The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Sri Lanka EPF suffers billions in real losses

Sri Lanka's main private sector retirement fund has made billions real losses in in 2007 as the state used the monetary system to inflate away debt at the expense of the private sector workers in the country, the latest data shows.

In 2007, Sri Lanka's main private sector retirement fund, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) lost 23 billion rupees in real terms as inflation shot up and interest rates lagged behind.

Inflation measured by the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI) was 16.5 percent in 2007, against an effective rate of return declared to members of the EPF of 11.40 percent indicating a real loss of 5.00 percent for the year, according to information disclosed in the 2007 annual report of the Central Bank, which manages the fund.

Even conservatively taking the beginning-of-the-year balance of the fund portfolio of 477.6 billion rupees, the EPF has lost 23.8 billion rupees in real terms with an effective rate declared of 11.4 percent in 2007.

The EPF is made up by contributions deducted from the salaries of private sector workers and the bulk of the funds are invested in government securities.

Debt market participants routinely refer to the fund as a 'captive' source indicating that it is mis-used by the state to keep rates down against the interests of its own beneficiaries.

The International Monetary Fund has already called for independent governance for the EPF. The ETF, another private sector retirement fund, is also managed by the state.

Critics have pointed out that the Central Bank is faced with conflicts of interest in managing the EPF.

On one hand it is responsible for containing inflation and has the power to decide interest rates. It also runs the public debt department which raises money for the government and has a responsibility to find money at the lowest rates.

The EPF on the other hand has to get the highest rates for its members. These goals are incompatible with each other.

In a Financial Sector Stability Assessment, the IMF said a "sound, robust, and independent governance structure" was needed for the EPF with a "clear objective of seeking the best investment returns for members."

Critics have also pointed out that the managers of the EPF who are central bank employees have inflation protected pensions which are topped up each year with billions of rupees from central bank funds.

The rate of return declared for members of the Central Bank provident funds were not disclosed in the annual report.

The EPF on the other hand is taxed. This year the fund paid 4.4 billion rupees in taxes.

Last year another controversy blew up after it was revealed that trained fund mangers and analysts who were recruited to help improve returns had been effectively sacked due to internal employment politics within the monetary authority.

In 2007 however the monetary authority allowed market rates to move up which analysts say will help increase returns to the EPF in the future. In 2006 the fund lost 37 billion rupees in real terms when compared to the CCPI index.

Countries with fiat (paper) money can use the monetary system to print money and drive up inflation while keeping interest rates low or negative in real terms.

This reduces the real debt burden of the government at the expense of savers, especially older people who have saved for a lifetime.

Most ordinary people who find savings of a lifetime destroyed by inflation, or the loss of purchasing power of fiat paper currency, find the concept of real losses difficult to grasp, allowing governments to create inflation through central banking without attracting serious criticism.

Fiat money and central banking has been mis-used spectacularly in monetary history, in well documented cases, especially in France both during the French revolution and in the early part of the 18th century when John Law created a paper money central bank.

But central banking came to be widely abused as a method of 'secret taxation' to finance governments only after the United States went off the gold standard after World War II.

The current sub-prime bubble is also blamed on loose monetary policy of the Federal Reserve.

Source: LBO

60 Sri Lankan(mostly Sinhalese) fishermen held

Sixty Sri Lankan fishermen, mostly Sinhalese origin, were taken into custody by the Indian Coast Guard along with 12 boats for reportedly entering the Indian waters off Andaman coast, official sources said.

The fishermen and their boats were being brought to Mandapam Coast Guard Station near here where they were expected to be handed over to police for further action, officials here said.

This is one of the rare occasions when so many Sri Lankan fishermen have been arrested for fishing in Indian waters

while the detention of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu for straying into Sri Lankan waters is a common occurrence.

Sri Lankan fishermen usually frequent waters around Andaman in search of tuna fish, available there. This variety of fish is in demand in Sri Lanka and Maldives, officials said.

Recently, tweleve Sri Lankan fishermen were arrested in the Palk Straits for entering Indian waters. They were released weeks after their detention.

Meanwhile, fishing activity in the sea here remained suspended following the annual 45-day ban on fishing imposed by the government in view of the breeding season.

In another development, a group of 37 Sri Lankan refugees arrived at Arichalmunai near here from Mannar, Vavunia and Jaffna in two boats early this morning.

This was the first time in last six months that such a large number of refugees arrived in a single batch.

According to officials, the refugees had fled the island due to bombing by the Sri Lankan forces since Saturday. There was also acute scarcity of food.

The refugees said thousands of Tamils were waiting in jungles to flee to India. Schools and colleges in Jaffna peninsula had been closed, they said

Source: chennaionline

SuchirIndia to build twin towers in Lanka

Suchirindia, a Hyderabad-based real estate business group, has ventured into construction of twin towers of 30 floors and 70 floors at Colombo in Sri Lanka.

The tower complex, to be undertaken in collaboration with NEB Rapid Infrastructure and the Government of Sri Lanka, will be developed at a cost of $ 255 million, of which which debt funding will be $ 102 million and equity funding $ 18 million. The balance would be mobolised from various institutions.

The project is scheduled to be completed by March 2012. Speaking to the media here on Monday, CEO of Suchirindia Y Kiron said that the complex would comprise a 30-floor commercial tower and a 70-floor residential tower and the total builtup area of the twin towers would be three million square feet.

He said that Metro Rail in Colombo was being developed by a joint venture partner, NEB Rapid Infrastructure Project Private Limited. Suchirindia was planning more such projects overseas, especially in the African continent, he said.

“We expanded our operations to Karnataka and are now going to enter Madya Pradesh and Bihar soon,” he claimed.

Source: siasat

Sri Lanka supports Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy

Sri Lanka said Tuesday that it supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy by Iran within the framework of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day state visit to Sri Lanka, "the two sides confirmed the full and non-discriminatory implementation of Article IV of the NPT on peaceful nuclear co-operation."

They also stressed the importance of global nuclear disarmament, particularly the need for the nuclear powers to destroy their nuclear weapons, based on the decisions of the relevant international meetings.

The two countries "recognized the inalienable rights and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people at the highest level, and will continue to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people."

The two countries also expressed the hope that the differences among the different groups in Palestine will be resolved amicably.

Both sides emphasized the need for the preservation of the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and the participation of all Iraqi groups in the political process and expressed their support for the efforts of the elected Iraqi government to restore security and stability in Iraq.

The two sides expressed concern over the escalation of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan, and supported the endeavor by the Afghan government to restore peace and stability.

Ahmadinejad left for India after concluding his Sri Lankan leg of South Asia tour Tuesday afternoon.

Source: Xinhua

Fresh influx of Sri Lankan refugees worries Indian officials

An increased influx of Tamil refugees from across the Palk Straits following fresh violence in northern Sri Lanka is keeping officials in Tamil Nadu on tenterhooks. Official sources revealed Tuesday that 37 displaced people crossed the Palk Straits illegally without any identification papers claiming to be victims of the war between the Sri Lankan Army and Tamil militants seeking a separate homeland.

“Each person is believed to have paid Rs.10,000 (Indian Rs.5,000) for the trip. The 37 persons transported in two fishing craft were stranded in Arichalmunai (a sand dune two nautical miles from here) by unscrupulous boatmen,” an official of the “Q” Branch of the Tamil Nadu police said after sending the refugees to the Mandapam camp on the mainland.

Situated 600 km south of capital Chennai, this temple town has recorded the entry of 21,251 refugees since 2006, according to the statistics available with the state government.

“The worsening situation in north and northeast Sri Lanka will result in a bigger influx of refugees, certainly a worrying factor. We have no way of knowing the individuals’ identity - whether they are harmless victims of war or operatives from the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” a Coast Guard official said.

Meanwhile, a boat load of 15 Tamil fishermen from the island were being ferried towards capital Chennai by the Coast Guard for further questioning by “Q” Branch, the Coast Guard official added.

Source: thaindian

Three arrested in UK for 'funding Tamil Tigers'

Three men have been arrested in dawn raids by counter-terrorism police in London and Wales in connection with an investigation into the Tamil Tigers separatists.

The arrests were made in connection with allegations that money, equipment and weapons manuals have been stock-piled for use by the rebels in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting a 30-year war against the Sri Lankan government, are a proscribed organisation in Britain under the Terrorism Act.

Raids took place at three residential properties and one business in Newtown, Powys, one residential and one business address in Mitcham, South London and one further address in Harrow, North West London.

Two men, aged 39 and 46, were arrested at separate addresses in Newtown, and a third, aged 33, was held in Mitcham.

All three men were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and have been transferred to the high security Paddington Green police station in central London for questioning.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “At 6.30am today officers from Counter Terrorism Command supported by Dyfed-Powys Police executed search warrants at a number of residential and business addresses in Newtown, Powys.

“Further warrants were executed at addresses in Mitcham and Surrey. Three men were arrested.

“This is part of a long-term investigation into alleged funding and procurement activity in support of terrorism overseas and two people have already been charged in connection with this investigation.

“It is not linked to al Qaida-type activity or inspired terrorism. It is in relation to support, procurement and fundraising for a proscribed organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers).”

