The Lanka Academic

 
MAY 11, 2008 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 9, NO. 36

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Sri Lanka 's president says election win a mandate for war against Tamil rebels
Associated Press, Sun May 11, 2008 07:30 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's president on Sunday hailed his party's election victory in the country's tense Eastern Province as a mandate to push ahead with his war against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north. ``This is a totally distorted mandate that they got. This is obtained by fraud,'' said Rauff Hakeem, leader of the opposition Sri Lanka - Muslim Congress.

The election commission said the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance coalition won 52 percent of the vote, giving it a total of 20 seats on the province's 37-member council. The opposition United National Party which ran in coalition with Hakeem's party won 42 percent of the vote and 15 seats, while two smaller parties won a seat each, the commission said.

The ruling party ran in a coalition with a breakaway rebel faction known as the TMVP.

Independent monitors said the TMVP threatened voters during the election, opposition parliamentarians were attacked by mobs, children who appeared to be around 13 years old cast ballots, and gangs of people shuttled between polling stations to vote numerous times.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said the vote was marred by violence and rigging and his party was ``totally rejecting the results.''

Opposition leaders planned to meet in Colombo to decide whether to file a suit to overturn the election, Hakeem said.

Kingsley Rodrigo, head of the independent People's Action for Free and Fair Elections, said the ruling party misused government resources and the state media in the campaign and many candidates could not campaign freely.

``I can't say it was a free and fair election because it was not really,'' he said. However, the election did go smoothly in about 80 percent of polling stations, he said.

About 60 percent of the province's nearly 1 million registered voters cast ballots, according to the election commission, a turnout that opposition officials and election monitors said was low for a vote of such importance.

Many potential voters, enough to have swayed the election, may have stayed home following a series of bombing and mortar attacks blamed on the Tamil Tigers in the hours before the poll, Rodrigo said.

Chandrapala Liyanage, a presidential spokesman, dismissed complaints about the conduct of the election.

``This is clearly a people's mandate, there was no indiscipline or nothing illegal about it,'' he said.

The election was intended to give a degree of self-rule to the region divided among Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils and to counter rebel demands for an independent state.

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives think tank, said he questioned how much power the government would actually give the council, which is likely to headed by a former rebel leader known as Pillaiyan.

``Now it's going to be interesting to see how this council functions,'' he said.

Associated Press reporter Krishan Francis in Colombo contributed to this report.Discuss this story
Published: Sun May 11 09:34:39 EDT 2008


Sri Lanka makes last-ditch attempt to secure HRC seat
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, May 11, 2008, 7.03 p.m.. Colombo will make a frantic, last-ditch attempt on Tuesday to persuade members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to re-elect Sri Lanka, overshadowed by allegations of gross human rights violations, to the 47-member council on May 21 in New York, The Nation newspaper reported today.

Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will leave for Geneva today, where he is expected to make a strong case as to why Sri Lanka should be included in the council and highlight what the country has done so far to maintain human rights and the action that has been taken against the purported violators.

Samarasinghe will represent Sri Lanka at the Universal Period Review of the HRC on May 13.

"This meeting on Tuesday will definitely have an impact on the elections to be held on May 21. We will present our country report, which will speak on what we have done to protect and promote human rights in Sri Lanka," Samarasinghe said.

All 47 members will be subjected to the Universal Period Review. Sri Lanka, elected in 2006 to the council, will face re-elections on May 21 in New York. Sri Lanka will compete against Pakistan, Bahrain, Timor-Leste, Japan and South Korea for one of the remaining four seats in the council.

When asked about Sri Lanka's chances at the election, the Minister said, "We are sure that we can confidently respond to the questions of the countries interested in Sri Lanka and that there would be a positive outcome from the meeting."

The Nation also reliably learns that several fronts with close links to the LTTE are also in New York campaigning against the re-election of Sri Lanka to the council.

Meanwhile, already a coalition of more than 20 national and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) led by the New York-based Human Rights Watch is leading a campaign for Sri Lanka's non-inclusion in the council.

Convenor of the Civil Monitoring Commission, Mano Ganesan told The Nation that the sudden indictment of Wing Commander Nishantha Gajanayake along with several others last week and the setting up of a hotline to report abductions after all this time were to "illustrate" the government's so-called action to put and end to the gross human rights violations.

