Thursday, April 20, 2006

After Loss of Son in War, Sri Lankan Steers Parents to Peace By Nora Boustany

WASHINGTON--After five years of trying to get information about her son, missing after a fierce battle in the heart of rebel territory in Sri Lanka, Visaka Dharmadasa learned that 500 bodies of soldiers had been doused with kerosene and burned in a pile on the killing field where they had fought Tamil separatists.

It was a victory, of sorts.

Dharmadasa's repeated inquiries at the Defense Ministry, the army command and the International Committee of the Red Cross yielded no answers about her second son, 2nd Lt. Achin Tcha. She was not alone: More than 600 families had received no news of the fate of 619 men still missing from that Sept. 27, 1998, battle.

So in April 2003, Dharmadasa took other parents and a film crew to the field. All that remained were helmets, shoulder bags and bones.

``If I had known what we were to see, I would never have taken those parents with me. We just broke down and cried. I was expecting a black patch of land. The soldiers were not cremated, just incinerated,'' recalled Dharmadasa, 49, now founder and chair of the Association of War Affected Women and another group, Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action.

Dharmadasa was in Washington to receive an award from InterAction, an alliance of nongovernmental, U.S.-based international development and humanitarian organizations, in honor of her work on behalf of parents of missing servicemen. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is threatened with a relapse into war despite a 2002 cease-fire between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels who have been fighting for 20 years for a separate homeland.

After that trip to the battlefield three years ago, the parents filed a lawsuit requesting a mass funeral and DNA testing so Buddhist, Muslim and Christian families could collect remains and bury their sons properly. The Defense Ministry carried out the funeral but has not acted on DNA testing.

``When your child or your husband is missing, anxiety increases. When death is certain, you know, you grieve. As time passes and you are still wondering, you cannot move on. Your family is paralyzed, and it can never be the same,'' Dharmadasa said.

Dharmadasa wanted authorities to understand that the mere assertion by the army that her son had not returned was not enough. She urged the military to have a religious ceremony, at least--a flower offering. When families congregated for the Buddhist rite in Colombo, the capital, she distributed the telephone number of the local Red Cross office and asked the family members to bang on the door of the relief organization. Parents learned that the military was not recovering the soldiers' bodies.

She also went beyond the network of military families. Hoping to connect with parents of rebels, she introduced herself at their shrines and other places of worship. '' 'I am the mother of a missing soldier,' '' she would say. '' 'If you don't join me today, the child holding your hand may be lost to you forever.' ''

Parents of the fighters, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, sympathized. ``They were really listening to us,'' recalled Dharmadas, who got them to sign petitions to help end the war.

She took other mothers with her to Jafna, the northernmost Tamil town, to listen to residents there. ``We don't want television and telephones, which you have,'' an old Tamil woman told her. ``We want our dignity. If you can't let us be human beings, then keep us separate.'' Dharmadasa said she came to understand how Tamil residents had grown to resent the majority Sinhalese.

``It is unfortunate that this happened to me. But I want to open the eyes of many others to issues that are not taken seriously,'' she said. ``I have met mothers from Chile, Russia and Kosovo. I am just a mother with no agenda ... but I have also learned how to assume leadership.

``I want to see my country get out of this mess. I want to see women make decisions in the peace process. I want women sitting at the table. I am trying to change things for the betterment of all of us.''


SL playing into LTTE's hands, says Tamil leader by PK Balachandran

By not providing adequate relief to the Tamils hit by the recent ethnic riots in Trincomalee, the Sri Lankan government is driving them into the waiting arms of the LTTE, says Dr K Vigneswaran, General Secretary of Akhila Ilankai Tamil United Front (AITUF).

In a letter to the Sri Lankan government's Peace Secretariat dated April 16, Dr Vigneswaran said that as a result of the bomb blast in the Central Market and subsequent incidents between April 12 and 14, nineteen civilians were dead, of whom 10 were Tamils, 7 were Sinhalas and two were Muslims.

Of the three hundred families (1000 persons) displaced, all were Tamils. All the 60 houses burnt were those of Tamils. And all the 30 business establishments burnt belonged to Tamils, he said.

Complaining of inadequate response by the Sri Lankan government to this tragedy, Dr Vigneswaran says: "The incidents of 12th, 14th, and 15th April 2006, are being described by the Tamils of Trincomalee as a re-enactment of the pre-July 1983 saga."

He was alluding to the infamous anti-Tamil rioting in Colombo and other places in 1983, which had given a tremendous boost to Tamil militancy, a malaise from which Sri Lanka continues to suffer to this day.

"The state is getting provoked by the LTTE and is playing into the hands of the LTTE," he charged.

"Instead of winning over the Tamils, it is driving them into the bosom of the LTTE," he said.

"The Tamils of Trincomalee feel betrayed by the Sri Lankan state," Dr Vigneswaran said.

He knows Trincomalee very well because he had been the top most official in the North Eastern Province in the late 1980s and was closely associated with A Varadrajaperumal who was Chief Minister of the NEP.

He called for immediate steps to feed the refugees now lodged in three schools; and payment of compensation to the victims and to the families of the dead. Above all, the state should provide security to all communities in Trincomalee and make the police in that area multi-ethnic, with equal proportion of Sinhalas, Tamils and Muslims, Dr Vigneswaran said.

The Sri Lankan police are preponderantly Sinhala, the majority community in Sri Lanka, even in the Tamil-speaking North East.

Escalating violence

Recalling the events, Dr Vigneswaran said that it all began with a claymore mine blast in Kumbupity, in which two Sri Lankan policemen were killed.

The same day, at 3.50 pm, a powerful bomb went off near the main market on Central Road in Trincomalee, followed by four other minor blasts.

This touched off rioting in several places, with gangs moving about torching properties and even killing some people.

The government blamed the LTTE for the episode, but the Tamil media and the LTTE blamed the government.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Karuna not a "paramilitary" because he was trained and armed by LTTE - S.L.Gunasekara, leading lawyer

S. L. Gunasekera, a leading lawyer who participated in the Thimpu talks along with H. L. de Silva, has dismissed the Norwegian and the LTTE argument to include Col. Karuna's group as "paramilitaries" as irrelevant. There is mounting pressure internationally too on Erik Solheim to get off the one-track agenda of focusing on Col Karuna as it does not help the peace process. Political observers say that it helps only the LTTE to survive.

S. L. Gunasekera argues: "Before the Geneva Talks the LTTE was vociferous in their demand that the Government should disarm the Karuna Group. They based their demand upon the premise that Clause 1.8 of the Ceasefire Agreement [CFA] required the Government to disarm the Karuna Group. They were even more vociferous in that demand after the first round of the Geneva Talks and added a second premise as a basis for that demand, namely, that the Government had undertaken to disarm the Karuna Group by the Joint Statement issued after that round of talks.

Both said premises are entirely false.

Clause 1.8 of the CFA reads as follows:-

"Tamil paramilitary groups shall be disarmed by the GOSL by D-Day + 30 days at the very latest. The GOSL shall offer to integrate individuals in these units under the command and disciplinary structure of the GOSL armed forces for service away from the Northern and Eastern Provinces"

The "paramilitary groups" referred to in that clause were indisputably those members of parties such as the EPDP and PLOTE who were armed by the Government to enable them to protect themselves against the LTTE.

