Lankan mission under fire
fighting for the rights of Sri Lankans employed abroad has hit out
at Kuwait authorities and the Sri Lanka embassy for their lack of
cooperation in the probe on the missing organs of a Sri Lankan housemaid
who died in Kuwait.
Organization of Foreign Employment(SOFE) denounced the Kuwaiti authorities
for their high-handed action and the Sri Lankan Embassy for its
indifference to the sensitivity of the case..
If the government
and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) failed to
take suitable action immediately, the lives of Sri Lankans working
in Kuwait will be in danger and there is always a possibility of
hearing about more and more 'accidental' deaths from Kuwait, the
group said in a report to a regional seminar in Colombo.
In its report
to the Regional Summit on Issues Relating to the Protection and
Welfare of Migrant Domestic Workers in Asia, the group urged the
government to institute a comprehensive inquiry into the death of
S.A. Somalatha. It also called for an inquiry into the alleged indifference
shown by officials of the Sri Lankan embassy in Kuwait.
The report said
that Somalatha, a resident of Digamadulla, left Sri Lanka in May
2002 through a Kurunegala job agency and had been employed as a
domestic aid in Kuwait.
UNICEF, LTTE to hold regular meetings
on child recruits
By Faraza Farook
UN child rights agency UNICEF is to obtain the
release of more child recruits in LTTE custody, UNICEF's Sri Lanka
Representative Ted Chaiban said.
He said the
LTTE had agreed to hold regular meetings with UNICEF, to investigate
into pending cases and cases that would be brought before it and
encourage the release of children. Already two batches of children
have been released from LTTE custody after lobbying from local and
international NGOs and UNICEF.
a regular meeting with the LTTE to deal with cases and complaints
parents bring before us," Mr. Chaiban said.
meeting is intended to be a monitoring mechanism to ensure that
all children are returned to their family, Mr. Chaiban said.
is particularly interested in encouraging the LTTE to release the
children regardless of why they are there, whether they volunteered
or whether they were taken. We don't want to get into that debate.
That's not important. What's important is that children should not
be in a military surrounding. They should be in school," he
past weeks 85 children between the age group of 14-17 were released
from LTTE custody. These children from Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar
and Vavuniya were in LTTE custody between February and July this
year. Trauma usually associated with child recruits had not been
evident in this group as they had not seen combat due to the ceasefire
in place. Moreover, some children had been with the LTTE for not
more than one day or three months which was considered too short
a period.The first batch of children, according to UNICEF had been
released in November last year.
said the LTTE reiterated its commitment to Olara Otunnu, UN Special
Rapporteur on children in Armed conflict, that it would not recruit
children below the age of 18 for combat or non-combat activities.
The LTTE had
claimed that it was unable to establish the age of some children
as they joined the group, but once it was discovered that the child
was under 18, he or she would be sent home, Mr. Chaiban said.
said that UNICEF urged the LTTE to look at the issue more systematically
and more periodically.
visit to the North was part of a familiarisation tour of the country
after taking over his posting as the new country representative
a few weeks ago. Child protection was discussed at length among
three other issues that were raised with the LTTE.
who has wide experience working in conflict areas in Africa said
a lot of children suffered from trauma affected by war. He said
that physical and sexual abuse of children also increased in conflict
situations because the family in itself was under stress.
said UNICEF was focusing primarily on two issues - poverty and the
lack of education opportunities which were factors that pushed children
to join the LTTE.
The UNICEF chief
said they were taking some steps to help these children get proper
education. Uniforms, lack of transport facilities, and the problem
of catching up with the education level of their age group are some
of the areas the UNICEF is reviewing to help ex-child recruits get
Poverty is another
area UNICEF is tackling with the help of agencies such as UNHCR,
WFP. "Some of these children are not having three meals a day
at home and they believe that by joining the LTTE they will be better
cared for," Mr. Chaiban said. Thus nutritional programmes,
food programmes were part of UNICEF strategy.
taking these issues seriously now," Mr. Chaiban said adding,
that a UNICEF was setting up a committee with certain other UN agencies
and international NGOs to draw up a plan of action to how these
children resume a normal life.
and poverty in reintegrating the child , another aspect that is
being looked into was the psychosocial support which involved a
variety of activities to allow children to be children again, he
CWC seeks debate on Upper Kotmale
The Ceylon Workers Congress is seeking a parliamentary debate
on the Cabinet approved Upper Kotmale hydropower project before
work on it starts. The project was approved by the Cabinet two weeks
ago, despite protest from the CWC which said it was opposed to the
project because it would cause harm to the environment and the people
in the area.
