Daily Archives: April 29, 2006

Support President Rajapakse to defeat terrorism – Navin

The assassination attempt to Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka by a LTTE suicide bomber has proved again the inhumanness, cruelty and complete disregard for accepted norms of behaviour by the LTTE. This attempt is not an attempt against the government, but the entire Sri Lankan state and should be condemned by all parties and the people who are committed to democracy and human rights and those who are trying for a negotiated political solution, Navin Dissanayake, MP, said.

"Being a son of a United National Party leader, who has also been assassinated by the LTTE, I would like to stress at this point that while the UNP has borne the brunt of LTTE suicide attacks as far as a political party is concerned, it is time that all peace-loving citizens of this country unite to overcome and defeat the dark forces of terrorism and separation that are trying to darken our motherland," he said in a statement.

"It is a known strategy of the LTTE to divide various races living in Sri Lanka by these cruel acts. We must all be mindful of what the LTTE is trying to do. It is up to all peace-loving citizens of Sri Lanka regardless of what political party they belong to, protect the sovereignty of this country. We should never be provoked by the LTTE terrorism. At this crucial juncture in the nation’s history regardless of petty political differences we must support President Mahinda Rajapakse for him to face this problem with all the courage and strength that is required." -Island

Tame the Tiger

Times of India Editorial:

THE heinous attack on Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka at a hospital in Colombo has pushed the nation to the brink of war. Goverment has already launched air strikes on ‘selected targets’ in uncleared areas as a retaliatory measure.

Despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s announcement that the ceasefire agreement of 2002 will hold, there is concern that the tenuous peace process between Goverment and LTTE is under threat.

The suicide attack on Tuesday appears to be the handiwork of LTTE, even though the terror group has denied any involvement. LTTE has a history of engaging in brinkmanship.

In all probability, the attack on Fonseka was intended to provoke the Goverment ahead of the peace talks in Geneva. Any act of violence on the part of Sri Lankan armed forces, even if it is retaliatory, will be used by LTTE to drum up support in circles sympathetic to the Tamil cause.

Goverment should not walk into the trap. The impasse in the talks is largely due to LTTE’s refusal to engage constructively with the peace process.

It is high time they realise that the best option for Tamils is a federal Sri Lanka that can protect the political and cultural concerns of various minorities.

Civil society should also lend a helping hand if the wounds of the violent decades are to heal and a multi-ethnic Sri Lanka is to survive.

There is a paucity of leadership within the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that can challenge the consensus manufactured by LTTE. This leadership drought is a fallout of LTTE’s politics to destroy views and opinion that are at variance with those held by Prabhakaran.

Over the years, politicians and academics who resisted LTTE’s hegemony have been killed. In an atmosphere of fear and terror, it is unlikely that correctives to LTTE’s absolutist position on a Tamil homeland will emerge from within the community.

However, there are sections among the political class in Tamil Nadu which can engage with LTTE. Leaders like Karunanidhi and Vaiko have been vocal about their sympathies for the plight of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.

They should impress upon LTTE leadership the need to be realistic and conciliatory about its goals. They should follow the example of CPM leader Sitaram Yechury who used his good offices with Nepal’s Maoists and the Seven Party Alliance to work for peace.

Forces targeted only LTTE positions, exodus exaggerated – SLMM Chief

COLOMBO: The Head of Mission of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Major General Ulf Henricsson confirmed that the Sri Lanka Air Force and Navy had definitely targeted military positions and offices of the LTTE, when he met Dr. Palitha Kohona, Secretary General of the Secretarial for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) at his office yesterday.

Major General Henricsson offered his observations following his trip to Trincomalee and Sampur on April 27.

He also added that the report relating to a mass exodus of people from the Sampur area were grossly exaggerated.

He had the opportunity to make first hand observations on the ground following the limited military operation launched by the security forces on April 25-26 against identified LTTE targets in the Sampur area, which had now come to an end.

He observed that some collateral damage to property had taken place as some of the LTTE offices were situated in populated areas. Such collateral damage was not significant.

In his estimation approximately 10-12 people may have died. He did not believe that 16 people had died as has been claimed in some reports.

On being asked about the reports relating to a mass exodus of people from the Sampur area, he stated that these were grossly exaggerated. It is normal for people to move away from military targets at times of conflict.

Since the bombing ceased, people were slowly returning to their homes and villages. Secretary General, SCOPP assured that the Government will take all measures to facilitate the return and rehabilitation of people who had left their homes.

He referred to the Essential Services Task Force headed by the Governor of the North and the East, established by the Government to facilitate the delivery of essential services to residents of this area.

