Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sri Lanka arrests Tamil politician over human smuggling   2012-07-25 15:05:09              
COLOMBO, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The police in Sri Lanka on Wednesday arrested a Tamil politician and another suspect over a human smuggling operation.
Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana told Xinhua the Tamil politician is a member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and is a candidate for the local council elections in the east scheduled for September.
"Over the past few days there were reports of attempts by people to go overseas by boat illegally. We had reported how the Tamil diaspora may also be involved in human smuggling and that has now been confirmed with the arrest of the tow key suspects," the police spokesman said.
He said that the two suspects were believed to have been involved in attempts to send several Tamils to Australia by boat.
The two suspects were arrested from the eastern town of Trincomalee where several attempts were made in the recent days by asylum seekers to head to Australia by boat.
Rohana said that the suspects had taken money from the Tamils to send them overseas through illegal means.
He said that they are looking for more suspects who are alleged to be involved in the human smuggling racket.
Last week government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that the government suspected the rise in human smuggling attempts were part of an organized attempt by interested groups to tarnish the country's image.
Despite the risks of being caught by Sri Lankan authorities or perishing during their journey, many continue to risk their lives in exchange to reach Australia by boat.
According to the Australian media over 1,300 Sri Lankans illegally reached Australia by boat since January 2012.
The Sri Lankan navy and the police have meanwhile arrested hundreds of others over the past several weeks as they attempted to make the treacherous journey by boat.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The 13 victims – progenitors of the 30 years conflict

