‘Wish their souls were as bare as their bodies’ he seems to be thinking, as UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya muses over a picture of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe praying bare-chested
with a group of UNP MPs, displayed at a photography exhibition recently. Perhaps he is
wondering how he himself would look bare-chested — Photo by Gamini Wickremasinghe
• Concern expressed over extra judicial killings
EU threatens to ban Karuna Group
The EU presidency has threatened to ban the Karuna Group as it did the LTTE if the organisation’s terrorist activities are not.....
Co-Chairs to pull out unless govt. delivers on Oslo deal
> JVP gives Mahinda notice
> Anura hammers Rohitha again
> Cannot play active role in the peace
process, says India
> LTTE discusses impact of ban with SLMM
• Concern expressed over extra judicial killings
EU threatens to ban Karuna Group
The EU presidency has threatened to ban the Karuna Group as it did the LTTE if the organisation’s terrorist activities are not discontinued.
In a statement released in Brussel’s last week announcing the listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, the EU strongly urged Sri Lankan authorities to quell aggression in government-controlled areas, adding they were watching closely.
"The upsurge in violence is not caused by the LTTE alone. The EU strongly urges the Sri Lankan authorities to curb violence in government controlled areas. The EU notes with concern the growing number of reports of extra-judicial killings. The EU views the activities of the Karuna Group in the gravest possible light. These are clearly contributing to increased instability in Sri Lanka, and further endanger the peace process.
The EU intends to keep the activities of the Karuna Group under close review, with a view to considering possible further steps," the statement said.
A top diplomatic source said the statement was a clear warning to the Karuna group that it will be banned unless all acts of terrorism are halted.
The EU further states it will keep the situation in Sri Lanka under active review, taking account of the activities of all parties to the conflict. "It will remain ready to adopt further measures as and when they maybe warranted by changing circumstances," the EU has warned all parties to the conflict.
The EU presidency also called on the government to honour the agreements reached in the Oslo Communiqué, adding they were committed to seeing a political solution in Sri Lanka.
"The European Union firmly believes that only a peacefully negotiated settlement can ensure a lasting solution acceptable to all. In this connection, the EU recalls the agreement reached in Oslo by all parties involved to explore a specific institutional solution for Sri Lanka. It is the responsibility of all those concerned to act in the interests of all the people of Sri Lanka. The EU remains fully committed to the peace
process in Sri Lanka. The EU sincerely urges all parties to put an end to the violence and to return to the negotiation table, so as to relieve the Sri Lankan people from the ordeal of 20 years of persistent conflict." the statement reiterated.
• EU to maintain contact with LTTE • Tigers free to travel within EU to promote peace process
Co-Chairs to pull out unless govt. delivers on Oslo deal
The Co-Chairs will withdraw from Sri Lanka’s peace process unless the government and the LTTE recommit to the agreements reached during peace talks from 2002 including the Ceasefire Agreement, top level diplomatic sources said.
A withdrawal will also result in all development aid except humanitarian assistance being halted, these sources said.
They said the Co-Chairs have come to the end of their patience and the statement issued after the Tokyo Conference tantamounts to giving notice to both parties, the diplomatic sources said.
"We represent 85 per cent of the GDP of the world and we have responsibilities to our own countrymen. If there is no proof that both parties want to take the peace process forward, we no longer have a role. Good intentions alone will not suffice," one top diplomat said.
It was pointed out that if the international community cannot disburse aid equally to the north and south, it will not work.
The diplomatic sources said they would want both the government and the LTTE to recommit to the agreements reached including the Oslo communique and that the recommitment must come in the form of proven action.
The government, one source said must prove by action and not mere words that it is not dealing with the Karuna Group.
Meanwhile Netherlands Ambassador Reynout S. Van Dijk who holds the presidency of the EU in Colombo said they do not want to be used by any party as a scorecard holder.
"There should be no confusion about our role. We only want to promote peace," he said.
Ambassador Van Dijk also said the human rights situation in the context of reports submitted by the SLMM is a matter of serious concern and should be addressed effectively.
Referring to the Kayts massacre the Ambassador said there were no political consequences for those who failed to perform their duties despite an order by the magistrate.
"We expect the government to come with good answers why allegations of SLMM are untruthful and the government has to be transparent or held accountable," he said.
"I cannot imagine if a police officer does not follow orders of the magistrate, there are no consequences. Countries that are democratic have to maintain high standards. It has personal consequences for civil servants. If a minister does not deal with it effectively, he is also fired. That is if he does not show results. That is how democratic partners perceive other democratic partners" the Ambassador said.