These observations of the Head of Mission of SLMM clearly support the fact that the security forces had been careful about avoiding civilian casualties.

The government security forces had not launched attacks ‘deliberately and entirely directed at civilian settlements’ as claimed by the LTTE (LTTE press statement, 26 April 2006). There has also been no mass displacement of persons from these areas as claimed by the LTTE.

The LTTE claimed that as a result of the government’s action more than 40,000 people have been displaced and are languishing as refugees.

The Government Agent of Trincomalee has since confirmed that the total population of Sampur is approximately 16,600 and that only a small fraction of the population left their homes during the military strikes.

This limited operation by the security forces which has now come to an end, was in response to a sustained campaign of LTTE terror attacks and specific attacks against the Sri Lanka Navy in the Trincomalee area. It was carried out as a deterrent to neutralise the threat posed by the LTTE to the harbour and key naval installations in Trincomalee.-LP

Oslo says agreement reached with Govt., LTTE

With relative calm in the North East yesterday, the Co-chairs of the peace process met in Oslo and agreed to regroup again in Japan renewing hopes that the government and the LTTE will meet for talks sooner than later.

Norway’s Minister and Chief Peace Facilitator Erik Solheim said the government and the LTTE were in contact with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission ‘to establish the groundwork for talks in Geneva,’ an Oslo based AP report said yesterday.

‘"Both parties have in principle agreed to a Geneva meeting, and both parties have confirmed to us in the last couple of days that they want to come to Geneva as soon as possible," Mr. Solheim said after the meeting.

Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer said the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have agreed to meet for peace talks in Geneva, but no date has been set. He said peace talks would be held after a meeting by the LTTE leadership.

The two sides were set to meet in Geneva earlier this week, but the LTTE backed out, citing attacks on Tamil civilians and other disputes with the government.

The Co-chairs also expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka and discussed ways and means of achieving permanent peace and also agreed to meet again in Japan, a joint statement issued after the Oslo meeting said.

"The purpose of the meeting was to assess the serious situation in Sri Lanka and examine how the Co-chairs could effectively respond to it. The Co-chairs reiterate their deep concern at the recent deterioration of the situation in Sri Lanka and condemn all acts of violence and ask that these be stopped," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Head Ulf Henricsson met Peace Secretariat Head Palitha Kohona on Thursday after returning from a visit to Trincomalee and Sampoor.

Mr. Henricson said the air force and the navy had targeted military positions and offices of the LTTE and around 10 to 12 people might have died denying reports of 16 being killed.

Citing reports on the mass exodus of people from the Sampoor area he said these reports were grossly exaggerated. "It is normal for people to move away from military targets at times of conflict. Since the bombing ceased, people were slowly returning to their homes and villages," Mr. Henricson said.

Dr. Kohona assured that the government will take all measures to facilitate the return and rehabilitation of people who had left their homes adding the Essential Services Task Force would deliver essential services to the people.

"There has also been no mass displacement of persons from these areas as claimed by the LTTE," he said.

The LTTE claimed that as a result of the air and sea bombardment more than 40,000 people have been displaced and were languishing as refugees.

The Trincomalee Government Agent has since confirmed that the total population of Sampoor is about 16,600 and that only a small fraction of the population left their homes during the military strikes.

A peace secretariat statement said the limited operation by the security forces which has now come to an end, was in response to a sustained campaign of LTTE terror attacks and specific attacks against the Sri Lanka Navy in the Trincomalee area and it was carried out as a deterrent to neutralize the threat posed by the LTTE to the harbour and key naval installations in Trincomalee.- LP

President Mahinda Rajapakse is being rabidly misled

[President Rajapakse must get on with governing the country and serve the aspirations of the peace loving people and should not hearken the advice of forces that obviously have certain ulterior motives that conflict with those of the Sri Lankans.]

Considered a hawk and very likely to take a strong stand against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Mahinda Rajapakse’s election as the President of Sri Lanka caused waves of concerns in certain circles not necessarily in Sri Lanka alone. Some bells of deep apprehension and discomfort must have been ringing down certain corridors of Washington in the US and Whitehall in the United Kingdom.

Terrorism means different things in different countries to the United States and the United Kingdom particularly under Bush-Blair onslaught in international affairs. Even these could vary from time to time like the various stages in the life of Saddam Hussein, the time when Rumsfeld was his friend who nurtured and nourished his leadership and the time when he is his enemy depending on whatever that suits power elements within the US. Political integrity suffers a great deal in the US, and UK under Tony Blair has the tendency to follow in that path like poodle on the lead.

