The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Monday, 21 January 2008

Three Police personnel killed in LTTE attack- Thanamalwila

Three Police personnel a Sub- Inspector and two constables were shot dead by LTTE terrorists this evening (January 21) during a road picket at Aliwanguwa junction in Kithulkotte along the Thanamalwila- Monaragala road at 8.20.p.m, Thanamalwila Police said.

According to latest reports, the bodies of the slain Police personnel were brought to the general Hospital at Thanamalwila, while security forces tightened security in the area.


APRC proposes implementation of 13th amendment

The APRC has proposed the implementation of 13 amendment of the constitution under which full powers would be given to provincial councils and to increase more power during a second stage. Minister Rajitha Senaratne told a press conference a short while ago that the APRC has also proposed to hold elections for the Eastern province and set up an interim council for the North until the elections are held.

Source: Dailymirror

At least 29 killed in fresh fighting: Sri Lanka military

COLOMBO (AFP) - Heavy fighting raged across Sri Lanka's north with the military destroying rebel bunkers and killing at least 29 guerrillas, the defence ministry said Monday.

The ministry said 16 rebels were killed in Vavuniya district while 13 were killed in clashes across Mannar district in the northwest on Sunday.

The latest fighting raises the weekend death toll to 83 rebels killed and seven government troops injured, according to military estimates.

Since the start of this month, 534 rebels and just 22 government soldiers have been killed, according to defence ministry figures.

The figures cannot be independently checked as no journalists or rights groups have access to the embattled areas.

The clashes come after Sri Lanka formally ended a six-year peace truce with the Tamil Tiger rebels last week, accusing the guerrillas of using the Oslo-brokered pact to re-arm and strike military and civilian targets.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam launched a separatist campaign in 1972 to carve out an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the island's north and east.

Source: AFP

Military attack kills 17 in Sri Lanka's north

GOVERNMENT soldiers attacked Tamil Tiger rebel bunkers across the front lines in Sri Lanka's embattled north on Monday, triggering a battle that killed 15 guerrillas and two soldiers, the military said.

Backed by artillery and mortar fire, soldiers pushed into rebel-held territory in the northern Jaffna Peninsula and destroyed 24 rebel bunkers early on Monday, said military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara.

He said the battle lasted for about on hour and killed 15 rebels and two soldiers. Nine soldiers were wounded, he said.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels.

Source: straitstimes

Mahinda interview on NDTV 24x7’s Walk the Talk Video






‘Within a year there’ll be peace in Sri Lanka... it may be with Prabhakaran or without him’

FIRST Read the first part >>>LINK
In this second part of an interview with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24x7’s Walk the Talk, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa says he believes a political solution can soon be achieved in the country’s north — despite the fact that severe fighting has once again broken out with Tamil rebels

Did you ever get an opportunity to talk to (Junius) Jayawardene about it (about handling the IPKF affair more sophisticatedly)? Jayawardene wouldn’t talk to you about this.

No. We were at that time very junior people. Though I had experience of 10 years. I knew him because he was with me.

He would also have seen a class distinction with you, to be frank.

Yes. But he was very close to us. When I was an MP, he was a MP too in 1970s. He knew my father and cousins. We had that friendship because I used to live in a house adjoining his when I was in school.

I keep going back to Sri Lanka’s showing gratitude to IPKF and Rajiv Gandhi being attacked in 1990 by a Sri Lankan soldier. That showed resentment in the Army.

I spoke to that soldier, the navy man. He said that seniors, people who came out from the sides, were preaching anti-Indianism.

Your sons have joined the navy now.


Do you think Sri Lankans, or Sinhalas, have got over that anger?


You are a fitness freak, as it seems from your gym.


You never went to the army, but you look a lot like a soldier.

I acted as a soldier.

You acted as a general in a movie.


Movies apart, war is a dirty business.

I had a very good friend, a good actor. He is one of the best actors in Sri Lanka, Gamini Fonseka. He asked me to act in the 1970s but I said no. When I was a young MP in 1970, he asked me to act in a film but I declined. Then he became an MP and became the deputy speaker. One day he invited me to come and act as a general. My brother, who is the defence secretary was a colonel that time, and I thought . . .

In one shot you’ll become five ranks above him.

Yes. I thought I’ll give him a call immediately and tell him I’m already a general.