R Yogaraja told The Sunday Times that the party had not changed
its stance on the ill-effects the project would have on the environment.
"We have insisted that the matter be taken up in parliament
so that the merits and the demerits of the project could be known,"
Mr. Yogaraja said.
LTTE gears for development
By Shelani Perera
With the commencement of the first round of peace
talks round the corner, the LTTE has stepped up its activities in
the Government controlled area by setting up the first office of
the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) in Jaffna on Wednesday.
The TRO is
engaged in rehabilitation and development work in populated areas.
A few weeks back TRO members received a two week training on demining
by a mine advisory group from Norway. The Sunday Times learns that
the LTTE is planning to open several TRO offices in the East within
the next few weeks. Along with the opening of the Jaffna office
the organisation has also opened a office in Vavuniya.
LTTE last week appealed to the Government to permit 60 LTTE cadres
to travel by bus from Sampur to the Wanni. The request was made
through the Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Major General
Trond Furuhovde when he met Army area commanders in Kilinochchi.
of Mission Hagrup Hauckland told The Sunday Times that the Government
has not turned the request down but has been cautious as it poses
a risk. "The cadres may have to be escorted by government troops
but whether it will be done is up to the Government", he said.
perfects the new formula
The politics of the UNF are clinical these days, and this is
why various clinicians seem to be enjoying being on the UNF's bandwagon.
Rajitha Senaratne has been a clinician who has looked after his
teeth - even when he is tearing somebody to pieces, he pauses to
smile a very toothy smile.
the rearguard at the UF's Jana Bala Meheyuma last week. He spoke
last, and it is the last lap that the gallery gets its nights jollies
from. Rajtha's knack is that he can make the most sombre and serious
occasion look like a Sri Lankan carnival.
The UNF now
does not believe in the total carnival as the UNP did at the time
Jayewaredene began giving the May day its distinct baila flavor.
Events are organized in a way by the UNF hierarchy now that it gives
the impression that the party is running a food court.
Ask the Page
people who introduced the concept of the food-and shopping-outing
-a food court is where you can get a little of everything, a little
bit of Indonesian Nasi Goreng if you like, a bit of ittly by the
side, and a Gyros sandwich if Greek meets Greek.
On the platform
these days the UNF offers songs by MP's (there was one from a North
Western electorate who sang soon after the speechifying) and a bit
of wind and sound and fury from Rajitha. Incidentally, Sajith Premadasa
sang two sets of baila with the gypsies, and it was not at a sucharitha
after dinner party, it was supposed to be at the rugger ball. Junior
Premadasa seems to like doing his politics from top down and this
probably comes from watching his father struggle from the bottom
One song one dance - around the trees - and one comic act by R.
Freddie Silva was the formula for the Sinhala movie. The UNF has
found the formula for the ultimate political meeting. Song sessions
by MP's, one hardsell talk by the Prime minister, other assorted
pitches by the UNF's string of frontline orators, and one item by
the balance between substance and style in a manner that an after
dinner speaker would have liked if he was speaking to the society
of four letter words and smut. Rajitha says that Milinda Moragoda
can marry anybody he wants , for instance, provided that height
color and everything else fits the bill. In the States where she
comes from, the lady would have had his head for sexual harassment
made JVP bashing look so commonplace that even the crows around
town hall now must be uttering Wimal Weerawansa's name before they
deposit their droppings on lovers around Vihara Maha devi park.
Mung apita deshapremaya gena witharak nevei premaya genath kiyanava
- he says, "these people are not only hectoring us about patriotism,
they are also trying to lecture us about love."
The UNF is
in a love affair with itself, and it is a spectacle that the UNF's
idle hordes have not had for a long time. Being in power and control
can bring in a little jadedness about it. But then, it is not always
that state run buses are lined up for the comfort of the hoi polloi.
There is no radio in these vehicles - but there is Rajitha to be
heard if one opens a window, defining the UNF's new counter political
culture of town meeting as food court picnic.
peace talks commence tomorrow
Rajpal Abeynayake in Sattahip Pattaya, Thailand
A mammoth five thousand room, forty-two story resort
city hotel has been chosen as the venue for the opening ceremony
of the first round of talks between the Sri Lankan government and
in this premium resort city of Pattaya who are staying at the massive
Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel seem to be blissfully unaware that
crucial talks are about to take place between a Sri Lankan government
delegation and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But, nevertheless
talks will kick off tomorrow here - as Milinda Moragoda who did
a tour of the economy section of the SriLankan Airlines flight from
Colombo to Bangkok last Saturday - was eager to tell anybody who
will listen to him.