"But the indictment of Gajanayake does not mean everything is over; my hunch is Gajanayake was just a pawn of someone powerful who continues to roam free even today," Ganesan added.Discuss this story
Published: Sun May 11 09:34:19 EDT 2008 Back to the top


Karuna to be deported?
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, May 11, 2008, 7.01 p.m.. Moves are afoot to deport LTTE renegade leader Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan, alias Karuna Amman, from the United Kingdom.

The move comes after Karuna was released from prison on Friday and transferred to an immigration detention centre.

Meanwhile, two leading human rights organisations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have expressed disappointment over the British Government's failure to file criminal charges against the former Tamil Tiger leader for grave human rights abuses in Sri Lanka as a tragic missed opportunity to bring a notorious rights abuser to justice.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said, "The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service must make every effort to encourage anyone with information about any such crimes to come forward with evidence, by providing them with effective guarantees of their security. Without such assurances, witnesses may be reluctant to relay information about alleged crimes that the UK authorities are obliged to investigate."

Amnesty International urged the authorities to investigate thoroughly, promptly, impartially and independently all allegations of crimes committed by Colonel Karuna and his forces, including torture committed after March 2004 when Colonel Karuna was believed to have allied himself with the state armed forces, hostage taking committed after 1988, including when he was a member of the LTTE and war crimes and crimes against humanity, including child recruitment.

"Britain is missing a golden opportunity to show that human rights violators like Karuna will be tried for grave abuses, no matter where they took place," said Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. "If he escapes prosecution, it will be a tragedy both for his many victims and for international justice."

Immigration authorities in the UK arrested Karuna on November 2, 2007. After a criminal conviction, he served half of a nine-month term for possessing illegal documents.Discuss this story
Published: Sun May 11 09:31:28 EDT 2008 Back to the top


Sri Lanka 's ruling party wins control of Eastern Province government
Associated Press, Sun May 11, 2008 05:29 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's ruling party won control Sunday of the country's tense Eastern Province following an election the opposition condemned as irreparably flawed... Back to the top

Election Results
TLA, May 11. Election results from the Eastern Province have been released... Back to the top

Eastern Sri Lankan elections marred by allegations of intimidation, voting fraud
Associated Press, may 11. RAVI NESSMAN Associated Press Writer BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Allegations of fraud, voter intimidation and sporadic violence marred provincial elections in Sri Lanka's east despite government claims the polls would be a celebration of democracy for the region recently liberated from the Tamil Tiger rebels... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Tamil rebels sink navy ship on east coast; new ground fighting kills 26
Associated Press, Sat May 10, 2008 02:01 EDT . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels bombed and sank a navy cargo ship off eastern Sri Lanka - early Saturday with no casualties reported, and infantry clashes in the embattled north killed 24 rebels and two soldiers, the military said... Back to the top

Rights group unhappy that Britain did not charge former Sri Lankan rebel for alleged abuses
Associated Press, Sat May 10, 2008 03:42 EDT . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Amnesty International complained that Britain released a former Sri Lankan rebel leader without prosecuting him for alleged war abuses including killings, abductions and using child soldiers... Back to the top

Sri Lankan military says bomb blast kills 11 in eastern town hours before key election
Associated Press, Fri May 9, 2008 11:59 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka - (AP) A bomb blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels tore through a cafe Friday evening in eastern Sri Lanka - , killing 11 people and casting a cloud over crucial provincial elections scheduled for Saturday... Back to the top

Rights group unhappy that Britain did not charge ex-Sri Lankan rebel with alleged abuses
Associated Press, Sat May 10, 2008 04:33 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Amnesty International said it is concerned that Britain released a former Sri Lankan rebel leader without prosecuting him for alleged war abuses including killings, abductions and using child soldiers... Back to the top

Sri Lanka 's tumultuous east worries about security, future as voters go to polls
Associated Press, Sat May 10, 2008 04:43 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - VALAICHCHENAI, Sri Lanka - (AP) A climate of fear hung over Sri Lanka - 's Eastern Province elections Saturday following attacks blamed on the Tamil Tiger rebels and accusations of intimidation against a breakaway guerrilla group that backs the ruling party... Back to the top

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