Archive for the ‘Source Daily Mirror’ Category

h1

Slain MP’s final words an hour before being gunned down

November 11, 2006

Following is the complete text of the last live programme Mr. N. Raviraj attended on Derana TV yesterday. Mr. Raviraj was invited for the Derana Aruna programme last morning from 7.30 am to 8.00 am to discuss the A-9 closure and recent attacks on civilians. He was in the Derana studio in Nugegoda for about 45 minutes before being attacked by an unidentified gunman in Narahenpita within two hours after the interview.

Q: Hon Member, Your party launched a massive protest in parliament against the de- merger of the North and the East following the recent Supreme Court judgment. What was the reason for these protests?

A.We in the TNA started agitations demanding the reopening of the A9 Road… Meanwhile on Oct.16th, the Supreme Court passed the judgment on de-merger of the two provinces. However, we do not have a problem with the judgment… we have a political problem. The people in the north-east aspire to live together. They aspire for the merger of the two provinces, it is a basic human right of those people.

In the ancient times, there were Sinhala and Tamil kingdoms in Sri Lanka. It is not new to our people. That is mainly an area of Tamils from ancient times. It does not mean that we want to divide the country. We believe that North and east be considered as a one unit. That should be the base if to find a solution to the ethnic crisis.

Q: Why do you insist on the de merger of the two provinces, and what special privilege will the Tamil community have by that or in what manner does the merger benefit them?

A.Why do you people say that this country should not be divided? Because, then only people feel more strong and powerful. Likewise, Tamils will feel more powerful when they are together. The merger will enhance their strength and provide them the opportunity to look into their affairs well. It is their aspiration. The two provinces are prominently Tamil areas.

Q: If you are accepting that living in unity will make people more powerful, why don’t you support the unitary state concept ?

A. Unitary state concept is no longer acceptable now. It is an old system and has no validity today. When we achieved independence in 1948, not a single Tamil leader talked about a separate state or a federal state. Who forced us to the present situation?

Q: You say that Tamil leaders did not demand a separate state. But, Wasn’t Mr.Ponnambalam’s 50-50 demand the origin of this crisis?

A. In 1947 when India achieved independence, Mohamed Ali Jinnah demanded Pakistan to be separated. We asked for 50-50 and then a Federal system and now the LTTE is fighting for separate state. However, as politicians we still believe in a united country. Who is responsible for this state? Since independence, we were being discriminated. First, they abolished the clauses in Soulbury Commission, which provided safeguards for the minorities, and then they brought Sinhala Only Act. Thus, who pushed us to this state? India that gained independence in 1947 has 22 states now. Yet, it is a united country today, because they implemented the right administrative system. Some fear federal system would divide the country. But the best example we can get is from India. In 1965, Tamil Nadu demanded separate powers. But today if you ask a Tamil in Tamilnadu, they will say we are all Indians..! Jaffna people are starving due to the closure of the A9.

We are one family. In a family, mothers generally tend to love or treat a disabled child or the youngest more than others. What we do is taking all the facilities including food from that child. That is what they did exactly by closing the A-9. In 1995, government launched operation Jaya Sikuru to open the A-9. Vice –versa, this government says it cannot open it, giving the impression that those people do not belong to our country. Thus, we will provide them goods in ships. What is this all about?

Q: The issue of the A9 road is an outcome of terrorist activities… everybody is aware that LTTE take ransoms and tax people on the A9 road?

A. They say LTTE taking ransom. What a lie…. A9 was opened only in 2002. how did the LTTE survive so far? Didn’t they earn before? Didn’t they have enough food and other facilities? This was a downright lie of the government. I returned from Jaffna only yesterday. I accept that LTTE tax people.

Q: But didn’t the LTTE attack the military checkpoint?

A. Ok let me finish on the tax affair. Goods were sent in ships even when I was the Jaffna Mayor since 1995. A petrol litre was sold at Rs 1000. To whom those taxes went? I want to emphasize one thing. The LTTE never ever imposed tax on essential items sent by the government to be distributed freely among poor people in the area through Divisional Secretariats and on items related to education. Also who are paying taxes for the LTTE. Not the people here, not Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, not Keheliya Rambukwella, not even Raviraj… it’s the people of those areas. When A9 was opened, the difference of a Petrol litre in Jaffna was only Rs 10 including LTTE taxes.

