Daily Archives: December 26, 2006

Jordanian Ship’s captain says his ship was looted by the Tiger pirates

By Walter Jayawardhana

The captain of the ship held a press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Colombo

The captain of the Jordanian vessel Farah 111 told Sri lanka’s Peace Secretariat and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission officials that the pirates of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) looted his ship and removed every removable communication equipment and the personal effects of the crew.

At a discussion conducted in Colombo the ship’s captain gave the officials a detailed narrative of what happened to his ship now grounded in sand and his crew who were forcibly removed from his ship by military speed boats of the Sea Tigers.

He said when his engines of the ship failed off the Sri Lanka’s East coast the ship was safely anchored and they were waiting for a chug boat called Maha Oya from Colombo to push the ship to the port of Colombo for repairs when the pirates of the Liberation tigers arrived.

The ship at that time was 8.2 nautical miles North East of Mulativu, the LTTE stronghold. About 3.00 a.m. five or six boats approached the ship. When they came close to the ship he asked them who they were. They said they belonged to the Sri Lanka Navy. Then he asked to turn on the flood lights and saw some of the people who approached the ship were in civic clothes. Then with the help of hooks and ropes three of them climbed over to the ship. At no time they did ask whether the ship needed any help. One person had a bag over his shoulders and the other two were armed

After few moments later he pushed the distress button which would electronically send out the message the ship was under armed attack by pirates.

The pirates of the Sea Tigers started removing all communication equipment of the ship so that no messages could be sent out.

The leader of the group ordered the the anchor of the ship to be lifted making the crew and the ship in turbulent waters endangered. The captain then asked to do the job very slowly to buy time.

The pirates shouted to hurry up by shooting into the air. Finally when the anchor was lifted the pirates loaded all their looted communication equipment into the boats and ordered them to get into their boats.

The boats were with three outboard motors and fixed guns in them . At this point the the SLMM representative who participated in the discussion recognized them as typical Sea Tiger boats. Then the captain and the crew were taken into a house.

When they were taken in the boats due the excessive speed of the boats some crew members got injured, the captain said. Some got so sea sick.

At the dusk they were allowed to go back to their ship and remove their personal effects. Six of them were then taken back to the ship. At this time they saw every removable equipment of the ship have been looted like radar, computer, walkie talkies,. They also saw the pirates have removed the personal belongings of the crew men like laptops, cell phones, phone battery charges, and ship’s fax machine etc.,

Then the Captain asked the pirates what is going to happen to my ship? I have got to tell this to the owners. The answer was that it had to be settled between the LTTE leader Prabhakaran, the government of Sri Lanka and the government of Jordan.

Next day morning they were taken to a hotel in Kilinochchi and also allowed to shop since they have lost some clothes. Thereafter they were handed over to the ICRC, the captain said.

The 14,000 tons of rice they were transporting from an Indian port were left intact in the ship, the captain said.

Since the anchors were lifted the ship has drifted to 1600 meters from the Mulaitivu shore and grounded in the sand, the navy said.

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Newspaper says Brunswick Police in New Jersey is looking into a new front of the LTTE

By Walter Jayawardhana

A Sri Lankan group purported to be representing themselves as South Asian Community Association and held a memorial meeting to eulogize dead Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters including suicide bombers as heroes told a New Jersey newspaper ‘Star-Ledger’ they did not have any connections with a terrorist group.

The group called South Asian Community Association rented an auditorium of the south Brunswick middle School in New Jersey, USA for a memorial to eulogize the dead LTTE fighters including those suicide bombers who targeted unarmed civilians and raised the flag of the LTTE and sang the anthem of the group on December 02 as was reported by the pro-LTTE news website Tamil Net.

The meeting was addressed by known leaders of the LTTE in the United States, Visuvanadan Rudrakumaran and Dr. Naglingam Jeyalingam.

The LTTE or Tamil Tigers, about whom the organizers of the meeting praised about and are listed as a terrorist group by the State Department of the USA. Some have complained that the meeting held at this government school which was claimed by the Tamil Net website to be 500 also raised funds for the banned terrorist group.

The Star-Ledger newspaper of New Jersey who published two consecutive news articles about the group who rented the Brunswick school reported that ,  ‘South Brunswick police officials said last week investigators were looking into allegations that the Princeton Junction-based South Asian Community Association is linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.’

