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June 28, 2008

Jun 29-Jul 5: "Courage conquers all things." - Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC – 17 AD) Roman poet

Toronto setting for Tamil Comedy [Toronto Sun]
Toronto Tamils give from the heart [Toronto Sun] 

Tamil Journalists meet President on safety concerns

Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) members met with President Mahinda Rajapakse today and handed over a letter seeking his intervention in relation to several matters of hardships faced by journalists, particularly Tamil journalists in Sri Lanka today, Jul 3. [TC]

Sri Lanka Government Illegally Holding Civilians Fleeing Fighting in the North

The Sri Lankan government should end the arbitrary detention of more than 400 civilians displaced by recent fighting at a newly established camp in northern Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said today. [TC]

An Analysis of the Military Situation

by Col. R. Hariharan (Retd.)

Years back when I was a young officer in the Regiment of Artillery, our regiment moved from New Mal in Eastern India to Deolali in Western India. On the day of our departure we trooped into the railway station with our trucks, baggage, stores and all the men at 6 am in the morning. [FI]

ICRC deplores loss of civilian life

Recent months have seen further attacks targeting civilians in different parts of Sri Lanka. Over the past three months, at least 80 civilians have lost their lives in indiscriminate attacks on public transport and crowded public places [TC]

All three communities must put heads together

Interview with Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance

By Shanika Sriyananda

Q: You have met the high level Indian delegation which came to Colombo last week. What was the outcome of the meeting?

A: We basically exchanged views about the present situation in Sri Lanka.[FI]

India Seeks Clarification about Ongoing War in Sri Lanka

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Bible relates the tale of how three wise men of the east travelled more than two thousand years ago to Bethlehem and paid homage to the infant Jesus with gifts such as gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In a replay with a twist “three wise  men “ of India boarded an Indian Air Force plane in New Delhi and paid a 36 hour visit to Sri Lanka. [TC]

Promoting reading, among children in Sri Lanka plantations

In view of the ‘Literacy Day’ on 8th September, and the ‘Month of Reading’ in October, PREDO had declared five months from June to October as the “Library book collection campaign period. [TW]

Arts - Culture- Heritage

Kokkadichcholai 166 + : A poem in Thamil translated

The following is a translation of a poem  written in Thamil by Nadchathiran Chevvinthiyan, a Lankan now abroad.

The English version by K.S. Sivakumaran appeared in the Sunday Leader of August 29, 1995. [TW]

All Lands Home

Land Transfer to Hindu Site Inflames Kashmir’s Muslims

Tens of thousands of Muslim demonstrators filled the streets in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Friday, burning flags and effigies of Indian leaders on a fifth day of protests against the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine. [NY Times]

June 21, 2008

June 22-28: " Either I will find a way, or I will make one " - (1554-1586) English Soldier/Poet

Rise in the need for liberation in Sri Lanka

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam 

The specific meaning of the term ‘liberation’ depends on the causes that led to its need and the prevailing conditions that make the victim/victims feel there is no early redemption. However, it has an imprecise and insincere meaning when it is used merely as a handy tool in politics. [FI]

China Doing a Myanmar in Sri Lanka?

by B. Raman

Is China doing a Myanmar in Sri Lanka by capitalising on the policy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa of diversifying Sri Lanka's geo-political options even while professing close friendship with India? [TC]

Internally Displaced Persons in Puttlam launch new Political Front

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“We lack road, water, and housing facilities. Our children are unable to attend school regularly as there is no proper transport service. We don’t have any facility and leading the same life even now as same as 18 years ago”.[TC]

Putting Indian Delegation's Visit in Perspect

by Col R Hariharan (Retd.) 

