Thursday, May 28, 2009

‘Major Hindrance to Democratic Movement among Sri Lankan Tamils has been Removed’

In the following interview Varadaraja Perumal, the former Chief Minister of the north and east in Sri Lanka, speaks to Mainstream editor on the changed scenario in the island state following the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE supremo, on May 18, 2009. Perumal was the CM of the north and east in 1988-90; he is one of the leaders of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) that had to bear the brunt of Prabhakaran’s ire, and at present resides in India.
Are you convinced that Prabhakaran is no more?
VP: Definitely, there is no doubt about that. The photographs are there for all to see. Then, Karuna was taken to the spot and he identified the body.
Was Karuna the closest to Prabhakaran at one time?
VP: He was the second-in-command in the LTTE till 2004.
I also want to tell you that there is no reason for the Sri Lankan Government to lie about Prabhakaran’s death.
If this is true then would you say that the LTTE has become an orphan today?
VP: This is the end of the LTTE though there are still 500-600 LTTE cadres who are moving around in the eastern province and the deep jungles of Vanni in the north.
Do they have weapons?
VP: They have some weapons.
Do they have any leadership?
VP: They don’t have any leadership. So these LTTE cadres’ operation as armed groups could be for a short period—after all, how would they replenish their weapons?
In this scenario who will give leadership to the Sri Lankan Tamils?
VP: We should not harbour the misconception that the LTTE had been so far giving leadership to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. In fact the LTTE is a terrorist group which destroyed the Sri Lankan Tamil leadership starting from the killing of Srisabaratnam (TELO) in 1986 followed by the liquidation of Amrithalingam (TULF), Padmanabha (EPRLF), Neelan Thiruchelvam (TULF), Keethes-waran (EPRLF).
More than 10,000 leaders and fighters of the Sri Lankan Tamils, belonging to different organisations other than the Tamil Tigers, were killed by the LTTE since 1986.
The LTTE under Prabhakaran suppressed any intellectual opinion. In fact that LTTE spread terror among the Tamil people—that is, it injected terror in the minds of the Tamil people—wherever they lived.
But how do you explain the groundswell of support for Prabhakaran and the Tamil Tigers among the expatriate Tamils in particulars?
VP: Well, if you consider the Tamil society as such, its members did not view the issues logically or rationally, with deep passion and anti-Sinhala sentiments they supported the LTTE.
As far as the Tamil diaspora is concerned, they are a lost population to the society of Sri Lankan Tamils. Among them vested interest is intertwined with their support to the LTTE. To stay on in their country of residence they need to have refugee status which is ensured if the war in Sri Lanka continues interminably thus making their return to the island state next to impossible.
What will happen now in Sri Lanka?
VP: The killing of the LTTE leadership as a whole, including Velupillai Prabhakaran, has removed the major hindrance to the development of the democratic movement among Tamils—the democratic leaders are now in a position to go and work among their own people without any impediment.
But what is the objective of the Sri Lankan Government? Haven’t there been grave human rights violations in the latest fight-to-the-finish against the LTTE?
VP: The objective of the Sri Lankan Government and human rights violations are no doubt important, but the primary issue is the Tamil question. Till now the Tamil cause was hijacked by the LTTE under a separatist banner.
The majority of the Tamil people know that separation or secession, that is, Eelam, is impossible. But all of them thought that by fighting by the side of the LTTE they would be able to wrest their demands from the Sinhala leaders. However, while fighting for the Tamils the LTTE could not deliver any benefits to the Tamils. Rather, by killing the Tamil leaders, the LTTE prevented any rise of Tamil leaders or organisations not affiliated to the LTTE.
Are you saying Eelam is impossible?
VP: The struggle for separation or secession died many years ago—when the LTTE attacked the TELO and killed the TELO leaders in 1986 the movement for secession had died a premature death.
But won’t the demand for Eelam come up once again in the future?
VP: The point is that the struggle of the Tamil people will continue if the Sri Lankan leaders do not create an environment in which the Tamil people are able to enjoy an autonomous political system.
Would the Tamil struggle be violent or non-violent in the coming days?
VP: In future the struggle will be mostly non-violent. Already the Tamil people have experienced violent struggle in the north and east of the island state. Non-violent struggle alone will create conditions for the Sinhala people to understand and accept the Tamils’ reasonable demands.
You were Chief Minister of the north and east in 1988-90. What was your experience on the question of devolution of power to the Tamil areas?
VP: At that time Premadasa was the President of Sri Lanka. Earlier during the tenure of President Jayawardene, the 13th Amendment was passed and this affectively prevented the devolution process. The 13th Amendment has many lacunae—there is insufficiency of powers in it; moreover it is a bad law and liable to be misinterpreted. At the same time it goes against the spirit of both devolution and the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 1987. There was no willingness on the part of the Sinhalor leaders to go for devolution then and they used the 13th Amendment to prevent devolution. At that period I was not Chief Minister of the north and east with the powers that the Chief Ministers enojoy in the different States of India—rather, I was a Chief Minister striving for devolution of power.
However, if a President is sincere he can interpret the 13th Amendment such as to carry out devolution. In President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s time a new devolution package was sought to be presented. Opposition leader Ranil Wickrema-singhe accepted a federal structure.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa can also use the 13th Amendment to bring about devolution of power. In fact, under the chairmanship of Minister for Science and Technology Tissa Vitharana an all-party committee has been set up by the President to look into the devolution package.
Do you think there is a possibility of carrying out devolution by President Rajapaksa?
VP: Of course, nothing has been closed.
How do you want the Government of India to play a positive role in this regard?
VP: The relations between the governments of India and Sri Lanka are now quite good. Both the governments should speak to the Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim leaders and bring about some settlement. The leaders of Tamil Nadu must also be involved to substantially contribute to the process.
Do you think that in this new situation following Prabhakaran’s death new avenues to resolve the Tamil problem have opened up?
VP: Yes. Till now the Sinhala leaders had been saying that so long as the LTTE is continuing its violent activities in the north and east it is impossible for us to speak about devolution. Now that pretext has gone.
I personally feel some kind of trust between the Sinhala leaders of Sri Lanka and leaders of Tamil Nadu should be built as soon as possible. That will definitely benefit the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.
How did President Mahinda Rajapaksa carry out this stupendous task of liquidating the LTTE whereas all his predecessors had failed in such an effort? What is your take on that?
VP: President Rajapaksa was driven by singleminded purpose of eliminating the source of LTTE’s terror. As for his immediate predecessor, President Kumaratunga was beset with numerous problems even though she too sincerely wanted peace and solution of the Tamil question.
One more point: the Government of India did not in any way disturb the Sri Lankan military operations against the LTTE.
But the Government of India is worried about the humanitarian problems before the Sri Lankan Tamils today.
VP: The Government of India is doing everything possible to extend humanitarian help to the Sri Lankan Tamils. However, this is a task which must be taken up not just by India but the entire international community. The international community must be generous in providing relief to and rehabilitating the displaced Sri Lankan Tamils.
Do you anticipate some terrorist activities in Sri Lanka after Prabhakaran’s death?
VP: Not for long. If the Sri Lankan state is serious such activities cannot continue for long.
You have known Prabhakaran for a long time. How would you describe him?
VP: He was one of the most ruthless terrorist leaders in the world. But at the same time he was politically a coward.
Kindly explain how.
VP: He was not able to face any political challenge or any critical opinion.
Today happens to be former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 18th death anniversary. We all know he met his death on May 21, 1991 under orders of Prabhakaran. Now that Prabhakaran has been killed would you say that Rajiv Gandhi’s family has been able to secure justice?
VP: Yes, of course. God has secured justice to the families and friends of Rajiv Gandhi, Padmanabha, Keetheswaran and others who were brutally massacred by Prabhakaran.
I recollect all my memories of Rajiv Gandhi today because he was a person who committed himself personally to deliver political benefits to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka while maintaining his commitment to ensure Sri Lanka’s integrity. I wish Rajiv Gandhi was alive to witness this event of the elimination of the murderer Prabhakaran who brought so much misery to the peoples of Sri Lanka and India.
What lies in the future of the Sri Lankan Tamils?
VP: The Sri Lankan Tamil people would now have to find out those leaders who are capable of fighting for devolution and effectively conducting the devolution movement.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

