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April 26, 2008

Apr 27-May3: " War does not determine who is right - only who is left " - Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Philosopher

Human rights abuses in Sri Lanka flourish under veil of secrecy

Statement by Amnesty International

Ensuring respect for human rights around the world very often relies on impartial and rigorous media coverage – without exposure and public scrutiny abuses can flourish under a veil of secrecy and denial. [FI]

Universal values provide basis for dialogue

Full Text of Media Release by National Peace Council of Sri Lanka:

The human and economic costs of war are taking an ever increasing toll on Sri Lankan society. The battles at Muhamalai in the north in which several hundreds of combatants either died or were injured serves as a reminder of the costs of war and further costs that lie ahead. [FI]

Press Imprisoned

By Jacqueline Park

In Sri Lanka, Tamil journalist Munusamy Parameshwari is now 24. She fled her country recently and is in hiding after receiving death threats for several years. Her family was also threatened.

From November 2006 to March 2007, Parameshwari was detained without charge under anti-terrorist laws. Shortly after her release she was abducted and assaulted by several men in uniform who warned her to discontinue her reporting. [FI]

How does one become Sinhalese or Tamil in Sentiment?

by Michael Roberts

My interpretation of the present impasse in the politics of Sri Lanka, determined as it is by the competitive jostling-cum-conflicts between the three main ethnic groups (where “Muslim” is ‘ethnic’ by virtue of its relationship of opposition to “Sinhalese”and “Tamil” in the same sentence), leans towards an emphasis on how one should address present circumstances. [FI]

Time Has Come For Fresh Indian Initiative in Sri Lanka?

by Col R Hariharan (retd.) [FI]

Sri Lankans pray for miracles as civilians pay high price

by Mel Gunasekera [AFP]

On the lingering conflict and worsening conditions

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

The November 2005 Presidential election could be termed as a turning point in the effort to seek a political solution to the protracted

ethnic problem that escalated since 1983 into a gory war destroying about 70,000 lives and displacing tens of thousands of families from their habitats. Paradoxically, both the Sinhala nationalist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the separatist rebel group the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) were responsible for the outcome of the last Presidential election. [FI]

Tigers Demonstrate Military Prowess at Muhamaalai Front

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

For many,many moons the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse has been projecting an image that everything is going well for the security forces on the military front.

The people of this country have been the targets of a sustained propaganda barrage claiming that everything was hunky-dory for the regime in the on going war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The scale of this propaganda has been so great that many people in the South were taken in and believed that "victory" over the tigers was imminent. [TC]

Bob Rae Calls for Canadian Leadership on Sri Lanka

Pointing out the “continuing fighting an terrible loss of life in Sri Lanka,” Mr Rae, former Ontario Premier and an advisor to an earlier round of peace talks, said in a media release issued in Canada’s Liberal party website that “The world can’t just sit back and let this death and destruction happen. [FI]

Is it the end of Wimal, the politician?

by MSM Ayub

However much one faction is small, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is divided, and leaders of the party could not hide the division, when they spoke on the present crisis, claiming as usual that this was a problem involving one individual. [FI]

All Lands Home

Suresh Joachim, Canada’s full-time record-breaker seeks fame

by Saira Peesker

Professional record-breaker Suresh Joachim always knew that if he wanted people to listen to him, he’d have to make a name for himself.

Then he discovered the Guinness Book of World Records.

