The Lanka Academic

MAY 21, 2000 EST, USA
VOL. 1, NO. 46

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Anil's Ghost: Ondaatje's new novel worth the wait
ANNE-MARIE TOBIN, Associated Press. TORONTO (CP) -- Michael Ondaatje left Sri Lanka as a schoolboy and settled in Canada almost 40 years ago, but his new novel Anil's Ghost conveys an ache for the people of his troubled homeland. More...
LA Times review by Jonathan Levi
Hard decision on Sri Lanka - Commentry by Admiral J G Nadkarni (retd)
India has time and again proclaimed its commi. integrity of Sri Lanka. That integrity cannot be preserved by simple proclamations. The time has come to put our money where our mouth is. The time has come to take what may be the hardest decision this government is likely to be faced with during its tenure. However unpalatable that decision may be to the general public, to the people of Tamil Nadu and to the Armed Forces, the hard decision is to help Sri Lanka militarily. By helping Sri Lanka now, we would have once and for all demonstrated our determination to preserve the territorial integrity of not only our neighbouring states but of India itself. More..
Published: Sun May 21 21:32:06 EDT 2000

EU recommends ban on LTTE
Asian Age, May 21. In a major boost to Sri Lanka’s diplomatic campaign against the LTTE, the European Parliament this weekend adopted a resolution recommending ban on the LTTE by member states.Russia and China have “positively” responded to the Lankan government’s request to veto any possible move by Britain to raise the island’s ethnic conflict in the UN Security Council.The resolution also condemned the Sri Lankan government for imposing emergency regulations to deal with the LTTE. “Such measures were prejudicial to the democratic process in the country,” it said. More..
Published: Sun May 21 20:06:00 EDT 2000

Telegraph. It might be days or even weeks before the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are able to recapture Jaffna. But there is little doubt that whenever they do, the majority of the Jaffna population will welcome their re-entry, if with a degree of apprehension. More..
Published: Sun May 21 20:00:18 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan minister to meet Karunanidhi
The Statesman, May 21. —. The Sri Lankan Deputy External Affairs Minister, Mr Lakshman Kiriella, said today that he hoped to meet Mr M Karunanidhi in Chennai tomorrow on his way back home. He refused to spell out the purpose of his intended meeting with the Tamil Nadu chief minister.Most of his countrymen were now regretting their opposition to the intervention by the IPKF in the late eighties and early nineties, he said. More..
Published: Sun May 21 19:50:38 EDT 2000

Norway team's visit raises hopes of ceasefire in Jaffna
Indian Express, May 21:. Amid heavy fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula, a high-level Norwegian delegation arrives here tomorrow in its bid to broker peace talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE.Latest reports said that fighting was taking place at Chavackachcheri, about 15 kms south east of Jaffna town, and Colombothurai, one of the southern suburbs of the town. More..
Published: Sun May 21 19:39:39 EDT 2000

UK dissuaded from seeking UN intervention in Sri Lanka
Hindustan Times, Colombo, May 21. BRITAIN IS being dissuaded from seeking the intervention of the UN Security Council in the Sri Lankan crisis, diplomatic sources told The Hindustan Times here today. “The British have been told by other members of the Council that it would not be such a good idea,” a ranking diplomat said.Sri Lanka had taken up the matter with other members of the Council. The Sunday Times had quoted a foreign official as saying that Sri Lanka would “go to the end of the world” in its fight against UN intervention. More..
Published: Sun May 21 19:34:31 EDT 2000

Refugee influx resumes
Hindu, MAY 21.. With the LTTE reportedly advancing towards Jaffna, Tamil refugees from various parts of Sri Lanka have started arriving here. A fresh batch of 24 families consisting of 72 Sri Lankan Tamils, including 32 women and 14 children, landed in Arichalmunai near Dhanuskodi from Pesalai on Sunday after a long gap of 12 days. More..
Published: Sun May 21 19:26:51 EDT 2000

Conflicting claims on Chavakachcheri
Hindu, MAY 21.. Fierce battles continued in the Jaffna peninsula with the Sri Lankan Government today saying troops were engaging the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the ``outskirts'' of Chavakachcheri town over which the separatist group claimed control on Saturday. More..
Published: Sun May 21 19:23:19 EDT 2000

Dalai Lama offers to mediate
Hindu, MAY 21.. The Dalai Lama is willing to broker peace in Sri Lanka, a newspaper said today. The Sunday Leader quoted the Tibetan spiritual leader as saying in Berlin that he was ready to lead negotiations to find a political solution to the Tamil homeland issue. More..
Published: Sun May 21 19:19:04 EDT 2000

