The situation in Sri Lanka
Supplement to IJ@ 4 (31), http://www.anarchy.no/ija431.html , updated - with anarchist point of view
A ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil Tiger rebels is due to come into force on Saturday 23.02.2002 after 19 years of civil war. The landmark agreement signed on Friday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the separatists paves the way for direct peace talks. The face-to-face talks would be the first in seven years aimed at ending a conflict that has killed 64,000 people and divided the island nation. The Anarchist International's Conference on terrorism, the NAC, the UN and the USA have welcomed the Norwegian State Council's peace workers' continued attempts to broker a negotiated settlement.
The new deal must be seen mainly as a preliminary victory in the service of peace for the Norwegian special negotiator Erik Solheim, a non-dogmatic semilibertarian marxist from the Socialist Left party, SV. (A party that have a significant semilibertarian and anarchist faction, although usually not the majority, that includes leftist-marxists and marxist-leninists, as well as left wing socialdemocrats). Erik S. volunteered to the work, as a special delegate from the Norwegian State Council and the UN.
The Anarchist Federation of Norway, AFIN, are afraid that the peace may break down because there is not really put up a significant armed corps to support the peace, as in Bosnia, just observers to "watch the peace". The anarchists' advice is to put up a significant armed corps to support the peacework, similar to Bosnia, and also advocate a new system based on a confederalist solution for the Tamils and the rest of the country. 05.12.2002: Sri Lankan central administration and Tamil Tiger rebels agree on a federal/confederal managerial system on the island.
Mahinda Rajapakse, prime minister at the time of his election, won the November 2005 presidential poll by a narrow margin. He says the solution to the conflict lies in a unitary state. This goes against the anarchists advice about a confederalist solution with autonomy for the Tamils, and also the agreement on partial autonomy for the Tamils from 05.12.2002.
09.06.2007 Despite an official truce, Sri Lanka has been sliding back to civil war. The Anarchist International is troubled by the Sri Lankan Government's 02.01.2008 decision to terminate the 2002 ceasefire agreement. Ending the ceasefire agreement will make it more difficult to achieve a lasting, peaceful solution to Sri Lanka's conflict. We call on both the government and the LTTE to avoid an escalation of hostilities and further civilian casualties. All parties to the conflict share the responsibility to protect the rights of all of Sri Lanka's people. We urge them to work toward the goal of a just, political solution that ensures the rights of minority communities and benefits all Sri Lankans. Only a peaceful political solution, not a military one, offers a way out of the current cycle of escalating violence. The LTTE has 10.01.2008 asked the Norwegians to continue as peace negotiators. 28.01.2008: 'Scores die' in Sri Lanka clashes. 06.03.2008: Sri Lanka rapped over 'disappeared'. 18.06.2008: Italy holds 'Tamil Tiger members'.
19.06.2008. The war continues. The Norwegian peace negotiators still have formal role, but there is little to no activity from the Norwegian side. 02.01.2009. Sri Lankan troops seize rebel HQ, Kilinochchi. 26.01.2009. The Sri Lankan army says it is fighting the Tamil Tigers in their remaining jungle bases after taking the last key rebel town of Mullaitivu on Sunday. Army commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka has said the war is "95% over". 01.02.2009 The fighting has created a "nightmarish" situation for civilians in the conflict zone. The Anarchist International declares "stop attacking civilians" and calls for a ceasefire. 03.02.2009. The AI calls on LTTE to lay down arms and negotiate with the government. 05.02.2009. Sri Lankan government rejects dialogue appeal. There exists no military solution, the anarchists say, only a political. 06.02.2009. The AI condemns attack on the Red Cross. 07.02.2009. The AI urges safe passage for sick in Sri Lanka.
10.02.2009. The AI criticized the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka. 11.02.2009. The AI urges both sides to avoid fighting in civilian areas. 12.02.2009. Army creates new 'safe zone' after international pressure. 16.02.2009. The government has rejected international calls for a ceasefire, demanding the rebels lay down their arms. The Tigers have said they will not do so until they have a "guarantee of living with freedom and dignity and sovereignty", a claim mainly supported by the AI. 18.02.2009. The AI once more calls for a ceasefire and peace-negotiations, and a just peace. 19.02.2009 The AI urges both sides to avoid civilan casualties. 24.02.2009 The AI declares: Bring this conflict to an end without any further unnecessary loss of civilian life and destruction of the Sri Lankan society. The government must stop its human rights abuses. Stop fighting now! 26.02.2009. AI demands freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, and the release of the arrested editor Nadesapillai Vithyatharan.
05.03.2009. The AI has growing concern for the trapped civilians as the Sri Lankan army seeks to deal a knockout blow to the Tamil Tiger rebels to end the island's 25-year civil war. 10.03.2009. A suicide bomber attacked government ministers. The AI takes a clear stand against terrorism. 13.03.2009. The AI warns of humanitarian crimes in Sri Lanka. 17.03.2009. Sri Lanka deaths blamed on lack of medical supply. The AI demands a sufficient amount of medical supplies to the war zone. 22.03.2009. ICRC sends supplies to Sri Lanka war zone hospital. The AI calls on the Red Cross (ICRC) to send more help. 25.03.2009. More than 1,500 civilians flee Sri Lanka war zone.
