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Only international-sponsored ceasefire can lead to end of conflict - LTTE

Jan 30 (TN) LTTE Political Head B. Nadesan Friday blamed Colombo for stepped up genocidal artillery attacks on civilian targets Friday after committing a war crime of issuing ultimatum to civilians to move against their will into the hands of the genocidal military. Most of the civilians are continuously forced to live inside the bunkers and civilian casualties were mounting in Udaiyaarkaddu, Thearaavil and other areas, more..

A political, constitutional settlement

Jan 30 (Himal) Jayampathy Wickramaratne, a constitutional lawyer and former senior advisor to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, was a member of the team that drafted the country’s 2000 Constitution Bill. Wickramaratne was also a member of the panel of experts that assisted the APRC and, in December 2008, was a signatory to the Majority Report, which proposed significant restructuring of the state with extensive devolution and power-sharing at the Centre. more..

Brotherly dictatorship

Jan 30 (Himal) Friend and foe alike will grant that, since his election in November 2005, President Mahinda Rajapakse has proven adroit at strengthening his grip on power, be it by means fair or foul. During that time, his regime has propelled itself on the axes of war and a purging of the political opposition. A variety of approaches are being utilised for both. The military aspect has been a resounding success, starting with the Mavil Aru waterway incident of August 2007, more..

Big Brother's conundrum

Jan 30 (Himal) The string of victories claimed by the Sri Lankan armed forces in recent weeks against the LTTE has paradoxically left the Indian government smug and worried at the same time. Smug at the prospect of their bête noire Velupillai Prabhakaran and his ‘boys’ finally being vanquished, but worried about the impact that the overrunning of the LTTE could have on the political scenario in Tamil Nadu, with general elections in India just a few months away. more..

The Tamil responsibility

Jan 30 (Himal) On 2 January, the Sri Lanka armed forces brought the town of Kilinochchi, the administrative capital of the Tamil Tigers, back under government control. The win was not entirely unexpected, as speculation that the military was attempting to recapture the town, which the government lost in 1990, was rife by November last year. LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had, however, ridiculed Colombo’s effort to capture the city, dismissing it as a daydream of President Mahinda Rajapakse. more..

'Karunanidhi trying to distort my views'

Jan 30 (Hindu) AIADMK secretary Jayalalithaa on Thursday criticised Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for his attempts to distort her views on Sri Lankan Tamils issue to give an impression that she was opposed to the Tamils cause. In a statement here, she said that the AIADMK was opposed to any attempt by the Sri Lankan government to reduce the Tamils in the island nation to secondary citizens. more..

The next phase

Jan 30 (Himal) This is a time to take stock. Due to all the wrong turns that Sri Lanka has taken, and the right ones it did not, at and since our Independence six decades ago, the country has now spent a quarter century commemorating that event in conditions of a separatist civil war. This period of Sri Lanka’s history may now be about to end. The main achievement of 2008 was the shift in the balance of forces between the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE, and the maintenance of a posture of strategic offensive by the Sri Lankan armed forces. more..

Winning the war at a price

Jan 30 (Himal) It was bitter irony that at the very moment that the Sri Lankan armed forces were achieving their greatest feat in the war against the LTTE – the opening of the long-closed highway to Jaffna – armed assassins were striking in Colombo, and effectively slamming shut the door to media freedom in the country. On 8 January 2009, at a crowded intersection, armed men on four motorcycles surrounded Lasantha Wickrematunge, the outspoken editor more..

To the victor goes the guerilla war

Jan 30 (SP) About 50,000 soldiers from four divisions are closing in on a force of about 3-4,000 LTTE fighters (most of them recent conscripts). LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran appears to have gotten away, along with the three single engine aircraft the LTTE is known to have. While the army has captured six LTTE airfields in the last few weeks, there has been no sign of those three aircraft (which exist partly to get senior leaders in and out of the island). more..

Sri Lanka inflation slows to 28-month low

Jan 30 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's annual inflation slowed to a 28-month low of 10.7 percent in January, its seventh straight month of decline from a record high in June, the government said on Friday. Sri Lanka's annual average inflation eased to 21.6 percent from 22.6 percent in December. Economists polled by Reuters had expected annual average inflation rate of 21.65 percent. "This is mainly due to a sharp drop in fuel and commodity prices. more..

