The Lanka Academic

AUGUST 19, 2000 EST, USA
VOL. 1, NO. 136

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US State Department. Colombo, 4 August 2000 - The U.S. State Department announced on July 31 that the mail-in period for the next U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program (DV-2002) will run from noon, October 2, through noon, November 1, 2000. There is no application fee and no special application form is required. The application with the necessary information can simply be typed on a blank sheet of paper. More...
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Lanka's Buddhist clergy says it will guard voters' rights
Times of India, 20 August 2000 . COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's powerful Buddhist clergy on Saturday expressed fears of vote fraud in the coming general elections. "We will ask monks to supervise polling in their respective areas if politicians do not behave in a manner that permits a democratic vote," Maduluwawe Sobitha, president of the National Council of the Buddhist Clergy, said. On Friday, President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved Parliament and set the general elections for October 10 after failing to win passage of a new constitution that would have granted autonomy to Tamil regions. She hopes to win over the support of Tamil moderates in the coming elections, marginalising the rebels fighting for a separate Tamil nation since 1983. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 21:02:00 EDT 2000
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Sri Lanka parties gear for polls under emergency  -

No Connection Fee! Calls to Sri Lanka, only 39c/m!
O  T  H  E  R      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E  S
Back to the freezer
Frontline, august 19. Last fortnight was a sad one for Sri Lanka, one of political mismanagement and failure of leadership at all levels. In the drama that was played out, none of the actors emerged smelling of roses. Not Kumar atunga, who failed to take the nation into confidence in a task as important as formulating a new Constitution for the country, in the belief she could bring it off by purchasing a few parliamentarians. Even the most eminent constitutional experts in the country were in the dark about what the document would contain, while vested interests found it easy to spread misleading stories about its substance, setting the stage for chauvinistic fervour. In the end, the disregard for due process was one of the r easons for the failure in Parliament. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 23:39:09 EDT 2000

'Next Sri Lankan Parliament will be a Constituent Assembly'
The Hindu NUS, 18.00 hrs (IST) on August 19, 2000. Colombo, Aug. 19. (PTI): A day after Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved Parliament and announced fresh elections in October, ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) today said it would convert the next Parliament into a Constituent Assembly to pass the new Constitution Bill even without Opposition support. The Government could convert the next Parliament into a Constituent Assembly and pass the new Constitution with a simple majority followed by a national referendum to get the direct approval by the people, new SLFP general secretary and Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs S B Dissanayake told the State-run newspaper The Daily News today. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 20:59:28 EDT 2000

Govt neglect drives farmers to suicide in Sri Lanka
Hindustan Times, august 19. OVER THE years, successive Sri Lankan governments have throttled domestic agriculture and driven farmers to suicide by denying them vital subsidies and resorting to imports only to satisfy the powerful trader lobby and the urban consumer, experts say. After the United National Party (UNP) liberalised the economy with gusto in 1977, 17 badly hit farmers committed suicide. "Sumithrayo", an organisation fighting suicidal tendencies in Sri Lankan society, found in Kurunegala district that the suicide rate shot up when agriculture there failed, or when the market for the produce crashed. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 23:22:38 EDT 2000

Varatharaja Perumal to contest from Jaffna
The Hindu (International), Sunday, August 20, 2000. COLOMBO, AUG. 19. The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka's short-lived North-Eastern Provincial Council, Mr. A. Varatharaja Perumal, has decided to contest from Jaffna in the October 10 general election. Mr. Perumal, who leads a dissident group within the Eelam People's Liberation Front, said his group would contest the election independently in Jaffna and the Vanni, and in alliance with friendly parties in the three other electoral districts of the Tamil-dominated north-east. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 21:00:45 EDT 2000
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LTTE shadow over Sri Lankan elections  - The Hindu (International)

Memories of the Peradeniya Campus - By V. Vamadevan (Retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police)
The Island, august 20. Romance was rife and the banks of the Mahaweli provided convenient retreats for young lovers. Much of the gossip was about those goings on. There were quite a few staff-student affairs which were the subject of the spiciest stories going the rounds. There were young lecturers (men) back from Oxbridge or Berkely in their new designer trousers who were the cynosure of all especially the girls. There was a Miss Tourqiot a French lady from the South of France, who was teaching French for those of us who had to do a paper in French translation for the Honours course. One of her classes had 12 students on the list, but when she came for the class she found about 100 students seated ready for the class. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 23:51:37 EDT 2000

UNP has some explaining to do
The Hindu (International), Saturday, August 19, 2000. COLOMBO, AUG. 18. When the campaign for the general election kicks off in right earnest, the Opposition United National Party will have some serious explaining to do to the Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka, who form an ethnic category separate and different from the Tamils of the northeast. They mainly live and work in the tea estates of Central Sri Lanka. This distinct ethnic minority stood to gain immensely from the proposed new Constitution, which addressed one of its long- standing demands for the granting of citizenship. (Indian Tamils are not considered Lankan citizens.) More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 19:27:12 EDT 2000
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Kumaratunga seeks peace mandate  - India Abroad

