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September 28, 2008

Sep 28 - Oct 4: “They can because they think they can.” - Virgil (70 BC - 19 BC) Epic poet

Fear for safety: J.C. Weliamuna, human rights lawyer and His Family

Amnesty International Action Appeal:

Human rights lawyer J.C Weliamuna and his family survived a grenade attack on their home in the capital, Colombo, on 27 September. He has since gone into hiding, as he remains at risk of further attack. [TC] 

Sri Lankan man wins seven-year battle for asylum

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which represented Nadarajah, announced the victory Tuesday and said he is only one of thousands of asylum seekers who have fled persecution in their countries only to be imprisoned here. In many of those cases, attorney Ahilan Arulanantham said, the government takes far too long to decide cases and often denies them based on incorrect evidence. [LATimes]

British Tamils Forum: Emergency Meeting with International Development Minister Rt. Hon Shahid Malik MP

Minister Shahid Malik said that the British Government is very concerned that they believe for over two weeks no food supplies have reached the Vanni. He has requested for reasons from the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) why the 60 Lorries that were supposed to have been sent to the Vanni yesterday, have not left as yet. He said that he was expecting answers within 48 hours. [TC]

VOA Editorial: Sri Lanka Conflict Intensifies
In Sri Lanka, fighting has intensified between government forces and the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers. Thousands of Sri Lankan civilians, many of whom are ethnic Tamils, are suffering as a result. As many as 200,000 men, women, and children are estimated to have been displaced. [VOA]

The plight of the thousands of internally displaced people

A Statement from Catholic Bishops’ Conference In Sri Lanka:

At the plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) held on 22 September 2008 the Bishops shared their concerns about the plight of the thousands of internally displaced people as a result of the ongoing war in the districts of Mulaitivu and Kilinochchi. [TC]

Bomb Attack on Human Rights Lawyer indicative of a dangerous trend

A Statement by National Peace Council

On Saturday night an unidentified gang lobbed two hand grenades at the residence of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) Director and Attorney at-Law J.C Weliamuna. Mr. Weliamuna’s residence is located in close proximity to a police station (Kohuwela), and an army camp (Kohuwela-Pepiliyana road. The attack demonstrates the blatant disregard criminals now have for regular structures of law and order. [TC]

Whither post-war Sri Lanka?

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

Sri Lankan government has been announcing for some time that the defeat of the LTTE in the North is imminent. Their daily bulletins reveal relatively very large number of casualties amongst the rebels. Although it is widely known these are overly exaggerated, there is no doubt that the relative fighting strength has shifted markedly in favour of the security forces. No one is challenging their stated position on the war front in Wanni. [FI]

CPA Statement On The Recent Comments By General Sarath Fonseka In Canada's National Post

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply concerned by and strongly disapproves of statements made by the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, General Sarath Fonseka, in an interview with Stewart Bell of the National Post newspaper of Canada, published on 23rd September 2008. [TC]

SLMC disturbed over Army Chief’s comments

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress yesterday issued a statement expressing its protests over certain remarks made by Army Commander Sarath Fonseka recently to Canadian newspaper ‘National Post’. [TC]

D.B. Wijetunga: From Gentleman Farmer to Constitutional Monarch 

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Wijetunga was not one who understood all the ramifications of the Tamil national question and did not advocate devolution of powers as a solution to the problem. At the same time he was not a rabid majoritarian chauvinist or Sinhala supremacist as portrayed by sections of the Tamil media on the basis of this provocative comment. [DM]

September 20, 2008

Sep 21-27: “Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.” - Abigail Adams (1744-1818) U.S. First Lady

UN to recommence food deliveries to Tiger-held areas

The first convoy of food supplies since 16 September will travel under the UN flag to areas held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north in the next few days, Neil Buhne, the UN Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, told IRIN. [FI]

Nanuet, NY Man seeks to highlight plight of Sri Lankan Minority

Dr. Winston Panchacharam founded the International Tamil Center to lobby on behalf of Tamil civilians on Sri Lanka. Every year, he travels to India to discuss the situation, and holds talks and cultural programs in the United States. [TC]

