The Lanka Academic

VOL. 5, NO. 257

RESEARCH CULTURE IN SRI LANKA How can we stimulate a culture of research and innovation in Sri Lanka today? Countries such as India, Korea and China have come a long way since about 10 years ago in fostering a culture of research and innovation. Sri Lanka is still lagging behind. Here is your chance to change the future course of Sri Lanka by influencing the policy makers. Please complete this survey here.
Headline Summary
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T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
HL:Police track key suspect in fatal shooting of Brampton woman to Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Sat December 18, 2004 18:45 EST . - - TORONTO (CP) Nearly nine months after a 20-year-old woman was shot to death outside her parents' home west of Toronto, an international manhunt stretching halfway around the world to Sri Lanka - is following the trail of the man wanted for first-degree murder. Known to have friends and connections in Montreal, Vancouver, England and Australia, Manickavasagar, also known as Vijay, was tracked to Sri Lanka - in early October.

With the help of the RCMP, investigators in New Delhi are working with Interpol and Sri Lankan police to find the suspect in the island nation off the southern tip of India.

``We believe he's moving from place to place in Sri Lanka - ,'' De Facendis said. ``Sri Lanka - police have been knocking on doors. The word is out that we are looking for him.''

A Canadian citizen, Manickavasagar was 12 when he came to Canada with his family in 1994 and settled in Toronto.

Police say Manickavasagar was affiliated with three Sri Lankan gangs in the Greater Toronto Area.

Five alleged associates of Manickavasagar were arrested in October. Stenwick Hookumchand, 21, and Navaneethan Kunananthan, 24, both of Toronto, were charged with first-degree murder. Police allege the three were at the club the night of the shooting.

(Toronto Star)
Published: Sat Dec 18 21:40:20 EST 2004

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O  T  H  E  R      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E  S
Killing spree continues.
K.S. Rajkumar reporting from Jaffna., December 17. Despite the ceasefire agreement the LTTE continues it's campaign of murder and intimidation of Tamils in the North and East of Sri lanka as well as in the capitol city of Colombo. Within the last two days LTTE had killed three Tamils in the eastern district of batticaloa. Ponnampalam Wijeyakumar, a 28 year old Tamil youth from Kallady was kidnapped by LTTE men on the 13th of December. His beheaded body was found on the 17th. A. Jeyaharan, from the same township was shot by LTTE men who came to his house on a motorbike, dragged him out of the house, and shot and killed him in front of his family. 27 year old Sivaguru Thiyagaraja of Kaluvarnkerny village was shot and killed on the 17th of December, while he was on his way to work. Residents in the area identified the killers as members of the Vanni LTTE's intelligence wing.

Meanwhile in the north, residents of Kodikamam and other Thenmaradchy areas said that LTTE intelligence cadres are roaming in the night carrying swords and knives. Interestingly enough LTTE had spread rumors in the area that SL army's military intelligence unit members are the ones who are roaming the areas in the night with swords. Earlier this year, a Tamil family of three, including the 8 month old baby was brutally chopped and murdered by the LTTE in the same area. Members of the LTTE's political wing are visiting schools and private tuition centers in the north and demanding students to join the LTTE saying that " war is imminent". It is reported that many concerned parents are trying to send their children to Colombo and other areas to prevent them from being "volunteered" for the LTTE baby brigades.
Published: Sat Dec 18 17:27:07 EST 2004 Back to the top

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Tamil Political Culture and International Engagement Were at Stake in the Human Rights Watch Conferences
SLDF, December 17. On 5 December 2004 and 12 December 2004, Human Rights Watch (HRW) held meetings in London and Toronto, respectively, to engage the diaspora Tamil community on the issue of child recruitment by the LTTE in the North and East of Sri Lanka. These discussions were based on HRW’s comprehensive 85-page report titled ‘Living in Fear Child Soldiers and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka’, which has also been fully translated into Tamil. Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF), along with other activists, helped publicize these events within the Tamil community, hoping to create a forum in which expatriate Tamils could critically discuss the findings of the HRW report.