The latest arrests were made as part of an investigation into two other men from South London who face trial later this year.

One of the men is accused of arranging meetings of the Tamil Tigers and addressing an event in Hyde Park, central London.

He is also accused of amassing a hoard of military equipment including machetes, combat boots, camouflage clothes, spades, handcuffs and weapons manuals.

Last November, the renegade Tamil Tiger leader Colonel Karuna Amman was arrested in a joint operation by British police and immigration officials in Kensington, West London.

He had arrived using a diplomatic passport under a false name, which he said was supplied by the Sri Lankan Government, and was sentenced to nine months for holding false identity documents.

There have also been allegations that the Tamil Tigers have used a network of petrol stations across Britain to skim credit cards, using the proceeds to fund their activities abroad.

A Dyfed Powys Police spokesman said: “We would like to reassure our communities that arrests of this nature in the force area are rare and they should not be unduly alarmed.

“The investigation is not linked to al Qaida and we don’t believe there was a risk to the local community. We would like to stress that this inquiry relates to alleged fundraising and procurement in support of terrorism overseas.

“We have the neighbourhood, local officers and the mobile police station in the Newtown area in a bid to keep the community informed and reassured.”

The LTTE has waged a violent secessionist campaign against the Sri Lankan government since the 1970s in order to create a separate Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The conflict is rooted in a rivalry between the predominantly Hindu Tamils and the largely Buddhist Sinhalese, who control the Sri Lankan Government, with Sri Lanka’s Muslim community caught in the middle.

More than 70,000 people have died in more than three decades of fighting and thousands have been forced to leave their homes.

The LTTE has conducted dozens of suicide bombings, conducted by a special arm of the organisation called the Black Tigers.

Last year saw a clampdown on the LTTE, which is banned in more than 30 countries, with arrests in Britain, France and the US.

Source: telegraph

Iranian President in Colombo

picture: dailymirror

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived here on Monday evening on a two-day official visit. He will hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on issues of bilateral interest.

Sri Lanka believes the visit will provide a major boost to expansion of economic cooperation between the two countries.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is accompanied by a high-power delegation that includes Foreign Minister Mottaki and Commerce Minister Mir Kazema.

Key events during the trip will be the inauguration of the Iran-funded Sapugaskanda Petroleum Refinery expansion project funded by Iran and a visit to the Uma Oya project.

The project receives $450 million from Iran for construction to generate 100 MW of electricity and provide water to the Moneragala and Hambantota districts.

Separately, the air force claimed to have attacked and severely damaged a building complex adjacent to an LTTE air strip in the Irnamdadhu jungle.

Source: Hindu

Lankan Navy arrests 6 Indian fishermen

Tension prevailed in Rameswaram today, following reports that the Sri Lankan Navy had arrested six Indian fishermen and seized an outboard engine fitted country boat used for poaching into Sri Lankan territorial waters.

A senior official of state Fisheries Department said they had received information from the Indian Embassy in Sri Lanka about the arrest of six fishermen - Pastin (27) hailing from Tuticorin, Selvam (35), Jesu Abraham (50), Vellaichamy (24), Pitchai (22) and Antony (22), all hailing from Thangachimadam and Pamban coastal hamlets here.

The fishermen sailed into sea for fishing in an outboard engine fitted country boat on April 24, from Rameswaram.

They were detained by Sri Lankan Navy yesterday for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and poaching near Dwelft Island well within the Sri Lankan territorial waters.

The Indian fishermen were produced before Keits court and were remanded to custody and lodged at Jaffna prison.

The matter had been informed to the state government which was working on the necessary arrangements to get them released, he said.

Police stepped up security measures to prevent any untoward incident in Rameswaram. Various fishermen associations appealed to the Central and state governments to take immediate steps for the safe release of innocent fishermen.

Source: deepikaglobal

Monday, 28 April 2008

Sri Lanka To Build Memorial For Indian Soldiers

Two decades after it booted them out, Sri Lanka is preparing to unveil a memorial near its parliament for Indian soldiers killed battling the Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

The names of around 1,500 men, almost all of them from the Indian Army, are to be etched on black marble and topped by an eternal flame as part of a long-pending project now being executed by the Sri Lanka Navy.

It will be the first memorial dedicated to the Indian soldier outside India.

Final touches are being given to the memorial and it will be ready for a formal launch either May 22 or when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh goes to Sri Lanka for the South Asian Association for Regional Conference (Saarc) summit this summer.

An Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in Sri Lanka's northeast following a July 1987 bilateral peace pact aimed at ending Tamil separatism.

But the troops ended up fighting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from October that year, losing nearly 1,200 men until the last of the soldiers left Sri Lanka in March 1990. Nearly 2,800 men were also wounded, many maimed for life.

The roll of honour at the memorial, which will bear India's official Ashoka emblem, will include names of Indian paramilitary forces, taking the total to some 1,500.

While the IPKF fought the LTTE, Sri Lankan president Junius Jayewardene who invited them lost power.

In a bizarre but bloody twist of events, his successor, Ranasinghe Premadasa, in June 1989 demanded the IPKF's withdrawal. When that did not happen, he provided arms and ammunition to the LTTE to take on the IPKF.

Before the IPKF saga ended, it was also accused of killing large numbers of LTTE guerrillas as well as civilians, mainly Tamils, in the bruising war that earned the force the derisive name 'Innocent People Killing Force'.

For years, many in the Indian military have grudged that Sri Lanka had not even bothered to acknowledge the role of Indian troops who died at the hands of the LTTE.

That situation is about to change, Indian and Sri Lankan military sources say.

'This will be in the memory of Indian armed forces who helped us to preserve the unity of our country,' a Sri Lankan military officer told IANS in a telephonic interview from Colombo.

'Our president (Mahinda Rajapaksa) was very particular that this memorial has to come up. He kept saying that 20 years have gone by and we had not fulfilled this pledge. It had dragged on too long. After all the (Indian) soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice.'

Work at the memorial began about six months ago. It will be ready in another two weeks.

The military officer added that most Sri Lankans now appreciated the role played by the IPKF. But when its members were dying, it came in the firing line of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists who said its presence undermined their country's sovereignty.

'Our people have realised what the Indian soldiers did,' the officer said. 'They died fighting to keep Sri Lanka united. We can never forget their sacrifice. Today there is a lot of appreciation of their role.'

Lt. Gen. Ashok Mehta, who served in the IPKF in the island nation's east, said the memorial had been talked about for years. 'Initially they said there was some problem of land, and then something else. Now it is coming up. Better late than never.'

Source: newspostindia

$100 million to fight tamil tigers from India

Call it an India fund for fighting Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. In a step that could have political and diplomatic ramfications, New Delhi is finalising a soft loan package of $100 million (Rs 400 crore) for Sri Lankan defence department to buy arms and ammunition, sources told SundayET.

Though the island nation does not come under the category of the Least Developed Countries (LDC), India has agreed to extend the loan at a highly confessional interest rate of just 2%. India normally charges an interest at London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus 1- 2% for extending term loans to a country of Sri Lanka’s stature.

Sri Lanka may get another term loan of $100 million for building railway projects, sources added. Significantly, soft loans worth $200 million for Sri Lanka is quite high when compared with India’s total bilateral disbursement of $500-million soft loans for the entire FY08.

The investment and trade promotion (ITP) division of the ministry of external affairs has been handling the matter so far. No official was willing to comment on this politically-sensitive matter.

As Sri Lanka will use the resources mainly to combat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), India’s move has been seen as yet another attempt to eliminate the Tamil Tigers in an indirect manner. It is expected that the UPA’s powerful ally DMK may not like the idea of India helping Sri Lankan army in such a big way.

Country’s leading defence analyst C Uday Bhaskar said he was in favour of such a move. “In principle, I support such a move. If Sri Lanka, and for that matter Nepal, need any military help, we should always be the first mover. Otherwise, China, the US or any other country will come and fill up the gap. And in that case, it will be strategically disadvantageous for us,” he said.

Source: indiatimes

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sri Lanka arrests 9 over bus bomb

Sri Lanka arrested nine people on Saturday over a suspected rebel Tamil Tiger bomb that claimed 26 lives on a packed bus in the capital, police said.

The blast in a residential suburb in the Friday evening rush hour follows a bloody week in Sri Lanka, where government forces and Tiger rebels, known as the LTTE, are locked in a violent new chapter of a 25-year civil war.

"This was the latest in a series of indiscriminate attacks by the LTTE aimed at civilians," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a statement, adding that the rebels had "many setbacks in battle with the Sri Lankan armed forces in recent weeks".

The president urged greater public vigilance.

"Police have taken nine people into custody for questioning," a police spokesman said. He said the death toll now stood at 26 people including a child and a priest, with more than 60 wounded.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are fighting for an independent state in the north and east where their ethnic minority lives.

The rebels were not immediately available for comment but routinely deny responsibility for such attacks on civilians.

Dozens of rebel fighters and government troops were killed this week in fighting on the Jaffna Peninsula in the far north.

The military said fresh fighting on Friday also killed 21 Tamil Tigers and wounded four soldiers in the northern districts of Vavuniya, Mannar and Polonnaruwa.

