இவற்றிற்கான களஞ்சியம் February, 2007

Feb 26 2007

[TamilNet] Stand with the Tamil Americans in support of the inalienable right of self-determination

We, the Tamil Americans of the great country of the United States, that has historically championed human rights, freedom, justice and peace for oppressed peoples of the world, hereby declare our unequivocal support for the self-determination and political independence of the Tamils in NorthEast Sri Lanka.

Last week marked the completion of five years of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the Tamils and the Sri Lankan state. The agreement, negotiated by the Royal Norwegian Government and supported widely by the International Community, failed to bring real peace to the Tamils. The Sri Lanka government defaulted on its obligations embodied in the ceasefire agreement and on commitments reached in the eight rounds of peace talks held with the Tamils.

Importantly, the half-a-million Tamil people displaced by the war were not allowed to resettle in their homes and rebuild their war-shattered lives in a situation accorded to other citizens of the country. The internationally assisted agreement to share Tsunami aid was not honored. The traditional Tamil homeland of the Tamils in the North and East that was unified under the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 was once again bifurcated.

Emboldened by the muted response of the International Community to its violations of the CFA, the Sri Lankan State has intensified its campaign to subjugate the Tamils. Despite the ceasefire, over 1500 Tamil civilians were killed and more than 600 disappeared in the past year. Through aerial bombarding, shelling, grabbing Tamil land, and displacing another 210,000 Tamils the Sri Lankan State is now engaged in ethnic cleansing of genocidal proportions.

We Tamil Americans note and respect the legitimacy rendered by the Tamil people to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by electing 22 legislators of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in 2004. Over 90% of Tamils voted for the TNA on the platform that the LTTE are the authentic representatives of the Tamils to advance their interests.

We commend the LTTE for not retaliating against Sinhalese civilians, despite intense provocations by the Sri Lankan government and its armed forces in terrorizing the Tamil population.

We plead with the International Community to not be an impediment to the Tamil people realizing their self-determination. The just aspirations of the Tamils should not be held hostage by fictitious claims of protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a failed state. Rather, the International Community must recognize the current de-facto Tamil state should their authentic representatives exercise the right to external self-determination.

We call upon the US Government to recognize the Tamil struggle for what it is – a legitimate freedom struggle. We should resist the propaganda by interested parties to portray their violence against the Tamil people and their political rights as a war against terrorism. Tamils’ quest for self-rule should be accepted just as much as we yielded to the ultimate wishes of the Kosova people without worrying about Serbian sovereignty.

Finally, we call upon our fellow Americans to stand with the Tamil Americans in support of the inalienable right of self-determination for the kith and kin we have left behind in the Tamil homeland.

Association of Tamil Americans
Carolina Tamil Americans
Center for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation – USA
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – California
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – Florida
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – USA
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – Vancouver-Portland – Washington
Midwest Tamil Sangam – Illinois
Ohio Tamil Association – Ohio
Tamil Heritage International – USA
Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization – California
World Tamil Organization – Illinois
World Tamil Coordinating Committee – USA
World Tamil Women Organization – USA

 Source:

American Tamils call for Recognition of Tamil Sovereignty for NorthEast Sri Lanka

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Feb 26 2007

[News Weekly] Sri Lanka and Terrorism

The Tamil Tigers are notorious for the long and bloody “war of liberation” they have waged on behalf of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. Less well-known, according to News Weekly’s special correspondent, is the relentless oppression of the Tamils by the majority Sinhalese.


