 17:08 GMT]

The Liberation Tigers said today they had captured vast areas of Ampakamam from the Sri Lanka Army (SLA). In a statement issued from its London offices, the LTTE said its fighters "swept westwards" today in the direction of the A9 highway. Over 1000 SLA soldiers have been killed, the LTTE said, adding 60 of its fighters also died in the fighting so far.

Extracts from the LTTE press release follow:

"In the fighting that is raging ferociously in the Karupaddamurippu - Ampakamam sector, east of Mankulam, the LTTE forces have overrun the Sri Lankan front defence lines and taken control of vast sections of strategically crucial Ampakamam area, situated 5 kilometres north of Karupaddamurippu"

"After several hours of sustained fighting the LTTE units destroyed several mini-camps at Ampakamam today and caused heavy casualties to the enemy.

"LTTE fighters are also engaged in a fierce battle in the jungle areas between Nedunkerni and Pulliyankulam, as Sri Lankan troops attempted to advance from bases at Pulliyankulam towards Nedunkerni sector. Heavy exchange of artillery and mortar fire is taking place in the area."

"The LTTE's offensive campaign, code named 'Unceasing Waves 3', continues ferociously for the third day today as the LTTE fighting formations swept westwards of Mullaitivu in the direction of A9 highway posing a serious threat to Sri Lankan bases on the Vavuniya-Kilinochchi route."

"Over one thousand Sri Lankan troops have been killed and many more injured in the three days of intense fighting. So far 60 LTTE fighters have died in the battle."

"The LTTE fighters have cremated, with military honours, hundreds of decomposed bodies of Sri Lankan soldiers scattered all over the jungle areas as ICRC was unable to get clearance from the Sri Lankan military establishment to handover the demised soldiers."

"In Vanni area, jubilant crowds of civilians in thousands are actively supporting the offensive campaign of the LTTE. Civilian crowds are supplying food to the fighters and are helping to remove vast amounts of arms and ammunitions from various Sri Lankan armouries in the liberated areas."

Sri Lanka Army base under attack -LTTE [TamilNet, November 04, 1999 11:48 GMT]

Heavy fighting is continuing for the third day in the Vanni where the Liberation Tigers have launched a fresh assault on the Karupaddamurippu the LTTE said in a statement from its London office today.

The text of the statement follows:

Karupaddamurippu military base under attack. Sri Lankan troops suffer further heavy causalities

Sri Lankan troops suffered further heavy casualties when the fighting units of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched a fresh offensive thrust last night on the military base at Karupaddamurippu, a strategic town seven kilometres east of Mankulam.

Heavy fighting is still raging in the area. Having taken control of the military complexes at Oddusuddan and Nedunkerni in quick succession during the last two days of fighting, the LTTE fighting formations have now surrounded Karuppaddamurippu and pounding the strategic military base with heavy artillery and mortar fire.

Faced with the fierce assault by the LTTE forces, the Sri Lankan military rushed reinforcements to the area from Mankulam. Karuppaddamurippu military base houses the tactical headquarters of the Sri Lankan army's 55 Division and manned predominately by Navy personnel.

In another development, the LTTE fighters launched a massive artillery attack yesterday on the Kanakarayankulam military complex situated on the A9 highway, 15 kilometres from Vavuniya town.

The artillery bombardment hit the ammunition dumps causing massive explosions that destroyed several military buildings in the area including brigade headquarters and a field hospital. Scores of troops were killed and over 300 injured in the attack.

In another incident Israeli made Kfir bombers launched a sudden attack on a civilian settlement at Pandiyankulam in the Mullaitivu District yesterday evening around 5.45p.m.

The bombardment, widely regarded as a deliberate retaliatory attack by the Airforce for the humiliating military debacles on the ground, killed six innocent civilians and wounded eight more."

Curfew in K’kudy as Muslim factions clash over mosque by Mohamed Ghouse

Kattankudy, in the Eastern Province, was under police curfew Monday night (1) after two Muslim groups clashed. Fifteen persons were injured when bombs were hurled by the rival groups.

Twelve of the injured were admitted to the Batticaloa hospital and the condition of one was serious, H. M. C. Herath, OIC Kattankudy police station said.