Both events were well attended. Activists reported approximately one hundred participants in London and a fully packed hall of close to three hundred in attendance in Toronto. Such a large turn-out clearly pointed to the desire of the Tamil community to learn more about the child soldier issue in Sri Lanka. However, at both events in London and Toronto, supporters of the LTTE attempted to disrupt the meeting. This was particularly the case at the Toronto meeting, where organized gangs of LTTE supporters did not allow the meeting to start for a considerable length of time and then continued to intimidate others in the audience for the duration of the meeting.

Such a culture of intimidation is not new in the diaspora: SLDF has highlighted threats against the Tamil Broadcasting Corporation in London and Uthayam, a dissenting Tamil newspaper in Australia. In its quest to control the public sphere in the Tamil diaspora, the LTTE has gone one step further and has disrupted a meeting organized by one of the leading international human rights groups. The event in Toronto had as panelists the former Premier of Ontario Bob Rae and Jo Becker, who serves as Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Children’s Rights division. It was chaired by Noah Novogrodsky of the University of Toronto's Law School.

The absence of a Tamil panellist was used by LTTE supporters as a justification for their disruption of the meeting. Jo Becker explained that HRW had tried to find an independent human rights activist to speak on the panel, but many who were approached were afraid to speak in a public meeting in Toronto. If there was any doubt about the level of intimidation in the Sri Lankan Tamil community in Toronto, the events at the Toronto HRW meeting would have laid it to rest. The agenda of the LTTE supporters who demanded a Tamil representative before the meeting could begin was then to put forward their own representative. This follows the logic of the LTTE’s claim of sole-representation. Only the LTTE can speak in any forum within the Tamil community, in Sri Lanka or anywhere else in the world. In the London meeting they questioned the panel because the Tamil speaker was not their representative. In the Toronto meeting the LTTE wanted its own representative once it realized independent Tamil human rights activists were too intimidated to speak.

The LTTE’s intimidation and targeting of perceived critics does not end with the event. The LTTE website Nitharsanam has since attacked veteran journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj. The website claims that Jeyaraj had helped organize the meeting and at the last minute backed out. Both Jeyaraj and HRW have confirmed that neither was Jeyaraj involved in organizing the meeting nor did he agree to speak there. The article then is a vehicle of an insidious campaign through which the LTTE is targeting and slandering Jeyaraj. This is perhaps a reaction to his critical writings. In 1996, ‘Muncharie’ the Tamil newspaper edited by Jeyaraj had to close down, because of threats against advertisers in that paper and shop-owners who sold the paper, which was followed by a death threat campaign against him in 1997. Previously, in 1993, Jeyaraj was brutally beaten by LTTE thugs armed with baseball bats for his dissenting writings. He suffered head injuries and a broken leg. Such targeting by the LTTE-controlled media is of concern as individuals are named, subjected to character assassination and then sometimes physically attacked.

In the face of such repression, attacks on dissent and the imposition of LTTE’s sole representation on the Tamil community, it is important to examine what kind of engagement from the international community would be most useful. Unless the international community is willing to engage all sections of the Tamil public, not just its self-appointed “sole-representatives,” moves to protect human rights or push democratization will be ineffective. Real engagement, which stands a chance of influencing human rights and democratization in the North and East, would mean engaging with the Tamil public both in Lanka and the diaspora. SLDF applauds HRW and Bob Rae for taking engagement seriously and not falling into the trap of appeasement, which has been the modus operandi of a number of international NGOs.

Next, one has to question the political culture that is taking root in the Tamil community. In the North and East, militarization had led to the destruction of democratic spaces, the most horrifying aspect of which is the militarization of a generation of youth through child recruitment. In the diaspora, a political culture of thuggery reproduces and maintains the LTTE’s hold over the diaspora community. It is most unfortunate that with all the opportunities for critical thinking afforded by advanced education many university students are being used as unthinking intimidating thugs for LTTE organizers. Many of these youths, like the LTTE cadres in the North and East, are being trained to not think, much less participate in building a democratic society.

