Monday, April 26, 2010

Jaffna Tamils Decry Development Plan of Sri Lankan Gov't

Two cyclists from the minority Tamil community are shooed away by government soldiers as they approach this northern Sri Lankan city’s only Buddhist temple while President Mahinda Rajapaksa is paying a visit.

But when a family from the majority Sinhalese family ambles toward the guards, they are treated more amiably.

These twin incidents during Rajapaksa’s rare visit to Jaffna on Apr. 1 illustrate the contrasting ways in which soldiers from an army made up largely of Sinhalese treat the majority and minority ethnic groups.

Nearly a year after the war ended, burnt out, shell-shocked buildings can be seen lying side by side with spanking new ones for banks or financial services as Colombo firms rush to grab a share of the new business opportunities in Jaffna.

But youngsters and city elders clamor for a different kind of development. "We need to be able to own rather than be bystanders (to development)," said a city businessman, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisal.

Nirmala (not her real name), a high school student, said banks and financial services are not helpful to the Jaffna Tamils.

"A lot of banks setting up branches here are employing people from Colombo. We don’t have jobs. On the other hand, the banks take our deposits, but getting a loan is difficult because the banks want collateral, which we don’t have because our properties have been destroyed or have been taken over by the army for military purposes," she said.

Nirmala was one of a group of 30 16- to 17-year-old high school students who met with IPS recently to discuss their future in an environment where livelihood and employment opportunities are scant. They were unanimous in saying that the people of Jaffna are not part of the development that the government is carving out for the north.

Most of them want to go abroad for studies and live there permanently. "There is no future here. We will always be second-class citizens,"

Perceptions of widespread insensitivity of the Colombo establishment to the city residents became more pronounced when a group of businessmen and bankers flew into the city in late March to lay the foundation stone for a new 80-room hotel being built by a Colombo bank.

Few Tamils from Jaffna were invited to the event and all the speeches were delivered in English even if the majority of the 700,000 people speak only Tamil. Furthermore, local residents questioned the location of the hotel as it is close to a sacred Hindu temple, visited by millions of Tamils every year.

"How can you sell alcohol or meat in a sacred location?" asked Arudpragasam Sivathamby, a taxi driver. Outside the same temple premises, dozens of Sinhala traders are doing business, in some cases displacing the Tamil merchants, causing resentment among the minority ethnic group.

"This is causing a huge problem," said Tamil parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran.

Development is only seen in the form of banks, finance companies and consumer firms opening up in Jaffna while job-creating industries or factories are still inexistent.

Tamils are hoping for a greater role in power sharing. However, Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan, a political scientist from the University of Colombo, said that is not a priority for the government at the moment. "The government won a commanding majority at the recent parliamentary polls, and trying to appease the Tamils is not the biggest priority at the moment," he declared.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unspoken Genocide in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has presented model genocide, a model which has successfully massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians without any witness. A war without witness is what Sri Lanka has presented before the world as a model. This model has now given strength to the rest of the oppressing governments of the world and shown ways of how to oppress in a more brutal way without having to worry about international or national criticisms.

Genocide does not only mean killing. And the Sri Lankan Government did not only take the lives away. The Genocide against the Tamils in Sri Lanka did not start very recently. It has been systematically implemented in various forms from time to time. It is that systematic implementation which reached its peak in 2009.

When dealing with war crimes, the international community is focusing only on a few of the issues, especially at the end of Eelam War 4, at Mullivaaykkaal in May 2009.

But, there have been an ongoing record of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, for a long time in the island of Sri Lanka, and the pattern of this long record has to be analysed by anyone investigating the War Crimes.

My view is that the War Crimes, carried out by the Sri Lankan military with direct and indirect help from various actors of the international community, are part of a systematic programme and should also be investigated for the context of the patterns rather than singled-out events.

It is also equally important to understand that a systematic and prolonged genocide doesn't take place without a deep mythology behind it.

Like the hatred against the Jews in Europe throughout many years had resulted in the Holocaust, which led to the Genocide Convention, we also see clear evidences of a racial mythology originating from the Buddhist chronicle of Mahavamsa in the island of Sri Lanka.

The dangerous dimensions of the racism caused by the Mahavamsa mindset, which attacks the Tamil people who cherish secular values, should be objectively analysed by the investigators.

A structural analysis should be an important part of the investigations, if the investigation should become meaningful for all the victims of the past and the future.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sri Lankan government sold prostitutes from China and Russia to pass budget

During the past years the government auctioned prostitutes from China and Russia in Parliament to get the budget proposals passed, then the Parliament was similar to a ‘New Year sale joint’ and he would not be embarrassed to reveal it now said Minister Dulles Alahapperuma.