Tiger terrorism has an out and out frame and fibre of western adulation and interests about it. This is projected via the Norwegian link and anything Anglo-Saxon or even Viking has the features of colonial master cum slave relationship. The Tamil Tigers are key to propagate such interests in South Asia. This is neo-colonialism and these powers need violent outfits like the LTTE which faithfully and yours obediently serves their foreign policy interests. Among them apart from many other aspects, being the consumers of obsolete arms stockpiled in these countries is one.

They never stop producing arms at considerable moral, ethical and environmental costs and they need theatres of war in as many parts of the world as possible to assert their power and dominance. Half the world is miserable and hungry and yet these powers are riding like Wild West vagabonds except that the theatre of pestilence they cause now is global.

As never before in respect of the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis, soon after President Mahinda Rajapakse assumed office, the US ambassador reacted post haste to chide the LTTE leaders on their determination to use terror as a weapon to achieve whatever aims they were harbouring in their minds. This was almost immediately followed by a US Under Secretary who too made similar assertions and with even stronger emphasis against the Tamil Tigers. And once these were made, they disappeared from the scene evidently satisfied they had softened President Rajapakse and sure that he would not take any strong action especially military attacks against the LTTE that could have spelt the demise of this terror outfit.

Evidently President Rajapakse too believed that the Americans were sincere and that they meant well for Sri Lanka. However, an in-depth analysis of how the US considers the various nations of the world and the growing power of China and India, the strategic geopolitical position of Sri Lanka, the importance of Trincomalee as a deep-sea harbour, its close proximity to Diego Garcia in the western Indian Ocean, the current developments in the Middle East and the uneasy relationship with Pakistan, it is important for the American super power to ensure a perennial chaotic situation in South Asia. In this, the LTTE, which has no political ideology whatsoever, serves them immensely.

Such American concerns and interests are certainly well served by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. While pretending to fight for the cause of the Tamil minority community in Sri Lanka, most significantly this terror organization does not want any solution except the creation of a mafia state where only they will be the masters. The US boasts of being a role model country that cherishes democratic values but its history in relations to other countries have been absolutely pathetic.

US have spawned some of the most brutal terrorist leaders not only in neighbouring South America but also in Asia and Africa. Typically, the LTTE also wants to be a dictatorial contraption with its leader already recognized as some kind of Sun God, and he being the ultimate oracle, no other dog should be allowed to bark.

Right along the LTTE has a history of reneging on peace effort agreements and the recent Geneva charade is no exception. The suicide bomb attack on Monday April 24 on the Sri Lankan Army Commander indicates that it was planned weeks ahead, or more possibly months. It appears the female bomber was prepared in the most brutal and utterly barbaric form for such a foul deed by making her pregnant in the first place.

Tiger suicide bombers are known to be put through a process of preparation by destroying in them whatever womanhood considers precious to them and zealously protected. And when it is time for them to undertake a particular mission, they come under the total control of at least two men who ensure that the mission ordered by their bunkered boss is carried out. She is entirely at their mercy and such men are devoid of all human decencies let alone any respect for those in their control. This has all the attributes of the mafia.

Impregnating a bomber was evidently done to gain easy access to the hospital within the army headquarters premises where they have extended treatment for pregnant mothers and the LTTE must have capitalized on this facility. They really did their vile and obnoxious homework.

It also exposes the pitiless and sadistic characteristic of the LTTE in respect of employing child soldiers. In this particular case, they had created a foetus to do a foul deed in the name of liberation. More than that, even while they attended the Geneva Talks, they knew that such a foul deed was being readied to create havoc and communal outburst in the country. Peace was certainly not in their minds; is never in their minds.

If a solution to the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka and peace were in their minds, Rajiv Gandhi who single handedly ensured an ideal package for solution would never have been killed. Are there other dimensions to his assassination, which have nothing to do with his relations and differences with Prabhakaran that were widely exploited when the LTTE refused to accept the offer and insisted on sole dominance? Evidently there are indeed, unless Prabhakaran is down right bonkers. In preferring to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi to serve other interests, this Tiger leader betrayed the Sri Lankan Tamil community.

Repeatedly and with immense aversion and antipathy, the LTTE was always and most stubbornly opposed to even a tinge of democratic principles in pursuing a solution for the ethnic crisis. What kind of politics do the Americans and obviously their proxy, the Norwegians expect from such an organization? If the LTTE is opposed to anything democratic what is the purpose in pursuing peace efforts?

This being so, and the records are so clear, one cannot understand why Norway is trying so hard to be a facilitator and a friend of the LTTE. Perhaps Norway’s sole interests are to serve the forces that want the South Asia region to be in a state of perpetual unrest. This may be the reason why the US was so keen to ensure that President Rajapakse did not take a strong stand against the LTTE at a time when that should have been his primary responsibility.