'15 civilians killed in LTTE shelling'
Hindu, may21. The Sri Lankan Government today said 15 civilians were killed and several wounded when artillery shells fired by the LTTE hit a home for the aged at Kaithady, a small town located south-east of Jaffna town, yesterday. More..
Published: Sun May 21 14:56:33 EDT 2000

Lanka to spend $ 150 millions more on weapons
Hindu, May21. The Sri Lankan Government would spend an additional $ 150 millions to acquire latest weapons, over and above the $ 730 millions allocated to the Defence Budget this year. The new weapons were being acquired to reinforce its embattled troops to halt the on-going offensive by the LTTE to recapture the northern Jaffna peninsula. More..
Published: Sun May 21 14:47:06 EDT 2000

Troops in Jaffna facing defeat by Tamil Tigers on two fronts
Independent News, May21. It was supposed to happen overnight. One news story after another in the world's media over the past fortnight has predicted the imminent seizure of Jaffna city by the Tamil Tigers. But while the city is still in the hands of the Sri Lankan Army, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are steadily putting control of the rest of the Jaffna peninsula beyond the reach of the Colombo government. More..
Published: Sun May 21 12:42:04 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka says discussions are on with India on assistance
NDTV, May21. As fighting rages in Sri Lanka, the country's Deputy Foreign Minister has said that discussions have been on between the Indian and Sri Lankan governments on the question of India providing assistance. Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, government troops are locked in fierce fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels on the outskirts of Chavakachcheri, a small but strategic town near the embattled Jaffna city. The government has refuted the LTTE's claims on Saturday evening of having captured Chavakachcheri, saying that its troops have been engaged in a fierce battle with Tamil rebels on the outskirts of the town since Saturday. More..
Published: Sun May 21 12:36:12 EDT 2000

India pays homage to Rajiv Gandhi
Hindu, May21. Indian President K R Narayanan and Vice-President Krishan Kant paid floral tributes to the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at `Virbhoomi' here on his ninth death anniversary today. More..
Published: Sun May 21 12:30:00 EDT 2000

"I have no doubt that India will act"- Interview with Lakshman Kadirgamar
Outlook, May29. I don't think we should expect the impossible from India. In Sri Lanka there's a mood in favour of India coming in, doing something. 'Don't lie low, forget the IPKF, start all over again' and so on-all that's easily said. But it's a highly complex problem for India. Don't forget it's a democracy, they'll have to debate about it in Parliament. Then, bear in mind the armed forces' bitter memories of IPKF. Add to it the Tamil Nadu factor, which has its own dynamics. More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:57:41 EDT 2000

The Diplomat's pendulum - Commentry
Outlook, May21. Not intervening in Sri Lanka's civil war has been hailed as one of the more mature post-Cold war foreign policy decisions of the Indian government. But the clarity of the Indian position stops right there. How and at what stage does India plan to help mediate a negotiated settlement as it has offered to? And more importantly, how does New Delhi's hands-off policy benefit India? More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:53:54 EDT 2000

A mythical land Greater Eelam is an invented danger, a political impossibility
Outlook, May29. It's after a gap of 14 years that the question of Greater Eelam is being again fiercely debated in the corridors of New Delhi. The proponents of this theory believe that the fates of Tamils on either side of the Palk Strait are inextricably linked and a vivisection of Sri Lanka would lead to the vivisection of India. The two Tamil lands would then merge to form a larger Tamil homeland called "Greater Eelam". More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:49:22 EDT 2000

Metamorphosis of belief.From ideology to politics of expediency, the DMK has changed colours. Its stand on Sri Lanka is just an instance.
Outlook, May29. Following his visit to New Delhi, he changed tack and said that he "would not like to tie the Centre's hands in taking appropriate steps to resolve the crisis in Lanka". Then, a couple of days later, in a press conference held to mark the completion of four years of DMK rule, he said that "he would be happy if the Tamils in Sri Lanka get Eelam". On May 15, in the state legislative assembly, he once again changed his tune: "The DMK has distanced itself from the LTTE long ago." More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:45:23 EDT 2000

Black Tigers are the deadly weapons of Sri Lanka's rebels
Yahoo, May21. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels are outnumbered by more than 10-to-one in their bloody campaign for a northern homeland, but they make up for it with a powerful weapon: suicide bombers.The suicide bombers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Black Tigers, attracted international attention nine years ago when they were blamed for the assassination of Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi.A woman suicide bomber on December 18 detonated explosives carried in her purse at a meeting attended by President Chandrika Kumaratunga at the grounds of the Colombo town hall. More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:31:29 EDT 2000

Hand-to-hand fighting in Sri Lanka ahead of Oslo peace mission
Yahoo-AFP, COLOMBO, May 21. Ferocious hand-to-hand fighting raged in northern Sri Lanka Sunday as Tamil rebels launched multi-pronged assaults ahead of a peace mission by Norway's deputy foreign minister, official sources said.Sri Lankan military authorities said at least eight soldiers were killed and another 47 wounded in the latest fighting in the Jaffna peninsula where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were also pounding army positions.The LTTE in a statement from their office in London claimed to have captured the key town of Chavakachceri after a 12-hour battle Saturday. More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:27:50 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan churches to pray for peace.
Roy Denish in Colombo, SLT, Sunday 18.54. With heavy war raging in northern Jaffna peninsula, the cathloic churches throughout Sri Lanka are making preparation to pray for peace.