Media censorship in Sri Lanka to continue
Times of India, 20 August 2000 . COLOMBO: The government on Saturday rejected the newspaper editors' demand that the media censorship be lifted in view of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. "The government does not need to lift the censorship because it only concerns sensitive military information," Deputy Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said. Yapa said the censorship does not bar editors from criticising the government's performance. More...
Published: Sat Aug 19 21:01:26 EDT 2000

JVP to launch its election campaign on Wednesday 23
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 8.25 p.m. SLT Friday August 18. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will launch its general election campaign on August 23 in Colombo. The party will hold its annual national convention at Hyde Park which will also serve as its first political rally. JVP Media Secretary Vimal Weeravansha said the party will release a booklet elaborating its stance on national issues at the convention. Weeravansha added that they will also reveal who the party's frontrunners will be at the elections. The JVP figured as a third force at the last provincial council elections in Sinhala dominated areas and are expected to poll a higher number of seats at the General Election in October this year.
Published: Fri Aug 18 10:29:17 EDT 2000

Parliament dissolved, Elections Oct. 10
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.45 p.m. SLT Friday August 18. The Government today dissolved Parliament six days before its scheduled date on August 24. The General Elections will be held on October 10, this year. Massive controversy and debate has evolved before the dissolving of Sri Lanka's tenth parliament as a result of the Government attempting to push the new constitutional reforms. President Kumaratunge in a televised interview over State TV this week, vowed she would pass the new constitutional bill two months after her government is re-elected to office this year. A week before the dissolution of Parliament President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge appointed a new Prime Minister and three new cabinet ministers who will handle key portfolios such as Industry, Economic Affairs, Tourism and Aviation.
Published: Fri Aug 18 03:31:05 EDT 2000
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Sri Lankan government schedules new elections  - ABC News
Sri Lanka Schedules New Elections  - Yahoo
Sri Lanka President calls snap polls, scraps gerrymandering bid  -
European Union mulls Sri Lanka poll monitor role  -
Sri Lanka to Elect New Parliament on Oct. 10  - ABC News
Sri Lanka Parliamentary Polls Set for Oct. 10  - ABC News
Sri Lanka to elect new parliament on Oct 10  - MSNBC
Sri Lanka dissolves parliament, sets vote  - Virtual New York
Lankan parliament dissolved, election slated for October 10  -
Lanka House dissolved; polls on October 10  - Times of India (Breaking News)
Lankan Parliament dissolved; polls on Oct. 10  - The Hindu NUS
Lanka House dissolved, polls on Oct 10  - India Abroad
Sri Lanka elections on October 10  - BBC South Asia
Sri Lanka sets election date  - BBC South Asia
Sri Lanka announces elections on October 10  -

Battle hardened general to lead Sri Lanka army
Virtual New York, Friday, 18 August 2000 11:02 (ET). Barely hours after dissolving the parliament and announcing fresh elections, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Friday appointed a new commander of the Sri Lankan army. A battle-hardened Major General Lionel Balagalle has been appointed as the new commander of the army replacing Lieutenant General Srilal Weerasooriya. Gen. Balagalle, who is currently without any designation, was the commander of the security forces in the war-torn Jaffna peninsula and the northern Wanni region. He also served as the director of the Military Intelligence. More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 19:36:36 EDT 2000
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New Sri Lankan army commander to take over Aug 24  - MSNBC

Sri Lanka army chief set for Pakistan job, Aug 18 2000 19:36 IST. COLOMBO, Aug 18 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's army chief Srilal Weerasooriya is set to take over as the country's envoy to Pakistan as he retires next week, officials here said Friday. Weerasooriya is to be replaced by his deputy, major general Lionel Balagalle, officials said. More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 15:29:10 EDT 2000
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New Army Commander for Sri Lanka  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo

U.S. congressional staff to visit Sri Lanka
ABC News, 18th Aug 2000 16.42 IST . A delegation of U.S. House of Representatives staff will visit Sri Lanka next week to discuss economic and investment issues and its ethnic conflict, the U.S. embassy in Colombo said on Friday. "Among the topics of disussion will be possible Congressional action on a proposed World Bank trust fund to combat HIV/AIDS around the world as well as strengthening already strong commercial and financial ties through discussions with local business leaders, including the American Chamber of Commerce," the statement said. More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 14:41:54 EDT 2000

Bandaranaike will remain party chief
The Asian Age. Contrary to expectations, Ms Sirima Bandaranaike, the doughty widow who announced her retirement as Prime Minister last week, has refused to give up reins of her Sri Lanka Freedom Party. At a crucial meeting of the SLFP on Thursday, the party’s key post of general secretary was up for grabs and observers expected Bandaranaike, 84, to give up her position as the party’s president. But the wheelchair-ridden Bandaranaike retained the job, although she had said in her August 9 letter of resignation as Prime Minister that ill-health was forcing her to “quietly withdraw from the humdrum of busy political life to a more tranquil and quiet environment.” More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 19:34:48 EDT 2000
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Bandaranaike clings to party reins  - India Abroad