Speaking at a press conference held today (1st) Minister Alahapperuma said, “As Parliamentarians we are not embarrassed to reveal these things. During months of November in past several years the Parliament was like a ‘sale place.’ Like New Year sale or Christmas sale we had ‘Diyawanna sale.’ Everything was on sale there. Dollars were traded. Agents from embassies went to and from. Everything happened there.

Prostitutes from China and Russia too have been sold at ‘Diyawanna sale’ during 2008 budget. That is how we had to protect our power,” said Minister Dulles Alahapperuma.

Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam

TGTE announced Independent Election Commission and Election Process for UK.

TGTE Country Working Group, UK has reached important mile stone by announcing the appointment of Independent Election Commission and Election Process for UK in the formation of Provisional Transnational Government of Tamileelam.

The announcement was made in the Open-Day Launch event which took place in Concorde Club, Crane Lodge Road, Cranfield.

The event commenced with traditional oil lamp lit and followed by a minute of silence observed in remembrance of those who laid down lives to the emancipation of Tamileelam.
It was well attended by representatives of BTF, BETFPE, G.E. Society, BTCA, Harrow Councillor, Siva Yogam, White Pigeon, SAGT, TNC, TIC, T4T, TNPF, ACT Now, MTA and Hendon Tamil School including people who have long standing in communities and invited common public. All attendees welcomed the announcement and appreciated the importance of reaching the mile stone.

Abarna Sanjeev of TGTE Country Working Group, UK, introduced Election Commission members:

1.Mr. N. Vijayasingam – Former Adviser to the European Union, New Delhi, former adviser to Ceylon Workers Congress, Srilanka and former governing councillor, University of Jaffna.
2.Mr. Claude Moraes – Member of European parliament was re-elected to the European Parliament for London in 2009, where he also led the London Labour list. He is Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, and is Socialist and Democrats Group Spokesperson for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
3.Mr. Ivan Pethurupillai – Retired Senior Executive with Royal Dutch Shell Oil Group in London.
4.Mr. Keith Sonnett – Deputy General Secretary Unison. Extensive experience in election arrangements and verification of process both home and abroad.
5.Mr. S. Sriskandarajah – Solicitor and Human Activist.
6.Ms. Anne Hock – MD for Popularis, A specialist company in the management of Ballots and Elections.
7.Mr. Balasuntharam – Retired AGA, Srilanka
8.Mr. Mike Griffits – Former Chair Labour Party and National Political Officer Amicus/Unite.
9.Mr. Chinniah Pathy – Engineer presiding officer for Bexley Council at a number of local and parliamentary elections.
Dr. Vasanthakumar of TGTE Country Working Group, UK, introduced Mr. Vijayasingam and ceremonially appointed Mr. Vijayasingam as the independent Election Commissioner.

Election Co-ordinators, Mr Suren and Mr. Guna, presented the Election Process with an aid of Power Point presentation. A question and answer session followed in which Dr. Vasanthakumar, Election Co-ordinators and Election Commission members responded to the questions.

Election Commissioner, Mr. Vijayasingam, made strong commitment to run the election in independent, transparent and fair manner.
Questions and answer session extended after the traditional Sunday roast lunch which every one seemed to have enjoyed was served by Concorde Club.

The event came to conclusion with vote of thanks by Dr. Ratna Pushparajah.

Tamils Meet with U.S. State Department on Sri Lanka Crisis

Americans for Peace in Sri Lanka (APSL), a U.S.-based human rights activist group, led a delegation of 11 Tamil American organizations for a meeting at the United States Department of State with Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake. The meeting to discuss the current humanitarian crisis Tamils face in Sri Lanka took place on April 08th in Washington, DC, with Ambassador Blake joining by video conferencing.

Assistant Secretary Boucher referred to the heightened anxiety of the Tamil Americans over the plight of their loved ones in the Tamil homeland, and expressed solidarity with them in this difficult time. The discussion was divided into two parts, humanitarian situation, led by Ambassador Blake, and views on political solution, led by Assistant Secretary Boucher. The APSL team gave its own presentation under both topics. Tamil Americans thanked Secretary of State Clinton for her call for a ceasefire and phoning Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa to halt directing fire into the "no-fire zone". They noted that Secretary Clinton's call was not heeded by the Colombo government.

Ambassador Blake gave an update on the U.S. led efforts to care for the 120 - 150,000 Tamil civilians in the "safe zone," which included 60% of the food aid going through the World Food Program, and evacuation of more than 4,000 wounded civilians. He spoke of continuing problems with medical aid and gave an update on the visit by UN Secretary General's special representative for the internally displaced, Walter Kaelin, who has extracted concessions from the GoSL in the administration of the IDP camps in Vavuniya. APSL pointed out the real figure of encircled civilians in the "safe zone" is 330,000 as given by the additional government agent of the district. Tamil Americans asked for the support of the U.S. administration to obtain clearance to any Diaspora initiative to take direct medical aid to the crisis zone.