Fighting has intensified since the government formally pulled out of a six-year-old ceasefire pact in January, though a renewed civil war has been raging since 2006.

Rajapaksa's government has pledged to destroy the Tigers militarily.

After driving the rebels from the east, the armed forces are focusing on Tiger-held areas in north, intensifying fighting in the civil war that has killed an estimated 70,000 people since 1983. Thousands have been killed in recent months.

When they have come under military pressure in the past the rebels have hit back with bombings in Colombo and elsewhere in the relatively peaceful south of the island.

Analysts say the military has the upper hand in the latest phase of the war, given superior air power, strength of numbers and swathes of terrain captured in the island's east.

But they see no clear final winner.

Source: Reuters

Friday, 25 April 2008

Explosion hits civilian bus -Police

bomb exploded inside a CTB bus at the Piliyandala bus stand

At least seven people were killed and more than 30 were wounded in a bomb explosion inside a bus in the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital, police said.

The bomb blast took place in Piliyandala, 12 kilometres south of Colombo, near the main bus stop, they said.

The bus was leaving the stop with more than 50 passengers when the bomb went off. Some of the wounded included people standing outside the bus.

Source: monstersandcritics


12 bodies at Kalubowila hospital
Kalubowila hospital said that 12 bodies had been brought to the hospital and 38 injured were admitted so far.

Source: dailymirror


16 killed and over 40 wounded



24 killed and over 40 wounded




Thursday, 24 April 2008

Stop feud & work unitedly for rights: MK to Lanka Tamils

In a development that is certain to strain relations with Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday call-ed upon Tamil revolutionaries in the neighbourhood to stop feuding and asserting the rights of Tamils in the island nation.

While moving a resolution calling for a proactive role by India to end the ethnic strife in the island republic, the chief minister told the state assembly that the revolutionaries are more involved in killing each other. “Had the groups fought together, they would have succeeded by now, like the case in Nepal,” the chief minister said.

Coming down heavily against the infighting among armed Tamil groups in Sri Lanka, Mr Karunanidhi, without naming them, said their violent approach “weakened the Tamil cause” as they were more “determined in eliminating each other.” To drive home this point, the chief minister talked about the assassination of the Tamil United Liberation Front leader Amrithalingam by rival group.

“The inter-group fighting had left many dead which actually weakened the cause of Tamils,” he said adding armed struggle had failed to yield fruit in Sri Lanka while such movements had succeeded in other parts of the world.

The chief minister’s ‘replicate Maoists’ success against the Nepal monarchy’ call to Tamil groups is certain to vitiate India’s relations with Sri Lanka. The willingness to factor in the Tamil Nadu allies’ sensitivities in the nation’s Lanka policy has been bringing in lot of distractions in the past few years.

The call to ‘Tamil revolutionaries’ comes at a time when Tamil groups are engaged in a full-scale war against the Lankan government. Even peace negotiators like Norway have been expressing frustration over the deteriorating situation in the island nation. The Lankan government is also under attack over choosing the military option to settle the crisis.

Source: indiatimes

Sri Lanka not worried about possible Indian intervention

The Sri Lankan government said Thursday it was not worried about the resolution passed by an Indian state to intervene in Sri Lanka's escalating conflict between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Keheliya Rambukwella, the government's defense spokesman was reacting to a resolution adopted by the Indian state of Tamil Naducalling on the Indian central government to play a proactive role in Sri Lanka.

Rambukwella told reporters that Sri Lanka understands the political compulsions in neighboring India in getting drawn into action with regard to the conflict in the island, "but the Indian government stands supportive of our campaign to eliminate terrorism," Rambukwella said.

India's Tamil Nadu state assembly headed by its Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi adopted the resolution on Wednesday.

"India should arrange for talks between the two parties and help arrive at a political solution," the resolution said.

Tamil Nadu, the southern Indian state across Sri Lanka's northern border, is home to over 50 million Tamils with ties to Sri Lankan Tamil community.

On behalf of Sri Lanka's minority Tamils, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been fighting against the government since 1983to carve out a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east, resulting in the killing of 70,000 people.

India maintains a hands-off policy on the Sri Lankan conflict since the 1990s after a direct intervention in 1987.

Source: Xinhua

Global hunt for Tigers' assets

By Ajit Kumar Singh

A global onslaught against the international network of front organizations of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) coincides with the domestic reverses the rebels have suffered within Sri Lanka.

On Wednesday, the LTTE claimed it had killed 100 Sri Lankan soldiers in the nation's bloodiest battle in 18 months, while the military claimed more than 100 rebels died in the fighting, following pre-dawn fighting in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and the United States, which account for the major chunk of the roughly 750,000-strong Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, and from where the outfit

accrues its greatest financial and propaganda support, have taken stern action against LTTE proxies, severely affecting the Tigers' capacities in their "final war of liberation".

The LTTE, which opened its first overseas office in London in 1984, has front organizations in India, Botswana, Myanmar, Cambodia, Denmark, Germany, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Qatar, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, to name a few. The Washington Times on April 7 reported that the LTTE's political wing had established its branches in at least 12 countries, including the US. Veerakathy Manivannam aka Castro is the head of the LTTE's "international secretariat", the body which ensures the smooth functioning of the group's global network.

The LTTE's global activities can broadly be summarized into three principal categories: fundraising, arms procurement and shipping, and publicity and propaganda. Though each of these tasks invariably overlaps, there is a significant autonomy of operation in each.

The LTTE has created front organizations in about 50 countries across the globe, and most significant among these organizations include the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations; the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations; the French Federation of Tamil Associations; the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils; the Illankai Tamil Sangam in the US; the Tamil Coordinating Committee in Norway and the International Federation of Tamils in Britain.

These fronts also form sympathetic pressure groups and media units to harness political and economic support for the outfit from the politicians and human-rights activists in the respective countries. They bring out or operate numerous magazines, radio and TV stations; carry out public demonstrations, display LTTE flags and emblems as well as photographs of its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other leaders, sell and distribute literature glorifying the LTTE struggle and suicide attacks, and engage in publicity and propaganda among Tamil diaspora to harness support and contributions.

As the LTTE came under tremendous pressure at home, pro-LTTE Tamil groups in Britain launched a campaign to highlight the suffering of Tamils in Sri Lanka, with a protest outside the prime minister's residence and office at 20 Downing Street in London on February 24.

On January 16, Britain's leading Tamil organization, the British Tamils Forum, called for a boycott of Sri Lankan Airlines in a move to target the Sri Lankan economy, as part of their campaign for a separate Tamil homeland. On January 1, a calendar apparently depicting the logo of the LTTE and the map of a separate state of "Tamil Eelam" was sold outside Hindu temples in London. According to an August 22, 2007, report, Tamil broadcasters in Australia glorify the LTTE and its chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and also engage in fundraising.

The LTTE has secured the support of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in these countries through its persistent publicity and propaganda campaigns. Prominent NGOs who have extended support include the Canadian Relief Organization for Peace in Sri Lanka, International Educational Development Inc, the World Council of Churches, the Australian Human Rights Foundation, the International Human Rights Group, the International Federation of Journalists (Pax Romana), the International Peace Bureau, the International Human Rights Law Group and the Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.

These activities are, of course, subordinate to the principal objective of the "International Secretariat": to generate maximum financial resources to support the LTTE's "final war" in Sri Lanka. The LTTE is estimated to harvest between an estimated US$10 million to $30 million a month through organizations such as the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, Human Rights for Tamils, Melrose Publishers, the Tamil Center for Human Rights, the Tamil Coordinating Committee, the Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organization, the Tamil Relief Organization (TRO), the Tamil Youth Organization, the United Tamil Organization, the White Pigeon, the World Tamil Movement, and the World Tamil Association, to name a few of the fronts engaged in these tasks.

These organizations collect funds from individuals and businesses; by managing Hindu temples principally serving Tamil diaspora communities; engaging in businesses including the Internet, community-based Tamil radio stations and subscription satellite TV, shipping lines, travel agencies; as well as fixed-income generation methods, such as the "registration" of the Tamil diaspora. According to a May 6, 2007, report, the Armulmihu Hindu temple in Tooting in south London, which reportedly raises nearly $1 million each year, may have possible links to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

Through these global financial operations, the LTTE runs its arms network, headed by Tharmalingam Shanmugham aka Kumaran Pathmanathan aka KP, which acquire weaponry and munitions from countries like Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Greece, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

KP is said to have bases in Bangkok, Yangon, Singapore and, more recently, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is alleged to have held various bank accounts in Australia, Frankfurt and London. According to the August 29, 2007, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report, the government of Eritrea is providing direct military assistance to the LTTE. There is cumulative corroborative evidence confirming the fact that the arms network has spread across the globe.

Reports also indicate that the Tigers receive military training in some of these countries as well. One surprising source of such training was uncovered in August 2007, when the Sri Lankan government launched an investigation into claims that LTTE cadres received "police" training in Britain after the 2002 ceasefire agreement (CFA). The probe was ordered after revelations by a 29-year-old LTTE cadre, Kalimuttu Vinodkumar, who was arrested at a police roadblock in Trincomalee in Sri Lanka, who told interrogators he was among 12 LTTE cadres sent on a three-month training program to Northern Ireland, shortly after the CFA was signed. The course had been conducted by foreign instructors with the help of Tamil translators.