Ambassador Van Dijk further said the EU will maintain contact with the LTTE if the LTTE is willing to do so.
"We do not want to isolate the LTTE. We want to help them arrive at a peaceful solution," the Ambassador added.
The Ambassador told The Sunday Leader, the EU laws unlike in the US do not preclude maintaining contact with the LTTE and they would be happy to do so.
The Ambassador further said LTTE members will be free to travel within Europe to promote peace provided they are not listed by name as terrorists.
JVP gives Mahinda notice
The JVP last week warned President Mahinda Rajapakse it will withdraw support to the government if any attempt is made towards a federal solution to the ethnic conflict.
The JVP threat came after the President in writing on Wednesday, May 31, invited the party to attend Friday’s All party Conference (APC) to discuss a political settlement within a "united Sri Lanka."
The General Secretary, JVP, Tilvin Silva following an emergency politburo meeting the same day informed the President in writing the party will be boycotting the APC in view of Rajapakse’s policy shift from a unitary state to a United Sri Lanka.
The JVP argued, the President had taken UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s slogan and abandoned the Mahinda Chinthana.
Under pressure, the President withdrew the invitation and despatched a new letter calling on all parties to attend the meeting to discuss a final political settlement to the ethnic issue.
The JVP thereafter decided to attend Friday’s meeting.
Anura hammers Rohitha again
Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike hit back at Enterprise Development Minister Rohitha Bogollagama again last week claiming Bogollagama had admitted making statements about his Ministry.
In a hard-hitting letter the previous week Bandaranaike warned Bogollagama not to poach in the affairs of the Tourism Ministry.
The letter followed a report in the financial news section of the Ceylon Daily News, under the heading "Lanka to be promoted as a major tourist destination in Japan."
Cannot play active role in the peace process, says India
India fully supports the peace process in Sri Lanka but will not play an active role because it may "complicate" the situation, Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee said during a question-and-answer session at a high-level security meeting in Singapore that "India is not actively participating in this process" because of ethnic reasons and its proximity to Sri Lanka.
India believes a "pro-active and active participation will complicate the issue instead of resolving it, but we stand fully behind the peace process which has been initiated," the minister said on Saturday.
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday launched talks with opposition parties to hammer out a plan to grant autonomy to separatist Tamil rebels.
Violence has recently escalated in Sri Lanka, where more than 600 people have been killed since December despite a 2002 ceasefire between Tamil Tiger rebels and the Colombo government and its troops.
India has in the past offered support for the peace process but refrained from getting involved in the conflict following its disastrous military intervention during the 1980s. New Delhi dispatched a peacekeeping force to Tamil-held regions but ended up battling the rebels, and finally withdrew its forces after more than 1,200 Indian troops had died.
Subsequently a Tamil female suicide bomber killed former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had ordered the deployment to Sri Lanka. (AFP)
LTTE discusses impact of ban with SLMM
By Jamila Najmuddin
The LTTE for the first time raised its concerns of the European Union proscription during discussions with the SLMM in Kilinochchi last week, SLMM Head Ulf Henricsson said.
"The LTTE has not refused to hold talks with the SLMM following the EU ban, and during last week’s discussion the LTTE expressed concerns about the functions of the SLMM and the LTTE has agreed to discuss the issue (of the ban) at the upcoming Oslo talks," Henricsson told The Sunday Leader.
The Tigers were concerned about how the EU ban would affect the monitors, peace facilitators and future peace talks, according to sources in the north.
However, Henricsson said that SLMM members from EU countries continued to work in LTTE controlled areas as the LTTE had not shown any hesitation towards the issue. "The LTTE has allowed SLMM members from EU countries to work in LTTE controlled areas. If they have a problem in the future they will officially write to the SLMM," Henricsson said. He said that monitors would continue their work in Tiger areas.
Hericsson added that the SLMM had not received any advisories from EU countries preventing the monitors from continuing their functions in the north and east.
Meanwhile, LTTE Spokesperson, Daya Master told The Sunday Leader that following discussions with the SLMM last week, the LTTE had agreed to discuss the impact of the EU ban on the SLMM at the upcoming Oslo meeting.
Daya Master said that till such time, SLMM members from the EU countries would be allowed to work in the LTTE controlled areas.
Both the government and the LTTE accepted Norway’s invitation to visit Oslo for talks on June 8 and June 9, aimed at discussing the operations and modalities of the SLMM.
However during last week’s meeting, the Tigers informed they would prefer to fly under diplomatic cover.