Now a stay-at-home dad and full-time record-breaker, Suresh has broken 53 world records — including longest karaoke marathon (25 hours, 49 minutes), longest time spent standing on one foot (76 hours, 40 minutes) and longest continuous ironing (55 hours, five minutes). [TC]

Arts - Culture- Heritage

Sneha: Fifty Not Out

Buoyancy is an important term in her resume. Every time she slips into oblivion, she resurfaces with a vengeance. With half-a-dozen Tamil films taking off this year, actor Sneha is over the moon. [Hindu]

Bombay Jayashree: My first break

My grandfathers were bhagavathars. My parents were Carnatic music teachers. At eight, I started learning Carnatic music. I gave my first concert in 1982 in our own colony on Ganesh Chathurthi day. [Hindu]

['Pozhuthu Pularnthathu' by Bombay Jayashree~a You Tube Presentation]

April 19, 2008

Apr 20-26: "Language is the picture and counterpart of thought " - Mark Hopkins (1802-1887), American educator

“Too Little , Too Late” considerations will not satisfy Tamils, Mano Ganesan speaks out in Swarnavahini TV show

“You are now considering provincial councils. These provincial councils law was made part of the constitution by 13th amendment in year 1987. You have taken 20 full years for just mere consideration. [FI]

Over-Confident SLA Again Walks Into A Deadly LTTE Trap

by B. Raman

For the second time in less than two years, an over-confident Sri Lankan Army (SLA) has walked into a deadly trap laid by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Muhamalai area near Jaffna in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka on April 23 ,2008, and faced a rout. [TC]

Government bars photographers, censors news from war front

Government officials barred photographers from entering hospitals where soldiers injured in battle are being treated, four photo journalists told the Free Media Movement (FMM) yesterday. Hitherto, photographers have had no problems in entering hospitals to report on the casualties of war. It is highly likely that these measures have been taken after heavy losses (numbering in the hundreds) faced by the Sri Lankan Army earlier this week after fighting intensified in the North. [FI]

Iran To Train Sri Lankan Intelligence & Army Officers

By B. Raman

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran is to visit Sri Lanka for two days from April 28, 2008, in response to an invitation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had visited Iran in November, 2007. [TC]

Tigers' feint kills 100 Sri Lanka troops

From Iqbal Athas

More than 100 Sri Lankan soldiers were killed and another 400 wounded Wednesday when troops attempted to advance toward a stronghold of the Tamil Tigers rebel organization, highly placed army sources told CNN. [CNN]

Claymore Kills “Kili Father” M.X. Karunaratnam at Ambaikulam

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

One more name was added last sunday to Sri Lanka’s growing list of Tamil Christian clergymen killed in the on going ethnic conflict.

The latest victim was the Catholic priest Rev.Fr Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam popularly known as “Kilifather” .He was killed in a claymore mine explosion on April 20th. [TC]

IDPs continue to flee fighting in northwest

Intensified fighting in recent months in Sri Lanka’s restive northwestern Mannar District has forced more than 16,000 people to flee to safe areas within the region. [FI]

Senior U.S. State Department Official Visits Sri Lanka April 20-22 

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Don Camp visited Colombo April 20-22 as part of the U.S. Government’s regular, ongoing consultations with the Sri Lankan Government. [FI]

NPC laments Rev Fr Karunaratnam assassination

A Lamentable Loss to Civil Society and to the Country:

The killing of Fr Karunaratnam adds to the heavy toll of humanitarian, human rights and religious workers killed in the course of the ethnic conflict. The National Peace Council condemns this targeted killing of a senior Catholic priest and human rights worker. [FI]

Chanaka at 50

by Nirgunan Tiruchelvam

Dr. Chanaka Amaratunga, the founder of the Liberal Party, turns 50 today, April 19th. In cricket, when a batsman crosses 50 he raises his bat to acknowledge the applause of the crowd. But Chanaka, a lifelong hater of cricket, was not a man who played to the gallery.In fact, a defiance of populism defined his career. [TC]

The rise in rice prices: A conundrum of sorts

by Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne

The rise in rice prices is not favourable for the agricultural sector. Those who claim that it is so, point to the rise in value of agricultural products. In fact, strong claims are being made of rising prices not only of rice but also, of rubber, coconut and tea. It is true that small producers of all these and other commercial agricultural products are to some extent enjoying the boom. However, the actual situation does not justify the claims of the Government. [FI]

Video: Governor of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank, on conclusive victory and maintaining economic growth

The Colombo government believes it can win a conclusive victory over the rebels and maintain Sri Lanka’s economic growth.

