Daily Archives: February 2, 2007

Jaffna MPCS president killed by suspected Tamil Tiger gunmen

By Walter Jayawardhana

SUSPECTED TIGER GUNMEN KILL PRESIDENT OF THE JAFFNA MPCS AS THEY DID NOT LIKE HIS ENTHUSIASTIC FOOD DISTRIBUTION, SAY RESIDENTS

Tamil political sources in Jaffna said the Tamil Tigers are strong suspects for the murder of 64 year old S.T. Ganananthanathan, a retired Engineer and the President of the Jaffna Multi Purpose Cooperative Society who was killed on Thursday February 1, near a well, close to his house.

They said they believe this a revenge killing since Gananathanathan was enthusiastically engaged in the distribution of food among the Jaffna people while the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) wanted to thrive on artificial food shortages created in the Jaffna peninsula.

LTTE news website, The Tamil Net, headlined with the story of the murder and gave it a twist to convey the idea that it has been done by the security forces. Jaffna sources said the security forces did not have a motive of killing him since he was greatly instrumental in the efficient distribution of food in which the security forces were also engaged.

The Tamil Net said he was murdered by "two unidentified armed men", phraseology usually used by the website to cover up the shooting deaths of their enemies.

The LTTE has been actively engaged in the sabotaging of food distribution in the peninsula by issuing threats through its front organization called "Makkal Padai" and attacking freight ships that bring food to Jaffna. Food shortages help them to win public sympathy and launch international condemnations through their sympathizers in the church and supportive Tamil Nadu politicians who work with them for the division of Sri Lanka.

Tamil sources in Jaffna who do not want to identify themselves said many social workers engaged in the distribution of food have been threatened by the LTTE front organization.  In August 2006 the former President of the MPCS Thellipalai, Sivamagaraja was shot dead by suspected LTTE gunmen. Informed sources said even Gananathanathan had been threatened but he never thought that he would be killed.

Suspected Tamil Tiger gunmen had studied his movements since he used to go to a well close to his house every morning to fetch a bucketful of water,  in Punkunkulam.

Jaffna sources said, even the former President of the Jaffna MPCS left the area under threats in December 2005 when the deceased was elected to the post.

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Jungle child soldier training base over run by the police commando unit

By Walter Jayawardhana

ELITE COMMANDOS OF THE POLICE SPECIAL TASK FORCE  OVER RUN CHILD SOLDIER TRAINING BASE OF THE TAMIL TIGERS

The elite commando unit of the Sri Lanka Police, the Special Task Force, (STF) in its twenty-first  victory inside the dense jungles of Kanjikudichchi Aru successfully over ran a training base of Child soldiers after some resistance from the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Thursday February 1.

Military spokesman said the abominable camp, named Jeevananda Base was a military garrison, where the LTTE kidnapped and hid hundreds of Eastern Province teenagers secretly, giving them a crash military course before sending them to battle fields.

There are reports that some of the child combatants were sometimes physically abused and also rarely sexually exploited by their trainers, regardless strict moral codes had been imposed on them.  Attempts to escape from the camp had been sometimes punished with death.

"Unlike in the previous occasions," said military sources, "the STF had to confront with some resistance from the terrorists. However, after a brief confrontation the terrorists had taken to their heels leaving the camp to the STF."

In a continued military campaign to flush out terrorists from the thick Kanjikudichchi Aru Jungle aimed to put a complete stop to the terrorist attacks on nearby Sinhala Tamil and Mulim communities and especially to put an end to the child kidnappings from the nearby Tamil communities the commando unit has been fighting since the beginning of January, the STF said. These jungles camps contributed to violence in nearby Ampara, Thirukkovil, Akkaraipaththuwa, and Bakmitiyawa area civilian settlements, the sources said.

Code named Niyatha Jaya or Definite Victory, in the campaign the police commando unit was able to over run many camps with no resistance but not this one. STF sources said radio communications overheard suggested that they had suffered 16 injured LTTE cadres before they retreated inside the jungle, after a brief confrontation..

Among the abandoned military gear by the Tamil Tigers were one machine gun (GPMG), 24 hand grenades, 300 ammunitions, communication equipment and two heavy earth moving equipment.

A large stock of rice, flour, sugar and dhal was also found in their store rooms.

In the attack immediately before this two camps containing a medical center were over run by the STF in the same jungles January 29. A large number of vehicles and generators were also captured then.

The STF sources said the offensive to rid the jungles of terrorists will continue until all camps are captured and destroyed.