By-Leel Pathirana

July 23rd of 1983 narrate us the turning point of the 30 years ended war in Sri Lanka with the LTTE terrorist. Much talk about the subsequent incident happened in July 25th (Black July) and less talk about what happened on two nights back on July 23rd. Number 13 is considered a bad number or inauspicious mostly among Europe and America. There’s no thirteenth floor neither in the high storied buildings there and nor in hotels can be found room number thirteen.
Outbreak of the Sri Lankan thirty years separatist war was also begun from the 13, when the LTTE detonated a landmine on 23rd of July 1983 at Thrunelveli, Palai road in the Jaffna Peninsula. The victims were thirteen soldiers of the Sri Lankan Army, when they were moving in the night, at 23:45 hrs. However, killing of the thirteen soldiers SLA (Sri Lankan Army) became a turning-point and led to a three decade long separatist terrorist war. The conflict ended after losing more than one hundred thousand lives.
Under the post war Sri Lanka, we have achieved a military victory and the peace can be built among the hearts of both Sinhalese and Tamil through a genuine reconciliation mechanism plus a political solution for the minority Tamils. But the solution should be a Sri Lankan Model and not an alien or so-called solution proposed by the Westerners.
The aim of this article is to take a look back about the beginning of the conflict, particularly for the young generation of Sri Lanka who has born after 1983. But the reader should not be confused over this article with the North-East crisis of Sri Lanka and it’s root causes.
Velupillai Prabhakaran comes from Valvetiturai, (a place said to be a smugglers’ paradise) a small port town situated in Jaffna Peninsula and all illegal goods were brought by boats from South India and unloaded there. Having born there, he was engaged in smuggling business in the mid seventies. However there are no details available about his school life or education.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was founded on the 05th March 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran and the other founder members were Charles Lucas Anthony alias Colonel Seelan, Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias colonel Kittu and Aruna. After couple of years by 1978, Gopalaswami Mahendrarajah alias Mahattaya together with Ragavan and Anand too joined the Tamil separatists outfit.
In the beginning, armed with primary fire arms started to rob banks in order to find the funds for their organization. Subsequently, they started to assassinate what they called their opponents and the first victim was a distinguished political personality from their own minority Tamil, a former Member of Parliament and the Mayor of Jaffna, Mr. Alfred Duraiappa. He was gunned down by Prabakaran himself (?) on the 27th July 1976, in a Hindu temple though he was a catholic.
By the beginning of the eighties, they were well organized and began to launch guerilla attacks against the Sri Lankan Army. In their initial hostility campaign of Sri Lankan artillery Corporal, H.G.W.Hewawasam from Kuruvita and Corporal H.M.P.Thisera of Mathugama were killed on October 1981 on the KKS road in Jaffna. The attack was carried out by Charles Antony alias Seelan and some sources say he spat on the slain soldier’s face. In a separate incident, Sergeant Nihal Jayaweera also killed in Killinochchi same month on 23rd October 981.
However, Sri Lankan Army intelligence unit started monitoring the activities of Charles Anthony alias Seelan. Finally, on the 15th July 1983, Charles Lucas Anthony alias colonel Seelan was killed in a close encounter with the Sri Lankan Army at Meesalai, Thennamarachchi area located in the Jaffna Peninsula. The man who hailed from Trincomalee and being a catholic was a member of the original group that founded the LTTE and regarded as the confidante of the leadership and was part of a triumvirate that ran the LTTE in the north when the Tiger Leader was away in India. The other two were Mahattaya and Kittu.
There was a controversy over the death of Col. Seelan. While in a hideout at a coconut grove at Meesalai, Army ambushed the place where Seelan (Charles Anthony) Aruna and Anand were hiding. During the shoot out in which Aanand was killed on the spot, though Seelan and Aruna fought their way through but Seelan was critically injured. As the soldiers continued their chase, the wounded Seelan ordered Aruna to shoot him dead and get away with the weapons. But Aruna was reluctant and did not agree. After some heated argument he had no choice left, but to obey Seelan and shot him dead and escaped.