Archbishop of Sri Lanka Nicholas Marcus Fernando today sent a circular to all churches in Sri Lanka to hold a "prayer for peace" next Sunday, May 28. The bishop also urged all churches to hold a blood-donation ceremony and donate the next Sunday mass offerings to the soldiers lying in state hospitals with injuries.

"The 17 years fighting has left 60,000 people dead and the need has come to all those warring factions to return to the negotiating table to talk peace instead of fighting", the bishop's statement read.

The call came hard on the heels after separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) claimed that its combatants had captured Chavakachcheri, the second largest govermnment-troops-controlled town in northern Jaffna peninsula.

In a statement issued last night from its London office, the LTTE claimed that troops at Chavbakachcher unable to sustain the power and fury of Tiger assault fled in disarray and the town collapsed after 12 hours of intense fighting.

With no signs that both parties will sit at the round table, the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in the capital city of India that his government was ready to act on Sri Lankan ongoing civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels "if necessary"

Meanwhile, South Indian coastal guard units increased patrolling the Palk Straits, the thin waters that divide India and Sri Lanka over speculations that large numbers of civilians fearing for the lives in cross-fires were making arrangements to flle to India.
Published: Sun May 21 11:25:15 EDT 2000

Press censorship in Sri Lanka to be lifted soon
Times of India. Sri Lankan deputy minister for external affairs Lakshman Kiriella said on Sunday that press censorship in the island nation, where security forces are engaged in a battle with the LTTE, would be lifted soon. Speaking to reporters at Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore at the ashram of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Kiriella said he was personally against imposition of press censorship and that it would be lifted soon. More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:08:28 EDT 2000

British firm sues Sri Lankan govt
Times of India, May21. A British defence company has accused the Sri Lankan government of deliberately endangering the lives of its soldiers by leaving thousands of bullet-proof vests gathering dust in warehouses, media reports said here on Sunday. Company officials, according to the newspaper report, blame Anuruddha Ratwatte, the president's uncle and deputy defence minister, who is in charge of day-to-day running of the war and who has been accused by Sri Lankan newspapers of mismanaging and misappropriating much of the 50 million pound defence budget.Ratwatte's nephew represents a rival equipment supplier, the report said. More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:04:54 EDT 2000

Chandrika flays politicians for branding Tamils as terrorists
Times of India, COLOMBO: May21. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has criticised some of the Sinhalese politicians for branding all Sri Lankan Tamils as terrorists and supporters of the LTTE. In her interaction with the leaders of various political parties on May 15, the extracts of which were carried this weekend by the official media here, she made a clear distinction between the aspirations of the Tamils and LTTE terrorism. More..
Published: Sun May 21 11:00:22 EDT 2000

Govt. denies fall of key town near Jaffna
Hindu, May21. The Sri Lankan Government today said its troops were engaged in a close quarter battle on the outskirts of Chavakachcheri, a small but strategic town near embattled Jaffna city in which two LTTE leaders and nine army soldiers were killed. Denying rebels' claims, the statement said two LTTE's area military leaders, Murali and Vasanthan, were killed in the battle. More..
Published: Sun May 21 10:55:04 EDT 2000

Tamil Rebels Take Strategic Town
Yahoo, May21. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said Sunday they have captured a strategic government-held town in the northern peninsula amid an offensive to retake their former capital of Jaffna. The fighting around Jaffna precedes the arrival of a Norwegian peace delegation Monday in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, that will seek ways to halt the battle between the rebels and 40,000 government troops defending Jaffna. More..
Published: Sun May 21 10:50:41 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka paper evades government censors
Yahoo, COLOMBO, May 21. A Sri Lankan newspaper evaded strict government censors Sunday by publishing a "fantasy war" report stating "Palaly was not under attack", which nonetheless highlighted the "grave military crisis" on the island.The pro-opposition Sunday Leader carried a banner headline saying "Palaly not under attack" in a deft move to evade government censors and report the heavy fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels. "Heavy fighting was not raging in Jaffna peninsula and Tigers were not pounding the Palaly air base with heavy artillery for the fourth consecutive day," the Sunday Leader said.The newspaper had a comprehensive account of the fighting but qualified every sentence by saying it had "not" happened. More..
Published: Sun May 21 10:48:19 EDT 2000

UN has to help restore normalcy in Sri Lanka: Jethmalani
Zee News, May21. It is the United Nation`s duty to help restore normalcy in strife-torn Sri Lanka, Union Minister for law, justice and company affairs Ram Jethmalani said on Friday. Describing it as a very ticklish exercise, Jethmalani Said, “Surely, we (India) can`t be a party to the break up of any member of the UN.