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Sri Lanka cricket team leaves for India today

World Cup squad pretty much decided – Mahela

Sri Lankan cricket captain Mahela Jayawardene, right, speaks with team coach Tom Moody during a practice session at R. Premadasa Stadium on 1st Feb 2007.
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka has got less than ten days to submit their World Cup squad to the International Cricket Council and when the cut off day for submission of the squad comes on February 12, only two of the four One-Day Internationals would have ended between India and Sri Lanka. Captain Mahela Jayawardene, however, insisted that it was not an issue to be alarmed about as Sri Lanka were pretty much certain of their World Cup 15, with two middle order places and one or two places in the seam bowling department left to be decided on.

Sri Lanka leave for India today for a four match ODI series, their last assignment ahead of the high profile World Cup competition in the Caribbean. The first match is on February 8, with Eden Gardens at Calcutta hosting the day-nighter.

"We have more or less finalised the squad," Jayawardene told ‘The Island’ yesterday.

"There are one or two places that we need to confirm. These places that we are thinking about are very vital because of the combinations that we are thinking of playing. We don’t want to play the entire tournament with just one or two combinations. It’ll be good to have three or four combinations if possible as it will come in handy against different conditions and opposition. We’ve got an idea of about 90% of persons whom we want to take to the West Indies," the 29-year-old added.

Although the first two games will provide the players an opportunity, Jayawardene pointed out that past performances and form will take priority over anything else.

"If you take Russel, Dilshan, Chamara Silva and Chamara Kapugedara, they have played for Sri Lanka in the last six months and we can take performances in those six months to account before deciding on the final 15. We’ll have to take into account things like form, experience, players who can handle pressure, players who can fit into the combinations that we want and who can contribute to the team."

In the absence of Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka take two leg-spinners to India in Malinga Bandara and Upul Chandana and eventually it’ll be one of them who will make it to the West Indies. While Bandara has been involved with the team for the last 15 months, Chandana’s inclusion has been a surprising one as he last played for Sri Lanka in November 2005.

"There is healthy competition in there, but we got to make a decision purely on the bowling aspect of it. We like Murali to play all the matches during the World Cup and if he’s not fit, then we’ll need the other spinning option. That spinning option will have to bowl ten overs and that’s the decision we’ll have to make," Jayawardene said.

When the two sides met last time in India, the tourists were thrashed 6-1 in the ODIs and 2-0 in the Tests and the Sri Lankans are pumped up to improve on that dismal record although they are not at full strength.

"That result was a big disappointment. But then things have changed, personnel have changed, the way we play has changed too and the confidence is back. But despite all that it’s still a tough place to go and play cricket. Although we are not taking our full side, we believe that this team can win matches for us."

Innovations such as ‘Power Plays’ and ‘Super Subs’ had just come in when Sri Lanka toured India in November 2005 and while the tourists struggled to come to terms with these new regulations, Jayawardene felt that the reason they were beaten was because they played poor cricket.

"Those issues played a part, but at the end of the day we didn’t play good cricket and it’s as simple as that. We were not prepared and we didn’t do well. The Indians outplayed us in all departments except in fielding," Jayawardene said.

Sri Lanka squad: Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Chandana, Russel Arnold, Marvan Atapattu, Malinga Bandara, T.M. Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Sanath Jayasuriya, Nuwan Kulasekara, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Chamara Silva, Upul Tharanga and Nuwan Zoysa.

Itinerary

8th Feb. 1st ODI – Calcutta (d/n)

11th Feb. 2nd ODI – Rajkot

14th Feb. 3rd ODI – Margao

17th Feb. 4th ODI – Visakhapatnam

via .. The Island

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Norwegian peace initiative was fated to fail – Galtung

by Namini Wijedasa

The Norwegian peace initiative was not only fated to fail but was stillborn because it had excluded other parties, says a Norwegian professor who is widely regarded as the founder of the academic discipline of peace research. Prof Johan Galtung was in Sri Lanka earlier this month to deliver a talk on the peace process. In a subsequent email interview with The Island, Galtung said there had been "no real peace process, no real track, only meetings centered on the CFA". Excerpts:

Q: You have expressed the opinion that the Norwegian peace initiative in Sri Lanka was a failure and that this had been predictable due to the methodology of the Norwegians. Could you please elaborate?

A: Let us start with a distinction between ceasefire talks and peace talk. They are not the same thing. For a ceasefire you obviously have to engage the two belligerent parties, in this case LTTE and GoSL. But you also need excellent contacts with other parties. Any party left out of such important matters may easily turn against any accord: "We were not consulted? You will be hearing from us". In the Basque case, in Spain, it was a major mistake not to involve the opposition, and not to involve Basques opposed to ETA.

