The Lanka Academic

MARCH 15, 2006 EST, USA
VOL. 6, NO. 343


Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.

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Peace broker Norway to meet Tamil Tiger rebels on Sri Lanka's peace bid
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, March 15th, 2006, 9:30 pm. A top Norwegian diplomat will meet Tamil Tiger rebel leaders on Thursday to try and ease escalating tensions with the Sri Lanka government that has cast doubts about next month's peace talks.

Hans Brattskar, Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka and a key player in the Norwegian-brokered peace process, was expected to fly by helicopter to the northern rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, officials said.

While there, he'll hold talks with a rebel team led by S. P. Thamilselvan, the Tigers' political chief. Norwegian Embassy spokeswoman Tom Knappskog confirmed the meeting, but gave no details.

The meeting was initiated by the Tigers, who are expected to formally register their protest about alleged attacks on its members in areas under rebel control in the island's volatile east.

The Tigers accuse the army of colluding with paramilitary forces to launch the attacks, a charge the military denies.

At talks in Switzerland last month _ aimed at saving a rapidly fraying cease-fire between the government and the rebels _ both parties agreed to halt a spike of violence that had killed nearly 200 people, mostly security forces.

Since the Feb. 22-23 talks, violence had dipped significantly but sporadic attacks continue.

On Monday, the Tigers' chief negotiator Anton Balasingham warned that the April 19-21 talks were at risk, if the government "refuses to disarm paramilitary organizations and continues allowing them to launch offensive military operations."

The military denied any involvement and accused the guerrillas of reneging on promises made in Geneva to stop recruiting children into its ranks.

The United Nations childrens' agency last week accused the rebels of still holding as many as 1,358 children, despite repeated pledges to free all underage recruits.

Brattskar was scheduled to meet UNICEF representative based in Kilinochchi to discuss the issue, officials involved in the peace process said.

He will also meet with European truce monitors, who have already warned that a recurrence of violence can put next month's talks between the parties at risk.

Thursday's meeting also takes place two days after the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch slammed the rebels for extorting millions from Tamils living outside Sri Lanka by using threats, intimidation and violence.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had been fighting since 1983 to carve out a separate state for the island's minority Tamils, claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.

Nearly 65,000 people were killed before Norway brokered a cease-fire in Feb. 2002. Talks to save the truce from collapse, began last month amid a spate of violence that had pushed the island to the edge of war. The meeting was the first between the parties since peace talks broke-down three years ago.

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Published: Wed Mar 15 13:42:03 EST 2006

Landmark deal sealed, work on Sri Lanka's first ever coal plant set to begin shortly
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, March 15, 2006, 11.28 p.m.. In what appeared to be a landmark move, an agreement to construct the highly controversial Norochcholai coal power plant was sealed today morning.

The signing ceremony took place at 10 00 a.m. today at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo in the presence of President Mahinda Rajapakse and State Councilor of the Chinese Government Tang Jiaxuan. The sealing of the agreement also means the end to almost a decade long stiff opposition by certain groups including oil lobbies and the Bishop of Chilaw Rev. Frank Marcus Fernando, who has been vociferous against the coal power plant being constructed in Norochcholai on reported 'environment concerns'.

The plant is expected to cost US $ 455 million, and construction is set to begin within the next few months. The plant will be built by a Chinese Government owned company namely the China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation. The plant will be constructed at three separate stages of 300 MW each, and the first stage is expected to be completed by 2010.

The Government also hopes to generate at Rs. 5 per unit from the coal power plant once construction is completed. At present it cost an average Rs. 12 to generate electricity from oil based power plants.

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Published: Wed Mar 15 12:35:52 EST 2006 Back to the top

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China to give $450 million for Lanka coal plant  -

Tamil Tigers Extorting Diaspora Sri Lankan Families and Businesses in Canada, U.K. Threatened
Human Rights Watch (USA), March 15. (New York, March 15, 2006) – The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) subject Sri Lankan Tamils living in Canada, the United Kingdom and other Western countries to intimidation, extortion and even violence to ensure a steady flow of funds for operations in Sri Lanka and to suppress criticism of human rights abuses, said Human Rights Watch in a new report released today.

