19th October 1997


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Mahanayake advises Mangala

The Mahanayaka Thera of the Malwatte Chapter yesterday advised Minister Man-gala Samaraweera to be careful about his comments as his recent remarks on the Sinhala Comission had led to a division among the Maha Sangha.

The Minister called on the Ven. Rambuk-welle Sri Vipassi Thera in Kandy where the comments made by Mr. Samaraweera figured prominently. Mr. Sama-raweera apologised if the comments had hurt the Maha Sangha.The Minister also called on the Mahanayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter Palipane Sri Chandana-nda thera who is warded in the Kandy hospital.

Amidst bombs, a search and war for peace

By Frederica Jansz

While there can be no full security guarantee against a guerrilla attack, the Defence Ministry should take responsibility for the lapse in security for Wednesday's bomb attack.

In an area declared as a high security zone by the government, there exist serious gaps which allowed some eight rebels escape in spite of commendable efforts by the forces to catch them, according to observers.

Military experts claim that of late the LTTE has been suffering significant losses in the battlefield losing a large number of its fighting cadres. Despite these losses, it is still capable of committing acts of atrocity in the heart of Sri Lanka's financial capital. In three years of PA administration, the country has seen an escalation of violence that has destroyed the city centre twice and other areas in the South. This reminds us that the LTTE is in our midst and not just relegated to the uncleared terrain of the Wanni.

Military analysts say conventional warfare will not weaken a guerrilla force which does not need men in numbers to prove its strength. The LTTE has responded to every blow the government has dealt it. While it is true the LTTE now the weaker party, it however fights a different war, with a different strategy, without a conventional set of rules. While the government sees it necessary to negotiate from a position of military strength, it has however been proved in past peace attempts that the enemy too seeks parity of esteem before agreeing to talk. Statesmanship is now required to break out of this mould and seek a solution through dialogue.

The LTTE confusingly has continued to commit acts of terrorism which serve to isolate the group further. Prabhakaran's affiliation for war and destruction, can only be perceived as an attempt to prove the LTTE is a force to reckon with. Failure on the part of the government to accept this fact has once again destroyed a vital area in Colombo hitting its economic centre.

Recently a government official told The Sunday Times some newspaper articles were written by journalists who do not visit the war torn areas and so have not witnessed the improved situation in the north. It is not necessary to talk to the LTTE, he said admitting however the group could not be totally eradicated. An interim political administration with the blessings of the government could be established, he said adding that negotiations with the Tigers should not be considered.

However far fetched such theories may be, the bottom line is we all want peace. An option for peace is a choice for the right to lead a normal life where people as a whole will have a right to stability, sanity and positive values which include respect for each other irrespective of ethnicity, language, religion or culture.

Various strategies have been adopted to generate a climate clamouring for peace, the most recent being the state sponsored Sama Thawalama initiative. While the success of such initiatives remains in doubt it is arguably a long tedious road to peace.

Unfortunately, there has been no great outcry either in the north or south against the war. Instead there exists a unique situation of fighting a war for peace. Society as a whole has been militarized to such an extent that militarization is a term that does not exist only with the military. It has become an attitude of life in Sri Lankan society whereby people are no longer conscious of the negative aspects of such a policy.

Will the devolution proposals to be presented in parliament next week, serve as an answer to the war? What kind of society do we want in Sri Lanka? There is much discussion today on justice, equality, parity of status, and freedom. Have all ethnic communities made a genuine and significant contribution to achieve this end?

Today to see armed men and women on the street at every point you have access to - school, workplace, shopping centres - is a part of life. It is not unusual or out of the ordinary. Cultural values are now dependent on the military to protect.

Whether one likes it or not, it has to be accepted the carnage of violence that continues to breed terrorism will continue unless the government seriously addresses the forum of negotiations again. However misguided the LTTE may be in its methods, the cause for its violence cannot be ignored or ridiculed.

Recently the Action Group of Tamils in Colombo made an appeal to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has strongly condemned Wednesday's bomb attack, that he use his good offices to urge the government and the LTTE to stop the war. The appeal countered claims by the government that the military campaign is only against the LTTE, to liberate the Tamil people. But the Action Group points out the war has destroyed homes, properties and the livelihood of the Tamil people. The Tamil people, it says do not want to be liberated by the Sri Lankan armed forces. But "we want peace", it says.

President Kumaratunga has acknowledged that some Tamil people do have grievances, stressing that the government's military campaign is only against the LTTE. Whether this policy will finally serve to annihilate the rebel group and build a lasting confidence between the government and the Tamil community is questionable.

Lankan honoured with ILO office

The I.L.O. has appointed Sriyan R. de Silva as Deputy Director of the Employers' Bureau effective from this month.

Mr. De Silva is the first South Asian to hold this prestigious position.

Mr. De Silva was the Secretary-General of the Employers' Federation of Ceylon from 1982 to 1989 and served the E.F.C. for 25 years before his appointment as Senior Specialist in Employers' Activities of the ILO for Asia and the Pacific.

Mr. De Silva is the author of the Framework of Industrial Relations and several other publications on Sri Lankan Labour Law and industrial relations which are of great academic and practical value.

Move to rename street angers residents

A proposal to rename the main Modera Street in Mutwal as Mohamed Jummah Masjid Mawatha is posing the danger of a confrontation between two communities, residents said.

Recently residents were officially notified by the Colombo Municipality of a proposal to this effect. Hundreds of residents who have been living on this main Mutwal highway for decades feel the whole area is identified by the name of this street and to change it would affect the identity of this locality, they say.

Some politicians had proposed that the street be renamed after a mosque in the area. Residents say that at a time when there is so much strife and violence over the ethnic conflict, creating more tension over a relatively small matter would not be prudent.

Victim identifies ragging students

By Shane Seneviratne

Four students involved in the alleged ragging of an engineering student of University of Peradeniya have been identified by the victim who has been hospitalised, a spokesman for the university said.

The students were identified by the photographs in the students register file which is in the possession of the university.

The senior students had allegedly ragged the fresher outside the university premises.

University authorities said that after their inquiries the four students would be handed over to the police to conduct their own investigations as there had been a complaint lodged in the police by the parent.

The ragging incident took place two weeks ago and the student was rushed to the National Hospital in Colombo and thereafter transferred to a private hospital.

See also Plus

Social work halted The Trincomalee Government Agent S.D. Chandradasa has suspended the implementation of social development works under the decentralised budget as the money allocated by the MPs of the district had exceeded the 12 percent limit of the decentralised budget.

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