The Lanka Academic

JUNE 23, 2006 EST, USA
VOL. 7, NO. 78


Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.

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Headline Summary
F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
LTTE demand regrettable, says Solheim, Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 . COLOMBO: The Norwegian Minister for International Development, Erik Solheim, on Friday said the demand by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to replace ceasefire monitors from the E.U. countries as "deeply regrettable" and one that would "weaken" the monitoring of the four-year old truce accord.

"The LTTE's demand that Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission monitors from E.U. countries be replaced is deeply regrettable and will weaken the SLMM in a critical period," a Norwegian statement quoted Mr. Solheim as saying. Mr. Solheim is involved in the Sri Lankan peace process since the late 1990s when Norwegian facilitation commenced.

Replies received

The LTTE's insistence on the removal of ceasefire monitors from the E.U. came in its reply to five questions posed by the Norwegian Government to the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE after the Tigers refused to hold talks with Colombo in Oslo on the role to be played by the SLMM.

Oslo said it had received answers from both sides. "The Government of Sri Lanka has responded affirmatively to all five questions."

The questions related to the commitment of the two parties to the ceasefire agreement (CFA), view on the composition of the SLMM and the procedure for a transition plan in case of changes in the membership of the truce monitoring team. More... Discuss this story
Published: Fri Jun 23 18:33:59 EDT 2006

Terror In Sri Lanka, June 23, 2006 - 15:35 EDT. Nearly one-hundred people have died in renewed violence in Sri Lanka in recent days. At least sixty civilians, including fifteen children, were killed in a bomb attack on a crowded bus in Kabithigollewa. Over seventy others were wounded.

In a written statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "This vicious attack bears all the hallmarks of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. It is a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement that the Tamil Tigers claim to uphold."

The attack followed the collapse of peace talks in Norway, where Tamil Tiger representatives refused to meet with Sri Lankan government officials.

More... Discuss this story
Published: Fri Jun 23 15:35:43 EDT 2006 Back to the top

Sri Lanka-Tiger Base
Associated Press, Fri June 23, 2006 14:37 EDT . EDITOR'S NOTE: AP Correspondent Matthew Rosenberg is reporting from inside the rebel-held zone of Sri Lanka - . AT A TAMIL TIGER REBEL BASE, Sri Lanka - (AP) Past the paved road lined by minefields, down a sandy track hemmed in by coconut palms and thatch huts, the gate appears, a metal boom bookended by bunkers made of logs and sandbags.

It's not visible until you're on top of it, and the tiger-striped camouflage of the lone sentry is the only sign this is a base of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

``The people who need to know our soldiers, the villagers who aid us they know we are here,'' said Muttiah Jayanthy, 33, one of the base's top officers. ``If there is war, the government will feel our presence.''

A surge in violence has left Sri Lanka - dangerously close to resuming a war best known for its suicide bombings a vicious conflict that for 18 years pitted rebels from the Hindu Tamil minority against the government dominated by the Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

The Tigers agreed to let The Associated Press make a rare visit to a front-line rebel base on the condition that its location not be revealed. The trip was tightly controlled, and only a dozen of the 2,000 fighters said to operate out the base were made available to speak. But it provided a rare snapshot of how the Tigers think and what they are preparing for.

In interview after interview this week, the fighters talked of their readiness to die for a Tamil homeland. One said she had volunteered to become a suicide bomber, known as a Black Tiger; another admitted she was once a child soldier.

Much of what they said was stock rhetoric, with repeated references to ``historic responsibility'' and ``occupation forces.'' How much they had been ordered to say, how much came from indoctrination and how much was heartfelt was hard to judge.

But none showed doubts.

``Only by war can we get our homeland back, our identity, our dignity,'' Jayanthy said.

Using a Tamil homeland as an inspiration along with a feared intelligence network the Tigers have shaped a cult-like force whose fighters carry cyanide to swallow if they are captured, an agonizing death that hundreds have chosen.