Trouble broke out when a group had hurled bombs at people who were taking part in the evening prayers in a Mosque opposite the main road at Kattankudy. The trouble seems to have erupted over a Mosque built at Kattankudy by a group of Muslims from Maradamune. The rival groups, said to be in their thousands, had started looking for their adversaries and attacked a large number of persons, destroyed homes and shops. The local police being unable to bring the situation undercontrol, reinsforcements from other police stations in the area had to be brought in to quell the situation, police said.

A police constable was also injured in the crossfire between the two factions.

Senior police sources said the Army and Police were able to talk to the leaders of the rival Muslim groups and bring about a settlement and the leaders have agreed to maintain peace in the area.

Now, Tiger HSZs

The LTTE has declared Kokkadicholai and Arasadithivu as high security areas. This was part of their strategy aimed at preventing Karuna loyalists from mounting attacks on key LTTE operatives in charge of operations against the dissidents.

A senior security official said they were aware of a major LTTE effort to deny an opportunity to attackers to infiltrate this area.

According to him, LTTE cadres, especially those from the Ampara-Batticaloa region and civilians were subjected to intensive security checks. (SF)

Truant soldier escapes LTTE abduction bid

Army headquarters said that a group of unidentified LTTE cadres made an abortive attempt to abduct a soldier while he was at Kiran on Sunday. At the time the soldier had been with his girl friend.

Lance Corporal Pulendran (S/305720) had been absent without leave when the LTTE cadres tried to abduct him.

He and his girl friend managed to escape and they reported to the Santhiveli army detachment.

Lanka seeks news on fate of hostage amid fears of another kidnap

Nov. 2 COLOMBO - Government authorities were still trying to make contact with the abductors of a Sri Lankan truck driver in Iraq amid reports that another of its nationals had been seized, officials said on Tuesday.

Foreign ministry officials here said diplomatic efforts were underway to secure the release of truck driver Dinesh Dharmendran Rajaratnam who was taken hostage Thursday.

`ECWe have not yet been able to make contact with the group that has taken the Sri Lankan national,`EE a spokesman said. `ECThere has been no ransom demand or anything like that from the abductors either.`EE

The 36-year-old Sri Lankan, who was seized by the Islamic Army in Iraq on Thursday, had told his family three weeks ago that he was desperate to return home, a family member said.

The foreign ministry said it was also concerned about fresh reports from Baghdad that an Asian, probably a Nepalese or a Sri Lankan, had been abducted on Monday.

`ECWe are checking on this report too, but we have no confirmation,`EE the spokesman said.

Sri Lanka has no diplomatic mission in Iraq and four months ago discouraged its nationals from going there in search of employment.

Foreign ministry officials said they were working with the Sri Lankan mission in Lebanon to secure the release of the first Sri Lankan hostage in Iraq.

Al-Jazeera television said the Islamic Army in Iraq had abducted a driver from Sri Lanka and another from Bangladesh who works for a Kuwaiti company.

Al-Jazeera quoted a statement from the group as saying `ECthe two hostages were abducted before driving their trucks into a US base in Iraq`EE.

The Islamic Army in Iraq kidnapped French journalists Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper south of Baghdad on August 20 along with their Syrian driver, Mohammed al-Jundi.

It also kidnapped and murdered an Italian journalist.

Extremist groups in Iraq have taken several truckers hostage in a bid to force their companies out of Iraq. In some cases, ransoms have been paid to secure the release of hostages.


LTTE ups extortion in Mannar

A large number of state officials, private sector businessmen and members of the public, in Mannar and its suburbs, have contacted the Police and troops to inform them that some LTTE cadres in the area were demanding increased extortions from them in order to strengthen LTTE coffers, the Defence Ministry said in a statement posted on the army website.

The affected sections had reportedly told the Police on Tuesday (2) that the LTTE was demanding and threatening the public to increase their sums of funds given to the LTTE for reasons best known only to the LTTE.

Businessmen in the area after a meeting they have reportedly had with LTTE political leaders in Mannar kept their shops closed on Sunday (31), instead of Saturday, the usual day of closure.