Ajith Cabraal, Governor of Sri Lanka’s central bank talks to Stephen Sackur, BBC: [TC-YouTube]

Designing a pluralist peace process in Sri Lanka

By Harim Peiris

Sri Lanka’s peace process faces two strategic challenges, firstly transforming the Sri Lankan state to accommodate the full diversity of its society and secondly transforming the LTTE from a military organization to a socio-political one. [FI]

Closed Wounds

Priyanka looks for closure on her father's case. Willy-nilly, it becomes a political act. ......

By Saba Naqvi Bhaumik

Grief and forgiveness. Rage and repentance. Tears and atonement. The meeting between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Nalini, one of her father's assassins, must have encompassed some of the strongest emotions of the human condition. It could have been the stuff of great world literature, maybe even a Dostoevsky novel in another time, were it not a riveting piece of contemporary news. So, immediately questions were raised: was this just an act of reconciliation by Priyanka or did she still have questions about her father's death? [OutlookIndia]

All Lands Home

Woe Canada: Keeping Canada in Afghanistan 

By Samantha Power

The U.S. does not often look north to gauge its own security prospects. But over the past few months, Canada has been quietly embroiled in one of the most revealing political and international-security debates since the end of the cold war. It's a debate critical to the future of NATO. And its outcome may tell us a lot about the fate of the U.S.'s struggle against terrorism. [Time]

April 12, 2008

Apr 13-19: "Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous "- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) Irish dramatist

Why 13th Amendment per se is inadequate?

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

Many problems created and neglected by successive governments continue to deny Sri Lanka stability, unity, peace and social and economic development benefiting the people in all provinces and ethnic groups. The disparities in overall income distribution and in the living conditions of the people in different provinces have also widened. Many citizens face an uncertain future. The centralized system failed to promote the development of all provinces and address the pressing problems of the people in the neglected regions. [FI]

Gandhi daughter visits assassin

Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, says she has met a woman serving a jail term for her father’s assassination.

Ms Gandhi said she met Nalini Sriharan last month in a prison in Vellore in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. [TC]

Displaced Our Lady of Madhu Statue: Danger of Disappearance

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Orders going out to the 57 division in late march directed that the area in and around our Lady of the Rosary church in Marudhamadhu (Madhu) be taken by the traditional April new year. [TC]

Jeyaraj Fernandopulle: “Minority” Man of the Masses from Manalsenai

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Dale Carnegie of “How to win Friends and Influence People” fame once observed that a man’s name is the sweetest sound in any language to him.Departed cabinet minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and I had in common the sweetest sound of any language. [TC]

Let us All Go Back Home to Africa

By: Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”-George Weber

V.Suryanarayanan, in his recent article in the Sri Lanka Guardian (4th April’08) cites a conversation narrated in the novel, ‘When Memory Dies’ by A.Sivanandan. Uncle Para tells Vijay,” When memory dies a people die”. Vijay asks Uncle Para, “But if we make false memories”? Uncle Para responds,” That’s worse, that is murder”. [FI]

Knowledge Imperialism

An essay by Dr V Ramakishnan, Emeritus Professor, Eastern University

It is about time education is elevated to centre-stage as the main focus of the national debate. A regular review of what goes on in our schools and universities will have healthy implications for the long term well being of the larger community we live in - the future of our children and of generations yet to come.

