The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 166

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The Lanka Academic, will carry a series of online "Question and Answer" sessions with prominent Sri Lankan personalities. As the first guest in the series, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Mr. Mangala Moonesinghe will answer questions submitted by you. A moderator will maintain the decorum of this online forum. While the scope of the questions is wide open, it's expected that the questions submitted would fall within the areas of expertise relevant to Mr.Moonesinghe's background as a politician, scholar and a diplomat. The guidelines and instructions for sending in questions and viewing answer are posted at current issue of The Lanka Academic here. The current Question and Answer session will end on September 24th, 2000.
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Chulie Kirtisinghe de Silva, LAcNet. This story relates the realization of a dream of a dedicated virtual community of globally dispersed volunteer Sri Lankan academics, who mobilized Sri Lankan Diaspora for funding; and then formed horizontal partnerships with local and international agencies to set up a computer center in rural Sri Lanka. It also relates the metamorphosis of an out of work teacher to be the Digital Ambassador for Sri Lanka through training and empowerment. It is the story of two communities coming together; one virtual in cyberspace, the other a land based poor rural community; one the haves, and the other the have nots; - the empowered, empowering and bridging the digital divide. More...
Kesara Ratnatunga, The Sunday Times, Colombo. The computer screen was their window to the rest of the world and they were having a field day. Exploring with wide-eyed wonder what lay beyond their horizons, were the grade seven and eight students of Nivaththaka Chethiya Maha Vidyalaya, Anuradhapura, the first beneficiaries of the Lanka Academic Network's (LAcNet) 'Computers for Sri Lankan Schools' project. More...
The Ordeal of Civilians in Thenmaratchy
September 7, 2000 University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) People from all communities and from all parts of the country have been through many horrors and ordeals from the time the flames of conflict engulfed this country in July 1983. But seldom has anything been so prolonged and full of constant terror and anxiety as what several thousands of people in Thenmaratchy, the south-eastern sector of the Jaffna peninsula with Chavakacheri as its main town, endured for three weeks and more. More...
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...
 The Lanka Academic News stories are provided by independent correspondents. Views expressed are not necessarily those of LAcNet. Updates are triggered by events, 24hrs a day. Funding is provided by LAcNet. Redistribution is strictly prohibited. To ensure our continued existence, please support LAcNet.
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Renewed Sri Lanka violence claims more than 126 lives, Sep 18 2000 20:04 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 18 (AFP) - Heavy fighting raged in northern Sri Lanka Monday as Tamil rebels launched counter attacks while a van bomb exploded elsewhere pushing the overnight death toll to 126, officials said. The separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hit back as government troops captured the town of Chavakachcheri, the second largest town in the Jaffna peninsula, the defence ministry said in a statement. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 11:22:55 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
LTTE counter-attack unsuccessful: Colombo  - The Hindu
More than 100 killed in Sri Lanka fighting  - Virtual New York
Fierce battles in Jaffna peninsula  - BBC South Asia
Scores killed in fresh Sri Lanka fighting  - Virtual New York
108 killed in overnight battle: Colombo  - The Hindu NUS
Thirty six killed as Lankan army repulses rebel counter attacks  - NDTV/MSNBC
Sri Lanka rebels said beaten back, many casualties  - MSNBC
93 killed in fresh Lanka fighting  - India Abroad
Heavy bloodshed as Tigers mount counter attacks  -
Heavy fighting in Sri Lanka as Tigers resist offensive  -

Ask Mangala Answers 1-37 Now Available. Q&A ends: September 24th. Hurry! Send questions to the H.C. of Sri Lanka to the UK, H.E. Mangala Moonesinghe and receive answers.
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President to take over Ashraff's portfolio
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.25 p.m. SLT Monday September 18. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge will take over the portfolio of the late Minister M. H. M. Ashraff until the conclusion of the General Elections on October 10.

A special gazette notification today announced the government decision taken 48 hours after the late Minister was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday. Ashraff was Minister for Ports, Shipping, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. The President already holds two other portfolios that of Defence and Finance.

Meanwhile the new joint Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the National Unity Alliance, Rauf Hakeem, at a press conference held this evening said that he had met with the President this morning who had expressed concern over the late Ministers statement hours before his demise which severed his truck with the Peoples Alliance.

