The Lanka Academic

 
OCTOBER 4, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 7, NO. 181

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Tamil Tigers agree to unconditional talks with Sri Lankan government
Associated Press, Tue October 3, 2006 08:24 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's Tamil Tiger rebels on Tuesday agreed to unconditional talks with the government, but warned they will pull out of a 2002 cease-fire if the government persists with its military campaign, a spokesman said. The Norway-brokered cease-fire temporarily ended Sri Lanka - 's 19-year civil war between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who want to carve out a separate homeland for the country's ethnic Tamils. About 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the truce.

Renewed fighting since late July, however, has left at least 1,000 combatants and civilians dead.

No date for the talks was announced, although the government's national security spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, earlier said the government has suggested Oct. 30 or Nov. 10 as possible dates.

The government was to hold a press conference later Tuesday to discuss the talks, officials said.

The government had previously said it wants a personal commitment from the rebels' reclusive leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, to end all violence before any talks.

Tuesday's meeting was part of Hanssen-Bauer's stepped up diplomatic efforts to restart peace talks.

Following the peace talks in Geneva in February, a second round slated for April was canceled after each side blamed the other for rising violence.

On Monday, Hanssen-Bauer held separate meetings with top government negotiator Nimal Siripala de Silva, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Palitha Kohona, chief of the government's peace secretariat, officials said.

Meanwhile, a rebel Web site said air force fighter jets bombed rebel-held areas 20 kilometers (32 miles) away from where the talks were taking place.

``This morning, they (rebels) were firing artillery toward our forces in the northern peninsula and the air force attacked three identified rebel artillery positions to neutralize their attack,'' military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Tamil Tigers attacked a police camp in Murunkan in northern Vavuniya district, prompting police to retaliate, Samarasinghe said , adding that the insurgents were armed with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

Police did not suffer any casualties, but they later recovered the body of one rebel, he said.

Associated Press writer Krishan Francis contributed to this report Discuss this story
Published: Tue Oct 3 10:17:02 EDT 2006

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Sri Lankan air force pound rebel positions in north; bomb recovered in capital
Associated Press, Wed October 4, 2006 06:27 EDT . HARATHA MALLAWARACHI

Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lanka's air force bombed Tamil Tiger rebels' mortar positions in the embattled north on Wednesday, a day after the insurgents agreed to peace talks with the government but warned that further military action would see them pull out of a shaky four-year-old cease-fire.

Separately, police in the capital, Colombo, discovered a powerful bomb in a garbage dump that was apparently being stored for future use, the military said.

``We took three airstrikes, this morning, to destroy their (Tamil rebel) mortar positions,'' said military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe.

He said insurgents were firing mortars toward government troops in the Pallai and Pooneryn areas of the northern Jaffna peninsula and that airstrikes were required to neutralize those attacks.

Although the damage is exactly not known, ``the pilots have seen mortar positions caught in fire,'' Samarasinghe said.

Also on Wednesday, Tamil Tigers attacked an army camp in Vavunathivu in the eastern Batticaloa district and troops repulsed the attack with mortars and artillery, said Samarasinghe. No casualties were reported.

The violence came just hours after the rebels told a Norwegian peace-broker that they would meet with the government, unconditionally. The last round of peace talks aiming to end two decades of civil war were held in February.

However, the rebels warned that further government military action would see them withdraw altogether from a 2002 cease-fire accord.

It wasn't immediately clear how the military's airstrikes would affect the rebels' offer for talks. Tiger officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Norway-brokered cease-fire temporarily ended Sri Lanka's 19-year civil war between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who want to carve out a separate homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority, citing decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. About 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the truce.

Renewed fighting since late July, however, has left at least 1,000 combatants and civilians dead, even though both sides say they are still honoring the truce.

The homemade bomb, weighing about 15 kilograms (33 pounds), found in Colombo, was not set to explode, Samarasinghe said.

He said a resident had spotted the device and informed police at a nearby checkpoint.

It was not clear who hid the bomb, but separatist Tamil Tiger rebels have been accused of a series of roadside explosions that have killed scores of government troops and civilians since December.

On Wednesday nearly 5,000 protesters marched along the main roads in Colombo protesting against what they called ``foreign intervention'' in solving the country's ethnic conflict.

The protest was led by trade union and student wings of the Marxist People's Liberation Front which opposes power sharing as a solution to Sri Lanka's long-drawn conflict. The party holds 39 seats in the 225-member Parliament.

Shouting slogans against the Norway-led efforts to solve Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict, protesters carried placards which read ``Say no to Norway, Hands off Sri Lanka.''