Government officials further claimed that the LTTE cadres who visit their places of work were also giving various instructions to them since of recent times.

TNA suspicious of new Indo - Lanka links

"Visits of the Indian army and navy chiefs to Colombo and the Indo-Sri Lanka defence agreement, expected to be signed next week in New Delhi during President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s visit, had caused apprehension among Tamils that preparations are underway for the resumption of hostilities," said Ms Pathmini Sithamparanathan, Jaffna district TNA parliamentarian in a press release issued Tuesday.

Indian military chief N.C.Vij is currently in Sri Lanka meeting heads of the armed forces and government leaders. Last month the Indian navy chief visited Sri Lanka.

"Tamils still want to strengthen the relationship with India. Tamils heaved a sigh of relief when the Government of India announced that it would support the peace process brokered by Norway. However, Tamils have been marginalized by India, which is working closely with the Sri Lankan government without consulting Tamil sections," Ms Sithamparanathan pointed out in her statement

"Tamils, feel that the proposed defense agreement between India and Sri Lanka would encourage Sinhala rulers to prepare for another war abandoning the current peace process", said Ms. Sithamparanathan.

"Sinhala governments in power never accepted the legitimate aspirations of Tamils with sincerity. Due to international pressure the Sinhala rulers accept mediations, negotiations and submit proposals, but have not taken steps towards finding a permanent political resolution to the ethnic conflict.

"The Indian government should rethink signing a defense agreement with the Sinhala political leadership that never kept its agreements and pacts entered into with the Tamil leaderships in past, Ms Sithamparanathan said.

LTTE bans Indian film stars on greeting cards

LTTE has issued stern warnings in Jaffna for both printers and storekeepers that Greeting cards bearing the photos of Indian film stars should not be printed or sold in Tamil areas, the Lanka Academic website reported.

The report said: Indian film stars, especially the South Indian Tamil stars are popular among the Jaffna youth, and Deepavali greeting cards bear the photos of Tamil actors and actresses. Several Tamils in Jaffna are annoyed by this announcement by the LTTE, as one school teacher puts it `ECThis is childish, a silly thing for an organization like LTTE`EE. The Tigers, however, are treating this as a serious matter. Before 1995, when LTTE was controlling Jaffna, Indian Tamil films were also banned by the LTTE. LTTE operatives in Europe and Canada warn Sri Lankan Tamils not to invite Indian musical and film stars for cultural programs in these countries.

Trial begins on Col. Sumedha and the forged deed case by Susitha R. Fernando

A nephew of the Obeysekera family, giving evidence in the forged deed case, relating to their ancestral property, said before the Colombo High Court that after the funeral of his uncle, Fredrick Wimaladharma Obeysekera, the caretaker had claimed that the Rajagiriya property had been given to him.

The nephew of the owner of the property, Christopher Obeysekera, led by Senior State Counsel S. Thurairajah, gave evidence before High Court Judge Rohini Perera on Monday, November 1.

Giving evidence, the witness said that he came to know that the property, promised to him by his uncle, had been taken by Col. Sumedha Perera and caretaker Sarath Wijewardena and that the deed was made by Bandula Wijesinghe. The witness said that Col. Sumedha was not a relative of his uncle nor of the family.

During the evidence Mr. Obeysekara said that there were five members in his father's family and when he was 7-years-old, his father died. The witness said that he was looked after by his uncle, Fredrick Wimaladharma Obeyesekera, a bachelor and lived at Rajagiriya Walawwa. The witness had gone to Cambridge for further education and later became a lawyer. He said, from 1986 his uncle suffered from Parkinson's disease for 12 to 15 years and, later he had cancer.

The third accused in this case Sarath Wijewardena had served in the house. The witness said his uncle had said that the property would be given to him (witness) and Wijewardena also was aware of this.

The witness said that Obeysekara Walawwa was an ancestral property which was handed down from his grandfather to his father's generation to be given to their descendants.

The witness, Mr. Obeysekara said that his uncle died on July 2, 2001, while he was in England and he returned to perform the final rites.

After the funeral on July 13, the accused Sarath Wijewardena had informed him that his uncle's property had been given to him (Sarath Wijewardena) and the deed was written by Bandula Wijesinghe. According to the deed the property had been written to Col. Sumedha Perera and Sarath Wijewardena.