According to Hakeem, the President had indicated that some misunderstanding had occured due to "a lack of communication." It is not yet clear if Hakeem will renegade on Ashraff's final decision or stand by it. Mrs. Ferial Ashraff also joint Leader of the SLMC and the NUA was not present at today's press briefing.
Published: Mon Sep 18 11:34:13 EDT 2000

Bomb explosion at Eastern Kalmunai today
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.20 p.m. SLT Monday September. A bomb explosion at Kalmunai in the Batticaloa district today killed three security personnel and injured another eleven. The bomb had exploded when police officers attempted to check-out a suspicious looking van which carried the explosives.
Published: Mon Sep 18 11:34:13 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka President takes job of dead minister amid row, Sep 18 2000 18:23 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 18 (AFP) - Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga Monday took over the responsibilities of Ports Minister M. H. M. Ashraff, killed Saturday in a mysterious helicopter crash, despite resistance from a key ally. President Kumaratunga's office said in a statement that she had assumed the functions of the ministry of Ports, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, held by Ashraff at the time of his death.The news of President Kumaratunga taking over Ashraff's portfolio came as Hakeem addressed a press conference announcing he was set to take oaths as the new minister for Ports. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 09:43:22 EDT 2000

Ashraff's widow to contest polls
The Hindu, Tuesday, September 19, 2000. COLOMBO, SEPT. 18. Bowing to the established traditions of South Asian politics, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has nominated the widow of M.H.M. Ashraff, the minister who was killed in a helicopter crash last week, to take his place as the main candidate in his constituency in eastern Sri Lanka for the October 10 general elections, and as the joint leader of the party. Announcing this at a news conference today, Mr. Rauff Hakeem, who has been appointed the other leader of the SLMC, said Mrs. Fariel Ashraff would, however, not play any role in the election campaign as she was in mourning. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 19:04:35 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka Muslim party fears sabotage in fatal crash, Sep 18 2000 17:06 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 18 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's main Muslim party Monday expressed fears sabotage may have caused a helicopter crash in which its leader died Saturday, shortly after he severed ties with the country's ruling party. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) said it believed that the transport helicopter that crashed shortly after take-off from a police base in Colombo may have had its engines sabotaged. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 08:41:46 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Party probes Sri Lanka minister's death in air crash  - ABC News
Lanka to probe helicopter crash; explosion suspected  - India Abroad

War of words on in Lanka
Deccan Herald, COLOMBO, Sept 18 (UNI). Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremenayake has said that President Chandrika Kumaratunga would not enter into a debate with a ''second class person`` like Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as he occupied second place among the party`s candidates in Colombo district. This is apparently in reply to Mr Wickremesinghe, who had challenged President Kumaratunga for a public debate with him. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 16:06:57 EDT 2000

CMEV condemns intimidation of polls chief
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.30 a.m. SLT Monday September 18 . As an independent civil society group committed to strengthening and protecting the integrity of the electoral process, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) is deeply concerned by recent media reports that the integrity and independence of the Commissioner of Elections is being questioned.

This arises from action he felt it necessary to take to prevent the use of stolen or forged polling cards on election day. The Commissioner maintains that he fully intended to inform the political parties of this action at the appropriate time.

The CMEV firmly believes that the electoral process is the basic mechanism for choice and change in a functioning democracy. Accordingly, the independence of the individual and office charged with the responsibility for the conduct of elections, is of paramount importance.

The CMEV maintains that further reports that the Election Commissioner has himself been subjected to threats and intimidation are truly shocking and are a dire indictment of the prevailing political culture. The persistence of such violence will reflect adversely on the Police and call into question both the commitment to and capacity for democratic governance in Sri Lanka.

The election monitoring group says that attempts to undermine the constitutionally guaranteed independence of the Commissioner of Elections and to impede him in the discharge of his responsibilities will gravely imperil democracy in Sri Lanka.