The unpublicised two-day visit of a high power Indian delegation  consisting of the  National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, and  the Defence Secretary Vijaya Singh to Colombo a few days back has touched off a wide range of speculations among Sri Lankan politicians and media. [FI]

Indian “Trio” Visit and the Colombo SAARC Summit

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The sudden visit to Sri Lanka last week by a high level three – member delegation from India lasted around 36 hours. The unanticipated mission has brought in its wake a flurry of speculative news items about its aims and objectives. [TC]

It's the war that is stupid

by Rajan Philips

It would be stupid to lose sight of any war, but the bigger folly is not to realize that war itself is stupid. War is not a public good; it never was. It may have been a necessary evil in times past, but nothing less than avoidable madness at the present time. [TC]

Jaffna Parliamentarian R. M. Emaam appeals to negotiate for Peace

The government should negotiate with the LTTE to find a permanent solution to this problem. The Government should not believe bankrupt politicians or opportunists. Since the LTTE is ready for peace, the Government should welcome it. [TW]

Arts - Culture- Heritage 

Dasavatharam and Dasavatharam

Kamal Haasan played ten different roles in Dasavatharam. Interestingly in Hindu mythology, Dasavatharam signifies the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. [TW]

Fearless foray

U.S.-based filmmaker Arun Vaidyanathan is busy shooting his first full-length feature ‘Achamundu Achamundu,’ in New Jersey [Hindu]

June 14, 2008

June 15-21: "Courage is grace under pressure." - Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American Journalist, writer, novelist

Defending Tamil Canadians

by Manjula Selvarajah

The non-profit “World Tamil Movement” is the first ever domestic group to be targeted by Canada's Minister of Safety. The Tamil community is shaken, but it is the general populace who should take notice. [NP]

India a blundering necessity in Sri Lanka

By Kusal Perera

Most recently, our Foreign Minister who was in India to formally invite the Indian PM Dr. Singh for the SAARC Summit, was reported to have told the Indian media that India should not interfere in Sri Lankan issues. India has been involved in Sri Lankan issues, very many times in the past too, beginning with the citizenship issue of Indian origin Tamil people resident here. The Northern Tamil issue came in lately. [TC]

Objections to the Assistance and Protection to Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill

by Dulani Kulasinghe

Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system suffers from a dearth of successful prosecutions. One reason often cited for this is the failure of witnesses to come forward to give evidence, in particular when the State has been implicated in the crime. Also cited is witnesses’ withdrawal from the legal process after commencement of trial due to threats and intimidation coupled with interminably delayed trial processes. [FI]

The 13th amendment ‘farce’

by Lal Wijenayake

The All Parties Representative Committee (ARPC) recommendation regarding the full implementation of the Provincial Council system, that was introduced through the 13th amendment to the constitution in 1987 as the solution to the ethnic problem has to be considered in depth. Otherwise all studies done and efforts made after 1987 to find a solution to the ethnic problem and advances made towards that will be of no avail and we will be pushed back to square one. [FI]

Preserve the Core and Stimulate Progress

by Arvalan 

The book offers some invaluable insights into the current impasse in the negotiations between the Tamil and the Sinhalese Nations.  These insights, if used effectively, may drive the parties concerned to an amicable settlement to bring prosperity to the people of the island. [FI]

Jaffna Report, Jun 17, 2008

by Commission for Justice and Peace

The President of the Union of the Jaffna District Fisheries has made an urgent appeal to the Non Govt. Organisations functioning in the district to provide relief for the 2,800 fishing families from Gurunagar, Passayoor and Columbuthurai who are facing death from starvation due to ban on fishing consequent to the attack in the lagoon on 28th May.  Most of the families which were existing on a hand to mouth existence had been badly hit and as such they require urgent relief in the form of dry food rations. [TC]

INSI: Ensure Safety of Regional Representative, Frederica Jansz

An unidentified person phoned Ms Jansz at 1130 on 14 June and, speaking in Sinhalese, said she was involved in a lot of unnecessary work and must cease immediately or in a very short period of time see what would happen to her. When asked to be more specific about the so-called unnecessary work, the caller responded that she knew what it was and then repeated the threat before hanging up. [TC]

BBC Video: Policemen die in Sri Lanka Attack

Last TULF Leader Standing: Sangaree at Seventy Five

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Eighteen Members were elected to Parliament from the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1977 .This was an election of historic importance where the TULF contested on a separatist platform saying a victory at the polls was a mandate for Tamil Eelam.