The 45-page report, “Funding the ‘Final War’: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora,” details how representatives of the LTTE and pro-LTTE groups use unlawful pressure among Tamil communities in the West to secure financial pledges. People were told that if they did not pay the requested sum, they would not be able to return to Sri Lanka to visit family members. Others were warned that they would be “dealt with” or “taught a lesson.” One Toronto business owner said that after he refused to pay more than C$20,000, Tamil Tiger representatives made threats against his wife and children.

“The Tamil Tigers are exporting the terrors of war to Tamils living in the West,” said Jo Becker, author of the report. “Many members of the diaspora actively support the Tamil Tigers. But the culture of fear is so strong that even Tamils who don’t support them still feel they have no choice but to give money.”

Almost one-quarter of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population fled the country during the 19 years of active warfare between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government, creating a Tamil diaspora of between 600,000 and 800,000 worldwide. Nearly half of these people reside in Canada and the United Kingdom; other Western countries with a significant Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora include Germany, Switzerland, France and Australia. Many of these people or their relatives suffered human rights violations at the hands of the Sinhala-dominated Sri Lankan government and openly support the LTTE.

In late 2005, the Tamil Tigers launched an aggressive and systematic fundraising drive in Canada and parts of Europe to pressure individuals and business owners in the Tamil diaspora to give money for what they called the “final war” between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government. The fundraising campaign coincided with an escalation of LTTE attacks against Sri Lankan forces that threatened Sri Lanka’s four-year-old ceasefire.

In Toronto, home to the majority of Canadian Tamils, LTTE representatives typically press families for C$2,500 to C$5,000, while some businesses have been asked for up to C$100,000. In London, many families are asked for £2,000 and businesses are approached for amounts ranging from £10,000 to £100,000. Tamils in Norway and France report being approached for similar amounts.

Tamils unable to pay say they have been told by LTTE fundraisers to borrow the money, make a contribution by credit card, or even re-mortgage their homes. One individual who was unemployed when approached by the Tigers was told that he should cut out one meal per day to enable him to give to the LTTE.

The Tamil Tigers have long sought control over Sri Lankan Tamil institutions in Western countries, including the Tamil media, civic organizations, and Hindu temples. In 2005, the LTTE detained two U.K. Tamils for several weeks in Sri Lanka until they agreed to hand over control of a London temple to a group aligned with the LTTE.

Journalists and activists in the Tamil diaspora who openly criticize the Tamil Tigers or are perceived to be anti-LTTE have been subjected to severe beatings, death threats, smear campaigns, and fabricated criminal charges by the Tamil Tigers or groups aligned with them.

“Sri Lankan Tamils living in the West fear that if they speak out about Tamil Tiger abuses, they may put themselves and their families at risk,” said Becker. “Despite the diaspora’s size and potential influence on LTTE practices, the Tamil Tigers’ threats, intimidation, and even violence have effectively stifled dissent.”

The Tamil Tigers also identify Tamils from the West who return to Sri Lanka to visit family members, and systematically pressure them for funds when they arrive in LTTE-controlled territory in the north of Sri Lanka. The assessed “rate” is often $1, £1, or €1 per day for the length of time they have lived in the West. Individuals who have lived abroad for years may be asked for thousands of dollars and told they may not leave until they produce the requested amount. In some cases, the LTTE confiscates their passports until the money is paid.

Many Tamils living in Canada or Europe fear for the safety of family members still living in Sri Lanka in areas under LTTE-control. Since the beginning of the ceasefire in 2002, more than 200 people, mostly Tamils, have been killed in Sri Lanka, apparently for political reasons. Most of the killings were attributed to the Tigers. (See “Political Killings Escalate,” Human Rights Watch urged government authorities in Canada and the United Kingdom to take stronger steps to protect members of the Tamil diaspora from violence, intimidation and extortion. The report recommends: the creation of an interagency taskforce to investigate intimidation and extortion linked to the Tamil Tigers; public education campaigns in the Tamil community to publicize relevant laws and available avenues of complaint; the establishment of special hotlines for victims of intimidation or extortion; and meetings with the Tamil community to discuss concerns related to LTTE activities.

“This is not just a matter of responding to isolated criminal acts, but also of protecting an entire community’s right to live without fear,” said Becker. “In a multicultural society, a government cannot treat this simply as a Tamil problem. This is a Canadian problem and a British problem.”