Sri Lanka is losing its soul to war

By Peter Foster

Predictably in a conflict which stirs such bitterness, my last post on Sri Lanka and an analysis piece I wrote in Saturday's paper on Sri Lanka's human rights record has generated a slew of emails accusing me of failing to understand the conflict and ‘siding with the terrorists.' [TC] 

'Pain' of Sri Lanka Aid Pullout 

Fears of a humanitarian crisis are mounting in northern Sri Lanka as troops press ahead with an offensive to capture territory from Tamil rebels. A week ago the UN and other agencies pulled out of the area, where more than 200,000 people are displaced by fighting. Here one aid worker describes how hard it was to leave. [BBC] 

BBC in Pictures: Agony of Sri Lanka's Displaced

US Ambassador: Sri Lanka Government and the elected Chief Minister must assert responsibility for security in the East

That means that the central Government and the elected Chief Minister must assert responsibility for security, end the abductions and extra-judicial killings and other security challenges that continue, and demobilize paramilitaries, including all child soldiers.  Only then will we see the Eastern Province attract significant private sector investment and realize its great potential. [FI]

BBC Audio: Sri Lanka, The Endless Civil War

Narrated by Robin White

Nestling off the southern tip of India, the tropical island of Sri Lanka has beguiled travellers for centuries with its palm-fringed beaches, diverse landscapes and historical monuments. [FI]

Civil Society Field Mission to Vavuniya

A group of representatives from civil society organizations visited Vavuniya on September 11 th -12 th with the aim of assessing the human security situation in Vavuniya, and to collect information on the humanitarian situation in the Vanni and the possible influx of IDPs from LTTE-controlled areas to government-controlled areas. The group included representatives from Centre for Policy Alternatives and Women and Media Collective along with other individuals from other civil society organizations. [TC]

Unlawful, say ethnic Tamils

The controversial move has been criticised as “racial profiling” as an overwhelming majority of those being registered are Tamils. Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera said the government order would affect more than 1,00,000 people. As the registration process progressed, long queues could be seen. Some citizens complained that the forced registration was unfair and unlawful. [Hindu]

People of the North and Police Registration

Virakesari Editorial

People of the North travel to Colombo seeking many essential services in capital Colombo that are otherwise unavailable to them. Shortage of medical facilities, higher education, employment and overseas travel plans and all make it a must for Tamils of North to come to the capital. [TW]

Mystry surrounds dissapearance of five youths

By Asif Fuard

The fate of five youths from Kotahena and Maradana who went missing on Wednesday night remains a mystery. Meanwhile, police and family members continue their search. The five boys have been identified as Rajiv Naganadan (21); Pradeep Vishwanandan (18)’ Ramalingam Thilakesh (18); Dilan Jamaldeen (23) and Mohamed Sajid (24).

Rajiv, a past student of the Colombo International School, had invited his friends Pradeep, Thilakesh and Dilan to his house in Shoe Road, Kotahena, for a farewell dinner, as he was due to leave for Britain the following day to pursue his studies. He had gained a place at University College London, where he was planning to study medicine. [ST]

Cut it off and kill it

By Dayan Jayatilleke

A patriot would feel a thrilled quickening of the heart at the news that a spearhead of the Sri Lankan armed forces is nearing Kilinochchi. A traitor would not. A realist would know that there’s a long way to go before the war is won and many a pitfall to avoid. A fool would not. [TC]

All Lands Home

With the world economy in turmoil, Graham Ingham looks at the man who is perhaps the most powerful player in the world economy, US Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson. [BBC]

Arts - Culture- Heritage

NY Times in Pictures: In Tamil Nadu, Gods Live in Stone Temples

Temples Where Gods Come to Life

THE god was ready for his night of conjugal bliss. The priests of the temple, muscular, shirtless men with white sarongs wrapped around their thighs, bore the god’s palanquin on their shoulders. They marched him slowly along a stone corridor shrouded in shadows to his consort’s shrine. [NYTimes]

September 14, 2008

Sep 14-20: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. ” - Nelson Mandela (b. 1918), former president of South Africa

BBC in Pictures: Fleeing Sri Lanka War


"I am a school principle in Poonakary. We have all moved closer to Kilinochchi town but many have yet to find a safe place. "How can I teach children who are so afraid? [BBC]