The CMEV has called upon all political parties and civil society groups to extend their fullest cooperation and support to the Commissioner of Elections to ensure a free and fair election on 10 October 2000.
Published: Mon Sep 18 00:44:14 EDT 2000

Bomb kills three in Sri Lanka, Sep 18 2000 18:46 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 18 (AFP) - A van bomb exploded in eastern Sri Lanka Monday, killing three people, including two constables, and wounding eight others, police said. The blast occurred in the town of Kalmunai, police said adding the bomb went off as a search was on for the vehicle with hidden explosives. Four people were arrested after the attack. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 10:32:18 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
At least three S.Lanka police die in suicide blast  - MSNBC
Bomb kills 3 policemen in latest Sri Lanka violence  - NandoTimes/AP

Hakeem and Ferial - joint leaders
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.15 a.m. SLT Monday September 18. Rauf Hakeem and Mrs. Ferial Ashraff have been appointed as joint leaders of both the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the National Unity Alliance. Following a six hour discussion yesterday, barely 24 hours after M. H. M. Ashraff was killed in a helicopter crash and buried according to Muslim religious rites, the hierachy of the SLMC met to appoint a new leader.

A deadlock occured when one faction wanted the dead Minister's spouse to take over the reigns, depite it being a foregone conclusion that Hakeem as Deputy Leader for the newly formed NUA would take over the leadership.

Mrs. Ferial Ashraff has neither accepted nor rejected her new post. Her name has also now been included as the NUA's candidate for the Amparai district, the late Ministers home turf.

Meanwhile, Hakeem has written to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge today requesting a full and impartial inquiry into Saturday's crash which claimed 15 lives together with that of the Minister. Hakeem has indicated that he suspects foul play and would appreciate if the Head of State would order a comprehensive investigation.

Hakeem's request is backed by Transport Minister A. H. M. Fowzie who was the first to go public with his suspicions saying initial eye witness accounts indicated that the helicopter was on fire before it crashed into the hill known as 'Urakanda' at Aranayake in the Kegalle district.
Published: Mon Sep 18 00:44:14 EDT 2000

Related News Stories
Deadlock as Ashraff's predecessors fail to elect leader  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo
Sri Lankan party power struggle as Muslim minister is buried  -
Sri Lanka Muslim party in crisis after fatal helicopter crash  -
Ashraff's wife to be joint leader of party  - The Hindu NUS
Minister's widow to head Lankan Muslim party  - Times of India (Breaking News)
Widow to share leadership of Sri Lanka Muslim party  -
Sri Lanka's first Muslim political widow battles leadership crisis  -

Vartharajah Perumal - back to get his Eelam
Sunday Leader, September 10. On March 1, 1990 Varathrajah Perumal, Chief Minister of the North Eastern Provincial Council in violation of the sixth amendment which is still in force, was to Declare Unilateral Independence and set up a separate Eelam state.In late 1999 on the invitation of this government the chief ministerial pestilence was back. When he fled Lankan shores ten days after his infamous UDI in March 1990 he was to make a telling threat. "I will never give up the Eelam state. I will prepare for it and be back," he told mediamen. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 13:18:40 EDT 2000

No truck with PA to be strictly enforced
Island, Monday, 18 September. The final decision taken by the SLMC hours before the tragic death of their leader M.H.M.Ashraff not to have any truck with the Peoples Alliance would be strictly enforced, the SLMC politburo decided yesterday. The SLMC politburo met in emergency session to discuss future alliances and also elect a new set of office bearers. An SLMC spokesman said that the election of its General Secretary Rauff Hakeem as their new leader was a mere formality.Shortly before Ashraff boarded an Air Force helicopter MI-17 from Police Park in Colombo around 9 a.m on Saturday he sent a hard hitting letter to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 07:35:00 EDT 2000

Lankan troops take Chavakachcheri
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.05 a.m. SLT Monday September 18. Lankan troops yesterday amidst heavy fighting managed to secure Chavakachcheri in the northern Jaffna Pensinula. The Ministry of Defence in a statement last night said that 'Operation RiviKirana' had proved a success, and despite stiff resistance from the Tigers were successful in their thrust to secure rebel held territory.