UN becomes battleground for maritime Great Game - paper

UN becomes battleground for maritime Great Game - paper[TamilNet, Tuesday, 26 May 2009, 00:26 GMT]

"The strange line-up of the member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for or against Sri Lanka at the special session of the body scheduled to take place in Geneva on Tuesday underscores the maritime Great Game unfolding in the Indian Ocean," says former Pakistani diplomat in the Tuesday edition of Deccan Herald, referring to the support by India, China, Russia, and Pakistan among others to a self-congratulatory resolution put forward by the Sri Lanka Government, and the competing resolution advanced by the Swiss Government.

Swiss Resolution on Sri Lanka

Text of Sri Lanka Resolution"The special session is being convened at the request of 17 of the 47 members of the HRC, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Britain. Hovering in the background is the United States. It aims at forcing Sri Lanka to face charges of gross human rights violations in its war against the Tamil insurgents. An HRC recommendation to set up an international commission of inquiry would put Colombo in the docks," the column says.But Sri Lanka has tabled a counter resolution commending Colombo for its victory over terrorism ans soliciting funds for reconstruction, the author notes."India finds itself in the strange company but is justified in estimating that the HRC move against Sri Lanka is a non-starter. "China and Russia will anyhow ensure that the ‘international community’ doesn’t torment Colombo. They have invited Sri Lanka to come close to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. "In essence, Sri Lanka is the theatre where Russia and China are frontally challenging the US’s incremental global strategy to establish NATO presence in the Indian Ocean region," the author says.Full text of the article follows:The strange line-up of the member countries of the United Human Rights Council (HRC) for or against Sri Lanka at the special session of the body scheduled to take place in Geneva on Tuesday underscores the maritime Great Game unfolding in the Indian Ocean.The special session is being convened at the request of 17 of the 47 members of the HRC, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Britain. Hovering in the background is the United States. It aims at forcing Sri Lanka to face charges of gross human rights violations in its war against the Tamil insurgents. An HRC recommendation to set up an international commission of inquiry would put Colombo in the docks. An HRC special session has been called only on 10 previous occasions.But Colombo is not browbeaten. The seasoned poker player has tabled a counter resolution titled “Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and Protection of Human Rights” commending Colombo for its victory over terrorism and soliciting funds for reconstruction. The 12 co-sponsors of the resolution include China, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia. India finds itself in the strange company but is justified in estimating that the HRC move against Sri Lanka is a non-starter. China and Russia will anyhow ensure that the ‘international community’ doesn’t torment Colombo. They have invited Sri Lanka to come close to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In essence, Sri Lanka is the theatre where Russia and China are frontally challenging the US’s incremental global strategy to establish NATO presence in the Indian Ocean region. The US has succeeded in bringing the NATO upto the Persian Gulf region. The NATO is swiftly expanding its relationship with Pakistan. But it is Sri Lanka that will be the jewel in the NATO’s Indian Ocean crown. Russia and China (and Iran) are determined to frustrate the US geo-strategy. The hard reality, therefore, is that geopolitics is sidetracking Sri Lanka’s Tamil problem. Sri Lanka snubbed Washington by rejecting the US offer to dispatch a naval force to evacuate or provide humanitarian assistance to the Tamil civilians trapped in the war zone. China, Russia and Iran encouraged Colombo to reject the US ‘humanitarian intervention’ in yet another strategically vital region.There is moral muddiness all around. Simply put, a ‘containment strategy’ on the part of the US towards Sri Lanka becomes unworkable. By helping Sri Lanka to withstand the US pressure, China has secured the status of a ‘steadfast ally.’ Apart from arms supplies totalling $100 million, China has overtaken Japan as Sri Lanka’s number one foreign donor. China gave $ 1 billion assistance last year as compared to $ 7.4 million and 1.25 million pounds by the US and UK respectively.India views with unease the Chinese inroads into Sri Lanka as part of a broad move into the Indian Ocean. But India faces acute dilemma. Its capacity to cajole the diehard Sinhalese nationalists to compromise with the Tamils for an enduring settlement suffers so long as China extends such no-holds-barred political backing to the Colombo establishment.But Delhi cannot roll back its substantial political, military and economic support to Sri Lanka, either. The interlocking interests of the two neighbouring countries are self-evident. The lure of Sri Lanka cannot be overestimated. The US would like us to believe that India-China rivalry is the sum total of the geopolitics of Sri Lanka. But this is a dissimulation of the actual great game.It is very obvious that there is a huge geopolitical backdrop of power plays in the Indian Ocean. The US’s naval dominance is declining and it is “leveraging the growing sea power of allies such as India and Japan to balance against China,” to quote Robert Kaplan, well-known strategic thinker and author.China’s ascendance fearedArguably, the US volte face on Colombo’s war (after having been its staunch supporter until recently) stems from the strategic setback it suffered through miscalculation insofar as while American admirals were scared away by Sri Lanka’s civil war, China simply moved in. The West fears China’s ascendance. On China’s part, however, the fuelling