The Lanka Academic

MAY 31, 2001 EST, USA
VOL. 2, NO. 55

Headline Summary
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Chandrika risks losing no-trust vote
The Hindustan Times, may 31. FACING possible defeat in a no-confidence motion which the opposition United National Party proposes to move soon, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga is on a desperate damage control and wooing exercise to thwart a collapse. More...
Published: Thu May 31 20:49:18 EDT 2001

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ValuComOnline: Call Sri Lanka
Send in a question to the veteran Sri Lankan politician, Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara and receive his answer! We are pleased to announce the fifth guest at our online Q&A sessions at The Lanka Academic.

Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara began his political career as a student activist in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party in 1958. He was elected to then National Assembly in 1970 as a member of Parliament from Kiriella in the United Front government of the SLFP, LSSP and the Ceylon Communist Party. In 1975 he split from the LSSP of Dr. N.M.Perera, Dr. Colvin R. De Silva et al. to launch the Nava Lanka Sama Samaja Party along with Dr. Vickramabhahu Karunaratne. Although defeated in the general election of 1977 Mr. Nanayakkara was back in parliament in 1989 as a member of the United Socialist Alliance(USA). He rejoined the LSSP and the PA in 1994 and was elected as an MP. in 199, he crossed over to the opposition. In 1982 and 1999, he also contested as a Presidential candidate. To ask a question, click here.

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Religious leaders make urgent appeal for wide ranging democratic reforms
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1800 slt 31.05.01.

The Congress of religions which bring together all four major religions in Sri Lanka today issued an urgent appeal to all political parties and the people for wide ranging democratic reforms. " Our motherland is facing a severe crisis,unheard in its past history" the religious leaders said in a statement issued at the end of an all party conference at the B.M.I.C.H.

The conference was summoned by the Congress of religions to discuss ways out of the current crisis. " We are convinced that a mere change of Government through elections nor a change in the personalities who rule us, will not solve the problems we face. What is essentially needed is a new political vision based on peace and development,an economic vision that can eliminate poverty,unemployment and malnutrition, a social vision founded on ethical values of the four great religions practised in our country. The law and order destroyed by the existing politics and the underworld has to be firmly re-established" the statement said.

The Congress of religions put forward an eight point agenda for urgent implementation- reforming the executive presidency, formulate a new constitution that guarantee democracy, development,unity and territorial integrity of the nation, the establishment of a independent elections commission,an independent public administration commission, an independent police commission, strengthen the independence of the judiciary, new legalization to deal with bribery and corruption,child abuse,drug trafficking and robbery of artifact and the formulation of a national economic policy.

The statement was signed by Ven. Bellanwila Wimalaratne nayake thero, Ven.Maduluwave Sobitha Thero, Rev. Oswald Gomis President of the Catholic Bishop's Conference, Rev.Kuhanantha Sarma secretary of All Ceylon Brahama Sangam, Moulavi Hifzur Rahman vice president of the Council of Muslim Theologians and Rev. Ebenezer Joseph General Secretary of the National Christian Council. A notable absentee at the conference was the ruling People's Alliance. Other political parties that were represented accepted the agenda put forward by the religious leaders.
Published: Thu May 31 08:25:38 EDT 2001 Back to the top

LTTE told not to place unacceptable terms for talks
Times of India (Breaking News), Thursday, 31 May 2001, 13:15 GMT . COLOMBO: Faced with the grim prospect of its peace initiative collapsing over the issue of lifting the ban on the LTTE, Sri Lanka has asked the LTTE not to place unacceptable conditions for talks. "I call upon the LTTE to abstain from putting unacceptable conditions before commencing peace talks and help the government bring the conflict to a swift end," media minister and Cabinet spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said in a statement to the state-owned media. More...
Published: Thu May 31 09:12:36 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka talks 'deadlocked'  - BBC South Asia
Lanka asks LTTE not to place unacceptable conditions  - Press Trust of India

NPC Calls for Lifting of Self Censorship
Saroj Pathirana in London, Thursday 31/05/01 1725 GMT. "Now once the government censorship has been officially lifted, are the journalists going to tell the real story of war" asked Jehan Perera, the media director of the National Peace Council (NPC), while welcoming the government?s decision to lift censorship on war-related reporting. Mr. Perera maintained the view that even before the government imposed a censorship, many journalists did not genuinely cover both sides. The ban was lifted without any explanation, said Jehan Perera, because the government wanted to indicate to the international powers that it intends to pursue a negotiated settlement to the ethnic problem. He pointed out that the government had to resort to this measure after the Norway brokered peace process reached a stalemate.