Only the top commanders are given ranks; soldiers must wait until death.

``It is a final judgment on how we lived and fought,'' Jayanthy said.

The rebels' secretive chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is reverently referred to as ``The Leader.'' He's rarely seen by outsiders, although pictures of the chubby commander are omnipresent in Tiger territory.

The Tigers will not say how large their force is, but they are estimated to have 5,000 to 7,000 fighters, and as many as half are believed to be children pressed into service. Backed by artillery and small naval gunboats, the rebels have waged guerrilla campaigns and have bested Sri Lanka - 's 66,000-strong army in conventional battles.

Their battlefield discipline is matched by a puritanical streak tobacco and alcohol are banned, and they must wait until their mid-20s to marry, even then only with their commander's permission.

The Tigers have turned a half-century of discrimination against Sri Lanka - 's 3.2 million Tamils into a well-developed narrative of oppression. Nearly all can rattle off the offenses the adoption of Sinhala as the sole national language in 1956; decades of anti-Tamil riots; and the 1981 burning of the Jaffna library that destroyed ancient Tamil manuscripts and modern archives.

Discrimination prompted the Tigers to take up arms in 1983. The resulting war on this tropical island of 19 million people nearly three-quarters of them Sinhalese left more than 65,000 people dead before the 2002 cease-fire.

By then, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as the rebels are officially known, had eliminated most competing Tamil militant groups and carved out wide swaths of the north and east where they've created a functioning country.

These days in ``Tamil Eelam,'' as the Tigers call the homeland they claim, there are schools, tax collectors and sports associations.

So why go back to war?

``Until all of Tamil Eelam is liberated, we have only war,'' said Kumaran Sivapathasundram, a 26-year-old fighter, explaining that many predominantly Tamil areas are still government-controlled, including the capital of an ancient Tamil kingdom, the city of Jaffna.

At the base really just a few cement buildings inside a perimeter of bunkers disguised as thatch shacks, with swaying palms masking it all capturing territory was the major topic.

One fighter said more suicide bombings were needed and she'd already volunteered.

``I would like to be a Black Tiger,'' 26-year-old Priya Selvachandran said with a smile. ``Because as a Back Tiger I can kill more soldiers.''

Female suicide bombers are not uncommon. Last month, a woman disguised to look pregnant tried to kill Sri Lanka - 's top general, who was wounded in the blast that killed eight.

Selvachandran scoffed at the suggestion that such bombings, along with the Tigers' murderous suppression of dissent, had alienated many Tamils.

``It our responsibility to protect all Tamils from oppression, and we are supported in our efforts,'' she said. ``They understand our methods.''

The Tigers know some of their methods are unpopular, particularly their use of child soldiers.

At the base, every fighter said they volunteered at age 18.

But all also fit a pattern they were the only members of their families fighting, common in the Tamil heartland where human rights groups say the Tigers demand one child from every family.

One fighter also tacitly acknowledged having joined as a child: 23-year-old Thiyagarash Piruthivu said she had been fighting since 1998, but insisted she was 18 then.

She told how that year when she would have been 15 she sneaked across the front lines and found a rebel base. Pressed for details, she could offer none.

No matter how she joined, she now sounds like a believer.

Showing off her cyanide capsule a 2 1/2-inch glass tube filled with powder she declared: ``I will never be caught. I will live in Tamil Eelam or I will die.'' Discuss this story
Published: Fri Jun 23 15:31:50 EDT 2006 Back to the top

Related News Stories
AP Blog: Sri Lankans Beginning to Worry  - Associated Press

Sonic boom of Sri Lankan fighter jets causes panic, no sea explosion
Associated Press, Fri June 23, 2006 02:30 EDT . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The sound of sonic booms caused by fighter jets roaring overhead were confused Friday with explosions off the coast of Colombo, causing panic in villages along the coast, officials said... Back to the top