Govt. assures CEB will not be privatised
By Dilini Perera
The government last week assured that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) will not be privatised.
Power and Energy Minister, John Seneviratne said the recent allegations of privatisation made against the CEB by the Ceylon Electricity Employees Union and the JVP were baseless as the government was not going to privatise the CEB.
"I don’t understand why the trade unions are against the idea of supplying the public with good quality electricity that is affordable and freely available. We are not planning to do this with privatisation," Seneviratne said.
The Electricity Reforms Bill has been amended and will be presented to parliament on June 8.
The main motive of these amendments according to the board officials is to remove the adverse provisions in the Act of 2002. Steps have been taken to place the CEB as head of the six state owned companies that will be taking over the managerial duties of the board which is one of the main problems faced by the CEB before the reforms act came into being.
NTUC to stage nationwide strike
By Nirmala Kannangara
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) backed National Trade Union Center (NTUC) will stage a nationwide strike if the 6/2006 salary circular is not amended.
The trade union would most probably go for a strike at the end of this month if the new 6/ 2006 salary circular that was released on April 25 is not amended with the proposals forwarded by the NTUC. The trade unions claim that nothing has been done to redress the middle and the lower grades of the government servants who undergo many hardships due to the ignorance of members of the salary committee.
Deputy Convener NTUC, Mahinda Jayasingha told The Sunday Leader that their union backed by well over 300 trade unions have forwarded many proposals to the salary committee on May 18 when they met the co-head, salary committee Lionel Fernando and officials, but is yet to receive a response.
The NTUC is to meet with the salary reveiew commission to verify the status of the proposals forwarded by them.
UNHCR urges govt. to obtain int’l support to investigate killings
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last week urged the government to seek international support to investigate the killings of innocent civilians in the north and east.
High Commissioner, UNHCR, Louise Arbour at a meeting held in Paris last week expressed deep concern about the rising violence in Sri Lanka and said that the GoSL should seek international police and forensic support to investigate into the killings to ensure justice and accountability.
"A duty of the state in maintaining security, law and order is to ensure crimes of this nature are properly investigated and punished, whoever is responsible. These violations are not only ceasefire violations, but are serious breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law," the High Commissioner said.
She stressed that the GoSL and the LTTE had obligations beyond the Ceasefire Agreement and both parties had to respect basic human rights and humanitarian norms.
"These obligations apply regardless of the status of the Ceasefire Agreement and whether the country is at peace or war," Arbour said.
The High Commissioner also expressed concern about recent threats and obstruction to the work of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and urged the parties to give their fullest cooperation and reinforce SLMM’s capacity to respond to violations. (JN)
Explosives found in Omanthai
Vavuniya police yesterday recovered 60kg of high velocity C4 explosives at the Omanthai checkpoint, the army said.
The haul, one of the largest in recent times, was hidden in a battery case in a lorry. C4 is high velocity military explosive. Upon manipulation C4 immediately consolidates into a rubbery fully plasticised mass which may be kneaded and pressed into any shape. The material has excellent mechanical and adhesive properties, and may be stretched into long strands without breakage.
Not Harry says John
Energy Minister John Seneviratne informed the cabinet of ministers last week he had mistakenly referred to business tycoon Harry Jayawardene as being the force behind the Agrekko Power deal in the north.
Seneviratne told The Sunday Leader, the report in last week’s issue titled "Power of Harry shocks ministers" on the cabinet proceedings was totally accurate but that he had mistakenly identified Harry Jayewardene whereas he was not involved with Agrekko but Ace Power.
"He had nothing to do with the Jaffna power agreement but has two projects in Horana and Embilipitiya. It was my mistake," Seneviratne said clarifying the issue.
Funeral expenses for aerial attack victims
By Nitharsha Theivendran
The government has decided to pay Rs. 15,000 for funeral expenses to each of the families who lost members in the aerial attack in Muttur east, Trincomalee.
The Additional Divisional Secretary (ADS) of Muttur visited the LTTE controlled areas in Trincomalee on Friday, June 2, and issued cheques of Rs. 15,000 to seven affected families. The Muttur ADS, N. Manivannan told The Sunday Leader that he went with 12 cheques, but could find only seven families as the other families have been displaced.
"People haven’t still got the death certificates for their family members who are presumed dead and they have not received any compensation for their damaged properties," he said. He further added that people should have made a police entry in order to receive the death certificates or compensation, but the people in Muttur area had not made a police entry.
Sunera Foundation charity dinner
The Sunera Foundation will hold a charity dinner in aid of its work to help differently-abled people on June 12 at the Cinnamon Grand Oak Room.