12.04.2009. Sri Lanka to suspend offensives against rebels. The AI welcomes the two-day suspension of the offensive. 13.04.2009. Sri Lanka's government dropped Norway as a mediator. The International Anarchist Tribunal condemns the violent attack by Tamil Tiger supporters on Sri Lanka's embassy in Oslo. 16.04.2009. Sri Lankan troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked Tamil Tiger defenses in the northeast as international pressure, including from the AI, grew for a new ceasefire to allow civilians to escape the fighting. 17.04.2009. About 3,500 Tamils demonstrated in Oslo without ochlarchy for a peace solution i Sri Lanka, supported by the anarchists. 22.04.2009. The UN Security Council asked the rebels to lay down their arms, renounce terrorism and join talks to end the nation's 25-year civil war. The AI supports this demand.
23.04.2009. Sri Lanka pleaded for international help. 26.04.2009. LTTE declares unilateral ceasefire. "This is a joke," Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said of the rebels' truce offer. The ceasefire declaration came amid a chorus of international appeals, including from the Anarchist International, for a pause in the fighting to allow the estimated 50,000 ethnic Tamil civilians remaining in the war zone to escape. 27.04.2009. Sri Lanka to stop airstrikes and artillery attacks on rebels amid pressure to protect civilians. 28.04.2009. Shelling reported in Sri Lankan war zone. Sri Lankan forces pounded rebel territory with a fierce artillery barrage Tuesday, a day after the government pledged to stop using heavy weapons to prevent civilian casualties. The AI protests against the shelling.
30.04.2009. Sri Lanka president and rebels vow to fight on. 07.05.2009. Video shows Sri Lanka rebels forcing civilian help. 10.05.2009. 'Steep rise' in Sri Lanka deaths. 12.05.2009. 1,000 civilians killed over the weekend. 13.05.2009. UN and the AI demand Tamil Tigers stop fighting in Sri Lanka. 15.05.2009. Sri Lankan military fights to surround rebels. USA's UN mission writes to AI: "Your concern regarding Sri Lanka ... Thank you for your active engagement". The AI once more a) calls on the LTTE to lay down arms, and b) supports the Tamil's demand for autonomy - but within the communist state of Sri Lanka.
16.05.2009. Sri Lanka president declares victory in civil war. The AI demands autonomy for the Tamils. 17.05.2007. Sri Lanka rebels 'call ceasefire'. LTTE has "decided to silence our guns, to save our people ". The AI declares: "The right decision, and we call for autonomy for the Tamils within the communist regime." Sri Lanka battles Tiger remnants. 18.05.2009. Sri Lanka says war over, rebel leader killed. The AI calls for an independent war crimes investigation into the killing of civilians in Sri Lanka, and more humanitarian aid. 20.05.2009. Aid groups and UN push for access to Sri Lankan war zone to evacuate remaining civilians, with support by the AI. 21.05.2009. Sri Lanka vows to resettle most Tamils this year. The sooner the better, the AI declares: Close the communist Gulag consentration camps! 22.05.2009. UN chief to press for Sri Lanka reconciliation, supported by the AI. 23.05.2009. UN chief visits Sri Lankan war refugees. Aid groups and the AI have appealed to the government to allow the displaced more freedom. 24.05.2009.Sri Lankan president rejects UN chief's and AI's appeal for full access to camps for war-displaced. Defeated Tamil Tiger rebels confirm death of leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in final battle.
25.05.2009. Sri Lanka to hold local elections in north. Sri Lanka's defence secretary has rejected the Tamil Tigers' offer to enter a democratic process after their military defeat by government forces. 29.05.2009. More than 20,000 civilians were killed in the final months of Sri Lanka's civil war? 31.05.2009. Sri Lanka has dismissed calls for an independent inquiry into claims of human rights abuses by the military. The AI once more calls for an independent inquiry, to find out whether a genocide happened or not. 03.06.2009. Sri Lanka president calls for outreach to Tamils, the AI calls for quick implementation of the outreach. 06.06.2009. UN chief and AI urge war crimes probe in Sri Lanka. 11.06.2009. Amnesty and AI say Sri Lanka fails to probe war abuses. 15.06.2009. Erik Solheim is talking on BBC Hardtalk a.o.t. about the situation in Sri Lanka, click on Solheim on Hardtalk- BBC .