Mass grave at Killinochchi?
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.30 a.m. SLT Friday August 18. Civilians in the Vanni district at Killinochchi claim to have found over 45 bodies within the precincts of the former army camp at Killinochchi. A large number of the bodies they say have been found in pits within the forward defence localities of the armed forces camp. The army camp at Killinochchi fell to the LTTE in September 1998. A grave holding two more bodies was discovered Wednesday August 16, by residents in the Killinochchi district. The two skeletons were found dressed in pyjamas and a sarong. One skeleton wore a blue shirt while his hands had been tied with a nylon rope.

Civilians displaced by the war and who are now returning to their homes in the Vanni district at Killinochchi claim to have found the mass graves in and around this area. It is alleged that since fresh hostilities broke out between Lankan security forces and the LTTE this year, at least another 186 persons have gone missing in the northern peninsula.

Since the fall of the Killinochchi army camp residents claim that a large number of civilians had gone missing when the army camp was in existence. The Killinochchi army camp was not a designed camp, which means it concentrated on forward defence localities outside the forward defence lines. The forward defence localities were areas in which the army patrolled ahead of defence lines. This strategy was practised by the armed forces camp at Killinochchi in order to prevent the enemy from dominating areas around the camp. Troops were sent ahead of forward defence lines into these localities to ambush possible LTTE parties and to ensure that the LTTE did not build up in the area ahead of the armed forces camp.

In these forward defence localities the army frequently lay in ambush. Sources in the area say that large numbers of civilians who were displaced due to ongoing fighting however continued to visit these areas. This was due to the fact that many of their households and farms lay in the forward localities used by Army patrols. In fact, in 1997, Rev. Arulbalen a catholic priest was caught and later found dead after attempting to visit a farm that was run by the church in this area. Due to the massive outcry that followed the murder of the priest the armed forces thereafter handed over to the Jaffna police some of the civilians taken in for interrogation. However the number of civilians handed over to the Jaffna police were few and far between. Residents of the area maintain that large numbers of their neighbours continued to simply vanish never to be seen alive thereafter.

The civilians who disappeared were mostly people of upcountry Tamil origin who had settled at Killinochchi after 1977. Many of them are believed to have been caught when they went to pluck coconuts and oversee other functions of their farms and homes. Apart from sources at Killinochchi, humanitarian organizations working in the Vanni district deny any knowledge of the graves.
Published: Fri Aug 18 03:59:28 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka "killing fields" probe backfires on ruling party: report, Aug 18 2000 11:17 IST. COLOMBO, Aug 18 (AFP) - A Sri Lankan government campaign to link the main opposition leader to vigilante killings 12 years ago has taken a dramatic turn with ruling party figures also being implicated, a press report said Friday. The Ravaya, or Echo weekly, in its Sunday edition made available Friday, said the arrest of a newspaper columnist in connection with murders that took place in the late 1980s could also reveal the involvement of several government members. More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 02:33:10 EDT 2000

JVP to internationalize its campaign against the package
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.15 a.m. SLT Friday August 18. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is to launch protests against the proposed new constitutional reforms outside all Sri Lankan missions in Europe next Thursday. A spokesman for the party said that the protest campaign is being handled by the international secretariat of the JVP.

Meanwhile both the United National Party and the Sinhala extremist groups yesterday joined forces in a massive demonstration against the new constitution. The protesters met at a mass rally at Borella junction Thursday evening. Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe addressed the gathering and vowed to continue the fight against the proposals being passed minus the consent of all sections of Sri Lankan society.
Published: Fri Aug 18 03:59:29 EDT 2000

An unwinnable war?
BBC South Asia, Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK . For some years now, the government of Sri Lanka has tried to bring about a decisive end to the island's long-running civil war. It spends more than $850 m a year on the war effort, and has more than 100,000 troops deployed in the battle against the Tamil Tigers. More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 07:54:01 EDT 2000
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The ethnic divide  - BBC South Asia

Lankan Air Force jets pound Tiger positions
Times of India, 18 August 2000 . COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Air Force intensified strikes on rebel bases Thursday following information that the Tamil Tigers were regrouping and would resume their campaign to retake Jaffna, their former capital, military officials said. Newly acquired MiG-27 aircraft carried out a 2-hour bombing mission on suspected rebel bases in the Jaffna Peninsula for the third straight day Thursday. The extent of damage, or the success of the raids, was not immediately known. But military officials on condition of anonymity said pilots saw flames leap out from some of the targeted areas, which suggested that the bases had been hit. Rebel hide-outs are scattered around the northern forests where guerrillas store fuel, weapons and ammunitions. More...
Published: Fri Aug 18 00:50:38 EDT 2000
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Sri Lanka fighting kills seven, jets pound rebels  -

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