The Lanka Academic

 
MARCH 10, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 6, NO. 338

JAYANTHA DHANAPALA

Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.
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UNICEF says Sri Lanka 's Tamil Tiger rebels still holding up to 1,358 underage combatants
Associated Press, Fri March 10, 2006 03:46 EST . DILIP GANGULY Associated Press Writer COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels still hold as many as 1,358 child soldiers, despite pledges by the guerrillas to free all underage combatants, the U.N. children's agency said Friday.

The issue of child soldiers has come under renewed focus since Wednesday, when the government went on a publicity blitz by inviting newspapers to photograph two underage combatants who fled from rebel camps and took shelter with the Sri Lankan navy earlier in the week.

Their accounts of being kidnapped and held by the rebels contradicted pledges made by the guerrillas to U.N. agencies that they had stopped recruiting children.

UNICEF said the Tamil Tigers are known to have recruited 5,368 child soldiers since 2002, when the rebels and the government signed a cease-fire agreement brokered by Norway.

Yasmin Haque, a UNICEF official, said the rebels have made several releases of child soldiers, and there also have been many cases of children escaping. But UNICEF's database shows that 1,358 child combatants are still with the rebels, he said.

Haque said the government's media blitz was regretful, with photographs of the two teenagers _ aged 15 and 17 _ printed on the front pages of several newspapers.

The two boys escaped from two different camps in northeastern Trincomalee and eastern Batticaloa, military spokesman Brig. Sudhir Samarasinghe said.

They were flown to Colombo on Wednesday and made to pose for the media. Asked by military officials, the two teenagers displayed their weapons skills, including handling automatic rifles.

A top rebel leader, Seevaratnam Puleedevan, expressed surprise at the case and said they were reviewing the issue of child soldiers again.

``We have freed many such underage people, but it is a difficult job, as they often lie to join our movement, and there are no proper birth certificates to establish their correct ages,'' he said.

The two boys were abducted from their homes in Trincomalee on March 1-2 by the rebels from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the military said in a statement. They fled from the camp on Tuesday and took shelter at a naval camp in Trincomalee that night.

``These escapees have told naval troops that more than 100 children of the same age range are receiving LTTE weapon training,'' the statement said.

Samarasinghe said another teenager who fled from a rebel camp in Batticaloa on March 4 and reported to police in Batticaloa on Tuesday had revealed that ``there are around 70 combatants under training whom he thought were of his age.'' The 15-year-old will be handed over to his parents, Samarasinghe said.

The rebels began fighting in 1983, claiming discrimination against Sri Lanka's 3.2 million ethnic Tamil minority by the 14 million Sinhalese majority.

The 2002 cease-fire halted the fighting, but a recent spike in violence has threatened to plunge the country back into civil war.

Rebel and government negotiators plan to hold a second round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 19-21 in an attempt to salvage the truce.

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Published: Fri Mar 10 08:56:35 EST 2006

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More than 170 children undergoing arms training in two separate LTTE camps in the East  - Munza Mushtaq in Colombo

Colombo to retain Norwegian truce maker
upi.com, March 10. Sri Lanka has said it is against replacing Norway as its truce facilitator.

The Hindu newspaper said Friday Colombo has said there was no change in its position on Norway as the facilitator to the peace process.

"Our position remains unchanged," said Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, media minister and cabinet spokesperson.

"It is up to the various political parties to air their demands," he said, referring to the demand by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a key government ally, that Norway be immediately removed as facilitator.

The Norwegian facilitation is a political issue in the country, as the pro-Sinhala political parties, JVP and Jathika Hela Urumaya, consider Norway to be pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Political parties in Sri Lanka have been discussing the issue for the last five years, particularly in the run-up to elections. It has come up again now because local elections are slated to be held March 30. More...

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Published: Fri Mar 10 08:57:27 EST 2006 Back to the top

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Sri Lanka insists Norway as their peacebroker  - zeenews.com

Sri Lankan poultry farmers campaign to convince consumers to eat chicken amid fear of bird flu
Associated Press, Fri March 10, 2006 04:07 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lankan poultry farmers are putting up posters and airing radio and television programs to persuade reluctant consumers to eat chicken as sales slide amid fears of bird flu, an official said.

Chicken sales in Sri Lanka have dropped by 20 percent since February when bird flu was reported from neighboring India, forcing hundreds of thousands of birds to be slaughtered.

Posters read ``Don't fear consuming chicken and eggs_ 100 percent local produce,'' in the country's three main languages Sinhala, Tamil and English.

``Our chicken products are free from bird flu as Sri Lanka banned imports of chicken meat or live birds nine months ago,'' said D.D. Wanasinghe, head of the Poultry Farmers Association.

The World Health Organization has said there is no risk of contracting bird flu from eating well-cooked chicken.

There have been no known cases of bird flu in the country, according to S.K.R. Amarasekara, the chief of the Animal Production and Health Department.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed or forced the culling of more than 140 million chickens and ducks across Asia since 2003, and has recently spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

According to WHO, 97 people have died, two-thirds of them in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Though health experts say the virus remains difficult for humans to catch, they fear it could mutate and set off a flu pandemic that could kill millions of people worldwide.

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Published: Fri Mar 10 08:58:56 EST 2006 Back to the top


The British Model of Devolution - A Feature
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Sri Lanka backs electronic transactions with legal muscle
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LTTE enforces its own land laws in Sri Lanka
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Muralitharan's 600th wicket brings Sri Lanka to brink of victory in second test
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Military accuses Tamil rebels of truce breach in north Sri Lanka ; civilian shot dead
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Sri Lankan FM Goes to Europe to Salvage Peace Process
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Sri Lanka main opposition calls for genuine power sharing
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Lanka rebels violating ceasefire
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Lankan women demand 30% reservation
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Sri Lanka aims to triple foreign investment into island in 2006
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Sri Lanka army finds weapons during sweep of Tamil area
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Tamil Tigers poll boycott a travesty, says Cushnahan
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Sri Lanka raises investment limits for foreign-owned firm
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Tharanga's maiden century puts Sri Lanka in command in second test against Bangladesh
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EU seeks internationally-run polls in LTTE areas
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