The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

APRC’s political proposals handed over to President

The political proposals of the All Party Representative Committee for the resolution of the national conflict were presented to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees around 4.00 this afternoon (Jan. 23rd).

The APRC suggestions, presented by its Chairman Tissa Vitarana, have been formulated after an estimated 500 hours of talks at 63 meetings spanning over 18 months.

Rajapaksa fulfilled his presidential election promise and formed the APRC to recommend proposals for the devolution of powers as a solution to the ethnic issue.

However, from the very beginning, differences surfaced as political parties represented at the committee have been having their own predetermined opinions.

The JVP pulled out from the APRC in December 2006 in protest over the devolution of power as a solution to the national question.

The UNP too, withdrew in September 2007, accusing the government and the APRC of lethargic in their approach to the issue in question.

All the other political parties have given their consent to the 12-page package of proposals.

Speaking at the hand over of the proposals, President Rajapaksa said that a political problem needed a political solution.

However, terrorism will be answered differently and suitably, he said.

Also speaking on the occasion was EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda, who thanked both the APRC and its chairman for presenting the proposals.

Devananda added that he was happy that these proposals have been presented to the satisfaction of the Tamil community.

Source: lankadissent
Pictures: lankadissent

Sri Lanka jets target Tiger leader

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan war planes bombed a suspected base of the top Tamil Tiger leader in the island's north Wednesday as ground attacks killed at least two rebels, the defence ministry said Wednesday.

Aircraft hit a base of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Iranamadu where the separatists have a clandestine airfield, the ministry said. It gave no details of casualties or damage.

Military sources said six aircraft were deployed for the bombing raid based on intelligence reports that Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was receiving medical treatment at a jungle hideout in the region.

There was no immediate reaction from the guerrillas to the military statement.

Sri Lanka's military has already claimed either killing or wounding Tiger chieftain Prabhakaran, 53, in previous air attacks inside rebel-held territory.

The guerrillas have made no comment, but released pictures of the Tiger leader at meetings with his fighters.

The latest air attack came as the defence ministry said two suspected Tiger rebels were shot dead in skirmishes just outside the guerrillas' de facto mini-state on Tuesday.

Since the start of this month, Sri Lanka's defence ministry has said government forces have killed 594 rebels while just 26 soldiers have died.

The military's claims cannot be independently verified as journalists and human rights workers are not allowed access to the embattled region.

The bombing raid came a day after President Mahinda Rajapakse defended his decision to formally withdraw from a tattered 2002 truce with the LTTE at the same time as declaring he had no plans to advance into territory held by the guerrillas.

Rajapakse also stated that he did not believe in a military solution to the decades-old Tamil separatist campaign. But he said he would not negotiate with the LTTE until they stopped their armed struggle.

The remarks were in sharp contrast to earlier statements by the military and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse -- his own brother -- vowing to seize the rebels' mini-state and eliminate the guerrilla leadership.

The government, which believes it has gained the upper hand in the conflict, pulled out of the Norwegian-brokered truce with the rebels this month.

Source: AFP

Army makes steady progress

Army fire power is divided into five areas (Jaffna, North Mannar, North Vavuniya, South Vavuniya and Welioya) in Eelam War IV.

The LTTE has deployed their limited cadres and resources on five fronts. Therefore, the LTTE is targeting innocent civilians in the south. I mentioned in this column, two weeks ago, that the LTTE’s main intention is to withdraw troops from the battlefront for redeployment in the south.

But a senior officer said that it would never happen, as the Army has enough troops.

Double standards of Human Rights (HR) organisations

On January 16, 2008, the LTTE ambushed a bus with about 80 passengers, including school children, at Helagama on the Buttala-Moneragala Road, around 7:40 a.m. The bus was first attacked with a powerful claymore blast and then fired on by the terrorists.

Why didn’t the so called HR groups condemn this attack or make any statements? Is this because the victims were Sinhalese? Not only Sinhalese, even Muslims were killed by the LTTE, but why were the HR groups tightlipped? An NGO, working with children and women, was silent regarding the above incident. This raises serious doubts about HR INGO’s, both within and outside Sri Lanka.

HR should be applicable for the majority as well as the minority.

Some powerful countries condemned the attack, but they urged the Sri Lankan government to resume peace talks.