End killings of innocent Tamils, India tells Lanka
com, June 22nd, 2006. New Delhi - India Thursday politely but firmly told Sri Lanka to end the killings of innocent Tamils while combating the Tamil Tigers and pressed Colombo to speed up plans to devolve powers to the country’s minorities... Back to the top

Uniting Sri Lanka’s divided children, June 23, 2006 - 15:27 EDT. The Butterfly Peace Garden in the coastal town of Batticaloa brings together Muslim and Hindu Tamil children in an attempt to unite the divided community... Back to the top

FO issues Sri Lanka travel warning: British tourists are being advised to to avoid the north and east., 24/06/2006. British holidaymakers were this week warned to avoid the north and east of Sri Lanka following an escalation of violence between Tamil rebels and government forces... Back to the top

Lankan Govt and LTTE should evolve devolution package: PM, June 22. New Delhi, June 22. (PTI): Emphasising the need to strengthen the ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and LTTE, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the two sides should work towards a devolution package that could command a consensus among major political parties and restore ethnic harmony... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Invites M sian Investors To Invest In High-Sea Fishing, June 23, 2006 - 15:42 EDT. KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 (Bernama ) -- Sri Lanka invites Malaysian investors to invest in high-sea fishing, aquaculture and port development, the first Sri Lanka-Malaysia Joint Commission Meeting in Colombo was told Friday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka s overseas Tamils fill rebel Tiger coffers, June 23, 2006 - 15:21 EDT. LONDON (Reuters) - It's thanks to Sri Lanka's overseas Tamils -- people like engineer S... Back to the top

Two Tamils killed in latest Sri Lanka violence
Associated Press, Thu June 22, 2006 22:48 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Unidentified gunmen abducted two Tamil men and later fatally shot them in eastern Sri Lanka - , police and a pro-Tamil Tiger rebel Web site said Friday... Back to the top

Who is to blame to wreck peace talks, Sri Lanka or TTs?
com, 23 june. The head monk of a Buddhist temple has contradicted a Sri Lankan government report that the Tamil Tigers attacked his temple as per BBC... Back to the top

Malaysia, Sri Lanka ink deal to build Colombo-Kandy highway, June 23, 2006 - 15:27 EDT. June 23, 2006 (LBO) - Malaysia will build Sri Lanka's Colombo-Kandy Highway, with an agreement for a feasibility study signed by the two sides this week, the government said Friday... Back to the top

Tamil Tigers want EU truce monitors out in four weeks
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, June 22nd, 2006, 2:00 pm. The Tamil Tiger rebels have given Norwegian peace brokers four week to exclude truce monitors from European Union countries, a move that the Sri Lankan government on Thursday, called "unreasonable... Back to the top

Allrounder Lokuarachchi to replace Muralitharan in England
Associated Press, Fri June 23, 2006 10:57 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Allrounder Kaushal Lokuarachchi will join Sri Lanka - 's cricket team in England after star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan pulled out because of a family commitment, the cricket board said Friday... Back to the top

Former Sri Lanka rebels recruit child soldiers - UN, 22 Jun 2006. A group of former Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas -- who the mainstream rebels say are backed by the government -- are abducting and recruiting children as soldiers, the United Nations childrens fund said on Thursday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka conflicted over LTTE demands, June 23, 2006 - 12:40 EDT. COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s government gave off mixed signals as a media minister denied ever discussing LTTE’s demands while a government spokesman vehemently rejected them... Back to the top

Lankan foreign minister meets India PM, June 23, 2006 - 15:27 EDT. Visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here late Thursday... Back to the top

In northern Sri Lanka , a once-vibrant Tamil city prepares for war
Associated Press, Thu June 22, 2006 15:17 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - JAFFNA, Sri Lanka - (AP) Judging by the scenes in the Tamil heartland the tanks, the armored personnel carriers, the soldiers digging bunkers this is a place preparing for battle... Back to the top

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