The Lanka Academic

JULY 2, 2006 EST, USA
VOL. 7, NO. 87


Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.

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Saran to hold talks in Sri Lanka
Hindu, July 3. COLOMBO: Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran is expected to be here in the next few days for consultations with the Mahinda Rajapakse Government on the latest situation in the country in the face of an undeclared war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lanka military.

Both sides are tight-lipped about the impending visit and it appears to be a conscious decision. "We want to avoid premature and unnecessary publicity given the sensitive issues involved," a senior Sri Lankan Government official privy to the visit told The Hindu .

New Delhi is concerned about the surge in violence and targeted assassinations of high-profile figures in the Sri Lanka establishment. The countries are in close touch on the developments and measures required to ensure that the tensions do not escalate.

The Rajapakse Government has time and again talked about the need for a greater role to India in assisting Colombo to tackle the threat posed by the Tigers as well in its endeavour towards resolving the ethnic conflict. However, for a variety of reasons, the Sri Lankan Government has been shy of spelling out the exact nature of the role it desires from India. More... Discuss this story
Published: Sun Jul 2 15:29:30 EDT 2006

Local journalist fatally shot outside Sri Lankan capital, says media rights group.
Associated Press, Sun July 2, 2006 03:07 EDT . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A local freelance journalist who wrote mostly on defense matters was shot and killed on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital on Sunday, a media rights group said.

The body of Sampath Lakmal was found in Dehiwala, a suburb 10 kilometers (six miles) south of Colombo, the capital, said Sunanda Deshapriya of Free Media Movement.

Lakmal left his home after receiving two telephone calls early Sunday, his family said. Police later found his body.

Lakmal wrote in some local newspapers and also worked for a radio station, mainly covering Sri Lanka - 's separatist conflict involving the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, Deshapriya said.

The motive for Lakmal's killing was not immediately known, he said.

In January, a lone gunman shot dead another local journalist, Subramaniyam Sugitharajah, who worked for a Tamil-language newspaper in Sri Lanka - 's port town of Trincomalee. He also mostly wrote about the ethnic conflict involving the Tamil Tiger rebels' two decade fight for a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and the eastern parts of the island nation.

Many Sri Lankan journalists have been killed in the past few years and almost all the slayings have remained unsolved.

A Norway-brokered cease-fire brought relative calm in Sri Lanka - in 2002, but an escalation of violence since December has left more than 700 people dead, threatening to drag the island nation back to full-scale civil war. Discuss this story
Published: Sun Jul 2 05:39:21 EDT 2006 Back to the top

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Ex-reporter killed in Sri Lanka  -

Steady violence raises fears of war in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Sun July 2, 2006 11:38 EDT . MATTHEW ROSENBERG - Associated Press Writer - BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka - (AP) Gunfire echoes nearly every night across the lagoon that rings this fishing town in eastern Sri Lanka - . Bodies turn up nearly every day in the jungles beyond, some riddled with bullets, others bound and gagged with a single shot to the head. Four years after a cease-fire raised hopes for peace between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, Sri Lanka - is teetering on the brink.

Naval battles, suicide bombings and jungle clashes have once again become the norm on this tropical island that for two decades has been largely known for the ferocious ethnic struggle between its largely Hindu Tamil minority and predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

Still, the government and Tigers insist they are abiding by the truce, even as they settle into a pattern of attack-and-retaliation, with plenty of saber-rattling in between.

A ``low-intensity war'' is the favored description used by analysts and diplomats.

The Tigers and government ``are as far apart as they have been since the cease-fire,'' said Jehan Perera of the independent National Peace Council.

But what's perhaps even more dangerous is that the violence has pushed the Sinhalese and Tamils further apart. ``The polarization is greater than it's been in years,'' he said.

The roots of Sri Lanka - 's conflict stretch back to the years after independence from Britain in 1948, when the government made Sinhala the official language, gave Buddhism a prominent role and Tamils faced widespread discrimination in schools and jobs.

In 1983 the Tigers took up arms and a spasm of anti-Tamil violence sparked war.

Each side fought viciously: the Tigers used suicide bombings to eliminate their enemies; the government routinely detained and tortured Tamil civilians.

The death toll stood at more than 65,000 when the cease-fire was signed in 2002.

By then, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as the rebels are officially known, controlled wide swaths of the north and east where they run a de facto country, complete with border guards and traffic policemen.

They also lay claim to areas held by the government, like the northern port city of Jaffna, capital of an ancient Tamil kingdom.

But they deny being behind the recent violence a denial few here believe and say they only want a political solution.

The inner workings of the Tiger leadership remain a mystery to outsiders, and there's wide speculation about their motives for recent attacks, such as a June 15 bus bombing that killed 64 civilians, most of them Sinhalese.

Many say the Tigers are simply trying to push the government to grant broad autonomy over the territories they control. Others warn the rebels could be trying to weaken government forces ahead of the rainy season, which starts in August, when the government's armored vehicles would be bogged down in mud.

The government's motives are clearer it faces pressure from hard-line political allies, generals and Sinhalese nationalists to destroy the Tigers.

``The only sound they ever understand is gunfire,'' Bellanwila Amarasinghe, a Buddhist monk in Colombo, said of the Tigers.

