The Lanka Academic

VOL. 6, NO. 289


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T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Sri Lankan court acquits ex-deputy defense minister, two sons of murder, conspiracy
Associated Press, Fri January 20, 2006 02:29 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's High Court on Friday acquitted a former deputy defense minister and his two sons of charges in the slayings of 10 rival political activists in 2001, but sentenced five of their bodyguards to death for the crimes. However, the court convicted five soldiers charged with protecting Ratwatte of the murders and sentenced them Friday to death by hanging. Although Sri Lanka - 's criminal code allows for the death penalty, the sentence has not been carried out in nearly three decades.

The court also gave the soldiers Ranjith Wijeratne, Sunil de Silva, Kamal Wijeratne, Anura Kumara and Buddhi Dissanayake 100 years each in prison with hard labor for attempting to kill five others who escaped the shooting.

All the accused maintained their innocence before the court.

It was not immediately known if the five would exercise their right to appeal the conviction to Sri Lanka - 's Supreme Court.

Ratwatte was arrested on Feb. 20, 2002, after the killings during parliamentary elections in December 2001, of 10 supporters of the Sri Lanka - Muslim Congress, the main ally of the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's governing coalition.

The general's two sons also were arrested and charged with the murders. All three denied any involvement.

Ratwatte, a three-star general, led several military campaigns against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels while he was the de facto defense minister between 1994 and 2001.

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Published: Fri Jan 20 03:21:44 EST 2006

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Ex-minister, his two sons acquitted in Lanka massacre case  -

SRI LANKA: US Promises Aid Against Tigers, january 20. UNITED NATIONS, Jan 20 (IPS) - As the four-year-old ceasefire in Sri Lanka is on the verge of crumbling, the United States has offered to strengthen its military assistance programmes and increase training for government forces if the country's rebel group resumes its separatist war in the northern and eastern provinces.

After meeting with senior officials in Washington last week, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the objective of his trip was to keep Washington abreast of "the current status of the peace talks, where it has got stalled, and the need for it to be resumed as early as possible".

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has been declared a foreign terrorist organisation by the U.S. State Department, has been accused of several recent attacks on Sri Lankan troops even while a Norwegian-monitored ceasefire is on.

The rebel group has been fighting for a separate Tamil nation state in the politically-troubled northern and eastern provinces.

Describing recent LTTE attacks as "provocations of the highest order", Samaraweera told IPS: "These are very serious attacks on the ceasefire agreement, which makes one wonder whether the ceasefire agreement is in place or not."

The LTTE is also accused of attacking the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), which has helped sustain the fragile ceasefire over the last four years.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed concern Monday about "the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka" and deplored the attack on the facilities of the SLMM.

"Escalating violence in the past few months has put a severe strain on the ceasefire that had ushered in a new era of hope in Sri Lanka and brought significant benefits for its people over the past four years. The impact of renewed violence is once again being felt by the civilian population," he said.

Addressing a meeting in Colombo last week, U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead used "blunt language" to warn the LTTE that the cost of return to war will be high.

"If the LTTE chooses to abandon peace, however, we want it to be clear, they will face a stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military," he added. He also said that U.S. military assistance "is not given because we anticipate or hope for a return to hostilities".

The United States has provided an average of about 500,000 dollars to Sri Lanka every year as military grants under the International Military Education and Training Programme (IMET), compared with about 1.4 million dollars annually to neighbouring India.

Washington also upped its military credits under its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme: from 496,000 dollars in 2005 to an estimated one million dollars in 2006, compared with a high of 2.5 million dollars in 2004.

These credits could be used by Sri Lanka to buy either U.S. weapons or counter-terrorism equipment.

Annan said a return to conflict will not resolve outstanding differences between the parties. He strongly urged the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE "to shore up the ceasefire, ensure respect for the human rights of all Sri Lankans, and urgently resume their dialogue under the facilitation of the Norwegian government".

Samaraweera told IPS the LTTE will continue to remain a designated "foreign terrorist organisation" (FTO) in the United States despite intense lobbying by Sri Lankan Tamil expatriate groups to overturn the politically-unpleasant designation.