The NPC official said that the authorities should now prove their genuineness by putting BBC?s Sinhala and Tamil programmes, back on the SLBC broadcasts. These programmes were banned after the Sri Lankan Army was defeated by the LTTE in Elephant Pass, last year. In an interview with BBC?s Sandeshaya, he said that it is only one of several possible goodwill and confidence-building measures for Norwegian brokered peace process.

Welcoming the move, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said that it hoped the censorship will not be re-imposed once the military situation escalates again. Meanwhile, left-wing "Haraya" Editor Gnanasiri Kottigoda talking to "The Lanka Academic" questioned whether mainstream journalists in the South who write to help the government win the war, will now stop writing from Colombo and go to the war-torn area to give their readers the real story.
Published: Thu May 31 13:25:33 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Lankan MPs want subsidized Parliament meals done away with
India Abroad, May 31, 2001 14:45 Hrs (IST) . Raising food prices usually make Sri Lanka's lawmakers boil with indignation but, for once, a group of members of Parliament (MPs) is protesting against low-priced meals in the Parliament restaurant. Some 35 MPs from the main opposition United National Party (UNP) have petitioned Speaker Anura Bandaranaike to have the huge subsidy on members' meals removed and called for prices more like those their constituents have to fork out. With price tags ranging from Rs. 6.50 for an all-you-can-eat lunch and just 45 cents for a cup of tea, a meal at the Parliament restaurant barely makes a dent in an MP's wallet. Not only do members have their cake, but, often, they have friends and relatives over to eat it too. More...
Published: Thu May 31 08:39:45 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Match-fixing report cosmetic: Dalmiya
Age, 1 June 2001. World cricket's controversial former chief Jagmohan Dalmiya scoffed yesterday at the International Cricket Council report into match-fixing, saying it was cosmetic and lacked substance. The Indian businessman, who was ICC president last year when the anti-corruption unit was set up, said he was disappointed the report had not probed the scandal deeply enough. "The report does not say anything new, nor does it help in solving the issue," Dalmiya said. "It appears to be a hasty compilation," Dalmiya said. "Some parts have been taken from the Qayyum report in Pakistan, some from the King's commission in South Africa and some from the CBI report in India. More...
Published: Thu May 31 23:27:20 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Lankan media welcomes lifting of sanctions, May 31 2001 12:06 IST. Colombo, May 31 (UNI) Political analysts, media and social organisations have welcomed the Lankan government's decision to lift the censorship on the war-related reporting Sivanesachelvam, the Editor of Thinakkural said the government's decision to lift the censorship at a time when Norwegians are working out a formula is definitely a welcome sign. More...
Published: Thu May 31 03:34:11 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
The government lifts censorship  - Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo
Sri Lanka ends censorship on local, foreign media after three years  -
Sri Lanka lifts censorship on media  -
Lanka removes controls on media  - Times of India
Sri Lanka lifts military news censorship  - Press Trust of India
Government removes military censorship  - Frederica Jansz in Colombo

