The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Protect rights of Tamils, Indian PM tells SL Prez Rajapaksa

Amid mounting pressure from ally DMK and other Tamil Nadu parties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday asked Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure that Tamils do not get ‘enmeshed’ in the conflict with LTTE and that their rights and safety are upheld.

During a telephonic conversation initiated by Rajapaksa, Singh said there could be no military solution to the conflict in the island country and asked the President to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister's Office said.

The Prime Minister also asked Rajapaksa to instruct the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing on Indian fishermen, saying their killing is ‘unacceptable’, the PMO said in a statement.

Rajapaksa assured Singh that ‘all necessary measures’ are being taken to ensure safety and well-being of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, it said.

"During the telephonic conversation, the Prime Minister expressed his deep concern on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north of Sri Lanka, especially on the plight of civilians caught in the hostilities," the statement said.

Singh emphasised that the ‘safety and the security of these civilians must be safeguarded at all costs.

Source: expressindia

Sri Lanka is fully conscious of India’s concerns, says its Foreign Minister

Sri Lanka’’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said that the country is fully conscious of the concerns being expressed in India over the developments in the island nation.

Bogollagama, during his talks with India’’s High Commissioner Alok Prasad in Colombo on Friday, said that his country intends to further discuss and address the issue in the spirit of the ‘existing excellent bilateral relations’.

Earlier, India asked Sri Lanka to address its concerns over the humanitarian situation in the island nation.

On October 17, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon summoned the Sri Lankan High Commissioner C.R. Jayasinghe and conveyed India’’s concerns over the situation.

The hostilities between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lanka Government forces continued to surge in the Wanni region inflicting ”heavy casualties” on the Tamil outfit.

Three trench-lines of the Tamil outfit were captured in Mullaithivu as the army and Tamil Tigers locked horns at Andankulam.

Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) MPs from Tamil Nadu, both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajaya Sabha barring Dayanidhi Maran have submitted their resigantions to the party President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karuanaidhi.

In a statement in Chennai on Saturday, Karunanidhi said the DMK is prepared to pay any price to stop the attacks on Tamils in Sri Lanka, and added, the future of Tamils in the island nation has become a question mark and there is need to protect them.

Karunanidhi also said he hoped that the Centre would carefully consider the resolution adopted at the State government convened all party meeting and act suitably.

While refuting allegations that the DMK had done nothing for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Karunanidhi pointed out that the DMK Government in Tamil Nadu had been dismissed twice in 1976 and 1991 mainly for supporting the cause of the Lankan Tamils.

On October 14, at an all-party meeting in Tamil Nadu, convened by Karunanidhi, the Centre was served an ultimatum on the Sri Lankan Tamil problem and warned that all MPs from the state would resign en masse, if the government failed to halt the war in the island nation within two weeks.

Source: newspostonline

Russia pledges fullest support for Sri Lanka's struggle against terror

Russian government has endorsed the measures taken by Sri Lankan government against terrorism and pledged its fullest support to the endeavor. This was revealed when Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa met with the Russian government officials during an official visit to Russia recently.

On a special invitation made by Russian Minister of Defence Anatoliy Serdyukov, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary embarked on this visit with a high-powered delegation. The Sri Lankan delegation was welcomed with special honors at the Red Square and Kremlin and had the opportunity to hold dissuasions with Russian Defence Ministry officials and officials of few other establishments.

During the visit, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa met Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and had bilateral discussions. During the discussions, the Russian government viewed Sri Lanka's struggle against terrorism similar to the measures taken in the past by Russia to defeat Chechnya terrorists. Also, Russian government pledged all measures will be taken to provide military technology and expertise to Sri Lanka in its endeavor.

Sri Lankan ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunge accompanied the Defence Secretary during this visit.


All DMK ministers resign over Sri Lanka Tamil row

All DMK ministers in the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre have submitted their resignation letters to party supremo and chief minister M Karunanidhi for the sake of Sri Lankan Tamils. They would, however attend Parliament till October 28.

RESENTMENT PREVAILS in Tamil Nadu’s political circles over the Sri Lanka issue and all Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) ministers in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre have submitted their resignation letters to party supremo and chief minister M Karunanidhi for the sake of Sri Lankan Tamils. They are threatening to resign en masse if the violence against innocent Tamils is not stopped in Sri Lanka,

The Union minister TR Baalu and A Raja, who came from Delhi after attending the opening day of Parliament, reportedly met Karunanidhi at party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, and put in their papers.