The Tamil Tigers did not respond to written queries from Human Rights Watch regarding its fundraising activity in Western countries.

Selected testimonies from “Funding the ‘Final War’: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora”:

“Over the last decade-and-a-half, there have been many incidents like this, mainly against people who attempt to put any ideas against the LTTE or criticism against the LTTE... so periodically, there are these attacks to keep the community quiet.”

- V. Loganathan, a German Tamil who was physically assaulted in November 2005 after organizing a memorial service for an LTTE critic killed in northern Sri Lanka

“I used to openly say how I feel, but now am very careful. People who are open get targeted, so their work is very short. You start something, you want to work for human rights, you want to make changes, but the space is very limited.” - Tamil activist in Toronto, Canada

“My brother’s children are in the Vanni [LTTE-controlled territory in the north of Sri Lanka]. The LTTE is collecting money here and using the money to train children to fight and die with the [Tiger] army. The people who collect the money here are living a very good life and drive a nice car. They don’t seem to care that it is the children there who are forced to fight and die.”

- Toronto woman pressured to pay a monthly pledge to the LTTE

“They asked for £2,000. They said, ‘If you contribute here, you can go to Sri Lanka and visit your family. We will give you a PIN number. That number will allow you to move freely in Jaffna. Otherwise, you will have problems. If you don’t pay here, you will pay double or triple when you go to Sri Lanka.’”

- London Tamil, approached by LTTE representatives in August 2005 Full Release at the HRW site

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Published: Tue Mar 14 20:23:47 EST 2006 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Threats, intimidation routine as Tamils pressured to fund Tigers: report  - National Post
Tamil Tigers on fundraising drive to finance renewed civil war  - National Post
Fundraisers Ask Toronto Tamils to Finance Civil War in Sri Lanka  - Toronto Radio

LTTE deny extortion claims
BBC, March 15. The Tamil Tiger rebels have denied the accusations that they exert pressure on Tamil Diaspora to collect funds for the “final phase” of the war against the Sri Lankan government... Back to the top

Britain urged to protect Tamil Diaspora
BBC, March 15. Tamil Tiger representatives in the UK “threatened and blackmailed” the Tamil Diaspora demanding large sums of money, according to Tamil activists... Back to the top

Ottawa urged to probe Tamil threats
Toronto Star, March 16. The Canadian government should investigate claims of extortion and intimidation within Toronto's Tamil community, a Human Rights Watch report released today says... Back to the top

Sri Lankan children protest against abductions
Associated Press, Wed March 15, 2006 03:11 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Hundreds of children left their classes in parts of eastern Sri Lanka - on Wednesday to protest the abductions of three teenagers blamed by the military on Tamil Tiger rebels, police said... Back to the top

Tamil Tigers feeding off Toronto kinsmen, rights group says
Globe and Mail, March 15. Tamil families in Toronto are faced with extortion from Tamil Tigers of up to $10,000 apiece, and Tamil entrepreneurs up to $100,000 each, according to a new report released by Human Rights Watch... Back to the top

Sri Lanka 's Tamil Tiger rebels intimidate immigrants for funds, human rights group says
Associated Press, Wed March 15, 2006 09:47 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels are extorting money from ethnic Tamils who fled Sri Lanka - during the island nation's 19-year civil war, as they seek new ways to fund their rebellion, a human rights group said Wednesday... Back to the top

China, Sri Lanka sgin economic agreements, March 15, 2006, - 11:40 EDT. COLOMBO, March 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Visiting Chinese delegation and Sri Lankan government Wednesday sgined three agreements to support Sri Lanka's economic development... Back to the top

Sri Lanka s balance of payments records US$100 mn surplus, March 15. ri Lanka's balance of payments (BOP) has recorded a US$100 million surplus for the two-months to February, the Central Bank said Wednesday as it stayed pat on interest rates for the third straight month... Back to the top

Rajapakse may get minority parties’ support, March 15. COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is likely to win the support of key minority parties representing Muslims and Plantation Tamils in his peace efforts... Back to the top

