The Lanka Academic

MAY 16, 2000 EST, USA
VOL. 1, NO. 41

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2544th Vesak anniversary: 5/17
Let there be peace in Sri Lanka, soon!
Citing National Crisis, Sri Lanka Blanks Out Freedom of the Press
May 17 Paris. Mrs. Kumaratunga ordered the censorship measures - unequaled in Sri Lanka's half-century of parliamentary democracy except for a brief exception in 1998 - on May 3 after separatist Tamil rebels captured a major northern army base in a stunning setback for the military.Some papers have found creative ways to challenge the ban and attack the rules as politically motivated. The Sunday Leader last week submitted two nearly identical, fictitious articles to Mr. Rubasinghe criticizing the war effort. The first one, blaming the opposition party, was allowed. The second, blaming Mrs. Kumaratunga, was banned. More..

India should intervene in Sri Lanka - An editorial
Deccan Chronicle. After continuously campaigning against terrorism, India cannot afford to be seen to be weak against the LTTE. The LTTE is rightly a banned organisation in India, in keeping with our own campaign, we have to ensure it is eliminated if it persists in its violent activities. Here, we can take a leaf from the Israel book — for that country, terrorism anywhere as a threat to be crushed; if India wishes to be seen as a major voice in the global fight against this menace, it must stand up and be counted More..

Chandrika firm on new devolution package
Hindustan Times, May 16. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga told the all-party conference here on Monday that she was determined to table in Parliament by August the new Constitution embodying devolution of power to the provinces. A Tamil leader told The Hindustan Times after the meeting that a former Presidential candidate, Mr Harishchandra, and the leader of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, Mr Dinesh Gunawardene, drew flak from the Tamil representatives when they described the LTTE as "Tamil terrorists" who should be crushed. A TULF leader said that even the LTTE could not be dubbed as terrorists because, rightly or wrongly, the Tamils believed that it was because of the LTTE that the government was talking about a settlement of the Tamil question. More..

Why DMK had to distance itself from LTTE
Chennai, May 16. THE MDMK and the PMK now stand completely isolated within the NDA following Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi's categorical remarks that he would not prefer the LTTE to preside over a Tamil Eelam since it was not the ideal representative of Sri Lankan Tamils.

By coming out openly in the state Assembly that the DMK had always kept its distance from the LTTE and viewed it with trepidation due to its penchant to bump of fellow Tamil leaders, Mr. Krunanidhi has made his strongest statement against the Tigers. More..

India, Lanka try to talk through crisis
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, May 16. t seems as if the two countries have embarked upon a novel diplomatic course: talking through media interviews and parliament statements. On May 9, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in New Delhi, Mr Mangala Moonasinghe, reacted in an interview to Star TV on Mr Singh's public offer on mediation. But he did not say anything about a direct offer through normal diplomatic channels. More..

'India and Lanka discussing joint naval patrolling'
Hindustan Times, Colombo, May 16. Sri Lanka and India are discussing the possibility of jointly patrolling the seas around north and east Sri Lanka to prevent the LTTE from bringing arms by sea, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said here today. The Lankan Foreign minister said that he would "outrightly reject" the theory that India and the LTTE were in cahoots and that New Delhi had told the Tigers that they could take the Jaffna peninsula, except the Palaly air base, whose capture would threaten India's shores. More..

Sri Lanka admits to receiving direct foreign military assistance
NDTV, May 16. The Sri Lankan government has for the first time admitted that it is receiving direct foreign military assistance on the battlefront. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Laxman Kadirgamar today indicated that Israeli military trainers and technicians were supporting troops on the front line to fight the LTTE. More..

Fears grow for Jaffna civilians
BBC, Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK. Aid agencies in Sri Lanka say more civilians are leaving the northern town of Jaffna because of heavy fighting between Sri Lankan government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.The medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement that attacks in the Jaffna area had caused civilian deaths. More..

Start dialogue, E.U. tells Colombo, LTTE
Hindu, May 16. In the first substantive international reaction to the current crisis in Sri Lanka, the European Union has called on Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to stop fighting and start talking. The Government is carefully scrutinising the European position on Sri Lanka, but is unlikely to associate itself with the statement issued by the E.U. presidency last night in Brussels. More..

Some Tigers may have sneaked into Jaffna
Hindu, May 16. Despite stiff resistance by Government troops, some cadres of the LTTE may have slipped into Jaffna town, further restricting Colombo's military options.

According to highly-placed Government sources, some Tigers have breached the Sri Lankan defence line in a few places around Jaffna in the last couple of days, and could be present in small numbers inside the town. Consequently, the presence of the LTTE in populated areas is negatively affecting Sri Lanka's military options. More..

