The Lanka Academic

JULY 15, 2008 EST, USA
VOL. 9, NO. 101


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T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Indian warships to shield PM during SAARC meet in Lanka
TOI, July 16. NEW DELHI: India is not taking any chances with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's security during his visit to Colombo for the SAARC summit early next month.

The Centre is planning to despatch three warships, including two frontline guided-missile destroyers, to Sri Lankan waters as security cover for the PM and his entourage from the much-feared LTTE.

With national security adviser M K Narayanan personally looking into the issue due to the "high threat perception" from the LTTE, hectic consultations are on between India and Sri Lanka to ensure fool-proof security arrangements. As the Tamil Tigers are known to use suicide bombers, there can be no room for mistakes. More...Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jul 15 18:07:34 EDT 2008

Military says 28 Tamil Tiger rebels, 4 Sri Lankan soldiers killed in fighting
Associated Press, Tue July 15, 2008 01:07 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's military says 28 Tamil Tiger rebels and four soldiers have been killed in new fighting in the island's civil war.

Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara says the worst of Monday's fighting took place along the northern front lines in Mannar, where 11 rebels were killed.

He says three soldiers on a foot patrol in the Jaffna area were killed by a bomb. Other deadly battles erupted in Vavuniya and Welioya.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be immediately reached for comment.

Both sides exaggerate their enemies' casualties and underreport their own. It is not possible to get independent accounts of the battles because reporters are barred from the war zone.Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jul 15 06:50:10 EDT 2008 Back to the top

War is only job available in Sri Lankan village
Associated Press, Tue July 15, 2008 03:32 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - IYATHIGEWEWA, Sri Lanka - (AP) Iyathigewewa is a classic company town. But the youth don't head off to work in the local mine or factory they go to war. After a quarter century of civil war between government forces and ethnic Tamil rebels, fighting is so entrenched in this Indian Ocean island it has become a career for tens of thousands seeking a path out of rural Sri Lanka - 's brutal poverty.

For their part, the Tamil Tiger rebels have been accused of filling their ranks by forcibly recruiting at least one member of each family in their de facto state in the north.

With the military promising to crush the rebels in the coming months, its appetite for more recruits is huge. Two weeks ago, the defense ministry sent a nationwide text message calling on ``Young Patriots come join with our armed forces (army navy or air force) and be a part of a winning team.''

Kadirage Leelawathi's entire family had already answered the call.

Her husband joined the army 20 years ago after failing to scrape a living from his tiny farm. The family lived in a clay hut with a floor made of cow dung and used kerosene lamps for light, she said. They could only afford to eat meat once a week.

``We couldn't make ends meet with three children,'' she said. ``With the little money he earned from farming, we had a hard time even sending the kids to school.''

With his army salary, they built a two bedroom concrete house with electricity, running water, a telephone, a 21-inch color TV and a 20-foot antenna piercing the sky.

Her oldest son dreamed of becoming a Buddhist monk, but grew disillusioned with the clergy and joined the navy five years ago. Her next son, seeing his father and brother serving, enlisted in the army two years ago. Seven months ago, her youngest son joined the paramilitary home guard, which protects villages in the north from rebel infiltration.

With the fighting escalating, Leelawathi said she is worried about her family: ``But there's no option. What can we do?''

``If there were any other job opportunities, they wouldn't go,'' said her sister-in-law, Kiriyage Kamalawatee.

The economic situation was not always so bad.

In 1952, Iyathigewewa's 430 acres of farmland were enough for its 30 to 40 families. But many parents had 10 or more children, and the population explosion soon overwhelmed the village.

Parents divided their modest farms among their offspring, who subdivided them among their own children. Many of the 375 families living here now are left with slivers of land far too small to support a family.

Without the option of pushing plowshares, the youth of Iyathigewewa picked up swords.

The village's first recruit joined the army in the late 1970s. A trickle of youth followed, eventually becoming a flood.

Now, 175 of Iyathigewewa's 1,161 residents are in the security forces, where many earn a solid living of $230 to $280 a month. That money has brought relative prosperity to the village.

Its small shacks have been replaced by modest cement houses filled with kitchen appliances. Motorcycles and shiny, red three-wheeled vehicles purchased with army salaries shoot down the only paved road.

``The way the village is now, economically, that is because of the military,'' said Susil Premaratne, a village councilman.

But the fighting has taken its toll as well, robbing the village of 16 of its men.

Kalu Hamy's son Premasiri was killed in a land mine explosion in the eastern town of Trincomalee in 1991. Another son, Piyadesa, disappeared several years later after a battle near the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi. Her grandson was shot and killed in a 1998 ambush in the town of Vavuniya.

They joined the army in search of money and meaning for their lives, but the sacrifice wasn't worth it, the 72-year-old woman said, her voice cracking with grief.

``I would never let my children or grandchildren join the military again,'' she said.

Nishan Keerthiratne, 35, disagrees. With no job prospects, he joined the infantry in 1990. Two years ago, a mine hanging from a palmyrah tree exploded over his vehicle, damaging his spinal cord and paralyzing him from the chest down.

Now, he spends his days fighting bedsores as he lays on a rattan bed in his kitchen, the only room with sunlight and a breeze in his small home.

``I looked after my family, I served my country and I was able to raise our standard of living,'' he said. ``I have no regrets.''Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jul 15 06:49:50 EDT 2008 Back to the top

British official visits Sri Lanka to discuss human issues, 2008-07-15 20:20:20. COLOMBO, July 15 (Xinhua) -- A high-ranking British official has arrived in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on a three-day visit, officials said Tuesday... Back to the top

LTTE must be defeated, says Rajapaksa, Tuesday, July 15, 2008 . COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday said it was necessary to defeat the LTTE since it had continued its “war of terror through talks, ceasefires and many other peace initiatives”... Back to the top

Ex-rebels’ party to support Rajapaksa
Hindu, july 15. COLOMBO: Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikkal (TMVP), the LTTE rebel group-turned-political party, has formally joined the All-Parties Representative Committee (APRC) constituted by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to find a solution to the ethnic conflict... Back to the top

Former test captain Hashan Tillakaratne made national team manager
Associated Press, Tue July 15, 2008 04:16 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Ex-captain Hashan Tillakaratne has been appointed Sri Lanka - 's national cricket team manager for the upcoming test and limited-overs home series against India... Back to the top

SRI LANKA: Scarcity, Insecurity as Army Besieges Rebel Hq, Monday, July 14, 2008 10:39 GMT . By Feizal Samath
COLOMBO, Jul 14 (IPS) - With the Sri Lankan army closing in on the Wanni, the headquarters of the Tamil Tigers in the north of the island, the embattled civilian population has been hit not only by scarcities but also by deep insecurity, according to humanitarian agencies remaining in the area... Back to the top

Iran becomes Sri Lanka s top lender, 14 Jul, 2008. COLOMBO: Iran has emerged as Sri Lanka's biggest donor this year, knocking Japan from the position of being the war-torn island's main benefactor, the finance ministry said on Monday... Back to the top

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