Jaffna battle
On the instructions of Army Commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka, Jaffna Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri summoned a conference of field commanders at Palali military base.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) 53 Div. Brig. Samantha Suriyabandara, his Deputy, GOC 55 Div. Brig Kamal Gunarathne Air Mobile Brigade Commander Col. Shantha Dissanayake, 552 Brigade Commander Col. Kapila Udalupola, 553 Brigade Commander Col. Athula Koddipili, 551 Brigade Commander Nissanka Ranawake and Artillery Brigade Commander Brig. Mahinada Hathurusinghe as well as engineering officers, were present at the high level conference.

The conference was to invade the LTTE’s forward defense line (FDL) with maximum damage and return to base.

On Monday (21) early morning, around 2:30 am, from Muhamalai, Nagar Kovil and Kilali FDLs, troops moved ahead. Small groups of soldiers crawled close to the enemy line and kept rest of troops behind, well informed of enemy movements.

LTTE cadres were taken unawares.
According to ground assessment, troops moved towards the LTTE’s FDL and attacked with RPG (rocket propelled grenades) from three areas Muhamalai, Nagar Kovil and Kilali, simultaneously.

At the same time troops requested artillery support to attack the LTTE’s second defence line. When troops attacked the LTTE’s second defence line, they weren’t able to send reinforcements and get their artillery support on a large scale. The LTTE fired 81mm mortars killing two soldiers and wounding nine.

The Army was able to destroy 24 well fortified bunkers in Muhamalai, Nagar Kovi and Kilali.

A battlefront officer said he had seen many LTTE bodies inside the bunkers.

According to LTTE transmissions many LTTE cadres died in this operation.

With strategic and tactical planning the Army were able to minimise their casualties while inflicting heavy enemy casualties, a senior military officer from Jaffna said.

The Army seems to have learned from past mistakes, when it suffered heavy casualties in similar operations in October 2006 and November 2007.

In this operation, the Army gave a clear signal of advancing toward Elephant Pass.

Area leader killed
During the ceasefire period, a powerful LTTE leader, Chengan, was operating in Jaffna. An expert in handling explosives and sophisticated weapons, he was responsible for claymore attacks on troops from time to time. He was constantly in touch with the LTTE leadership via satellite phone.

He was unable to comply with a request by the LTTE leadership to repot to Muhamalai or Pooneryn because of tight security.

Chengan was a driving force among the youth of Jaffna.

A woman he associated tipped off the Army. On January 20, troops were ready to apprehend Chengan, and went towards Thendamarachchi, north of Kaithady. The location was a chena cultivation of tobacco and beans. In a jungle 200 meters away there was a hut covered by black polythene. Troops surrounded the area and asked him to surrender. He opened fire at the troops. The troops returned fire. After a few minutes of the exchange of fire, firing ceased from the hut. On investigation, troops found a bullet-riddled body, along with a satellite phone, camouflage rifle, micro pistol, GPS and a stock of T.56 ammunition.

Mannar battle
GOC 58 Div. is leading the battle in Mannar. 581 Brigade Commander Col. Sujeewa is leading his brigade through Parappakandal, via Giant’s tank.

582 Brigade Commander Col. Heshan de Silva and 583 Brigade Commander Suraj Bansajaya are advancing with their troops towards south and west of Adampan.

From west of Adampan, it is only a km to Adampan town and from south of Adampan, it is only 2kms to Adampan town.

Yesterday, an LTTE female cadre was killed in action but troops didn’t remove the body. They waited in ambush, for the LTTE to collect the body. When the LTTE cadres arrived to collect the body, the troops opened fire and killed many LTTE cadres.

The LTTE attacked advancing troops with 81mm mortars and 2000 Pasilan (LTTE manufactured mortars), killing two soldiers and wounding 12, while troops killed around 10 LTTE cadres and recovered two bodies with weapons and radio sets.

LTTE leaders Banu, Swarnam, Luxman, and Jeam are in Mannar to coordinate the battle.

Today, early morning 2:30 am, the Army monitored ‘Tiger talk’ and fired MBRL (Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher). 57 Div. commanded by Brig. Jagath Dias advanced troops towards Madhu as well as north Mannar. Small groups and ambush teams were waiting for the LTTE to attack. Army recovered five bodies and two more in bodies in Vavuniya.

The Army handed over nine bodies to the Vavuniya Hospital and the ICRC is scheduled to hand them over to the LTTE.

In Welioya, 59 Div. troops commanded by Brig. Nandana Udawathe advanced in small groups and ambushed LTTE cadres.

“The Final War”: LTTE fundraising and extortion with in the Tamil Diaspora

The majority of Sri Lankan Tamils are found in Western Europe, India, Australia, and North America. The largest numbers are found in Canada (approximately 300,000-250,000), USA (200,000-300.000) India (approx. 150,000), UK (approx. 110,000), Germany (approx. 50,000), Switzerland, France, and Australia (approx. 30,000 each).