Fighting spreads to east of Jaffna
Hindu, May 16. Breaking a ``somewhat steady'' situation which prevailed on the northern military front for the past few days, the LTTE today stepped up its offensive on the east of Jaffna in which at least 40 LTTE militants and six Sri Lankan soldiers were reportedly killed. Strongly disagreeing with a questioner on whether India had prevailed upon the Tigers to contain their Jaffna offensive, Mr. Kadirgamar said, ``I reject absolutely and totally that the Indian Government has anything to do with the LTTE behind our back.'' The Minister also said, ``We are totally convinced'' that India does not want a separate state in the North and East of Sri Lanka. More..

May 16. Sri Lanka observers in New Delhi said the attack signalled a shift in the Tigers' strategy. Instead of pushing forward further from near Colombuthurai east on the outskirts of Jaffna, as was on the cards for some time, the rebels had unleashed an offensive on the Tanankillappu sector by firing from Pooneryn north, southeast of the city across the lagoon. More..

Pakistan voices sympathy for Sri Lanka government
MSNBC, May 16. Pakistan on Tuesday voiced sympathy for Sri Lanka in Colombo's fight against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels and said there should be no interference in the strife-torn country's internal affairs. ''The government of Pakistan is concerned at the intensification of rebel attacks on the forces of the government of Sri Lanka in Jaffna peninsula and extends its sympathy to the government and people of Sri Lanka in their struggle to maintain the unity of their country,'' a Foreign Ministry statement said. More..

UNICEF says children being caught in Sri Lanka war
MSNBC, May 16. Children are being caught up in the battle in Sri Lanka both as victims and as combatants, the head of the U.N. Children's Fund said Tuesday. Bellamy said that despite commitments by the main rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, not to recruit children under the age of 17, the practice appeared to be continuing. She also expressed alarm at reports that government forces were restricting the supply of vaccines and drugs to children and families in rebel-held areas of Sri Lanka. More..

Sri Lanka increases defence budget to fight Tamil Tigers
Ananova, Tuesday 16th May 2000. The Sri Lankan government has increasing its defence spending by $180 million to $880 million in its fight against Tamil Tiger separatists. More...

Prabhakaran's mom fights paralysis in TN, May 16, 2000. Her son is holding an island nation to ransom, threatening to overrun one of its most populous towns. But Parvathi Ammal, mother of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, lies unaware of this in a siddha hospital in Musiri near here. More...

Chandrika rejects ceasefire offer
Hindu, May 16. Recovering from the initial shock after the Army lost control of Elephant Pass last month, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has now outright rejected any ceasefire agreement with the LTTE.

But, she said, her Government was ready for talks with the militant group provided LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran was brought to the negotiating table. More..

Indian ban on LTTE no hurdle to mediation: Kadirgamar
Hindu, May 16. India's decision to renew the ban on LTTE is not a "fatal impediment" to chances of New Delhi's mediation in the ethnic conflict in northern Sri Lanka and it is a "good time" for rebel tigers to come to the negotiating table, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has said.

Briefing reporters here today about his India visit, Kadirgamar said the Sri Lankan Government welcomed the Indian decision to extend the ban on LTTE. "At the same time, the ban would in no way prevent India from playing a role to end the Sri Lankan conflict." More..

LTTE claims decisive battle on for Jaffna
Indian Express, May 16. The LTTE today claimed that the "decisive battle" for Jaffna resumed with great intensity as its heavily-armed combat formations opened up offensive onslaught on two fronts last night in the coastal belt of the city and in the Chavakachcheri sector, reports PTI.The Tiger combat units have smashed through the defence lines of the government troops resulting in heavy causalties to the army, it said. More..

Fresh LTTE attacks on Jaffna Govt appeals for peace talks
Times of India, May 16. Tamil rebels today launched a fresh attack on the besieged Sri Lankan town of Jaffna after a three-day lull even as the government appealed to the LTTE to talk peace. More..

S.Lanka tells rebel leader to step back from brink
MSNBC, May 16. Sri Lanka appealed on Tuesday to the reclusive leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels to spare his war-weary people further suffering after 17 years of fruitless battle for a separate homeland. ''Is it not time now to put aside the rationale that drove you to war?'' Kadirgamar said, when asked at a news conference what message he would like to send to Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). ''Is it not time to say I have fought a good battle...bring it to an end and seek a political solution?'' he added. More..

MSF worries over civilian casualties in S.Lanka war
MSNBC, May 16. A humanitarian organisation said on Tuesday that the escalation in fighting in northern Sri Lanka was putting civilian lives in danger and making their medical care difficult. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement that recent attacks in Jaffna peninsula and its vicinity had caused civilian deaths, and the location of potential military targets next to hospitals further endangered patients. More..