station in Hambantota becomes vital for optimally using the series of port facilities it has lined up in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar connecting the southern Chinese province of Yunnan to the world market.The naval presence in Sri Lanka becomes invaluable for China if the planned canal across the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand materialises connecting Indian Ocean with China’s Pacific coast, a project that could dramatically shift the balance of power in Asia in China’s favour. Therefore, no matter what it takes, the West and China (with Russian backing) will compete for gaining the upper hand in Sri Lanka.Having said that, the US also has a need for greater cooperation with China. This in turn creates a compulsion for the US to act as a ‘broker’ between India and China. During his visit to Delhi on May 14, the US Pacific Command chief Admiral Timothy J Keating revealed that he declined an offer recently from a top-ranking Chinese naval official regarding a US-Chinese understanding to split the seas East of Hawaii and West of Hawaii between the two navies, while on his part he said he invited China to join the annual US-India naval exercises codenamed ‘Malabar Exercises,’ but China declined and preferred to remain as an observer.
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UN faces fierce clash over call for Sri Lanka war crimes inquiry

Geopolitics drowns Sri Lanka's Tamils: The great game

Sri Lanka accused of 'ethnic cleansing' of Tamil areas - paper

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 26 May 2009, 12:43 GMT]"Aid officials, human rights campaigners and politicians claim Tamils have been driven out of areas in the north-east of the country by killings and kidnappings carried out by pro-government militias. They say the government has simultaneously encouraged members of the Sinhalese majority in the south to relocate to the vacated villages," Telegraph, UK, said, adding that according to an aid worker the recent killings in Trincomalee "were part of a strategy to drive out Tamils." Full text of the article follows:Aid officials, human rights campaigners and politicians claim Tamils have been driven out of areas in the north-east of the country by killings and kidnappings carried out by pro-government militias.They say the government has simultaneously encouraged members of the Sinhalese majority in the south to relocate to the vacated villages.One foreign charity worker told the Daily Telegraph the number of Tamils disappearing in and around Trincomalee, 50 miles south of the final conflict zone in Mullaitivu, had been increasing in the last three months.He claimed to have known 15 of the disappeared, three of whom had been found dead. He said all three bodies showed signs of torture, while two were found with their hands tied behind their backs and single bullet wounds in their heads.Another aid worker said the killings were part of a strategy to drive out the Tamils."Eastern province is vulnerable, there's cleansing by the Sinhalese. There will be more problems with land grabbing. The demography changes and the Tamils who are the majority will soon become a minority," he said.He claimed many villagers had moved out after the army declared their land to be part of a 'high security zone' and Sinhalese had been given incentives to move in to provide support services to new military bases.Many Tamils sold their homes and land at below-market prices after members of their families had been killed or had disappeared, he said.One western human rights advocate said Tamils in and around Trincomalee were terrified because they believed the police were either complicit in, or indifferent to, the numbers disappearing or found dead. "There's no investigation. It's a climate of terror and impunity," he said.A local campaigner for the families of the disappeared said the killings were speeding the flight of Tamils from the area. "When there's a killing other Tamils move out. Who goes to the Sinhalese police? You either live under threat or you move out," he said.He said much of the "ethnic cleansing" was being done in the name of economic development in which Tamil villagers were being moved out to make way for new roads, power plants and irrigation schemes, while Sinhalese workers were being drafted in with incentives including free land and housing."Thousands of Sinhalese are coming in, getting government land and government assistance from the south. It's causing huge tensions," he said.He and others fear this model will now be applied to the north where the final army onslaught to defeat the Tamil Tigers left 95 per cent of the buildings demolished or heavily damaged.Since the victory earlier this month, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has been under pressure to 'win the peace' with a generous devolution package for Tamils in the north.Ministers have said they want to break the identification of the Tamils with the northern and eastern provinces and integrate them into the Sinhalese majority population throughout the country.In Colombo, billboard posters have contrasted the "divided" pre-victory Sri Lanka, with the Tamil north and east shaded red, and the "united" post-war island.Ministers have said billions of dollars will be needed to rebuild the area's roads, buildings, schools, hospitals and water, electricity and communications infrastructure. Community leaders and Tamil politicians fear this will mean a further influx of Sinhalese.R. Sampanthan, the parliamentary leader of the Tamil National Alliance and an MP for Trincomalee said he shared these fears. A new road being constructed from Serubilla, a Sinhalese village in Trincomalee district to Polonaruwa, a Tamil village, was under construction and Sinhalese families were being settled on either side of the road as it snakes further north-east."It's ethnic cleansing, and we're concerned that this is what they will also do in the north," he said.
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Sri Lanka accused of 'ethnic cleansing' of Tamil areas