Praba, after being wedded to Mathivathany Erambu on 1984, both are Hindus, his first son was born in 1985, the tiger leader named his son Charles Antony in the fond memory of his confidante and the deputy.
After learning the fate of Seelan, Prabha was furious and mad. He wanted to take revenge on the Sri Lankan Army. Exactly after eighth day of the death of Seelan, Chellakili and Kittu planned an attack. They ambushed an army patrol “ Four Four Bravo” and detonated Army vehicle in the night at 23:45 hrs on 23rd July 1983 at Thirunelveli post office junction at Palali Road, Jaffna.
In the ambush, thirteen soldiers were killed, including an officer. It is said that even after the blast, some soldiers were alive, being critically injured. Both Prabha and Kittu approached the scene and shot the wounded soldiers in point blank range to make clear that all were dead.
The death of the thirteen soldiers triggered off anti-Tamil violence on 25th July 1983 (Black July 83) and led directly to an outbreak of the separatist war in Sri Lanka.
The 13 soldiers who sacrifice their lives were:
1. Lieutenant- A.P.N.E. Vaas Gunawardene
2. Staff Sergeant- S.A. Thilakarathne of Bandaragama
3. Sergeant- Guruge Premasiri Preyra of Homagama
4. Corporal-G.P. Perera of Battaramulla
5. Lance Corporal- S.S.Amarasinghe of Ganemulla
6. Lance Corporal- K.D.Karunarathne of Kaduwela
7. Lance Corporal-A.T.Wijesiri of Kegalla
8. Lance Corporal- S. Gamini Rajathilaka of Kegalla
9. Lance Corporal- M.B.D. Sunil of Nawalapitiya
10. Lance Corporal- A. Joseph Remijayas Fernado of Puttalam
11. Lance Corporal-D.M. Athula Dissanayake of Kandy
12. Lance Corporal-B.D. Robert of Kalutara
13. Lance Corporal-M.A. Sarath Chandralal Manatunge of Polgahawela
This incident spread every nook and corner of the island like a wildfire and the people of the south were furious. The bodies of the thirteen soldiers were air ferried from Jaffna to Colombo on the day after (24th) and the arrangements were made by then the Government to hand over the bodies of the soldiers to their respective families. But having done that, the Government was under impression once those bodies being taken to their villages, the situation may go worse since the people were about to react.
Finally, the government changed the arrangements and decided to give a State Funeral on 25th for all the soldiers at Colombo cemetery. At the time the bodies of the thirteen soldiers being buried, the impatience angry crowds started to react. As reprisal, properties of the Tamils in Colombo and suburb were set ablaze and some Tamils were killed by the violent crowds.
The anti Tamil violence spread to the other part of the island, where Tamils lived. Though the curfew was imposed, mobs showed scant respect and boldly carried out attacks on the Tamils and their properties. Thirty five Tamil prisoners were killed inside Colombo’s Welikada prison on 25th and on the 27th claiming further eighteen prisoners.
Most of the damages were done by the state sponsored mob who acted under the direction of some ministers of the then United National Party government.
On the 30th July 1983, by a special Gazette notification, the Government banned unlawfully and undemocratically, three leftwing political parties of Sri Lanka and alleged that they had been involved anti Tamil violence. They were JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna-Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party of Sri Lanka and the Samasamaja Party (Troskyist). Orders went to all the police stations throughout the island to arrest the leader of the JVP, Rohana Wijeweera (Who was later killed after seven years on 13th November 1989 when he was arrested) and the other two leaders of the communist party and Samasamaja Party. But the government’s top priority was to arrest the leader of the JVP and less attention was paid to other two leaders. The ban on the Communist party and the Samasamaja party were lifted after few months, but the ban on JVP continued up to eleven years till 1994.
Finally, the killing of thirteen soldiers and the subsequent anti Tamil violence on 25th July led to the creation of two insurgencies in Sri Lanka. Number one was, forming a Terrorist group, the LTTE which became world’s ruthless terrorist group fighting for separate home land in northern Sri Lanka, and ended after almost thirty years loosing uncountable number of lives.
The other was, launching the second JVP insurgency 1988/89 fighting against social injustice, Indian intervention and restore democracy for a united Sri Lanka for both Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority, was also ended up in a fiasco losing more than sixty thousand lives. Both were the consequences of the legacy, left by the European Colonialism in post-independent Ceylon.
- Asian Tribune -