The HRW events in London and Toronto were not only the first major attempts to engage the Tamil public on child soldiers, one of the most pressing issues facing the Tamil community, but they were also among the first successful efforts to create public spaces to talk about human rights and democratization.

The international community, which is so eager to provide funds for development, and so eager to speak to the militarized leadership of the LTTE, should learn to engage the Tamil public as a first step towards accountability, particularly where the spaces of genuine engagement exist. In the absence of security in the North and East for such engagement with the public, and given the political and financial base of the LTTE in the West, engaging the diaspora might be one effective angle. It is only through a democratic political culture of open and critical discussion within the Tamil diaspora that these communities can reflect, and learn to use their influence in Sri Lanka responsibly. And it is such a democratic culture in the diaspora that can support the democratic aspirations of the ordinary people of Lanka, who in the end will determine the democratization of the North and East.
Published: Sat Dec 18 17:15:37 EST 2004 Back to the top

President wants a thorough investigation on anthrax scare at Norwegian Embassy
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, December 18, 2004, 4.59 p.m.. President Chandrika Kumaratunga has instructed police to immediately launch an investigation in connection to the Norwegian Embassy’s anthrax scare... Back to the top

Sri Lanka police arrest suspect in Bollywood concert bomb attack
Associated Press, Sat December 18, 2004 02:38 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A man suspected of involvement in a deadly grenade attack at a controversial Bollywood concert in Sri Lanka - has been arrested, police said Saturday... Back to the top

Japan unhappy with JVP explanation
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, December 18, 2004, 11.45 p.m.. “Japanese Ambassador Akio Suda has expressed dissatisfaction over the recent statement of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in response to USA, Japan and EU expressing their concern about JVP’s obstructive stand in the peace process”, the LTTE Peace Secretariat said today... Back to the top

Word Bank okays loan for e-Sri Lanka project, December 18, 2004, 13:30 EDT. COLOMBO, Dec. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- The World Bank has approved a loan of 53 million US dollars for e-Sri Lanka development project, the official Daily News reported on Saturday. The agreement was signed by World Bank Country Manager Peter Harrold and Secretary to the Sri Lankan Treasury P... Back to the top

Godman hatched conspiracy: Don
TOI, December 17. LUCKNOW: Jailed underworld don Babloo Srivastava on Saturday said he had "enough evidence to prove" godman Chandraswamy's involvement in the "murder conspiracy" of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi... Back to the top

Sri Lanka sign four-year deal with TEN Sports, Sat Dec 18, 2004 09:36 AM GMT. COLOMBO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's cricket board have signed a four-year broadcasting and sponsorship agreement with TEN Sports after four months of contractual negotiations following the awarding of the rights in July... Back to the top

Navy harassing Jaffna fishermen?
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, December 18, 2004, 11.44 p.m.. Jaffna fishermen have expressed fear to engage in fishing in view of the increased vigilance of the SL Navy in the Kakkaitivu seas, LTTE sources claimed... Back to the top

Mysterious disease claims four lives in Sri Lanka
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, December 18, 2004, 4.57 a.m.. A mysterious disease suspected to be a viral infection is currently spreading in several areas of the country... Back to the top

Norway warns Sri Lanka not to rock peace boat :, December 18, 2004, 07:50 EDT. Colombo, Dec 16 : Sri Lanka's peace broker Norway today warned the island's warring parties "not to rock the peace boat" as its emissary failed to secure an agreement on breaking a deadlock in talks to end the ethnic war... Back to the top