 

It looks as if war is on again in Sri Lanka and, as usual, it is mostly civilian flesh being torn from the bone. Bombs are exploding in schools or under buses, corpses are floating in wells, aid workers are being shot, refugees shelled and children deprived. And, given the filtering of media by the Sri Lanka Government and the current preoccupation with “terrorism”, it is only natural that people should blame the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

But things are not that straightforward in Sri Lanka. Certainly, the Tamil Tigers have earned a reputation for ruthless prosecution of their “war of liberation” beyond the frontiers of their claimed traditional homeland in the north and east of the island, and well in breach of the Geneva Convention. And, if to earn the title of “terrorist” means to have terrorised the enemy, the Tigers have earned that appellation from the United States, Australian and other governments.There are, however, things not well known in Australia that should be considered before lumping the Tigers with Al Qaeda and other threats to Western civilisation and concluding, as the media would suggest, that they are the only source of violence in Sri Lanka.

Tamil oppression in Sri Lanka.

The first is something of the history of racial oppression in Sri Lanka of the Tamil minority by the Sinhalese majority. It is an ugly story, based on different races with their own languages, customs and religions.

The Tamils are mostly Hindu; the Sinhalese, Buddhist. The Tamils derive from a Dravidian race in south India. The Sinhalese claim an “Aryan” origin. The Tamils claim the flat north-east as their historical habitation; the Sinhalese, the mountains and plains of the south west.

The Tamils once comprised about 20 per cent of the population but great numbers have fled. The Sinhalese comprise about 70 per cent of the population, and Muslims about 5 per cent.

The Tamils were more open to colonial influence, especially education and the English language, perhaps because their less fertile region made them more dependent on commerce. As a result, they were disproportionately successful until independence from Britain in 1948.

After independence, governments of the Sinhalese majority began to enact “Sinhala only” legislation: making Sinhala the official language, restricting Tamil access to university education and employment, enforcing Buddhism as the dominant religion, and reducing economic development of many Tamil lands while settling Sinhalese in others.

Opposition to Sinhalese rule was inflamed by a Prevention of Terrorism Act which rendered the police and armed forces unaccountable and a Sixth Amendment which prohibited any public promotion of Tamil autonomy in the north-east. To Tamil resentment was added the fear of violent race riots, culminating in the terror of July 1983 when mobs sought and killed Tamils and destroyed their property, navigating with electoral lists Tamils believed to have been supplied by government sources.

A contemporary report said: “The violence was vicious and bloody. … In Colombo, groups of rioters hit only at shops and factories, as well as homes owned by Tamils. Their careful selectivity is apparent now. In each street, individual business premises were burnt down, while others alongside stood unscathed. Troops and police (almost all Sinhalese) either joined the rioters or stood idly by.” (Financial Times, August 12, 1983).

Perhaps 3,000 Tamils died in that onslaught which continued for almost a week. Tens of thousands sought refuge overseas or in the north of the island. Many concluded the terror was genocidal and the government complicit. Many youths saw no alternative to joining the armed struggle for some kind of Tamil liberation in the north-east.

Tamil resistance to the racial laws had begun with their enactment, but no progress was discerned at the political level and, by the 1970s, young people had became radicalised by lack of opportunity, and inspired for action by “wars of liberation” in other countries and, ironically, by the example of the Marxist-Leninist insurrection by Sinhalese against Sinhalese in the south of the island.

One such young person was Velupillai Prabakharan, from north of Jaffna, whose group in 1976 was renamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Under his single-minded leadership, the LTTE gained such strength in the succeeding 15 years that it not only dominated the Tamil resistance and prevailed against the Sinhalese military, but humiliated the regional superpower, India, in a guerrilla war after India’s army had entered the north-east, and the theoretical goal of bringing peace to the Tamils had deteriorated into rape, pillage and war with the LTTE.

After the Indian army withdrew in 1990, India’s Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit reluctantly praised the leadership of his adversary, Prabakharan:

“I cannot help but acknowledge his deep idealism and his political and military skills …. Events over the years have shown him as an accomplished political strategist and military tactician, qualities strengthened further by his forbearance and his capacity for survival.”

Somewhat wistfully, Dixit concluded, “His surviving [the Indian peace-keeping force’s military operations] and carrying on his struggle [have] made him a folk hero among his people.”