Sri Lanka war spills over, singes Chennai streets

Jan 30 (IBN) The war in Sri Lanka between the army and the LTTE is spilling over onto the streets of Chennai. A day after Muthukumar, a protestor, set himself ablaze to protest the targeting of Lankan Tamils in the conflict, the city saw a spate of protests. Traffic was blocked on several major roads in the city by protestors. Earlier in the day Chennai Police thwarted an attack on the Sri Lankan consulate. more..

After the Tigers

Jan 30 (Himal) The fall of Kilinochchi and Elephant Pass over the past month signals the end of the LTTE as a player whose conventional military capacity had helped it to win some major battlefield victories and dominate large swathes of Sri Lanka since the early 1990s. Because the LTTE decimated Tamil politics in the process of asserting its claim of ‘sole representation’, the end of the rebel force, as with the exit of any fascist political force, will inevitably create a political vacuum. more..

DMK flays LTTE for not responding to 48-hr ceasefire

Jan 30 (PTI) Ruling DMK on Friday sharply criticised the LTTE for not responding to the 48-hour ceasefire declared by the Sri Lankan government in the Vanni region to evacuate large number of civilian Tamils caught in the figthing between the island army and the Tigers. The LTTE had had not given any word on the safe passage of Tamils in the conflict zone, DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan said more..

'Devolution package report for North Lanka soon'

Jan 30 (PTI) With India pressing for an early political solution to the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka, an all party committee has finalised its recommendation on the devolution package for northern areas that will offer enhanced rights and privileges to the minority Tamil community. The APRC, set up in 2006, has now finalised its report recommending a power devolution formula as President Mahinda Rajapaksa has indicated his desire to hold elections in the embattled North this year, more..

Karunanidhi refutes Jayalalithaa's allegation on arms supply to Sri Lanka

Jan 30 (PTI) Refuting AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's allegation that he was "keeping quiet when the Centre was sending arms to Sri Lanka", Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Friday said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony had denied that India provided arms to that island nation. He said the Centre never consulted the state governments or even cabinet ministers on extending military aid to other countries. more..

'India will work for political settlement'

Jan 30 (PTI) The Union Government would continue to work towards a political settlement of the issues in Sri Lanka, including meaningful devolution of powers and early restoration of peace, External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said. "The government of India will continue to work for a political settlementof the issues in Sri Lanka, including meaningful devolution and early restorationof peace," Mukherjee, who visited Colombo a few days ago, said in a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. more..

'Let civilians flee war zone'

Jan 30 (AP) Sri Lanka's president has urged the Tamil Tiger rebels to allow the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the northern war zone to flee to safety following reports of heavy casualties among noncombatants stuck in the shrinking territory. Human rights groups have accused the rebels of holding the civilians hostage and accused the military of launching heavy attacks in areas filled with civilians, including a government-declared "safe zone" in the north. more..

Calls for Sri Lanka truce as fears mount for trapped civilians

Jan 30 (AFP) Calls mounted Friday for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka amid growing fears for an estimated quarter of a million civilians trapped by fierce fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels. A group of international relief organisations, including UN agencies, urged the LTTE to allow civilians to leave areas under their control, and the government to stop blocking international aid. more..

Sri Lanka rules out ceasefire with Tamil rebels

Jan 30 (AFP) Sri Lanka will not declare a ceasefire despite growing international concern about 250,000 civilians trapped by fighting with Tamil rebels, Human Rights minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said on Friday. "There will be no ceasefire," the minister told reporters after a meeting with Colombo-based diplomats. "We will continue with our military operations and we will continue to liberate areas which had not been liberated so far." more..

India's devastating 'play with fire' in the island of Sri Lanka

Jan 31 (TN) The Indian game that doesn't enjoy any popular support from any quarter concerned, can only be autocratic and will prove to be devastative to the entire island. The present Indian Establishment is incapable of doing anything constructively new, other than destroying Tamil safeguards. India is not only heading for maintaining perpetual trouble in Sri Lanka, but also is inviting turmoil to a part of its own country. more..