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lanka’s HR report to UNHRC

Posted by on July 22, 2012

Sri Lanka’s report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva will be sent to the Council tomorrow to be studied by some member states.
Government Minister and special envoy on human rights Mahinda Samarasinghe said that the report was earlier given to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his approval and it will be sent to Geneva tomorrow.
He said that three countries including India are expected to study the document and make recommendations before it is placed before the council during the UPR session in November.
The efforts taken by the government to address human rights related issues will be the focus of the UPR session in November.
Samarasinghe says Sri Lanka has addressed most of the outstanding issues and is confident of receiving the backing of most member states during the UPR session.

To compliment Sri Lanka’s Military achievements Tamils must live without Caste and Class say Mullaitivu Tamils

By Shenali Waduge
Anyone keen to know and understand the dynamics of Sri Lanka’s conflict will need to also realize that the cries of discrimination by the Sinhalese was an orchestrated plan to keep hidden from the world the fact that Tamils were and wanted to continue to remain divided by caste and class so that only a handful of Tamils would between themselves enjoy education, social and political development.
Now that Sri Lanka’s military has eliminated the terrorist factor, what remains is the need to vanquish the caste and class divisions that continues to remain unabated. While the military continues to do a remarkable service it is now left to the civilians to abandon centuries of discrimination and to allow these marginalized Tamils their right to live just like the high caste/class Tamils.
The rights of Tamil children taken and made into child combatants, the rights of women often raped, drugged or brainwashed leaving them no choice but to become suicide cadres were all silently acknowledged by Colombo-based Tamil political parties. Over the years LTTE took one after another to make them part of their terror outfit. That silence was because these Tamil children, women and men were not high caste or high class Tamils – they were all low caste Tamils that were shown no empathy or sympathy from other Tamils but became tools to showcase a different story, a story of Sinhala oppression that would enable high caste/class Tamils to reap the benefits.
However much Tamils may try they cannot deny or excuse the many riots that have taken place over decades because Tamil low castes could not bear the unfair and unjust treatment of their own people.
Mullaitivu is just one of the districts that formed a nexus of these low caste non-Vellala Tamils to be recruited to the LTTE. Today, the entire district comprising 6 AGA divisions (Maritimepattu, Oddusuddan, Puthukudiyirippu, Thunukkai, Manthai and Weli Oya) is a home to a little over 90,000 Tamil civilians, 34,000 of whom are located in Maritimepattu.
Little does any observer need to be told how appreciative these ordinary men and women are for the manner Sri Lanka’s armed forces continue to assist them. Contrary to what Colombo-based Tamil politicians taking orders from neighboring India will declare, the people of Mullaitivu have struck a close bond with the military having realized that they are not the enemy afterall. It is natural for the military to be regarded as they have been when these people have been told day in and day out nothing other than the cruelties inflicted by the Army and the Sinhalese people. To change that attitude and fear it not only takes time, it needs the patience of the military and the understanding of the ground realities that prevailed for these people to think so.
Nevertheless, the army has certainly won the people over and it is this victory that has Colombo-based Tamil politicians desiring to continue the caste/class divide using the Sinhalese once again that is attempting to try all sorts of googly’s.
There is much that the people of Mullaitivu are thankful for. Other than being a contributing factor to the LTTE in terms of men and women, these people have had no other life to enjoy. Today, the roads that were once used to carry out terrorist attacks, narcotics and other illicit practices has been carpeted and people have benefited by the infrastructural developments taking place spearheaded by the military. The road from Mankulam to Mullaitivu, Paranthan to Mullaitivu, Pulliyankulam to Mullaitivu, Weli Oya to Mullaitivu are being carpeted.
The men are today not holding arms and ammunition but able to engage freely in some form of livelihood with many taking up to fishing, agricultivation and other small businesses. Even the women have begun to start small enterprises of their own. There are already over 75 government schools in operation and children have no fear of being kidnapped and turned into killers by Tamil tigers. To understand exactly how these civilians feel happy in a habitat without guns and killing, people need to do more than just give out statements from Colombo ridiculing the armed forces.
The military has successfully completed over 250 houses and gifted them to families strengthening further the ties that are building between the Tamil civilians that have suffered through decades of LTTE/Tamil politician hostility. It is this bond that has helped to make them feel that their safety is being looked after and protected by Sri Lanka’s military which has suddenly got the Colombo-based Tamil politicians to panic in view of the possible collapse of their power over their own people if this bond stretches to other districts of the North.
While the military has built 250 houses the Indian Government has succeeded to build 50 only of the 50,000 promised in Maritimepattu using Indian materials brought in from India. This certainly showcases the effectiveness and efficiency of Sri Lanka’s military.
Nevertheless, while acknowledging attempts to continue subversive activities and to once more instill a divide amongst the Tamil people against the armed forces what is also true is that there is a limit to what the armed forces can do. The fact that the uniform is in itself an automatic divider is something we need to admit. Therefore what is now needed is for the Government to use its line ministries to passionately take on the task of administering the peoples needs that is part and parcel of what they are paid to do.
What needs to be mentioned highlighting the limitations to some of the civilian efforts is that the caste/class barriers existing amongst the Tamils is manifesting itself in the public sector service mechanism too. A good example is when Government appointed officials in key areas like education turn out to function with a lackluster attitude because they belong to the high caste and do not wish to uplift the status of their own people. The people of Mullaitivu are disgusted with the situation wherein most feel that they were ruled by Jaffna Tamils and the Jaffna Tamils want to continue to ruin them even now.
The Government cannot recruit looking at people’s caste or class neither can a Government look at the caste/class in determining which Tamil public servant should serve. Naturally as a Tamil, we would expect all Tamils to be keen to undo 3 decades wherein children of the areas like Mullaitivu have been neglected educationally and socially. Nevertheless the truth of the matter is far different and is posing a greater tragedy to the reconciliation.
Foreign governments seem to have neglected to place the significance of the caste/class factors that divide Tamils which is far more detrimental than the bogus propaganda promoted about Sinhala oppression. The Colomb-based Tamil politicians themselves part of the higher class/caste are all the while attempting to hide this truth.
What needs to essentially be done is to create more communication channels – open forums that villagers can come face to face with public officials and put across their issues. This is what leads to severe criticisms about Sri Lanka’s public service something shared by all the citizens throughout the entire country. Once again what the Government needs to realize and what the President needs to wake up to is that his entire legislative bodies from Ministers, to the line Ministries, their officials, advisors, consultants and trickling down to the public sector need to realize they are supposed to be working for the people and that service now needs to rejuvenate itself from the pace it is currently functioning in.
There is a limit to what the military can do to make up for the shortcomings of the public sector apparatus and this calls for the President to intervene to wake up the entire public sector of Sri Lanka.
- Asian Tribune -