06th July 1997


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Plea for Tamil school in Gampaha

An appeal for the setting up of a Tamil school in Gampaha town has been made by Ceylon National Workers' Congress leader M.S. Sellasamy.

In the appeal to the Western Provincial Council, the party says Tamil children in the area are facing severe hardships as the nearest Tamil school in the area is 20 km. away in Negombo.

Vasu wants immediate devolution

A Govt. parliamentarian has called for the implementation of the Devolution Package at least in the cleared areas of the North-East District, to restore the confidence of the Tamil people.

The LSSP's outspoken Vasudeva Nanayakkara told a Peace Forum in Trincomalee that the current military operation had brought about a situation where the Tamil people were losing confidence in the Govt. and in a political solution.

He said the Government should go ahead with plans for regional autonomy as the country could no longer bear the cost of war and a majority of the Sinhala people, including the Maha Sangha were supporting a political solution.

No money, no road

The construction of a new road from Kalutara to Kotte has come to a standstill due to lack of funds, an official said.

The chief engineer of the project said the funds allocated for compensation payments to residents affected by the road-widening had been exhausted.

Until more funds were obtained, work had to be stopped.

Freedom: The indonesian captain and Chief Engineer of Missen after they were released by the LTTE speaking to the journalists in Colombo

Security clamp for 'Black July'

Amidst intelligence reports that the LTTE may strike to coincide with the anniversary of the 1983 'Black July', a top-security alert has been put into effect in Colombo and other main towns.

CID Deputy Chief Bandula Wickramasinghe told The Sunday Times they had received information that LTTE suicide bombers had infiltrated the city. "We are not taking any chances and a top security alert is being maintained," he said.

As part of the security crackdown in Colombo, the combined security forces and the police are carrying out surprise cordon-and-search operations on houses, business establishments and lodges while vehicles entering the city are being thoroughly checked.

At least three lodges have been ordered to close down following information that some of the suspected LTTE cadres may have been accommodated in those houses.

TULF leader M. Sivasithamparam and PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Siddarthan have strongly protested over the sudden closure of the three lodging houses. The closure had left hosts of people stranded while employees of the lodging houses were thrown out of their jobs, they said in protest to the police chief and the Defence Ministry Secretary.

The two leaders said they understood the need for extra security but such drastic action that inconvenience the people should be avoided.

The LTTE in the past has carried out attacks in Colombo and the suburbs to coincide with the 1983 July riots. In July last year, two bombs were set off on a packed passenger train in Dehiwela killing or wounding hundreds of commuters.

As the security clamp was intensified , Tamil political parties have urged the government to change the procedure adopted when arresting suspects.

Representatives of seven political parties on Thursday met Justice Minister G.L. Peiris to discuss issues arising from the large-scale arrests of Tamil suspects in the city. They claimed that some of those arrested were detained for long periods without being questioned while others were being taken in over and again.

Mannar sea drama

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

Our vessel was set on fire just because we were suspected by the LTTE of transporting security personnel, Nang Hadi, skipper of the merchant vessel "Missen" said yesterday after his dramatic journey from the Mannar beach to Colombo via Vavuniya.

"Missen" which could carry 500 passengers, was engaged to transport refugees between Mannar and the Jaffna Peninsula, was set on fire on Tuesday, by the LTTE after two Indonesians and nine crew members were taken hostage by the rebels.

The two crew members, who were set free, in an interview with 'The Sunday Times' said that the LTTE had firmly told them that they believe that security personnel travel under cover in vessels which transport refugees.

Captain Hadi and Chief Engineer Imam Wahudin who were escorted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Colombo, after they were released by the LTTE on Friday morning, explained their long journey through jungles, starting from the beaches of Mannar to Colombo.

Hadi, 40, said that it was Tuesday 6 a.m. when he dropped anchor at a point north of Mannar, about one kilometre from the shore.

"Suddenly I saw from the bridge, several light boats approaching us, and before I could establish any communications, men with automatic weapons climbed on to the vessel and asked us to keep quiet," Hadi said.

"We landed on a beach where we saw men clad in green uniforms. The other two boats also joined and we were asked to dismount and walk quite a distance into the jungles. From where we travelled for two hours in a truck and reached a big camp," the captain added.

"We were given a modest meal, and medical care as well, for I injured myself when travelling in the boat. The rice and curry which they (LTTE) provided was OK. The next day after breakfast we travelled a further three hours by vehicle".

"Here we were asked several questions, and were shown wall pictures of the leader of LTTE whom they described as the 'supremo'," Hadi said.

Later on in the day an LTTE cadre by the name of 'Sudar' had told both himself and Wahudin that they could return home tomorrow and that they will be handed over to the ICRC, on Friday morning.

Following this assurance the rebels had escorted these two Indonesians to Vavuniya where their trouser measurements were taken. They were also bought new clothes and footwear. On the following day (Friday) Hadi and Wahudin were handed over to John Paul of the ICRC which escorted them to Colombo, from Vavuniya.

TELO's dilemma: to be in or out of Alliance

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The TELO, a constituent of the Five Tamil Parties Alliance (FTPA), is likely to pull out of it over serious differences of opinion with other constituent parties on the question of the merged North-East province in the peace package.

Following a turbulent meeting of the FTPA last Wednesday between two parties, the TELO is to make decision as to whether to continue within the Alliance or not on July 12.

It is learnt that TELO's decision has been prompted by the change of attitude of some parties regarding the crucial question of North-East in the proposed peace package.

The five member presidium of the TELO is to meet on July 12 to take a final decision as to whether it would be worthwhile to continue with the FTPA in the face of all these developments.

Storm brews over fishermen in Tiger net

The ICRC is negotiating with the LTTE for the release of 36 Muslim fishermen whom the Tigers are holding on suspicion of supporting or giving information to the Navy relating to recent incidents in the Trincomalee district.

On Friday night Muslim community leaders in Irrakannady met LTTE representatives in the area to seek the release of the fishermen but the talks failed and tension is said to be building up in the area.

The LTTE is reported to have abducted the fishermen claiming that they were responsible for providing information to the security forces about LTTE boat movements which led to the major attack by the navy on June 26. An estimated 40 Sea Tigers were killed in the incident .

Some of the Tigers who had jumped aboard and were trying to escape had been rescued by the fishermen but later handed over to the Navy, it is alleged.

The dispute arose as the LTTE continued to detain seven crew members who were abducted from the merchant vessel, Missen, off Pesalai.

The ships captain and the chief engineer, both Indonesians, were released on Friday by the LTTE. The voice of Tigers clandestine radio said the Indonesian crew members were released on humanitarian grounds.

Continue to the News/Comment page 3 - * Electoral reforms face stiff opposition, * 73-year-old dies in accident with Rs. 30,000 on him, * Jaffna: a town of uncertainty

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