But all-out war could scare off much-needed foreign investment and tourist dollars, which helped push economic growth to about 6 percent in the first quarter of the year. That's no small feat in a country still recovering from war and the Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed 35,000 people here and displaced a million.

Perera warned that unless both sides start talking, ``undeclared war could very easily become declared war.''

Such distinctions can seem semantic along the alleys of this ancient town, and in the rice paddies and Hindu temples that dot the countryside.

Sri Lanka - 's violence is perhaps felt nowhere as acutely as it is around Batticaloa, a largely Tamil city under government control just kilometers (miles) from rebel territory.

Soldiers here patrol in full battle gear, teenage rebels dig fresh fortifications, and a shadowy band of renegade insurgents a splinter group lurks in the jungles.

More than half of the nearly 700 people killed since April have been civilians, Nordic truce monitors say.

Fear of more killings keeps village streets deserted, and people use thinly veiled codes when talking about the factions ``elder brother'' being the Tigers, ``younger brother'' the renegades.

``We're all even afraid to walk out in the road,'' said Tevanayagam. ``We don't know what's going to happen or when it's going to happen.''

It is here the truce first began unraveling two years ago, when the renegades, led by a powerful eastern commander known as Karuna, walked out, only to be hunted down by the Tigers.

The few hundred renegades believed left regularly attack the Tigers, and diplomats and cease-fire monitors say they get at least some protection from the military, a charge the military denies.

Their latest assault came Tuesday, when they killed four Tigers, burning the bodies. They also planted a roadside bomb in early June that killed nine people, most of them civilians.

Both the Tigers and Karuna's loyalists are said to be behind a spike in abductions of children and young men a sign, aid workers say, that both could be preparing for war.

Both sides deny pressing anyone into service, although the Tigers have a well-documented history of forcing children to fight.

Exact figures are hard to come by, but UNICEF has said at least 50 children are among the scores who have been abducted by Karuna's faction.

The Tigers are also abducting people, villagers say.

A 47-year-old fisherman in Pasikuda, a village north of here, said one of his sons was taken by the Tigers last year. He asked that his name not be used fearing reprisals from the Tigers. He also said he doesn't want to attract attention to his two other boys.

The 19-year-old had fought earlier for the rebels before being released in 2004. But ``he's still young and strong and knows how to fight. Maybe that is why they took him back,'' the man said, clutching the laminated certificate the Tigers had given the boy when they let him go.

As for his other teenage sons, ``I almost never let them outside now.''

Nor do many other parents. Down the road, the village's cricket ground, ordinarily bustling with children, was empty. Discuss this story
Published: Sun Jul 2 12:20:03 EDT 2006 Back to the top

Report: Tamil Tiger rebels say they have trained 6,000 civilians in armed combat
Associated Press, Sat July 1, 2006 22:27 EDT . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Tamil Tiger rebels have trained 6,000 civilians in armed combat as part of efforts to intensify its liberation struggle, a pro-guerilla Web site said, indicating the insurgents are preparing for all-out war with Sri Lankan military forces... Back to the top

Sri Lankan navy sinks Tamil rebel boat, averts possible attack on harbor
Associated Press, Fri June 30, 2006 22:19 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI Associated Press writer COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lankan forces sank a Tamil rebel boat as it approached a strategic harbor in the island's north, rebuffed an attack on an army patrol, and killed a suspected guerrilla in the east, the military said Saturday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka 's rebels say UNICEF exaggerates number of child fighters
Associated Press, Sun July 2, 2006 09:06 EDT . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lanka's rebel Tamil Tigers on Sunday accused the U... Back to the top

Lanka Internet, Redline Deploy WiMAX Forum Certified Metropolitan ..., July 3, 2006. Lanka Internet, Sri Lanka’s pioneer facility-based telecom services operator, has selected Redline’s RedMAX to establish Sri a fully certified WiMAX broadband metropolitan network in Colombo... Back to the top

LTTE's move classic ploy: Experts
Hindustan Times, july 1. The Tamil Tiger's recent volte-face on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination has shocked political analysts worldwide who know A to Z about LTTE... Back to the top

Rajapaksa ends Bandaranaike era in SLFP, June 30, 2006. In the political history of Sri Lanka, the era of the Bandaranaikes seems to have ended... Back to the top

Sri Lanka crushes England, sweeps one-day international series 5-0
Associated Press, july 1. LEEDS, England (AP) _ England set Sri Lanka the sixth highest run chase in one-day international cricket on Saturday, and Sri Lanka reached it with some 12 overs to spare... Back to the top

INTERVIEW-Military must be restrained, says S.Lanka rebel, July 01, 2006 - 07:30. COLOMBO, July 1 (Reuters) - The only way to halt the violence that has killed more than 700 people this year and raised the spectre of renewed civil war in Sri Lanka is to confine the military to barracks, the Tamil Tigers said on Saturday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka to forge trade links with India for gems and jewellery, 01 july. July 01, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka's gem and jewellery sector is trying to forge business links with India under a bilateral trade pact, currently being negotiated... Back to the top

39 Sri Lankans arrested allegedly trying to migrate illegally to Italy
Associated Press, Sat July 1, 2006 06:16 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Police said they arrested 39 minority ethnic Tamils in southern Sri Lanka - Saturday who said they were planning to migrate illegally to Italy to look for work... Back to the top

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