Sri Lanka Eases Investment Restrictions For Non-residents
Yahoo India, Thursday May 31, 4:07 PM. Sri Lanka's central bank said Thursday that it has created a special scheme which will enable Sri Lankans living abroad to invest in the island nation. There will be no exchange control restrictions, it added. Sri Lankan citizens who work overseas or have migrated can now invest in Sri Lanka via a Rupee Account for Non-resident Sri Lankan Investment, or RANSI, the bank said in a statement. More...
Published: Thu May 31 15:36:02 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Tamil political parties meet to discuss deadlocked peace talks with LTTE
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 14.18 slt 31.05.01. 10 Tamil political parties are meeting in Colombo today to discuss the deadlocked peace talks between the government and the LTTE. The talks are deadlocked after the Tamil rebels demanded that the government lifts the proscription of the LTTE. President Kumaratunga has refused to comply with the demand. The Tamil political parties are to discuss ways to break the deadlock. end
Published: Thu May 31 04:27:56 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Efforts on to rescue 39 fishermen
Yahoo India, Thursday May 31, 11:45 AM. The Tamil Nadu government would make all efforts to secure the release of 39 fishermen from the state being held in Sri Lanka, Fisheries Minister K P Rajendra Prasad told the Assembly today. More...
Published: Thu May 31 15:37:03 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka says Norway peace bid deadlocked, May 31 2001 10:51 IST. Sri Lanka's government formally acknowledged Thursday that Norway's attempts to broker peace were deadlocked, but urged Tamil separatists to shed their conditions for talks and start negotiating. Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said the demand by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to have a ban on them lifted was a "deliberate attempt to stall all attempts" to peacefully end the conflict. More...
Published: Thu May 31 03:04:44 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka blows hot and cold as Norway peace bid stalls  -
Solheim bid to revive Lanka peace talks  - Times of India

Sri Lanka on Firm Economic Footing: President
Nothern Light, Thursday, May 30, 2001 11:24 PM EST . COLOMBO, May 31, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga said on Wednesday night that her war-torn country was now on a firm economic footing. In a broadcast over the state-owned Rupavahini Television Kumaratunga said the greatest achievement of her government during the past six years was that it had moved for the development of the economy with a clear vision which had been people-oriented and people-centred. More...
Published: Thu May 31 04:22:13 EDT 2001 Back to the top

SAARC body to meet in Colombo next week
India Abroad, May 31, 2001 14:42 Hrs (IST) . The Standing Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) will meet in Colombo next week to prepare the ground for the 11th SAARC summit at Kathmandu. More...
Published: Thu May 31 08:41:16 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Government doctors call off strike
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 1027 slt 31.05.01. The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) called off a schedule strike today after health minister John Amaratunga pledged to appoint a permanent provincial health director for the Central Province. Over 1000 doctors had threatened to stage strike action from 8.30 this morning in protest against the transfer of the acting director for the province Dr. Ananda Gunesekara.
Published: Thu May 31 00:36:21 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka opposition leader leaves on India visit, May 31 2001 12:56 IST. Sri Lanka's main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe left here Thursday for a six-day visit official visit to India that will include talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Wickremesinghe said shortly before leaving that he hoped to be in the Indian capital New Delhi for three days and also meet Home Minister L. K. Advani, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and opposition leader Sonia Gandhi. More...
Published: Thu May 31 04:18:18 EDT 2001 Back to the top

CID hand over report on killing of Jaffna journalist
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.15 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 30. The Criminal Investigations Department today handed over a report to the Jaffna magistrate after concluding an investigation into the killing of Jaffna based journalist M. Nimalarajan last year.

Nimalarajan was gunned down at his home in the heart of Jaffna, during a military imposed curfew. The finger of guilt has been pointed at members of a Tamil political party affiliated to the ruling Peoples Alliance.

The Army Commander Gen. Lionel Balagalle has reiterated that Nimalarajan was an agent for the LTTE. The Army chief however has not named the Tamil correspondent's assassins.
Published: Wed May 30 11:16:09 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Chandrika plans consitiutional moves to end ethnic conflict
Deccan Herald, May 30 . President Chandrika Kumratunga has taken a fresh initiative to work out a new constitution aimed at providing a political solution to the ethnic conflict as the possiblity of immediate peace talks between the government and LTTE appears to be diminishing.The President recently chaired a meting where she briefed her colleagues on fresh initiatives for a unilateral political solution because of last weekts setback in the process towards talks with the LTTE, according to Lankan media reports said. More...
Published: Wed May 30 15:21:35 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka Says War Preventing Lower Interest Rate Regime
Yahoo India, Wednesday May 30, 7:21 PM. The Sri Lankan secretary to the treasury said Wednesday that the heavy cost to the government of fighting the protracted war against the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels was preventing it from effecting a lower interest rate regime. "Unless the budget deficit is at around 5% of gross domestic product, we can't reduce interest rates," P.B. Jayasundera said at a seminar entitled "Budget 2001 and Future Directions." More...
Published: Wed May 30 18:00:21 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Amorous Monkey Business Outrages Town
Yahoo, May 30. A sex-crazed male monkey has caused an uproar in a central Sri Lankan town, stalking and attacking girls in public and flirting outrageously with cats and dogs, a newspaper said on Wednesday.The monkey has roused the anger of residents of Kundasale by following young women around the town, jumping on them without warning and clinging tenaciously until it was chased away with sticks and stones, the Daily News reported. More...
Published: Wed May 30 14:05:28 EDT 2001 Back to the top