Over the years, the LTTE's international support network has ensured that the Tigers became the only officially listed terrorist organization with its own military - an army, navy and air force - and clear control over a large swathe of land.

Things, however, started to change after the declaration of the "war on terror" in the wake of the September 11, 2001, incidents in the US, with international attitudes hardening against the LTTE. Despite this, the 25-nation European Union only banned the LTTE in May 2006. Earlier, Canada proscribed the outfit on April 10, 2006. India was the first country to ban the LTTE in 1992. The LTTE is also on a list of proscribed terrorist organizations in the US, and is currently banned in as many as 31 countries.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation went to the extent of describing the organization as one of the most dangerous and deadly extremist outfits in the world, as they had "inspired" networks worldwide, including al-Qaeda in Iraq. Corroborating linkages with al-Qaeda, a March 25, 2007, report indicated that the LTTE had supplied forged passports to Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center.

On March 10, 2007, Falk Rovik, chief spokesperson of Norwegians Against Terrorism, stated in Toronto that the LTTE had stolen hundreds of Norwegian passports and sold them to al-Qaeda to earn money. According to a July 7, 2007, report, Britain declared the LTTE the "second-most dangerous terrorist group" in the world, after al-Qaeda.

Nevertheless, the LTTE's international networks have suffered major reverses in the recent past, with many instances in which leaders and cadres of the LTTE or their front organizations have been arrested, sentenced to prison, or otherwise restrained, for a variety of subversive activities across the world. Some of the major incidents, in this context, include:

# April 11, 2008: Counterterrorism police in Quebec and Ontario in Canada reportedly shut down the World Tamil Movement (WTM) office in Montreal, alleging that the organization has been raising money to finance terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.
# January 10, 2008: A US District Court in Maryland sentenced Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, a Sri Lankan resident in the US, to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to provide arms, ammunition and other military materiel to the LTTE.
# October 21, 2007: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police's senior liaison officer for the Caribbean disclosed that more than 100 people, including key members of the LTTE, were arrested in the Caribbean with fraudulent travel documents, including Western passports forged with the aim of entering the US and Canada.
# September 25, 2007: French police arrested one Ranjan, who was appointed by the LTTE to take charge of LTTE activities in France after the arrest of Parithi aka Nadarajah Mathienthiram, who was earlier in charge of operations in this country.
# August 14, 2007: Three top LTTE suspects, Sujit Gunapala, Sasiljaran Teverajah and Satiepawan Arseawatap, were deported to Sri Lanka. Gunapala, Teverajah and Arseawatap were arrested from Ranong province in Thailand on May 12, 2003, with 10 Glock pistols and three HK Mark 23 pistols, and had remained under detention in Thailand for attempting to smuggle weapons to Sri Lanka.
# June 21, 2007: Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar alias Shanthan, president of the British Tamil Association and a high-ranking agent of the LTTE, and head of finance, Goldan Lambert, were arrested by British police under the 2000 Terrorism Act. Subsequently, on July 5, 2007, a British court froze all bank accounts belonging to Shanthan and wife, whose business ventures, as on July 2, 2007, amounted to $8 billion.
# May 17, 2007: The Maldives coast guard opened fire on and sank a small vessel carrying suspected LTTE cadres after a 12-hour standoff at sea in the southern territorial waters of Maldives. The boat was carrying guns and mortar ammunition.
# May 1, 2007: Australian police arrested two suspected LTTE cadres, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy (who had access to $526,000 in two bank accounts between August 2001 and December 2005) and Sivarajah Yathavan, after raids in Sydney and Melbourne.
# April 28, 2007: Six Sri Lankans, including the prime accused, Satrubarajah Shanamugarajah alias Ruby, connected to the LTTE, were convicted for organized crime in Norway.
# April 25, 2007: The "director" of the LTTE in New York, Karunakaran Kandasamy, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Queens, on charges of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. An FBI raid on Kandasamy's office in Queens revealed evidence that he had raised millions of dollars for the Tamil Tigers through a front organization called the World Tamil Coordinating Committee.
# April 1, 2007: The leader of the LTTE's France branch since 2003, Nadarajah Mathinthiran alias Parathi and Thuraisamy Jeyamorthy alias Jeya, who are in charge of fundraising in France, were among 17 LTTE suspects arrested. During 2006, the LTTE reportedly collected more than $10 million.
# March 8, 2007: Haji Subandi, an international arms dealer from Indonesia, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Guam to conspiring to export guns, surface-to-air missiles and other military hardware to the LTTE.
# August 30, 2006: Indonesian police arrested 13 LTTE suspects during a raid in the southern Java coast. The suspects were reportedly moving to Australia.
# August 22, 2006: 13 suspects with close links to the LTTE, including Waterloo Suresh aka Suresh Skandarajah, were arrested from Buffalo, New York, San Jose, California, Seattle, Washington and Connecticut, following a Canadian police and FBI probe into allegations that LTTE sympathizers in North America tried to buy missiles and move terror funds.
# April 16, 2006: Canadian police raided the office of the WTM in Montreal, the first raid after the Canadian government proscribed the LTTE as a terrorist group, and seized computers, files, LTTE flags and other political documents.

The latest crackdown appears to be part of an international operation aimed at neutralizing the LTTE's operations worldwide. However, proscribing the LTTE has tended to have only limited success, since the organization simply sets up new fronts that continue activities earlier carried out directly by LTTE offices, or by other fronts that come foul of the law.

Thus, after the TRO was banned in Britain, fund collection for the LTTE was undertaken by a charity named White Pigeon. Similarly, when the Washington-based Intelsat Ltd banned the National Television of Tamil Eelam, the official television of the LTTE, on April 21-22, 2007, the LTTE started its Paris-based Tamil Television Network, a pay television channel owned by Globecast, which was later shut down on May 3, 2007.

Even the limited successes against the LTTE's international operations in the recent past have had tremendous impact on LTTE capacities on the ground. Nevertheless, the LTTE's global network is far from defunct, and the intelligence communities in the many countries in which the Tamil rebels operate fronts will have to keep pace with the constant adaptation and inventiveness that remains a hallmark of the LTTE's operations, both domestically and abroad.

The Sri Lankan ambassador to the US, Bernard Goonetilleke, in a recent interview, noted that "a problem that is taking place 10,000 miles away from the coast of the US, is not a problem of Sri Lanka alone ... Terrorist groups feed on each other".

Ajit Kumar Singh, research assistant, Institute for Conflict Management.

Source: atimes

Lanka reacts defensively to TN assembly resolution

Sri Lanka has reacted defensively to the Tamil Nadu assembly's resolution calling upon the Government of India to get the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to abandon the path of war and begin talks to resolve the ethnic conflict in the island.

"I do not wish to comment on the internal matters of a foreign government. But I would like to say that the Sri Lankan government has consistently worked towards finding a negotiated solution to the conflict in the island,” Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona told this website’s newspaper here on Thursday. “President Rajapaksa has many times said that he is ready to go the extra mile to find a peaceful solution.”

"However, unfortunately, it is the LTTE which has consistently refused to come to the negotiating table," he added.

Kohona recalled that only recently, the LTTE had mercilessly murdered the Sri Lankan minister for highways, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, showing scant regard for the fact that he was the father of two young children.

However, many Sri Lankans feel that Sri Lanka can do pretty much what it likes, regardless of the resolution. India, they say, has been little more than a windbag after the failure of its first, and last, intervention in the 1980s, which culminated in the withdrawal of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) at the insistence of the Sri Lankan government in 1990, and in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE in 1991.

Since then, New Delhi's statements have been low-key, most of the time. If they have been strident at times, these have not been followed up by any concrete action.

An article entitled, "Indian diplomacy in Sri Lanka," by the veteran Sinhala-language journalist Upul Joseph Fernando in the Daily Mirror on Thursday reflected this thinking succinctly.

Given the changing political scenario in Tamil Nadu, the Sonia Gandhi-led regime in New Delhi might well ask the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Colombo to stop the war and talk to the LTTE, and this request could be sent through the Indian High Commissioner, Alok Prasad, Fernando speculated.

But if Rajapaksa were to ask Prasad: "If I do not accept the Indian proposals, what would be the repercussions, as you visualize? Alok Prasad would not have any answer to give," Fernando pointed out.

"Today, the biggest problem India faces with regard to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is this inability of India to answer this question," he stressed.

Prasad would not be able to say that the LTTE would seek military help from Tamil Nadu, as Tamil Nadu had become vigilant against the LTTE, Fernando said. And he could not warn that the unity of Sri Lanka could come under threat because any such threat to Sri Lanka would be a threat to India too, he pointed out.

Fernando says that India has no teeth. It had "lost its dentures" during the misadventure of 1987 when it imposed the India-Sri Lanka Accord and then followed it up with the induction of the IPKF with disastrous results, he said.

According to Fernando, Rajapaksa knows that India cannot bite, and so, he does things pretty much as he pleases, while "petting" India with "deceiving talk," making full use of the Indian media.