Ambassador Blake informed that the government of Sri Lanka now plans to resettle 80% of the IDPs within one year, and after clearing mines. Tamil Americans cautioned that the over emphasis of mine clearing operations can be a ruse by Sri Lanka to delay the resettlement while they engage on creating high security zones and colonization of Sinhalese in the Vanni area.

APSL made an urgent plea to Ambassador Blake and Secretary Boucher to check on reports over the weekend that the Sri Lankan military has used chemical weapons, killing hundreds of civilians and combatants. The news of the possession of internationally banned chemical weapons in the hands of the Lankan forces has created alarm among the Tamil Diaspora that the Colombo government could engage in mass killings in the "safe zone" with intent of a genocidal outcome.

Tamil Americans continued to press for an immediate ceasefire. Ambassador Blake asked the Tamil Americans whether they can ask the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to let the Tamil civilians leave. APSL responded that the Tamil civilians are given a Hobson's choice, and appealed for expanding the current safety zone and creating a demilitarized zone under the protection of the UN agencies. Only then the Tamil civilians can be asked to choose between staying with the LTTE, or leave for protected zone or distant IDP camps.

Assistant Secretary Boucher then emphasized need for a political solution to end the conflict. Tamil representatives pointed out that no durable political solution is possible without the participation of the LTTE. Tamil Americans opined that negotiations should not preclude separation as a solution, and that confederation with power sharing at the center may be a viable alternative to total separation. Ambassador Blake stated that a viable political solution is one that the Tamils would be willing to accept, and appealed to the Tamil Diaspora to take part in such political discourse.

Several senior high ranking officials from the State Dept and from the office of the United States' Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Susan Rice were also present during the discussions.

The following U.S. Diaspora groups were represented in the meeting: Americans for Peace in Sri Lanka, Federation of Tamil Associations of North America, HELP Advocates Sri Lanka, Ilankai Tamil Sangam, North Carolinians For Peace, People for Equality and Relief in Lanka, Tamils Against Genocide, Tamils of California, Tamils of New England, Tamils of Ohio, and World Thamil Organization - USA.

About APSL:

Americans for Peace in Sri Lanka is a not-for-profit activist group of Tamil and non-Tamil Americans striving to bring durable peace to all peoples in Sri Lanka.

Tamil people have been held against their will

Tamil people in Sri Lanka have been held against their will – Andrew Pelling (Croydon Central, Independent)

Declares that following the end of hostilities in Sri Lanka the detained Tamil people have been held against their will, without any freedom of movement in unsanitary IDP camps.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges HM Government to press the Sri Lankan government for the implementation of a thorough going release of Tamil people in IDP camps and the commencement of talks to bring home rule to Tamil lands to the benefit of all Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapakse in Jaffna election-more SLA men than Public for the meeting.

Mahinda Rajapakse displeased with Jaffna election meeting.

Despite efforts by Minister Douglas Devananda and the candidates of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) it was possible to bring in only less than 400 persons to attend the propaganda meeting in which Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse participated Thursday in Jaffna Duraippah Stadium, sources in Jaffna said. Mahinda Rajapakse appeared disturbed and displeased on seeing a small crowd and delivered an address which failed to cover the much expected and vital issues like political solution, resettlement of uprooted families in Valikaamam North in Sri Lanka Army occupied High Security Zone (HSZ) and restoring normalcy in Jaffna peninsula.

The Sri Lankan president first thanked those who voted for him in the presidential election and said that Tamils and Sinhalese should live as brethren and relatives. He further said that he will get the Tamils a solution for the ethnic problem in the form of ‘People’s Council’.

Mahinda Rajapakse’s helicopter landed in Nalloor Education Department playground Thursday morning and from there he was taken to Nalloor Kanthasuvaami Koayil for worship.

He next performed religious rites at the Naaka Vikaarai Buddhist temple in Aariyaku’lam where the chief incumbent welcomed him and conducted the prayers.

The president was then led to Duraippah stadium under heavy escort.

The people brought to the meeting had to pass through many check points with fences built with iron rods and netting where they all were thoroughly inspected.

They were allowed sit only at a distance of 200 feet from the stage.

Duraippah Stadium and its surroundings teemed with SLA soldiers, police personnel deployed to guard the president besides the presence of his special security team which accompanied the president.

Minister Douglas Devananda, Northern Province Governor Major. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri, Jaffna Mayor Ms. Yogeswari Patkunam and the candidates of SLFP and EPDP were some of those present at the meeting.