This “folk hero” is still leading the LTTE in a struggle for at least Tamil autonomy in some kind of federal arrangement, if not independence, in north-east Sri Lanka. He leads a military force whose most feared weapon are the ranks of Kamikaze soldiers and sailors, but he also leads a de facto government which administers the territory, provides schools, orphanages, hospitals and courts of law.

Because the LTTE has not renounced violence or terrorism, according to Richard Armitage, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, it remains listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.

The role of Buddhism in violence.

Contrary to the common perception of Buddhism as a religion of tolerance, compassion and peaceful withdrawal from the affairs of the world, much of the racist force against the Tamils has derived from a national-socialist form of that religion in Sri Lanka that believes it has a duty to re-establish a Buddhist nation run on socialist lines under the spiritual leadership and political counsel of the “Sangha”, or council of monks.

This strain aims to return to a perceived happier period of communal life around the temple, the tank (irrigation system) and the paddy which was destroyed, according to their chronicle of “history” The Mahawamsa, by Tamil invaders who deserved the physical destruction they received at various times by Sinhala kings under the spiritual leadership of the Sanghas.

Believing they have been entrusted by Buddha with the preservation of Sri Lanka from latter day “Yakkas” (a “terrifying demonic race who occupied the island in vast numbers”, whose members are not fit subjects for conversion, as of old), expulsion remains the only option.

Of course, not all congregations of monks are heeding that call and neither do all Sinhalese; but, on the other hand, the call for “genocide”, publicised on Lankaweb (August 7, 2006), is not all that surprising.

The author, a D. Kannangara, declares it is “time that we learn from our history” and notes with approval how the “Mahawamsa describes in great detail how genocide was used effectively”.

He says: “Although brutal, it [genocide] appears the only viable solution to all our ills, as proved time and time again in [Sri Lanka’s] history and the contemporary history of many stable countries including Turkey, USA, Canada, Australia, China, Germany, Japan.

“A genocide will solve the terrorist problem for good.

“Without advancing this historically tried and tested solution, there can never be an end to our problems. We can split hairs about peace, devolution, war, dhamma, co-existence, etc., without any achievement.

“Unless all cancer cells are exterminated, the sickness will take over the entire living body. This surgery should be done soon and entirely if we want to save the patient – the nation.”

Whether Tamils are justified in fearing genocide or are merely paranoid may be argued. Current Sinhalese politicians seek to reassure Tamils they have nothing to fear in a unitary state. What is undeniable, however, is that many Tamils have concluded they do face physical and cultural genocide and perceive an armed resistance to be their only option.

Marxist-Leninist terror

The Sinhalese Marxist-Leninist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), or People’s Liberation Front, was formed in 1965 and led a widespread uprising against the state in 1971.

Many thousands died, including some 15,000 insurgents, before the uprising was put down by the Government with foreign assistance.

A “capitalist demon” in the JVP march on May Day, 2003

In 1982, the JVP re-emerged as a political force and won some 275,000 votes in the presidential elections of that year. Although the JVP publicly denounced violence, the Government proscribed and forced the movement underground for its alleged role in the 1983 race riots against the Tamils.

It gained more strength and, during 1987-89, launched another revolution that almost succeeded in crippling the Sinhala state. Possibly as many as 40,000 died in the revolutionary terror and reprisals. The economy was maimed by violent strikes, curfews, the destruction of factories, and the disruption of energy and transport.

Once again, the JVP was crushed militarily, only to flourish politically. Pursuing the parliamentary road with the social force of Sinhala nationalism, but without renouncing any of its ideological roots, the JVP has grown in recent years.

In the 2000 general elections it gained 10 seats; in 2001, 16; and in 2004, 39 seats, including four ministries. It has established itself as a major political force in the governing coalition.

The JVP is at the forefront of rejection of any compromise with Tamil initiatives for any kind of self-government in the Sri Lanka’s north-east.