Sattahip beach is a part of the Pattaya beach strip and it seems
that closer to the Sattahip stretch - it is a haven for transvestites.
You could bet that they wouldn't be calling on any of the delegates
soliciting business, because the delegates are to be whisked to
this location tomorrow morning for the opening ceremony of the talks
at the Trad Room, at the Ambassador City Jomtien hotel, from the
Sattahip naval base where they are lodged for the night.
that the Trad room has been used today for a convention of schoolchildren
- but tomorrow, it will be the venue for what has been dubbed as
crucial talks that would decisively alter the future of Sri Lanka.
That particular assessment may depend on how you see it, but whether
the talks are pivotal to the trajectory of this conflict or not,
there does not seem to be a Sri Lankan who is not interested in
what is going on in this resort city with regard to the Sri Lankan
crisis, even though this is as far as you can possibly get from
the Wanni, or the arid Jaffna peninsula - the actual theatre of
The media is
here in strength if not in full force - but are finding it difficult
to live down the resort ambience of the city and think of more serious
things like talks. But this is serious - the Sri Lankan delegation
is said to have arrived at the naval base around 11 am this morning,
and is settling in at Sattahip, while the media here gets psyched
up for the opening ceremony of the talks, which - ask any Thai -
- could be like any Rotary Club convention as far as they are concerned.
The Trad room has many of those in this roaring resort.
War or peace
we will get Jaffna, Batti
are being held at a time when Sri Lanka cannot defeat the Tigers;
there is an unstable government and a deteriorating economy. Elections
are being held by placing the LTTE as a controversial issue. The
controversy is whether the solution will be peaceful or through
war. The election is a competition between war and peace. For the
first time, leader Prabhakaran has requested the Sinhala people
to reject racist forces who have a madness for war. He has also
warned that if not, the war will continue and the economy of the
country will further deteriorate.
Who are these
racist forces? It is Chandrika's PA and powers that support them.
Douglas Devananda is also included. We are asking the people not
to vote for Douglas Devananda or his EPDP. Prabhakaran has subtly
told the Tamil people, just as he requested the Sinhala people to
reject forces which are against Tamils.
At the same
time we have clear thoughts that this problem cannot be resolved
by Parliament. All the laws against Tamils were passed in Parliament.
For more than 20 years the emergency regulations are being approved
in Parliament, therefore we do not have faith in it.
We have a clear
plan to liberate our people. We do not need a Parliament for this
purpose. The Parliamentary elections are full of fraud and corruption.
We know that earlier while the Indian government was present, Varatharaja
Perumal was elected through fraudulent means. Later the Sri Lankan
government elected Douglas Devananda.
We will be
happy if the Tamil parties which are united support the LTTE's struggle.
At the same time they should not change after coming to power. The
government is publicising that there is a secret agreement between
UNP's leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and us. There is no such agreement
between us. It is possible for either Ranil or Chandrika Madam to
win at the elections.
that if he wins he will speak with the Tigers. That is a good thing.
But there is a problem there. Even if Ranil wins, Chandrika will
remain as President and his government will be under her. The armed
forces will be under President Chandrika. Chandrika can create obstacles
for talks. So even if Ranil wins there is no guarantee that there
will be peace. There will be utter confusion and chaos.
At the same
time, Chandrika can join with the JVP and form a government, then
there will be a war. We are ready for that. War is our profession.
Fighters are very keen to go to Jaffna.
We have a working
plan. According to that we will bring Jaffna and Batticaloa under
our control. We will do this either through war or peace. We are
telling EPDP pack your bags, you should not be there when we come.
At a time when
we were on the verge of advancing towards Jaffna, the Indians intervened
on the basis of humanitarian level and contacted us to evacuate
the forces and said that there were some civilians also to be evacuated.
When we inquired who these civilians were, they said it was the
EPDP. We replied by saying that they do not need to be boarded on
ships as they have their little boats and they will vanish.
There is some
confusion as to whether leader Prabhakaran has given up his call
for Tamil Eelam and instead asking for self governance. What the
leader says is the people of Tamil Eelam want to live in their own
motherland with respect, with their ethnic identity on their own
soil where they have historically lived. What should be observed
in his statement is that our people want to determine their own
political and economic life. What he is stating in a slightly different
form is that these are agreements made under Thimpu principles for
self determination. We have been saying this for a very long time.
We are asking that we be allowed to live independently in our soil.