When this case was taken before Colombo High Court, Senior State Counsel S. Thurairajah, appearing for the Attorney General, made an application to include two more witnesses to the indictment.

The two new witnesses were Director, School of Science and Forensic Science, National Law University, Jodhpur, India, Prof. Dr. P. Chandra Sekharan and Attorney-at-Law Subramaniyam Parameshwaran of Manning House Scheme, Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 8.

Appearing for the aggrieved party Counsel Desmond Fernando PC made an application to forward a report from well known international forensic expert for expert evidence. The Counsel made the application to get the opinion of Indian forensic expert Prof. Dr. P. Chandra Sekharan before the commencement of the trial. Court allowed the application.

The three accused, former Secretary of the BASL Bandula Wijesinghe and former military spokesman Colonel Sumedha Perera and former caretaker of the property, H.M. Sarath Wijewardena, are indicted with claiming, through forged documents, the well known philanthropist's land and ancestral home.

First accused, Attorney-at-Law Bandula Wijesinghe was charged with fraudulently certifying a forged document with false signatures and making a forged deed as a deed of gift for the land on No. 137, Rajagiriya Road, presented by Fredrick Wimaladharma Obeysekara on or around June 11, 2001. The other accused were charged with aiding and abetting the said offence. According to the complaint to the police, Colonel Perera together with caretaker Wijewardena had claimed ownership of the property after allegedly producing a Deed of Gift prepared by Attorney Wijesinghe.

LTTE in weak position a year after President destabilized UNF regime by Champika Liyanaarachchi

It would be one full year today since President Chandrika Kumaratunga made the political gamble of the highest order by taking over, through a constitutional coup, the Ministries of Defence, Interior and Media. She also prorogued Parliament.

Since November 3, 2003 she has been making kaleidoscopic changes to the political fabric at regular and sometimes not so regular intervals, making Sri Lanka one of the most unpredictable democracies when it comes to political moves by the administration.

The capricious move by the President culminated in yielding the desired results with her SLFP-led alliance bouncing back to power. This eventually successful move has given her a great degree of confidence to try similar reckless strategies a year later.

The latest in her list of political manoeuvring is the attempt to win over a maximum number of opposition members to justify the controversial move to convene a Constituent Assembly in a bid to abolish the Executive Presidency.

Though she succeeded in mustering the support of sections of minority members (the breakaway section of the SLMC), intervention by lay seniors has so far prevented the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) monk MPs from joining the ruling coalition.

However, for how long these strongmen could wield their authority over the novice clergy MPs, is left to be seen, given the likes of Venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka displaying a willingness to align with the government.

Besides the frantic efforts towards convening a Constituent Assembly even by unprincipled and unjustified means, parallel attempts are being made to extend the duration of the President's term till November 2006. Many options are being pursued to prevent a UNF President taking over the reins.

Even as the debate over the term of the President unfolds, most seem to have forgotten that the President herself had given the answer to this controversial issue when she presented the 2000 draft Constitution bill in August, 2000.

Article 233 (1) (a) of the Bill states:

"the First President under this Constitution …………shall, unless the President earlier vacates office by death, resignation, removal or by reason of the ………..hold office for a period of six years calculated from December 22, 1999."

December 22, 1999 is the day the winner of the Presidential election, Chandrika Kumaratunga was announced. So obviously the President in August 2000, when the Draft Constitution was presented, did not feel that her term should extend till 2006.

But, as her terms now comes to an end, a new argument is put forward by her party seniors and lawyers, based on Article 31 (3A) (d) (1) of the existing Constitution to ensure that she could go on till November 2006 if she so desires.

Article 31 (3A) (d) (1) states "The person declared elected as President at an election held…. holds office for a term of six years commencing on such date in the year in which the election is held (being a date after such election) or in the succeeding year, as corresponds to the date on which first term of office commenced, whichever date is earlier".

The SLFP lawyers and seniors argue that with the election held in December 1999 and the succeeding year being 2000, the corresponding date should be calculated from November 10, 2000 which they claim is the date on which the President actually started her second term. Based on this, they point out that the President's second term will only end in November 2006.