Lok Sabha members of DMK also submitted their resignations, post-dated October 28, to Karunanidhi, following the resolution adopted at the all-party meeting. As per the decision, ministers and members of Parliament (MPs) of the party would, however, attend Parliament till October 28, the deadline served by the DMK and other parties to the Centre to ensure that the Sri Lanka government declare ceasefire and stop genocide against Tamils.

Meanwhile, Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon summoned Sri Lankan high commissioner CR Jayasinghe to register India’s unhappiness with the situation in Sri Lanka and asked Colombo to ’take steps’ to stop the violence that has severely affected Tamil civilians in the island nation.

According to the official sources, India expressed grave concern over the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka.

He asked Colombo to take concrete steps to stop the military offensive in Sri Lanka

This is the 3rd message from New Delhi to Colombo in the last three days. Menon again impressed upon Colombo to pursue a negotiated political solution, rather than continue with military means to settle the decades-old ethnic feud.

He also asked Colombo to ensure that the harassment and killing of Indian fishermen in neighbouring areas is stopped forthwith. Menon’s decision to summon the Sri Lankan envoy comes a day after president Mahinda Rajapaksa told a newspaper that his government was committed to finding “a just and enduring political solution” and there were “no military solutions to political questions”.

This shows New Delhi’s growing impatience with Colombo over the way the Sri Lankan government has launched its biggest ever offensive against the Tamil Tigers, leading to much hardship and suffering for civilians caught in the crossfire.

Source: merinews

Govt working to end Lankan conflict, says Pallam Raju(Minister of State for Defence-India)

With political parties in Tamil Nadu mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, the government today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was making "best efforts" to ensure an end to the crisis and for a proper settlement of the ethnic problem.
"We are conscious that we as a nation have to try and reduce the conflict and negotiate a proper settlement for Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Towards this end, the government and the Prime Minister are making their best efforts," Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju told reporters here.

"The government and the country are very clear about the manner in which we should be involved in Sri Lanka," he said when asked about the issue on the sidelines of a seminar organised by Indian Institution of Bridge Engineers.

To a question on India's supply of defence equipment to Sri Lanka, Raju said it was purely for "self defence" of that country.

Raju said the government was concentrating its efforts on safeguarding human rights of Tamils in that country.

"The entire effort of the government has been to minimise the conflict and to safeguard human rights of Tamils living there and we are working towards that end," Raju said.

In an apparent reference to fears of Pakistan and China gaining influence in Sri Lanka, Raju said the government was taking every step to guard its interests in the Indian Ocean Region.

"We are clear that we should be the only nation who should be present in this region and we are guarding our interests in the Indian Ocean Region, " Raju said.

Source: PTI

Tamil film industry rift over championing Sri Lankan Tamils

Most Tamil film actors have promised to turn up for the Nov 1 day-long token fast organised by actor-turned-politician Sarath Kumar here to protest the suffering of Sri Lankan Tamils, and politely excused themselves from Sunday's rally in Rameshwaram organised by ace director Bharati Raja.

The Tamil film industry is keen on highlighting the suffering of Sri Lankan Tamils, from whom the industry nets a huge sum of money through overseas rights of their films.

Bharati Raja Friday launched a campaign against virtually all the matinee idols of the South Indian Actors' Association (SIAA) led by Sarath Kumar for staying away from the demonstration and public meeting in Rameshwaram. He alleged the actor was attempting to use the state's unhappiness over the suffering of Sri Lankan Tamils to further his political career.

"Can't they be present at Rameshwaram to show solidarity with Sri Lanka Tamils? It is their hard earned money that is bringing in a lot of profit through the overseas rights of Tamil movies," Raja said.

Many actors have excused themselves from the Rameshwaram protest citing preoccupation.

While Raja is considered to be close to the ruling DMK, Kumar is in the opposition camp and heads the All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi (AISMK).

Kumar's supporters feel Raja was talking out of turn.

"Raja had failed to turn up during an emotional protest in April against Kannada chauvinists' destruction of Tamil movie properties in Bangalore," said a top functionary of Kumar-led AISMK.