Multi-layered talks may be one approach. And in Sri Lanka, the cohabitation system might easily lead a Chandrika to oppose whatever a Ranil has signed, or vise versa. Any focus on two parties only will dialectically lead to a flourishing of conflicts, with an opposition, with a JVP, a JHU here, and or Karuna there. Their views have to be reflected from early on. For peace talks, this is absolutely crucial. At least three from the south, among them Government of Sri Lanka, three Tamil groups, among them LTTE, and the Muslims—seven as a minimum.

Q: You have also said that Norway had failed in the Mideast peace process due to the same unsuccessful methods that they had applied to Sri Lanka. What do you mean?

A: Norway initiated a process between Arafat-PLO and Rabin-Labour. I do not think it was very difficult to predict the reaction of right wing Israel and left wing Palestine, both excluded. Rabin was murdered, and Hamas started suicide bombing.

The idea of making peace in the middle and let it spread to the wings of the spectrum makes sense in Norwegian domestic politics, maybe excluding only five to 10%. If you exclude more than 50%, the failure is imminent. The process did not die, it was still born.

But I would like to add a point: Please don’t see this as something particularly Norwegian. The focus on two parties trying to make a deal is a part of an unfortunate diplomatic tradition. The desire to broker a deal is so high, for all kinds of reasons, that third parties are easily blackmailed: "If you invite those people forget about any facilitation."

Q: How do you think the Norwegians could have done this differently? The Norwegians issued a statement recently saying they had tried without success to broad-base the peace process. Is it, therefore, more the fault of the main parties rather than the Norwegians that the scope was so narrow?

A: Do not always go for the top people. Try it out at lower levels. Grassroots people are often much more reasonable. The leaders may be leaders precisely because they have very strong views. But they may also change them to keep the leadership position, being unpredictable. Let 1000 local dialogues among people blossom, listen carefully for ideas, let the GNIP—Gross National Idea Product—grow.

This is what happened in Northern Ireland with the help of women and clergy from both sides. The "silent majority", 85% unnoticed by explosion-hungry media, was mobilized. But they also had important political talents on the Sinn Fein side. Something is personality. And something in Sri Lanka is politicking, not politics.

However, if you bring in more views then a situation may look even worse. Much creativity is needed to reconcile, say, Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris over that issue—and they all have legitimate points, like the parties in Sri Lanka. It is tempting to limit a process to two parties for intellectual ease.

Q: There is considerable criticism about the cease-fire agreement drafted by the Norwegians. Even die hard peace activists concede that it is too much in the LTTE’s favour. Would you agree and, if so, did this have an impact on Sri Lanka’s peace process? What can the Norwegians do now?

A: I see the CFA more as a technical matter. The critique is well known, but I do not find CFA that biased. What worried me was the PTOMS (Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure). Here, the two-party model from the CFA was brought into a totally different context, putting LTTE on par with Government of Sri Lanka. I understand fully that the Supreme Court threw it out. The PTOMS came close to endorsing the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA), itself an independence declaration.

The LTTE must learn to relate to parties in the south directly. There was, and is, enormous suffering everywhere. They should all have reached out in compassion for each other, with the government together with the international donor and UN community coordinating it all. Had Mr P (Prabhakaran) in the north and Madam K (Kumaratunga) in the south grasped this opportunity to bring help together to all victims, then their pattern of cooperation would in itself have been peace—and they might have shared the 2005 Nobel peace prize. We were close. But we also know this was not the road that was traveled.

Q: The Rajapakse regime believes that terrorism must be defeated militarily. We see the war-for-peace strategy again. Will this work? Has it worked in other conflicts?

A: Yes, there is talk about a winnable war—like from the South African and the Israeli apartheid government. That approach did not succeed in the former, nor will it in the latter. In Sri Lanka, both parties have soldiers in uniform pitted against each other in war. The Government of Sri Lanka has, in addition, state terrorism, bombing, killing civilians and the LTTE has terrorism. The LTTE also has a guerilla capacity. It looks to me as if both have the capacity to deny the other victory.

But imagine it happens: Killinochchi is flattened, Mr P is dead, LTTE dissolved. Will the Tamil dream of a Tamil Eelam die? Of course not. It will be revived, and new cycles of violence will occur. And probably new CFAs. And possibly the same mistake, confusing ceasefire with peace, using it as a sleeping pillow to do nothing.

Q: Then again, have peace processes been more successful? Can a peace process be successful in Sri Lanka, given the nature of the LTTE?

