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28th May 2000
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One of the innocent children who will benefit 
from a foster parent and scholarship scheme 
launched at the Public Library yesterday 
to help thechild victims of war. 
Pic by Gemunu Wellage.

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No truce, troops stand strong

The Government yesterday dismissed an offer by the LTTE for a 12-hour ceasefire in the northern Jaffna peninsula and reiterated that 'troops are stable'.

"There is nothing official, we cannot take such offers seriously. The Government troops are in a strong position and there is no need to accept a ceasefire," Chief Military Spokesman Palitha Fernando told The Sunday Times.

The LTTE announced a temporary ceasefire for 12 hours yesterday to allow the evacuation of civilians from the battle zones of the Thenmarachchi division of the peninsula, around 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of Jaffna city.

Meanwhile President Chandrika Kumaratunga reiterated that the government troops would not withdraw from the Jaffna peninsula.

The President in an interview with India's Star Television on Friday said: 'We cannot withdraw troops. Why should we withdraw the troops because we are asked by the LTTE?" 

She said evacuation of troops was a last resort.

Meanwhile Northern Commander Janaka Perera told the State media the Government troops would not withdraw from the peninsula and added that they were in a very strong position.

Maj. Gen. Perera called on the youth to join the Army, saying more manpower was the prime need as the nation faced a decisive moment. 

Meanwhile the Indian Navy has been put on a 72 hour alert amidst speculation of a request for evacuation of Sri Lankan troops, the Hindu newspaper reported. 

Censor war-ded

Competent Authority and Information Director Ariya Rubesinghe — the chief censor for thousands of media reports for the past four weeks — is warded in a private hospital in Colombo. 

Information Department sources said the man in the news was having blood sugar problems. 

A government statement said Mr. Rubesinghe would be on medical leave tomorror till tomorrow and Sripathi Suriyaarachchi would act as the Competent Authority. Deputy Information Director U.R.H. Gajaman would act as director of information. 

President's TV show cut

An interview given by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to an Indian Television station was censored by the Competent Authority yesterday when The Sunday Times sent him a report on it.

Even direct quotes by the President were censored.

Motion next month

Leader of the House and senior minister Ratnsiri Wickramanayake has assured that the motion on media reforms will be taken up for debate next month.

The assurance was given to Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe who moved the motion signed by opposition and government MPs.The motion proposes the repealing of criminal defamation and Press Council laws and the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act.The motion was presented by Mr. Wickramasinghe in October, but it was not taken up for debate.

In line with a blanket censorship imposed through an emergency gazette notification on May 3, the news stories, columns, pictures, maps and cartoons in this newspaper have been subjected to censorship by the Competent Authority. 

In most instances we have left the censored sections blank. We hope our readers will bear with us.

President raps MP in child rape case

By Ayesha R. Rafiq
An MP of the ruling People's Alliance, who allegedly threatened and intimidated police officers investigating the abduction and brutal multiple rape of a child, has been rebuked by President Kumaratunga, an official said.

He said the President had personally ordered a Puttalam District MP not to interfere or in any way intimidate police officers investigating the case.

The presidential rebuke came after the Attorney General's Department complained to the Police Chief that the MP was threatening to transfer police officers probing the abduction and rape of the 12-year-old girl.

The AG's Department said the girl's family members were also being threatened and a shop belonging to her father had been burnt down.

The child was allegedly kidnapped by a supporter of the MP early this month and raped more than 10 times as he kept moving her from hideout to hideout and demanding a ransom of Rs. 60,000 from the family.

After the suspect was arrested, his supporters have been threatening the investigating officers, doctors and Samurdhi workers in the area, as it was a Samurdhi worker who provided vital information which led to the suspect's arrest.

The AG's Department has also complained that the granting of bail to the suspect posed further problems to the investigation and that political pressure had stifled a free and fair investigation.

Talks ill or well?

By Shelani de Silva

In the wake of last Wednesday's controversial cancellation of PA-UNP talks, the main opposition party has accused the government of dragging its feet on the proposed political solution.

UNP delegate and former information minister Tyronne Fernando told The Sunday Times, the talks at Temple Trees last Wednesday were called off on the basis that the President was ill. But UNP delegates who waited at Temple Trees and left after cakes and tea later found out that the President had flown to Anuradhapura for a Bodhi pooja. An angry Mr. Fernando said they felt they were being taken for a ride because the government did not want to come forward with a political solution before upcoming general elections.

In response, PA General Secretary and Minister D M Jayaratne denied the UNP charge and said the proposals would be finalised within the next two-weeks and presented to parliament. He said the talks so far were successful and the government was optimistic the reforms package would be approved by parliament with UNP support. 

See terror as terror, CBK tells world

President Chandrika Kumara–tunga has urged the international community to 'recognise terror when they see it' and pointed out that their silence only encourages terrorist to practise their terror.

The President in an interview with Satinder Bindra of CNN also said the security forces were in control of the population of the Jaffna peninsula and the crucial areas.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: How is this war going for your troops, many military analysis are claiming it may now be impossible to hold Jaffna?

A: The LTTE has been able to launch a very strong attack on the peninsula of Jaffna. The army had to move backwards strategically. The LTTE is now in some of those areas. The forces are in control of the population of the peninsula and the crucial areas.

Q: How confident are you that you can hold on to your territory because the rebels recently claimed they had taken Chavakacheri?

A: They are strongly present in Chavakacheri which is by the sea. They had infiltrated the area over the past six months and tried to attack Jaffna city from there. They have been repulsed. They have moved in the opposite direction. They have been contained for the moment.

Q: What can the international community do to help?

A: They could recognise terror when they see it. They don't like it when it happens in their countries, but by their silence, by their tolerance of the most terrifying terrorist group in the world, they are encouraging them to practise all their terror.

Q: You narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in December. How difficult is the crisis for you personally?

A: I have lost several people close to me in my life through violence. My father and my husband were both assassinated when they were in politics and when they were fighting for the people's cause. I suppose in some way I was already prepared to take such a shock. Because I had several traumas to get over and each one became easier. So once you are committed to a cause like that I suppose you have the strength to get over this kind of thing.

Q: What do you tell your children though surely they must be concerned sometimes?

A: They are very concerned and they hate my doing politics. Naturally, they also lost a father through violence. It is difficult when you have children.

Q: What could the Norwegians do in bringing both sides together? 

A: They are trying to persuade the LTTE to come to the negotiating table. It doesn't seem to understand the language of democratic governance. But, I am an eternal optimist.


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