Sri Lanka: Tamil refugees plead for help to find missing relatives

Refugees from Sri Lanka's war with the Tamil Tigers have spoken of their terrifying escape from the 'no-fire zone' and pleaded for help to find missing relatives.

By Dean Nelson in Vavuniya Last Updated: 7:34PM BST 26 May 2009

Civilians stand behind the barbed-wire perimeter fence of the Manik Farm refugee camp located on the outskirts of northern Sri Lankan town of Vavuniy Photo: REUTERS
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph at Vavuniya, where 210,000 people are being held in five camps for "internally displaced people", ragged Tamils said they had come under attack from both sides as the 26-year civil war reached its conclusion last week.
Many clutched a razor wire fence, desperately searching the crowds on the other side for a familiar face as they tried to discover whether their loved ones were still alive and at liberty, or in another of the camps, where the overcrowded conditions and made worse by poor sanitation, inadequate food and severe water shortages.

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The refugees are not allowed to leave the camps even if they are not suspected of being Tamil Tiger fighters. While the Colombo government has said that it will clear the camps during the course of the year, it is anxious not to allow separatist fighters to evade their reach by posing as civilians and simply walking free.
Bhuvaneswari, whose son and two daughters are missing, held photographs through the wire. "Nine members of my family are missing, please help me find them," she said. "They've been missing since the mass exodus on April 20th. When the army entered the safe zone and cut the area in two, we were separated. We don't know if they've been killed by the army or what."
At "Zone Four", a camp for recent arrivals, men stripped to the waist were washing themselves in an open drain. One man showed his camp ration card which recorded only two evening meals in six days, while another emaciated elderly man was so weak from an infection that he could not stand or speak and appeared close to death as he lay in a crowded tent.
Many said they had been shelled from their homes in the army's ferocious advance across the north-east of the island, and they had been forced to flee more than a dozen times before reaching the so-called "no-fire zone".
Thangaraja, 59, a carpenter, said that his family had moved 14 times since January as the Tigers retreated into the "no-fire zone" on the north-east coast. He said they had been shelled by the army, shot at by Tamil Tigers to stop them escaping, and lost several relatives in the cross-fire.
"My son and daughter-in-law, my brother-in-law, my cousin, all died in shelling attacks. We built bunkers and kept moving from one place to another. Shells were falling everywhere. Four people died in my family while I was there. We just left their bodies in the bunker and filled them in," he said.
He wants to go back to his home "in freedom", but his main concern is for other missing relatives. "Lots of my relatives have been injured but we don't know where they are. We can't go outside the camp to contact people," he said.
An army spokesman said that up to 6,000 families had been reunited to date, and that they were working to bring separated families together.
But he added: "At the moment we don't know how many families are separated or how many disappeared."
One refugee said that thousands of fleeing civilians were separated from their families when they reached the army check-point, where they were pushed onto buses and taken to different hospitals and camps. Navamani, 43, from Vattuvagal in Mullaitivu district, said she had lost her three children, aged 16,18 and 21, in the chaos.
At Vavuniya's Zone Two, a few miles down the road, a mother and daughter who had been separated for five months had finally found one another, but were not allowed to embrace.
Kandaswamy, 73, was weeping on one side of the razor-wire, and reaching out to her daughter, Laxmi, 45, who has been in detention since fleeing the final battle earlier this month. She needed all the comfort she could get – four of her five children had been killed in shelling, she said.