Presumably, the rationale on which the then Prime Minister Wickremesinghe agreed to this outrageous clause by which he agreed to disarm our friends while the common enemy of them and us, the LTTE remained armed to the teeth, was a childish belief that the LTTE would honour its undertaking to cease assassinations etc. [Clause 1.2(a) and 2.1] which made it unnecessary for such persons to carry arms for their protection!!!

The Karuna Group was not a group that was armed by the Government to protect themselves against the LTTE: on the contrary they were members of the LTTE who were armed and trained by the LTTE to murder members of the Government, members of the Armed Forces and paramilitary groups, Sinhalese and Muslim civilians and Tamil civilians who did not pay obeisance to the LTTE. The Karuna Group was not, therefore a group that was caught up within the ambit of the term "Tamil paramilitary groups" in Clause 1.8.

Besides, Clause 1.8 envisaged the process of disarming to be completed within 30 days of the 2nd February 2002. Those whom Clause 1.8 referred to as "Tamil paramilitary groups" were clearly not those who would fall out with the LTTE in the future, but only those groups who had already fallen out with the LTTE and bore arms for their protection against the LTTE as at the 2nd February 2002. At that time Karuna sat at the "right hand of Prabakaran" and his group was very much a part and parcel of the LTTE.

Accordingly, it is a monstrous lie to even suggest that Clause 1.8 required the Government to disarm the Karuna Group.

Clause 1.8 was complied within full, within the 30 day period provided for compliance. No complaint of non-compliance was then made by the LTTE which, with its customary dishonesty, made use of such compliance to renege on its undertakings and go on the rampage murdering the now unarmed and defenseless members of the EPDP, PLOTE, EPRLF led by Suresh Premachandran, TELO etc. almost at will. Thus, Clause 1.8 is now "history" and of no relevance today.

The words of the joint declaration upon which the LTTE [and their Norwegian accomplices] depend to further their preposterous contention that the Government is obliged to disarm Karuna Group are the words:-

"The GOSL is committed to taking all necessary measures in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement to ensure that no armed group of persons other than the Government Security Forces will carry arms or conduct armed operations".

It would be observed that the expression used in this declaration is "armed group of persons" without qualification and not "Tamil paramilitary groups" and that Karuna or the Karuna Group is not mentioned at all.. The term "armed group of persons" would therefore apply to any and every group of persons who are armed other than the members of the Armed Forces and the Police. Thus, the expression "armed group of persons" applies equally to the LTTE, the Karuna Group and all other unlawfully armed groups such as underworld gangs, drug barons and the rowdy brats of uncivilized Ministers and their bands of thugs who terrorize patrons of night clubs.

The question that now arises for consideration is what is meant by the words "in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement" ? Apart from Clause 1.8 which refers specifically to "Tamil paramilitary groups" and not to armed groups of persons in general, and is, as observed above, now "history" and of no relevance, there is no reference anywhere in the CFA to disarming any person. Clearly those words cannot refer to Clause 1.8. Thus, they can only relate to Clause 1.3 which provides that:-

"The Sri Lankan Armed Forces shall continue to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in hostile operations against the LTTE."

Thus, when the above-quoted words of the joint declaration, and in particular, the words "armed group of persons" are considered in conjunction with the words "in accordance with the Ceasefire Agreement" it must follow that the undertaking given by the Government related only to such armed groups of persons who pose a threat to "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka". Clearly, the Karuna Group now poses no such threat, and the only "armed group of persons" that poses such a threat is the LTTE.

Accordingly, it is patently evident that no undertaking given by the Government to disarm the Karuna Group.

It would be recalled that the LTTE initially said that the Karuna Group was an ‘internal problem of the LTTE,’ which they would deal with themselves and that the Government should not get involved in it. It would also be recalled that one of their chief lackeys, the late Joseph Pararajasingham M.P. said that the `Karuna Problem’ was but a "storm in a teacup!!" Why then is the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices so anxious to get the Government to ‘wage war’ against the Karuna Group in the name of the CFA ?. The reason is twofold.

Firstly, the LTTE, with all its bravado, is mortally scared of the Karuna Group and wants our Armed Forces [the members of which the LTTE has been foully murdering on a regular basis] to protect them from the Karuna Group.

Secondly, the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices see in getting the Government to wage war on the Karuna Group, a golden opportunity of securing a separate state of Tamil Eelam without shedding a drop of Tiger blood. They know that Karuna is no fool, and that particularly after he saw the fate that befell the gullible members of the EPDP, PLOTE, EPRLF led by Suresh Premachandran, TELO etc. who surrendered their arms at the request of the then Government, his group will never ever surrender their arms however much the Government may request them to do so. Thus, if the Government seeks to disarm them, the Government will have to wage war against the Karuna Group and sacrifice the lives of the members of our Armed Forces purely to save the lives of the LTTE.

The object of the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices, therefore is to cause a war between the Karuna Group and our Armed Forces in which large numbers of the Karuna Group and our forces will die and be disabled, while the terrorist cadres of the LTTE remain intact; and to thereafter walk over the bodies of our troops and the Karuna Group to establish a separate State of Tamil Eelam.

It is one thing to call upon or expect the youth of our Armed Forces to sacrifice their lives and limbs for the Country. It is quite another thing to call upon or expect them to sacrifice their lives and limbs to save Prabhakaran and his terrorists from death. Yet that is precisely what the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices are seeking to inveigle the Government into doing. President Mahinda Rajapakse must not fall into this trap that is evidently being laid for him by the LTTE and their Norwegian accomplices – for if he does so, he will be committing an act of supreme treachery to our Country and our People.


Paramilitary cadres gun down mason worker in Mavadivembu

Paramilitary gunmen shot and killed a 23-years old mason at Mavadivembu Monday evening around 6:30 p.m. at his mother's house while he was having a meal. Mavadivembu is located 22 km northwest of Batticaloa town. The victim, Thiyagarasa Thaskumar, 23, a father to a child, had returned to his village Mavadivembu on 6th April, after having worked in the Liberation Tigers controlled area, Eravur Police said.


Suspected LTTE Retaliation Kills Five Passengers In Three- Wheeler

Policemen assisted by troops rushed to the general area east of Puttur in Jaffna on Tuesday (18) night around 9.50 p.m. to recover the remains of five dead men who had reportedly been traveling in a three-wheeler at the time of their murder.

One of the relatives of the victims, Balasubramaniam Kandasan, reached the Puttur Army detachment to report that his brother,Kandasan (26) of Puttur east was found murdered by him close to Puutur centre.

LTTE has launched a massive propaganda campaign to blame the Sri Lankan while the relative of the victims blame the LTTE which they say has launched a retaliatory attacks on dissident Tamils.

Troops with Policemen from Atchchuvely Police Station rushed to the scene and found remains of five dead men lying close to the three- wheeler (WP QA 0767) in which they were allegedly traveling.

All five of them identified as K.Gowribalan (32), Mahadevan Kishor Kumar (20), Balasubramanian Kannadasan (27), Thangarajah Raveendran (27) and Sellappu Kamaladasan (25) were residents from that area.

Police together with the troops were making preparations for post mortem after initial investigations were over.

The motive behind the slaying is yet to be identified.

No arrest has been so far made by the Police.

The Police maintain that the murder would have been carried out by the LTTE as a retaliatory measure.

The SLMM was informed of the murder.

The Atchchuveli Police are conducting investigations.

Meanwhile, another civilian from Colombuthurai area in Jaffna has fallen victim to an unidentified gunman, believed to be a Tamil Tiger, on Tuesday (18) around 4.00 p.m.