The U.S. list includes over 40 FTOs -- ranging from Peru's Shining Path and the New People's Army in the Philippines to the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey and the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

A designated FTO may be dropped from the list after a biennial review of its actions, or in the alternative, the designation may be continued. But recent violations of the ceasefire in Sri Lanka make it unlikely that the LTTE will be removed from the list any time soon.

The designation of the LTTE as a FTO means firstly, that it is illegal for anyone in the United States to provide any financial support to these groups; secondly, that U.S. institutions may block funds of FTOs and their agents; and thirdly, FTO representatives could be denied entry visas to the United States.

The continued designation of the LTTE as an FTO puts it pretty much on a tight leash in the United States -- although funds have been transferred either as "charitable contributions" to LTTE-front organisations in Sri Lanka or for post-tsunami reconstruction.

Samaraweera said the United States has been duly warned about both loopholes.

The United States is also sending Nicholas Burns, under-secretary of state for political affairs, to get a first-hand view of the ground situation in Sri Lanka -- particularly in the north and the east.

Asked if the Sri Lankan government will, at some point, draw a line, Samaraweera said: "Absolutely". "As a responsible government, we will remain restrained and patient. We will certainly not fall into the trap of being provoked -- as the LTTE may be hoping we will." But at the same time, he warned, "even patience has its limits".

He said he had told U.S. officials that the LTTE should remain on the list of FTOs as long as they only "pay lip service to a political settlement while doing exactly the opposite". They should continue to be labeled terrorists, which they are, he added.

"But having said that, if they are willing to talk and negotiate, and come to a settlement, then I think at that point in time, the United States could review the status of the LTTE."

"I am not saying that the LTTE should forever remain a terrorist organisation. But the day they change, the world must also change. But until such time, they should be kept on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organisations," he added.

Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka is one of the oldest functioning democracies in Asia, and enjoyed universal voting rights as early as the 1930s.

At a time when the United States is promoting new democracies globally, it is also imperative to nurture existing democracies, and to protect democracies under siege -- as in Sri Lanka, he added. (END/2006) More...

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Published: Fri Jan 20 20:09:26 EST 2006 Back to the top

War fears, tension wreck lives in S.Lanka s east, 20 Jan 2006 . Unnerved by fears that civil war may resume, perhaps within weeks, tension between communities is spiralling in Sri Lanka's northeast and growing numbers are fleeing their homes, aid workers and residents say.

The area, the only truly multi-ethnic part of the island republic, saw horrendous blood-letting in a two-decade civil war which was halted by a 2002 ceasefire.

Now, all-too familiar intercommunal tensions have started to resurface. More...
Published: Fri Jan 20 20:24:47 EST 2006 Back to the top

Tamil rebels confirming top reclusive leader to meet with Norwegian peace envoy
Associated Press, Fri January 20, 2006 04:48 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Top Tamil Tiger rebel leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran will meet with a senior Norwegian peace envoy next week, a rebel official said Friday, a day after Sri Lanka - 's president won support to restart peace talks aimed at avoiding a return to civil war... Back to the top

President wins support of opposition to resume peace talks, as violence continues in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 23:13 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's president has won support from opposition parties to restart peace talks with Tamil rebels, a government spokesman said Friday, a day after a major attack blamed on the guerrillas and a stark warning from truce monitors... Back to the top

EU expresses concern Sri Lanka violence is eroding peace process
Associated Press, Fri January 20, 2006 05:58 EST . - - BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) The EU expressed concern Friday that violence was eroding chances for peace in Sri Lanka - and condemned a recent attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels on offices of European officials monitoring the country's shaky peace process... Back to the top

HL:Internal email shows Tories trying to placate Tamil supporters
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 17:45 EST . Bruce Cheadle OTTAWA (CP) _An internal party email obtained by The Canadian Press indicates the Conservatives moved to placate Tamil voters around Toronto on Thursday after an ill-timed reminder of the party's tough line on the Tamil Tigers organization... Back to the top