SLA interrogates Tamil daily editor in Jaffna[TamilNet, Tuesday, 26 May 2009, 04:53 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) civil administration office summoned Monday the editor of a popular Tamil daily in Jaffna for interrogation into a news item related to abduction of children for ransom, published in the front page of the daily, sources in Jaffna said. The daily, however, intimidated by SLA authorities in Palaali head quarters and SLA-backed paramilitaries, had published a refutation of the story published earlier. Abductions of children for ransom similar to such incidents in Batticaloa and Trincomalee continue in Jaffna peninsula.SLA authorities in Jaffna, however, had said that the news about the abductions were false as no one has complained or brought such incidents to their notice.As Jaffna peninsula is known to be one of the dangerous places in the world for journalists and media personnel, the editor being taken in for interrogation, has created fear and anxiety among them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Indian media, including Teheleka is interested in who is LTTE:

Dear Friends:

The Indian news media is always biased in some or the other news, hence there were a gap between reality and romanticising. Recently some magazines tried to patch the gap "Tehelek". However, they too proved not to fit that frame. Therefore i am collecting news from countries. which talks of the atrocities committed in the war zone and the camps.

Thanks times
Horror for civilians trapped in Sri Lanka's 'no-fire zone'

Catherine Philp in Colombo
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From the air, the battle zone reveals itself one clue at a time — the scorched patches of earth, the blasted palm trees, the burnt-out skeletal houses.
Then the helicopter banks sharp right over the green lagoon and a blaze of white sand appears — to the gasps of the first outsiders to glimpse the beach where the Tamil Tigers made their last stand.
Sri Lanka’s no-fire zone is a scene of such utter devastation it mocks its very name. It is a glimpse of hell unleashed in paradise. A glistening white beach packed with home-made bunkers where civilians huddled to protect themselves from the shells that the government denies launching in the final weeks of the offensive. The craters in the white sand; the charcoal coloured scorch marks and bombed-out dwellings; the abandoned bus, its forlorn white flag still flying, and the human detritus tell a very different story.
Peering down from above, one struggles to imagine the terror of being here in those last days of battle when 100,000 civilians were trapped in this tiny spit of sand between the guns of the Tamil Tigers and the cannons of the Sri Lankan army. No journalists, aid workers or independent observers have had access to the zone until this weekend when a small group of journalists accompanied the United Nations Secretary General on aa flight over the zone.
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Tigers begged me to broker surrender
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Father Amalraj does not have to imagine; he was here in the bunkers, among his flock, until the day before the Tigers announced their surrender. He described the terror of living under the constant shelling as the last battle approached.
"The people were targets for both side," the Roman Catholic priest told The Times inside the barbed wire fences of Manik Farm, one of the camps to which Tamil civilians were sent after they escaped from the no-fire zone.
"There was heavy shelling from the army side. The LTTE shot people. The army were trying to capture us. The people were caught in between in the last moment for the LTTE and the crucial point in the battle for the army. I cannot say which side was crueller."
He and his parishioners fled their village, Poonakary, just below the Jaffna peninsula when government forces overran it last November. They were on the move for months, fleeing ahead of the fighting over and over again until they reached the narrow strip of land on the eastern side of the Nanthikadal Lagoon, north of Mullativu in February, soon after it was designated a no-fire zone" by the Government.
It was anything but. Father Amalraj described how the people in the zone had cowered in improvised bunkers built on the beach for weeks on end to escape the shelling. "The shelling was just like raining," he said. "Within this two square kilometres, there were more than 100,000 people, packed in and shells raining down."
Many were killed. The UN believes that between 8,000 and 10,000 civilians have died in the conflict since the beginning of this year.
Father Amalraj, albeit anecdotally, believes the final tally is far higher. "We cannot say exactly how many died, but it was many, I think about 20,000."
The Sri Lankan government denies inflicting a single civilian death, blaming the shelling on the Tamil Tigers, despite the accounts of witnesses like Father Amalraj who testify that the shells came from the direction of the government front line.

As April turned to May, and the artillery exacted a heavier toll, bodies went unburied.
"We didn’t have the chance to bury our kith and kin," Father Amalraj said. "We left them on the road. The whole crowd is a witness to that," he said, gesturing around to the parishioners gathered in his tent in Manik Farm. "All around, the dead and injured."
Some people were buried. From the air neat rows of freshly dug graves revealed themselves but it was unclear if they contained the bodies of fighters or civilians. Others have been dug but not filled. A crater next to them appears stained red. Elsewhere, on the beach near to civilian shelters, similarly shaped mounds appear in the sand. The Times has passed the photographs to independent experts for analysis.
Some of those who emerged to try and escape were felled by the Tigers’ gunfire. "The LTTE shot people trying to escape," Father Amalraj said. "It was not at random. They shot in the air and then they shot at the people and killed them."
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200,000 Tamil civilians imprisoned in camp
Tigers begged me to broker surrender
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He named a Tiger commander who gave the orders to shoot at fleeing civilians as Tiramulai. The last person he saw shot before he fled was one of his parishioners, killed while trying to flee the zone on the afternoon of May 16, two days before the Tigers' leader Vellupilai Prabhakaran was killed.
But by then, the shelling was so intense that the remaining civilians decided that they had no option but to try to escape, even at the risk of being shot themselves.
"I said I am going with my people because we are going to die tonight here," he recalled. Most of the remaining civilians believed the same thing. Fifty thousand of them began to make their way towards the causeway out of the zone, rebuilt by government troops on the other side.
"We started coming out and they [the Tigers] fired at us. But they didn’t shoot me, they couldn’t stop me. We knew it was useless to stay. We put our fate with God."
What happened inside the so-called no fire zone will not be the subject of any investigation in Sri Lanka, although the Prime Minister has called for a commission to probe the arming and activities of the Tigers.
At a joint press conference with Mr Ban, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama brushed away questions about the chances of an investigation into war crimes by both sides. Was he entirely confident then that no Sri Lankan forces had committed such crimes? "Absolutely," he replied.
On Tuesday the UN Human Rights Council will meet to decide whether it believes there is cause for an international probe. Britain and the US are among the countries calling for one.
Father Amalraj, meanwhile, searches the tents of Zone Four in the Tamil "welfare camp" at Manik Farm, looking for his lost sheep. Of 4,000 original parishioners, he has no idea how many survived. Which side, in the end, does he blame for the terror and loss of those last few months in the no-fire zone? "As A Tamil, I can’t blame the LTTE for fighting for the Tamil people," he says. "Look at this camp and you can see. They are planning to oppress the Tamil community under the pretext of terrorism. All our efforts have been brought to zero."
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Thanks TamilNet
Tamil civilian reported missing in Colombo[TamilNet, Monday, 25 May 2009, 09:34 GMT]