Q: Why are you opposing an alternative route?

A. Is not the Pooneryn route also going through Kilinochchi. Will there be no taxing then. Moreover, it is a more distant and difficult road and only two kilometres away from the sea. Besides, what happened to the people who went to observe the road yesterday? SLMM chief managed a narrow escape from an attack and had to hide in a bunker.

Let me tell one thing to Mr. Rajapaksa. Let’s close the main road to Hambantota and send all goods in ships from Colombo.

Q: But there is no terrorist issue in Hambantota?

A. Why are you always talking about a terrorist issue? If there is terrorism it should be suppressed using similar methods. In 1.1 clause, it’s clearly mentioned in the CFA that the A9 should be opened. If the government is not willing to do so, what they should do is to say that they do not accept the CFA, CFA is over and that they have started war. It has nothing to do with the innocent people of the area. .Now the A9 road is closed causing innumerable hardships to the innocent people. Even the animals in the area are starved to death. We have to obtain visas from the Army camp in the area to come to Colombo. Do you know that?

Q: Wasn’t it the LTTE who closed the A9 in their areas?

A. What nonsense! I even went to Kilinochchi and Pallai recently. I barely escaped a shell attack.

Q: From which side?

A. Obviously…. You do not look up to see from which side you have been attacked during a war. When I was in Jaffna, there were 50-60 shells from this side to retaliate one or two shells from the LTTE side. Situation is such that people of the area could not sleep in peace when there are no shell attacks. The LTTE is willing to reopen the road in their area with the intervention of international observers.

Q:These are happening because the LTTE attacked a ship carrying civilians. What are your comments on such terrorist activities?

A. Why does the government ferry civilians by sea? Let me explain. In one ship, have more than 1000 travellers aboard. Who are they? Only 300 of them are civilians and others are security personnel. I do not say that the security personnel should not come to see their kith and kin. But the government is only providing a civilian cover to ferry soldiers. You will understand that if the A9 road is open, these problems will not crop up. In 1995 the government launched Jaya Sikuru operation to open A9 road. Thousands of our youths were killed. Now the government has closed the same road.

Q: What solution do you proposed to overcome this problem?

A. There are many personal problems. My good friend J.VP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has problems. The JHU has problems and even general Fonseka has problems… The Buddha preached the benefits of alms giving. Buddhists say that we must help others. However, the monks who follow Buddha are opposed to the opening of A9 road to supply food to the people in Jaffna. Wimal Weerawansa said that if the UNO intervenes in the problems it will be a violation of the country’s sovereignty. What right does he have to talk about sovereignty? It was them who took up arms against the democratically elected government in 1971. In 1988/89 period, they did not allow us to light even a kerosene lamp. So how can they talk about sovereignty today.

Q: Several solutions have been proposed to the national problem. Indian Panchayath system is one such. What is your opinion in this regard?

A. Indian Panchayath system is a system in a village administrative system. After devolution of powers at higher level, some measure of autonomy is given to the village level. However, I have not yet heard that this system is to be implemented in Sri Lanka.

Q: Hon. Member, what measures do you proposed do you propose to resolve this problem

A. In fact, the Sinhala or the Tamil people do not want to see a military struggle and bloodshed in the country. They are prepared to live in peace. When the tsunami hit Mullaithivu area, it was the Sinhala people who helped the Tamils. They do not want war. I am for a negotiated settlement.

This was not only what I say. The first such example was set by the Emperor Ashoka after Kalinga war. First of all the people who are starved should be given food and build confidence. The TNA is committed to support any such endeavor.

h1

UNHCR demands access to war-affected civilians By Easwaran Rutnam

August 19, 2006

Travel restrictions strictly enforced as fighting continues

UNHCR has called on both the government and the LTTE to permit urgent freedom of access to humanitarian aid workers to reach all affected populations from the ongoing fighting between the government troops and the LTTE.

The relief agency estimates more than 162,200 people had fled their homes since fighting erupted in April but remain within the country, while another 6,672 had crossed the Palk Strait to become refugees in India’s Tamil Nadu state.

“We and our partners are now seriously concerned about the welfare of civilians in areas inaccessible to humanitarian agencies because of strictly enforced travel restrictions, as fighting continues in the north and east of Sri Lanka,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told the press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva yesterday.