As for the President herself, following her successful move to destabilize the UNF government in November last year on the basis that it compromised national security, she has since been vacillating on her stand on the peace talks, the LTTE and territorial integrity.

Hot on the heels of the 2003 November move, the President called on the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for talks aimed at adopting a bipartisan approach and also instantly changed her hostile stand towards the LTTE.

It was only when she dissolved parliament on February 7 that the UNP realized that they had been taken for a ride.

In the run-up to the April parliamentary elections, she adopted a strong chauvinistic stand only to switch on to a pro-minority, soft-on-the LTTE stance, immediately after the UPFA victory at the elections.

The UNP was torn to pieces by the President and the UPFA strongmen only lip-serviced a 'southern consensus' when the international community demanded such an approach as a condition for their support.

At the inauguration of the National Advisory Council for Peace and Reconciliation (NACPR) once again she changed her course and almost pleaded with the UNP to join hands with the UPFA by taking part in the Advisory Council.

Her latest stand on the North and the East conflict was made public during her address at the opening of the Political Affairs Committee of the NACPR on Monday.

"A resolution to the problems faced by the minority community should be sought while protecting the rights of other communities including that of the majority Sinhala community," the President was quoted as saying.

While the 'other' communities include Muslims - grievances of whom was one of her pet topic during the UNF tenure, on Monday, for reasons best known to herself she appeared to have made a conscious effort not to mention the name of the community.

Perhaps, she would have feared that such a pronouncement would further estrange the Tigers who play hard-to-get. It may have even been interpreted as the government considering a separate Muslim delegation.

However, all signs indicate that the 'resolution' she proposed on Monday required due attention to regionalism within the Tamil community as much as it should be with the other communities.

With Karuna forming a political party with the backing of a massive propaganda network, both local and international, the government too is fast reaching a point where it would be forced to give Karuna, his 'due' place in the peace process.

It is very interesting to recall what Karuna had to say about the President's controversial move to take over the Ministries last year, which came just three months before his regionalism call.

"Like smashing the pot when the milk in it is churning into butter, the Sri Lanka President has sabotaged the peace process at a crucial time - at this juncture where we submitted our proposals to take forward the peace talks towards fruition. No one in the world expected her to behave like this at this juncture," Karuna was quoted as saying immediately after the Presidential take over of the Ministries.

"We have to observe the political turmoil in Colombo quite soberly. As you know, our leader has made no comment on the situation - he remains judiciously silent", said Karuna a year ago.

Ironically, three months later he staged the biggest revolt in LTTE history adding a new dimension to the peace process.

However, what he said about the LTTE leader at that point was a fact.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, though he may have preferred to have former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the arbitrator of the peace process, at no point during his discussion with Vidar Helgesen on November 13 declared that his organization would oppose the idea of the President at the helm.

Instead he was only emphasizing "the LTTE has to be clear with whom it should continue the peace process with".

What Prabhakaran has to say now, a year later - would only be known at the Maveerar Day - November 26, the day he turns 50.

While the renegade leader Karuna is generally known as a product of Ranil Wickremsinghe's peace process, it was the ruling UPFA which has finally benefited from the move and the presence of Karuna's representative at the forum against LTTE killings last Friday along with the likes of Wimal Weerawansa marks the public entry of the party to democratic politics.

Karuna's regionalism call opened the flood gates and provided a forum for all Tamil leaders who oppose the LTTE to come out against the Tigers more strongly than ever before with the pro-Karuna media giving them maximum publicity.

Seniors in parties like the EPDPand the EPRLF, despite the eternal threats to their lives, are getting much publicity in the pro-Karuna media including its websites.

In addition there is a calculated exposure of the LTTE's insidious activities, especially in Europe, almost forcing certain European states to harden their stance on the LTTE.

It was very unlikely that President Kumaratunga even dreamt of such an anti-LTTE move gaining momentum when she made one of the biggest political gambles on November 3, last year.

However, as in most cases she has been indeed quite fortunate and the ground situation has changed remarkably during the last twelve months to suit her own agendas, especially after Karuna's rebellion.