The police investigations started after some residents of Brunswick reported to the police that the organizers of the meeting were actually a front organization for the LTTE.

US based LTTE leader Visuvanadan Rudrakumaran, addressing the school meeting reportedly said that While the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty (AEDPA) amended by the Patriot Act and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act prohibits providing material support to designated organizations, "the Statute does not prohibit being a member of one of the designated groups or vigorously promoting and supporting the political goals of the group," according to the Tamil Net who covered the meeting. In fact Rudra Kumaran who is also a lawyer , was trying to take into advantage a recent verdict delivered by a California Federal judge favoring the LTTE.

In its latest report the Star Ledger newspaper said, ‘Leaders of a community group accused of having ties to a terrorist organization after they rented space earlier this month in a South Brunswick middle school denied this week their organization supports terrorists and said police have not contacted any of its members.

"No one has contacted me," said Ram Ranjan, an organizer of the SACA. ‘Ranjan’s name appeared on the rental contract between SACA and the South Brunswick School District.

But South Brunswick Police Detective James Ryan said, "The investigation has progressed. I can’t comment further than that."

A link was made between the SACA and Ranjan because he serves as state coordinator of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, which raises money for medical services, schools and orphanages and the victims of the LTTE, not the LTTE, Ranjan said.

"The LTTE assassinated 48 people in 2005, including Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, according to the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism. The group was also blamed for killing 49 members of the Sri Lankan security forces in the same year."

Although the LTTE controls extremely small amount of enclaves in Sri Lanka, in the jungles of the Vanni in the North and few square miles at Vakarai in the East, Rajan told the Star-Ledger newspaper it controlled two thirds of the land mass of Sri Lanka.

The Star-Ledger further reported: ‘Ranjan, who came to New Jersey in 1994, explained that the LTTE controls two-thirds of Sri Lanka, and because the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization works in those areas affected by the war, "people think we support the LTTE," he said.

"The SACA rented the cafeteria and auditorium Dec. 2 at Crossroads North Middle School for a "Hero’s Day" celebration. Ranjan said the event is equivalent to Memorial Day.

"It’s a celebration to honor those people who died in the civil war in Sri Lanka," he said. "It’s a solemn event. We praise the people who died. There are speeches and dancing."

The Sri Lankan civil war has lasted for more than 50 years and more than 70,000 Tamils, or natives, have been killed, said Balan Balasingam, a member of the SACA and a South Brunswick resident who has lived in America for 20 years.

Schools Superintendent Gary McCartney said everything was in order when the SACA filled out paperwork to rent the space, including the $2,240 rental fee and the required $2 million insurance policy. The association used the space without incident, he said.

But McCartney received two e-mails, one Dec. 7 and another Dec. 11, from different people who claimed there were ties between the SACA and the LTTE. McCartney turned over the e-mails to the police department.

Ranjan said the SACA, which formally organized two years ago, has sponsored the celebration for the last 13 years at various locations in South Brunswick and the surrounding community. However, he said the group in the past has had to change locations at the last minute because people think the SACA supports the LTTE.

"From time to time, we feel there are certain groups in the U.S. who try to use the terrorist factor by providing those allegations," said Balasingam.

Paran Thiru, a member of the SACA from South Brunswick, said he wants people to understand that they should not be associated with terrorists.

"We are hard-working, taxpaying, peace-loving people," Thiru said.

Siva Thangavelan, who came to America 10 years ago and lives in South Brunswick, said the SACA started the Hero’s Day program by saluting America.

"The first thing we did was raise the American flag and play the national anthem," Thangavelan said. "How can we be terrorists if we salute the flag?"

But Tangavelan failed to tell the newspaper that they raised the LTTE terrorist flag together with the US flag and sang the anthem of the terrorists at the function.

In an earlier report the Star ledger said: ‘South Brunswick School Superintendent Gary McCartney said no red flags were raised when the district received the application from the South Asian Community Association and he didn’t become aware of a possible connection to the LTTE until Friday when he read an e-mail concerning a possible link.

McCartney received similar e-mail Monday from a different person, and he called the police department to investigate. He said both authors of the e-mails asked to remain anonymous. McCartney was unaware Ranjan is the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization’s state coordinator until he was told by a reporter yesterday.

"I want to know if there’s an affiliation," McCartney said. "The best decisions are made when you have more information."