UNHCR notes that with the closure of the A9 access road to the Jaffna peninsula through the LTTE-controlled Kilinochchi District, supplies of food and water have fallen to alarmingly low levels in many locations and as a result, people are hoarding food,while merchants sharply hike prices in local markets.

The Daily Mirror learns however that the government, through the government agent in Jaffna, has warned of taking serious action against traders in Jaffna who sell their goods at exorbitant rates owing to the lack of stocks created by the fierce fighting in the area.

Pagonis meanwhile says the situation in Point Pedro, in the north of the Jaffna peninsula, is even more fluid and unpredictable than in the Jaffna town, as people in the town have sought refuge in large communal buildings while displaced civilians in Point Pedro are staying in vacant homes and with host families, creating electricity, water and sanitation problems.

Eastern districts face a similar crisis. Thousands of displaced families in Muttur, Eachchilampattu Divisions of Trincomalee District, and the Vaharai Division in Batticaloa District, are in desperate need of sustained humanitarian relief, UNHCR said.

Some 15,000 to 20,000 people are now said to be displaced in LTTE-controlled Kilinochchi District as a result of repeated artillery shelling and air strikes. Humanitarian agencies are targeting their help to those displaced people – some 9,500 individuals – living outdoors or in communal buildings.

Around 500 families have reportedly moved to the grounds of the Madhu Church in Mannar District, a previous displacement site during the 1983-2002 civil war. All permanent houses around the church are now fully occupied by displaced people, and nearly 75 families have erected tents in the surrounding area .-Daily Mirror

h1

Military says LTTE fabricating stories

June 16, 2006

The military yesterday accused the LTTE of continuously fabricating stories to tarnish its (military) image despite the LTTE itself intensifying violence against the military in the north and east.

The pro-LTTE Tamilnet reported that a soldier was killed when a group of soldiers trying to lay claymore mines in uncleared areas in Nedunkerni in the Wanni came under LTTE attack on Tuesday night resulting in the death of a soldier.

Rejecting the Tamilnet story, military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said it was merely one more yarn of the Tigers and an attempt to tarnish the image of the military internationally.

According to the report, Tamil Auxiliaries on a road-clearing operation recovered a body of a male purported to be that of a Sri Lankan army soldier.

The military said it was an open secret that the LTTE was in possession of equipment and other military hardware including communication equipment captured from SLA during past operations against security forces, the spokesman said.

Referring to the Tamilnet picture of a dead person claimed to be from the Sri Lanka army, the spokesman revealed that two Army officers had gone missing from Omanthai and Vavuniya on June 5th and 12th. He said there was a strong possibility of the body being one of the missing officers.

Meanwhile, speaking to the Daily Mirror, SLMM spokesperson Thorfinnur Omarsson confirmed that there had been an incident in the uncleared areas. He said they do not have any information up to now, but LTTE had claimed that there was a soldier among casualties. He added that the LTTE had informed the mission that the body of the soldier would be handed over to the army today. -By Sunil Jayasiri

h1

Talks crumble in jumble

June 9, 2006
  • LTTE refuses to meet low level SL delegation

  • Govt.recalls Kohona and team but confusion prevails

The much awaited Oslo talks failed to kick off yesterday after the LTTE refused to sit down with a low level Government team to discuss the issues related to the operations of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and its security.

Government Peace Secretariat Head Palitha Kohona told the Daily Mirror from Oslo that as of last evening (SL time) there were no fresh arrangements for the discussions while Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim’s spokesman Espen Gullikstad told the Daily Mirror that a special news conference was to be held at 9 p.m. last night (12.30 a.m. Friday SL Time) to announce the state of the Oslo talks.

"The LTTE representatives are in another room, we are somewhere else and Minister Solheim is not to be seen. So as of now nothing is happening. We were informed by the Norwegians that the LTTE will not sit down with us," Dr. Kohona said.

LTTE political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan, who was heading the rebel delegation informed the Norwegian hosts that he would only sit down with a Government ministerial team and not with lower rank officials, LTTE sources said.Mr. Thamilselvan had identified himself as an official who is on par with a minister and told the Norwegians that LTTE peace secretariat head S. Pulithevan will be the lone representative at the talks if the Government side was not represented by a top minister. The Government had however refused to change the composition of its team already in Oslo for the talks and threatened to tell the team to return to Colombo if there was no compromise in the LTTE thinking, while Dr. Kohona also confirmed that the Government team was preparing to come back.