17.06.2009. Sri Lanka rebels try to rise again after defeat. 18.06.2009. Rights groups and the Anarchist International want probe into Sri Lanka war abuses. 27.07.2009. US concerned over Sri Lankan camps. AI repeats: Close the communist Gulag consentration camps! 07.08.2009. Arrest of new leader a major blow to Sri Lankan rebels. 08.08.2009. Local election. 19.11.2009. UN confirms Tamil camps exodus. 01.12.1009. Sri Lanka opens up the communist Gulag war refugee camps. 19.01.2010. War refugees struggle to rebuild in Sri Lanka. 22.01.2010. Attacks mar Sri Lanka's first poll since war's end. Typical marxist-communist ochlarchy, AI declares. 08.02.2010. Sri Lankan opposition leader arrested for sedition. Typical communist rule, AI declares. 11.02.2010. Sri Lankan police disperse pro-opposition protest. Typical communist rule, AI repeats. 13.02.2010. Sri Lanka president pledges due process for rival. 07.03.2010. Sri Lanka's detained opposition leader has begun a hunger strike. 08.04.2010. Sri Lankans vote in parliamentary elections. 09.04.2010. Poll win for Sri Lanka government. The totalitarian state-communist system prevails. 25.05.2010. Sri Lanka opposes UN war panel. The Anarchist International backs the UN war panel. 30.09.2011. Sri Lanka releases 1,800 former Tamil Tiger rebels who were held since end of civil war.
The anarchists will follow the development of the situation and give more advice when relevant, below in this report.
Brief on Sri Lanka historyNestling off the southern tip of India, the tropical island of Sri Lanka has beguiled travellers for centuries with its palm-fringed beaches, diverse landscapes and historical monuments. But for nearly two decades, the island has been scarred by a bitter civil war arising out of ethnic tensions. Home to an ancient Buddhist kingdom, Sri Lanka suffered repeated invasions from southern India. Known as "Serendip" to Arab geographers, it was to fall under Portuguese and Dutch influence and finally came under British rule when it was called Ceylon. The island has a long-established Tamil minority in the north and east. The British also brought in Tamil laborers to work the coffee and tea plantations in the central highlands, making the island a major tea producer. But the majority Buddhist Sinhalese community resented what they saw as favouritism towards the mainly-Hindu Tamils under British administration. The growth of a more assertive Sinhala nationalism after independence fanned the flames of ethnic division until civil war erupted in the 1980s between Tamils pressing for self-rule and the government. Most of the fighting is in the north. But the conflict has also penetrated the heart of Sri Lankan society with Tamil Tiger rebels carrying out devastating suicide bombings in Colombo in the 1990s. The violence is damaging the economy and harming tourism in what is one of South Asia's more advanced and potentially prosperous societies. Basic FactsPopulation: 19 million.Capital: Colombo. Major languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English. Major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 75 years (women). Main exports: Clothing and textiles, tea, gems, rubber, coconuts. Average annual income: US $820. Internet domain: .lk. International dialling code + 94 .
President to 2005: Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga. Born in 1945, Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga hails from a family of politicians. Her father, Solomon Bandaranaika, was prime minister and her mother, Srimavo, was the world's first female prime minister. Kumaratunga studied both in Sri Lanka and abroad, and became president in 1994. Despite early socialist beliefs, she has been a strong advocate of economic liberalisation in Sri Lanka since taking office. She has pursued a twin-track approach to the civil war, trying to offer the Tamil rebels some form of autonomy while seeking the upper hand on the battlefield. Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga has suffered a number of personal tragedies. Her father was assassinated when she was just 14, and her husband was gunned down in 1989. She herself survived an assassination attempt in 1999 while campaigning for re-election as president. Prime minister: Ranil Wickramasinghe; Defence minister: Tilak Marapana; Foreign minister: Tyronne Fernando; Interior minister: John Amaratunga .
President 2005 and later: Mahinda Rajapakse. Mahinda Rajapakse, prime minister at the time of his election, won the November 2005 presidential poll by a narrow margin. His main rival was the opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mr Rajapakse was backed by Marxist and Buddhist parties in the government. He also benefited from an extremely low turnout by Tamils in the north and east. But he inherited a troubled economy and a faltering peace process. During campaigning he promised to take a hard line in any peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels and said he would seek direct talks with the group's leader. He says the solution to the conflict lies in a unitary state. This goes against the anarchists advice about a confederalist solution with autonomy for the Tamils, and also the agreement on partial autonomy for the Tamils from 05.12.2002. Mr Rajapakse, a Buddhist lawyer, became prime minister in 2004, heading a heavily-polarised parliament. He served under Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga, president since 1994. She had backed economic liberalisation while in office but government rifts slowed the pace of change. Her coalition was also divided over the Tamil peace process. The former president pursued a twin-track approach during the civil war, trying to offer the Tamil rebels some form of autonomy while seeking the upper hand on the battlefield. However, she accused the government of making too many concessions to the rebels and tensions over the peace process led to a bitter power struggle with the then prime minister, Ranil Wickramasinghe, in 2003. The Sri Lankan president can appoint and dismiss the prime minister, and can dissolve parliament.