The dinner will feature performances by world-renowned pianist Rohan de Silva accompanied by classified virtuosos Stefan Milenkovich and Ani Aznavoorian. The dinner will be their only performance in Sri Lanka on their current tour. Through events like the charity dinner the Sri Lankan community is given the opportunity to support Sunera’s work with differently-abled children and other persons in need.
The charity dinner is sponsored by the National Lotteries Board, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Orient Lanka, SriLankan Airlines, British Airways, Event Productions and Triad Advertising.
"Paramilitaries on the rampage in north and east"
By Kumudu Amarasingham
A senior member of the Christian clergy alleged that paramilitaries were on the rampage in the north and east.
"There are a lot of hit and run type attacks happening. While there was some provocation from the other side sometimes, a lot of the paramilitary activity is unwarranted," Past President, Catholic Religious Congregation and Superior of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation Fr. A. Alexander said.
Fr. Alexander has visited both the north and south for 15 days each. "The suffering of the people in the north is immense," he said.
"The Tamils and Sinhalese were on their own accord much united. The conflict was created by an elite government that did not look into the needs of the people at the grass roots," Fr. Alexander said.
Commenting on the recent EU ban on the LTTE Fr. Alexander said he was afraid it might deter them from coming for peace talks. "It is now the government’s duty to see that they come in for talks," he said, claiming he advocated a federal solution within a united Sri Lanka.
"Governments for years have looked after themselves and not the people," he said.
"Religion, all religions, have a lot to offer. We have not made use of the great gifts bestowed upon us by the four great religions in this country to bring about lasting peace," Fr. Alexander said.
Voluntary doctors and soldiers at army HQ transferred
By Jamila Najmuddin
Thirty five voluntary doctors and 350 soldiers working at Army Headquarters have been transferred to Minneriya and Batticaloa following the suicide attack targeting the Army Commander on April 25.
The Sunday Leader learns that the Army Commander had issued orders to post the transfer letters to the doctors and soldiers last week as a punishment transfer following disputes between the Commander and the doctors.
A volunteer doctor who received the transfer letter, on the grounds of anonymity told The Sunday Leader that the doctors and soldiers were informed to take up their new posts on June 19.
"We have not been given any reason for the transfer and many of us have been temporarily shifted to Panadura till June 19," the doctor said.
According to the doctor, the 35 doctors who had been transferred had been functioning at the Army Hospital since the appointment of Lt. General Sarath Fonseka as Army Commander. He added that many of the soldiers had been working at the headquarters for more than five years. Meanwhile, Military Spokesperson, Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe denied the transfers claiming that the doctors and soldiers were continuing their duties at
the Army Headquarters.
He refused to comment further.
Ban on cement and iron affecting construction work in NE
By Nitharsha Theivendran
The ban on cement and iron rods have affected construction work and rehabilitation projects in the LTTE controlled areas, sources in Kilinochchi said
According to sources in Kilinochchi, there has been a ban implemented on the transportation of cement and iron rods to the LTTE controlled areas by the defence authorities and the amount of fuel taken into LTTE areas has also been restricted and could be taken only with special permission from the armed forces.
A similar ban is also being implemented at the Kaddaparichchan checkpoint in Trincomalee.
The source also said that lorry loads of cement bags were stuck at the Omanthai checkpoint awaiting the green light from the Defence Ministry to enter the area.
When contacted by The Morning Leader Military Spokesperson Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said the ban was in force prior to the cease-fire agreement (CFA). "However, it was eased after the CFA, but now we are implementing it strictly because most of the cement and the iron is going to the LTTE for building bunkers," he further said.
However, the LTTE claims this ban was a violation of the CFA and charged that travellers who cross to the government controlled areas bringing fuel cans are stopped at the Omanthai check point by the army and the cans of fuel are poured out on the ground.
A / Level exams held as scheduled in NE
By Arthur Wamanan
The Advanced Level examination is being held in the north east as scheduled despite drawbacks in certain areas due to the prevailing security situation.
An official at the Jaffna Kachcheri told The Sunday Leader the examinations were being held in the relevant centers as planned.
"The situation here has changed during the past few weeks and except for a few round-ups, the students are allowed to sit their exams without much problems," the official said.
LTTE Eastern Political Head S. Elilan told The Sunday Leader that students who were supposed to sit their exams in Sampur and Senaiyur were allowed to sit in Shenbaham Vidyalayam in Eechilamptru.
"Necessary arrangements have been made by the relevant authorities. The students are unable to study for their tests in refugee camps. But, there are no other issues other than this," he said.