``We are against the devolution efforts by the so-called international forces. Today, Tamil Tigers have been weakened and these forces want to strengthen them,'' said Anura Dissanayake a party lawmaker. Discuss this story
Published: Wed Oct 4 09:12:17 EDT 2006 Back to the top

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Sri Lankan air force launches airstrikes on Tamil Tiger positions in north, military says  - Associated Press

Government-condoned militia abducting hundreds on Sri Lanka 's east coast
Associated Press, Wed October 4, 2006 08:08 EDT . ANTHONY DEUTSCH - Associated Press Writer - BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka - (AP) A feared militia along Sri Lanka's volatile eastern coast has abducted hundreds of men and boys some as young as 12 and is training them for combat in camps operated with the government's consent, witnesses and officials said. Named for its commander, who goes by the nom de guerre ``Karuna,'' the paramilitaries a breakaway faction of Sri Lanka's main Tamil Tiger rebel movement have added a new factor to Sri Lanka - 's civil war, which began in 1983 and has savaged the nation. Their existence also complicates efforts by foreign mediators to revive peace negotiations.

Renewed fighting this year has killed more than 1,000 people on this island off southern India, rendering a 2002 cease-fire essentially void.

By allowing Karuna's forces to operate, the government has gained an ally against a common enemy, said Robert Karniol, Asia Pacific bureau chief for Jane's Defense Weekly.

``The Tamil Tigers are a serious threat to the government and anything that weakens or distracts from that is advantageous to Colombo,'' Karniol said.

The Karuna faction split from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2004, with Karuna saying the larger group didn't defend the interests of the country's eastern Tamils. The faction has since built up a strong military presence in the island's east.

It is demanding a role in peace talks with the government and says there can be no solution without them.

Hundreds of Karuna fighters are terrorizing the district of Batticaloa, the scene of a rash of abductions that began in March, residents said.

The total number of disappearances is unclear because so many go unreported, but officials from several aid organizations estimate at least 300 people have been taken by Karuna's men this year.

``It has definitely been hundreds and it might not be all of them,'' said Bjorn Kjelsaas of the Sri Lanka - Monitoring Mission, established to oversee the 2002 cease-fire.

The government, for its part, denies helping the Karuna faction.

``We don't know about his (Karuna's) whereabouts. We have been right throughout denying that we are involved with them,'' the government's national security spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, said.

But the two forces clearly work together, many people say. Karuna faction troops, mostly dressed in civilian clothing, work alongside police and army officials at roadblocks, according to a high-ranking local official and aid workers. Because of the violence in the area unexplained killings happen nearly every day, as various factions battle for supremacy only a handful of people were willing to use their names.

A leader of the faction's political wing, E. Prethip, told The Associated Press that the group's members are ``volunteers.''

He blamed the Tamil Tigers for committing atrocities in Karuna's name, and said members were armed only in self defense.

``They carry out ambushes, loot houses, kill civilians. They kidnap the children and they say it was done by Karuna,'' Prethip said in his office, where children served visitors drinks.

``Our military does not cooperate with the Sri Lankan army, but we're not enemies either,'' he said, sitting in front of a bookcase filled with children's books and a recent copy of ``Eye Spy'' intelligence magazine.

The disappearances have become so common that almost every family around Batticaloa has lost a son, or knows someone who has, residents said. A teacher said his 10th grade high school class had almost no boys left.

Scores of underage boys sometimes dozens at once have been rounded up at their homes, Hindu temples, schools or by the side of the road and spirited away in white vans, according to witnesses and confidential case files presented to Sri Lankan prosecutors and the Ministry for Human Rights and obtained by The Associated Press.

In the most recent known case, two dozen youngsters were taken from a single village on Sept. 24, said a human rights activist who spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared for her life.

In a desperate attempt to protect their children, many families have sent their sons to safe houses, a local resident said.

Some K-faction recruits receive wages, normally around 6,000 rupees (around US$60; euro47.11) a month, with two thirds generally going to the family. Relatives are sometimes allowed to visit the camps, often in exchange for not going to authorities, aid workers said.

``The communities seem to know who is taking their children and they live in fear and are in need of protection,'' said Marcel Smits, head of the aid group Nonviolent Peaceforce Sri Lanka - .

Parents who had visited said their children were receiving military training to fight the Tigers, Smits said.

One couple, whose names were withheld to protect them, told The Associated Press their 16-year-old son was taken by a neighbor eight months ago and has not been seen again.

The parents are too scared to go to the police, choosing to suffer silently while protecting the three boys they still have.

``We didn't try to go after him and don't know where he is,'' said the father, as his wife huddled in a corner, staring blankly into the glow of an oil lamp. ``We just want to have an ordinary life.'' Discuss this story
Published: Wed Oct 4 12:34:44 EDT 2006 Back to the top


Sri Lanka peace bid hits snags over venue
afp, October 4, 2006. COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels remained divided on a venue for peace talks but showed signs of a compromise over dates after Norway renewed its bid to end a surge in violence... Back to the top

Jurists say barred from Sri Lanka massacre inquest
today.reuters.com, Wed Oct 4, 2006 11:52 PM IST. GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) said on Wednesday Sri Lanka had refused to allow it to send an observer to the inquest into the killing of 17 aid workers in the northeast of the country in August... Back to the top