More on the economic-political system of Sri Lanka
As Ceylon, the country became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. The full name is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka . Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. Tens of thousands have died in the ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a ceasefire in February 2002 with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006. Escalating violence between the two sides in 2006 killed hundreds of people and raised fears of a return to all-out war. 02.01.2008 the Sri Lankan Government decided to terminate the 2002 ceasefire agreement. The LTTE has 10.01.2008 asked the Norwegians to continue as peace negotiators. Since the outbreak of hostilities between the government and armed Tamil separatists in the mid-1980s, several hundred thousand Tamil civilians have fled the island and more than 200,000 Tamils have sought refuge in the West (July 2007 estimate).Sri Lanka has a powerful president that is both the chief of state and head of government. It has a parliamentary political system but it is a democracy in the name only, not in reality. Sri Lanka is in reality a totalitarian state socialist society, far from real democracy. The degree of socialism is ca 50,3%, i.e. significant, and thus the degree of capitalism is ca 49,7%, i.e. not the significant, but still an important tendency. The gini-index is 33,2, according to UN-HDI statitics from 2005 with data from 2003, see http://www.anarchy.no/ranking.html , but the system has a low efficiency, the GDP per capita is only 958 US $, and this contributes to decrease the degree of socialism. As rule of the thumb a gini-index less than 35 indicates socialism. Deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal and air pollution in Colombo, contribute to lower the degree of socialism. The degree of statism is ca 86,1% - very significant, i.e. the degree of autonomy is only ca 13,9%. A relatively high life expectancy at birth, ca 74 years, and adult literacy rate, 90,4%, contribute to increase the degree of autonomy, but a lot of ochlarchy (mob rule broadly defined, included terrorism, especially connected to the conflict with the LTTE), contribute to a low degree of autonomy. However all in all the degree of autonomy is significantly higher than in, say, India with 6,2% degree of autonomy. The authoritarian degree is ca 70,3 %, and thus the libertarian degree is only ca 29,7 %. Sri Lanka is ranked as no 96 on the ranking of countries according to authoritatian degree, see http://www.anarchy.no/ranking.html . Sri Lanka is in reality located in the sector of state-communism , in the marxist quadrant of the economic-poltical map, see http://www.anarchy.no/a_e_p_m.html , more authoritarian than Cuba (ranked as no 65), in the same sector. It is state-communist in all but the name.
Negotiations on provisional ceasefire
08.02.2002: Two Norwegian peace mediators met with the Sri Lankan president and the prime minister and discussed a draft agreement for a long-term truce between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said Friday.The Norwegians were expected to hold more talks with government officials later Friday. The draft agreement will be completed, depending on the progress made in the discussions, state-run radio said. Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen and Erik Solheim, the peace envoy, held discussions with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe shortly after their arrival in the island nation on Thursday 07.02.2002. Helgesen was hopeful that discussions with the government and the rebels would lead to a formal ceasefire, a Norwegian embassy statement said. The Norwegians met a top Tamil rebel leader, Anton Balasingham, in London earlier this week. A unilateral ceasefire announced by the rebels in December was quickly matched by the government. The two sides are expected to announce a long-term truce before the ceasefire expires Feb. 24. The Anarchy of Norway has been trying to arrange peace talks between the two sides for more than two years.
Ceasefire, truce and direct peace talks
A ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil Tiger rebels is due to come into force on Saturday 23.02.2002 after 19 years of civil war. The landmark agreement signed on Friday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the separatists paves the way for direct peace talks. The face-to-face talks would be the first in seven years aimed at ending a conflict that has killed 64,000 people and divided the island nation. The Anarchist International's Conference on terrorism, the NAC, the UN and the USA have welcomed the Norwegian State Council's peace workers', mainly the leftist-libertarian Erik Solheim's, continued attempts to broker a negotiated settlement. Longtime Norwegian politician Erik Solheim was named a special UN envoy as part of the effort to launch peace talks about three years ago. Mr Wickramasinghe said he would not disclose the full details of the agreement until Sunday, but said it represented the "first step towards peace".
Muted public reaction
The truce sets out a series of confidence-building measures to be implemented over a period of 90 days and will give government troops and rebels access to each other's areas while travelling unarmed and out of uniform. Public reaction to the deal has been muted as people wait to see what happens after the ceasefire takes effect at midnight local time (1800 GMT) on Saturday. In 1995 Sri Lankans saw a similar ceasefire fail after 100 days with an attack on the Sri Lankan navy. But that truce was not monitored by a third party. The fact that both sides have now signed up to an internationally-brokered deal should probably ensure that they stick to it. Negotiators from the Anarchy of Norway took three years to broker the deal. This deal allows for the truce to be monitored by observers from Norway, Finland and Sweden. By Monday, they are expected to form the monitoring mission, which will also include rebels and government representatives.