A Tamil civilian residing in Kottawa in Colombo has gone missing since 19 May according to the complaint lodged with the police by his sister. The person reported missing is N. Mohanathas, 46, a resident of Koayil Rod in Kottawa.He had gone missing after he came out of his house in the morning to dispose garbage on the day he went missing.Complaint has also been made to Human Rights Commission and other civil rights organizations.
Agony in Sri Lanka's refugee camp
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spent Saturday in Sri Lanka pressing for political reconciliation and full humanitarian access for displaced people in camps, following Colombo's declaration of victory over Tamil Tigers rebels.
The BBC's UN correspondent Laura Trevelyan was travelling with Mr Ban and sent this report.

Menik Farm camp houses some 200,000 people
The Menik Farm camp in northern Sri Lanka has a distinctly military air for a place which is housing more than 200,000 people displaced by the fighting.
There is barbed wire everywhere, and camouflage-clad soldiers who are not at all keen on journalists speaking to those inside the camp.
As Mr Ban arrived amid a cloud of dust generated by his helicopter to see for himself the conditions in which people are living, there was an official welcome. Next came a presentation by Sri Lankan officials, about how well run the camp is.
Yet there is clearly overcrowding here. Greson Brando, from the UN's office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, explained that on one plot of land more than 74,000 people were living in a space designed for half that number.
It was a very sobering visit, very sad and very moving
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
How Sri Lanka's military won
Humanitarian challenge
Winning the peace
Eyewitness: Treating the Tigers
Mr Ban came to press the Sri Lankan government to allow the UN and aid agencies full humanitarian access to the camps and to call for those inside to have freedom of movement.
The Sri Lankan government will not let the mostly Tamil people here leave yet.
They are screening them to make sure they are not a security risk (i.e. Tamil Tigers who might begin to fight again).
The UN says people must be allowed to reunite with their families. Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told me the screening process is on course and when it is over the resettlement will begin.
What about allowing agencies full access to people here, I asked Mr Bogollagama.
"You can see how much humanitarian access people are enjoying," answered. "People here were denied their basic human rights by the LTTE [Tamil Tigers]."
Malnourished patients
Mr Ban was serenaded by well turned out children waving Sri Lankan flags. The camp floor was neatly swept, there were flowers in the gardens. A huge sign welcomed Mr Ban "to our motherland".

Some of the patients in a makeshift hospital were clearly malnourished
Yet there was no disguising the agony here.
Women spoke of walking through water to escape the fighting, being shelled from both sides, by the government and the Tamil Tigers.
In a makeshift hospital Mr Ban saw elderly, malnourished patients lying on cot beds in the open air, drips attached, flies buzzing round their heads. A few looked close to death.
Mr Ban was clearly moved by what he saw, describing himself as saddened and humbled.
He praised the Sri Lankan government for the help it is providing, while saying it lacked capacity - diplomatic code that more can be done.
'Vision of hell'
From the camp we were off by helicopter once again - this time to see the conflict zone itself - by Mullaitivu.

Mr Ban was flown over the area where the rebels made their last stand
We were the first international journalists to see the scene of the final days of the fighting.
The tiny spit of land in north-eastern Sri Lanka could be a beach paradise. Instead it is like a vision of hell.
Houses have been destroyed, buses blown up, palm trees devastated, and there are craters in the beach. On the sand I saw row after row of tents.
People lived in these cramped conditions, allegedly used by the Tamil Tigers as a human shield while the Sri Lankan military closed in.
Mr Ban did not land and look around the conflict zone. As a guest of the Sri Lankan authorities, he was well aware of the risk of being used by the government to portray international support for their military victory.
So he flew over instead, looking from the safety of the sky.
Joint statement
From there, Mr Ban went on to meet President Rajapaksa. UN officials were hoping to underline with him the importance of winning the peace as well as the war, by reaching out to Tamils and giving them rights in a comprehensive political settlement.
"If issues of reconciliation and social inclusion are not dealt with, history could repeat itself," warned Mr Ban.
The two men issued a joint statement after their meeting.
On the situation in the camps, the statement said the government would continue to provide access to humanitarian agencies, which did not acknowledge that it was not quite doing that.
President Rajapaksa says he will begin talks with all parties - including the Tamils - to bring about lasting peace.
Mr Ban in his dogged way has prodded the Sri Lankan government to address the concerns about the camps and work for reconciliation. The test of his influence is whether anything here changes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Rumors the Sri Lankan military used chemical weapons
Submitted by admin on Wednesday, 8 April 2009No CommentThere have been rumors going around that the Sri Lankan military used chemical weapons yesterday in its battle against the LTTE. We do not have proof one way or the other, but two odd points cast doubts on the government. For the first time ever, pictures of the dead LTTE bodies have unusual burn wounds and skin peeling off in many places. In the past the bodies have never had such wounds. Secondly, the Sri Lankan military has blurred out parts of the dead fighters’ bodies, most commonly the face (but many faces are also left unblured, so they are not trying to hide the person’s identity).