Source: newindpress

No setback to anti-terror campaign in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government said Thursday that a skirmish in the northern Jaffna peninsula which had left a large number of government troops dead was not a serious setback in the island nation's campaign to end terrorism.

"This was not a setback, not a debacle," Keheliya Rambukwella, the government's defense spokesman and the minister of Foreign Employment told reporters.

He was responding to clashes with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which had raged into a serious fight since Monday night and throughout Tuesday.

The government said 43 soldiers were killed and 33 were missing with 120 more injured in the battle at Muhamalai in the Jaffna peninsula.

Meanwhile, 81 rebels were killed and 196 others were injured inthe incident.

"They (rebels) came to attack the military defense line in order to move further into Jaffna," Rambukwella said, adding that "the Army repulsed the attack and are now occupying the LTTE first forward defense line."

However, the rebel casualty figures indicated much higher military casualties, with Tigers claiming they had killed over 100soldiers.

"Our goal of eliminating terrorism by the end of the year still remains," Rambukwella said.

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman said that the Army had consolidated its positions in Muhamalai after the clashes.

The government is engaged in its current campaign in the north to eliminate the rebels from the north by the end of the year. More than 7,000 people have died in the escalation of the conflict since the end of 2005.

Source: Xinhua

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Tamil Nadu urges India to arrange peace talks in Lanka

Asking New Delhi to arrange peace talks in Sri Lanka to work out a 'proper political solution' to end the ethnic conflict in the island, the Tamil Nadu assembly today unanimously passed a resolution.

"India should arrange for talks between the two parties and help arrive at a political solution", the resolution said, without making a direct reference to either the Sri Lankan government or LTTE and other Tamil groups.

The Indian government should come forward to organise a meaningful dialogue for a proper political solution to bring peace in Sri Lanka, it said.

Replying to a special call attention motion for arranging peace talks in Sri Lanka to end the conflict moved by the AIADMK, Congress, PMK, CPI, CPI(M) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said India should arrange for talks between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

"The Centre should come forward to arrange useful talks between the two," he said.

Earlier, the House witnessed noisy scenes after the PMK raised some objectionable remarks against the Congress on the Sri Lankan issue, to which the Congress members, led by their party leader D Sudharashanam, protested.

The PMK members retaliated by shouting against the Congressmen, resulting in pandemonium in the assembly.

Repeated pleas by the Speaker R Avudaiyappan to members to remain seated fell on deaf ears as both parties kept on shouting.

Later, the remarks of PMK and Congress members were expunged.

Source: outlookindia

52 LTTE & 38 soldiers killed in the north


At least 52 Tamil Tigers and 38 soldiers were killed and scores wounded in fierce fighting Wednesday between advancing Sri Lankan troops and the rebels in the northern Jaffna peninsula, the military said. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that heavy fighting broke out when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) “launched a pre-dawn attack on the military’s forward defences at Kilali and Muhamalai areas.

“At least 52 LTTE cadres were killed during these clashes. The death toll of the soldiers has risen from 15 to 38,” he said, adding 84 soldiers were also wounded in one of the worst outbreaks of fighting this year.

“Some of the wounded soldiers have been airlifted to Colombo for further treatment,” he said.

“Our troops successfully retaliated the LTTE offensive and went forward about 500 metres into LTTE-held areas along the eight-kilometre Forward Defence Line from Muhamalai to Kilali,” Brig. Nanayakkara said.

He said the Sri Lanka Army’s 55 and 53 divisions “are now consolidating their newly captured positions”.

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website quoted rebel sources as saying that the military’s pre-dawn attempt to break into LTTE-held areas on the northern front had been “fully thwarted”.

“Sri Lanka Army units that attempted to break the Forward Defence Line of the LTTE in Kilali, Muhamalai and on several other positions were forced to retreat, leaving behind dead bodies,” the report claimed.

Claiming that the fighting lasted well over eight hours, it said that the Sri Lankan Army suffered heavy casualties as the Tigers put up stiff resistance.

“Casualty details would be released after the ongoing clearing mission is completed,” the Tigers said.

The escalation in violence between the advancing government troops and the LTTE in the Wanni, Jaffna and Mannar regions has left hundreds of combatants dead.

Independent verification of the battlefront casualties are not possible because journalists are barred from visiting the area.

Fighting has escalated in Sri Lanka since December 2005. The military captured the whole of the eastern province from the LTTE last year and it is now trying to seize rebel territory in the north.

Source: thaindian

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

17 rebels killed in northern Sri Lanka

at least 17 Tamil rebels have been killed by government troops in three separate incidents in northern Sri Lanka as fighting between the two sides continued, military officials said Tuesday.

The fighting was reported from the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya areas, some 260 km north of the capital Monday, officials said.

Nine rebels were killed and eight wounded in a clash in Welioya where a soldier was also injured, while four each were killed in Mannar and Vavuniya, the army said.

Government troops have launched a major military offensive in the northern part of the country and at least 2,500 rebels have been killed in the past four months.

According to the military, 300 police and security personnel were also killed in the offensives.

Source: newkerala

Monday, 21 April 2008

Undersea electricity line to link India, Lanka

India and Sri Lanka are working on a plan to lay a transmission line under the sea to connect the power distribution networks of the two countries so that electricity can be supplied by one when the other is running short.

An initial report prepared by the Indian state-owned transmission utility PowerGrid has pegged the cost of the project at Rs 2,292 crore and said it could be completed within 42 months of getting investment approvals.

The report projects laying a power cable under the Gulf of Mannar between Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Talaimannar on the left flank of the Mannar islands in Sri Lanka.

On the Indian side, the undersea cable will be connected to the southern grid at Madurai through an overhead transmission line. On the Sri Lanka side, the underwater cable will be linked to that country’s network at Anuradhapura through an overhead line.

The undersea link will be laid on the sea bed just as telecom and internet cables run across ocean beds around the world. It will have safeguards on both sides against electrocution in case of damage from ship anchors or sharks. An optic-fibre cable will also run alongside the main power cable to keep an eye on the link and also provide extra telecom capacity between the two countries.

The project, like any transnational energy link, will admittedly be a long-haul affair. But junior power minister Jairam Ramesh is quite gung-ho. The next stage will be to prepare a detailed report and both countries will share the cost.

"The idea is to use electricity as a tool of regional integration. This can be an ideal example. We are already working with Bhutan while Power Trading Corporation and private sector GMR have got projects in Nepal and we are looking at linking up with Bangladesh and Myanmar," Ramesh told TOI .

The report prepared by PowerGrid says the power supply scenario between India and Sri Lanka will allow them to exchange about 500MW of electricity in the short term, or by 2009-10.

Once the two sides settle down with this quantity, the flow of power can be ramped up to 1,000MW, roughly one-third of Delhi’s present consumption, in the medium-to-long term of 2011-12 through 2015-16. These are the time frames when the generation capacities in both countries are projected to improve, with surplus in the Indian southern grid.

At present, India is facing a 16% electricity shortage, with a peak demand of 1,07,000MW. The government plans to add 78,500MW capacity by 2012, with more envisaged in the captive and merchant segments by private investors.

Many other proposals such as the Krishnapatnam ultra-mega power project are in the pipeline, which, after taking into account the projected growth in load, suggests that there will be surplus of 6,000MW during peak hours and 12,300MW during lean periods.

In comparison, Sri Lanka has about 1,660MW of peak demand and does not have any appreciable surplus or deficit. Nearly half of the power generated in the country comes from hydro sources, while the remaining power comes from plants burning costly liquid fuels.

Though it has plans to add 3,080MW capacity by 2016, it faces a tough situation. Almost half of the total hydel potential of 2,000MW has been tapped and new projects will be difficult to implement due to social and environmental problems.

The existing hydel projects run low during poor monsoon and in the dry season. This means that if all the planned coal- and gas-fired plants come up, then the country will have a surplus of 1,500MW during off-peak hours. But if only half of them come up, then the country will face a shortage of 500-1,500MW peak shortfall.

It is clear that the planned interconnect between the two countries will provide hydel support to Sri Lanka, while India can seek thermal support from its neighbour in winters.

The difference in festival holidays and resultant drop in demand also provides good opportunity for exchange. The link will help Sri Lanka reduce use of expensive fuels and import cheaper power. For India, the link will open up a new market for its surplus.

Source: timesofindia

Saturday, 19 April 2008

India to help build 150-bed hospital in Sri Lanka

India will help construct a 150-bed hospital in Sri Lanka and provide vocational training to the people in rural areas of the island nation under the two agreements signed here between the neighbouring countries.

The Sri Lankan government has provided three acres of land for construction of the district general hospital at Dickoya in Hatton in the Central Province.

The Rs (Sri Lankan) 918 million project will be implemented by the state-owned HSCC (India) Ltd, a company providing consultancy services in healthcare and other social sectors.

Another agreement between the two sides pertains to setting up of facilities at Rural Vocational Training Centre at Nagawillu in North-western Puttalam district. The estimated cost of the project is Rs (Sri Lankan) 55.7 million.

The project is to be implemented by India's state-owned HMT (International) Ltd., over the next six to eight months.