The South Brunswick Police Department is investigating the al legations, said Detective James Ryan. Police Capt. Harry Delgado is a member of the school board.

"We are aware of the allegations being made about the event and we are looking into it," Ryan said.

McCartney said district officials followed the appropriate protocol in approving the application through the school’s business office.

The Star Ledger newspaper further said, ‘The contact for the South Asian Community Association — Ram Ranjan — is the state coordinator for the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, a long-standing international aid group to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE. The U.S. Department of State lists LTTE as a designated foreign terrorist organization’

2004 Tsunami: Sri Lanka

[blip.tv ?posts_id=38604&dest=6898]

Over two years ago, a devastating Tsunami struck many of the countries in Southeast Asia. This video depicts the story of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka specifically and demonstrates what Canada has done to provide aid.

Overall Tsunami reconstruction progress in Sri Lanka

The relief effort in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami was overwhelmingly positive with strong responses from government, private citizens and international agencies. However, the record of the reconstruction phase is more mixed with an acceptable performance in the South but unacceptably limited progress in the north and east, largely because of escalating conflict is focused in the north east of the country.

In addition to immediate relief, the reconstruction phase in Sri Lanka was estimated to need some EUR 1.5 billion and would take 3-5 years. Sri Lanka received this full amount in pledges. On this second anniversary, nearly 100% has been committed and over half of it has been disbursed onto specific contracts.

One main focus of reconstruction is in rebuilding road, communal and housing infrastructure. This is well underway. 135 kms of National Highways and five 5 major bridges are nearing completion on the Southern coast. Tenders have to be awarded for another 149 kms of National Highways and procurement is likely to be completed by March 2007. Over 1000 kms of national B and C roads are under or entering construction. But the major roads stop after Ampara district as conflict prevents further construction further north.

Around 50% of the initial 95,000 houses requiring repair or full reconstruction have been completed. The GOSL expects the remaining units to be finalized by mid 2007. 160 schools have already been rehabilitated. The construction of 218 affected health institutions is either in progress or at the design stage. The performance on restoring livelihoods for tsunami victims is similarly impressive at first glance. 100% of damaged fishing boats have been repaired and 95% of destroyed boats have been replaced. Regarding agriculture, 75.5% of the affected paddy cultivation land is back in use.

However, these impressive statistics hide the many procedural problems experienced in 2005 and the security problems that has now brought reconstruction in the north east to a near standstill. Transparency here is key so lessons for the future can be learned by both donors and governments in similar crisis situations. These problems include:

*  Buffer zone: the government prohibited construction in the 100-200 meter zone from the shoreline in a well intentioned effort to avoid construction in areas at risk of being struck by similar disasters in future. However, this prevented victims from returning to their original houses and livelihoods and ultimately was infeasible " it has now been relaxed but has delayed permanent housing reconstruction by a year for a large proportion of tsunami victims.

*  PTOMS: a Post Tsunami Operational Structure (PTOMS) was proposed in early 2005 whereby the government and LTTE would share decisions on tsunami aid allocations in the north and east. But discussions were drawn out on this until finally it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court at the end of 2005. This caused a one year delay for many donors work in the north east, including for the EC who had earmarked all its north east support via the PTOMS.

*  Security: The security situation in the North and East has worsened from late 2005 and has constrained reconstruction efforts. UN agencies and ICRC have restricted access to LTTE controlled areas and INGOs have no access at all. Work continues in Ampara but is limited or frozen entirely in other districts of the north and east. Tsunami victims who were just beginning to regain their livelihoods after the tsunami have now been displaced or affected again by the mounting conflict. In addition to the some 400,000 people displaced by the tsunami, there are a further 200,000 people displaced by the conflict.

*  Inequity: there is an inequity between the tsunami have’s and have-not’s along the coast line. By its nature, the tsunami struck a narrow coastal belt so aid naturally focused in this limited area and artificially stopped a few hundred metres inland. This caused clear frictions with the interior communities, often within the same village, as most aid focused on the narrow coastal band. This was especially true in the north and east where the interior communities were in a dire state themselves after 20 years of civil war. In 2006, however, corrective action was taken by the majority of development partners who now target whole districts " regardless of proximity to the coast.