The fresh military offensive which began yesterday lasted three hours before troops were able to consolidate positions in the town of Chavakachcheri. 30 combatants are reported killed in yesterday's battle, while the military claim that interception of rebel radio broadcasts indicate that 26 Tigers cadres were killed when government troops extended its Forward Defence Lines.
Published: Mon Sep 18 00:44:14 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka troops take town from Tamil Tigers, Sep 17 2000 14:55 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 17 (AFP) - Sri Lankan troops Sunday launched a fresh offensive in the island's northern peninsula of Jaffna and had advanced into territory held by Tamil Tiger rebels, the defence ministry said. Troops backed by artillery and mortar bombs mounted the latest drive in a bid to expand the area under their control and push back the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas, the ministry said. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 10:22:38 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Conflicting claims over Chavakachcheri  - Tamilnet
Sri Lankan Army captures Chavakachcheri  - The Hindu
Sri Lanka Army captures strategic town  - Virtual New York
Army recaptures strategic town near Jaffna  - India Abroad
Sri Lankan military captures key northern town from Tamil Tiger rebels  - MSNBC
Lankan troops advance towards key town  -
Sri Lanka troops advance towards key town  -
Sri Lanka troops capture key town in land and air offensive  -
Attacks Launched in Sri Lanka  - Altavista
Sri Lanka says troops recapture key town  - Altavista
Sri Lanka mounts fresh anti-Tiger drive in Jaffna  -
Sri Lankan army launches new offensive in north  - MSNBC

Election related violence on the rise as the hustings draw near
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.20 p.m. SLT Sunday September 17. A total of 346 incidents of election related violence have been recorded by CMEV as of 16 September 2000. Of these 202 (58%) have been classified as Major Offences and 144 (42%) as Minor Offences. The number of Murders including the victims of the 15 September suicide bomb attack in front of the Eye Hospital, Colombo, has risen to 12. The highest number of Major Offences have been reported from the North Western Province - 42 or 21% of the total in this category. The PA is allegedly responsible for 56% of the incidents in the Major Offences category and the UNP for 24%.

Nineteen percent (19%) of all incidents reported involve the use of firearms Of these, the PA is allegedly responsible for 62% of the incidents and the UNP for 12%. In 23% of these incidents, the party affiliation of the alleged perpetrator has not been identified.
Published: Sun Sep 17 11:34:12 EDT 2000

Related News Stories
Candidates abuse each other in Sri Lanka's North Central Province  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo
Election Violence in the North Western Province  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo
Election violence in Sri Lanka's Uva Province  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo
Election violence in Sri Lanka's Western Province  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo

Fowzie suspicious over helicopter crash
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.05 p.m. SLT Sunday September 17 . Transport Minister A. H. M. Fowzie, has expressed doubts regarding the helicopter accident yesterday which killed his cabinet colleague M. H. M. Ashraff and 13 others.

Fowzie at loggerheads with Ashraff before he was killed, said today that evidence of the crash has led him to suspect whether the accident was caused by an explosion. The helicopter was burnt beyond recognition and in pieces together with the badly charred bodies which were found in parts. Fowzie has requested the President to conduct a full inquiry into the incident.

The Sri Lanka Air Force has meanwhile already commenced investigations into the MI -17 crash. A four member investigation team has already flown to the site intending to find the black box of the helicopter which contains a dialogue between the pilot and the Control Tower. Investigations into the crash however have been hindered due to bad weather conditions at the site.
Published: Sun Sep 17 11:15:31 EDT 2000

Related News Stories
LTTE hand seen in killing of Lankan minister  - Deccan Herald
Sri Lanka minister wants colleague's death probed  - ABC News
Foreign experts to help Sri Lanka probe air crash  - India Abroad

Sri Lanka crash probe launched
BBC South Asia, Sunday, 17 September, 2000, 14:37 GMT 15:37 U. Sri Lankan officials have launched an investigation into a helicopter crash which killed the prominent Muslim leader, MHMAshraff, and 14 others on Saturday. The investigators say they have asked for foreign help to establish the cause of the accident. Defence officials are quoted as saying they have not ruled out possible Tamil Tiger involvement in the crash, though they originally blamed the accident on engine failure. Thousands of people attended Mr Ashraff's funeral in the capital Colombo in the early hours of Sunday morning. The burial was marred by heckling and abuse of rival politicians. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 20:34:40 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Lanka probes copter crash, east in mourning  - Times of India (Breaking News)