It will create facilities at the Training Centre by supplying equipment and providing training to carry out short-term, modular and full-time vocational courses for the people in Puttalam.

Source: Hindu

Air Force destroyed three LTTE Arms carrying sea tiger crafts - Mullaittivu

Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets destroyed three LTTE sea tiger arms carrying craft in South of Mullaittivu lagoon this evening (April 19).

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Andrew Wijesooriya speaking to said that Sri Lanka Sir Force launch hits reconnaissance air craft base on the information received from Naval patrol.

As it is observed three LTTE sea tiger craft beached in South of Mullaittivu lagoon SLA Fighter gets raided those craft, spokesperson added.

The targeted three LTTE arms carrying sea tiger craft were completely destroyed as pilots return following the precision air sortie around 5.40 p.m, spokesperson further added.


PMK wants India to play 'active' role in Sri Lanka

The PMK, a member of India's ruling coalition, Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that New Delhi must play an "active and constructive" role to help end Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict.

PMK leader S. Ramadoss said he and his party colleagues urged both the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi that India's active engagement was necessary in view of the "genocide against Tamils in that country".

"There are (1.5 million) internally displaced people in Sri Lanka living at the mercy of international donors and NGOs," he said.

Thousands have died in escalating violence in Sri Lanka in the past two years.

Source: newkerala

49 killed in fresh clashes in Sri Lanka

At least 48 LTTE rebels and a soldier were killed in fierce clashes in the restive Northern Sri Lanka, officials said on Saturday.

Two Tamil Tigers were killed at Illamarudankulam area in Vavuniya on Saturday, the army said.

At least 11 rebels were killed in Thachchanamaruthamadu and Chinnavalavankaddu areas of Vavuniya on Friday, the Defence Ministry said.

On the Mannar front, troops attacked LTTE bunkers in the Manipulikulam and Minukkad areas and killed six guerrillas in the confrontations on Friday, the ministry said.

In a similar clash in Minukkad and Malikaittidal areas of Mannar, troops gunned down three more LTTE rebels, it said.

One Tamil Tiger and an army personnel were killed in clashes at Kokkutuduvai, janakapura and Kribbanwewa in North-east Welioya yesterday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

In a separate incident, at least 13 LTTE rebels were killed and three others injured when army troops captured six bunker in various artillery duels at Kanthankulam, Kaddaikulam and Manipulikulam areas of Mannar on Friday, the MCNS said.

At least 12 Tigers were killed and seven others injured in clashes at East of Madhu, Thathchanamarathamadu and Suleinamarathamadu area in Vavuniya district, it said.

Source: NDTV

Friday, 18 April 2008

Southern Sri Lanka facing rice shortage

While the Tamil-speaking north is being subjected to a full-scale war with night air raids, the predominantly Sinhalese-speaking south is facing a severe rice shortage and the highest rate of inflation in the history of Sri Lanka.

According to the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI), the current rate of inflation in Sri Lanka is a dizzying 24 per cent. Even the revised index (CCPIN) estimates it at 21.6 per cent. On both counts, it is significantly higher than in other countries in the region, where the rates of inflation vary between 5 per cent and 7 per cent.

The Island daily reported on Thursday that this year, the average increase in the price of rice varieties in Sri Lanka is 68 per cent. For example, the price of parboiled imported Indian rice has gone up from SLRs.40 to SLRs. 85 per kg in only a few weeks. Prices are expected to further rise because of an increasing local shortage due to bad weather, unwise import policies and increasing world prices.

Timely imports from neighboring India would have saved the country from the present plight, a knowledgeable trade source told this website’s newspaper. The government should have placed orders with foreign suppliers (ideally from India) when prices were low and a rise was on the cards, he said.

Interference in private trade by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in recent times has harmed the economy and social welfare, traders said, as they shut down Colombo’s wholesale market on Thursday in protest against the new, uneconomical administered prices.

Rise in food prices is worrying because food accounts for 80 per cent of household expenditure in Sri Lanka. An average family has to spend as much as SLRs.4,000 ($37) per month on rice alone, making it unaffordable. Many may have to resort to cutting down on food, but this will only worsen the already worrying nutritional status of the population.

According to the Department of Census and Statistics, only half of Sri Lanka’s total population of 20 million receives the minimum daily intake of 2,030 calories. The actual intake is 1,696 calories per day in the case of the poor, and 2,194 in the case of others.

The Rajapaksa government proudly proclaims that Sri Lanka has a per capita income of US$1,599. But according to the UNICEF, 14 per cent of children under the age of five show signs of wasting or acute undernourishment, and 29 per cent are underweight.

The government this week began forcing traders to sell at prices it had fixed. But this is causing an enormous loss to trade. The controlled price of a 65-kg sack of “samba” rice is now SLRs.4030, but the purchase price is SLRs.5400, traders point out.

Source: newindpress

Lanka-IOC urges govt to revise petroleum prices upwards

The Sri Lanka subsidiary of the Indian Oil Corporation has urged upon the Lankan government to revise petroleum prices upwards in view of the global crude oil prices veering towards 110 dollars a barrel.
"We are losing 750 million Sri Lankan rupees (about 6.94 million dollars) a month due to the high international crude oil prices and look forward to a hike in petroleum prices in the Island country," Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) Managing Director K Ramakrishnan told PTI.

The parent company, Indian Oil Corporation, is also worried over surging global oil prices and said it is losing Rs 320 crore (Indian currency) per day on fuel sales in India.

According to top officials of IOC, the oil retail marketing and the borrowings have already touched Rs 34,000 crore as on March 31, 2008.

Meanwhile, the Lankan IOC chief said the situation in 2007 was manageable in the Island country as the government raised petrol prices whenever the global prices surged and thereby saved the company from making high losses.

Ramakrishnan said currently LIOC was losing SLR 31 per litre on diesel which was a worrying factor.

According to the interim results, Lanka IOC has made a net profit of 282 million SLR for the quarter ending December, 2007 whereas it incurred loss of 327 million SLR in the same period during the previous year.

However, the profit was much lower than 677 million SLR, the company earned during three months ending September, 2007. In the nine months ending December 2007, the company made a net profit of 1,450 million SLR. Whereas the company registered a loss of 1,516 million SLR in the year-ago period.

Turnover of LIOC, during the period, is estimated to have risen to 32.3 billion SLR from 23.8 billion SLR during the same period of 2006.

Source: chennaionline

French relief organization pulls out of Sri Lanka

A French relief organization that operated in conflict areas in Sri Lanka and lost 17 of their local workers in a single incident two years ago has decided to withdraw, a statement from the organization said Friday.

Action contre la Faim (ACF or Action against Hunger) said it was withdrawing a decision by a group of international experts observing the proceedings of a presidential commission probing 15 violent incidents including the killing of the aid workers.

The international group cited the slow progress of the investigations carried out by the Presidential commission for its decision to pull out.

The ACF statement said it believed that the presence of the international grouping known as IIGEP was an essential condition for the credibility of the process of the commission.

The 17 local aid workers were killed when the military was taking over the rebel controlled area of Muttur, 260 kilometres north east of the capital on August 4, 2006.

Investigations have not established whether the Tamil rebels or the military killed them.

The ACF has been involved in providing relief to the war affected in the north and eastern provinces. Troops recaptured the eastern province last year and are currently fighting the rebels in part of the northern province.

Source: monstersandcritics

Vaiko meets PM on Sri Lanka Tamils issue

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko on Thursday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here and requested the government to mount diplomatic pressure on the Sri Lankan government to stop its military offensive and initiate peace talks for a workable solution to fulfil the aspirations of Sri Lankan Tamils.

Mr. Vaiko told The Hindu that he had explained to Dr. Singh the outcome of an international conference on ‘Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia’ held in Oslo on April 10 and 11 under the auspices of the International Association for Human Values.

Mr. Vaiko said he had told the Prime Minister that the situation in Sri Lanka was becoming grave day by day, endangering the life and security of Tamils. Innocent Tamils were being killed by the military. He explained the plight and misery of Tamils living in jungles without food and medicine. He requested that India should not provide arms to Sri Lanka.

Mr. Vaiko said the Prime Minister told him about India’s stand —that there could be no military solution to the problem. Dr. Singh assured him, saying: “We are not supplying arms to Sri Lanka. I will discuss the matter with the Foreign Minister [Pranab Mukherjee] and see what best can be done.”

Mr. Vaiko said he would meet Mr. Mukherjee.

Mr. Vaiko, in a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, said: “I draw your kind attention to the most painful scenario of gross violation of human rights subjecting the Tamils to indescribable hardship and misery. There have been indiscriminate killings, abductions and disappearance of Tamils. The innocent Tamil youth, who are not engaged in armed struggle, are also not spared. They are abducted by armed forces and thereafter [there is] no further news about them. It is feared that they are murdered.”

Source: Hindu

Sri Lankan gov't says 399 rebels killed in April

The military in Sri Lanka said Thursday that 399 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed in clashes with government troops in the north so far in April.

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman, told reporters that 34 soldiers have also been killed while 236 soldiers injured in this period.

Nanayakkara added that 16 civilians were killed and 83 civilians were injured in the violence.

