The Lanka Academic

VOL. 5, NO. 258

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.
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Arsonists set fire to Roman Catholic Church in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Sun December 19, 2004 00:01 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Arsonists set fire to a Roman Catholic church near the Sri Lankan capital Sunday, in the second such attack on the church this year, police and a church official said. Buddhists make up 70 percent of Sri Lanka - 's 18.6 million people and Christians 6 percent.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities have made no arrests, but that an investigation was underway.

The attack came ahead of the anniversary of the funeral of Gangodawila Soma, a prominent monk, who campaigned against Christians working to convert Buddhists. Buddhist groups have urged the government to introduce legislation against religious conversions.

Three churches were attacked last January.
Published: Sun Dec 19 02:13:54 EST 2004

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Canada's Tamils must rethink LTTE support
Toroto Star, December 19. NEW YORK—Selvamani, a Tamil girl living in eastern Sri Lanka was only 15 when rebel forces began pressuring her to join them. "First they sent letters, then they began visiting my house," she said. "They told my family, `Each house has to turn over one child. If you don't agree, we will take a child anyway.'"

Not long afterwards, in August, 2002, soldiers from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) abducted Selvamani while she was walking to class. They took her to a military training camp where she learned to use weapons, including landmines and bombs. During training, when she became too weary to continue and asked to rest, the rebels beat her.

Canadian Tamils don't have to worry that their children will one day vanish on the way home from school and end up in a military training camp. But the Tamil community in Canada bears some responsibility for the fate of children like Selvamani. Many of Canada's 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils provide financial and political support for the LTTE, enabling the group to continue its recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The LTTE receives significant funding (often through charitable "fronts") from Sri Lankan Tamils overseas. With the largest Tamil diaspora in the world, Canada is a significant source of such funding. Some experts estimate that Tamils in Canada provide $1 million to $2 million each month to front organizations for the LTTE.

Many Tamil donors may be unaware that their contributions support the recruitment of child soldiers. Although a 2002 ceasefire brought an end to active fighting between the LTTE and the government, the Tigers have continued to recruit thousands of children into their ranks, often by force.

During an investigation earlier this year in eastern Sri Lanka, dozens of children told Human Rights Watch that they had been forced or coerced to join the Tamil Tigers. Like Selvamani, they described rebel soldiers traveling from house to house, threatening Tamil families with violence unless they agreed to provide their sons and daughters for military service. When families refuse, the Tamil Tigers often abduct children from their homes at night, or pick them up from temple festivals or other public places.

Many children are living in fear. Some are too scared to go to school, believing they may be snatched on the way. Others are afraid to leave their homes.

Vanji had already spent several years in the Tamil Tigers and been severely disabled in combat when the Tamil Tigers took her younger brother in July. She went to the local Tamil Tigers camp to beg for his return, saying, ``I gave you years of my life and I gave you my health. Please let me have my brother back.''

Not only did the Tamil Tigers refuse to return her brother, Vanji said, but they also threatened to shoot her if she reported the case. The rebels also told her that she had to rejoin their forces. She asked, ``Is this how they thank me for all the time I gave them? Why are they doing this to me?''

At least 3,500 children have been recruited by the Tamil Tigers since the start of the ceasefire in February, 2002, according to cases documented by UNICEF. The U.N. agency states that this number is only a portion of the true total, as many families may be unable or too afraid to register their case.

International law prohibits the recruitment of children under the age of 18 by non-state armed groups, and their participation in an armed conflict. The recruitment — whether voluntarily or forced — and use of children under the age of 15 is now considered a war crime.

The Tigers deny that they recruit children by force, and instead claim that any children in their forces have joined because of poverty, lack of educational opportunities, or because they are orphaned and have no one to care for them. Although some children do join for these reasons or because they want to fight for an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka, such ``voluntary'' recruitment is also a violation of international law.

Many Tamils in Canada fled the war in Sri Lanka and are now able to raise their families in safety. But they still have a responsibility to the children and families left behind. They should actively question the LTTE on its recruitment of children. They should urge the LTTE to publicly inform families throughout the north and east of its commitment not to recruit children, and to create a high-level task force to resolve outstanding cases of under-age recruitment. Most importantly, the Tamil community should withhold any financial support for the LTTE or organizations providing it with support until UNICEF verifies that all child recruitment and other serious human rights violations have stopped. More...
Published: Sun Dec 19 20:05:43 EST 2004 Back to the top

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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 Back to the top

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Deadly Aim  - Pulse24

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... Back to the top

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... 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

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

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