There are no evidence whatsoever of the Tamil Tigers ever showing any interests on the welfare of the Tamil community. They lived on them and exploited the people to the hilt. They used threats, intimidation and even carried out brutal murders to subjugate the entire community through such actions as overnight lamppost executions.

There was a time especially soon after the Indian Peace Keeping Force left when people in their thousands were arrested and incarcerated in Tiger jails under horrendous conditions and hardly ever any one of them returned home. They were the people who were forced to build bunkers and underground tunnels and facilities and such use of slaves stinks of Nazism.

The first report of the LTTE immediately after the tsunami tragedy indicated 1500 were killed in Mullaitivu where it came to be known that they had bunker jails along the seacoast. The LTTE was able to have this figure right because they knew the raging waters killed all their prisoners. Constable-General Nadesan has a jail in his control in Thunukkai where the prisoners are shackled with chains welded tight around their ankles and their numbers are not known to the outside world. These have highly worrying parallels to how certain prisoners are held in Guantanamo Bay by the American government.

Soon after the Indian Peace Keeping Force left, six camps were set up for women in the Jaffna peninsula and these were directed by Adele Balasingam. Why were these camps set up and what were the activities that dominated and determined the nature of these camps? Why were many women prisoners killed virtually indiscriminately? Relief and freedom came to the inmates when Jaffna was liberated by the efficient action of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces led by Brigadier-General Janaka Perera. The Balasingam couple has always employed a disappearing performance whenever there was a threat to their lives. One wonders who made this a possibility whenever they needed to be shifted to a safe place. Before Adele Balasingam escaped from Jaffna, a number of women inmates in the camps were mercilessly killed.

In the aftermath of the attack in Colombo on Lt.General Sarath Fonseka at the Sri Lanka Army Headquarters, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said that the State Department was in touch with Washington and abroad with other countries to bring to bear whatever pressure that can be put on the Tigers to abandon this course of action. The US is one of the co-chairs of the Sri Lankan Peace Process, the others being the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan and Norway and despite the existence of this Peace Process mission for sometime, the Tigers have carried on their brutal and vile activities regardless and there appears to have been no impact made on them to give at least some respect to their efforts.

Richard Boucher regretted that the Tigers ‘decided to restart the war instead of restarting the peace process’ and appears that he has not observed the reality that both in respect of war and peace, the position of the LTTE has been perpetual. Even during the so-called CFA peace period, they had continued to organize their kind of paramilitary forces, killed wantonly including the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and organized a global campaign to collect funds for the final war. Peace was never in their mind and war was their eternal goal. If Richard Boucher takes the position of the LTTE restarting the war, then his very foundational premise itself is flawed.

He goes further to say that the US is not talking to the Tigers and it works with a lot of parties who have a lot of contacts with them. Perhaps he is taking cover under the US ban on the Tigers some years ago. But then who are the parties US is talking to regarding the Tigers? After all there are some highly committed Tigers in the US and to their craving for a mafia state in Sri Lanka who suffer no setbacks for their support to this terrorist outfit. One wonders whether US officials are talking to them or perhaps, it is with Norwegian officials they are in contact.

Whatever measures they are pursuing, none of them are making any impact on the LTTE and all that US has achieved is to prevent President Mahinda Rajapakse from taking firm Law and Order action against the Tiger terrorists, an obligation to which he is bound by the power and trust vested on him by the people of Sri Lanka. In fact, the US action has been to disable him and in so doing saved the skin of Prabhakaran and his coterie of terrorists.

It was sheer crocodile tears when the US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said in January that the people of Sri Lanka ought not to have to live for another 15 or 20 years with this reprehensible terrorist group keeping this country verged on the edge of war. Four months later, Richard Boucher merely reflected this view by stating that the US has often called on the LTTE to give up terrorism and all forms of violence in word and deed. Have they not understood that the LTTE is all terrorism and violence and if they give up these, they are a sheer zero? How long more should the Sri Lankans wait for the end of this terrible terror plague?

Whether it is Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or Thunukkai in Kilinochchi, the parallels are indeed frightening. One must also remember the LTTE has had training in Israel and more than that, indoctrination as to why their personnel should look up to the US as the saviours and leaders of the world.

None of these co-chair people and even the Norwegian efforts have come anywhere near what Rajiv Gandhi was able to achieve by sheer will and determination and that too within a short period of time and for this he was assassinated. Ever since that dastardly act was committed a suspicion has arisen that there must have been some forces that used the LTTE to advantage against India in general and Rajiv Gandhi in particular. The same perhaps is true of the assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar who had an ideal solution to offer and pursued it persistently.