According to its published theory, “We Marxists, we proletarian revolutionaries, oppose the division of the country and decentralisation …

Our teacher Marx was called a great centralist by his greatest disciple himself, Lenin. Yes, this is correct. We Marxists are centralists.”

Quoting Lenin, the JVP declares “federalism” should only be a transitional step towards a rigid centralisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and never a step that could weaken that goal.

The JVP campaigns for the proscription of the Tamil Tigers: they should be declared illegal, neither recognised nor consulted, and crushed, if necessary, by the “military option”.

The JVP has campaigned, apparently with success, for the “de-merging” of the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka which had been merged into one region of administration by the Indo-Sri Lankan Accords of 1987 in recognition of the historical habitation of Tamils.

Destruction of this principle of Tamil “autonomy” has been a long-standing goal of Sinhala nationalists. Several members of the JVP who petitioned the Supreme Court against the merger were rewarded, in October 2006, by that court finding in their favour on a technicality. It is most unlikely the current government will try to revive the principle, despite India’s insistence.

Collusion between the Marxist-Leninists and Buddhists.

A common interest in Sinhala nationalism has, itself, encouraged a working alliance between the Marxist-Leninists and Buddhists, but for some the union is much deeper.

In a parallel with Liberation Theology, in which some Christians “contextualised” the Bible to Marxist theory, some Buddhists find theoretical concord with those teachings. Both look back to an imagined communal beginning and perceive progress to an egalitarian future under the leadership of an elite both enlightened and guided by history, on the one hand, and justified in the use of violence, including terror, against opposition to that goal.

Monks, therefore, have been in the front ranks of JVP violence and temples have provided haven for cadres and the hiding for weapons. There was once even a “Bikkhu” (Buddhist monk) branch of the JVP!

There is now a political party of monks, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), whose eight members of parliament have the same program as the JVP for Tamil autonomy: no form of self-government, and proscription and destruction of the Tigers.

JVP women cadres carrying red flags.

The JVP and the JHU were prominent in the abandonment of an agreement between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE regarding foreign aid for reconstruction of the north-east from the effects of the tsunami. Though disproportionately affected by the tsunami, the north-east remains devastated.

Not coincidentally, the JVP and the JHU have promoted bills for “The Prohibition of Forcible Conversions” which, though pending, could severely restrict the role of the Christian church in Sri Lanka, endangering such social actions as the provision of food, shelter, medical care, orphanages, old people’s homes and education. Some Buddhist monks have been in the mobs intimidating congregations and even destroying church buildings.

State terror

Though not reported widely by the Australian media, Sri Lankan Government defence forces in recent months have bombed children in schools, refugees in churches and camps, and civilians at work in the north-east.

Economic blockades remain in force over the entire population of Jaffna in the north, and over thousands of refugees living in the east. A severe shortage of medicines and food has compounded the chronic under-nutrition of mothers and children.

Indiscriminate artillery and mortar fire is wounding civilians, many of whom are forcibly prevented from fleeing. Currently, Sri Lankan armed forces are obstructing convoys of food and medicine to over 15,000 refugees in the east. Notorious “white vans” are abducting Tamils throughout the island and the re-institution of the Prevention of Terrorism Act ensures their vulnerability. People are disappearing and dead bodies are being found.

In January, Sri Lankan forces bombarded a refugee camp, killing 15 children (including seven children under nine), and a pregnant woman, her child and husband. The Bishop of Mannar, the Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph, declared this to be “a crime against humanity” and accused the military of a “barefaced lie” for describing it as an attack against an LTTE installation. He said the only words he could use to describe the attack was “state terror”.

Publicising of Tiger violence is justified, but is best understood in the context of the widespread state force, currently being invoked by the JVP and the JHU, but which has been exerted by the mainstream Sinhalese parties for decades.

A final force for terror

Many millions of dollars are being spent on supplies for the war in Sri Lanka and there is a shadowy network of politicians, military leaders and entrepreneurs for whom the loss of kickbacks would render peace an unprofitable option.