These are the Best Years of our Forces - Gota

Resettlement is not my area. I believe people should be able to live any where they want. I feel however there are these organized settlements which we have to be careful about. There are so many people coming from the North and East and settling down in the Western province. If its voluntary that’s fine. But I’m not so sure it is not an organised move. Its important to check if the LTTE is organizing it. They have no means of income but they are paying huge sums and settling down. Where is the money coming from? [TC]

Joint Civil Society Statement on Withdrawal of International Agencies from the Vanni

The Government’s letter to agencies on 8thSeptember 2008 instructing all aid workers, including members of the UN agencies who are not residents of the Vanni, to leave the Vanni, has led to the severe curtailment of humanitarian work in the area at a time when the need for such services is greater than ever. [TC]

Tamil - Muslim Relations and Unity for Peace

by Dr. A.R.M. Imtiyaz

The paper presented during the conference “Ending the war and bringing justice and peace to Sri Lanka” held at the Steelworkers’ Hall in Toronto, September 13, 2008. [FI]

Separation between Combatant and Civilian is a Fundamental Humanitarian Law Principle

By Radhika Coomaraswamy

Since I last reported to the Council on the situation of children and armed conflict, there has been an increase in the intensity of armed conflict around the world and a growing sense of despair in many countries where conflict has become protracted and more confused and where the toll on civilian life is increasingly immeasurable. [FI]

Buddhist Monks in Lanka: To Stand or Not to Stand

by Sarath De Alwis 

The leader of the JHU has told parliament that Buddhist monks never stand up even before kings. This is a statement that indicates the symptoms of a malignant cancer whose roots run deep in the body politic of our island nation. [TC]

Reviewing "Aba": Motherland, Patriotism an Modern Heroes

By Sivamohan Sumathy

My curiosity was first raised by an interview I watched about the film, an interview with Jackson Anthony the director of the film. In that interview Mr. Anthony claims that a true hero is one who fights for his motherland. [TC]

UK Foreign Minister Lord Mark Malloch Brown - Meeting with Tamils

"UK Government believes that minorities in any country must have their right to practice the fullest and impossible expression of self determination”.....“We are extremely concerned about how this government behaves and treats the Tamil community. We are using all the means available to us to press the government to do otherwise” – UK Foreign Minister Lord Mark Malloch Brown [TC]

UN Completes Relocation from Tamil Tiger Areas 

UN agencies have relocated all international staff and offices from areas under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north to areas under government control, with the last convoy of UN vehicles leaving on 16 September. [FI]

Mocking Non-Sinhala Persons as Humour on Teledramas

Mr. Hameed Abdul Karim has written a very sensible comment about negative portrayal of Muslims on Teledramas  and I feel that it should be read by all TV stations in this country because it is of utmost importance to all concerned. [TC]

Negative Portrayal of Muslims in Teledrams

by Hameed Abdul Kareem
A few days ago, while switching channels on the idiot box, I happened to come across a scene in a tele-drama, where a Sinhalese boy was demanding some item or the other for free from the ‘mudalali’ seated at the cashier table at a ‘Thambi kade’. The ‘mudalali’ happened to be one of those stereotyped Muslims depicted so often in movies and on TV programmes. [TC]

Munneswaram Temple: Harmony in Devotion

By Udappur Veerasokkan
Correspondent for Virakesari, Udappu Sri Lanka

This article marks the Annual Theerthotsavam-Water Cutting Ceremony at Munneswaram on Sep 15, 2008

Munneswaram is the foremost and famous Hindu Temple in Southern Sri Lanka. It has all the three key glories of a Hindu holy place-Moorthi (Idol), Theertham (Holy water point) and Thalam (temple).

Located in the town Chilaw in North West Province, Munneswaram is attended by devotees of the Sinhalese communities to worship and guidanceship.