I believe the film was about the LTTE, as well.

Yes. About capturing a person, and a team goes to rescue a prisoner.

Favourite theme of war movies. So movies apart, war is a dirty business. How long do you see it going?

Now it’s time we stop this. I mean terrorism will have to be dealt with. We can’t allow terrorism to capture a country. Whether terrorism is in India, London, New York . . .


Lahore . . . terrorism is terrorism. You can’t say there are good terrorists and bad terrorists. Like some of the western countries do.

They used to say this. But no longer now.

I have my doubts.

You think they still make that distinction?

I think so. When they come to some of the issues. So it is time all countries come together and eradicate terrorism.

But what about the war in your North? How long will that go on?

I hope within one-and-a-half years . . . (we will be able to end it).


I’m going to give them a political solution and if they accept it tomorrow, things will be all right.

When are you going to give them this political solution?

I have already appointed a committee of all parties, because earlier, what I have seen is that most political leaders give their proposals, what they thought best, to the people and the LTTE, but they all rejected it. Even the 13th amendment given by Rajiv Gandhi was not taken up by the LTTE. Now, I’ve thought the best thing is to get all the parties together, especially those from the south, and get them to prepare a proposal and give it to me. I’ll give that to the Tamil people.

Do you have a broader idea what the settlement will be?

I think the 13th Amendment, which Rajiv Gandhi gave, was the best. And according to me the 13th Amendment plus one will be the best.

What is the plus one?

Plus one is what they have to decide on.

So you’ll give them the discretion.

The 13th Amendment is there, but it never got implemented.

And do you think V. Prabhakaran (the LTTE chief) wants a settlement?

If you ask my personal view, I say no. He will never agree to any settlement. What he wants is to kill time till they get ready for another attack. He wants a separate state.

Or till he can carry out something spectacular in Colombo.

In Colombo. . . and get their cadres trained.

So if that is your view, that he has no stake in peace, then why would there be a settlement?

I’m not worried about Prabhakaran or Pottu Amman. I’m worried about his people, the Tamil people.

But Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman have got a lot of people worried around the world. Even a newspaper as careful as The Hindu describes him now as Pol Pot-ist.

Right! That’s why I said I’m not worried about him. His views are immaterial to me.

Can there be peace when Prabhakaran is alive?

Again I say, if you ask me privately, I would say no. Because if he is there, he’ll not agree to any agreement.

But if he agrees, it’ll be okay by you.


Then how will you deal with India, where is he is wanted man for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

After that only we have to discuss it. What India wants.

What do you think India wants?

I mean, whether India is serious about getting him down.

What do you think? He allegedly killed one of our most loved leaders.

For that I think India will never pardon him.

Let me ask you, since you are such a wonderful candid person, and request an honest answer: Do you think India, after Rajiv’s assassination, has been soft on people who carried out the assassination?

I don’t want to make any comment about it but the attitude was changing from one to the other, because, you know, you have to study Indian politics too, the southern politics. . .

They have become kingmakers.

Yes. So you have to balance any government that comes to power at the Centre.

Do you have any advice for the Indian government on how to proceed on the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case? Or, if you had been in the Indian government’s place, how would you have acted to bring the accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to trial?

As soon as possible I would have asked them to get them down.

And you think the Indian Government has not.

No, I think they know they can’t catch him.

Do you get the sense that they are not keen enough to want him. If you actually caught Prabhakaran, do you think the government of India will be in a fix?

If they ask me, I’ll send him there. He has killed so many people and if India wants him I’ll definitely send him.

It’s very interesting. The impression about you is that firstly you are a hawk. Secondly, in India, you were viewed with suspicion. You still are in some places. But in my so many years of dealing with Sri Lankan political leaders, I’ve never seen anybody talk so warmly of India and so candidly.

You take our culture, Buddhism, and they are our friends. They are our friends because Buddhism came from India, the culture came from India, and what is the difference between our two cultures? They are very similar. So I think people may not be keen about India but they want to places like Varanasi, Bodh Gaya.

That is an emotional thing. Do you also see a much closer strategic covergence with India?

Yes, because I feel that . . . I will tell you one thing. When they tested the nuclear bomb in India, I think I was the only politician who supported it.

You were minister of fisheries at that time and you made a splash by saying that it was a great historic moment of the millennium.

Because I think in this region we must have a strong country.