– by a special correspondent.

Source:

SRI LANKA: Who are the terrorists in Sri Lanka?

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Feb 23 2007

[San Francisco Chronicle] Crossing from USA to Canada?

C.W. NEVIUS


There was a time not long ago when a trip across the border from the United States to Canada was accomplished with a wink and a wave of a driver’s license. Those days are over.

Take the case of 55-year-old Lake Tahoe resident Greg Felsch. Stopped at the border in Vancouver this month at the start of a planned five-day ski trip, he was sent back to the United States because of a DUI conviction seven years ago. Not that he had any idea what was going on when he was told at customs: “Your next stop is immigration.”

Felsch was ushered into a room. “There must have been 75 people in line,” he says. “We were there for three hours. One woman was in tears. A guy was sent back for having a medical marijuana card. I felt like a felon with an ankle bracelet.”

Or ask the well-to-do East Bay couple who flew to British Columbia this month for an eight-day ski vacation at the famed Whistler Chateau, where rooms run to $500 a night. They’d made the trip many times, but were surprised at the border to be told that the husband would have to report to “secondary” immigration.

There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was “a person who was inadmissible to Canada.” The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.

In 1975.

Welcome to the new world of border security. Unsuspecting Americans are turning up at the Canadian border expecting clear sailing, only to find that their past — sometimes their distant past — is suddenly an issue.

While Canada officially has barred travelers convicted of criminal offenses for years, attorneys say post-9/11 information-gathering, combined with a sweeping agreement between Canada and the United States to share data, has resulted in a spike in phone calls from concerned travelers.

They are shocked to hear that the sins of their youth might keep them out of Canada. But what they don’t know is that this is just the beginning. Soon other nations will be able to look into your past when you want to travel there.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” said Chris Cannon, an attorney representing the East Bay couple, who asked that their names not be used because they don’t want their kids to know about the pot rap. “It’s a disaster. I mean, who didn’t smoke pot in the ’70s?”

We’re about to find out. And don’t think you are in the clear if you never inhaled. Ever get nabbed for a DUI? How about shoplifting? Turn around. You aren’t getting in.

“From the time that you turn 18, everything is in the system,” says Lucy Perillo, whose Canada Border Crossing Service in Winnipeg, Manitoba, helps Americans get into the country.

Canadian attorney David Lesperance, an expert on customs and immigration, says he had a client who was involved in a fraternity prank 20 years ago. He was on a scavenger hunt, and the assignment was to steal something from a Piggly Wiggly supermarket. He got caught, paid a small fine and was ordered to sweep the police station parking lot.

He thought it was all forgotten. And it was, until he tried to cross the border.

The official word from the Canadian Border Services Agency is that this is nothing more than business as usual. Spokesman Derek Mellon gets a little huffy when asked why the border has become so strict.

“I think it is important to understand that you are entering another country,” Mellon says. “You are not crossing the street.”

OK, but something changed here, didn’t it?

“People say, ‘I’ve been going to Canada for 20 years and never had a problem,’ ” Lesperance says. “It’s classic. I say, ‘Well, you’ve been getting away with it for 20 years.’ ”

A prior record has always made it difficult to cross the border. What you probably didn’t know was that, as the Canadian Consulate’s Web site says, “Driving while under the influence of alcohol is regarded as an extremely serious offense in Canada.”

So it isn’t as if rules have stiffened. But what has changed is the way the information is gathered. In the wake of 9/11, Canada and the United States formed a partnership that has dramatically increased what Lesperance calls “the data mining” system at the border.

The Smart Border Action Plan, as it is known, combines Canadian intelligence with extensive U.S. Homeland Security information. The partnership began in 2002, but it wasn’t until recently that the system was refined.

“They can call up anything that your state trooper in Iowa can,” Lesperance says. “As Canadians and Americans have begun cooperating, all those indiscretions from the ’60s are going to come back and haunt us.”