Asked if India should play a more active role in the situation, the minister said, “…not the kind of active role that we had taken in the past, in an apparent reference to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in which more than 1100 armymen were killed.” More..
Published: Sun May 21 02:00:07 EDT 2000

Leaders pay tribute to Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary
Zee TV, May21. President K R Narayanan, Vice President Krishna Kant and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday led the nation in paying fond tributes to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the occasion of his ninth death anniversary. More..
Published: Sun May 21 01:56:21 EDT 2000

India ready with help, says Lanka
The Statesman, May21. New Delhi, despite the defence minister clarifying that India could not be "compelled" to resolve the crisis, and that there was "no question" of a military intervention, the Prime Minister announced that Delhi was "ready" to take some steps. Fifteen thousand Indian troops have been moved to Thiruvananthapuram, and residents of Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts say there has been nightly movement of aircraft along the Thiruvananathapuram-Colombo air corridor. More..
Published: Sun May 21 01:46:27 EDT 2000

Indian, Sri Lankan officials meet
Hindu, May21. Senior Indian and Sri Lankan military officials had a key two-day brainstorming exercise in Bangalore even as Sri Lanka's Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kiriella, was in Karnataka's capital today. According to sources, the Sri Lankans sought the meeting as they were finding it difficult to interpret the surveillance data on LTTE strongholds, such as radar images which India was passing on to them. More..
Published: Sun May 21 00:16:58 EDT 2000

Return of the Tigers
India-Today, May22. The inside story of how the LTTE, after it lost Jaffna in 1995, regrouped to take on the might of the Sri Lankan Army and why its dramatic resurgence worries both India and the world. It may already be too late. Kumaratunga and her Government are much to blame for allowing the LTTE not only to regroup but to return with such ferocity that the current battle may prove to be the most decisive of the on-going ethnic war that has seen over 20,000 dead in the past two decades. More..
Published: Sat May 20 23:06:52 EDT 2000

Norwegian team to arrive Lanka on May 22
The Pioneer, May21. As fighting between security forces and the LTTE continued, a Norwegian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen is to arrive in Sri Lanka on May 22 in an attempt towards bringing the warring parties to the negotiating table.US under secretary of state Thomas Pickering is also expected in the island next week in connection with the peace process but no specific dates have been given. More..
Published: Sat May 20 22:14:16 EDT 2000

Analysis: India's Sri Lanka dilemma
BBC, Saturday, 20 May, 2000, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK. There is much speculation here that the United States is keen for India to play a more active role, with perhaps Israel being asked to shore up Sri Lankan forces in Jaffna. India is in contact with both these countries to discuss developments. More..
Published: Sat May 20 18:51:36 EDT 2000

The Statesman, May21. Details and arrangements regarding Indian assistance to Sri Lankan troops trapped in Jaffna Peninsula have been worked out, the Sri Lankan Deputy External Affairs Minister Lakshman Kiriella said More..
Published: Sat May 20 17:00:57 EDT 2000

India agrees to help, says Sri Lanka
Deccan Chronicle, May21. India has agreed to help the beleaguered Sri Lankan government to overcome the present crisis in the war with the LTTE, according to Sri Lankan deputy Foreign Minister Lakshman Kariella. "It has been worked out," Kariella said, while recalling that his senior colleague Lakshman Kadirgamar during his recent visit to India had discussed the need for assistance with the Indian leaders. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:53:06 EDT 2000

Lankan troops inflict heavy casualties on LTTE
Daily Pioneer, may20. ri Lankan troops, supported by artillery, inflicted heavy casualties on the LTTE after intense fighting in Tanankilappu sector some 20 km from Jaffna town, on Saturday morning.Three armymen, including two officers were killed when terrorists activated a claymore mine.In war-torn Jaffna, the "human waves" of Tamil Tigers attempted to penetrate the troops defences at several places. Troops were deployed in time to thwart these attempts, a situation report released by the Government said on Saturday. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:40:41 EDT 2000