LTTE lose 400 frontline cadres following air raids
Deccan Herald, May 16. With the LTTE losing nearly 400 frontline cadres following air force raids in the embattled Jaffna peninsula, the intensity of fighting has dropped drastically during the past four days. Since fresh fighting broke out on May, military sources said.Troops have inflicted heavy casualities on LTTE cadres in Nagarkivil, Ampan, Kovilakandy and Cololbuthurai, sources said. More..

LTTE launches fresh attack on army positions in Jaffna
NDTV, May 16. Speaking in Colombo, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar said that there's been a gradual shift in the fighting in favour of the army. "I would say that in the last 4 or 5 days, there is a discernible evidence of the stiffening of resistance being offered by the army to the LTTE in the peninsula. Correspondingly there is an indication of the LTTE standing off. Now if its doing that to regroup or plan its moves I don't know, but it is my impression that we are now at the turning corner in the current situation," informed Mr. Kadirgamar. More..

Heavy fighting continues in northern Sri Lanka.(Exclusive)
Roy Denish in Colombo, 18.55, SLT Tuesday.. Sri Lankan government claimed that at least 45 persons including six soldiers were killed in confrontations in northern Jaffna peninsula during the past 24 hours. A government news release said that six soldiers including an officer were killed at Thanankillapu sector.

The news release added that fresh fighting broke out when terrorists simultaneously fired a barrage of artillery and mortars on troops and the heavy fire was directed from north of Ponneryn, an area now under control of Tigers.

"Due to the concentrated artillery and mortar fire, the senior ground commanders shifted the defences to prepared positions towards the northeast".

Elsewhere at Wanni separatist Tiger rebels in their clandestine radio, the Voice Of Tigers requested the civilians not to enter the army-controlled areas until May 19.

"There had been reports of heavy concentration of rebels in Wanni during the past few days and it may be the reasons as to why the civilians have been barred from entering the control areas", a military officer told this correspondent.

Meanwhile reports reaching Colombo said that the Sri Lankan air force planes were dropping leaflets ordering civilians in Mullitivu district to vacate the areas immediately.Mullitivu is the stronghold of Tiger rebels.

Norway envoy says high hopes for Sri Lanka peace
MSNBC, May 16. A Norwegian peace broker for Sri Lanka said on Tuesday he was not discouraged by a new offensive by Tamil rebels but warned that peace was still far off. Erik Solheim, who leads Oslo's peace initiative to the war-torn country, acknowledged that the Tamils' offensive in the northern city of Jaffna had worsened the situation. ''This is a long-term and difficult process with steps forward and steps back. But we are hoping that there will be always be two steps forward and one step back and not the opposite,'' he said. More..

Tamil tiger chief masterminds terror
CBS, May 15. Vellupillai Prabharakan, the brilliant, reclusive mastermind of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, is virtually unknown outside South Asia and is a personal mystery even in his own country. But he leads one of the world's most formidable and successful guerrilla-terrorist movements, which he has shaped in his own implacable image.

As his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eetam hammer away at the beleagured Sri Lankan army troops cut off in the city of Jaffna, Prabharkan looks closer than ever to achieve his lifelong dream of an independent Tamil ethnic state carved out of Sri Lanka, the former British colony of Ceylon.

But many fear that his dream could become his own people's nightmare. More..

Sri Lanka to get 'technical experts' from Israel and ups defence budget
May 16. Israeli "technical experts" may help Sri Lanka's military operate new weapons, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said Tuesday as the two countries formalised their diplomatic ties after 30 years.

Kadirgamar told reporters here that he did not expect Israelis to get involved in any combat role in the government's battle against Tamil Tiger rebels, but technical help could be obtained.

"But I must say that there will be no combat role for them." More..

UPDATE 1-Arms for war derail S.Lanka's defence budget
ABC News, May 16. Sri Lanka said on Tuesday that emergency purchases of arms to fight Tamil Tiger rebels in the north of the country would lift this year's defence budget to $880 million from around $700 million.

The defence budget for 2000 was set at 52.4 billion rupees ($701.6 million), or just less than five percent of gross domestic product. More..

Gunmen kill lawmaker in northern Sri Lanka
Indian Express, May 16. Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Tamil lawmaker in Jaffna, the northern city besieged by thousands of Tamil guerrillas preparing for a final assault, military officers said today.

Santhanam Kandeepan, a member of the Jaffna city council, was killed yesterday in Jaffna's Arasadi neighborhood in the first political assassination since Tamil rebels intensified their offensive last month to recapture their former capital. More..

The Colombo Crisis
Outlook, May 22. Coming from the head of state, it was a remark that spoke volumes about the acute threat Colombo is facing. When Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga met opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to brief him on the military situation in the Jaffna peninsula, she had to confess that "the situation is critical". Indeed, since April 21, when Tamil separatist rebels captured the strategically crucial Elephant Pass military complex-the gateway to the peninsula-the island nation is facing an unprecedented military and political crisis. More..

