The Lanka Academic

MARCH 29, 2008 EST, USA
VOL. 8, NO. 358


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71 killed in Sri Lanka clashes, Saturday, March 29, 2008. At least 71 LTTE cadres were killed in fierce fighting with the security forces in the embattled Northern Sri Lanka, officials said here on Saturday.

As many as 30 rebels were killed in Pandivirichchan in North-west Mannar in intense clashes with troops on Friday, the state-owned Rupavahini Television reported.

The channel said a school used by the LTTE as a training camp in the region had also been captured.

Meanwhile, army sources have confirmed that 10 Tamil Tigers were killed on Friday when security personnel captured a land stretch of 700 metres in the Illanthevan area of Mannar after destroying two LTTE bunkers, officials said.

At least seven militants were killed in clashes with army in Kilaly and Muhamalai on Friday, the defence ministry said.

In a separate incident, as many as three LTTE cadres were shot dead in Nagarkovil in Jaffna region on Friday, it said. The LTTE is yet to reveal losses as pilots have confirmed the target was acquired precisely, the defence ministry said.

In a separate incident of ground fighting, the army killed at least six militants in Mannar and North-east Welioya fronts on Friday, the defense ministry said, adding another five LTTE cadres were gunned down in Vilathikulam in Northern Vavuniya.

Troops recovered a slain Tamil Tiger's body and some arms and ammunitions in general area Kiriibbanwewa in Welioya following a confrontation with the LTTE on Friday afternoon, it said.

At least nine militants were killed in separate encounters in Kadupuvarankulam and northwest of Periyathampane in Vavuniya, the army said. More... Discuss this story
Published: Sat Mar 29 14:26:19 EDT 2008

Related News Stories
Military: Soldiers kill 10 Tamil rebels in fresh fighting in Sri Lanka 's north  - Associated Press

Sri Lanka Army chief visits battle zone, 2008-03-30. Sri Lanka's Army Commander Sarath Fonseka visited the battle zone in the island's north on Saturday amid escalating conflict between government troops and Tamil Tigers rebels, defense officials said Saturday.

Fonseka visited the Vavuniya district where the Security Forces Headquarters of Wanni (referring to the general area partly controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels) was located, officials said.

The commander discussed the prevailing security situation therewith Wanni Security Forces Commander Major General Jagath Jayasuriya and other senior commanders.

Currently government troops are engaged in three different fronts against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in the north.

Fonseka, who survived an assassination attempt by an LTTE suicide bomber in April 2006 has vowed to liberate the entire Northern Province from the rebels within 2008. More... Discuss this story
Published: Sat Mar 29 14:22:42 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Monk-Led Protests Show Buddhist Activism
Associated Press, Sat March 29, 2008 14:12 EDT . DENIS D. GRAY

Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Buddhist monks hurling rocks at Chinese in Tibet, or peacefully massing against Myanmar's military, can strike jarring notes.

These scenes run counter to Buddhism's philosophy of shunning politics and embracing even bitter enemies _ something the faith has adhered to, with some tumultuous exceptions, through its 2,500-year history.

But political activism and occasional eruptions of violence have become increasingly common in Asia's Buddhist societies as they variously struggle against foreign domination, oppressive regimes, social injustice and environmental destruction.

More monks and nuns are moving out of their monasteries and into slums and rice paddies _ and sometimes into streets filled with tear gas and gunfire.

``In modern times, preaching is not enough. Monks must act to improve society, to remove evil,'' says Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile and a high-ranking lama.

``There is the responsibility of every individual, monks and lay people, to act for the betterment of society,'' he told The Associated Press in Dharmsala, India, discussing protests in Tibet this month that were initiated by monks.

In widespread protests over the past three weeks, crimson-robed monks _ some charging helmeted troops and throwing rocks _ have joined with ordinary citizens who unfurled Tibetan flags and demanded independence from China. Beijing's official death toll from the rioting in Lhasa is 22, but the exiled government of the Dalai Lama says 140 Tibetans were killed there and in Tibetan communities in western China.

Bloodshed also stained last fall's pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar, dubbed the ``Saffron Revolution'' after the color of the robes of monks who led nonviolent protests against the country's oppressive military regime.

In Thailand, followers of a Buddhist sect took part in street demonstrations which led to the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra two years ago.