Tamils demand Indian intervention
Times of India, May20. ``India's domestic pressures are their own concern. India has a moral responsibility to do something in the present situation,'' asserts PLOTE leader, D Siddharthan."There's no doubt that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Tigers. But in its own interest today, India will have to either talk to the Tigers or tackle them," adds Suresh Premachandran of the breakaway faction of the EPRLF. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:36:27 EDT 2000

India ready to help as Jaffna bloodbath continues
Times Of India, May20. India is keeping a close watch on the battle for Jaffna where fierce fighting for control of the provincial capital continues. Anxiety is mounting in New Delhi as there is a very real danger of the Tigers gaining the upper hand. What happens if they do succeed? More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:33:14 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan refugees settle down to new life in Orissa
Times of India, May20. While the world's attention is focussed on the raging war between the trigger-happy LTTE and Sri Lankan government forces in Jaffna, a large number of the island's Tamil refugees seem to have put the issue of Eelam behind them and settle down in the hilly terrain of Malkangiri in Orissa.No matter what the end result of the present conflict, they seem to have embraced this arid and Naxalite-infested pocket in Orissa as their new homeland and have no intentions of returning to their motherland. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:29:54 EDT 2000

Plot to kill Lankan leaders unearthed
HindustanTimes, Colombo, May 20. SRI LANKAN police have unearthed a plot to assassinate several senior Cabinet ministers, politicians and some police officers in Colombo with the arrest of a priest of a temple yesterday. Investigations have revealed that the wife of the priest of the Kathiresan Kovil had been allegedly storing explosives and suicide kits for the use by LTTE hit squads in Colombo. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:24:31 EDT 2000

LTTE on a major psychological offensive
Hindustan Times, May20. ALONGSIDE POWERFUL thrusts against Sri Lankan army positions east of Jaffna town, and the shelling of Palaly and Kankesanthurai, the LTTE is on a major psychological offensive against the minds of the 27,000 government troops defending Jaffna. An offer of ceasefire and safe passage was followed by a sugar coated ultimatum which tantalisingly offered the carrots of life and safe passage out of the war zone even as it brandished the stick of annihilation in case the ultimatum was disregarded. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:22:14 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan Rebels Say Troops Flee As Town Falls
May20. Sri Lankan rebels said on Saturday that government troops had fled in chaos from a strategic town at the heart of the Jaffna peninsula battlefield after 12 hours of heavy fighting. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said in a statement from its office in London that columns of heavily armed commandos backed by artillery and mortar fire had launched a multi-pronged attack on Chavakachcheri at dawn. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:16:28 EDT 2000

Chandrika willing to talk with LTTE
Hindu, May20. Even as the President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, said she was ready for talks with the LTTE provided the militant outfit laid down arms and eschew violence, the army commander in Jaffna said the troops were determined to fight the LTTE and would not vacate the town. The President, addressing a convention of youth at her residence here on Saturday, exhorted the youth to help the Government in its efforts to fight terrorism. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:09:47 EDT 2000

We'll fight to the finish, says Sri Lankan General
The Hindu, May20. The overall commander of the security forces in northern Sri Lanka said today his troops in the embattled Jaffna peninsula were determined to fight it out ``to the last man''. Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera told a private TV channel troops there was no question of withdrawing soldiers from the peninsula and that they would never allow the LTTE to recapture Jaffna. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:07:13 EDT 2000

India ready for 'role' in Sri Lanka: PM
Hindu, May20. The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee's remarks here today that India was ``ready'' to take any step ``if necessary'', reflects the sense here that the Government that can no longer duck its responsibilities in Sri Lanka. With the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) reportedly gaining ground in the offensive against Jaffna, an Indian decision to intervene, in some form, in Sri Lanka may be imminent. More..
Published: Sat May 20 16:03:04 EDT 2000

Tamil Tiger Rebels 'Ethnically Cleanse' Parts of Sri Lanka
LA Times. KALAYANAPURA, Sri Lanka--As Tamil separatists sweep toward victory on the battlefield, they are beginning to cleanse their land of the people who were once their neighbors. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have won a series of victories against Sri Lankan forces in recent weeks, are stepping up attacks against ethnic Sinhalese civilians living in the region that the rebels claim as their homeland. More...
Published: Sat May 20 14:23:35 EDT 2000

Taming the Tiger
Far Eastern Economic Review, May18. Kumaratunga has responded to the crisis by redirecting all development spending toward the war effort, extending harsh censorship laws to the foreign media and allowing the army to seize property.But Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the opposition United National Party, disagrees with the measures. "Most of the censorship and other regulations are for Kumaratunga's domestic political agenda," he told the Review in an interview on May 7. At the top of that agenda is ensuring that the president's power is not undermined by a defeat in parliamentary elections that must be held by October. More..
Published: Sat May 20 13:34:12 EDT 2000