Sri Lanka Talks Peace, Norway Says No Easy Road
Yahoo, May 16. Sri Lanka has again called for negotiations with Tamil Tiger rebels as Norway, which is attempting to broker peace between the warring sides, cast doubt over an early end to the ethnic war.

State media reported in Colombo on Tuesday that President Chandrika Kumaratunga told a meeting of all political parties that her government was prepared to negotiate peace with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

But she reiterated that the government would not withdraw its troops from the country's north and east, where the LTTE has been fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils since 1983. More..

Fresh fighting erupted in Sri Lanka's
May 16. northern Jaffna peninsula after a lull of three days when Tamil Tiger rebels launched an attack on army positions at Tanankillappu, just east of Jaffna town, the government said on Tuesday.

It said in a statement that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched the attack on Monday and fired a barrage of artillery and mortar fire at the troops. More..

Sri Lanka, India wait for mediation offer to be made official
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 3 p.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, told journalists today that India has made no official intimation of seeking to mediate Sri Lanka's present conflict. The Minister maintained that speculation so far was on the basis of media reports which claimed Indian Premier Atal Behari Vajpayee and India's External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, had offered to mediate Sri Lanka's conflict if invited to do so by both, the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Fresh fighting in Sri Lanka's north
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2 p.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. Fresh fighting broke out today at Tanakillapu in the northern peninsula. The government media information centre confirmed that hundreds of rebels launched fierce attacks on the military forcing troops to relocate forward defence lines closer to Jaffna's north east.

Lankan foreign minister says no link between India and LTTE
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.30 p.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Foreign Minister for Sri Lanka at a press conference today with local and foreign media said there is no link between India and the Tamil Tigers fighting for a separate state in northern Sri Lanka. The Minister asserted that India did not want to see a divided Sri Lanka and have urged both parties to the conflict to seek a negotiated settlement.

Kadirgamar meanwhile re-affirmed government claims in the last 36 hours, which states that heavy fighting in the north has abated, with the LTTE suffering heavy loss of cadre. The Minister confirmed that international assistance has been gained in order to purchase arms for Lankan troops but declined to define the type of arms being received by the government.

Minister Kadirgamar reiterated that the government is committed to finding a political solution to Sri Lanka's present crisis, but maintained the LTTE is not interested in a negotiated settlement.

Diplomatic deal sealed with Israel
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.35 p.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. Sri Lanka officially signed a diplomatic pact with Israel yesterday. The deal was sealed by Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United Nations, John De Saram.

President speaks with 27 political parties
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.10 a.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge yesterday met with representatives of 27 political parties. At the discussion she briefed the members on her government's strategy to meet the increased military threat by the LTTE and vowed that her administration would not commence peace talks with the rebels unless they call a halt to all violence. She asserted that the government would not withdraw troops from the northern peninsula and that armed reinforcements as well as personnel have been sent to soldiers deployed in the conflict areas. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) annoyed at being kept waiting by the President for a near two hours left the meeting fifteen minutes before she arrived. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. but only got off the ground two hours later due to the President arriving late.

The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) objected to a suggestion that all political parties should unite to defeat the LTTE. The President however welcomed this proposal put forward by the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and the Sinhala Mahasammata Bhoomiputra party.

Justice minister sets out peace strategy
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.15 a.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs at a briefing with members of the diplomatic community which included representatives of multilateral financial institutions, the United Nations and Heads of Missions of donor countries last Thursday set out in detail the Government's thinking with regard to the evolving political and economic situation.

In order to meet additional expenditure of Rs. 12 billion for the armed conflict, a restructuring of priorities with regard to the economy and foreign relations is necessary, he said. Non-essential capital expenditure would not be incurred. A sense of balance had to be achieved with regard to safeguarding human rights in the context of extraordinary measures under emergency regulations essential for national security. Prof. Peiris also said that while the government would prosecute the war that was thrust upon them, it was also committed to the fundamental values underpinning the devolution process, strengthening civil society and empowerment of the minorities.

The government, he said, was also conscious of the need to extenuate the adverse effects of political polarization and to this end the talks with the United National Party (UNP) would continue with an expanded ambit.

The Minister stressed that an integrated strategy was needed with regard to the peace process - the military strategy, the process of discussions with political parties and the role of other nations in the capacity of facilitator to help negotiate talks with the LTTE.

EPDP member shot in Jaffna
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.20 a.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. A member of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) was shot dead outside the Jaffna Hindu Ladies College yesterday allegedly by the LTTE's pistol gang. The body has been handed over to the Jaffna Teachers College, while police conduct investigations. The deceased was a member of the Valikamam South Pradeshiya Sabha.