In Sri Lanka, the ultra-nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya party, led by monks, has pushed for using brute force against the country's Tamil rebels. In 1959 a monk assassinated a prime minister over a law giving some protection to the Tamil language.

Indeed, the activism reflects another side of Buddhist history. Despite the faith's image of passivity, an aggressive strain has long existed, especially in the Mahayana school of Buddhism, practiced in Japan, Korea, China and Tibet.

The sohei, monks in Japan, fought pitched battles with one another and with secular clans for over 600 years until around 1600. China's Shaolin Temple, a martial arts center to this day, was allowed to retain warrior monks from the 7th century by emperors who sometimes used them to put down rebellions and banditry.

The monk Saya San became a national hero in the 1930s in Myanmar _ then Burma _ by leading a revolt. The British colonials hanged him after fielding 12,000 troops to suppress his peasant army.

The self-immolation of monk Thich Quang Duc on a Saigon street became an iconic image of protest against the Vietnam War.

Before China's takeover of Tibet in 1959, warrior monks sometimes wielded more power _ and weaponry _ than the army. Lhasa's Sera monastery, a hotbed of the recent protests, was particularly noted for its elite fighters, the ``Dob-Dobs,'' who in 1947 took part in a rebellion that took 300 lives.

``Use peaceful means where they are appropriate, but where they are not appropriate, do not hesitate to resort to more forceful means,'' said the previous, now deceased Dalai Lama when Tibet fought the Chinese in the 1930s.

Christopher Queen, an expert on Buddhism at Harvard University, says the new trend among some of the world's 350 million faithful is expanding from individual spiritual liberation to attacking problems such as poverty and environmental blight that affect whole communities or nations.

Sri Lanka's Sarvodaya Shramadana, or ``Mundane Awakening,'' provides everything from safe drinking water to basic housing in more than 11,000 poor villages. And in India, Buddhist groups are fighting for the rights of ``the untouchables,'' the lowest caste.

Global and loosely affiliated, originating at the grass roots rather than atop religious hierarchies and more muscular than meditative, this movement is widely known as Engaged Buddhism.

``Engaged Buddhists are looking at the social, economic, and political causes of human misery in the world and organizing to address them. The role of social service and activism is clearly growing in all parts of the Buddhist world,'' Queen said in an interview.

While not immune to spilling blood, Queen says ``the Buddhist tradition is rightly known for the systematic practice of nonviolence.'' That leads scholars to doubt it will turn to terrorism or sustained violence other than occasional spontaneous outbursts. They note that Buddhism doesn't advocate killing heretics or otherwise spreading the faith by force.

Indeed, the Dalai Lama has decried the recent violence while supporting peoples' rights to peaceful protest. And Samdhong, the prime minister-in-exile, adds: ``If (monks) want to fight, they have to disrobe and join the fighters.''Discuss this story
Published: Sat Mar 29 16:16:56 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Fresh fighting in Sri Lanka claims 26, March 28 2008 at 01:51PM . Colombo - Twenty-six people, including two civilians, were killed in new fighting in civil war-wrecked Sri Lanka, the military said on Friday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka probes bomber offer, 28 March 2008. Sri Lankan police are investigating posters that have appeared in Colombo urging would-be suicide bombers to change their minds in return for cash... Back to the top

Military says 17 Tamil rebels, 2 soldiers killed in Sri Lanka fighting
Associated Press, Fri March 28, 2008 04:03 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A series of battles along the front lines in northern Sri Lanka - killed 17 ethnic Tamil rebels and two government soldiers, the military said Friday... Back to the top

LTTE women cadres cut music disc depicting conflict, March 29, 2008. Colombo (PTI): An LTTE women music group has cut a disc titled 'Sparks of earthquake' that highlights through a song the protracted conflict in Sri Lanka... Back to the top

Mystery Sri Lanka campaign to discourage suicide bombers, 28 march. COLOMBO, March 27 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka has launched a mystery poster campaign inviting would-be Tamil Tiger suicide bombers to phone a government helpline in exchange for 10 million rupees ($92,000) and a new life overseas... Back to the top

Sri Lanka probes poster campaign, March 28, 2008. The Sri Lankan government has launched a probe into a mysterious poster campaign that is asking would-be Tamil Tiger suicide bombers to turn themselves in to government han

The campaign, run by an unknown pro-peace organisation, promises a new life overseas and $US93,000 each to extremists who change their minds Back to the top

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