The victim has been identified as Balachandran Reginals Roshan (27) of Sebastian Road, Jaffna.

The dead body has been brought to the Jaffna hospital for post -mortem and magisterial inquiries.

The Jaffna police are conducting investigations.

Tamilnet the chief agency for the LTTE immediately released a story blaming the Security Forces for the murder of civilians.

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) denied this story. Army spokesperson said that eye witnesses have told a different story.

The TamilNet blaming the troops that those five civilians were ordered to run through an open terrain near the Army camp before they were shot.

The civilians killed were identified as Kandasamy Gowribalan, 32, a Municipal Council official, Balasubramaniam Kannathasan, 27, Sellappu Kamalathasan, 25, an electrical mechanic, Mahadevan Kishokumar, 20, a farmer and Thangarajah Raveendran, 27, the other auto-rikshaw driver who went searching for the missing persons.

Three dead bodies were found together and the other two were found 200 meters away by the villagers Wednesday morning.

Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) officials visited the massacre site. Tension prevails in Puthur.


Failed LTTE commanders removed from their posts

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has decided to remove the present special commanders of the East of Sri lanka – Colonel Bravo Bahnu of the Batticaloa and Colonel Sornam presently of Trincomalee districts – from their current posts. The Vanni command considers that both have been failures. The Vanni command is concerned about the violence rising against the LTTE and targeting their cadres. Key political figures like Joseph Parajasingham and T.Vigneswaram were gunned down by suspected cadres of the Karuna group.

According to inside information, Colonel Bahnu who was stripped of his uniform and demoted was reinstated and sent to Batticoloa Amparai district as a special Commander with 100 special guards, to replace Colonel Ramesh in the first week of October 2005. Vanni command considers that Col. Bahnu too has failed to check the challenge posed by Col. Karuna’s men in the region.

Further it is believed that Colonel Karuna has openly said that he wants to have Colonel Bahnu either arrested and tried publicly in the East for crimes against humanity, or killed.

According to reports Karuna’s men nearly got Bahnu on 10 October 2005 in an incident in Vavunathievu, nearly 05 kilometers away from Batticoloa. But he managed to escape and survive, according to reports. This attempt confirms that Karuna is serious in targeting Bahnu. The LTTE has decided to move him out of Batticalao to avoid any chance of being arrested alive and the humiliation that may follow of such arrest.

Earlier it was decided to have Bahnu replaced with Colonel Ramesh who was unceremoniously removed in October 2005 by Prabakaran. But LTTE leadership was forced to reconsider appointing Colonel Ramesh back in Batti-Amparai districts as Karuna has publicly proclaimed that his former deputy Ramesh also from Kiran, as the traitor of the East.

Finally it has been decided to bring Bahnu back to Vanni and replace him with Colonel Periya Jeyam although he has been branded as Karuna loyalists.

Colonel Periya Jeyam is one of the senior commanders and was one of the member of the LTTE’s delegation to the first round of talks in Geneva. He is to be assigned as special commander of the Batticalao – Amparai districts.

Although Jeyam has been branded as Karuna loyalists, LTTE leadership is confident that once he is posted to Batti-Amparai as special Commander his loyalty would not waver. He has already specialized in torture. He is also known as a supporter of late Mahathya’s who broke away from Prabhakaran. The LTTE has taken the precaution of keeping Col. Jeyam’s family in Vanni. Holding the family to ransom is the LTTE way of remote controlling Jeyam in case he tries to defect.

Also it has been decided to move Soosaipillai Joseph Antonydas alias Colonel Sornam, the Special Commander of the Trincomalee region based in Sampoor. LTTE leadership is of the opinion that he too has failed in advancing LTTE objectives.

LTTE leadership is of the view that he may be useful if he is brought to Vanni and entrusted with the Jaffna region and Colonel Theepan, the present incumbent of Jaffna region moved to Trincomalee.


Karuna group armed with captured LTTE weapons

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) yesterday interviewed Pradeep, the Political leader of TVMP (Karuna’s group), projecting Col Karuna’s group as the new political entity that is emerging as formidable force in the Sri Lankan crisis.

Pradeep said that they have a military wing, a political wing, a financial wing and an intelligence wing. Aaron Lewis, the reporter who interviewed Pradeep in Batticoloa, said that the Karuna Group is fighting with the LTTE weapons they took with them when they broke away from the LTTE in 2004. Some of the weapons were captured from the LTTE cadres.

The camera focused on TMVP pasted as posters or painted on the walls of Batticoloa. Aaron Lewis also showed footage of TVMP soldiers carrying rocket propelled grenade launches, AK 47 and other weapons. He said that the TVMP claims to have a force of 1500 soldiers.

Pradeep told SBS that they broke away because the Vanni group used them as cannon fodder and did not give them the places due to them. Their cadres were never promoted to higher ranks, he said.

Aaron Lewis said that when Karuna defected the LTTE was ruthless. He showed the massacre of the Karuna cadres in a safe house in Colombo. Those who survived regrouped.

He concluded by reporting that if the Sri Lankan government in "unable or unwilling” to disarm Karuna’s Group then "war is inevitable."

The Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, said that no one has proved that the Government is backing the Karun Group. In any case, it is not easy to disarm the Karun Group. It means waging another war, he said. He added that the LTTE id dragging on unnecessarily the peace process because they are not genuine about peace.

Ms. Helen Olafsdottir, the spokesperson for the European Peace Monitors, said that they don’t have proof of “but we know that they are there”. She said that the situation is so fragile that it does not need a big attack to start a war. Events are escalating into a war situation and a little incident can spark off a big war, she said.


Aussie TV exposes paramilitary presence in SLA controlled areas in East

Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Television’s Dateline program aired for the first time video footage from a training camp of paramilitaries from Karuna Group operating from Government controlled territory in Batticaloa. In the same program, Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence and the brother of SL President Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, denies any knowledge of existence of paramilitaries. Previously, Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse had claimed that Sri Lanka forces could win a war against Tigers with Karuna Group's support.

SBS' Dateline program journalist Aaron Lewis who covered the paramilitary issue in Sri Lanka, showed video footage of SBS correspondent's visit to the paramilitary camp of Karuna Group in Sri Lanka Army controlled area in Batticaloa. The footage showed around 30 paramilitary cadres in a show down exercise as proof of the existence of the paramilitary group.

"Secretary of Defence doesn't even believe that these armed groups exist," says SBS journalist Aaron after interviewing Mr. Gothabaya Rajapakse.

When asked about paramilitaries, Mr. Gothayabaya Rajapakse, says: "If there is a responsible group or organization that says, there are still groups, then at least show us where, what area, how, who told you, give us some clues for us to look into, because we have tried, and we are successful in preventing these groups operating into these areas."

Gothayabaya Rajapakse replied in the negative when asked if he believed that there are armed groups operating in Government territory.

"No, definitely not. Definitely not," he repeated.

When the journalist said he had met the group in person in Batticaloa, Mr. Rajapakse, replied smiling: "LTTE can do the same thing, they can take you to their camp and say they are Karuna Group."

Aaron Lewis reports, whether they are called paramilitaries or not, "these groups are not hard to find," adding that he managed to get into the camp after some negotiation.

In the SBS video footage, a Karuna Group operative, Pradeep, presented himself as the Head of Political Wing of Karuna Group. Pradeep claimed that his group operates political, financial, armed and intelligence units, but most of the cadres belonged to the armed unit. The video footage, then showed around 30 paramilitary cadres, armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and AK-47s.