Now, there’s a scary thought. But the irony of the East Bay couple’s situation is inescapable. Since their rowdy days in the ’70s, they have created and sold a publishing company, purchased extensive real estate holdings and own a $3 million getaway home in Lake Tahoe.

“We’ve done pretty well since those days,” she says. “But what I wonder is how many other people might be affected.”

The Canadian Border Services Agency says its statistics don’t show an increase in the number of travelers turned back. But Cannon says that’s because the “data mining” has just begun to pick up momentum.

“It is too new to say,” he says. “Put it this way. I am one lawyer in San Francisco, and I’ve had four of these cases in the last two years, two since January. And remember, a lot of people don’t want to talk about it (because of embarrassment).”

Asked if there were more cases, attorney Lesperance was emphatic.

“Oh, yeah,” he says. “Just the number of calls I get has gone up. If we factor in the greater ability to discover these cases, it is just mathematically logical that we are going to see more.”

The lesson, the attorneys say, is that if you must travel to Canada, you should apply for “a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation” to wipe the record clear.

Oh, and by the way, if you don’t need to travel to Canada, don’t think you won’t need to clear your record. Lesperance says it is just a matter of time before agreements are signed with governments in destinations like Japan, Indonesia and Europe.

“This,” Lesperance says, “is just the edge of the wedge.”

Who would have thought a single, crazy night in college would follow you around the world?


Rules for gettinginto CanadaFor more information on offenses that prohibit entry to Canada, go to the Canadian Consulate’s Web site at geo.international.gc.ca/can-am/seattle/visas/inadmissible-en.asp.

For more information on visiting Canada, go to cic.gc.ca.

Sources:

This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Going to Canada? Check your past

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Feb 09 2007

[The Guardian] Sri Lanka’s president is “mindless”?

By: Jonathan Steele

The roadblock was unexpected. Driving to Colombo along Sri Lanka’s south-west coast, we were forced on to a sidestreet by police in Hikkaduwa, one of the island’s main tourist centres. There must have been a multiple crash, we assumed, as the detour along narrow village lanes took us past rice paddies shimmering in the afternoon sun. Back on the coast road, fleets of ambulances racing south seemed to confirm our suspicions.

Later we discovered the problem was a bomb. Eleven people had died when a rucksack detonated in a crowded long-distance bus. Although not targeted at foreigners, the site chosen for the atrocity was in part a blow at the country’s weakened tourist economy which has not yet recovered from the 2004 tsunami. Buses have never been hit in tourist areas before. Along with a bomb on a bus going east out of Colombo the previous day, the explosion was also designed to strike fear into every Sri Lankan traveller.

Like terrorist attacks on civilians anywhere in the world, this one was “mindless”, to use the epithet that politicians and editorial writers always employ on these occasions. Killing people who have no connection to political decision-making is never right. But the bus bombs did not happen in a vacuum, according to analysts in Colombo. They were a predictable stage in the cycle of violence involving the Sri Lankan government and its guerrilla opponents that is making a mockery of Sri Lanka’s so-called peace process.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been fighting for a separate homeland for decades. As usual, they denied responsibility for the bombs, but it is assumed this was their answer to an escalating military campaign by the most hardline government since independence.

Sri Lanka has long been a test case for the complexity of dealing with political movements that turn to terrorist methods, almost always as a last resort. Condemning their choice of targets while ignoring their complaints and the degree of support they command leads only to political stalemate and more bloodshed. Northern Ireland, the Basque country and the Palestinian issue show it is better to talk to terror users who have significant popular backing than to isolate them.

Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese elite seemed to know this. Under Norwegian mediation the then government made an interim peace deal with the LTTE four years ago. Although the EU listed the Tigers as a terrorist organisation last year (a badly timed and stupid move), it still urges the new government to go on talking. So does the US, in spite of its war on terror. The Tigers are not Muslim. They have a local, not global, agenda, so any attempt to link them with an anti-western jihad is laughable.