MSF cautions State on aerial bombing
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.35 a.m. SLT Tuesday May 16. Foreign wire services yesterday said Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), Holland, a humanitarian agency working in the country's north, has cautioned the government on aerial bombardment which the organizations claims could pose a serious hazard to the civilian population in the area. MSF says it will issue a statement calling on all warring sides in the north to respect the safety of the civilian population. This call is issued in the wake of claims by pro LTTE news services that five civilians including two children were killed and 10 injured at Pooneryn last Friday, May 12, when Israeli built Kifir jets bombed a fishing village in the area.

Media censorship imposed in Sri Lanka for security reasons
NDTV, Tuesday, May 16 (Colombo):. Media Minister, Ms. Mangala Samaravira says the government fears that exaggerated media reports could lead to a repeat of the communal clashes that shook Sri Lanka in late July 1983. According to Ms. Samaravira, "It is in that context that we decided to impose the censorship regulations very strictly, because we found that certain newspapers were exaggerating the casualty figures and they were carrying word for word Tiger propaganda." More..

Official intimation required before India can mediate: Kumaratunga
NDTV, May 16. At the all-party meeting called to discuss the ongoing conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army in Jaffna, the Sri Lankan President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga said that she would take a decision on the offer made by India to mediate between her government and the LTTE only after receiving an official intimation. More..

EU asks Sri Lanka to lift curbs on civil liberties
MSNBC, May 15. The European Union on Monday urged the government of Sri Lanka, locked in a bitter war with Tamil guerrillas, to lift restrictions imposed earlier this month on civil liberties and freedom of the press.

The Sri Lankan government imposed tough public security regulations on May 4, putting both local and foreign media under a blanket censorship. It has also banned live broadcasts of all television and radio programmes. The laws, which also ban public meetings, trade union action and criticism of the president and allow the government to seize property and vehicles, were introduced as the country was put on a war footing to battle a guerrilla offensive. More..

Sri Lanka, Israel restore diplomatic relations
MSNBC, May 15. Sri Lanka and Israel on Monday restored diplomatic relations, broken off by Sri Lanka in 1970 and again in 1990. The restoration, announced earlier this month, was formalised in a joint communique signed by Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, now visiting New York, and Sri Lanka's United Nations ambassador, John de Saram.

Diplomatic sources said the two countries were not expected to open embassies but that Sri Lanka's ambassador in Jordan would also be accredited to Israel, while Israel's ambassador to India would be accredited to Sri Lanka. More..

Tamils Wait and Worry
Washington Post, May 15. In a sparse, dollar-a-night rooming house in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo last week, a dozen Tamil refugees waited anxiously for word from their families stranded in the northern city of Jaffna. Fighting between Tamil rebels and army troops has been escalating near the city for days, but all telephone lines have been cut and virtually all news blacked out by the government.

"I have four daughters back home in Jaffna, and I am dead scared for them," said Arul Seeli, 56, who was interviewed Friday in Colombo. "I sent my other children abroad to save them from all this. I talked to them on the phone from Germany this morning, but they were afraid to tell me what they've heard, because they don't want to frighten me even more." More.. 4

Vaiko denies seeking arms for LTTE
Pioneer, May 15. Mr Vaiko said at the public forum all he said was since Sri Lanka was being provided with arms and ammunitions from 30 countries, as a supporter of the LTTE's cause for the Tamils rights: "I am tempted to seek the support from the Government." But I have never demanded nor stated that "Indian Government should supply arms to LTTE. I am aware of Government's policy and respect their decision of territorial unity and integrity in Sri Lanka. More..

Common man unperturbed by Jaffna war
The Straits Times. The conflict between the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tigers fails to find its echo in Colombo, where people are not bothered which side will triumph

In Colombo, it seems that most of the people The Straits Times spoke to actually do not really care anymore.

At the Galle Face Green, an open plot of land facing the Indian Ocean, the young and the not so young converge every evening for a game of cricket or just to enjoy the breeze the ocean brings.

To them, life goes on. More..

Civilians killed in Jaffna shelling
BBC, Monday, 15 May, 2000, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK. Aid agencies in Sri Lanka say that mortar fire has killed four civilians in the northern town of Jaffna.

The government blamed the rebel Tamil Tigers for the shelling but there has been no independent confirmation of this. The shells, which were fired into the Gurunagar area in the south-east of the town, injured nine people. More..

Facing reality - An Editorial from Sunday Times
Sunday Times, May 14. For all his pious talk of eliminating cross border terrorism vis-a–vis Kashmir, Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee has been unable to respond to the needs of this country today, which trace back to a brand of cross border terrorism spawned by India several years back. All the raucous tub thumping Bharathiya jingoism aside, Vajpayee is today surrounded by a cabal of political forces comprising those such as George Fernandez, his Defence Minister, who was, if not still is, a known supporter of Velupillai Prabhakaran's LTTE, and others. More..