The Government team included Gomin Dayasri, Chanaka Jayasekera and Vaas Goonawardena while the rebel team included

Pulithevan, LTTE ‘police chief’ Nadesan and senior LTTE political officer V. Rudrakumar, who arrived from the United States.

The meeting was arranged to discuss the security of the SLMM made up of members from the Nordic countries, which include three EU members.

However the LTTE refused to sit down with representatives from Sweden, Denmark and Finland who are EU members, owing to the EU ban on the rebels.

The Government delegation informed the Norwegian representatives that in terms of the Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA) it had requested the Royal Norwegian Government to organise and establish the SLMM and "the members of the mission be recruited from among the citizens of the Nordic countries" and expressed the view that nationals from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, although from EU Member States shall be recruited as members of the SLMM in their individual capacities, the Government said in a statement yesterday.

Government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the Government team for the talks was made public prior to the two teams leaving for Oslo and as such the latest opposition raised by the rebels was part of the LTTE ‘package of excuses.’

"As the Oslo talks were not to deal with main issues we were not sending a ministerial team. The issues to be discussed have to be dealt by the Peace Secretariat and that was why we sent Dr. Kohona. If it was the Geneva talks then we would have sent a high level ministerial team," he said.

The Government and LTTE delegations arrived separately at the Thorbjørnrud Hotel A.S. in Jevnaker near Oslo, the venue for the talks, on Wednesday evening.Minister Rambukwella said the sequence of events since the failed assassination attempt on the Army commander and the Sea Tiger attack on the Navy last month proved that the LTTE was not committed to peace.

Meanwhile the TamilNet website quoted Mr. Thamilselvan as saying the LTTE delegation in Oslo was engaged in discussions with the Norwegian facilitators on key issues, including the role of international truce monitors.

Responding to media reports that the LTTE was refusing to sit with the Government delegation, Mr. Thamilchelvan said discussions on the monitors at this crucial juncture would be productive and progressive when the LTTE and Government delegations raise the issues separately with the Norwegian facilitators, giving room for them to approach a resolution of these issues.

The Government delegation has the freedom to exercise the same procedure without insisting on meeting the LTTE directly over these issues, he said.

The LTTE delegation was invited to Norway to discuss the role of the SLMM, the security of SLMM staff and the future engagement of the SLMM in a post EU-ban scenario, Mr. Thamilchelvan said.

He also said the LTTE delegation would be meeting International Development Minister Erik Solheim yesterday evening to discuss issues, Mr. Thamilchelvan said. By Easwaran Rutnam

h1

All eyes on Oslo talks

June 8, 2006

The two-day Oslo meeting which begins today will focus on the future of the EU countries represented in the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and their security concerns, LTTE peace secretariat head S. Puleedevan told The Daily Mirror.

Meanwhile Japanese diplomatic sources said they felt the outcome of the talks would significantly influence the future modalities of the EU ban.

They said Japan sincerely hoped the EU action would be a positive incentive to the LTTE, to seriously consider a return to the negotiating table and as repeatedly reiterated the solution to this conflict has to be by negotiations and not by military means.

The government delegation led by peace secretariat head Palitha Kohona and the LTTE delegation led by its political head S.P. Thamilselvan will sit down with SLMM head Ulf Henriksson and representatives of Nordic countries to discuss the future of the monitors.

Special peace facilitator Erik Solhiem and special Oslo peace envoy Jon Hansson-Bauer are also likely to take part in the talks.

The agenda at the talks has not been made public but Mr. Puleedevan speaking to The Daily Mirror said the EU ban, its implications on the peace process and the violence in Sri Lanka were likely to figure in the two-day talks.

"With three EU member states, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, represented in the SLMM the LTTE feels it should discuss the impact of the EU ban and how it will affect the involvement of these three countries," Mr. Puleedevan said.

The European Union and European Commission head Julian Wilson expressed hope the Oslo meeting will have a positive impact on the future of the peace process.

The LTTE has raised ‘fundamental concerns’ over the SLMM proposals on sea monitoring which has remained suspended since the Sea Tiger attack on the Navy in the seas off Vettilaikerni on May 11, the SLMM said yesterday.

SLMM spokeswoman Ms. Helen Olafsdottir said the LTTE believes it is unfair for the ceasefire monitors to travel aboard Navy vessels and not Sea Tiger vessels as was the practice following the signing of the CFA in 2002.