Pradeep claimed that Karuna Group cadres were behind the attacks against the Tiger positions in Vakarai area.

"It is clearly the biggest threat to the peace at the moment," Aaron Lewis comments.

The paramilitary threat, the top of the agenda issue, is destroying the the already fragile ceasefire, the SBS program commented.

"As soon as I arrived, I could see, despite the Government's denial, the Karuna Group's military wing is clearly real," concludes the SBS journalist.

Sri Lanka paramilitary coverage of the award winning Dateline program aired Wednesday 8.30 p.m.


Three rival militants killed by Tamil rebels in eastern Sri Lanka By DPA

Colombo - Tamil rebels killed three rival militants in a gun battle in eastern Sri Lanka as Norwegian peace facilitators arrive to make a fresh effort to end an impasse between the government and the rebels over proposed peace talks.

Tamil rebels claimed they killed three of their rivals while repulsing an attack by the rival group in the Kiran area, 250 kilometres east of the capital, on Tuesday morning.

Rebels also captured one of their rival group members along with a stock of claymore mines, grenades and automatic rifles, the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said.

Earlier on Monday night a police constable was killed by suspected Tamil rebels who fired a mortar into a guard post located in Vavuniya, 254 kilometres north of the capital.

The escalation in violence occurred as Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was due to arrive in Sri Lanka on Tuesday in an unscheduled visit to keep the peace process on track and ensure that talks between the rebels and the government go ahead.

The rebels are refusing to come for talks until their cadres can safely travel from the east to the north.

To end the impasse the government will now allow the rebels to use a private commercial air craft after the rebels refused to make the trip by sea charging navy interference.

The Norwegian envoy is due to meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and travel to the north to meet with the rebel political wing leader S.P.Thamilselvan to discuss the new offer of the government.

Peace talks were due to be held in Geneva from April 19 to 21 and later re-scheduled for April 24 and 25. But it was not clear whether the talks could take place next week as the meeting between the eastern military wing members and the leadership in the north has yet to be arranged.

Rebels over the last week stepped up their attacks against security forces, killing more than 55 people, most of them soldiers and sailors.

The peace talks are aimed at finding a political settlement to the 22-year-old Tamil-minority ethnic conflict which has claimed more than 70,000 lives.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Three paramilitary cadres killed, one captured - LTTE

Three paramilitary cadres who were on a penetration mission into the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam controlled area in Pendukalsenai, west of Kiran in Batticaloa district, were killed when Tigers launched a counter-attack on the attak group, LTTE's Kudumbimalai area coordinator Oliyan told media Tuesday. One paramilitary cadre was captured by the LTTE.

The dead bodies of the paramilitary caders were to be handed over to their relatives, Oliyan further said.

The Tigers also captured Claymore mines, grenades and automatic rifles from the group.

The killed persons were from Korakallimadu, Pendukalsenai and Kiran.

The attack group was also involved in the penetration mission last Thursday in Vakaneri, according to Oliyan.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Col. Karuna tops the list of LTTE and Norway

Col. Karuna is now on the top of the list of agenda of the LTTE and Norway. Both are putting pressure on the Sri Lankan government to disarm Karuna, former No: 2 LTTE leader and presently the leader of the TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP). Initially, when Karuna broke away from the LTTE in March 2004, the LTTE dismissed it as an "internal affair". Their attempts to control Col. Karuna has failed since then. Their next move has been to get the Sri Lankan government to disarm Col. Karuna's group entrenched in the east.

Yesterday when S.P Tamilselvan, Head of the LTTE Political Wing, met the new Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer at the Peace Secretariat in Killinochchi, Karuna figured prominently in their discussions.

Tamilselvan launched a personal attack on the leader of the TMVP when he met the reporters at Kilinochchi later.

He said : "Karuna is despised by the Tamil people"

He added : "The military is making use of Karuna as an agent to carry out abductions, killings, torture, extortion and various acts of violence against the civilian population with a view to create dissent."

However, Hagrup Haukland, the head of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, told a Sri Lankan newspaper before he left that there is no evidence to link the Sri Lankan army to the "paramilitaries".

Tamilselvan met both Hanssen Bauer visited Kilinochchi accompanied by Ambassador Hans Bratskar. Tamilselvan briefed the Norwegian team on the current political situation in the backdrop of Geneva talks and expressed concern and disappointment over non-fulfilment of government pledges relating to the activities of the para-military groups in the government-controlled parts of the east.

Tamilselvan said, "Our expectations were very high when the government delegation pledged in Geneva to end para-military activities and we are totally disappointed now over the accelerated pace of para-military violence in open violation of both the CFA and the Geneva agreement."

"Expression of good will through demonstration of the intent to bring about normalcy in the life of the Tamil people living under military occupation and para-military threat is a matter that the government need to seriously address to build confidence and make progress in the process" emphasized Tamilselvan requesting the facilitators to convey this concern to the Government.

" There is limited time for the government to prove they are genuine before the next round of talks and their good will," he said.

"The decisions and implementation in the next few days would decide the next round of talks," he added. The rebels have said they will likely attend talks on April 19-21 in Geneva, but have warned there will be no progress without active disarmament.

In the meantime, Hanssen-Bauer, a peace adviser at Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs who has taken over day-to-day oversight of the peace process from Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim, said the onus was on the Tigers and the government to make the talks work.

"It's up to the parties to make use of the possibilities in Geneva . We cannot define the content nor how it would happen," Hanssen-Bauer said before leaving the northern rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi. "I think both parties realise that peace is on the way."

The delegation assured that these matters would be conveyed to the president in their meeting with him tomorrow.

In the meantime, Hanssen-Bauer met Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition Nimal Siripala de Silva, who was the Sri lanka Government’s chief spokesperson on the Geneva talks, on 04. Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva reiterated that the Sri Lankan Government has taken all possible steps to fulfill the decisions arrived at the first round of talks held last month between the Government and the LTTE in Geneva.

Minister expressed Government's commitments towards the peace process when he met the new Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen Bauer on Monday at his Ministry.

The new Norwegian envoy told the Minister that he looks forward for the active support and cooperation of both the parties involved to make this talks success and expressed the hope that he would be able to accomplish the responsibilities bestowed on him to highest satisfaction of the parties involved.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the Sri Lankan Government has taken all possible measures to fulfill the decisions arrived at the first round of talks held last month in Geneva. The Minister apprised the new envoy of the steps taken by the Government to continue the peace process in an atmosphere conducive and beneficial to all communities in the country.

The Minister also explained him the details of the discussion held with the Swiss Ambassador , the host to the two delegations in Geneva. They met last week to finalize the arrangements for the second round of talks scheduled to be held in Geneva in the third week of April.

The Minister said that there was no change in the stance of the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in resolving the ethnic problem through a negotiated settlement. He also said that the victory in the recently concluded elections to local Government authorities has brought more strength and courage to the Government to carry forward its policies and programmes for peace under Mahinda Chinthanaya in more pragmatic way.

Ambassador of Norway Sri Lanka Hans Brattska was also associated at this discussion.