“Sarvathaari”- dawns April 13th, 2008

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“Puththaandu” or “Puthu Varusham” literally translates New Year. The New Year is the harbinger of spring. Tamil and Sinhala New Year dawns on April 13th 2008 at 4.55 pm according to Vaakkiya Panchaangam, and at 6.29 pm according to Thirukanitha Panchaangam on Poosam Natchaththiram first stage. Vishu Punniya Kaalam or auspicious time is 12.55 pm to 8.55pm. Panchaangam is an almanac. [HA]

The ‘Tamil Nation’ Vetoes the Tamil New Year

by Dharman Dharmaratnam

The ‘Tamil Nation’ website was launched in 1998. The Editor, Satyendra Nadesan, an Attorney at Law based in the United Kingdom, represents one strand of the Tamil diaspora who had left Sri Lanka in the early 1980s. Many appear to have since lost touch with the ground reality in the island. [TC]

A response to pseudo Hindus who oppose Thai first as Thamil New Year

by V.Thangavelu, President Thamil Creative Writers Association

Opposition has been voiced by a small bunch of individuals who are Hindus against the change in the birth of Thamil New Year. They claim the change is against tradition and borders on blasphemy. Such people are superficial and naive in many ways. [TC]

IIGEP observations on Presidential Commission of Inquiry into HR Violations

Public Statement by The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP):

As you may be aware, the IIGEP is in Sri Lanka at the invitation of the President to observe the work of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into 16 cases of human rights violations and killings. The IIGEP is further mandated to make recommendations to the Commission for corrective action, and to report to the President of Sri Lanka whether the investigations and inquiries conducted by the Commission are in accordance with international norms and standards. [FI]

Rise in Muslim Discontent

by Col R Hariharan (retd.)

The political style of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his use of military option in handling the Tamil insurgency have split almost all political parties which have been compelled to make hard political choices. Starting with the United National Party (UNP), the latest episode in the “split-story” is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). [FI]

History-making in Lanka–I:Problems

by Michael Roberts

Central themes in the understanding of Sri Lanka’s recent as well ancient history have been fashioned by two occupational categories, namely, schoolteachers and politicians. The school teachers of the first 75 years of the 20th century were mostly well-meaning personnel trained in the British empiricist traditions. [FI]

Several hospitals in northern Sri Lanka face increasing challenges

Statement by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):

The limited number of staff available to care for routine cases alongside war casualties has become a critical issue for several hospitals in northern Sri Lanka. In addition, the lack of regular deliveries of supplies from the country’s health ministry has resulted in clinics and hospitals in the Vanni (the four northern districts of Sri Lanka) running out of basic medicines such as paracetamol, antibiotics and vaccines. [FI]

'Like a Tsunami That Won't End'

After a Failed Cease-Fire in 25-Year War, Weary Sri Lankans Fear the Worst

By Emily Wax

As gray-bellied clouds started to blot out the scorching sun, Sara Waeathi, 46, and her sister Kannaga, 30, called their seven children inside just as a light rain accelerated to a downpour. [Washington Post]

April 05, 2008

Apr 6-12: "A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience." -Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) Physician, Poet & Writer

Attack on arms sale to Sri Lanka

By James Mallet

Roy Isbister, head of arms exports controls at Saferworld, said that the EU code of conduct forbids arms exports where there is a danger the weapons could be used against civilians. [BBC News]

Our Lady of Madhu Joins Fellowship of Internally Displaced

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Marian church dedicated to our Lady of the Holy Rosary at Marudhamadhu - commonly known as Madhu - in the North - western district of Mannar has provided safety and refuge at different times to thousands of people fleeing the violence of war. [TC]

Madhu Church: Tragic Casualty of Politico-Military Crossfire

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The continuing strife between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has had many unintended consequences.

Chief among them are the numerous victims caught in the politico - military crossfire of a conflict they were never a part of. [TC]

Safegurad Madhu Shrine from War

Press Statement by National Peace Council of Sri Lanka

The ongoing military battles in the north are now threatening the security of one of the country’s most sacred religious sites, the Madhu shrine. [FI]

Wimal Weerawansa and the JVP

By R.Venugopal

The suspension of Wimal Weerawansa, the JVP ’s public face and most popular leader is an event of immense signficance for the JVP and is fraught with possibility. [TC]

‘Against violent oppression, violent resistance is moral’

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka Interviewed by Juliette Perrier in Geneva for Afrique Asie

Reputed academic, author of ‘Fidel’s Ethics of Violence’, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka is today the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva. He fervently defends the policy of his government against the Tamil Tigers, the secessionists of the North-East whom he describes as ‘Fanatics’: [FI]

These Monks Aren't Freedom Fighters

The radical Jathika Hela Urumaya party rose to power after a wave of church burnings across Sri Lanka in 2004. The party both exploited and fostered this explosive environment by campaigning on a platform of Buddhist supremacy and on promises to criminalize religious conversions.