Jaffna editor threatened for publishing reports without censorship clearance
JAL News, May 15. The Sri Lanka army in Jaffna reprimanded and warned senior Jaffna journalist C.N Vithyatharan on Sunday for publishing in his paper published from Jaffna a story about the Sri Lankan President breaking into tears during her meeting with Indian Air Force chief A.Y Tipnis last week.

The Sri Lanka Air Force on Friday claimed that it had bombed the LTTE's supply point to the peninsula at the Sangupiddy jetty on Friday, 12 May.

The Uthayan paper, however, said in its columns on Sunday that the SLAF had bombed Pallikudah, a coastal hamlet in the Pooneryn sector, and published the list of civilians who were killed in the Kfir bombing on Friday. More..

Chandrika calls all-party meet
Times of India, May 16. Quick repartee and a candid manner seemed to work in President Chandrika Kumaratunge's favor as she sailed through contentious issues during an all-party meeting convened by her to discuss the war situation Monday.

TULF leader, V.Anandsangari told TOINS, ``Once again, her resolve to solve the problem through constitutional means was very clear.'' The UNP, is also scheduled to meet other smaller parties separately to discuss the war scenario. More..

Lanka intensifies attacks on LTTE targets
Times Of India, May 15. Backed by air cover, Sri Lankan troops on Monday continuously bombarded LTTE positions and reported a "drastic drop" in the intensity of the rebels' attacks on the embattled town of Jaffna even as 15 guerrillas and three security personnel were killed in the fighting.

The escalation in fighting at Nagerkovil, which was located on the East coast of Jaffna, has added a new dimension as it was still not clear whether the LTTE was attempting to shift its fighting units to open a new front to enter the peninsula, analysts said. More..

Monks Become New Line of Offense Against Rebels
LA Times, May 16. As the Sri Lankan army reels before an onslaught of rebel fighters, the people urging it to fight harder are the men in the saffron robes.

Sri Lanka's Buddhist clergy, long an influential force in national politics, are stepping forward to rally the nation in its darkest hour. The string of defeats suffered by the army at the hands of separatist rebels, which has stunned and demoralized this island nation, has also drawn the monks out of their temples to try to hold the country together. More..

Leftists protest presidential delay in Sri Lanka crisis meet
Yahoo-AFP, Monday, May 15 9:26 PM SGT. Sri Lanka's main Marxist group Monday walked out of an all-party crisis meeting accusing President Chandrika Kumaratunga of holding up politicians for nearly two hours.

The People's Liberation Front (JVP) said that after waiting nearly two hours for Kumaratunga, they decided to table their proposals for ending the country's drawn out Tamil separatist conflict and walk away.

"The government did not even have the decency to explain or apologise for the president's delay at a meeting that was supposed to be of high national importance and urgency," the JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva said. More..

Sri Lanka rushes hundreds of commandos to Jaffna
Yahoo, May 16. The war in northern Sri Lanka has taken a new twist with the government rushing hundreds of highly trained anti-terrorist commandos to Jaffna.

The aim is to 'flush out' Tamil Tiger rebels, who may have 'infiltrated' the besieged city and the army fears they may be there for purposes of sabotage. More.. l

Lanka fighting poised for unexpected turns
Hindu, May 16. With the Tigers gaining on three sectors - the Nagar Kovil, Kilali and at Ariyalai, east of Jaffna town - the options are now wide open for the rebels to move in several directions towards the northern Palaly airbase, which is still seen as a vital rebel target. A move along the fifth direction - westwards from Ariyalai - could sever military supply lines to Jaffna. More..

India to tread cautiously
Hindu, May 15. As the Government endures the competing pressures on its policy towards the Sri Lankan crisis, there is a strong determination here that India should not rush into the conflict with ill- conceived military or diplomatic initiatives. The Government has already declared that preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, securing the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people within a united Sri Lankan nation, and avoiding a military intervention are the principal objectives of India. It has also emphasised that a solution to the civil war will have to be found by the Sinhala and Tamil communities themselves. More..

Chandrika buoyant after air strikes
Hindu, May 16. Politics overtook warfare in Sri Lanka today as the nation's leaders - the President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, and the Opposition Leader, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, - held separate all-party confabulations on the unfolding military scenario in the northern peninsula.

Skimpy details of the offensive reaching here indicated continued offensive between the Tigers and the Government troops on the fringes of Jaffna town. Ground troops, backed by the limited air attacks by the Air Force, have, for the moment, checked rebel advances, which have not seen any major shift in the territorial balance during the past few days. More..

Sharp differences among Sri Lankan political parties on Jaffna crisis
NDTV, May 15. Sharp differences have emerged among Sri Lanka's political parties on Kuamaratunga government's handling of the crisis on the island. The opposition United National Party (UNP) has attacked the government for what it calls an internationalization of the conflict.

Unanimous domestic support could be a difficult objective, especially since the opposition UNP is now engaged in a political counter-offensive. Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe spent the afternoon trying to convince leaders who had met the President not to support the government's efforts, which he says are leading Sri Lanka to ruin. More..