Instead of wasting any more time with peace process efforts, President Mahinda Rajapakse should be allowed to fulfill his determination to bring this terror to end and get on with governing the entire country and put it on the fast track for the long overdue development.- Durga Velautham

Call girls and call boys of Fourth Estate

One day an elderly elephant heard a strange noise and he summoned his two sons. "Go look what’s on!" he said. The two calves went whence the noise had come and found two hunters wending their way through. They ran back to their father panting. "Papa," one calf said with the other agreeing, "forty hunters are coming!" The elephant family ran for dear life.

Now the question: Why did the calf say there were forty hunters, whereas there were, in fact, only two of them?

Well, we don’t want to keep you guessing. The answer is: The calf was a liar! Then why on earth did the other one repeat that lie? Well, it was very weak in arithmetic.

Replace the first calf with LTTE propagandists and the other with the foreign press, and then you have a better picture of the international media coverage of the air strikes on LTTE targets in Sampur the other day. The LTTE said 40,000 people were fleeing and some of the Colombo based foreign journalists swallowed the lie, hook line and sinker. They lost no time in disseminating the Goebbelsian lie across the globe. What they didn’t realise was that Sampur has only a population of 16,000!

Let it be added immediately that our sympathy is with those civilians who were harmed and displaced for no fault of theirs, regardless of their numbers. War is hell as we have been saying repeatedly in these columns and it must be avoided. That’s why the LTTE, which is all out to thrust war on the state, must be stopped in its tracks.

In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, when the entire world rushed to our help, BBC had the audacity to interview an LTTE sympathiser who said when the killer waves came pummelling everything on their way, he had first thought the SLAF aircraft were bombing his area. "You know they usually bomb churches and schools," he said to a seemingly dumb interviewer of BBC, which boasts of Hard Talk. All what a discerning listener gathered was that BBC couldn’t find someone, for an interview, who knew waves from bombers.

We don’t fault BBC as a whole for broadcasting such mistruths, half-truths, untruths and diabolical lies. It is like setting a bus on fire because of an errant driver who runs over a pedestrian. We blame its correspondents and programme directors who are behaving in a manner suggestive of hubris and chutzpah and wonder why such irresponsible swashbucklers are allowed to cover matters that are sensitive and have the potential to set a conflict-torn country on fire. And those worthies are trying to teach responsible journalism to their Sri Lankan counterparts. We would rather learn honesty from a fraud or chastity from a whore than journalism from them.

Some of those potentates are actively engaged in politics and functioning as propagandists of some political leaders in this country. Unless the leaders of their choice come to power, they vilify the successful others and paint Sri Lanka raven black. There are, of course, true professionals among them-and we raise our editorial hat to those ladies and gentlemen who have done their profession proud!-but the sordid operations of some among them have tarnished their image as well. All it takes to spoil a pot of milk is a little bit of cow dung! (Etymologically speaking, the word ‘dung’ has a Celtic origin!)

Those know-alls in the garb of foreign correspondents peddling not-so-hidden agendas are no better than carrion crows trailing hyenas in the bush looking for carcasses and corpses. They are blind to anything positive about the country where they work. They have mistaken their mission here for heightening the conflict by lionising Tigers. BBC once produced a documentary on Black Tigers and the only purpose it served was to project those mind-erased killing machines as heroes. But it didn’t show the faces of even Sinn Fein leaders until they mellowed their stance. A CNN correspondent once tried to ‘balance’ a story on child combatants saying that both the LTTE and the government recruited child soldiers!

One may wonder whether the brand of journalism that some foreign correspondents practice is an extension of the foreign policy of their respective countries. For example, the international terror network of the LTTE is coordinated by a British citizen from London-Anton Balasingham is his name. The British government does sweet little or nothing about his operations and permits even celebrations of terrorist events on the British soil, where the outfit is (nominally?) banned. During the tsunami disaster the British Navy took an LTTE leader to one of its warships off the eastern coast! Later the British claimed they didn’t know he was an LTTE leader. Poor British intelligence! BBC appears to be following the same policy towards the LTTE, which is on a campaign to divide a Commonwealth nation.

The World Press Freedom Day is being commemorated in Colombo on a grand scale. The press must have unbridled freedom the world over and no stone should be left unturned in our efforts to achieve that noble goal. But freedom sans responsibility, like power without control, means disaster. Hence the need for holding the journalistic call girls (and call boys)-irrespective of the colour of their skin-at bay without letting them bring the noble profession of journalism to the same level as the oldest profession in the world. The sooner it is done, the better it is for the genuine practitioners.

With rancour and malice towards none!

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