The challenge thrown by the likes of S.J.V. Chelvanayakam's son Chandrahasan along with EPDP leader Douglas Devananda against the LTTE at last week's forum in New Delhi and the outspoken manner in which representatives of Sri Lanka's political parties and non-governmental organizations spoke at a top level workshop organized by the External Affairs Ministry, also in Delhi a few days before, further substantiates this fact.

The anti-LTTE lobby within the Tamil polity has never been so strong since Eelam war 2.

Against this backdrop, despite the empty state coffers, threats by the JVP and allegations of attempts to destabilize the minority parties, Chandrika Kumaratunga appears to be in quite a strong position with the tide turning in her favour, at least as regards the peace process.

President to sign defence pact with India by Sunil Jayasiri

The proposed Indo-Lanka Defence Co-operation Agreement will be signed during the three day visit to India by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, beginning today, India's visiting Army Commander N.C. Vij revealed yesterday.

Addressing reporters after high-level talks with Sri Lanka's Chief of Defence Staff and Navy Commander Daya Sandagiri, General Vij said the proposed agreement provided for enhanced military assistance to Sri Lanka.

He also said the agreement was now cut and dry for wrapping up.

Referring to India's controversial Sethusamudram project, Vice Admiral Sandagiri said the navy had given General Vij a report from the Foreign Ministry, outlining the negatives in the project.

"The project might pose many environmental and security problems to Sri Lanka and we have already presented our report on the matter to the Foreign Ministry, which will take up the issue with the Indian government," Commander Sandagiri said.

Commenting on the proposed defence co-operation agreement, Vice Admiral Sandagiri said he believed the agreement was to Sri Lanka's advantage and he hoped it would strengthen military ties between the two countries.

Last week Defence Ministry Secretary Cyril Herath and the three service commanders held talks with a five-member Indian delegation led by the Defence Ministry's Additional Secretary, Ranjith Issar, to finalise the draft agreement. The agreement covers greater military cooperation in military training, exchange of military intelligence, maritime surveillance, joint military exercises, defence supplies and bilateral meetings at different levels of the security establishment.

It also provides Sri Lanka's security forces easy access to Indian military hardware.
Last week, the LTTE came out strongly against the proposed defence cooperation agreement, warning it might even jeopardise the peace process.

Ready and set but no go: Akashi By Keith Noyahr and Sunimalee Dias

Japan's Peace Envoy Yasushi Akashi said yesterday the government and the LTTE were keen on restarting talks but neither side was willing to take the first step.

Ending a week-long official visit, Mr. Akashi said the government was flexible and President Chandrika Kumaratunga was committed to the strong pursuit of peace, and she wanted him to communicate this message to the LTTE.

"The LTTE's position on its proposals on the ISGA to be the basis of the peace talks remains unaltered but there are signs of willingness to listen to ideas and proposals," Mr Akashi said though he refused to divulge details of the discussion with the LTTE political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan. He was however visibly upset that his discussions with Mr. Thamilselvan were distorted in some sections of the Tamil media.

"Neither side wants to make the first move towards the resumption of peace talks," Mr. Akashi told a news conference before he flew to New Delhi where he is expected to brief the new Indian government.

The Peace Envoy said the JVP, a key ally of the government, continued to mistrust the LTTE and had reservations on federalism as a solution, but he had noted the JVPs willingness, to continue with the peace process.

Answering a question on the LTTE's concerns with regard to the proposed Defence Cooperation Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, he said the pact was between two sovereign nations and therefore he believed the LTTE could not object to it.

Mr. Akashi who met top government leaders including the President, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Peace Secretariat Chief Jayantha Dhanapala said he believed there was nothing to be alarmed about, as the proposed defence pact did not have a bearing on the North and East.

He said Sri Lanka was in pursuit of a defence cooperation with India even during the last UNF administration and this was not something new.

He said his trip to New Delhi this time would take added significance as a new government was in place and India had to be kept informed of what Sri Lanka was trying to achieve as New Delhi was one of the key players in Sri Lankan affairs.

Commenting on the political killings in the North and East and child abductions in the region-issues that were raised by him with the LTTE- Mr. Akashi said, "I got the usual answers from the LTTE."

Commenting on the Cease-fire