'Most of us do not feel that this war is our war'
World Socialist Web, May20. The following report was compiled from interviews with wounded troops in Colombo hospitals. There are about 200 soldiers in the National Hospital, the country's main hospital, who have been wounded in the current battles in the north. Thousands of injured army men have filled several main hospitals in the different parts of the country, including the war-ravaged northern province. Every day new soldiers are being admitted to the National Hospital, among them soldiers wounded during the Elephant Pass fighting nearly a month ago. More..
Published: Sat May 20 13:25:03 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan Army Battles to Keep Supply Routes Open
May20. Military sources who asked not to be identified told Reuters by phone that all ships had been pulled out of Kankesanthurai. They said two flights made it to Palaly on Friday, but continued shelling may have made the air base inaccessible since then.In a rare live interview from the peninsula which was broadcast over the local Independent Television Network, operations commander Major General Janaka Perera said the army would not give up the city it wrested from the LTTE in 1995.``The LTTE has not entered Jaffna and we will never allow them to take Jaffna city,'' he said. More..
Published: Sat May 20 13:15:25 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka shuts down newspaper for censorship violation
Yahoo, May20. Sri Lankan authorities Saturday shut down the main Tamil-language newspaper in the northern Jaffna peninsula after accusing it of supporting Tamil Tiger rebels and violating strict censorship rules.The Uthayan newspaper was shut down late Friday and there was no paper distributed Saturday,officials said adding that it was the first newspaper to be closed after the imposition of tight censorship on May 3."This newspaper has been continuously publishing reports, violating the prevailing censorship regulations," the chief censor and government spokesman Ariya Rubasinghe said. More..
Published: Sat May 20 13:10:32 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka battles escalate as army rejects surrender call
COLOMBO, May 20. Ferocious battles gripped Sri Lanka's northern peninsula of Jaffna Saturday as the military rejected rebel calls for a surrender amid heavy casualties on both sides.A top army general, Jaanaka Perera went on national television Saturday to reject a call by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to surrender within a week."We will not leave Jaffna," Major General Jaanaka Perera said on the ITN television network from the northern peninsula of Jaffna. "We will push the Tigers out." More..
Published: Sat May 20 12:58:21 EDT 2000

LTTE claim to have captured Chavakacheri
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.35 p.m. SLT Saturday May 20. The LTTE today issued a press release form its London office claiming to have captured Chavakacheri, which lies about 15 kilometeres out of Jaffna as the crow flies. The LTTE for the last three days have been keeping up a concentrated attack on Chavakacheri, Palaly and Kankasanthurai.

In its statement the Tigers say "The Sri Lankan army suffered another serious military debacle in the war for the liberation of Jaffna peninsula as Chavakachcheri town, the capital of Thenmarachchi division, fell to the armed forces of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)."

The rebels say the town came under its control this evening after 12 hours of heavy fighting. The LTTE claim that "columns of heavily armed commandos of the Tamil Tigers supported by artillery and mortar fire launched a multi-pronged attack on the Chavakachcheri town in the early hours of the morning today. Intense fighting continued through the day."

Chavakacheri town, the rebels say, fell at around 6 p.m. SLT this evening.

The Tigers meanwhile claim that in the heavy fighting yesterday and last night, the LTTE overran military bases at Maduvil, Nunavil and Sarasalai junction.

The military was not available for comment.
Published: Sat May 20 11:51:03 EDT 2000

Tigers attack Jaffna harbour
BBC, May20. Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka have shelled the main harbour at Jaffna, a vital supply route for beleaguered government forces. But while rebels reported that an intense bombardment was under way, defence officials said only a few mortar rounds had been fired towards the harbour at Kankesanthurai, on the northern edge of the Jaffna peninsula. More..
Published: Sat May 20 11:35:41 EDT 2000

Jaffna newspaper offices sealed
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9 p.m. SLT Saturday May 20. The Government last night sealed the offices of Jaffna's leading newspaper the 'Uthayan.' According to the State the 'Uthayan' was breaching the present censorship imposed under the Public Ordinance Act, Section 41. Military officials are reported to have closed down the editorial and publishing offices of the 'Uthayan' around 7.30 p.m. last night. The newspaper is the first to be closed down by the government since the Public Ordinance Act, under Emergency Regulations came into effect three weeks ago. The newspaper at the time of closure has some 100 employees in its service.