No defence pact with Lanka for now, PM assures MDMK, December 17, 2004, 19:25 EDT. Tiruchirapalli, Dec 17 (UNI) The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), an ally of the ruling United Progressive Allaince (UPA) government at the Centre, today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured the party that India will not sign any defence agreement with Sri Lanka for the time being in the interest of Tamils in the island nation... Back to the top

Fears rise for Sri Lanka s peace process as Norway fails to end ..., 17 December 2004 1618 hrs . COLOMBO : A top Norwegian envoy who failed in his latest effort to revive Sri Lanka's peace talks has warned both parties to honour a truce or risk a return to full-scale war, diplomats said... Back to the top

Murali likely to be fit for test series, says Atapattu
Associated Press, Fri December 17, 2004 22:32 EST . - - WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Injured off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is expected to be fit for Sri Lanka - 's two cricket tests in New Zealand next month, captain Marvan Atapattu said... Back to the top

‘No electronic voting soon'
BBC, December 17, 2004. The top authority in Sri Lankan elections said on Friday that Sri Lanka will not introduce an electronic voting system until the relevant changes are made in the elections law... Back to the top

Talking with Tigers
the guardian, Friday December 17, 2004. Come to Elephant Pass to witness a rarity: a place where the contradictions of the "war on terror" have not produced the usual regression... Back to the top

Sri Lanka balance of payments to be improved, XINHUA
Associated Press, Thu December 16, 2004 13:39 EST . COLOMBO, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's Central Bank says the country's balance of payments is expected to improve by the end of this month from its not so happy situation during the recent months. In a statement issued on Wednesday the bank said the balance of payments which recorded a deficit of 245 million US dollars in the first nine months of 2004 is expected to improve significantly by the year end... Back to the top

Sri Lanka ready with electronic voting but needs laws change, XINHUA
Associated Press, Fri December 17, 2004 12:46 EST . - - xfdws SRI-LANKA - -READY sked Sri Lanka - ready with electronic voting but needs laws change, XINHUA ASIA WorldSources, Inc... Back to the top

Millions 'to lose textile jobs'
BBC, December 17, 2004. Millions of the world's poorest textile trade workers will lose their jobs under new trade rules to be introduced in the new year, a charity has warned... Back to the top

Unknown disease spreading in south Sri Lanka kills six, 2004-12-17 23:58:51. COLOMBO, Dec. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Six people having been killed so far by an unknown disease suspected to be a viral infection spreading in south Sri lanka, the Lankapage cited Sri Lankan Epidemiology Unit as saying on Friday. The Unit said that up to the present, the disease suspected of a viral infection has not yet been identified and the cause remained unknown... Back to the top

Japanese woman dies after Cathay flight diverted to Sri Lanka, 17 December 2004 1744 hrs . COLOMBO: A Cathay Pacific flight was diverted to Sri Lanka on Friday to seek emergency medical help for a Japanese woman who was declared dead on arrival in a hospital after suffering a blood clot, officials said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka: ICRC and Sri Lanka Red Cross Society assist flood ..., December 17, 2004. The ICRC and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) have started distributing emergency supplies such as tarpaulins, buckets, cooking pots, clothes and toiletries to people affected by flooding in the north and east of the country... Back to the top

The rise and rise of Balapatabendis
AsianTribune, 2004-12-16. Mr. Harendra Kolitha Balapatabendi, son of Mr. Kusumsiri Balapatabendi, current Chairman of Sri Lanka Airlines Ltd and High Commissioner-designate to Australia, went as migrants in Melbourne, Australia around 1997/1998... Back to the top

200,000 made homeless by floods in eastern, northern Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Fri December 17, 2004 05:14 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) Floods have forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and seek shelter in schools, temples and churches in Sri Lanka's north and east, officials and state-run media said Friday... Back to the top

Important milestone in India-Sri Lanka Naval history, Friday, 17 December 2004. Sri Lanka and India marked an important milestone in the Naval history of the two countries yesterday by completing the first ever joint operation code named Eksath by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Indian Coast Guard... Back to the top

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