Jayalalitha asks why DMK ministers haven’t quit

Jan 31 (EB) AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa demanded an explanation from Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on several issues related to the Sri Lankan conflict, on Thursday. In a written statement, she raised several questions, the answers to which, she claimed, would reveal whether Karunanidhi was a true Indian and Tamil. Criticising the DMK’s alliance with the Congress, she asked, “Does he (Karunanidhi) condone the dastardly killing of Rajiv Gandhi? more..

Sri Lankan Tamils' issue: 38 protesters held

Jan 31 (IANS) At least 38 people were arrested Friday for protesting the killing of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka, police said. The protesters were on a road leading to the Sri Lanka's deputy high commissioner's office here. Most of the arrested are students, according to the police. Staff at the deputy high commissioner's office did not see or hear the protests, but saw it on television news, diplomatic sources said. more..

Sri Lanka should offer Tamils hope

Jan 31 (TS) After a year of bitter fighting, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has all but made good on his vow to crush the independence-seeking Tamil Tiger insurgents, who have waged one of Asia's longest-running wars. Since 1983, the conflict has cost 75,000 lives. Rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's forces once controlled a Tamil mini-state of 15,000 square kilometres in the north and east of the Indian Ocean island. more..

Suicide turns a seed

Jan 31 (NT) Tamilnadu is on the boil. The death of a Tamil youth Muthukumaran, said to be a case of self-immolation over the Lankan issue, has inflamed the already edgy passions, and today the mood among the political parties that have anchored themselves on the ‘Tamil cause’ was one of anger, which can snowball into something more dangerous. The irascible section of the student community and the advocates groups have also jumped into the churning cauldron. more..

Prabhakaran should be arrested: Congress

Jan 31 (NT) Highlighting its tough stand against the LTTE, the Congress today asserted in the State Assembly that it won’t relent till the LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, a proclaimed offender in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, was arrested, extradited and prosecuted in India. The Lankan issue continued to dominate the Assembly proceedings today as the Communists and the ruling DMK MLA locked horns over the issue. more..

Sehwag to play, Murali on verge of record

Jan 31 (CI) India's 3-2 victory in August last year was their first-ever bilateral series win in Sri Lanka and their chances of making it two in a row will increase significantly if the result of Saturday's day-night contest goes their way. India gain a massive boost with the return of Virender Sehwag - who missed the first ODI due to a hip injury - and a win for them will leave the hosts needing three consecutive victories to prevent defeat; more..

Blood on many hands as Tamil Tigers' insurrection faces military defeat

Jan 31 (SMH) It is a strange feeling to look across a desk at a suave, articulate finance minister giving a highly competent rundown on his country's economy, and know that this same man was widely assumed by his citizens and resident diplomats to have run his own death squad. This was the uneasy interview I held some years back in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, where all too often the politicians you saw giving a speech one day were being scraped off footpaths the next. more..

Civilians remain at risk in heavy fighting

Jan 31 (IRIN) Intense fighting in northern Sri Lanka continues to threaten civilian lives, the UN warned on 30 January. "We know from the intensity of the fighting and the position of [up to] 300,000 civilians - including 230,000 internally displaced persons - trapped in the Vanni pocket [in northeast Sri Lanka], that non-combatants are being injured and killed," Gordon Weiss, UN spokesman in Colombo, told IRIN. more..

Sri Lanka under siege

Jan 31 (HRW) When the fifty-ninth division of Sri Lanka's army entered Mullaitivu on 25 January 2009, it marked the fall of the last major town under the control of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The end may be in sight for the conventional armed conflict between government and LTTE forces which since 1983 has taken the lives of some 70,000 people, primarily in the island's north and east. more..

Vaiko lauds LTTE 'martyrdom'

Jan 31 (TimesNow) In what can amount to sedition, MDMK chief Vaiko read out a statment by LTTE spokesperson Nadesan, hailing Muthu Kumaran as a hero and martyr of the LTTE. The Sri Lankan army's offensive against the LTTE is having serious repurcussions in Tamil Nadu. Pro-tamil parties staged huge protests in the suburbs of Chennai, burning an effigy of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunadhi. more..