The editor of the 'Uthayan' newspaper was warned by military officials last week of having breached the present censorship and was reprimanded for publishing two stories. One, which stated the Sri Lankan President had broken into tears when meeting with the Indian Air Force Chief who paid a visit to Sri Lanka this month, and another story which gave names of five civilians including two children killed by bombs dropped by Sri Lanka Airforce Kifir jets at Pooneryn in Sri Lanka's northern peninsula.
Published: Sat May 20 11:29:07 EDT 2000

Indian PM says he is ready to mediate Sri Lanka's crisis
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.15 p.m. SLT Saturday May 20. Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister for India, today said he is ready to mediate a resolution to Sri Lanka's bloody ethnic war. India earlier said it would mediate between Sri Lanka's two warring factions only if asked to do so by both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government. The Indian PM has ruled out any military assistance to Lanka's war torn north but insisted India is willing to provide "humanitarian aid," and bring about a negotiated settlement to the 18 year conflict.

A three member Norwegian delegation due in Sri Lanka on Monday May 22, is scheduled to visit India soon after meeting with President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Published: Sat May 20 11:29:07 EDT 2000

Military intervention in Sri Lanka ruled out
Hindu, May20. Defence Minister George Fernandes today said that no one could "compel" India into playing a role in resolving the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka and asserted that there was "no question" of New Delhi intervening militarily. "I don't see who can compel us," Fernandes said while commenting on the remarks of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, who said events in Jaffna peninsula might force India to play a role. More..
Published: Sat May 20 11:25:54 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan Minister visits Chennai
Hindu, May20. Close to the heels of the visit of a Sri Lankan Army General to Chennai and Bangalore a couple of days ago, Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister for External Affairs, Lakshman Kiriella, arrived here today from Colombo and left immediately for Bangalore.

Approached by a private TV media crew at the airport, the Minister said he was going to Bangalore to deliver an address at a function organised by the Sathya Sai Foundation there, and ruled out any official purpose for his visit. More..
Published: Sat May 20 11:21:53 EDT 2000

No troops withdrawal, asserts Chandrika
Hindu, May20. Amid calls by the LTTE asking over 30,000 Government troops in northern Jaffna to lay down their arms and surrender, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has asserted that she would not withdraw the troops even if the Tamil rebels attempted to kill her again. More..
Published: Sat May 20 11:19:15 EDT 2000

India's PM says watching Sri Lanka situation-
MSNBC. India is keeping a close watch on fighting between government troops and Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka and is ready to take any necessary steps, Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted the country's prime minister as saying. More..
Published: Sat May 20 11:12:59 EDT 2000

Tamil Rebels Seek Big Prize in War
May20. Hungry for victory, columns of Tamil rebels are knocking at the gates of an ancient city guarded by 40,000 tired and dispirited Sri Lankan soldiers.``What is surprising is how a large force of Sri Lankan troops, nearly twice the number required to defend and hold Jaffna, have fared'' against the rebels, said retired Gen. Amarjit Singh Kalkat, who led a 50,000-strong Indian peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka that fought the Tamil Tigers in the late 1980s. ``Probably the only problem is that the army's morale has collapsed,'' Kalkat told The Associated Press. ``There's poor leadership, lack of training and lack of motivation.'' More..
Published: Sat May 20 11:05:03 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka Denies Claims by Tamil Tiger Rebels
May20. Sri Lanka denied claims on Saturday by Tamil Tiger rebels that artillery shelling had crippled crucial supply routes for some 30,000 troops on the war-scarred Jaffna peninsula.

The government's Special Media Information Center said in a statement released in Colombo that the air force and navy ''continue to maintain a regular supply of all essentials to Jaffna through the Palaly Air base and KKS Harbour.''

Published: Sat May 20 11:01:36 EDT 2000

India ready for any eventuality in Lanka: PM
Times Of India, May20. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said on Saturday that India was ``ready'' to take steps, if necessary, in Sri Lanka where the situation was ``rapidly changing''. Defence minister George Fernandes on the other hand, while addressing a conference on South Asian Human Development here, said that no one could "compel" India to play a role in resolving the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka and asserted that there was "no question" of New Delhi intervening militarily. More..
Published: Sat May 20 10:55:16 EDT 2000

Lankan soldiers repulse fresh rebel push
Times of India, May19. Sri Lankan soldiers repulsed a rebel attack close to northern Jaffna city, said a government official on Saturday as rebels claimed they disrupted the military's main supply points in continued artillery attacks.

The fighting left 17 guerrillas and nine soldiers dead and 19 soldiers wounded. More..
Published: Sat May 20 10:52:25 EDT 2000

Special Parliamentary group to tour Europe
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.10 p.m. SLT Saturday May 20. A special group of Sri Lankan Parliamentarians is to tour Europe next week in order to convince European Governments to ban the Tamil Tigers, waging a bloody battle at Sri Lanka's northern front.

The group will consist of Members of Parliament from both the Peoples Alliance and the United National Party.