Three decades and more have passed since then. Thirteen of the eighteen MP’s elected in 1977 are not among the living now. [TC]

Minister Rambukwella threatens Principal of Royal College

Principal forced to withdraw suspension on Minister’s son after robbery in school

The   Principal of Royal College Upali Gunasekera was last week forced under threat and pressure to revoke an order instituting disciplinary action against the son of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella for committing robbery and mischief in the school premises. [TC]

Caller from +94 11 2424617 threatens journalist

Statement by Free Media Movement

The Free Media Movement (FMM) is deeply alarmed that another well-known journalist received a death threat this morning from an unknown caller. Former deputy Editor of the Sunday Leader, Editor of monthly magazine Montage and leading investigative journalist and South Asia co-coordinator of International News Safety Institute (INSI) Frederica Jansz received the death threat at approximately 11.30am. [TC]

Tissainayagam: Enough is enough, free him or charge him

By Ameen Izzadeen

As the sun's first rays at 5.55 a.m. today gently stroked this blessed land troubled by three decades of war, wiping out darkness and assuring a better tomorrow, senior journalist Tissainayagam wakes up to the horrible reality that he has spent 100 days in detention in a cell at the Terrorism Investigations Department. [TC]

It's the war, stupid

by Dayan Jayatilleka

Sri Lanka has a bizarre intelligentsia. Some don’t really mind the LTTE. Others do but that’s because they also mind any Tamil who speaks his or her mind. Still others mind the LTTE but think that they aren’t the country’s main problem. There are very few whose threat perception of the LTTE is of the correct dimensions, but are also sensitive to the need for a more enlightened consciousness and drastically improved inter-ethnic relations. [TC]

Sri Lankan envoy raises concerns over the British monarchy

Sri Lanka’s envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council raised concerns over Britain’s monarchy, leading to the HRC stating in its report that the UK must “consider holding a referendum on the desirability or otherwise of a written constitution, preferably republican” according to to British press reports Saturday. [TW]

All Lands Home

The Power of Human Empathy

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivers her Commencement Address.  “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. [Video & Full Text: Harvard Mag]

Top US TV journalist Russert dies

Mr Russert, 58, was the Washington Bureau Chief for US network NBC, and was known for his tough interviews on the weekly "Meet the Press" programme.

Before entering journalism, he worked for senior Democratic politicians Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Mario Cuomo. [BBC]

Che standing tall in native Argentina

Monument dedication on 80th anniversary of revolutionary's birth reflects national shift

Che Guevara has finally come home—or at least a 10-foot-high bronze version has.

Home isn't Cuba, where the bearded revolutionary was buried after helping lead a violent uprising that made him an icon around the world.

Home is the Argentine port city of Rosario, where Ernesto Guevara was born to prosperous parents 80 years ago June 14. [Chicago Tribune]

Edward N. Lorenz, a Meteorologist and a Father of Chaos Theory, Dies at 90

Edward N. Lorenz, a meteorologist who tried to predict the weather with computers but instead gave rise to the modern field of chaos theory, died Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 90. [NY Times]

Arts - Culture- Heritage

Kamal Hassan sure goes places

by Pushpa Iyengar

To ensure that no more legal hurdles hit his Rs 60 crore Dasavatharam, which releases on June 13, Producer Ravichandran has filed a caveat before the Supreme Court. By filing the caveat, the producer has ensured that the International Sri Vaishnava Dharma Samrakshana Society and Kalyana Suba Society, whose PILs were rejected last week by the Madras High Court, don't approach the Apex Court in appeal. [TW]