A: And of the South, for symmetry. Yes, I think so. Imagine, just imagine, that the following could happen: [1] the LTTE finds devolution with high autonomy palatable. They redraft the ISGA in that direction—of course, sharing coastline and the sea and state lands with the rest of Sri Lanka. They insist on Tamil Eelam as the name—nobody gives their life for a province called "North" with a part of "East"—partitioned after de-merger and referendum, for instance. The name has to be in it. The soul is in the name. [2] There are excellent points in the Majority expert report. I had the honor of meeting with some of these highly competent people. And the base-line is not some European federation but your somewhat big and close neighbour: India, its linguistic federalism being a brilliant success, making Sri Lanka look like the non-success in that union, Assam (and LTTE like Naga-land).

Look at the Indian boom now that all that pent-up energy used for conflict has been liberated for something constructive. The same will happen to Sri Lanka which is not a failed state but a stagnant state, bogged down since 1983 at least by the conflict. So, here is the point: If New Delhi could stomach a Tamil Nadu, watching the independence movement wither away with that name, then for sure Colombo could one day have a province named Tamil Eelam.

Soon it would become T.E. for short. You would get used to it after a month or two. And Sri Lanka would blossom. And discover that the world continues even if T.E. should have consulates in Chennai and wherever there are sizable Tamil diasporas. Embassy is for the Sri Lankan state, with proportionate power-sharing.

Q: There is now a fear in Sri Lanka that the international community is conspiring against Sinhala Buddhists. As opposed to the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime, the southern polity is encouraging the majority of people to look upon the international community with distrust and dislike. What is the reaction of the international community, as you perceive it?

A: The international community has simplified complex matters. Some pick up the idea of suppressed linguistic minority fighting for its liberation, some pick up terrorism as strategy, some pick LTTE suppressing other Tamils. They are all right and all wrong as they see only one aspect,

I can understand skepticism toward the international community. And that the international community brought much of this upon themselves by being insensitive to complexities. Yes, I think one can talk about a fallout from an over-internationalization of the conflict. I only hope I myself and my excellent Austrian partners Gudrun Kramer and Wilfried Graf are not victims of the same. We try our best, stimulating dialogue with prominent Sri Lankans, and doing conflict sensitive reconstruction in tsunami-hit areas in the East. Incidentally, I come and go. I am on call. And I am called.

Q: When foreign diplomats ask the question "what can we do to help put the Sri Lankan peace process back on track", do you think they are being naive? And what can the international community realistically do to put the peace process back on track?

A: There was no real peace process, no real track, only meetings centered on the CFA. Only recently something new happened and not from the international community: the Majority expert opinion. Put it next to ISGA and let the documents merge, I see lots of possibilities within the Rajapakse formula of maximum devolution within a unitary state.

But if the international community should be involved I am not so sure states are the best mediators. They may have skeletons in their closets. And those who call for the USA as a successor to Norway should have a look at the US track record, in Iraq for instance. How about involving international personalities? A Carter, a Gorbachev, a Tutu, a de Klerk, a Mary Robinson? Talking with all the parties on a one-on-one basis because a room with all seven or so around those tables diplomats that love might become a little too hot for comfort. For sure, ideas will emerge, building on the GNIP above, on 1000 dialogues.

Q: Where do you think the Sri Lankan conflict will end up in the short term, medium term and long term?

A: OK, let me try. In the short term, the "winnable war" strategy till there is some major LTTE counter-attack. Then the discourse switches again from war back to peace; and once again not very clear what peace means. There will probably be a CFA or a revival of the dormant one. And if again nothing happens to peace, then violence will break out.

In the medium term, serious negotiations, involving more parties, in complex rounds, using the space offered by the majority created in the parliament. The Oslo formula: federalism-devolution is explored, is taken seriously. Indian expertise and experience enter, with its councils of chief ministers, linkage to panchayat systems, etc. Give it some years. It will succeed. The South is now cohering. Maybe we do not even need the short term.

The long term, the blossoming of Sri Lanka, and don’t be so modest that you think only in economic terms and "dividends" and tourism. Social growth, new bridges across community divides. Cultural growth: let the faiths come even close together, no ganging up against Buddhists, they are so much of the soul of the country—I myself am actually one—but this incredibly rich island has many souls. Let them play together. The sky is the limit.

(Johan Galtung is the founder and director a Transcend, a peace and development network. Galtung established the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, in 1959, the Journal of Peace Research in 1964, and co-launched the Nordic Institute for Peace Research in 2000. )via .. The Island

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