Although many Tamils unwillingly contribute money to the LTTE, many others do so because they feel they have little choice. The same fear that silences critics of the LTTE, prompt many members of the diaspora to provide financial support for the LTTE. In the US, Canada, the U.K., and other parts of Europe, and Australia,

LTTE representatives go house to house, visit Tamil businesses, requesting substantial sums of money, often using intimidation, coercion, and outright threats to secure pledges.

In Toronto, individual families, typically, are asked to pay between Cdn$ 2,500 and Cdn$ 5,000, while some families were reportedly asked for as much as Cdn$ 10,000. Businessmen were asked for amounts ranging from Cdn$ 25,000 to Cdn$ 100,000.

One Hindu temple reported being asked for Cdn$ 1 million.

In the US, LTTE agents maintain records of Tamils living in there. One well established Tamil businessman (IT trade, software developer) pays US$ 50,000 to LTTE, due to threats. Any Tamil living in the US, has to pay a minimum US$ 200 per month, depending on the income. If they earn more, they have to pay more.

In London, individual families were asked £ 2,000 and businesses were approached for amounts ranging from £ 10,000 to £ 100,000. Members of Tamil communities in France and Australia provide funding to the LTTE. LTTE agents maintain lists of Tamils living in Australia and their income and seek payment over the telephone.

LTTE imposed on every family a minimum of AUS$ 500 and above, depending on income.

Tamils businessmen are compelled to pay AUS$ 5,000 to 20,000

What does the LTTE spend this money on?

Purchasing -

Arms and ammunition

Communication equipment



Aircrafts parts and small Aircrafts


War related materials

Funding -


Bribes for MPs in respective


For various Media personnel

For Military officers in

respective countries

Billions flow into the LTTE coffers and it has its own business organisations such as restaurants, clubs, transportation and shipping network. They also invest in stocks in the respective countries.

LTTE can influence politicians and diplomats through funds. At the moment they are doing so and despite the Sri Lankan public being aware of it, the authorities turn a blind eye.

Although LTTE is banned in these countries, there is strong funding for the LTTE from the US, Canada, India and Euope.


Peace delayed

APRC fails to meet deadline but President to get 2-page outline on 13th Amendment today

By Munza Mushtaq

The much awaited final report of the overly hyped All Party Representative Committee (APRC) has ended in a farce. APRC has failed to submit its main document in keeping with a deadline specified to the committee by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which is today.

However, instead, the APRC will hand over a mere one and a half page long document outlining the committee’s recommendations on how to maximize devolution under the 13th Amendment to President Rajapaksa today at an auspicious time in keeping Sri Lankan traditions, The Bottom Line learns.The document recommends the conducting of elections in the Eastern Province and as a temporary measure to establish an interim set up for the Northern Province, which will be identified as the Interim Executive Council.

The committee’s chairman, Prof. Tissa Vitarana admitted to The Bottom Line that although the APRC was initially scheduled to hand over its main report, also today, along with the recommendations on how to implement the 13th amendment, last minute inputs by some of the APRC members had resulted in the delay in handing over the main document, which has been much awaited, even internationally.

“We have almost finalized the main proposal, aimed at finding a solution to the ethnic conflict,” he said while adding that they had a few more additions to make.

The main parties, who have been allegedly instrumental in delaying the final report, are government allies, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and Jathika Hela Urumaya. They have demanded a reduction in the level of devolution offered to the provinces.

However, during a nearly three hour long meeting, held at Temple Trees yesterday, between the members of the APRC and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president is reported to have requested the members to ‘continue’ their deliberations on its original mandate.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress representative Nizam Kariapper told The Bottom Line soon after the meeting that the president had requested the APRC to continue its deliberations although the committee had so far met a whopping 63 times.

The committee is now likely to meet again next week to continue its deliberations from where they left off, Monday night.

National Unity Alliance representative Abul Kalaam told The Bottom Line that it was now up to the government to put the recommendations in to action after the APRC hands over the document to the president today.

Sources meanwhile said that although the initial recommendations ran to around ten pages, following deliberations at Temple Trees yesterday night, the committee had finally minimized it to a mere one and a half pages.

At the time this edition went to press, a time for today’s meeting had not been set.