Can you give us total self rule, he asked. He says that this will
not affect the Sinhala culture or life. He is bravely saying this
because he knows it will not be granted.
I have opened
a peace shop in London and chasing away flies. Chandrika Madam has
no interest in the business of peace. When we had a ceasefire for
four months they ridiculed it. Later when we retaliated by attacking
them fatally, they realised that we did not declare ceasefire from
a position of weakness but were very powerful. We wanted to allow
peace negotiations and to facilitate that, we did not have any land
led attacks for this whole year. When Eric Solheim went to America
and stated that the Tigers are genuinely interested in peace, Kadirgamar
did not like it and sidelined Solheim. Thereafter, peace talks ceased.
Even though we compromised, Chandrika's government imposed restrictions.
Now, we understand
that they have new bombs - vacuum bomb - but we are not afraid of
We are ready
for talks. However, we have been saying that the restrictions on
us has to be removed and a condition of normalcy has to return.
You cannot talk with us after branding us as terrorists. We are
not terrorists. We are a liberation movement.
and spoiling a conch, a madman called Bin Laden clashed with America
and now some countries have included us in their list of terrorists.
political struggles have now been defined as terrorism. The true
definition between terrorism and true freedom struggle has been
destroyed. By hurrying to define this, all liberation organisations
have been affected. When I asked a British MP who came to meet me
recently whether stone throwing by Palestine children is terrorism:
he said yes, according to our definition it is terrorism. When I
asked whether it was not terrorism for Israel Army to shoot these
children: he said that since it was done by a government it was
In his speech
leader Prabhakaran calls this the violence between the oppressed
and the oppressor. Human race is divided into two categories - The
ruling category and the ruled category. Those who are oppressed
and poor belong to minority groups. He says to the world that violence
by the people against such oppression is reasonable.
Violence against Tamils started more than 20 years ago even before
war time of the LTTE. Our peaceful struggles were destroyed by State
violence. Our armed struggle exploded at a time when we realised
that unIess we take up arms and fight we would be destroyed. This
was not a blind decision.
Today we have
risen up as a national liberation organisation. Tamil people are
not standing up with empty hands. We are with tanks and cannons.
A majority of the Tamil areas are under our control. When we have
risen with such maturity why are these obstacles? We have grown
as a peoples' organisation, we are with the people, we cannot be
shaken. However the Sri Lankan government is trying to alienate
the liberation Tigers from the Tamil people by branding us as terrorists.
This is being done by using Kadirgamar who is a Tamil to publicise
this from country to country. It is being publicised that Tigers
are conducting terrorist attacks and have got children in their
government is very happy that the Canadian government has joined
America and Britain and banned the Tigers. They think that they
can separate the Tigers from the Tamil people and that the support
for the LTTE will be on the decline. But our support keeps on increasing.
We cannot be separated from our people, because people are the Tigers,
Tigers are the people. We will agree to peace talks, if we are accepted,
the ban on us is removed and accepted as the representative of our
Britain know that we are not terrorists. We do not get involved
in blind activities. Sometimes we conduct attacks against government
terrorism, attacks with Black Tigers - that is our strength.
and Canada are not saying that the Tigers should be destroyed. They
will not say that. Those countries are saying that there should
be negotiations with the Tigers.
are increased, we will insist that we will talk only if they are
We will go
for peace talks. At that time, we will tell Britain, America and
Canada to remove the ban.
I am telling
Ranil and Chandrika that unless you remove the ban, there will not
be peace. Instead there would be a situation that will contribute
to the rise of Tamil Eelam.
Sri Lanka is
a State terrorist country. From time to time, over 70,000 people
have been murdered due to State terrorism. It is a famous terrorist
government for violation of human rights. Considering this, leader
Prabhakaran asked how is it fair to have a coalition of countries
in the world which are against terrorism.
armed struggle terrorism, why not have a list for State terrorism.
If such a list is prepared, Sri Lanka will be the first in the list.
the world brand those they dislike as terrorists.
They are saying
that if we win in our struggle, then we will call you national leaders
and not terrorists. We will not despair by being branded as terrorists.
We will win in our struggle.
In his invitation
to the Sinhala people, leader Prabhakaran has also given a warning,
we will not tolerate it any more, reject racist forces and bring
those who desire peace to power. He warns that if racist forces
are brought back to power we have no choice but to go separately.
in rage. That rage has to subside. Someone has attacked America
and is hiding inside the caves. But there will be a change between
terrorism and independence struggles. It will become clear who a
real terrorist is and who a freedom fighter is. Terrorist States
should be punished. There should be a change in international relations.