It is equally absurd to use war to disarm them. Yet this is what President Mahinda Rajapakse is attempting, perhaps motivated by revenge after his brother, the defence secretary, and his army commander survived assassination attempts. Rajapakse’s picture bedecks hoardings around Sri Lanka in an unprecedented cult of personality. He has taken to visiting Buddhist shrines on state occasions in a chauvinistic sop to the most dominant of Sri Lanka’s four religious communities.

Worst of all, he is destroying the peace deal by trying to reoccupy the areas recognised as under Tiger control. Almost 4,000 people have died since fighting resumed last year; tens of thousands are homeless after government artillery and air attacks in the east of the island. The government has succeeded in capturing most of the Tiger areas there, and now appears to want to hold provincial elections and install a puppet ruler. Rajapakse’s chosen candidate would be Colonel Karuna, a commander who broke from the LTTE three years ago and was quickly recruited by the Sri Lankan army to work with them. The government initially denied this, and because of heavy censorship local media had difficulty reporting it. But visitors to Batticaloa in the east now say no attempt is made to hide it. Karuna’s camps are close to army bases and police checkpoints, and his ground attacks coincide with government offensives.

According to Unicef, the UN children’s agency, the government is complicit in Karuna’s abductions of hundreds of children to become soldiers. A UN security council working group will take up the issue of Sri Lanka (and Nepal) in New York today. Sri Lanka is one of several countries under the UN spotlight, and Ban Ki-Moon, the new secretary general, has warned of “targeted measures” (ie sanctions) if the practice is not stopped. Ironically, Sri Lanka chose to be on the list that was drawn up when only the Tigers were seizing children.

The government promised to investigate the charges, but abductions continue, says Unicef. The security council must not let Sri Lanka off the hook until proof emerges that it has stopped the practice and got Karuna to release all the children he has seized. The LTTE’s use of child soldiers is on a far greater scale than the army’s (Karuna was notorious for it when he was still with the Tigers), but elected governments have a duty to show they are not adopting the crimes and brutalities of their opponents. Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Mangala Samaraweera, was brave enough to make that point last month. Rajapakse promptly took his job away.

Sri Lanka’s humanitarian crisis is dire. Kidnappings and disappearances, apparently by the police and allied forces, have resumed in Colombo. The civil war has made more than 200,000 people homeless in the past year, almost as many in the same period as in Darfur, which gets 10 times the international attention. Like the Sudanese authorities, the government is using its monopoly of air power to conduct a vicious counter-insurgency in the face of lesser rebel provocations.

The outside world can have a role and India may be the most important player. Floods of Tamil refugees are forcing it to take a renewed interest in its neighbour. It has warned Rajapakse against trying to split the east from the north, a device to foreclose a viable homeland for Tamils and reject a federal solution that most independent experts see as the only compromise likely to end the war.

Above all, India is refusing to sell arms that can be used for counter-insurgency. That is the best signal. If he believes he can defeat an enemy as widely supported by Tamils as the Tigers are, Sri Lanka’s president is as “mindless” as any bus bomber.

Sources:
Sri Lanka’s president seems as mindless as any bomber
Sri Lanka resorts to brutal tactics

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Feb 04 2007

[TamilNet] Jacques Chirac’s message on Sri Lanka’s Independence Day

Mr. President,

On the occasion of the National Day of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I convey to you as well as to the Sri Lankan people, my warmest congratulations.

While fighting has resumed between the Army and the LTTE, and numerous civilians are suffering in a very difficult humanitarian situation, allow me to wish that dialogue will start again and that a political solution to the conflict that is tearing Sri Lanka apart will be found.

Sincerely yours,

Signed: Jacques Chirac

President of France Jacques René Chirac

Source:
Chirac highlights civilian suffering on Sri Lanka’s Independence Day

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