Lankan airline offers stake to Jet, Kingfisher

SriLankan Airlines, the emerald island's national carrier in which Dubai-based Emirates has over 40% management stake, has approached leading private Indian carriers like Jet and Kingfisher for buying the Gulf carrier's shares. SriLankan had a 10-year management contract with Emirates that ends this April but due to sharp differences that erupted recently, the latter has made clear that it would not extend the same. The Gulf-based carrier is learnt to have evaluated its stake at nearly $150 million that is now up for garbs.

Kingfisher's executive V-P Hitesh Patel confirmed that the airline has approached them and some other Indian carriers. "We were offered that stake and SriLankan asked us if we were interested. We told them that as of now our hands are full with the Deccan merger and we are not interested at this point of time."

Jet Airways, however, maintained a "no comments" stand. Indian carriers are learnt to be offered a 43.6% stake. The Sri Lankan government holds a 51% stake in the airline, while employees have the rest.

Sri Lanka privatised its national carrier, Air Lanka, in April 1998 when it sold 40% stake to Emirates who agreed to manage the airline for a decade. Now the airline operates 100 flights a week to and from India and a majority of the traffic flying from here to Colombo takes connecting flights to Europe, Gulf or other parts of the world. "SriLankan acts just like a Gulf carrier who also take away traffic for onward connecting flights to Indian passengers," said an airline official.

Trouble erupted around last Christmas between SriLankan and Emirates when Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaska wanted to fly back from London to Colombo. SriLankan was asked to make available 35 business class seats. The airline's CEO, Peter Hill who was brought in by Emirates, said that these many seats couldn't be made available by offloading paid passengers unless an Presidential decree is issued. A Miffed government then ordered its low cost carrier Mihin to fly an A-320 to London in which the presidential party returned to Colombo.

Once the president returned, the government cancelled Hill's work permit. Then on January 6, Emirates president SriLankan MD Tim Clark issued a statement in Dubai, saying: "Emirates has notified the Government of Sri Lanka that it will not be renewing the shareholder's agreement which expires on March 31, 2008, and accordingly, with effect from April 1, management control of Sri Lankan Airlines will pass to the Government of Sri Lanka."

As a result, Sri Lanka is now looking for some experienced airline with deep pockets to run it. While with 100 flights a week, SriLankan could have been an attractive deal for big boys keen on expanding their global footprint like Naresh Goyal or Vijay Mallya, the troubled conditions in the island nation could keep them away.

Source: Times Of India

Lanka mines sea borders to block Tamil Tigers

by K Praveen Kumar

The Sri Lankan Navy is believed to have laid mines along its maritime borders in an attempt to prevent LTTE cadre from fleeing to Tamil Nadu coast.

Highly placed sources said that the Tamil Nadu Police has received ‘unofficial information’ regarding this. “We learnt unofficially that the Sri Lankan Navy has mined their maritime border.

So we have warned fishermen not to cross the international boundary line for fishing,” a police official from Ramanathapuram told this website's newspaper. However, fishermen are said to be agitated about the move, as they get a good catch only when they cross the maritime boundary.

But the State police see it as a welcome move that could bolster their efforts to prevent incursion of the Tamil Tigers into the State. Since the crisis in Sri Lanka worsened, the LTTE cadre have been trying to flee to Tamil Nadu.

Sources said that several Lankan Tamils found it safer to cross the seas to Tamil Nadu, making use of its vast and highly porous coastline.

“Many Lankan Tamils are trying to escape, not only because of the fear of air raids, but also because of the fear of LTTE, which is now on a desperate recruitment drive,” sources said.


32 killed in north Sri Lanka, additional security for south

At least 31 Tamil Tigers and a soldier were killed in fierce clashes between the rebels and troops in restive northern Sri Lanka, even as the government on Tuesday decided to draft in 2,000 paramilitary personnel for the Sinhalese-dominated south to fend off LTTE attacks.

Army troops stormed and destroyed four Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bunkers in Pallikulam in Mannar and killed ten rebels on Tuesday, besides injuring scores, the government's Media Centre for National Security said.

In Parapakandal area of the same region, troops destroyed two LTTE bunkers and killed five guerrillas manning them, it said. In the wake of a spate of attacks in the Sinhalese- dominated southern Sri Lanka, the authorities decided to beef up the security there by recruiting village defence personnel.

"We have decided to enlist an additional 2,000 personnel for the Village Defence Department to increase security in the south that came under attacks from the militants recently," a military spokesman said adding, there was no proposal to increase the strength of troops in the region.

The decision was taken after a string of suspected LTTE attacks that left 37 civilians and three policemen dead.