Significantly, the Raja-led protest will be attended by several directors and technicians owing allegiance to the Film Employees' Federation of South India (FEFSI) - the apex body of the entire south's film industry, but will lack glamour as most of the actors and actresses are planning to stay away.

"The polemics in the film industry politics has taken a needless lead when the actual focus ought to be on the sufferings Tamils in Sri Lanka. The attention, however, will help the Tamils' cause in the longer run," said P. Shankar, a scriptwriter and production designer.

Kumar had said Wednesday, "A large number of actors will not be able to take part in the demonstration in Rameshwaram and hence we are organising a fast on Nov 1 in the SIAA premises."

Source: Hindu

Karunanidhi welcomes PM's remarks on Lanka issue

Welcoming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statements favouring a negotiated settlement to end the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has said the remarks raised hopes of the Centre taking steps to halt Lankan troops' offensive against Tamils in LTTE-held areas.

The DMK chief, while writing in party organ "Murasoli", said he found solace in the remarks of the PM and hoped the Centre would consider the demands of an all-party meeting in Chennai on October 14.

Singh had said there could not be any military solution to the Sri Lankan issue and India had been pressing for a negotiated settlement to meet the aspirations of minority Tamils in that country, he said.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had also spoken on the similar line, he said, adding these remarks had strengthened his hopes that the centre would act, taking into consideration, the resolution passed at the meeting, which said all MPs from the state would resign if the Centre did not take action within a fortnight.

In line with the resolution, 13 Lok Sabha members of the DMK and four Rajya Sabha members have already submitted their post-dated resignation letters to Karunanidhi.

Expressing anguish over the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils, he said: "The future of Tamil race has become a question mark. I am unable to sleep, whenever I think of it. Let us save the Tamil race and its honour. Let us avoid the racial genocide in Sri Lanka at whatever price."

Source: hindustantimes

India must intervene, says Lanka Tamil MP

The Indian Government should intervene in the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka, said Tamil MP N K Sivadhilingam here on Friday.

Tamils, Muslims, French and Sinhalese were living in Sri Lanka. But the government wanted non-Sinhalese out of the country. So, they were killing Tamils under the cover of the war between the Sri Lankan troops and the LTTE, he told reporters here.

Earlier, he attended a meeting organised by the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi here.The Tamil National Alliance Party leader said the Lankan Army had started air attacks on the Tamils due to the recent support from Pakistan and China.

The Chinese Government had supplied a three-dimensional radar to the Lankan troops. He criticised Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for not heeding India’s advice and continuing with the attacks on Tamils.

Source: expressbuzz

India can intervene in Sri Lanka: Karunanidhi

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said Friday night that India could certainly intervene in Sri Lanka to alleviate the sufferings of Tamil minorities there, in the same way it did in then East Pakistan in 1971.”Did India not intervene in Bangladesh when needed?”, the DMK chief told reporters when asked how India could intervene in the affairs of a foreign nation. He was referring to the 1971 India-Pakistan war that led to the creation of a separate nation of Bangladesh.

Karunanidhi was speaking to media persons after 14 party Lok Sabha MPs, including central ministers T.R. Baalu and A. Raja, handed over post-dated resignation letters to him demanding an end to the violence in Sri Lanka.

“The decision about the resignations will be taken finally on oct 28, if the situation does not improve,” the veteran leader said.

The resignations came even as the central government asked Sri Lanka to halt its military offensive against the Tamil Tigers in the island nation.

Earlier in the evening, the ruling DMK had announced that four of its Rajya Sabha MPs had submitted post-dated resignation letters to Karunanidhi on the issue.

A party spokesperson said: “We have great faith in the United Progressive Alliance leadership at the centre and hope the suffering of our brethren in the island will end soon.”

Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi had handed her resignation letter to her father Tuesday.

Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry together have 40 members in the Lok Sabha - all of who have offered to quit if the government fails to take action on the Sri Lankan issue.

Lawyers in Coimbatore burnt an effigy of Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony within the court premises earlier in the day, alleging a conspiracy by bureaucrats of Kerala origin to keep the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka on tenterhooks.

The protesting lawyers burnt copies of The Hindu newspaper, which carried an interview Friday by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa saying that he was committed to a “just and enduring political solution” to the festering problem. The lawyers alleged that major newspapers in the country were ignoring the “just demands” of the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Source: thaindian