The Lanka Academic

VOL. 6, NO. 305


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Military recovers mines, ammunition in northern Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Sun February 5, 2006 04:47 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Sri Lankan military said Sunday it had discovered a cache of anti-personnel mines and ammunition in the ethnic Tamil-majority north, where rebels have been fighting to carve out a separate state.

The weapons cache, including six claymore mines, six detonators, three hand grenades, and ammunition for assault rifles and handguns, was found Saturday night in two villages in northern Jaffna province, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.

``We received information from a civilian that these things were buried in an abandoned field,'' Samarasinghe said.

The find comes amid a souring of relations between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, despite their agreement to attend peace talks on saving a Norwegian-brokered truce. The cease-fire has come under heavy strain in recent months because of rising violence.

The two sides agreed last week to hold talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on a date to be determined. The talks would be the first direct negotiations between the two sides since 2003 and the first for the new administration of President Mahinda Rajapakse.

But on Friday, the rebels said they may reconsider attending the talks, accusing the government of harassing ethnic Tamils.

Violence between the two sides has escalated over the last several months. Attacks blamed on the rebels since December have killed at least 81 government security forces, according to the military.

Also on Saturday, a guerrilla group alleged to be a front organization of the Tamil Tigers warned it would launch attacks on the military and groups opposing the rebels.

The civil war killed about 65,000 people before the 2002 cease-fire. Subsequent peace talks stalled in April 2003 over rebel demands for extensive autonomy in the country's north and east.

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Published: Sun Feb 5 12:42:18 EST 2006

Sri Lankans in the Greater Washington area commemorate the 58th National Day
Sri Lanka Embassy - Washington DC, Feb 5, 2006 . Sri Lankans in the Greater Washington area on Saturday commemorated the 58th National Day, at a colourful ceremony held at the auditorium of the University of the District of Columbia. The event organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, attended by almost a 1000 persons, showcased Sri Lanka at its best – its religious practices, cultural diversity and hopes and aspirations for the future.

The programme included singing of the national anthem, lighting of the traditional oil lamp, reciting of Jayamangala Gatha, reading of the National Day messages of the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, and Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim religious observances. While the venerable monks from the Washington Buddhist Vihara and the Wheaton International Buddhist Center led by the Ven. Maharagama Dharmasiri conducted the Buddhist religious observances. Hindu, Christian and Islamic religious observances were conducted by Mrs. Kanaga Ranganathan, Dr. Greg Fernandopulle and Mr. Nasir Aziz, respectively.

Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke noted “the past year had witnessed possibly the most active support of the US government in Sri Lankan affairs in recent times”. He added that what is significant, “is that this support has not been confined to any particular administration or personality, but has grown out of the mutuality of values upheld, as well as the common interests pursued by the two countries”. The Ambassador said “the Embassy was very conscious that just as much as it was tasked to build and strengthen relations between the U.S. and Sri Lanka in all its facets, it had an equal responsibility to serve the needs of those of Sri Lankan origin living throughout the United States”. In this context, measures had been taken in recent months to streamline the consular work and to manage the assets of the Embassy in a more prudent manner. A conscious effort was also being made to make the Embassy a people friendly institution. A practice of the Embassy conducting commemorative events to celebrate festivals of the four great religions of Sri Lanka -Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, had been begun. A Community Affairs Coordinating Group, which includes representatives from all known Sri Lanka related organisations in the greater Washington area had been constituted, to enable cross fertilization of ideas between the Embassy and the community. The Embassy is also actively supporting the initiatives of all Sri Lankan groups that have sought its assistance to promote Sri Lanka related events. Ambassador Goonetilleke appealed to Sri Lankans living in the U.S. - both as organisations as well as individuals, to play an even more active role in pursuing the interests of Sri Lanka in the U.S. with representatives of the administration, members of the federal and state legislatures, international organisations, NGOs and others of influence, to leverage policy in a manner that better serves the interests of Sri Lanka.