Kamal Hassan's magnus opus wins heady praise

While Kamal Haasan fans wait for the release of Dasavatharam, billed as his magnum opus, many celebrities from the tinsel world have already had a chance to watch the film. [TW]

June 07, 2008

June 8-14: " The supreme purpose of history is a better world " - Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), 31st President of the United States

Sri Lanka strives to strengthen Human Rights whilst dealing with Terrorism

Final Statement of the Sri Lankan delegation on the occasion of the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka by the United Nations Human Rights Council June 13th 2008. [FI]

CPJ Protest Letter: Press freedom in Sri Lanka continues to deteriorate

The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by your government’s policies toward journalists who write critically about the conflict between Sri Lanka’s military forces and Tamil secessionists. We have seen an increase in harassment, intimidation, and detention of reporters, many of whom are columnists in senior positions with well-established careers. Police have failed to investigate threats to journalists who cover elections or expose alleged corruption or misdeeds. They have also never investigated the death of a television journalist. [TC]

IFJ: Detention of Sri Lankan Journalist Extended, Still No Charge

Statement by International Federation of Journalists:

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is extremely disturbed by a new 90-day extension of a detention order against journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who has been held without charge in Sri Lanka since his arrest on March 8, 2008. [TC]

Interview with LTTE Political Head B. Nadesan: "We do care about the oppressed including the Sinhala"

By Jamila Najmuddin

Q: The LTTE has been blamed for the recent bomb attacks in the south which have seen a high civilian death toll.

We are a liberation movement and our main objective is to liberate the Tamil people from the brutal oppression of the Sri Lankan regime. As a liberation movement we care about the oppressed people all over the world and that includes the Sinhala people.  The Sri Lankan regime is presently oppressing all dissenting voices in this island that include Sinhala journalists and the political opposition. As a result the Sinhala people themselves are staging strong protests against the Sri Lankan regime. The LTTE armed forces were not involved in these attacks. The Sri Lankan regime should take the responsibility for these incidents. [FI]

EU puts Sri Lanka aid package on the line

The European Commission has serious concerns about Sri Lanka's human rights record and will withhold a 70 million-euro aid package unless it opens up, a top EU official said on Wednesday.

The commission said the package was dependent on Sri Lanka removing barriers to humanitarian assistance, including resolving visa issues for Red Cross and U.N. workers in the country. [FI]

United Nations expert group deplores recent wave of disappearances in Sri Lank

The Government of Sri Lanka needs to stamp out a recent wave of disappearances during which women and humanitarian aid workers have also gone missing, a United Nations expert group said on Wednesday. [TC]

UN OCHA Situation Report: North and East

The situation in Jaffna has remained particularly tense since 29 May following the LTTE attack on a naval camp on the islet of Chirathivu just off the coast of Jaffna town.

On 2 June around 1400 hrs the Army imposed a curfew in all coastal areas of Jaffna town till 1700 hrs. The curfew followed the midday shooting of a man by unknown gunmen in the vicinity of St. Mary's Cathedral in Jaffna town. The normal curfew time at 2100 hours has since been restored. [TC]

Jaffna Report

By Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Diocese of Jaffna

Gang robbery has once again reared its head in the district.  During the night of the 1st June a Hindu priest in Kondavil was attacked with sword and attacked with clubs and robbed a big amount of money and jewels worth nearly a million and burnt a motorcycle on the house of another Hindu priest in Kondavil. [TC]

NPC: Safeguarding civilians is primary calling of both parties

Statement by National Peacce Council of Sri Lanka:

In recent days the region around Colombo has been subjected to bomb attacks suspected to be by the LTTE against civilian targets. The most recent was the claymore mine that targeted a bus on Friday in Moratuwa which killed at least 22 persons and injured over 70. This attack represented a step up in the technology utilized, as the bomb was set off by remote controlled means. [TC]