British science fiction guru, Arthur C Clarke, opposes Sri Lanka ..., March 15, 2006, - 11:40 EDT. Mar. 14 (AFP) - British science fiction guru, Arthur C Clarke, who has made Sri Lanka his adopted home, has opposed the island’s move to put the clocks back by 30 minutes and revert to its original time next month. President Mahinda Rajapakse this month ordered that Sri Lanka reverts to its original standard time on April 13, which was five and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which the country maintained till May 1996... Back to the top

Grant aid to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, March 15, 2006, - 11:40 EDT. Mr. Chiba: The Government of Japan decided to extend grant aid of up to 9.89 million yen (approximately US$85,000) to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for assistance to a Japanese NGO in Sri Lanka... Back to the top

Sri Lanka gov t ally not to rock boat despite differences, March 15. The main ally of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday that it will not upset the Rajapakse administration despite a decision to contest this month's local election independently... Back to the top

Sri Lankan ministers eat chicken in bid to boost flagging poultry sales
Associated Press, Wed March 15, 2006 06:38 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's top government officials made a show of eating chicken on Wednesday hoping to counter fears of bird flu that have sent poultry sales plummeting by around 20 percent on the South Asian island... Back to the top

UNP politico gifts land to Kadirgamar murder suspect
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, March 14, 2006, 2.55 p.m.. Investigations have revealed that a top United National Party Colombo Central Politico who is at the centre of a recent commotion in the party had arranged to provide a block of state owned land in Colombo to the suspect who allegedly facilitated the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, the Weekend Standard newspaper has reported... Back to the top

Suspected Tamil Tigers abduct four people, including three teenagers in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Tue March 14, 2006 02:00 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in eastern Sri Lanka - abducted four people, including three teenagers, the military said Tuesday, amid warnings by the guerillas that crucial peace talks in Geneva next month could fail... Back to the top

Sri Lanka amid war
United Press International, March 14, 2006, 18:40 EDT. Sri Lanka amid war By DAVID PATRICK LUNDQUIST UPI Correspondent WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- Development efforts in Sri Lanka continue to suffer from a litany of complications, chiefly due to civil war between ethnic groups... Back to the top

Clarke asks Sri Lanka not to change standard time, March 14,2006. British science fiction guru Arthur C Clarke today asked Sri Lanka not to change the standard time after a 10-year experiment on daylight saving and asked India to put the clock forward and join Colombo in a common time zone... Back to the top

Lankan Foreign Minister expresses optimism of talks with LTTE, March 14,2006. Sri Lankan foreign ministry in a statement in Colombo today said, "it was optimistic about reaching an agreement on a "wider range of issues" with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at the next month's talks despite the rebels' warning that the negotiations were in "grave danger" amid the alleged military-backed attacks on their posts... Back to the top

Chinese State Councilor Arrives in Sri Lanka, March 14, 2006, 18:55 EDT. Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan arrived in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka, Tuesday evening for an official visit to the Indian Ocean island country... Back to the top

Tigers take flak over child soldiers, doubts over Swiss talks+
Associated Press, Tue March 14, 2006 03:45 EST . - - COLOMBO, March 14 (Kyodo) Sri Lanka - 's Tamil Tiger rebels came under renewed attack Tuesday over continued recruiting of child soldiers as the guerrillas raised doubts over their participation in future peace talks... Back to the top

Why Tigers are stalking Sri Lanka s Muslim community, 14 March 2006. WITH the US' war on terrorism being largely perceived as a campaign against extremist Muslim groups professing a violent ideology, is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam trying to win over the Americans by blowing up a case for jihadi groups in Sri Lanka? Back to the top

Tigers recruiting more child soldiers, Sri Lanka says, 14 March 2006 . Sri Lanka on Tuesday accused Tamil Tiger rebels of conscripting more child soldiers despite pledges to end the internationally-condemned practice of enlisting underage combatants... Back to the top

Four Banks Partner with IFC to Support SMEs in Sri Lanka
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, March 14, 2006, 8.32 p.m.. A new partnership forged between four leading Sri Lankan banks and the International Finance Corporation [IFC], the private sector arm of the World Bank Group aims at increasing access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises [SMEs] and, contributing to the development of this vital sector in Sri Lanka... Back to the top

Pakistan walk out of practices over venue dispute in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Tue March 14, 2006 01:00 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Pakistan's cricket team touring Sri Lanka - walked out of practice Tuesday morning after they were asked to share the venue with a group playing softball cricket... Back to the top

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