There are no signs of blood in the blured out area, so the only logical conclusion is that they want to hide the oddly peeled and burnt skin, which would be most visible on the exposed face. Below are a few examples of these wounds:

In the photo above, why is his chest blurred out? There is no sign of a bullet wound, but you can see a rash or burn around his neck and the blurred area, plus his skin is peeling off on many places.

Why did the Sri Lankan government blur out the faces in the top row, but not the faces below:

What are they trying to hide by blurring out the faces? There are no signs of bullet wounds there, and they obviously aren’t hiding their identity, because other faces are being shown. It is possible they are trying to cover up signs of peeling and burnt skin, which would be most visible on the exposed faces.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tamils In Lanka Jews Under Nazis?

A former US diplomat makes serious charges of genocide against Lankan officials, which could go all the way to US courts, reports PC VINOJ KUMAR

THE SRI LANKAN government is claiming an all-out victory in its recent campaign against the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Even as the United Nations voiced concern over the increasing number of civilian Tamil casualties in the war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army, pressure is building on the nation’s hardline Sinhala leadership over its allegedly genocidal acts against the Tamil minority. Former US Deputy Associate Attorney General Bruce Fein has compiled evidence he believes is sufficient to prosecute Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and army chief Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka under the United States Genocide Accountability Act. Gotabaya, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a US citizen and Fonseka is a US Green Card holder.

Fein, associated with a US-based group, Tamils Against Genocide, was on a private visit to Chennai last week. Speaking to TEHELKA, Fein says he has prepared a 1,000-page model indictment against Gotabaya and Fonseka for submission to the US Department of Justice. “Since Gotabaya and Fonseka assumed office (in 2005), there have been virtually one to three extra-judicial killings daily in Sri Lanka,” states Fein. These, he clarifies, do not include LTTE casualties. “My work has nothing to do with the LTTE,” Fein says.


‘The national identity cards help identify Tamils easily, so the government knows whom to kill’

‘People are abducted in mysterious white vans, with no license plates. They are never heard of again’

‘The government has complete authority over the perpetrators of genocide: army, police, thugs, army deserters’

The model document, if accepted in the US would make Gotabaya the first US citizen to be tried for genocide

Comparing the present conditions of Tamils in Sri Lanka to the sufferings of the Jews under the Nazis and of the blacks during the apartheid era in South Africa, Fein says: “The national identity cards given to the Tamils are almost like the Star of David badges the Jews had to wear during the Nazi era.” He alleges that the cards are meant to identify Tamils easily so the government knows “whom to kill”.

Conditions have allegedly worsened over the last three years. People are abducted in “mysterious white vans” that have no license plates, Fein says. The abducted are never heard of again and are counted among the thousands of ‘disappeared’ persons. The genocidal intent of the Rajapaksa regime can be established through its various discriminatory policies against the Tamils. “The government has been creating conditions intended to promote their physical destruction,” claims Fein, arguing that many Rajapaksa policies constitute genocidal acts under US law. The blockade on transporting essential commodities to Tamil areas is one example, Fein says, for the starvation it has caused to the north Lankan civilian population.

GOTABAYA RETIRED from the Sri Lankan army in 1992, having served in it for 20 years. He then moved to the US and worked as a computer systems administrator at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 to assist Rajapaksa during his presidential campaign. Ever since his brother became President, Gotabaya has been part of his core group and is urging Rajapaksa to pursue a military solution to the 25- year-old ethnic conflict.

Sri Lanka’s Tamils have suffered repression at the hands of the Sinhalese since the 1940s. Soon after achieving independence from British colonialism in 1948, the Lankan government passed the Citizenship Act by which about a million Tamils lost their citizenship and voting rights. Later, Sinhala was made the country’s only official language, placing Tamils at a disadvantage, particularly for government jobs. Moderate Tamil politicians failed to impact the government to change its policies. Finally, in the 1970s, Tamil youths took to an armed struggle.

In 2002, Rajapaksa’s predecessor, Ranil Wickremasinghe, entered into a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE. Rajapaksa withdrew from the ceasefire in January 2008. Since then, the country has been plunged into bloodshed.

Accuser Bruce Fein is concerned about the systemic violence against the Tamils under Rajapaksa

In his model indictment document, Fein seeks to establish the motivational context and the processes of the genocide under the Rajapaksa regime. Detailing the charges against Gotabaya and Fonseka, the document notes that “the alleged acts or omissions were committed with specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such, under the pretext of counter-insurgency warfare”. The document describes the victims of the alleged genocide as “Hindu-Christian Northeast Sri Lankan Tamils (HCNSLTs)”. Different forms of genocidal tactics against the HCNSLT have been recorded, among them large-scale abduction, indiscriminate aerial bombardment, artillery shell attacks and systematic deprivation of essential foods, and medicines.

The army’s powers to enforce ad hoc restrictions on “who and what goods can and cannot pass” over arterial roads to reach the HCNSLTs, media censorship on the happenings in Tamil areas, and the ban on petrol are part of Fein’s genocide charges against Fonseka and Gotabaya.