The spokesman said 75 civilians have crossed over to the government controlled areas in the north from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam LTTE) held regions so far this month totaling the number to 308 since January.

The Army is currently engaging the rebels in at least three different fronts in the north aimed at crushing the rebel group.

The government claims that the LTTE are now confined to just two districts in the north as the rebels have been completely evicted from the Eastern Province.

But analysts say the present military campaign may extend over a longer period with the rebels expected to put up stiff resistance than it was the case in the Eastern Province.

More than 70,000 people have died in the island's separatist armed conflict since the mid-1980s.

Source: Xinhua

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Iran to invest in expansion project of Sri Lankan oil refinery

Sri Lankan Oil Minister said Wednesday in an interview with Japan's Kyodo news agency Iran has decided to increase its investment in expansion project of an oil refinery there up to one billion US dollars.

According to IRNA office in Tokyo, A. H. M. Fowzi added in his interview with Kyodo, "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has allocated this amount to the purpose, which would cover 70% of the require investment for the refinery's expansion, in form of a ten year loan, with a five year exemption period from payment of the loan's installments."
Fowzi added, "Iran had earlier, too, provided the oil we need in Sri Lanka free from interest for four months."
According to this report, Iran is the largest provider of crude oil for Sri Lanka.

According to Kyodo's report, the Managing Director of Sri Lanka's state run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Ashanta Domel, too, has said that the pilot study for increasing the production of Sri Lanka's only refinery from 50,000 to 100,000 barrels per day has been completed by Iranian oil engineers.

Domel added, "Iran would make the major part of the required investment for expansion of this oil refinery (70%) and the CPC would cover the rest (30%)."
The Sri Lankan Oil Minister added in his interview with Kyodo that the project would yield noticeable benefit for its investors, adding, from the economic point of view, my affiliated ministry, too, is interested in making investments there."
According to Kyodo, Domel who visited Iran in early April, 2008, expects the project's executive phase to begin within the next three to four months.

Oil experts predict that Sri Lanka's oil refinery would increase its production after the Iranian oil engineers would end their work here within the next two to three years.

Islamic Republic of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to have a two day state visit to Sri Lanka on April 28th and 29th.

Ahmadinejad would during the state visit meet his Sri Lankan counterpart, that country's prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.


Tamil Nadu back as LTTE's safe haven ?

Battered in the north-eastern war theatre in Sri Lanka, hounded at sea by a resurgent Navy, and having lost several logistic vessels in sea battles, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) seems to be falling back for supplies on its oldest haven - the porous coastline of Tamil Nadu and its vast hinterland.

Dozens of incidents of smuggling and over 100 arrests in the last couple of years stand testimony to the Tigers' network in the state, even though there is insufficient evidence to indicate collusion by the state machinery.

The LTTE maintains a wide network of committed sympathisers and mercenary supporters to ensure regular supplies of fuel, medicines and war-related materials to carry on their armed campaign in the island nation.

As many as 108 people have been arrested for suspected smuggling activities since May 2006. Of these, 31 were Sri Lankan Tamils and the rest Indians.

Forty of these suspects were detained under the National Security Act (NSA), but some of them have been released on technical grounds. There are 49 Sri Lankan Tamils in a special camp for suspected militants and their sympathisers in Chengalpattu. Of these, nine are hard-core LTTE men.

The Sri Lankan navy feels its recent successes against the LTTE's fleet of arms-running vessels — it has sunk seven in the last two years — has forced the rebel group to source much of its supplies from India.

Col (retd) R Hariharan, who headed military intelligence in the Indian Peace Keeping Force, notes that the LTTE seems to have received some fresh ammunition in recent days.

"It is not clear which clandestine route is being used by the LTTE to import munitions. But the Indian coastal zone continues to be the weakest link in the naval defence of Sri Lanka. We may expect the Sri Lankan navy to intensify operations in the seas around Kachchativu in the coming weeks."

A major haul in the first half of 2006 was the police seizure of a consignment of gelex boosters from a vehicle near Madurai. It was apparently meant to be shipped to northern Sri Lanka via Rameswaram. Once again, the temple town seemed to become a vital hub for smuggling for the Tamil Tigers.

In one instance, the 'Q' branch police arrested eight LTTE operatives while trying to smuggle out a truck-load of ball-bearings. Investigation revealed that the consignment had been bought from an automobile spare parts company in Mumbai. Ball-bearings are used as shrapnel in improvised explosive devices.

In February 2007, the Coast Guard caught two boats carrying a cache of ammunition and explosives and metallic bars packed in gunny bags. Later that month, the Coast Guard intercepted a 'Sea Tiger' boat with five members of the LTTE’s sea wing. Their interrogation revealed that the boat had been lined with explosives.

The boat was taken away to mid-sea and blasted as a security measure. There were several other seizures of aluminium ingots, ball bearings, scrap metal, rocket shells, boosters, explosives, detonators and chemicals in the southern districts.

The war in Sri Lanka is now closer to India's coast than ever before. The main theatre is now Mannar, the north-western district in which a small enclave is in LTTE control. Talaimannar, Sri Lanka’s westernmost point is just an hour’s speedboat journey away from Rameswaram.

As long as the unending conflict in the neighbouring country rages on, Tamil Nadu, especially its fishermen, will continue to see disquieting days.

Source: timesofindia

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Sri Lanka delays two oil exploration blocks-oil min

Sri Lanka has delayed evaluating bids for two oil exploration blocks in its northwestern offshore Mannar basin and is to evaluate one with the most competition first, the island's petroleum resource minister said on Wednesday.

"We decide only to evaluate where there is a competition of three ... once that is over we will consider the other two," Minister A.H.M. Fowzie told Reuters.

In January Sri Lanka received six tenders from Cairn India (CAIL.BO), ONGC Videsh (ONGC.BO) from India and Nico Resources from Cyprus for the offered three blocks.

All three companies bid for the first block, while Cairn India and Nico Resources bid for the second block. The third block has only received a bid from Nico Resources.

The first block is the smallest out of the three with 3,338.1 square kilometres, while the third block is the largest with an area of 4,126.5 square kilometres.

Sri Lanka has eight exploration blocks in the Mannar basin, three of which are to be given for exploration once the government decides on a successful bidder.

Two have been assigned to China and India on a nomination basis. The government earlier said it plans to delay bidding on the last three blocks to get higher revenue.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which was offered the block nominated to India, said in September it was not interested in the assigned block, citing low prospectivity and the fact that Sri Lanka was asking for a big signature bonus.

The Sri Lankan government later said it would negotiate with ONGC for a new oil block. The outcome of the negotiation has not yet been revealed.

The bidding process was closed in January and the government expects to select the best bidder soon. The government had earlier said it aimed to select the three highest bidders by April 2008 and start the oil exploration process by August.

"The bids are before the technical evaluation committee and once they study and submit a report to the cabinet negotiating committee we will decide," Fowzie said.

"The committee has sat already and very soon they will submit a report."

A non-oil producing nation, Sri Lanka expects its first commercial crude oil production by 2010.

Prior to the bidding, the government had said exploration licences would be awarded to firms that can provide most advanced technological and economic benefit to Sri Lanka.

A 35 percent tax from net profit, a 10 percent royalty on annual production revenue and allowing the planned National Oil Exploration Company to invest 10 percent in exploration activities were the conditions put forward by the government.

Signature bonds, production bonds and profit-sharing ratio are to be considered in selecting the best three bidders.

Roadshows to attract investors were held in London, Houston and Kuala Lumpur in September last year.

The government says seismic data shows more than a billion barrels of oil lie off Sri Lanka's northwest coast, though no reserves have yet been proven.

If proven, the reserves would be a major boost for the war-torn country, which imported oil worth $2.2 billion in the first 11 months of 2007.

Source: Reuters

Sri Lankan Air Force bombs rebel targets

The military in Sri Lanka said on Wednesday its Air Force carried out separately attacks against Tamil Tiger rebel's targets in the north.

Officials from the Ministry of Defense said Air Force MI 24 attack craft pounded an LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) bunker line and a mortar position with support of the ground troops operating at Muhamale in the Jaffna peninsula around 6:15 a.m local time (0045 GMT).

Meanwhile, Air Force fighter jets bombed three identified LTTE camps located in Odd Sudan area around 11:50 p.m. (1820 GMT) on Tuesday.

The military said both raids were successful.

Government troops are currently engaged in three different fronts against LTTE rebels in the north.

The government maintains that the rebels have now been restricted to just three districts in the Northern Province after government troops recaptured the Eastern Province in July 2007.

The LTTE has been fighting the troops since the mid-1980s to carve out a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east, resulting in the death of more than 70,000 people.  


Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Indian Supreme Court fixes April 29 for Sethusamudram project hearing

The Supreme Court on Tuesday fixed April 29 as the next date for the hearing of the petition against the controversial Sethusamudram project, asking parties opposing it to file their reply to the fresh affidavit filed by the Centre.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan heard the matter.

On February 29, the Centre had filed a fresh affidavit in the apex court on the project seeking vacation of its interim orders putting on hold any damage to "Ram Setu."

The 60-page affidavit, cleared by the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the government respects all religions but was of view that it should not be called upon to respond to issues of faith, except in recognizing their existence.