With attacks against Sri Lanka's Christian minority on the rise, I was shocked that The Post linked militant monks in Sri Lanka's ruling elite with nonviolent Buddhist protesters in Tibet and Burma. [Washington Post]

Fernandopulle’s Assassination Likely to Trigger Fresh Offensive

By Col R Hariharan (retd.)

The assassination of Sri Lanka Highways Minister and Chief Government whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle (55) by a suicide bomb blast at Gampaha district on Sunday (April 6) morning has deprived the President Rajapaksa of his point’s man in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The minister was killed along with 11 others when he was flagging off a marathon race as part of the Sinhala (and Tamil) New Year’s Day celebration at Weliweriya. Over 95 others were injured in the blast. [TC]

NPC: Path of Violence and War is too Costly

[Full Text of Press Release by national peace Council of Sri Lanka]

The assassination of Minister of Highways and Road Development, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and the killing of 14 others including some of the country’s athletic stars, and the injuring of over 80 others by a suicide bomb attack at a new year Marathon race adds to the long list of political leaders and civilians whose lives have been cruelly taken due to the long unresolved ethnic conflict. The National Peace Council condemns this bombing which is suspected to be by the LTTE. Targeting of civilian events for violence is reprehensible. [FI]

Churches damaged/destroyed by Aerial bombing and shelling in the North of Sri Lanka

Not all the Churches damaged and destroyed are included in this list. The real figure is higher.

Name of Church Parish Address A.G.A. Division Extent of the damage: [TC]

Mounting Civilian Casualties as Conflict Persists

[Public Statement by Amnesty International]

Amnesty International condemns the suicide bomb attack of 6 April 2008 in Gampaha district, Weliveriya, near Colombo. The bomb blast killed at least 12 people, including Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, a senior government minister, and injured over 90 people including children. [FI]

High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns Sri Lanka bomb attack

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has strongly condemned the suicide bombing which killed a Government minister and at least 14 other people at the start of a marathon in Sri Lanka, on 6 April. She also extended her condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, as the funerals of the victims continued to take place on Thursday. [TC]

All Lands Home

Fictitious capital puts America in turmoil and may trigger a global food crisis

by Rajan Philips

What Marx called “fictitious capital” would seem to have been a more frequent and spectacular destabilizer of real economies than what he elaborately diagnosed as the principal contradiction of capitalism between rising production and stagnating markets. Fictitious capital is that portion of capital that exists on paper and speculation in excess of real assets and real production. [FI]

Subramania Bharati’s Letters: a treasure trove

The Letters to the Editor the great Tamil poet contributed to The Hindu between 1904 and 1916 have a remarkable range

C. Subramania Bharati (1882 - 1921) is indisputably the greatest of modern Tamil poets. He was a precocious child, and his prodigious talent at verse earned him the title of Bharati even as a boy. He briefly taught Tamil at Madurai before joining the Swadesamitran. The nationalist Tamil daily was founded by G. Subramania Iyer, one of the founders of The Hindu. [Hindu]

Arts - Culture - Heritage

Profound and provocative

Sujatha had a new take on everything in the Tamil world of letters.

Sujatha, a well-known writer in the Tamil language, had an impact on the 21st century readers which went well beyond the bounds of his immediate circle of readership. His success as a short story writer and a novelist has been phenomenal and he was appreciated for his attention grabbing style and versatility, which delighted a whole generation of readers. [Hindu]