AI slams human rights abuses in Sri Lanka
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7.30 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 30. The International human rights watch dog Amnesty international said in its annual report released today that paramilitary groups operating in Sri Lanka continued to commit gross violations of human rights.

The London watchdog reported that perpetrators of human rights violations were acting with immunity.

The report also said the LTTE are recruiting child soldiers to help fight in their guerilla war against the Lankan government. AI notes that the Tigers have recruited children as young as 10 to help sustain their battle.

Excerpts from the report says, "renewed fighting between Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) overshadowed other developments and generated serious abuses. Intensified battles for control of key territory in the northern part of the island claimed scores of civilian lives and displaced some 250,000 people, bringing the estimated number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) nationwide to more than one million. Emergency government powers, in place almost continuously since 1983 and enhanced from May to September by additional regulations, granted broad powers to security personnel to arrest and detain suspects, restricted freedom of association, and authorized media censorship."

"The LTTE was implicated in a series of suicide bombings that killed and injured hundreds of civilians. It continued to recruit and deploy child soldiers and to physically attack and intimidate critics in the Tamil community."

"Although the government continued to press for constitutional changes aimed at a political resolution to the conflict, it failed to secure necessary parliamentary support. Political violence outside the war-zones increased in the run-up to parliamentary elections in October."

"The LTTE committed numerous and gross abuses. Bombings of public places in the north and east, and suicide bombings in Colombo on December 18, 1999, January 5, 2000, March 10, June 7, September 15, and October 19 killed more than one hundred civilians and injured many more. Beginning in April, the LTTE engaged in increasingly aggressive recruitment drives in the Vanni, including recruitment of children as young as ten years old for combat. Schools and IDP camps were common targets for such drives. A July report by the Colombo-based University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) provided information on fifteen children recruited since April 1999, nine of whom had been killed in the fighting within a year of their recruitment. The LTTE imposed restrictions on civilians wishing to leave areas it controlled and forced all villagers in some areas to join its civilian defense units. LTTE attacks and intimidation against what it referred to as "quislings" within the Tamil community had a chilling effect on dissent. Particularly at risk were members of Tamil political parties holding positions in local government. Between January and May, three members of local administrative councils in Jaffna were killed by unidentified gunmen. The LTTE held a number of political prisoners and prisoners of war, but access to detainees and details of confinement were unavailable. On February 28, the LTTE released four soldiers they had captured more than six years earlier."

"Freedom of the press was also under attack by the government. Intensified press censorship and denial of independent access to conflict areas frustrated accurate war reporting and civilian access to vital security information. On May 3, as the LTTE pushed towards Jaffna, the government issued new emergency regulations banning live television and radio coverage of the war, requiring government approval before such news could be transmitted outside the country, and empowering the authorities to detain journalists, block the distribution of newspapers,seize property, and shut down printing presses. On June 5, the government relaxed restrictions on the foreign media, but those relating to the local press remained in place."

"With renewed fighting taking center stage, there was little progress in obtaining justice for past human rights abuses although the identities of many perpetrators were known. Examples included the stalled "Bolgoda Lake" case, in which Special Task Force commandos were believed responsible for the 1995 murder of twenty-three Tamil youths; an army massacre of more than 180 villagers near Batticaloa in September 1990; and the 1980s crackdown on members of the left-wing insurgent group Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which resulted in tens of thousands of people being extrajudicially executed or "disappeared" by the authorities. On July 18, 2000, however, a court ordered retired Major General Ananda Weerasekera and two subordinates to stand trial on charges of murder and abduction. This was the first time that a high-ranking military officer had been ordered to stand trial in connection with the JVP "disappearances."
Published: Wed May 30 09:33:44 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Rampant rights abuses with impunity in Sri Lanka: Amnesty  -

Buddhist clergy stage Satyagraha in Pettah
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 4.15 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 30. Over 200 Buddhist monks staged a satyagraha today against the alleged assault on Buddhist monks last week who took part in a protests against the privatization of tertiary education.