The amended affidavit assumes significance as it has been filed after the Centre in September last withdrew its two affidavits in which it had questioned the existence of Lord Ram and "Ram Setu".

Following an outcry led by the Sangh Parivar over the controversial affidavit, the apex court on September 14, 2007 had allowed the Centre re-examine entire materials afresh to review the Rs 2,087 crore project.

However, it had continued the operation of its August 31 interim order restraining any damage to "Rama Setu" or Adams Bridge, a mythical bridge situated south-east off Rameshwaram, connecting the Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.

The court in its interim order had allowed the dredging activity for the project to the extent that it did not in anyway damage the "Rama Setu" or Adams Bridge.

While withdrawing the affidavits, the Centre had said, "it has total respect for all religions, and Hinduism in particular, in the context of the present case. The Central government is alive and conscious of the religious sensibilities, including the unique, ancient and holy text of Ramayana".

Source: newkerala

India to play 'decisive' role in Sri Lankan crisis: Norway

India will play the "most decisive" role in the peace process in Sri Lanka being the "best-placed regional power" to help the island nation, a top Norwegian envoy has said.

Norway's special envoy to Colombo Jon Hanssen-Bauer said in an interview to PTI that India was to be the "main partner" for Sri Lanka in the future, and that Oslo was in regular touch with New Delhi over the issue of peace process in its neighbouring country.

Norway had borkered the now-defunct ceasefire treaty between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2002.

"India is the main neighbour to Sri Lanka and they are always taking a keen interest in helping Sri Lanka. I think India will play the most decisive role in the peace process," he said on the sidelines of a Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia, organised here by Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

"India is Sri Lanka's big trade partner, it is also a political partner for a long time and they (India) would be the best-placed regional power to actually help Sri Lanka in the best way," the top Norwegian diplomat, who was appointed the special envoy in 2006, said.

Stressing that Norway was having "very open communications" with India on the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka, the envoy said: "We are consulting with them very frequently because we think India has a lot of good advice to give."

Source: Hindu

Intl panel asks Sri Lanka to clean up human rights record

An Indian-led international panel on Tuesday rapped Sri Lanka for human rights violations in the country, saying the government lacked transparency in probing abuses by the security forces in its war against the LTTE.

Headed by India's former Chief Justice P N Bhagwati, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) asked Colombo to clean up its human rights record and said they found an "absence of will" on the part of the government to take action against those involved in rights violation.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa formed the IIGEP in 2006 to oversee functioning of a government commission investigating 16 human rights cases.

"The IIGEP has... Found an absence of will on the part of the government of Sri Lanka in the present inquiry to investigate cases with vigour, where the conduct of its own forces has been called into question," the 11-member panel said in a statement.

Rajapaksa in November 2006 had appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate and inquire into 16 incidents of alleged serious violations of human rights that took place in the island country since August 1, 2005.

He subsequently invited 11 persons of international repute to form the IIGEP and tasked them with observing the functioning of the commission and commenting on transparency of its investigations and inquiries.

Observing that "summary executions, massacres, disappearances, wanton destruction of property, and forcible transfers of populations can never be justified", the IIGEP said, "no efforts should be spared to uncover responsibility, including recognition of command responsibility, for such actions."

Source: Zee news

Daughter visits Gandhi assassin

A DEVOTED daughter's attempts to understand the assassination of her father in one of modern India's most notorious political killings has led Priyanka Gandhi to a prison cell meeting with one of the killers of her father, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Ms Gandhi, now 36 and the mother of two young children, was 19 at the time her father was blown up by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber in May, 1991.

The country's biggest selling English-language newspaper, the Times of India, said accounts of Ms Gandhi's meeting last month with Nalini Sriharan, 43, the only survivor of the conspiracy that killed her father, add "another chapter to an amazing story of how the Gandhi family has tried so bravely to come to terms with the tragedy of Rajiv's death".

The paper reported that a "visibly emotional Priyanka made Nalini sit next to her and asked several short questions related to the assassination. (Such as) Why had it happened? For what purpose? What was Nalini's involvement?"

Priyanka is quoted as saying, "My father was a good person. It could have been resolved through talks. Had you known about my father's good nature, you would not have done this."

Nalini, who was 26 at the time of the assassination, was sentenced to death but that was commuted to life imprisonment after Gandhi's widow, and Ms Gandhi's mother, Sonia Gandhi, pleaded for clemency for the sake of the convicted woman's five-year-old daughter.

Ms Gandhi asked repeatedly who was behind the assassination plot, which is blamed on Tamil Tiger separatists fighting in Sri Lanka.

Nalini said she did not know.

The Times of India reported that Nalini believed Ms Gandhi was moved to meet her following a series of letters sent from prison to Sonia Gandhi, including one wishing her well when she was in hospital recently.

Details of the meeting, which took place in the prison for women in Vellore, in the state of Tamil Nadu, on March 19, was confirmed by Nalini's mother as well as her lawyers.

But with Ms Gandhi remaining silent about the reported encounter, a lawyer in the state capital, Chennai, is reported to have filed an application with a local court to get details of the meeting.

Rajiv Gandhi was widely esteemed in India as a politician who was a genuinely decent person. Seventeen years after his assassination, he remains deeply mourned by his widow and two children, Priyanka and her brother, Rahul, a leader of the Congress party and the man tipped to become prime minister after the next general election.

Source: theaustralian

EU Greens Criticise Slovakia for Arms Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka

The Greens faction in the European Parliament on Thursday in Brussels condemned an arms trade agreement between Slovakia and Sri Lanka that it says violates multiple provisions of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.

"I am shocked to hear that Slovakia has signed an agreement to sell weapons to the government of Sri Lanka, a country which has been locked for 25 years in a civil war during which massive infringement of human rights, notably against civilians, has occurred," according to Greens Rapporteur for arms exports Raul Romeva i Rueda.

The Greens rapporteur in EP pointed out that Slovakia is a member of the European Union that has pledged to adhere to the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. According to him, the EU is planning in the near future to adopt a common position that would make the code binding on all member countries. Meanwhile, the Code has been deemed politically binding ever since its inception a decade ago.

"It is very disconcerting that individual member countries continue to sign arms trade contracts without following the code, consulting other member states or reporting to the EP," said the Spanish MEP who is poised to call Slovak authorities to account and turn to the EU Council over the issue.


Monday, 14 April 2008

LTTE launches counselling services for traumatised students

Concerned over the fallout of psychological stress among students in LTTE-controlled areas due to the fighting, the rebels' outfit has launched a first ever counselling services in a school in northern Sri Lanka to help the students deal with their traumas.

"School students in war time in Wanni face many psychological traumas due to factors such as death of friends and relatives or fear of bomber planes flying overhead," the LTTE said in a statement on Monday.

The very first counseling service was conducted in the Kanakapuram MV school in Kilinochchi on last Tuesday, it said, adding the services will be available for the students during weekends and school holidays.

Such counseling services are being planned for all the schools in Wanni, the statement said.

The student counselling will help children face challenges of seeking safety in the "rudimentary" bunkers, shortages of educational equipment and facilities and economic hardships faced by their parents, it said.

"Students at Kanakapuram MV school have faced an aerial bombing just two months ago after which they scattered in panic as shrapnel from bombs fell inside their school and injured one of their school mates," the statement said.

"It is hoped that the counselling service inside the schools will help the students deal with their traumas without allowing it to affect their education and growth," it said.

Initially, one centre will be established in a school in an area which would serve all the schools in the locality.

Though one in each school is desirable given the psychological stresses faced by the students, problems of availability of skilled staff and other resources will limit these facilities at present, the statement said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Zonal Education Office teacher advisor Murukesu said these centers will raise awareness among students about the psychological stresses that affects them thus enabling them to seek assistance.

Murukesu said these centres will come under the concerned schools as well as the villages that are served by the centres.

Source: expressindia

Lanka protests screening of pro-LTTE film in US

Sri Lanka has lodged a strong protest with the US over the screening of a pro-LTTE film My daughter the terrorist at a premier American film festival.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to United States Bernard Goonetilleke has lodged Colombo's strong protest over the screening of the film in a letter addressed to both the US State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, media reports said.

The film, a documentary on the lives and faiths of two female Tamil Tigers produced by Norwegian filmmaker Beate Arnestad, was featured in a documentary film festival in Durham, North Carolina on April 4.

Earlier, the Sri Lanka embassy in Washington has urged the authorities of the US State Department and the FBI to take appropriate measures in preventing screening of the controversial film during the four-day festival.

The film is said to be a distortion of exploitation of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, an official statement said in Colombo.

"My daughter the terrorist" has audaciously portrayed a 12-year-old Tamil girl's path towards becoming a suicide bomber, trained and brain-washed by the LTTE terrorist movement, the release quoted sources from Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry as saying.

It goes on to say that the Norwegian producer Beate Arnestad had arrived in Sri Lanka during the Ceasefire Agreement period and entered Wanni "without the permission of the Foreign Ministry or any responsible state body for the filming of the movie".

"Sri Lankan expatriates from all over the US have risen in indignation and fury at the gross insensitivity of the organisers of the film festival," The release said.

Source: hindustantimes