SAARC nukes!

Yes. So I was proud of it.

Did that get you into trouble in that government at that time?

Yes. Some asked why I said that. I had to give explanations. I said this is my personal view and not the government’s view. They said, hereafter don’t do that.

I’m saying all this because it’s also a personal regret for me. I have never seen a senior Sri Lanka politician saying a thank you to the IPKF. It’s the first time I have heard that.

Yes, I think they took it for granted.

These were soldiers who followed orders and came here to fight a dirty war.

Quite right. It was our war and they came to help us.

And they were abused and betrayed, stabbed in the back.

Yes, this is what our politicians did. We shouldn’t do that. In my case, I’m very straight. I’m not an Oxford or a Cambridge-educated person. My background is a village background.

Son of the soil.

Yes, as you say.

We have nothing against Oxford and Cambridge, but we like people who talk like Sanath Jayasuraya bats.

Jayasuraya is also from my area.

Then there may be something in the area. What do you see happening in Sri Lanka and in the region if we meet six months or one year from now? Do you see fighting still on, do you see peace? Peace with Prabhakaran, or post-Prabhakaran?

I hope there will be peace.

No, that is hope. What is your judgment?

Within one year certainly there will be peace.

With Prabhakaran, or without Prabhakaran?

It might be with Prabhakaran, or without Prabhakaran. I won’t say that.

You said just a while back that it would be difficult to achieve peace with Prabhakaran. With Prabhakaran free.

Yes, when a man is very weak, we can always send . . .

Send him to India to face trial.

No, we can send him to Norway or let him go to Germany or England.

But you would rather that he goes to India.

Yes, he should be punished for what he has done. He tried to kill so many Sri Lankan leaders and Tamil leaders like Tiruchallam, Laxman Kadiregama. This is the problem. They just want to kill anybody who opposes them. You can just allow them to go free.

Tell me something, are you sometimes afraid?

Not at all. There is saying in Sri Lanka that if you are frightened of devils, you won’t go and build houses in a cemetery. So I’m not bothered about it.

You live in a dangerous place. All of South Asia is dangerous.

Then I’ll have to live in a bunker.

You would rather that the other guy lives in a bunker and sometimes you get close to that bunker. Do you enjoy this fight?


But do you enjoy danger? Are you a danger junkie?

You have to face it. I’m not facing this for my own sake. I’m facing this for my country, people. So I think I have that satisfaction.

I think that’s a good wish to conclude this wonderful conversation. Best wishes to you and your countrymen. Thank you for being so generous with your time and your smiles.

Thank you.

Source: indianexpress

Malaysia may send 2 lakh foreign workers including Sri lankans home by ’09

In a move which could affect Indians employed in Malaysia, the Government here is likely to send home at least two lakh foreign workers by next year to promote job opportunities for locals.
It follows the government’s denial of reports earlier this month which had claimed that it had placed a freeze on recruitment of Indian workers.

Malaysia, which relies heavily on labour from India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, has over 20 lakh foreign workers with approvals for two lakh arrivals this year.

With the immediate effect, the Home Ministry has said it would not approve the work permit of any foreign worker who has been in this country for five years or longer.

By reducing the number of foreign workers in many of the industries, employers will be forced to hire local workers at “reasonable” salaries, the media here reported.

The government wants to reduce foreign workers to 18 lakh by next year and 15 lakh by 2015. “However, it faces a dilemma because it has approved applications from employers last year to bring in 200,000 foreign workers this year,” the Star newspaper said on Sunday.

“We are going to re-look at the policy of managing foreign workers in this country. We have a total of 2.3 million foreign workers, students and expatriates and short term workers from southern Thailand,” Home Affairs Ministry Secretary General Raja Azhar Raja Abdul Manap said.

Source: indianexpress

Defence Authorities prevent Hilton Balloon Festival

The balloon releasing festival organized by Hilton Hotel Colombo has been cancelled due to a notification made by the Defence Authorities that this event cannot be conducted due to prevailing security conditions.

Colombo Hilton Hotel is in existence for 21 years and its 21st Anniversary is celebrated with a series of festivities. The planned balloon release also part of this series of celebrations. The plan was to release 2,100 balloons and in some of them to include valuable vouchers. Those who pick those vouchers were to be offered gifts accordingly.

Source: Asiantribune