*  Coordination has been hampered by donors, NGOs and government. NGOs came in their hundreds to Sri Lanka " they often did not coordinate effectively their actions. Government suffered from overlap between ministries especially from the lack of clarity of competences between line ministries and RADA that was set up for tsunami. Development partners in part failed to (i) coordinate with government authorities at the central and local level, (ii) link up actions and (iii) do cross-sectoral programming.

On the second anniversary of the tsunami, we see a situation where reconstruction in the south has gone ahead relatively well while the north and east has not advanced nearly as far.  -SCP via … The Island

Twenty/20, a new form of international kitsch

by Trevor Chesterfield

For those of you Yahaluweni, who sat and watched the first twenty/20 slog on Friday, you cannot surely take this form of the game too seriously. Both the twenty/20 events arranged for the tour are appallingly misplaced blips on the Sri Lanka schedule, replacing as they did the third Test of what would have been an exciting series.

And when you think that these are the twin misfiring vehicles that New Zealand Cricket’s Martin Snedden claimed would attract a wider audience to the game, the size of the crowd in Wellington indicated what the Kiwis thought of it as well. It was given a royal raspberry.

Having sat through its introduction in South Africa in 2003/04, it didn’t surprise that it was ingratiating itself as one of the ultimate versions of modern kitsch. All of which makes more welcome the news of Snedden’s departure next year from NZC to head the committee of rugby’s version of the World Cup in 2011. It can’t come some soon enough.

What though can you expect? This is what comes from fools involved the sport of muddied oafs who are allowed to scrap a Test for so-called commercial reasons. A pity that John Reid is still not president of NZC. The former Test captain expressed his disgust with Snedden’s decision and told him so. Playing twenty/20 cheapens the value of a worthy product. It is a format that the International Cricket Council should use to market the game in non-traditional countries where they are developing the globalisation programme.

And to think that in 10 months time there is to be a so-called Twenty/20 World Cup in South Africa. The game’s image, and in most respects players’ skills, is being seriously polluted by the marketing of this wearisome event.

A grand-niece in Wellington, Nicky White, confirmed there were more people watching the Saturday of the Test at the Basin Reserve than braved the blustery night at a multi-purpose stadium to watch twenty/20. Sensible lass, she preferred spending four days at the Test than attending the slog sideshow.

Just as bizarre, of course is the Sri Lanka reaction. There is the typical commercial decision by a TV station to screen twenty/20 and its older longer version sibling. It displays yet again the indifference of local television bosses towards screening Tests. Just how hypocritical is this?

And this is from a nation that this year made enough noise when celebrating a world record at Test level and shared Test series with England and New Zealand. There is no accounting for taste is there: but there are those of course who enjoy munching on their stale hotdogs, hamburgers and musty French fries with sour chilli sauce. Like Snedden, they are the thugby types.

The game at Test level is moving forward with victories in England and New Zealand, which says a lot for the ability of the players, the captain Mahela Jayawardene, the coach Tom Moody and a team management that also involves the vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara. Yet in some areas of the media, there is still an undercurrent of jealousy of the team’s success. Pointing fingers in various directions is a popular pastime. There is this impression that they prefer failure.

Such misplace enmity is typical of letter writers and views of those such as Martin Crowe mouthing off. As elegant and stylish batsman that he was, here he was adding his tiresome fake dollar spin on Muttiah Muralitharan’s action. Crowe has been a TV commentator and newspaper columnist since retirement.

But raking over dead issues to try and sound smart just to be controversial is really offering a mouthful of muck. It’s time to leave well alone and move on. There are those who aren’t too keen to gracefully accept defeat.

One of the more important concerns at this point is whether Chamara Silva can translate his second Test scores into something worthwhile in the shorter version of the game. As Sri Lankans were largely denied by the local TV mafia to screen even highlights (and contacts in Kiwiland said these were offered at an affordable price to three TV stations), they have no idea of how he batted.

There are still doubts about his technique and at 27 he has been around long enough to sort out a better style of batting. A coach (Moody) and classicist batsman and manager (Michael Tissera) can do so much by imparting knowledge. It is up to the batsman to sort out in his own style and work out a way to handle different bowlers.

Despite the innings at the Basin Reserve, he is certainly is no Jacques Kallis, Inzamam-ul-Haq or Sourav Ganguly, as someone in earshot attempted to imply the other day. Giving a player false pretensions by suggesting as much is an insult to the three names mentioned.