A colourful cultural programme followed the Ambassador address. It included the Sama Ranganaya Ballet and the Hanuma Vannama performed by the Washington based Sri Lanka Ranga Kala Kavaya troupe, the Gajaga Vannama and a Tea Pluckers dance by the New Jersey based National Women’s Dance troupe of Sri Lanka, Kapali Nin Kuranai Nilavu and Dasha Avatharam – two Bharatha Natyam performances by Shantha Parameswaran and Meera Nathan respectively, and “Lets join our hands” - a song composed and sung by Anjalika Silva. The grand finale to the programme was the coming together of the 3 Sri Lankan bands as well as Sri Lankan personalities involved in the western music scene in the Greater Washington area, to sing the song “this land belongs to all of us”, which included Sinhala and Tamil lyrics, composed by the Washington based musicians themselves.

Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, who proposed the vote of thanks, noted “the enthusiastic participation in this event was testimony to the fact that the spirit of ‘Sri Lankanness’ is very much alive in Washington D.C., and that events like these, organized by the Embassy, can play a catalytic role in bringing Sri Lankans together in solidarity”. He urged the event be seen “not as an end, but as a beginning”. “A beginning of a more engaging and sustained relationship between the Embassy and the community, that would help enhance the visibility of Sri Lanka in the U.S. capital”. He also urged for the help of the community “to connect with the large Sri Lankan diaspora, as well as others, who have an interest in Sri Lanka, who live across the United States”. He concluded, “if Sri Lanka’s cause is to be served, and served well, it is imperative that all unite and go forth, with no distractions”. More...
Published: Sun Feb 5 16:33:13 EST 2006 Back to the top

Sri Lanka Tigers rule out mid-Feb peace talks - source, Feb 5, 2006 . COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have rejected government plans for peace talks in Geneva on Feb. 15 because of reported abductions of pro-Tiger aid workers, and want talks in late February instead, a rebel source said on Sunday.

The government said on Friday the talks, seen as vital to stop a rash of violence escalating into a return to a two-decade-old war that has already killed more than 64,000 people, would start in Switzerland on Feb.15 for two days.

"Feb. 15 is completely out," the rebel source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The Tigers are keen to go to Geneva for talks, but the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) abductions have affected the atmosphere." More...

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Published: Sun Feb 5 02:53:39 EST 2006 Back to the top

Government ready for talks with the LTTE on Feb. 15-16
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, February 4th, 2006, 8:30 pm. The government has informed the LTTE that it is ready to resume talks on Feb... Back to the top

Opposition Leader criticized for making anti-peace statements
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, February 4, 2006, 4.49 p.m.. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has come under considerable flak for making negative statements with regard to the resumption of peace talks scheduled to take place this month in Geneva... Back to the top

Lanka peace negotiators to read Indian author s book
com, Sunday, 05 February. Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has asked the government’s peace negotiators to read a book written by an Indian author on Tamil Tiger supremo V Prabhakaran to gain valuable insights ahead of crucial talks with the LTTE in Geneva... Back to the top

For Sri Lanka matchmakers, caste matters
Boston Globe, Feb 5, 2006 . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Every Sunday, newspapers here are filled with classified ads for marriage partners... Back to the top

Sri Lanka celebrates Independence Day amid security fears
Associated Press, Fri February 3, 2006 23:18 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lanka on Saturday began celebrating its independence from Britain, as troops stood guard at intersections throughout the capital, fearing attacks by ethnic rebels fighting for their own independent homeland... Back to the top

Tamil group threatens to attack Sri Lankan security forces; Tigers deny link
Associated Press, Sat February 4, 2006 09:06 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A shadowy guerrilla group warned Saturday it would launch attacks on Sri Lanka - 's military and groups opposing the Tamil Tiger rebels because of a government crackdown on ethnic minority Tamil civilians in the northeast... Back to the top

Sri Lanka pardons prisoners on Independence Day, February 04. None of those arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations (ER) were among the 2042 prisoners who were released on Presidential pardon on Sri Lanka's "Independence Day," Saturday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka housing falling far short of goals, Sat, Feb. 04, 2006. After the tsunami, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies led all donors in Sri Lanka with a pledge to build 15,000 new homes... Back to the top

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