On Friday Mr Wickramasinghe visited a checkpoint leading to the rebel-controlled north of the country to formally hand over his signed copy of the agreement to the Norwegian ambassador. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister handed over the truce pact formalizing an indefinite ceasefire with Tamil Tiger guerrillas to Norwegian Ambassador Jon Westbourg in the northern town of Vavuniya on February 22, 2002. It was the first visit there by a Sri Lankan prime minister in more than 10 years and security was tight. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been fighting for a separate homeland in Tamil majority areas in the north and east of the country. At the root of the conflict is the discrimination the country's minority Tamils say they have suffered at the hands of the Sinhalese majority. A permanent ceasefire has come into force in Sri Lanka which it is hoped will lead to peace talks between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. The truce, which will be observed by small teams headed by international monitors, has caused great excitement in the predominantly Tamil north of the island. This is the area worst-affected by the two decades of ethnic conflict. But some members of the majority Sinhalese community in the south believe their government has made too many concessions.
The ceasefire agreement - signed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the rebels - is open-ended, but either side can give 14 days' notice to terminate the agreement. This detailed document stipulates not only how the two sides' military forces should behave with one another, but also a range of measures to restore normal life for civilians, and a timetable for implementation. This includes provisions for an unimpeded flow of non-military goods into rebel areas, opening up of road and rail links in the conflict areas, and the easing of restrictions on fishing. The idea is to build the right environment of goodwill and confidence to begin talking about a final political settlement. Suspicions persist But the Norwegians who have been mediating in the peace process have warned that the two sides are embarking on a long road towards a political solution that will involve risks, uncertainties and hard choices. Already there are signs of some opposition to the agreement in the south of Sri Lanka, with the prime minister's rival, President Chandrika Kumaratunga, complaining she was not consulted. She described this as "undemocratic". The president still wields considerable power as commander in chief of the army, and she herself narrowly survived an assassination attempt by the Tamil Tigers. She said she was concerned about certain clauses in the ceasefire agreement. Many people share her reluctance to make concessions to the Tigers, fearful that they will just use this lull in the fighting to recruit more soldiers and capture more territory.
Text of Sri Lanka truce deal
Agreement on a ceasefire between the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Preamble The overall objective of the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as the GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (hereinafter referred to as the LTTE) is to find a negotiated solution to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The GOSL and the LTTE (hereinafter referred to as the parties) recognize the importance of bringing an end to the hostilities and improving the living conditions for all inhabitants affected by the conflict. Bringing an end to the hostilities is also seen by the parties as a means of establishing a positive atmosphere in which further steps towards negotiations on a lasting solution can be taken. The parties further recognize that groups that are not directly party to the conflict are also suffering the consequences of it. This is particularly the case as regards the Muslim population. Therefore, the provisions of this agreement regarding the security of civilians and their property apply to all inhabitants. With reference to the above, the parties have agreed to enter into a ceasefire, refrain from conduct that could undermine the good intentions or violate the spirit of this agreement and implement confidence-building measures as indicated in the articles below.
Article 1: Modalities of a ceasefire
The parties have agreed to implement a ceasefire between their armed forces as follows:
1.1 A jointly agreed ceasefire between the GOSL and the LTTE shall enter into force on such date as is notified by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs in accordance with Article 4.2, hereinafter referred to as D-day.
1.2 Neither party shall engage in any offensive military operation. This requires the total cessation of all military action and includes, but is not limited to, such acts as:
1.3 The Sri Lankan armed forces shall continue to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE. Separation of forces
1.4 Where forward defense localities have been established, the GOSL's armed forces and the LTTE's fighting formations shall hold their ground positions, maintaining a zone of separation of a minimum of 600 metres. However, each party reserves the right of movement within 100 metres of its own defense localities, keeping an absolute minimum distance of 400 metres between them. Where existing positions are closer than 400 metres, no such right of movement applies and the parties agree to ensure the maximum possible distance between their personnel.
1.5 In areas where localities have not been clearly established, the status quo as regards the areas controlled by the GOSL and the LTTE, respectively, on 24 December 2001 shall continue to apply pending such demarcation as is provided in article 1.6.
1.6 The parties shall provide information to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) regarding defense localities in all areas of contention, cf. Article 3. The monitoring mission shall assist the parties in drawing up demarcation lines at the latest by D-day + 30.
1.7 The parties shall not move munitions, explosives or military equipment into the area controlled by the other party.
1.8 Tamil paramilitary groups shall be disarmed by the GOSL by D-day + 30 at the latest. The GOSL shall offer to integrate individuals in these units under the command and disciplinary structure of the GOSL armed forces for service away from the Northern and Eastern Province.
Freedom of movement
1.9 The parties' forces shall initially stay in the areas under their respective control, as provided in Article 1.4 and Article 1.5.
1.10 Unarmed GOSL troops shall, as of D-day + 60, be permitted unlimited passage between Jaffna and Vavunyia using the Jaffna-Kandy road (A9). The modalities are to be worked out by the parties with the assistance of the SLMM.