Sri Lanka starts disaster warnings on mobile phones

Jan 31 (LBO) Sri Lanka has launched a disaster warning system based on mobile phones that can deliver a an alert to millions of mobile phones users within minutes of an event taking place anywhere in the world, an officials said. "As a result of the international linkages we have built, I received an early warning from multi-lateral and bilateral bodies, within 15 minutes an earthquake occurring," more..

Ninety Sri Lankans seek asylum in Japan

Jan 31 (AFP) The number of asylum seekers in Japan doubled last year amid turmoil in Myanmar but only a small number of them were granted refugee status, government figures showed Friday. Japan imposes tight restrictions on immigration and has faced international criticism for not granting sanctuary to more asylum seekers, even though it is a major aid provider to refugees overseas. The number of asylum seekers in Japan rose to 1,599 from 816 a year earlier, more..

Tigers say civilians will remain

Jan 31 (BBC) The Tamil Tigers say that 250,000 civilians in the conflict zone in north-eastern Sri Lanka want to stay to be protected by the rebels. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had appealed to the rebels to allow the civilians to leave. But his government also ruled out a ceasefire. Rebel political chief B Nadesan said the people did not wish to end up in the hands of "their killers". Health officials and rights groups say hundreds of civilians have died. more..

17 Killed and 39 Injured in Bombing of Church Premises at Suthanthirapuram

Jan 31 (TC) Despite denials by Sri Lankan government ministers and officials that innocent civilians are being killed and injured in the aerial bombardment and artillery shelling by the armed forces in the Wanni , there is mounting evidence to the contrary. In a horrible incident on January 28th the Church premises of the American Ceylon Mission at Suthanthirapuram was bombed. 17 persons were killed and 39 including Rev. Anandarajan were injured. more..

Bishop joins hunger strikers after appeals to President, rebels

Jan 31 (UCAN) The Catholic bishop of war-torn Jaffna diocese on the northern tip of Sri Lanka has joined 300 Christian and Hindu hunger strikers urging action to protect civilians caught in the ethnic conflict. Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam also appealed separately to the country's president and to Tamil rebels for the safety of people trapped in the combat zone. more..

Ambassador Blake's remarks at Habitat for Humanity celebration ceremony

Jan 31 (USE) I am so pleased to join you here this evening to celebrate the completion of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka’s ten thousandth house – a great achievement in your fourteen year history here. Your tireless work in the southern, central, western and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka stands as a shining example of Habitat for Humanity International’s ongoing goal to provide simple, decent, affordable housing to people in need everywhere. more..

Attacks against Sri Lankan press meet with U.S. condemnation

Jan 31 (AG) For many Sri Lankan journalists, January ushered in a climate of fear with a series of attacks and threats against news media personnel and outlets that have been critical of the government in Colombo. The United States is appalled by the attacks, State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood said in a January 23 statement. He called on the Sri Lankan government to protect all of its citizens “by enforcing law and order, preventing intimidation of the media, and more..

Bollywood's 'Victory' in Colombo

Jan 31 (AFP) Bollywood's latest movie "Victory," which has a cricket theme, had its global premiere in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo on Friday, a co-producer said. Shot in India, Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan, "Victory" centres around a father who dreams his young son, Vijay Shekhawat, will rise from a small village in Rajasthan to play for the Indian cricket team. "The film combines what Indians love best -- cricket, music and Bollywood movies," more..

UK doubles humanitarian aid for Sri Lanka

Jan 31 (7S) Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, today doubled the UK's emergency humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Sri Lanka as the conflict between the Government and the LTTE escalates. Douglas Alexander said: "Currently, over 230,000 people are trapped between warring Government and Tamil Tiger forces and not enough aid is getting through to those who desperately need it. I urge both sides to declare an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and more..

Sydney support for Sri Lanka hunger strike

Jan 31 (SMH) About 1000 people gathered at Martin Place in the city last night to show their support for the hunger strike aimed at raising awareness for the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka. Men, women and children of Sri Lankan background from across Sydney stood around the nine hunger strike participants for the final hours of their two-and-a-half day protest. One of five fasting men, Arunn Warren, said the purpose of the protest was to raise awareness of the fighting between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamils. more..