Two paramilitary cadres wounded in Panichchankerni

Two Karuna Group paramilitary cadres were wounded in Panichchankerni, 60 km north of Batticaloa, Wednesday around 5:30 p.m., when Liberation Tigers launched a counter-attack on the paramilitary cadres penetrating into the Liberation Tigers controlled area, eyewitnesses said. A key paramilitary operative, Chooty, wounded in his stomach was transported to the Kirimichchai SLA camp in a motorbike which the withdrawing paramilitary cadres hijacked from a civilian traveller.

Later, the civilian owner of the motorbike managed to recover his vehicle near the Kirimichchai Sri Lanka Army camp, eyewitnesses further said.

The withdrawing paramilitary cadres, wearing military fatigues, were seen 75 meters close to the Kirimichchai SLA camp by the eyewitnesses.

The retreating group was armed with mortars and automatic-rifles, the sources said.

Panichchankerni is a village in the LTTE controlled region in Batticaloa north.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Jaffna residents remember Nallur massacre. by K.S. Rajkumar

Tamil residents in Jaffna mourned the death of 63 Tamil youths who were detained and brutally killed by one of their the then area commander of the LTTE. March 30 th, 1987 was the day when Selvakumar Chellasamy, known as Aruna, a senior LTTE leader in Jaffna brutally killed 63 Tamil youths held as prisoners at an LTTE detention center in Jaffna. Most of the youths killed were EPRLF and TELO members who surrendered to the LTTE following the LTTE's crackdown on these groups. Among the victims were two Jaffna businessmen who were detained by the LTTE for ransom. Many Tamils in Sri Lanka and abroad who lost their loved ones at this tragedy refer the incident as the 'Kanthan Karunai massacre', named after house where the murdered prisoners were held.

Earlier on that fateful day in 1987, an attempt was made on the life of Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu, then Jaffna district leader of LTTE. A hand grenade was tossed at Kittu when he was leaving his girl friend's house located near the Jaffna central college after a “visit”. Mr. Krihsnakumar survived the attack, but lost one of his legs in the incident. Hearing about the incident, Aruna rushed to the LTTE's detention house, grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle and fired into the room full of prisoners, instantly killing all but two of those in the room. It was later alleged that another LTTE area commander Mahendirarajah (alias Mahathaya) was responsible for that attempt on Kittu's life.

The Kanthan Karunai massacre is often compared to the killings at the Welikada prison during the 1983 riots where 53 Tamil political prisoners were killed by Sinhala mobs with the connivance of the prison authorities . Unlike the Welikada massacre that occurred over a two days during an island-wide Sinhala on Tamil communal riots, the Kanthan Karunai massacre of prisoners was carried out by a senior LTTE leader a Tamil and the net results was the massacre of 63 Tamils within a span of 15 minutes.

In Jaffna a small number of relatives of the victims gathered at a Sivan temple in Nallur and participated in a special religious function. It is learnt that relatives of the victims attended special religious functions held in European cities. In Essen, Germany, a memorial service was arranged to remember the victims. It is reported that this year is the first time since the 'Kanthan Karunai massacres' that Sri Lankan Tamils remembered the victims in public.


Tigers pressure Norway to disarm Tamil rivals in Sri Lanka by Amal Jayasinghe

Tamil Tiger rebels Wednesday asked Norway's new peace envoy to make sure Sri Lanka's government disarms para-military groups ahead of a new round of truce negotiations in Switzerland.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they told Jon Hanssen-Bauer to ensure Colombo delivers on a pledge made in a previous round of talks in Switzerland in February to disarm groups that include a rival Tamil faction.

The LTTE said their political wing leader, S.P. Thamilselvan, expressed "concern and disappointment over non-fulfillment" of pledges relating to the activities rival Tamil militant groups.

"Our expectations were very high when the government delegation pledged... to end para-military activities and we are totally disappointed," the LTTE quoted Thamilselvan as saying.

The rebels had sought security guarantees to travel to Switzerland for talks tentatively scheduled for April 19-21 and issued veiled threats that they may not participate unless the rivals were contained by the government.

The government has denied Tiger allegations that it supports a breakaway rebel faction and other groups to carry out attacks against the main guerrilla outfit.

Hanssen-Bauer, Oslo's newly appointed emissary, travelled to the rebel-held northern town of Kilinochchi on Wednesday for discussions with the LTTE ahead of meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday.

The envoy's visit came as the government's main Marxist ally, the JVP, or People's Liberation Front, called for expelling Norway as a peace broker.

JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa accused Oslo of bias in favour of the Tamil Tigers and charged that it could become the first nation to recognise a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka.

"Norway will be the first country to accept them (Tigers)," Weerawansa said in remarks published in the Daily Mirror newspaper here.

Norway rejects any allegation of favouritism toward the rebels.

The JVP call came after the government said Tuesday its peace moves had been boosted by local elections in which the JVP was routed.

Colombo's chief peace negotiator, Nimal Siripala de Silva, said he told Hanssen-Bauer on Monday that last week's win had strengthened Rajapakse's hand in seeking peace.

Political analysts and local media have said the president might call snap parliamentary polls if the JVP tries to block efforts to end the festering ethnic conflict.

De Silva said he told Hanssen-Bauer there was no change in the government's goal of resolving the conflict through a negotiated settlement.

More than 60,000 people have been killed since 1972.

Hanssen-Bauer arrived Monday on his first official visit to the island.

He will be joined Thursday by Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim, who is flying in for discussions with Rajapakse on the truce talks, officials said.

The government and the LTTE held talks in Switzerland in February and agreed to meet again this month on salvaging their troubled ceasefire.


Tamil rebels accuse Sri Lanka of failing to honor pledges given at Geneva talks by Vincent Jeyan

KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The Tamil Tiger rebels said Wednesday that the Sri Lankan government has failed to honor a pledge made at peace talks in Geneva earlier this year to disarm paramilitary groups.

``Our expectations were very high when the government delegation pledged in Geneva to end paramilitary activities and we are totally disappointed now over the accelerated pace of paramilitary violence,'' Tamil Tiger political chief S.P. Thamilselvan said after meeting with new Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer, according to the rebel's Web site.

The Tigers split in 2004, and the mainstream group accuses the army of backing the breakaway faction. The government was not immediately available for comment, but Colombo has in the past denied such charges.

Hanssen-Bauer met with Tiger leaders in the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi ahead of the next round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland later this month which will be crucial in view of the rising tension.

He was to return to the Sri Lankan capital later Wednesday and meet with Norway's top peace envoy, Erik Solheim on Thursday. The two will also meet with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Solheim, who has been appointed Norway's minister of international development, has handed the day-to-day management of monitoring the 2002 Norway-brokered truce to Hanssen-Bauer.

Tension has been mounting in Sri Lanka since Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran warned in November that he would renew the violent struggle for an independent Tamil homeland if grievances with the government are not addressed.

Spiraling violence has put the cease-fire under tremendous pressure, with more than 166 people, including 87 government security personnel left dead since December.

Norway organized a meeting in Geneva in February at which the rebels and government pledged to scale down the violence, mostly in the north and east where the majority of Sri Lanka's 3.2 million Tamils live. They also agreed to meet again on April 19-21.

The interim period, however, has seen both sides accusing the other of violating the truce. The government accuses the separatist rebels of continuing to recruit underage combatants and attacking government troops.

In the most serious incident, suspected Tamil Tigers on March 26 blew up their fishing boat near a navy patrol off Sri Lanka's west coast, leaving six rebels and eight sailors missing, presumed dead, according to the military. The rebels denied involvement.

The Geneva meeting was the first high-level contact between the two sides since peace talks broke down in 2003 after six rounds of negotiation.