1.11 The parties agree that as of D-day individual combatants shall, on the recommendation of their area commander, be permitted, unarmed and in plain clothes, to visit family and friends residing in areas under the control of the other party. Such visits shall be limited to six days every second month, not including the time of travel by the shortest applicable route. The LTTE shall facilitate the use of the Jaffna-Kandy road for this purpose. The parties reserve the right to deny entry to specified military areas.
1.12 The parties agree that as of D-day individual combatants shall notwithstanding the two-month restriction, be permitted, unarmed and in plain clothes, to visit immediate family (ie spouses, children, grandparents, parents and siblings) in connection with weddings or funerals. The right to deny entry to specified military areas applies.
1.13 Fifty unarmed LTTE members shall as of D-day + 30, for the purpose of political work, be permitted freedom of movement in the areas of the North and the East dominated by the GOSL. Additional 100 unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day + 60. As of D-day + 90, all unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement in the North and the East. The LTTE members shall carry identity papers. The right of the GOSL to deny entry to specified military areas applies.
Article 2: Measures to restore normalcy
The parties shall undertake the following confidence-building measures with the aim of restoring normalcy for all inhabitants of Sri Lanka:
2.1 The parties shall in accordance with international law abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population, including such acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.
2.2 The parties shall refrain from engaging in activities or propagating ideas that could offend cultural or religious sensitivities. Places of worship (temples, churches, mosques and other holy sites etc.) currently held by the forces of either of the parties shall be vacated by D-day + 30 and made accessible to the public. Places of worship which are situated in "high security zones" shall be vacated by all armed personnel and maintained in good order by civilian workers, even when they are not made accessible to the public.
2.3 Beginning on the date on which this agreement enters into force, school buildings occupied by either party shall be vacated and returned to their intended use. This activity shall be completed by D-day + 160 at the latest.
2.4 A schedule indicating the return of all other public buildings to their intended use shall be drawn up by the parties and published at the latest by D-day + 30.
2.5 The parties shall review the security measures and the set-up of checkpoints, particularly in densely populated cities and towns, in order to introduce systems that will prevent harassment of the civilian population. Such systems shall be in place from D-day + 60.
2.6 The parties agree to ensure the unimpeded flow of non-military goods to and from the LTTE-dominated areas with the exception of certain items as shown in Annex A. Quantities shall be determined by market demand. The GOSL shall regularly review the matter with the aim of gradually removing any remaining restrictions on non-military goods.
2.7 In order to facilitate the flow of goods and the movement of civilians, the parties agree to establish checkpoints on their line of control at such locations as are specified in Annex B.
2.8 The parties shall take steps to ensure that the Trincomalee-Habarana road remains open on a 24-hour basis for passenger traffic with effect from D-day + 10.
2.9 The parties shall facilitate the extension of the rail service on the Batticaloa-line to Welikanda. Repairs and maintenance shall be carried out by the GOSL in order to extend the service up to Batticaloa.
2.10 The parties shall open the Kandy-Jaffna road (A9) to non-military traffic of goods and passengers. Specific modalities shall be worked out by the parties with the assistance of the Royal Norwegian Government by D-day + 30 at the latest.
2.11 A gradual easing of the fishing restrictions shall take place starting from D-day. As of D-day + 90, all restrictions on day and night fishing shall be removed, subject to the following exceptions: (i) fishing will not be permitted within an area of 1 nautical mile on either side along the coast and 2 nautical miles seawards from all security forces camps on the coast; (ii) fishing will not be permitted in harbours or approaches to harbours, bays and estuaries along the coast.
2.12 The parties agree that search operations and arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act shall not take place. Arrests shall be conducted under due process of law in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.
2.13 The parties agree to provide family members of detainees access to the detainees within D-day + 30.
Article 3: The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
The parties have agreed to set up an international monitoring mission to enquire into any instance of violation of the terms and conditions of this agreement. Both parties shall fully cooperate to rectify any matter of conflict caused by their respective sides. The mission shall conduct international verification through on-site monitoring of the fulfilment of the commitments entered into in this agreement as follows:
3.1 The name of the monitoring mission shall be the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (hereinafter referred to as the SLMM).
3.2 Subject to acceptance by the parties, the Royal Norwegian Government (hereinafter referred to as the RNG) shall appoint the Head of the SLMM (hereinafter referred to as the HoM), who shall be the final authority regarding interpretation of this agreement.
3.3 The SLMM shall liaise with the parties and report to the RNG.
3.4 The HoM shall decide the date for the commencement of the SLMM's operations. 3.5 The SLMM shall be composed of representatives from Nordic countries.
3.6 The SLMM shall establish a headquarters in such place as the HoM finds appropriate. An office shall be established in Colombo and in Vanni in order to liaise with the GOSL and the LTTE, respectively. The SLMM will maintain a presence in the districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai.
3.7 A local monitoring committee shall be established in Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai. Each committee shall consist of five members, two appointed by the GOSL, two by the LTTE and one international monitor appointed by the HoM. The international monitor shall chair the committee. The GOSL and the LTTE appointees may be selected from among retired judges, public servants, religious leaders or similar leading citizens.