Anyway, watching the magic, grace, fluency and style of Sangakkara, explained yet again his greatness among modern batsmen.

Incidentally, while mentioning Kallis, much was published about the all-rounder not singing the South African national anthem. But there has been no mention made about his reasons for not singing the words. Before his father died of cancer in 2003, Kallis always sang the national anthem. He and his sister were close to their father who was the all-rounder’s mentor. Emotionally, some things are harder to do than others; especially when losing a mother at an early age.

Just as Sri Lanka managed an important victory in New Zealand (only their second in twenty-five years), India overcame the so-called bogey of South Africa’s bouncy pitches to win their first Test in the tip of the African continent. Sreesanth deserved his man of the match award and gave India a decided advantage with impressive support from Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble.

Whether South Africa can sort out their top-order problems is another matter. It was quite obvious from the Tests against Sri Lanka that Hashim Amla is no international number three and major questions surround Herschelle Gibbs’ future as a Test batsman. Also, Graeme Smith’s captaincy as well as his technical fault is becoming more pronounced as his international career progresses.

There are other batsmen waiting a chance, but they are also becoming frustrated by the policy of ‘selection by politics’. It means that South Africa are unable to select their best side. Young Faf du Plessis, a Titans teammate of AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Justin Kemp as well as Paul Harris has been scoring heavily in the domestic SuperSport Series, but couldn’t even get a look in when the A Team and South African President’s XI were selected.

Earlier this year, Du Plessis attracted the attention of Nottinghamshire, who first gave Kevin Pietersen his chance, in the hope of signing him as a Kolpak player. Although only 22 he is regarded as a better player now than Pietersen, with a more organised technique. South Africa have impressive depth at under 24 level, but the selectors are marginalising the players.

Another in the 22-year-old bracket that has impressed but can’t get a peek at even the A Team is Lonwabo Tsotsobe. A left-arm fast bowler with a high-action and ability to swing the ball both ways, his debut effort was 7/44. He is seen as a future Makhaya Ntini.

Nicky Boj`E9’s serious criticism of the national selectors opens the door in a sense on the policy that has created a growing problem. Boj`E9 is a useful spinner and as vice-captain of the South African A Team highly unselfish when it came to team selection policy. He would often step aside and allow others a chance. It happened in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies.

Little wonder he gave up in disgust while selection convener Haroon Lorgat, to his embarrassment has acknowledge a blunder made a year ago when Harris, a tall left-arm spinner opted for Kolpak contract with Warwickshire in England. Harris, with more than 50 wickets to his credit last South Africa season and a packet while playing for Warwickshire has suddenly found himself back in favour with the Saf selectors.

At least Australia know what the selection of quality spinners means as a way of balancing their bowling. Just how much this will be changed as the countdown to the end of Shane Warne’s career starts from tomorrow in Melbourne. There is a possible 10 days left to watch him in action – well for those who have cable television.

As for a tribute to the great leg-spinner, and Glen McGrath, they’ll keep for the New Year and the end of the Ashes series. The pity is that both headline makers and box of magic tricks will no longer taunt, tease and beguile batsmen.

Just as interesting is the decision by the World Anti-Doping Authority to challenge the overturned banning by Pakistan of fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. What with a tribunal’s findings ridiculed by an international body, Pakistan’s spurious bid to ‘clear the players of guilt’ is being questioned at a level that even the PCB will have a problem defending.

Then again, as with the Pakistan drug tribunal edict, no one can take seriously either a weekly sports magazine that appears on a Friday and regularly misinforms the reader. According to the latest bit of trivial info a particular Test player with one cap played for England against South Africa in 1932/33. Most interesting. Suddenly the acrimonious bodyline Ashes series’ place in history has been misplaced. More to the point, reading the blurb suggests how this particular Test wicketkeeper was aged 24 at the time of his death in 1924 – which is eight years before the bodyline series. What a mix up.

Checking with various authoritative Wisden sources in my library explains how George Benjamin Street, the Sussex wicketkeeper, was born in December 1889 and killed in April 1924, making him 35 at the time of death not 24. The Test series referred to was 1922/23 when England were led by Frank Mann, whose family is also known for owning breweries throughout the UK. Maybe Mann’s liquid refreshment was also recently available in Sri Lanka.  via…The Island

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