The Tigers began fighting in 1983 for a separate state for minority Tamils, claiming discrimination by the country's Sinhalese majority. The conflict has cost an estimated 65,000 lives.


S.Lanka talks hinge on disarming renegades-rebels By Joe Ariyaratnam

KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka, April 5 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers received Norway's new special peace envoy at their northern base on Wednesday, urging him to press the government to honour a pledge to disarm renegades they say are attacking them.

The Tigers accuse the military of helping a breakaway rebel commander called Col. Karuna of mounting attacks on their fighters, and have warned a new peace bid to shore up a 2002 truce and avoid a slide back to civil war hinges on disarming them.

The government agreed at talks in Geneva in February to rein in armed groups the Tigers are complaining about, but now says it can't find anyone to disarm. Nordic truce monitors have urged the state to take a better look.

"There is limited time for the government to prove they are genuine before the next round of talks and their good will," S.P. Thamilselvan, head of the Tigers' political wing, told reporters after his first meeting with new Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer.

"The decisions and implementation in the next few days would decide the next round of talks," he added. The rebels have said they will likely attend talks on April 19-21 in Geneva, but have warned there will be no progress without active disarmament.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are locked in a bitter feud with Karuna, who was widely seen as reclusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's No.2 until a split in 2004.

Analysts fear the feud could lead to another spate of deadly attacks by suspected Tigers against the military as it did in December and January and possibly spill over into a return to a civil war that killed more than 64,000 people before the 2002 ceasefire.

Hanssen-Bauer, a peace adviser at Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs who has taken over day-to-day oversight of the peace process from Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim, said the onus was on the Tigers and the government to make the talks work.

"It's up to the parties to make use of the possibilities in Geneva. We cannot define the content nor how it would happen," Hanssen-Bauer said before leaving the northern rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi. "I think both parties realise that peace is on the way."

The Karuna issue is expected to dominate the April talks in Switzerland. Karuna says his men will only disarm if the Tigers do too, and vows to fight back if attacked.

Karuna's band threatened this week to shoot dead Tiger supporters in the northern Jaffna peninsula unless they vacate homes and businesses appropriated from tens of thousands of Muslims the rebels forced to flee in the 1990s.

The Tigers, who want to carve out a separate homeland for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka's north and east -- where they already run a de facto state -- dismissed the threat.

"Karuna is despised by the Tamil people," Thamilselvan said. "The military is making use of Karuna as an agent to carry out abductions, killings, torture, extortion and various acts of violence against the civilian population with a view to create dissent."

Karuna's group denies having any links with the military, and says it plans to join the political mainstream and ultimately wants to displace the Tigers.

LTTE using truce to legitimise gains: JVP by PK Balachandran

The Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) says that the LTTE is in the peace process not to solve the ethnic question, but to get international legitimacy for its control over parts of Sri Lanka in the North and East.

In an interview to Daily Mirror on Wednesday, the JVP's chief spokesman Wimal Weerawansa said the LTTE would not break the ceasefire because it was gaining a lot from the ceasefire.

Over a period of time, it would claim that it was governing certain areas for a long time and seek legitimacy from the international community for it, Weerawansa said.

"The LTTE benefited immensely from the CFA (Cease Fire Agreement). They will not move out of it. Their gains from the CFA surpasses anything that they have got in the history of this country."

"Even if they leave it, it will be after securing an agreement that would give them even more benefits."

"They will make sure that they complete at least five years under the CFA, thereby showing the world that they have had their own governance for so long and pressure the international community to give legitimacy," Weerawansa said.

The LTTE was talking to President Mahinda Rajapaksa only to buy time, he said.

Threats by the LTTE to walk out of the peace process and resume war were not to be taken seriously. They were only a ploy to get the government to submit to their demands, he said.

Norway must be ousted

Weerawansa said that despite the colourless performance of the JVP in the March 30 local bodies elections, the party would press for the ouster of Norway from the position of peace facilitator.

The JVP leader said that the Norwegians were actually "LTTE's facilitators" who had given legitimacy to the LTTE through the peace talks process.

During the last Geneva talks, the LTTE delegation was treated as a state delegation, and after the talks, they were taken to weapons manufacturing factories in Norway, Weerawansa charged.

"The brochures of the military equipment that were with the LTTE when they returned were those of a Norwegian kind," he said.

Weerawansa recalled that the Norwegian chief facilitator Erik Solheim had told the Indian media that the Tamil people were harassed by the Sri Lankan army into fleeing to India, and asked: "Where did this happen?"

The Norwegians had no right to speak like this about one party to the peace process, he said.

"So we stand by our position that they cannot be kept as facilitators," he said.

The JVP leader further said that his party would continue to press the Rajapaksa government to amend the CFA and review the Norwegian role, as stipulated in the agreement President Rajapaksa and the JVP had had prior to the November 2005 Presidential election.

Weerawansa warned that if Rajapaksa deviated from the "Mahinda Chinthanaya", the common manifesto put forward during the Presidential election, the JVP would withdraw support to his government.

Rajapaksa can't do without JVP

Rajapaksa cannot take the JVP's threat lightly because his United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is still short of members in parliament.

The UPFA is dependent on the 39 MPs of the JVP to remain in power.

Norwegians in Colombo

It is significant that Weerawansa should give such a hard hitting interview at a time when Erik Solheim and the new de facto facilitator, Jon Hanssen Bauer, are in Sri Lanka to discuss the peace process with President Rajapaksa and the LTTE leaders.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sri Lankan Muslim women get green light to join armed forces by Bharatha Mallawarachi

Islamic clerics on Monday gave Muslim women permission to join Sri Lanka - 's first exclusively Muslim infantry battalion to help provide security in the country's insurgency-wracked east, a religious leader said. Few Muslims serve in Sri Lanka - 's armed forces, and Muslim women traditionally stayed out of the military.

Approval for Muslim women to join the military came after Sri Lanka - 's military last month began recruiting for the exclusively Muslim unit.

The unit will protect Muslims living in the troubled Ampara province where Tamil Tiger rebels, who are mostly Hindus, want to extend their domination.

Military spokesman Brig. Sudhir Samarasinghe said Muslim women will be recruited to join the forces in interviews this week.

Muslims are Sri Lanka - 's second-largest minority after ethnic Tamils and generally oppose the Tamil Tigers, who have accused Muslims of supporting the government. The rebels also oppose Muslims cultivating land in areas they consider Tamil territory.

During two decades of civil war, the rebels carried out systematic killings of Muslims, including a massacre in August 1990 of 130 Muslims at two mosques on the same day.

Tens of thousands of Muslims fled the northern Sri Lanka - 's Jaffna Peninsula after the rebels started their separatist campaign there in 1983.

More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before a Norway brokered cease-fire signed in 2002.

The truce has come under severe strain due to spiraling violence, with more than 166 people, including 87 government security personnel, killed since December.

Both sides agreed in Geneva, Switzerland last month to scale down violence and will meet again for talks on April 19-21.

Women from Sri Lanka - 's majority ethnic group the Buddhist Sinhalese are also allowed to join the country's military, while the rebels are known to have a large number of female fighters.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Doubts persist on links between Indian Naxalites and LTTE By M Rama Rao

As the Naxalites have carved out a red corridor from India- Nepal border to Tamil Nadu, periodically questions are raised as to whether the Indian Naxalites have links with the Nepali Maoists and the Sri Lanka’s Lineration Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE.) Also, questions about from where the Naxalites were getting their sophisticated weapons too are raised frequently.