3.8 The committees shall serve the SLMM in an advisory capacity and discuss issues relating to the implementation of this agreement in their respective districts, with a view to establishing a common understanding of such issues. In particular, they will seek to resolve any dispute concerning the implementation of this agreement at the lowest possible level.
3.9 The parties shall be responsible for the appropriate protection of and security arrangements for all SLMM members.
3.10 The parties agree to ensure the freedom of movement of the SLMM members in performing their tasks. The members of the SLMM shall be given immediate access to areas where violations of the agreement are alleged to have taken place. The parties also agree to facilitate the widest possible access to such areas for the local members of the six above-mentioned committees, cf. Article 3.7.
3.11 It shall be the responsibility of the SLMM to take immediate action on any complaints made by either Party to the agreement, and to enquire into and assist the parties in the settlement of any dispute that might arise in connection with such complaints.
3.12 With the aim of resolving disputes at the lowest possible level, communication shall be established between commanders of the GOSL armed forces and the LTTE area leaders to enable them to resolve problems in the conflict zones.
3.13 Guidelines for the operations of the SLMM shall be established in a separate document.
Article 4: Entry into force, amendments and termination of the agreement
4.1 Each party shall notify its consent to be bound by this agreement through a letter to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs signed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe on behalf of the GOSL and by leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on behalf of the LTTE respectively. The agreement shall be initialled by each party and enclosed in the above-mentioned letter.
4.2 The agreement shall enter into force on such date as is notified by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
4.3 This agreement may be amended and modified by mutual agreement of both parties. Such amendments shall be notified in writing to the RNG.
4.4 This agreement shall remain in force until notice of termination is given by either party to the RNG. Such notice shall be given 14 days in advance of the effective date of termination.
Annexes Annex A: List of goods Annex B: Checkpoints
Anarchist comments and news updates
The new deal must be seen mainly as a preliminary victory in the service of peace for the Norwegian special negotiator Erik Solheim , a non-dogmatic semilibertarian marxist from the Socialist Left party, SV. (A party that have a significant semilibertarian and anarchist faction, although usually not the majority, that includes leftist-marxists and marxist-leninists, as well as left wing socialdemocrats). Erik S. volunteered to the work, as a special delegate from the Norwegian State Council. The Anarchist Federation of Norway, AFIN, congratulates Erik Solheim with the good results so far, but are afraid that the peace may break down because there is not really put up a significant armed corps to support the peace, as in Bosnia, just observers to "watch the peace". The anarchists' advice is to put up a significant armed corps to support the peacework, similar to Bosnia, and also advocate a new system based on a confederalist solution for the Tamils and the rest of the country. This solution should be based on approximations to the anarchist principles broadly defined, see http://www.anarchy.no/a_e_p_m.html
24.02.2002. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe, has said he is not ruling out anything in resolving the country's civil war - except granting Tamil Tiger rebels a separate state. Mr Wickremasinghe said the next stage is talks about talks and then, possibly within three months, direct negotiations on a political solution to two decades of separatist struggle. The main concern in most people's minds is whether the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, really have given up their demand for a separate state in the north and east of the island.
26.02.2002. Sri Lanka's government says the objections of a noisy few to the ceasefire agreement with Tamil Tiger rebels do not mean that public opinion as a whole is against it Government spokesman GL Peiris said December's elections had demonstrated the overwhelming support for Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe's efforts to tackle the problem. President Chandrika Kumaratunga, however, seems to differ.
27-28.02.2002. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has denied suggestions that she is trying to scuttle the Norwegian-brokered peace bid between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. The denial followed press reports quoting her as saying she could cancel a recent ceasefire agreement "with one letter to the army commander". A statement from her office said Mrs Kumaratunga, who is also commander-in-chief of the army, "categorically denied" making the remark. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, who belongs to a different political party to the president, signed the permanent ceasefire with rebels last week raising hopes for an end to Sri Lanka's long-running ethnic conflict. President Kumaratunga's secretary, Mr K Balapatabendi, said the president had certain reservations about the agreement, but remained totally committed to the peace process. President Kumaratunga has accused the prime minister of failing to consult her fully about ceasefire. But the statement from her office said this did not mean she was trying to destroy the truce. "The peace agreement seems a bit fragile", the anarchists say, "- this is not going to be easy to implement."