The SLMM however says that following the signing of the CFA, monitors had travelled aboard Tiger vessels based on a technical agreement with the Government and the LTTE to transport Tiger cadres by sea.

"We have ruled LTTE sea movements as a violation of the CFA, so we cannot travel aboard Sea Tiger craft as the LTTE does not have a right to the sea in the first place," Ms. Olafsdottir said.

She also refuted LTTE claims that the monitors were travelling aboard Navy vessels as ‘human shields’ saying the monitoring helped to minimize alleged conflicts between patrolling Navy vessels and fishermen at sea.

"The LTTE had, in fact, at one point praised monitors travelling aboard Navy vessels as it prevented the harassment of fishermen by some Navy personnel while at sea. So to say we are human shields for the Navy is not right," she said. The LTTE has threatened to continue attacks on Navy vessels even if SLMM monitors are on board and urged the monitors to avoid travelling on Navy craft.

"By saying we are protecting the Navy the LTTE is clearly indicating protection is wanted from something. My question is ‘protection from whom?’ This issue needs to be tackled and discussed or else there is a big risk of clashes at sea," the SLMM spokeswoman said. Ms. Olafsdottir said the issue of sea monitoring would be taken up in Oslo during the two-day talks with the Government and the LTTE if time permits as the focus will be on the security of the monitors. By Easwaran Rutnam

h1

Killings continue in NE

June 6, 2006

By Sunil Jayasiri
Hours after both the government and the LTTE delegations left for talks in Oslo, suspected Tigers yesterday carried out two attacks against the military resulting in the deaths of at least one soldier and two LTTE cadres.

Military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said a group of suspected LTTE men opened fire at soldiers, who were manning an Observation Point at Nanattan in Mannar killing a soldier on the spot.

In the second incident, three LTTE cadres had exploded an Improvised Explosive Device targetting army personnel engaged in mine-clearing operation duty around 4 pm yesterday at Kalmadu on the Kumburumull-Valachchenai road. The spokesman said security forces personnel who escaped unhurt had to retaliate after the device laid on the roadside went off before they reached the location. He said after a search operation the bodies of the two LTTE cadres were found along with a 9 mm pistol and a remote control device in their possession.

In another incident, the bullet riddled body of an unidentified person was found on Sunday night at Navakkudah, Batticaloa. The victim’s hands had been bound before he was shot dead. Brigadier Samarasinghe said the SLMM had been informed of the incidents.

Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, at least eight Wanni cadres were believed to be killed, after the Karuna faction ambushed two tractors carrying LTTE members in an uncleared area in Perarai in Trincomalee.

h1

Tigers continue their killings

June 5, 2006

Several minor incidents were reported yesterday in North and East including recovery of weapons and ammunition by the security forces.

A group of army road patrol units came under LTTE small arms firing at Navakkuli in Jaffna around 12.15pm yesterday.

No casualties were reported though army retaliated when the armed terrorists attacked. They eventually fled the area. The soldiers have found two T-56 magazines, 27 ammunition and seven detonators belonging to the cadres.

Meanwhile in Uduwil, Jaffna the security forces recovered a T-56 rifle and two magazines, ammunition and a hand grenade yesterday morning. The weapons belonging to the suspected LTTE cadres were recovered on a tip off from a civilian.

On Saturday the rebels had shot dead two civilians in Kaluwankarni in Batticaloa for allegedly not paying extortion money to the Tigers in the uncleared areas. The victims have been identified as E Sittarawel (42) and Nallaiya Wimalendran (32). Walachcheni police have reported the incident to SLMM.

Two armed cadres of the LTTE pistol gang gunned down a security guard attached to the Walachcheni Bus Depot on Saturday around 8.30pm. The victim identified as Vaidyalingam Mujeewaram (26) was killed on the spot while a bystander was also injured and had been rushed to hospital.

A 21-year-old male youth who escaped from LTTE camp in Kachchikudiaru had surrendered to Pothuvil police on Saturday. The victim who had been abducted in Tirukkovil area had fled the camp on last 28.

Two tractors transporting millions of worth timber transferring from a rebel governed area in Wanadarmulla, Batticaloa was taken into custody at a police roadblock yesterday early hours.

The transporters had revealed that the LTTE backed business had been carried out for a longtime and had earned millions of rupees.  -By Kurulu Kariyakarawana