I had put the question to Indian Federal Interior Secretary V K Duggal. He said there are no links between Naxalites and the LTTE. The weapons are those mostly snatched from the police. This view is not shared by some experts. One of them, Brigadier Bansi Kumar Ponwar, opines that military hardwares for Naxalites are being provided by LTTE.

"They have these outside alliances. We have got video clippings of the LTTE giving them training in IED methodology. And this is being used extensively all across the border. In fact they have put IED's where ever there are approach roads to their camps," the Brigadier was quoted as saying by TV Channel, CNN-IBN.

Brigadier Bansi Kumar Ponwar is heading a Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare School in Chatisgarh state where over 100 civilians were killed in the past three months – the highest death toll in Naxalite violence even as the red terror graph has dropped at the national level.
,br> Unlike in other states, here in Chatisgarh, a voluntary people movement has taken shape to challenge the Naxal's vandalism and hackneyed revolutionary concepts. The participants in the campaign are illiterate tribals who feel their habitat and lives threatened by the arrival of Naxalites, who are mostly unemployed youth from the plains.

The tribal youth who have come together under the banner - Salwa Dalum (peaceful campaign) – are unarmed. This fact alone explains the heavy death toll in the naxal belt, officials said.
,br> A high level Coordination Committee headed by the Interior Secretary V K Duggal has decided to first let the youth campaign to consolidate in areas where security forces are in strength and then only move forward. Simultaneously, it was decided to get training for the local police in mine sweeping and related operations .

The Ponwar School is police commandos because they have to fight "a guerilla like a guerilla in his den. Not sitting in one police station and waiting for him to attack. You will be destroyed if you do that".

State Director General of Police OP Rathore has sought appointment of five thousand tribal youth as special police officers after training to act as some sort of auxiliary force.

The Interior Secretary Duggal said this request has been granted.


Karuna booms out for Muslims

But Hakeem says it’s a political ploy by breakaway leader

A breakaway faction of the LTTE yesterday vowed to shoot dead supporters of the mainstream rebel group unless they return thousands of homes and businesses appropriated from Muslims in the 1990s.

The group led by breakaway former commander Colonel Karuna, who is locked in a deadly feud with the Tigers that threatens to rekindle a two-decade civil war, told Reuters it would also hunt down three top rebels and hand them to Nordic truce monitors.

The LTTE gave tens of thousands of Muslims just two hours to abandon their homes and property in the northern Jaffna peninsula in 1990 in what was seen as ethnic cleansing. Only a few hundred have dared to return since.

“Our military wing will kill anyone illegally occupying the homes and businesses of Muslims who the Tigers forced to flee Jaffna if they don't vacate within a month”, a top Karuna aide said on condition of anonymity after a politburo meeting of his Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) movement.

“We will hunt the Tigers responsible for the Muslim exodus. We want them to face charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague,” he added.

The Tigers had no immediate comment on Karuna's threat.

Karuna ran the LTTE’s military operations in the east until he split in 2004 and is now at the centre of a deadlock in efforts to turn a truce into lasting peace.

The Tigers accuse the military of helping Karuna's renegades to attack their fighters and say they may refuse to continue emergency talks with the government to shore up the ceasefire unless the military disarms their former comrades.

Karuna says his men will only disarm if the Tigers do so and vows to retaliate if attacked, and his new threat comes a fortnight before the April 19-21 talks are due to begin in Geneva.He is also preparing the ground to join the political mainstream, and plans to open a political office in the eastern district of Batticaloa on April 10 as a first step.

Rauf Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, saw the Karuna group ultimatum as a political ploy to win the backing of Muslims living in their eastern stronghold, and appealed to him to drop it.

“Muslims were driven away from Jaffna. The LTTE gave them two hours to leave”, Mr. Hakeem said. “It amounts to genocide, ethnic cleansing where they have appropriated all of their property.”

“But Muslims wouldn't want anyone to issue ultimatums of this nature”, he added. “I think this is political posturing from Karuna. He wants to win the hearts and minds of Muslims in the east”.

Many of the evicted Muslims, who were among Jaffna's most prosperous businessmen and owned large houses, have been living destitute for years in camps for internally displaced.

Dozens of Muslims were killed by the Tigers in the east during the 1990s, and they long to see the back of rebels who want to carve out a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east.


"No Muslim Unit required in Sri Lanka Army”

Saying that "no Nation’s Army in the world, defending its territorial integrity, has a particular regiment for a specific community or race," All Ceylon Moors Association, in a letter addressed to Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse said members of our "community are disinclined for the Sri Lanka Army to recruit Muslims youths to protect the Muslim community."

Full text of the letter follows:

We write to you in your capacity as the Executive President and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of our Motherland.

After having obtained views of the cross section of our community, the All Ceylon Moors’ Association held an emergency meeting presided by Mr. M Mohinudeen Rajabdeen and wish to express our views by this statement.

Our Association which was founded in 1921, by late Sir Razik Fareed, has a cross representation of members from numerous walks of life, in all of the provinces.

University undergraduates, professionals, in the state and private sector, businessmen, as well as the laity of our community are disinclined for the Sri Lanka Army to recruit Muslims youths to protect the Muslim community, living only in the East, since our own identity of Ceylon Moors who are Muslims are well in excess of a Million inhabitants, living interspersed in all of the provinces and regions of Mother Lanka.

We as an intelligent and literate community are aware that no Nation’s Army in the world, defending its territorial integrity, has a particular regiment for a specific community or race. Since time memorial that we have lived in harmony within a multi racial, multi ethnic, and multi religious country, any recruitment in relation to the Defence of our country, should determine to enlist recruits of all communities, based on a National line and not on Ethnic divisions.

In pursuit of peace, our community has many political parties and leaders, presenting a Political Forum. Their thoughts and actions must correspond to consensus co-ordination by a strong, viable and meaningful civil society.

In conclusion, we, appreciate the services that have been rendered by the Armed Forces and the Police personnel which constituted Muslims, then and now, in defending our Nation, and our community, namely, Sri Lankans.

Thanking Your Excellency in anticipation, and remain,

MF Mohideen
Hony. Secretary General
Headquarters : 473 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 8
Mailing Address 571-1/1 Havelock Road Colombo 6
Email Office 5626626


LTTE are the "paramilitaries" because they survive on the aid of the Sri Lankan government - Pilliyan, special Commander, TMVP

Pilliyan, a special Commander of the Tamil EelaMakkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) and a senior leader of the TMVP, told the Asian Tribune that the LTTE and TMVP are parallel organizations and if one is a "paramilitary" then so is the other.

Amplifying this claim he said: "We were a part and parcel of the LTTE until March 03, 2004. When we broke away we became parallel organizations of the Tamils serving the Tamil people. Only our name, methods and the leadership have changed. In every other respect, we are the LTTE under a different leadership and name. The international community also regarded us as a part of the LTTE when our leader, Col. Karuna participated in the negotiations. Our legitimacy does not depend on being a part of the LTTE.

Our legitimacy depends on the acceptance of TMVP by the Tamils of the east. The international community should have realized by now that it cannot work out a reasonable or viable peace solution without the Muslims and the TMVP.