Powerful bomb found in Sri Lankan capital
Associated Press, Wed October 4, 2006 01:11 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan police on Wednesday found a powerful bomb hidden in a garbage dump in Sri Lanka - 's capital but it was not set to go off and someone may have been storing it there, the military said... Back to the top

Sri Lankans snap up new Audis amidst new levies
lankabusinessonline.com, 03 October 2006 17:15:35. October 03 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lankans are still snapping up luxury cars like Audi’s despite stiff government taxes, to discourage vehicle sales and curb fuel consumption, officials said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka rebels want military attacks halt before talks with govt
monstersandcritics.com, Oct 3, 2006, 17:15 GMT. Colombo - Tamil rebels have agreed to resume negotiations with the Sri Lankan government, but want all military operations against them halted, a rebel website said Tuesday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka delays talks but rules out war to end ethnic bloodshed
Yahoo News - AFP, Tuesday October 03, 2006 - 08:12 EDT. COLOMBO (AFP) - Peacebroker Norway has struggled to bring Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels to the negotiating table and avert full-scale war as Colombo sought to delay any talks until at least the end of the month... Back to the top

Tamil Tiger defendants to face additional charges in Maryland
Associated Press, Tue October 3, 2006 18:35 EDT . BALTIMORE (AP) _ Federal prosecutors in Baltimore announced today that six men charged with attempting to export weapons to Indonesia and to Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka are facing additional charges... Back to the top

``End conflict in Sri Lanka''
hindu, October 3, 2006. CHENNAI: The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday appealed to the Sri Lanka Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to end the conflict and return to the negotiating table, as women and children bore the brunt of the ongoing civil war in the island... Back to the top

A contempt for rights: Sri Lanka joins the growing club
khaleejtimes.com, 3 October 2006. TO HELL with international law on human rights! That appears to be the trend... Back to the top

Norwegian envoy begins talks with Tamil Tiger rebels in a bid to revive peace talks
Associated Press, Tue October 3, 2006 04:04 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A Norwegian envoy began talks with Tamil Tiger leaders Tuesday, intensifying efforts to revive peace talks and end months of bloodshed, as Sri Lankan police and the rebels continued to exchange gunfire... Back to the top

SL jets bomb as peace envoy talks to LTTE
hindustantimes.com, October 3, 2006. Sri Lankan jets bombed LTTE areas in Thenmarachchi and the LTTE fired mortars and artillery on Sri Lankan Army positions in Muhamalai on Tuesday, even as the Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen Bauer was talking to the LTTE’s Political Wing leader SP Tamilselvan in Kilinochchi about resuming the stalled peace talks... Back to the top

HL:Mississauga man wanted in U.S. on terror charges released on $680G bail
Associated Press, Tue October 3, 2006 08:54 EDT . BRAMPTON, Ont. (CP) _ A 29-year-old Mississauga, Ont., man facing extradition to the United States on charges that he provided support to a Tamil terrorist group was released on $680,000 bail Monday. Ramanan Mylvaganam will be reunited with his mother and five siblings after spending more than a month in custody, but under the terms of his release will not be allowed to live with them... Back to the top

Accused on Guam agrees to face charges in Maryland
Associated Press, Mon October 2, 2006 22:24 EDT . One of the suspects, Indonesian Haji Subandi, 69, was allegedly instrumental in two conspiracies one involving smuggling of weapons to the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka - and the other involving arms for the Indonesian military... Back to the top

Norwegian envoy to meet Tamil Tiger rebels in a bid to revive peace talks
Associated Press, Tue October 3, 2006 02:13 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A Norwegian envoy traveled to the Tamil Tigers' northern stronghold Tuesday for talks with rebel leaders, intensifying efforts to restart Sri Lankan peace talks that collapsed in February and end months of bloodshed... Back to the top

A lofty palace and a Buddha s tooth: Sri Lanka beyond the beaches
monstersandcritics.com, 3 oct. Sigiriya, Sri Lanka ­ Northern and eastern Sri Lanka has recently experienced an upsurge in fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels... Back to the top

Sri Lanka protects local cement industry from tariff cut on Indian ...
lankabusinessonline.com, Tuesday October 03, 2006 - 08:12 EDT. Oct 02 (LBO) – Sri Lanka recently slashed tariffs on Indian imports under a bilateral trade deal, but said Monday it would exclude top import good cement for at least the next two years, to protect local industry... Back to the top

Man accused in weapons smuggling cases in Guam agrees to face charges in Maryland
Associated Press, Mon October 2, 2006 22:03 EDT . - - One of the suspects, Indonesian Haji Subandi, 69, was allegedly instrumental in two conspiracies one involving smuggling of weapons to the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka - and the other involving arms for the Indonesian military... Back to the top

South Korean only U.N. chief candidate to escape veto in latest informal poll
Associated Press, Mon October 2, 2006 22:45 EDT . NICK WADHAMS - Associated Press Writer - The seventh candidate, Sri Lanka - 's Jayantha Dhanapala, a former U... Back to the top

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