Tamils face “complex bureaucratic procedure” to travel abroad or within the country, especially in government-controlled Jaffna peninsula. “The process takes two to three months, whereby the application may be rejected. The army or government-sponsored paramilitaries are known to have murdered the applicants, the majority of whom were male.”

Fein’s priority now is to satisfy the US Department of Justice that a prima facie case has been made out and get the US Government’s support for forming a grand jury to prosecute Gotabaya and Fonseka. “I hope to have a grand jury set up in about three to four months time,” he says. If the jury indicts the accused, then the stage would be set for bringing Fonseka and Gotabaya to stand trial in the US.

Meanwhile, the situation of journalists in Sri Lanka is turning worse. Media sources in Colombo said at least 10 Sri Lankan journalists have fled the country. Senior journalist Lasantha Wikramatunga was assassinated by unknown persons in Colombo earlier this month — government hit-men are suspected. Senior Sinhalese journalist Sunanda Deshapriya has taken refuge in Chennai, where media persons have formed a forum called Journalists Against War to protest the violence on the Press under the Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka.


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 5, Dated Feb 07, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

NEW DELHI: After resisting reservation in faculty for more than a year, IITs are likely to be exempted from it.

At the meeting of Council of IITs on Wednesday, IIT directors were informed that the `SCs and STs (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill, 2008' had been passed in Lok Sabha and was awaiting the upper House's nod.

The legislation exempts 47 institutions, including IITs/IIMs and other institutes of excellence, from giving reservation in faculty.

While the directors are yet to examine this bill, IIT-Delhi director Surendra Prasad said it "reduces our concern quite a bit".

Last year, the HRD ministry had sent out a circular to all IITs asking them to implement reservation in faculty appointments, following which the directors took up the matter with the Prime Minister's Office.

Five years ago, at a meeting of the last council, members had altered the faculty to student ratio in tech colleges to 1:10. On Wednesday, directors suggested that the council revert to the old ratio of 1:9 to ensure academic excellence. While it may seem like a very small difference, a director said, "It does matter in various ways. It is something we want to strive for."

In the council meeting held after five years, HRD ministry dusted off a 1974 resolution of Council of IITs to justify appointing directors in the last five years without seeking the panel's approval.

The council said the 1974 resolution had empowered the panel's chairman, i.e. HRD minister, to make appointments on behalf of the council. Strangely, the IIT directors whose appointments were ratified were also part of the ratification process on Wednesday. In the process, the council had to ratify appointment of someone like Ashok Misra, former director of IIT-Bombay, who was appointed in 2005 and resigned last year.

Using the opportunity of the council meeting, appointment of directors in new IITs was also approved. Subject to presidential clearance, those appointed include U B Desai, IIT-Hyderabad; M K Surappa, IIT-Ropar; Sudhir Kumar Jain, IIT-Gandhinagar; Prem Kumar Kalra, IIT-Rajasthan; Madhusudan Chakraborty, IIT-Bhubaneswar and Anil K Bhowmick, IIT-Patna. However, the issue of setting up IIT in J&K didn't come up.

The meeting was held after five years and in the backdrop of Madras High Court terming the appointment of M S Ananth as director of IIT-Madras illegal.

The council also discussed dropouts in IITs. In three years (2005-08), in IIT-Delhi, 19 general, 21 SCs and five ST students have dropped out. In IIT-Madras, there were no dropouts. In IIT-Bombay, 27 general, 30 SCs and 13 ST students dropped out. In IIT-Kanpur, 14 general, 21 SCs and six ST students had to leave. In IIT-Kharagpur, two general and nine SC students dropped out.

The council decided that some sort of parity would have to be established to ensure that one IIT is not tougher than another. As of now, every IIT has different norms on which students are asked to leave or continue. "The directors have been asked to work out a common model that can be followed in all IITs," said a director.

Known to be against accreditation of their courses by National Bureau of Accreditation so that India gets full membership of Washington Accord, IIT directors have devised another method. A director said, "IIT Council will come up with a process that will be followed for accrediting their courses and suggest the same to the NBA."

There was a lot of discussion on converting IT-BHU into a fully fledged IIT but no decision was taken. "IT-BHU is an important part of the BHU system. There was discussion on how to empower IT-BHU without taking it out of the BHU system. But there is no clarity on that front yet," an official said.

De-reservation of SC/ST jobs ends

De-reservation of SC/ST jobs ends
9 Oct 2008, 0234 hrs IST

NEW DELHI: In a bid to discourage undermining of quotas for the underprivileged, the Cabinet on Wednesday decided to end de-reservation of posts
meant for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in central government jobs.

At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Cabinet approved enactment of a law to enforce job reservation for SCs/STs by stipulating penalties on offices which did not implement them effectively. Finance minister P Chidambaram said the Cabinet approved the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill 2008. ''Posts reserved for SCs and STs will not be de-reserved and they (vacancies) will be carried over,'' he said, adding that the proposed bill would contain provisions for penalties on offices which did not implement the job quota.

Chidambaram said the proposed legislation would contain provisions to impart training to SCs and STs to enable them to compete for jobs. The bill also proposed that those candidates who qualify on merit would not be considered under the quota, he said. ''The proposed law will create an unambiguous, coherent and authentic framework for implementing reservation for SCs and STs in central government services,'' Chidambaram said.

The proposed law would bring in ''interpretative clarity about various facets of the policy on reservation in central government jobs and infuse greater confidence in the minds of the SCs and STs,'' he added.

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