Six killed, 18 hurt in LTTE firing: Govt.
Hindu, May 15. The Sri Lankan Government said today that six civilians have been killed and 18 others wounded when LTTE rebels today fired artillery shells at Gurunagar, one of the suburbs of Jaffna town.

It said that the civilian casualties took place when the LTTE fired artillery shells into Gurunagar from the rebel controlled areas in Pooneryn, situated across the Jaffna lagoon. More..

Norway minister sees no quick end to Sri Lanka war
MSNBC, May 15. Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland on Monday said he saw no quick solution to the ethnic war in Sri Lanka, where Oslo is trying to broker peace.

Norway has offered to host talks between the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and has appointed Erik Solheim as an envoy to try and find a way to end the 17-year war. More..

UNP claim on fall of Jaffna denied
The Tribune, May 14. The official television, in its news broadcast tonight first aired a brief interview of Mr Wickramasinghe to BBC followed by comments from Media Minister Managgala Samaraweera, who accused the UNP leader of "committing treason" by making false statements. More..

Colombo conundrum -Oped
Daily Pioneer, May 15. There is no ambiguity regarding the fact that any break-up of Sri Lanka would be detrimental to the interests of India. New Delhi has consistently asserted its commitment to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. On several occasions in the past, the LTTE has used a ceasefire or a talk offer only to regroup and gain an advantage. But it is for the Sinhalese people and the Sri Lankan government to realise that a lasting solution to the ethnic problem has to come from within the country. More..

Sri Lankan economy likely to take a plunge.
Roy Denish in Colombo, 16.24, SLT Monday.. Amidst reports that government troops and separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were gearing for a massive showdown in northern Jaffna peninsula, the country's economy is most likely to bear the brunt in defence spending.

Last Thursday, Parliament approved an additional 12 billon for defence expenditure. This increased the defence spending to 64 billion from last year's spending of 54 billion. That's not at all: The government' s all time borrowings increased to Rs 20 billion.

Economists say that increase in the defence spending is likely to create pressure on interest rates and inflation. There were also speculations that Sri Lankan currency rupee is likely to depreciate against dollar.

Chief censor agitated.
Roy Denish in Colombo, 16.30 SLT, Monday.. A tabloid newspaper editor furious over government's blanket censorship sent a copy of a news story of a brothel-house being raided to the chief of the censor board. But the man with the pen sent the copy back hastily replying "these are not copies that should be sent to the censor board".

That's was not all: The chief, the director of government's information ministry later lodged a complaint with his minister who pacified him saying this "they are only testing your patience". The war has a funny side too.

Government says intensity of fighting has dropped.
Roy Denish in Colombo, 16.35, SLT Monday.. Government of Sri Lanka in a news release said that intensity of fighting in northern Jaffna peninsula dropped drastically during the past 72 hours.

"Terrorists appear to be in a state of disarray presumably due to large number of casualties they suffered during the earlier confrontations", the release from government's special media information center said.

Meanwhile during a confrontation in eastern Trincomalee two police constables were killed and five others wounded when Tiger rebels carried out a raid on a police checkpoint.

S.Lanka's aerial bombing a danger to civilians-MSF
MSNBC, May 15. A humanitarian agency said on Monday it was deeply concerned that civilians could become the victims of the Sri Lankan air force's plan to step up the pace of aerial attacks on Tamil Tiger rebels. More..

Sri Lankan court upholds censorship of war reports
MSNBC, May 15. Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a legal challenge to censorship of media reports on the war raging with Tamil Tiger rebels in the north of the country, the government said. More..

Sri Lankan government meets on war
MSNBC, May 15. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga began an all-party meeting on Monday to discuss the war in the northern Jaffna peninsula after the government said it had blunted an offensive by Tamil Tiger rebels. More..

Kumaratunga briefs political parties about Jaffna crisis
NDTV, May 15. The Sri Lankan President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, met the leaders of all political parties to brief them about the situation in Jaffna and the steps taken by the government to protect civilians in the war zone. Her People's Alliance government has criticized Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe's statement that the LTTE had entered Jaffna. More.. 5

Lankan forces intensifies attacks on LTTE targets
Indian Express, May 15. Sri Lankan troops, backed by Airforce cover, today relentlessly bombarded LTTE positions and reported "drastic drop" in the intensity of rebels' attacks on the embattled Jaffna town even as 15 guerrillas and three security personnel were killed in the fighting. More..

India ignored early warnings on Sri Lankan crisis
Hindu, May 15. Mr. Prabhakaran has never once said he will settle for less than Eelam and has at least once annually, on the LTTE's `Martyrs Day' in November, reiterated his commitment to an independent Tamil nation. What he was waiting for between 1990 to 1995, and will be prepared to wait for again, is for world opinion to turn in his favour, or at least, for the international community to learn to live with him at the head of an independent Eelam. More..