The temple is a symbol of unity and glows with harmony in devotion of Sinhalese and Tamils-the two major elasticities of Sri Lanka. [HA]

September 06, 2008

Sep 7-13: "The way up and the way down are one and the same" - Heraclitus (544 BC-483 BC) Greek Philosopher

International PEN's Writers in Committee protests the detention of Tamil journalists [TC]

Civilians at risk as aid workers are told to pull out

Statement by Amnesty International

The Sri Lankan government's decision to tell United Nations (UN) and non-governmental aid workers to leave the war-torn northern Wanni region will put the lives of tens of thousands of people trapped between the two sides of the conflict at risk, Amnesty International warned today. [TC]

Vavuniya Raid: Conflicting Versions

By B. Raman

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is increasingly under pressure due to a war of attrition waged against it by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in the areas controlled by it in the Northern Province, launched a surprise land-cum-air attack on a vital military complex of the armed forces at Vavuniya, about 260 kms North of Colombo, in the early hours of September 9,2008. [TC]

Speech made by Mano Ganesan MP during the debate on the extension emergency

In the Parliament of Sri Lanka on Tuesday September 09th, 2008 [FI]

Address by Ms. Navanetham Pillay at 9th Session of the Human Rights Council

United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, said at the opening of the ninth session of the UN's Rights Council, that Genocide is the ultimate form of discrimination...We must all do everything in our power to prevent it," and added that the Genocide Convention "grew out of the Holocaust, but we have yet to learn the lesson of the Holocaust, as genocide continues." [FI]

Release Tissa

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its local affiliates in Sri Lanka today launched an online campaign video condemning the arrest and indictment of senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainyagam, whose passed his sixth month in jail on September 7. [TC]

Tamils in Sri Lanka: Time to ponder a new future

by Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

We, the Tamils of Sri Lanka, have reached a defining moment once again in our post-independence history.  What we want to be as a people vis-a- vis the other peoples and what the other peoples want to be vis- a- vis us, will define what the future holds for us in Sri Lanka. [TC]

Prejudice, phobia and parochial politics hindering progress

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

Recent responses to some comments and suggestions concerning the resolution of Sri Lanka’s protracted ethnic conflict by those seeking a political settlement have highlighted the forces opposed to changing the present political order. The Sinhala nationalists have now come up with crafty reasons for keeping the unitary structure in its present form. They do not want any change that undermines the dominant role of the ethnic Sinhalese in governing the entire island. [FI]

Sinhala hegemony taking a hold

by Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne 

The recent provincial council elections show the nature of the consolidation of the Sinhala nationalist state. One could extrapolate from each district, and indications will show the consolidation of Sinhala hegemony throughout Sinhala areas except perhaps in the Western Province. This has intensified repression. Mano Ganesan maybe charged for “assisting” the LTTE. [FI]

Arts - Culture- Heritage 

Rajesh Vaidhya: piercing musical magic

Rajhesh Vaidhya is not only a renowned musician in India, his fame and popularity spreads in all the musical stages around the world including Europe, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Canada, USA and many more. [TW]

Tamil Music Rising

S.V. Varman had put in more than 20 years as a computer specialist at companies that did contract work for firms like GM and Boeing. But all along, he was nurturing his passion for music. In April, Varman opened a music studio, which he believes is the only one that is run professionally by a Canadian Tamil in the GTA. [Toronto Star]

September 04, 2008

Aug 31-Sep 6: "The man who is prepared has his battle half fought." - Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish novelist, poet

Opportunities and challenges in a Globalized world

by US Ambassador Robert Blake [FI]

Navamani Editor M.P.M. Azhar: A gem among Journalists

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Azhar, whose soul departed on August 28, was 62 years old at the time of his death. He was a man who regarded journalism as a profession and vocation.

Azhar, who began dabbling in journalism at the age of 18, went on to found his own newspaper 12 years ago. He was the Founder Editor of the Tamil weekly Navamani, which means nine gems. [TC]

Army breaks through Tiger defences in three key areas

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Sri Lankan armed forces fighting on multiple fronts made three significant breakthroughs on Wednesday August 27th and Thursday August 28th  in the key areas of  Aalankulam, Palamottai and Ulaathuveli. [TC]

International Day of the Disappeared

Statement by Amnesty International

In observance of the International Day of the Disappeared (which falls on August 30 each year), Amnesty International issued on Aug. 28 a report entitled:  "Asia Pacific:  Enforced disappearances in the Asia Pacific region must end".  Below are the Sri Lanka entry and the recommendations from the report. [TC]