Helping families keep in touch across the front line

Jan 31 (ICRC) The conflict in northern Sri Lanka has affected some 200,000 civilians in the Vanni. The majority have fled their homes, while others are at risk of displacement in this volatile situation. Many have not been able to talk to their families in recent days and weeks. Monica Zanarelli, the ICRC’s deputy head of operations for South Asia, explains the organization's efforts to re-establish family links in an extremely volatile situation. more..

Sri Lankan refugees face hardships

Tourism ministry’s 2008 travel and tourism award ceremony

Jan 31 (AT) The second successive Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism was held on 26 January 2009, at BMICH, with the participation of a distinguished gathering of industry personnel. The Chief Guest of the award ceremony, Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake, was accompanied by the Minister of Tourism, Milinda Moragoda, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Faiszer Musthapha, MP Arjuna Ranathunga and the organizing committee. more..

LTTE’s Vanni Commander Bhanu critically injured while fleeing from Visvamadu

Jan 31 (AT) Reports reveal that Bhanu – a self styled ‘Colonel’ of the LTTE was seriously wounded while fleeing from Visvamadhu. Bhanu is the commander of the LTTE for the Vanni region. He was hit in his thigh and said to be critically injured while fleeing from Viswamadhu, when Sri Lankan troops belonging the 58 Division led by Brigadier Shavendra Silva was advancing on Wednesday into the centre of Viswamadhu. more..

UN human rights chief deplores worsening situation for civilians in Sri Lanka

Jan 31 (AT) The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday 29 January she was deeply concerned by reports of the rapidly deteriorating conditions facing a quarter of a million civilians trapped in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, and of alleged human rights abuses and a significant number of civilian casualties, as well as the huge displacement. Ms. Pillay also expressed concern at the highly restricted access to the Vanni region for aid agencies and impartial outside observers, more..

Tamil Tigers continues to forcibly hold the innocent civilians

Jan 31 (AT) Tamil Tigers continue to hold on the innocent Tamil civilians as human shield without allowing them to leave to safe areas through the "No Fire Zone" corridor. Sri Lankan Army sources told Asian Tribune only 9 people managed to flee yesterday into the Army controlled area though LTTE fired at them while fleeing. Also sources told that LTTE have at last allowed 170 civilians who were injured and languishing for treatment to the Army controlled area and more..

Security beefed up outside Sri Lanka mission in Chennai

Jan 31 (IANS) The Sri Lankan diplomatic mission here was placed under heavy security cover Friday after a mob gathered outside to protest the killing of Tamils in the war-hit island nation. Around 38 students were arrested Friday for holding protests outside the mission. Sri Lanka Deputy High Commissioner P. Amza said the situation was under control. "The director general of police (K.P. Jain) has assured us of our safety. more..

Confusion in Tamil Nadu over Sri Lanka ‘ceasefire’

Jan 31 (IANS) Conflicting reports of a ‘ceasefire’ in Sri Lanka created confusion in political circles in Tamil Nadu Friday. State Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan read out a letter from External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the assembly claiming a 48-hour ceasefire had been called in Sri Lanka to help civilians move to safer places following India’s insistence during the minister’s recent visit to the island nation. more..

London Cabs to promote Sri Lanka

Jan 31 (AT) The London Branch of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau activated a campaign under the rebranding exercise at key destinations world over, where 27 taxi cabs were branded with images depicting Sri Lanka. The creative execution depicts the new branding that will advertise the resplendent isle throughout the world. This campaign was facilitated by Cabvert, the company which is promoting its own brand of Cabvertising, more..

Increasing number of children injured in fighting in Sri Lanka

Jan 31 (AT) Children trapped in the war zone and their families must be able to move to safe areas that are free of fighting, so that they can receive support and assistance, said UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, Mr Daniel Toole. Calling the situation a crisis for children, UNICEF today said that an increasing number of children, some just months old, had been injured in the fighting in Sri Lanka in the past 10 days. more..