RSF: Restore trust to the government’s relations with the press

Reporters Without Borders condemns a defence ministry campaign against independent news media, especially journalists who cover military affairs. The ministry’s website is carrying virulent attacks on journalists critical of the government, accusing them of being in cahoots with the “terrorist enemy,” the Tamil Tiger rebels. [TC]

UN urges greater protection of civilians after bombs kill 24

The UN has renewed calls for increased protection of unarmed civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law after two attacks on 6 June targeted civilian buses, eight hours apart, leaving 24 dead and more than 80 injured. [TC]

Democracy, Human Rights and Peace

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

Last month (May 2008) was momentous as the happenings indicated clearly the political nature of the crisis in Sri Lanka that has its roots in the unscrupulous opportunistic politics of rival political parties since the mid 1950s, when the contest for power became the main feature of the democratic process. [FI]

Engineering ethics, Sampoor power and civilian trauma

by Rajan Hoole

When we passed out as engineers in the early 1970s, it had been impressed upon us that an engineer was not only a decision maker, but also fully responsible to the community at large for his actions. Those of us at Peradeniya were confident that our faculty gave us the best possible training in the world and we would do her proud in anywhere we served. At the Engineering Students’ Union we were able to discuss communally divisive issues, like language-wise standardisation, amicably. I remember many of my Sinhalese colleagues while agreeing that this was wrong, held that genuine social handicaps should be redressed. We had good reason to be proud as a group. [FI]

Don't visit Colombo, Ganeson tells Tamils of NorthEast

Mano Ganeson, leader of Western People’s Front (WPF) and the Convener of Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) said in a media release Saturday, has appealed to the Tamil civilians travelling from NorthEast to stay away from Colombo and the South as both areas are "unsafe and insecure for Tamil civilians." [FI]

Statement on IDP situation in Mannar by Pax Romana

Today, I speak on behalf of the people of Mannar. For decades, our daily reality has been the destruction of our property, curbs on vital fishing and farming, arbitrary arrests, torture, forced conscription, killings, disappearances, with practically no one called to account for these atrocities. Almost everyone in Mannar has been displaced at least once, and some as many as seventeen times! One-fourth of the population of Mannar is internally displaced today. [FI]

Arts - Culture- Heritage

Sigiriya- Kassapa’s Homage To Beauty

by K.S. Sivakumaran

A beautiful and an exhaustive study on Sigiriya –Kassapa’s Homage to Beauty is the latest addition to the corpus of related material. The author is Siri Gunasinghe. The large sized book of 116 pages with colour photographs is a collector’s item. I like art and paintings having been a student of the arts and literature. [TW]

Bonding with Bharati

Bharatiar's work is not new to Bharatanatyam, but the creative foursome has done some imaginative choreography and has attempted to relate the writings to contemporary situation.

[Includes You Tube Presentation: Manathil Uruthi Vendum] [TW]

First Impressions

Life in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka , had a certain gracious quality for those who lived on large estates. The British were seen as the epitome of development but underneath the beauty of the rolling tea slopes, the azure skies and the lush green, a simmering discontent had begun to brew. At the same time, a Lankan family, used to the genteel pace of a good and privileged life, suddenly finds itself drawn in to this strange current. Grace de Silva and her husband Aloysius live a charmed life. [Hindu]

All Lands Home

Tamils of Indian Origin in Myanmar

Legacy of British colonial policy

by Mala Kadar, RN, MPH

It was startling to suddenly come across this young Tamil woman in a busy market in Yangon (Rangoon) -  seated under  hut and making ‘dosa’ - Indian pancakes. She beckoned to me to try one. So began a friendship with a member of the third generation of Tamis who had come to Myanmar during the time of the British Empire to seek their fortune on one of the most noted British ventures - tea and sugar cane cultivation. That was the time when the ‘sun never set on the British Empire’ and big business were hungry for skilled, hard-working labor. India could always supply the growing demand. [TC]