Time is running out for the Tamil Tigers in Canada, 2006-01-19. If the coming Canadian election on January 23 confirms the opinion polls that the Conservative Party will win, then the LTTE will be banned and Manickavasagam Suresh, the LTTE fundraiser who should have been expelled ten years ago, will be deported, according to the National Post, a leading paper in Toronto... Back to the top

European cease-fire monitors resume limited operation in Sri Lanka 's port of Trincomalee
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 23:33 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ European cease-fire monitors said Friday they were partly resuming operations in Sri Lanka's port of Trincomalee three days after suspending work there citing security concern, the group's spokeswoman said... Back to the top

Sri Lankan parties for resumption of talks
Hindu, january 20. COLOMBO: An all-party meeting convened by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday evening unanimously decided that steps should be taken to resume "immediate talks" between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)... Back to the top

Two mine blasts kill four, injure 25 in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 06:57 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS Associated Press Writer COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels exploded anti-personnel mines twice in eastern Sri Lanka on Thursday, killing four people and injuring 25 others, the Defense Ministry said... Back to the top

Students, Parents frustrated with LTTE's attempts to close Jaffna University.
K.S. Rajkumar reporting from Jaffna, January 20. Thousands of students of the University of Jaffna are reportedly angry over LTTE's moves to close down the University... Back to the top

LTTE readying for war against govt
Dawn, January 19, 2006 - 12:09. The time is 7.30 pm. It is an evening with a cup of tea and the television... Back to the top

Norwegian peace meditator downplays hopes before Sri Lanka visit
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 06:35 EST . OSLO, Norway (AP) Norwegian aid minister and Sri Lanka - peace mediator Erik Solheim downplayed hopes of a breakthrough when he visits the island next week in ending separatist violence threatening to plunge the country back into civil war... Back to the top

Accept devolution , US tells LTTE, January 19, 2006 - 08:05. Colombo: The US has made it clear to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas that the only way to end the ethnic conflict is to accept devolution of power in the island nation... Back to the top

Sri Lankan president takes first significant step to resume peace talks with Tamil rebels
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 02:59 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Sri Lankan president was to plead with opposition parties Thursday to support a resumption of peace talks with the Tamil rebels, officials said, as the country slides closer to civil war amid spiraling violence... Back to the top

Charity match didn t help Sri Lanka, bowler claims, January 19, 2006 - 12:09. SRI LANKAN bowler Muttiah Muralitharan has accused the charity organisation World Vision of failing to pass on more than $14 million in donations raised at last year's tsunami match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground... Back to the top

Sri Lanka awaits positive outcome about peace efforts, January 19, 2006 - 12:09. COLOMBO, Jan. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- The Sri Lankan government said that it awaits a positive outcome from the forthcoming peace moves with the Tamil Tiger rebels. Nimal Siripala De Silva, minister of health and government spokesman, said "the government will have a positive approach" about a scheduled visit next week by Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim... Back to the top

Parliament extends state of emergency as violence continues in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 03:47 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Sri Lankan Parliament on Thursday extended a state of emergency as continuing separatist violence threatens to plunge the ethnically-riven tropical island back into civil war... Back to the top

Lanka welcomes Balasingham s visit to Wanni to break deadlock, January 19, 2006 - 08:05. Colombo: The Lankan government today welcomed the coming visit by LTTE's London-based chief negotiator and political advisor Anton Balasingham to Wanni, as a positive move to break the prolonged deadlock between the parties and to advance the Norwegian-brokered peace process... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to stick to one China policy : spokesman, January 19, 2006 - 12:09. COLOMBO, Jan... Back to the top

Sri Lanka aims to raise US$100 mln by selling bonds to citizens ..., January 19, 2006 - 08:05. The Sri Lankan government aims to raise 100 million US dollars by selling three-year bonds to nonresident Sri Lankan next month, local media said Thursday... Back to the top

Suspected Tamil rebels attack air force vehicle, checkpoint in Trincomalee
Associated Press, Thu January 19, 2006 00:14 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil rebels attacked a vehicle carrying Sri Lankan airmen and threw a hand grenade at a police foot patrol in separate attacks, wounding two security officers and two civilians, the Defense Ministry and police said Thursday... Back to the top

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