"The Norwegian facilitators are working under the false assumption that it can work out a formula by working only with the LTTE. As long as they go down this track they are doomed to fail," he said. "If our leader was earlier acceptable to the international community, then he should be acceptable to them even now. Nothing has changed since then and now except that we have broken away from the one-man regime that does not respect democracy, rule of law or the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils to be free from the tyranny of the Vanni. The vast majority of the Tamils reject the idea of equating the LTTE with the Tamils. Though they claim to be "the sole representative of the Tamils" common sense would dictate that no single party can claim to be the sole representative of a community in a democracy.

"The time has come for the Norwegian facilitators and the international community to face the new realities and reject the political definitions of the LTTE which claim that they are "the sole representatives of the Tamils" and that we are the "paramilitaries". The LTTE defines anyone opposed to them as "paramilitaries".

We are branded as "paramilitaries" without receiving aid from the Sri Lankan government. But it is they who should be classified as "paramilitaries" because they not only received arms from the Sri Lankan government at one time (to fight the Indians) but continue to be supported by the Sri Lankan government. The LTTE survives today on the hand-outs of financial, administrative and all other facilities provided to the LTTE by the Sri Lankan government to run their one-man regime. They can't even travel from one point of Vanni to another point of their regime without support from the Sri Lanka Air force or military escorting them. We don't get any of those facilities from the Sri Lankan government. So who are the "paramilitaries"? Who is it who gets aid from the Sri Lankan government to undermine the Ceasefire Agreement signed with the advice and consent of Norway and the international community?" asked Pilliyan.

"We hope that the new Norwegian facilitator, Jon Hanssen-Bauer will reject the old definitions and work on the new realities. If the facilitators cannot recognize who the real "paramilitaries" are then they will fail to advance the peace process," said Pilliyan. "Nobody needs to have any problem over us. When we were together we worked towards durable solution to the problems the Tamils are confronted with. Even now our main goal is to liberate the Tamils and work for an autonomous rule for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. We want a solution with honor and dignity and we are not after any petty concession, he said.

"We haven’t change, but it is the Vanni Tigers who have changed and wanted to safeguard one individual. We do not believe in individualism. We believe in people and in democracy and in pluralism.

" Our problem with the LTTE is ‘an internal problem’ as once told by the Vanni leaders. We are at present in the process of settling the internal differences with the Vanni leaders in the language they understand. Therefore international community need not bother about this.

"On April 10, 2004, when Vanni Tigers entered Verugal in the East with the help of the Sri Lankan Army and Navy, we did not confront them because; we do not want to enter into a fratricidal war with them. This has been clearly explained numerous times by our leader Colonel Karuna Amman.

"After making a tactical withdrawal from the Batticaloa – Amparai districts we were bent on organizing a political party and prepared to enter into the democratic political mainstream.

"Unfortunately Vanni leadership mistook our withdrawal from the East as a sign of weakness. They have failed comprehend one factor that when we withdrew we sent back about 4,000 of our cadres to their homes. Those cadres whom we sent back will at any time would come back and join us, if we wanted them. This was an important factor that they have failed to come to terms with.

"When Vanni Tigers started hounding our cadres, does the international community, or Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, or Anton Balasingham or the Sri Lanka Government wanted us to place our heads in the guillotine chambers for the Vanni Tigers slice it.

"Sorry we are not Jesus Christ to show the other side of the face when our enemies slap us at one side of the face. Unfortunately we are only sheer mortals. Not Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi to uphold pacifism.

" I joined the LTTE when I was young as 14 years old. We have been brought up on the doctrine of 'an eye for an eye.' When Vanni Tigers started hounding and killing our unarmed cadres, we were forced to change our strategy. Today we are forced to defend ourselves against the killing machine of the Vanni Tigers. Today we have made them understand the pain of loosing people through killing. Today we have made them understand the horror of being hounded. Today we have made the Vanni group to understand that they are fallible and they can be defeated and chased out of the East. We will stand up for our rights and no agreements signed in Geneva or Vanni can stop us.

" It is very clear that if not for us Vanni Tigers would not have gone to Geneva for talks with the Sri Lanka Government. Kindly understand today it is Colonel Karuna Amman and Tamil EelaMakkal Viduthalai Pulikal that has emerged an equal player in the political agenda of this country and the Vanni Tigers are no longer "the sole representatives of the Tamil people. We know how to deal with their empty threats.

" Now Anton Balasingham is demanding protection for their cadres to leave from Colombo to Geneva and back. This request clearly indicates that they have lost confidence in themselves. This shows that the cadres they have now with them are potbellied ageing commanders and the mercenaries. There is no one willing to fight spiritedly to safeguard the honor and integrity of the Tamils. They are all gone with Colonel Karuna. Despite their propaganda to tarnish the image of Colonel Karuna and TVMP, we are growing and we will be a factor to consider soon once we chase the Vanni Tigers from the Batticalao – Amparai districts soon and from the East subsequently ," said Pilliyan.


Sri Lanka and cease-fire monitors lock-horns over armed groups by Shimali Senanayake

The government and European cease-fire monitors have fired out letters at each other over the existence of armed groups operating in state-controlled areas with both parties trading charges at each other just weeks ahead of the next round of peace talks.
In a two-page letter addressed to the Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission's outgoing chief Hagrup Haukland said the monitors encountered 10-15 armed men in civilian clothes operating in Valachchenai, who told SLMM that they belong to the Karuna faction.

Haukland also referred to several "sighting of armed civilians claiming to represent Karuna is often reported to SLMM."

Asserting that the monitors have strong suspicions about armed groups also veering toward Vavuniya, the letter added the SLMM was aware of 11 civilians being killed in government-controlled areas in the east and six in Vavuniya since Feb. 23rd , the day on which talks in Geneva concluded.

Haukland's letter was sent in response to the Defense Secretary's strongly worded note about the contents of a SLMM statement issued last week, after suspected Tigers sank a navy fast attack craft in Kalpitiya, killing eight sailors. The navy said the LTTE suicide boat was carrying "war-like weapons and ammunition."

In a single-page letter, Rajapakse accused the SLMM of "misleading," and making "defamatory," inferences in their statement. He was specifically referring to paragraph 5 of the SLMM statement which said;

"The Sri Lankan Army has recently dismissed claims that armed groups are operating in Government controlled areas. However, based on SLMM's monitoring activities and experience on the ground the Mission does not share the this view and we would like to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take this matter seriously and not close their eyes to armed elements that are to our knowledge still operating in Government controlled areas."

The defense secretary charged the conclusion SLMM had arrived at was "without any conclusive evidence." He subsequently asked for a meeting with Haukland to discuss the issue.

Haukland responded in a letter the following day, March 30th (Thursday), a day before he concluded his post as head of mission.

Defense secretary Mr. Rajapakse is part of the President's entourage now on a state visit t Pakistan.

At the end of the Feb. 22-23 Geneva talks, both the government and the Tigers vowed to end a spate of violence.

Although the rebels had earlier described the March 2003 Karuna rebellion as an internal matter of the Tigers and asked the government to stay out of the issue, that stand changed.

The February talks were dominated by demands by the Tigers to disarm paramilitaries, specifically the Karuna group.

The guerrillas produced a dossier of what they called "evidence," of government forces support toward the Karuna group. The military denies any linkage.

Despite the SLMM assertions that the Karuna group continues to operate from within government-controlled areas, it admits it has no evidence of military support for the group.

The Tigers' chief negotiator Anton Balasingham said on Wednesday, the next round of talks will also be dominated by the same issue if the government fails to dismantle armed groups.