The Buddhist monks say that police had assaulted the monks who had protested peacefully together with university students from the Kelaniya university last week.

The monks today staged a satyagraha in front of the Bodhi Raja Viharaya in Pettah. Monks from all parts of the island participated.

A petition demanding immediate action against the police was signed by all the monks and faxed to Premier Rathnasiri Wickramanayake this morning.
Published: Wed May 30 09:33:44 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Lankan minister supports Indo-Pak dialogue
Times of India (Breaking News), Wednesday . 30 May 2001

Sri Lankan minister for fisheries Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday supported Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's move to invite Pakistani military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf for talks and backed India's candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. "I fully welcome the initiation of dialogue process at the highest level between India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue. The issue must be solved mutually under the Lahore declaration and Simla agreement," Rajapaksa, on a visit here, said. More...
Published: Wed May 30 13:41:09 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Lankan House panel for cricket fraud
Yahoo India, 31 May 2001. For the first time in Sri Lanka's parliamentary history a House committee is being appointed to probe alleged malpractices in a sports body. The state-run 'Daily News', said, Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Anura Bandaranaike is expected to appoint the select committee to probe the charges into the corruption and fraud against former executive committee members of the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and empower it to make recommendations for appropriate punishment next week. More...
Published: Wed May 30 19:04:08 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Lankan parliament to probe cricket corruption  - Times of India (Breaking News)
Cricket gets on Lanka's political agenda  - Times of India (Breaking News)

Over 100 anti personnel mines found in Jaffna
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2.45 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 30. According to the Sri Lanka Army, sixty eight Anti Personnel Mines were recovered by the Engineer troops on a clearing operation conducted in the general area of Navanthurai which is about 2.5 Kms. North of Jaffna town yesterday.

On information received, troops operating in the general area of Chavakachcheri had also conducted a clearing operation yesterday and recovered 32 Anti Personnel Mines hidden in an abandoned house. All the APMs were later destroyed by Army engineers.
Published: Wed May 30 09:33:43 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Kumaratunga confident about her govt's survival
Times of India (Breaking News), Wednesday, 30 May 2001 11:20 GMT. COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has made light of the opposition threat to unseat her regime through a no-confidence motion in parliament saying that no parliamentarian from the ruling People's Alliance would cross over to the other side. "No one in my government is willing to join a disunited group that lacks proper leadership and has lost successive elections," she told state-run television Rupavahini on Tuesday night. More...
Published: Wed May 30 07:22:03 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Kumaratunga invites LTTE to peace talks
Times of India, 30 May 2001 . COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Tuesday invited the Tamil Tigers to enter Norwegian-backed peace talks, a day after the guerrillas insisted that a ban on them be lifted first. More...
Published: Wed May 30 05:28:07 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lankans found in Kazakhstan
BBC South Asia, Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK . Customs officials in northern Kazakhstan say they have detained 24 Sri Lankans on the country's border with Russia. The group said they had been dumped there by human traffickers who told them they were in Europe. More...
Published: Wed May 30 05:21:06 EDT 2001 Back to the top

PLOTE member shot dead in Lanka
Press Trust of India, Wednesday, May 30, 2001. A member of the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) has been shot dead by unknown gunmen in north-western Sri Lanka, police said. Vasan, alias Tamil Vasan, 35, was returning home with his wife from the PLOTE camp Tuesday night at Mannar town when two men approached them and opened fire, reports reaching the capital said. More...
Published: Wed May 30 05:25:11 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka to Crack Down on Illicit Gem Miners
Nothern Light, Wednesday, May 30, 2001 12:08 AM EST . COLOMBO,(Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Sri Lanka is to take stern action against those who engage in illicit gem mining, according to a senior official of the national gem and jewelry authority. Regulations will be enforced strictly to raid illicit gem mining and to take legal action against offenders. Illicit gem mining causes immense damage to the environment, forests, wild life, human settlements, irrigation and highways. More...
Published: Wed May 30 05:23:33 EDT 2001 Back to the top

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