Sri Lanka minister buried amid tensions, Sep 17 2000 09:42 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 17 (AFP) - A senior Sri Lankan minister, killed in a helicopter crash, was buried here early Sunday amid continuing animosity between rival parties. Ports minister M. H. M. Ashraff was killed along with 14 others Saturday, when their helicopter crashed into a mountain in central Aranayake region, shortly after he announced his Muslim party would cut ties with the ruling coalition.The mood turned sour when bodyguards were forced to protect Sri Lanka's main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe from slipper-throwing critics.SLMC member and former lawmaker, Asitha Perera had apologised to Wickremesinghe but there were uglier scenes when transport minister A. H. M. Fowzie, an Ashraff rival in the cabinet, tried to pay his respects. Mourners heckled and manhandled Fowzie by ripping his jacket off and security officials were forced to fire warning shots into the air to disperse the crowd. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 01:25:08 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
'Sri Lanka has lost a peace fighter'  - The Hindu (International)
Sri Lankan minister laid to rest  - Virtual New York
Ashraff funeral held  - The Hindu NUS
Sri Lanka mourns Muslim minister amid attacks, tensions  - Yahoo

Sri Lanka seeks foreign help to probe crash that killed minister, Sep 17 2000 13:05 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 17 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's defence officials were seeking the help of foreign experts to probe the helicopter crash in which a senior Muslim Minister and 14 others were killed, officials here said Sunday. Technical experts from the manufacturers of the Ukrainian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter were expected to help with the investigation into Saturday's crash that killed Ports Minister M.H.M. Ashraff and 14 others. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 04:14:32 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Foul play feared as Sri Lanka seeks foreign help to probe crash  - Yahoo

Sri Lankan crime buster's house burgled, Sep 17 2000 18:50 IST. COLOMBO, Sept 17 (AFP) - Three teenage boys burgled the house of the head of Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigations Department (CID), police in Colombo said Sunday. The boys stole some 51,000 rupees (653 dollars) worth of ornaments from CID director Keerthi Gajanayake's home located within a police housing complex in the capital, police said. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 10:19:53 EDT 2000

''Ruling alliance best suited to solve conflict''
The Hindu NUS, 18.00 hrs (IST) on September 17, 2000. Colombo, Sept. 17. (PTI): Sri Lanka's ruling coalition, led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, has been rated as best suited to resolve the ethnic conflict in the island nation, according to a survey conducted ahead of the October 10 general elections. Fortyone per cent of those interviewed said the People's Alliance is better equipped to come to a settlement with the LTTE as against main opposition UNP's nine per cent. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 10:27:30 EDT 2000
Related News Stories
Chandrika ahead of Ranil: Opinion poll  - The Hindustan Times

Sri Lankan Muslim leader's death creates leadership vacuum
India Abroad, Sept 17, 2000 16:15 Hrs (IST) . Colombo: Sri Lanka's only ethnic Muslim political party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, could fall into disarray with the death of Ports Minister M.H.M. Ashraff creating a leadership vacuum, political analysts say. The 52-year-old lawyer turned politician was buried just after midnight Sunday at a cemetery in Colombo at which thousands of mourners thronged. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 10:25:05 EDT 2000

Resurgent Jayasinghe seeking medal
Olympic News Service, 15 September 2000. Susanthika JAYASINGHE, the Sri Lankan who won a shock silver medal over 200-metre at the 1997 world championships in Athens, is confident she can repeat the feat here and bring her country its first Olympic medal since Duncan WHITE won a silver at 400-metre hurdles for Ceylon in 1948. JAYASINGHE ran a new personal best of 22.32 at the Super Meet 2000 in Yokohama, Japan last Saturday, third best in the world this year, showing that she has recovered the form that took from obscurity to second place in the world in 1997. It follows three troubled years during which she was cleared of a positive drugs test, suffered lower back and hamstring injuries, and was forced to leave her native Sri Lanka because of a dispute with the government's sports ministry. More...
Published: Sun Sep 17 02:16:41 EDT 2000

Naked and Unashamed!
Info-Labs-Weekend Express.., September 10. Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkita, Maha Nayaka of theAsgiriya Chapter: "They come to us seeking our blessings; they fall at our feet and worship us and on their way back they terrorize and kill their opponents!. Probably, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had Sri Lankan politics in mind, when he spoke of 'fig leaf democracy' - for that is exactly what this country has experienced for the past several decades. More...
Published: Mon Sep 18 13:31:32 EDT 2000

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