A spokesman for the group asserted that the time is opportune for such a tour and will help unite all politicians from different divides to come together as the nation faces its present crisis.
Published: Sat May 20 02:13:27 EDT 2000

LTTE asks Lankan soldiers in Jaffna to surrender
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.15 a.m. SLT Saturday May 20. In a press release issued from its London office Friday evening, the Tigers asked all soldiers in Jaffna's embattled war zone to surrender, promising to hand over troops to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) within 24 hours of them laying down arms.

The Tiger statement issued soon after the Bishop of Jaffna, Thomas Saundaranayagam made a similar appeal for the government to heed a rebel call for a ceasefire, says, "As a genuine endeavour to avoid the continuing bloodbath and to bring an end to the escalating violence and war, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has made a fervent appeal today to thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers entrapped in the Jaffna peninsula to lay down arms and surrender. The LTTE has pledged that those who lay down arms will be treated with dignity and honour and handed over to the protection of the International Committee of the Red Cross within 24 hours."

The call for surrender according to the rebels is being announced by loud speakers at different battlefronts in the northern theatre of war and also by the Voice of Tigers radio. The LTTE have given a week for Lankan soldiers to lay down arms and surrender.

The government however is on record as stating that it will "fight to the last man in order to hold Jaffna."

Meanwhile the rebel statement further says that it is also making consistent appeals to the Tamil civilian masses to move to safe areas from battle zones allocating specific locations in Valigamam West and Vadamarachi division of the Jaffna peninsula.
Published: Sat May 20 01:44:41 EDT 2000

Heavy fighting directed at Chavakacheri
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.25 am SLT Saturday May 20. While the government yesterday suspended all civilian sea and air transport to and from Jaffna, heavy fighting continued to rage in the area of Palaly and Kankasanthurai (KKS) Harbour. The LTTE yesterday claimed to have taken " military bases at Kaithady, advanced further deep into Chavakachcheri sector last night, bringing vast tracts of territory under their control."

The Tigers claim that areas of Madduvil and Sarasali have fallen to the LTTE. Heavy fighting the rebels say is still raging at the strategically crucial Sarasali junction.

The LTTE meanwhile allege they have been appealing to the Tamil civilians in the Chavakachcheri sector to move to areas of safety.
Published: Sat May 20 01:44:41 EDT 2000

Top level Norwegian delegation due in Sri Lanka next week
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.30 a.m. SLT Saturday May 20. Norway, which is acting as a facilitator for proposed talks between the government and the LTTE said yesterday that a top level three member delegation will visit Colombo next week for discussions.

The delegation will be led by the new Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Raymond Johansen. He will be accompanied by Special Advisor, Mr. Evik Solheim and Executive Officer Ms. Kjersti Tromsdal.

Scheduled to arrive on Monday May 22, the delegation will meet with President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The discussions are expected to cover the present war situation, examine whether there is any possibility of starting talks with the LTTE as earlier envisaged and what role India could play in such talks.
Published: Sat May 20 01:44:41 EDT 2000

Parliament meets minus the press and hansard
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.35 a.m. SLT Saturday May 20. Weekly sittings of Parliament will be held minus the media and Hansard reporters. The government is responding to a request by the United National Party to hold weekly sessions in order that the opposition may be briefed on the progress of the war. The government Chief Whip W. J. M. Lokubandara is reported to be yet working out the modalities of these sessions but has agreed with the State to exclude all media personnel including Hansard reporters.
Published: Sat May 20 01:44:41 EDT 2000

India must sell weapons to Sri Lanka: CPI (M)
NDTV, May20. In a stand contrary to the other regional parties in Tamil Nadu, who have been advocating no support to the Sri Lankan government in terms of arms or ammunition, the CPI (M) said that India should go ahead and allow commercial sale of weaponry. Reports of China and Pakistan planning to sell weapons to Sri Lanka, has further strengthened this stand. R Umanath, CPI (M) Politburo member said, "All other help requested by the Sri Lankan government including sale of weapons must be agreed too, must be responded to." More..
Published: Sat May 20 01:01:14 EDT 2000

Shiv Sena reaffirms support to Tamils in Sri Lanka
May19. Shiv Sena today reaffirmed its support to the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka with senior leader and Union Heavy Industries Minister Manohar Joshi reiterating his party's stand on the issue.

"Tamils in Sri Lanka are our brothers, we have to look after them. This is our party's (Shiv Sena) stand," Joshi told reporters here. More..
Published: Sat May 20 00:46:14 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka rebels say Jaffna airbase, port crippled
MSNBC, May20. Tamil Tiger rebels said artillery shelling had crippled the government's air base and sea port in Jaffna, sealing off crucial supply routes for some 30,000 troops penned in on the war-scarred northern peninsula. More..
Published: Sat May 20 00:40:53 EDT 2000

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