Lankans disillusioned by India's response
Times of India, May15. The Sunday Times, a prominent week-end newspaper carried a scathing editorial on what it considers Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's inability to respond to cross border terrorism, which his country spawned several years back. The editorial ends on a bitter note: "The fact is that India has changed to our detriment. The sooner we square with that reality, the better it is for all of us". More..

Karunanidhi lashes out at LTTE
Times of India, May 15. Denying that the DMK was supporting the Tamil Tigers, Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi asserted in the state assembly that the DMK had "distanced" itself from the LTTE after it murdered important leaders of the Tamil Eelam movement, A Amirthalingam (TULF), Sri Sabarathinam (TELO), K Padmanabha (EPRLF) and Umamaheswaran of the PLOTE. More..

Senior Tamil journalist warned by military
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.45 p.m. SLT Monday May 15 . Tamil news services Sunday said the Sri Lanka army in Jaffna has warned a senior Jaffna journalist Mr.C.N Vithyatharan for publishing in his newspaper, Uthayan, a story about Sri Lanka Airforce jets bombing Pooneryn Friday, and killing five civilians including two children. The Jaffna media man has also been reprimanded for allowing a story saying that Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge broke into tears when meeting with Indian Air Force chief A.Y Tipnis last week.

Supreme Court says o.k. to censorship
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2 p.m SLT Monday May 15 . The Supreme Court ruled today that the present military censorship imposed by the government is not a violation of Fundamental Rights. The decision was made by a three bench judge, on a petition filed by Sunila Abeysekera on behalf of a large number of representative Non Governmental Organizations.

Fighting in Jaffna has dropped says CA
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.05 p.m. SLT Monday May 15. The special media information centre of the government said today that the intensity of fighting in the northern peninsula has dropped today in view of the Tamil Tigers being in disarray. The Competent Authority said that 15 Tigers and 5 soldiers were killed in confrontations at Colombuthurai.

President summons trade unions
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.10 pm. SLT Monday May 15. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge will meet representatives of all government and other trade union bodies tomorrow May 16, in order to brief unionists on the country's present military situation.

Tamil Nadu gives the nod to renewal of LTTE ban
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.15 p.m. SLT Monday May 15. Tamil Nadu politicians today said they will not oppose a renewal of a ban on the LTTE effected yesterday by India's Central Government. Political analysts have been quoted as saying that this move will strengthen the hand of India's premier Atal Behari Vajpayee in dealing with Sri Lanka's present conflict.

ICRC says they have not been consulted
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.20 p.m. SLT Monday May 15. Harsha Gunawardena, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Colombo said today that the organization has not been asked by the government to intervene with Tiger rebels to stop firing heavy artillery into Jaffna town. The ICRC countered a claim by the government yesterday which said it had sought the assistance of the human rights organization to stop the Tigers from harming a large number of civilians caught in rebel cross fire.

LTTE claims to prepare for final thrust on Jaffna
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.30 a.m. SLT Monday May 15. The combat units of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Friday claimed to be consolidating their newly secured positions along the coastal belt of the Jaffna city preparing for the final assault on the heart of the capital.

In a press release issued from the Tiger's international secretariat in London they said, "Strategically important city outskirts of Ariyalai, Manianthodam, Columbuthurai, sections of Passaiyur, Pungankulam, Nedunkulam, have already fallen to the Tigers making the city centre vulnerable to LTTE assault."

"Heavily armed Tamil Tiger troop formations who have moved in large numbers from LTTE bases in Vanni into the Jaffna theatre of war are gearing up for the decisive battle."

The Tiger press statement further claimed that despite a curfew imposed by the military in Jaffna, civilians are moving out of the battle zones into safer areas.

The LTTE also alleged that "Israeli built Kifir fighter-bombers have launched blind and indiscriminate bombing on civilian areas in the Jaffna peninsula and in Poonagarin. Five civilians, including two children, were killed and ten seriously injured when Israeli combat aircrafts bombed a fishing village at Pallikuda in the Poonagarin area around 5.30p.m. Friday May 12, 2000."

The statement by the Tigers is followed by the government today moving in thousands of ground troops to help armed forces bases in Jaffna. The government also claims that planes have been successful in holding back rebel advances towards Jaffna.

Indian navy increases surveillance on Sri Lanka
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.10 a.m. SLT Monday May 15. Indian naval vessels today increased their surveillance on Sri Lanka's Northern coastline introducing markers between Talaimannar in Sri Lanka's North and Danushkoti in India's Southern waters. The move has been initiated to prevent Indian fishermen from straying into Sri Lankan waters. India, further maintains that its Navy will not allow any rebel cadres from Sri Lanka to infiltrate into Southern India using this sea route.

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