01-3.03.2002. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has demanded a review of the agreement between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels on a permanent ceasefire. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe on Friday the president accused him of compromising Sri Lanka's sovereignty by entering into the agreement. She also accused the Anarchy of Norway, the country which brokered the deal, of trying to cause more trouble in her already embattled country. The Norwegians were first invited to broker peace in Sri Lanka by President Kumaratunga three years ago. However, after accusing the Anarchy's special envoy, the semilibertarian marxist Erik Solheim of siding with the Tamil Tiger rebels, the president suspended the peace initiative last June. The fragile process was further complicated by parliamentary elections nearly three months ago in which the president's party lost control of parliament. Mr Wickramasinghe's United National Front won a majority and this led to an uneasy cohabitation government. The new prime minister invited Oslo to resume its peace drive and broker an indefinite ceasefire which, as mentioned above, went into effect on 23 February. In an 11-page letter the president says the prime minister rushed to sign the truce deal and compromised national security and sovereignty. She says this was the result of allowing a foreigner to draw lines of control between government forces and Tamil rebels. The president argued that that could lead to a Kashmir-style crisis and destabilise the entire region. Mrs Kumaratunga says this is the first major threat to the country's sovereignty since independence from Britain in 1948.
The prime minister has been receiving encouragement from world leaders and anarchists. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has telephoned Mr Wickramasinghe to pledge strong US support for Sri Lanka's peace bid. This indicates that the a bit matriarchical president has become increasingly isolated internationally. Mrs Kumaratunga unexpectedly called off a visit to Australia to attend a Commonwealth summit after accusing the government of attacking her supporters. The president says she must stay at home at this time to protect her supporters. Diplomats say she would have come under considerable international pressure to support the Norwegian Anarchy's peace bid if she attended the Commonwealth summit. The Norwegian Anarchist Council, NACO, says the matriarchal militarist president should try to do the best out of the situation, not act against the peace, and support a confederalist solution with the Tamils, based on mutual autonomy, similar to the solution in Bosnia. By the way, the lifting of war-risk insurance premiums on Sri Lanka's ports will save importers and exporters hundreds of millions of dollars. Thus, several positive effects of the peace agreement are already a fact. "The problem is if it will last without a real peace corps." NACO says.
2-4.03.2002. THE Anarchist International Embassy sends "A NOTE ON THE SITUATION IN SRI LANKA..." world wide, where it reports from AIIS updated about NACO's point of view on Sri Lanka: "Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has demanded a review of the agreement between the government and the Tamils. Friday the president accused her PM of compromising Sri Lanka's sovereignty by entering into the agreement. She also accused the Anarchy of Norway, which brokered the deal, of trying to cause more trouble in her already embattled country. The Norwegian Anarchist Council, NACO, says the matriarchal, militarist, president should try to do the best out of the situation, not act against the peace, and support a confederalist solution with the Tamils, based on mutual autonomy. " Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe urged the nation on Monday to back his plans for peace with local rebels, but opposition lawmakers immediately denounced the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire as a sell-out. In a speech to a special parliamentary session called to review the truce, Wickramasinghe said partisan politics had made it almost impossible to end a nearly two decade ethnic war. "Often where one stands on an issue depends on where one sits at that particular time and this is especially the case in Sri Lankan politics, where parochial, opportunistic and divisive politics often overwhelm statesmanship..." Wickramasinghe said. The session was expected to end on Tuesday with a decision to form a multi-party committee to overlook the ceasefire. Four previous peace bids have ended in bloodbaths. Wickramasinghe's plea for bipartisan support was quickly rebuffed by the opposition. "This is a de facto granting of a separate state, a deception practiced on parliament and the people," said Wimal Weerawansa of the Marxist People's Liberation Front. President Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance also criticized the pact.
"What right has the government to sign an accord with an outlawed terrorist group," said alliance lawmaker Dinesh Gunawardene. In his speech, Wickramasinghe did not mention Kumaratunga, the country's executive president with sweeping powers to sack the government and suspend parliament, who has said Norway had gone too far in trying to end the conflict. The prime minister's party, which won parliamentary elections in December, was also accused of partisan politics two years ago when it refused to support Kumaratunga's peace plan that included constitutional changes. Wickramasinghe dismissed criticism that the agreement's provisions for a demarcation between the armies of the two sides gave the Tigers de facto recognition. "We have no control over law and order on significant portions of land in the north and east. The armed units of the LTTE dominate these areas," he said. "The armed forces have so far been unable to regain control. We all know this is the reality. "We have been fooling the people and in the process we have fooled ourselves," said Wickramasinghe, who added face-to-face talks were likely to begin within three months. The Anarchy of Norway, which has been shuttling between the two sides since 1999, has the final decision regarding interpretation of the ceasefire agreement. The first of the monitors, led by a Norwegian veteran from the armed defense, Trond Furuhovde, arrived at the weekend and were expected to be in place later this week.Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has said the country's armed forces will remain on alert despite a ceasefire between the government and Tamil separatist rebels. He told parliament he was aware of the pitfalls of the peace process. "Given the history of the conflict, it is not surprising that there is a high level of mistrust between the two parties," he said. He also rejected criticism that by giving the Anarchy of Norway a monitoring role in the process, he had compromised Sri Lanka's sovereignty.
This, a special, parliamentary session was called following demands by the opposition Peoples Alliance and the Marxist JVP, both of which have criticised the peace move. Wickramasinghe has called on the people to back his plans for peace with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, but warned that the process could be fraught with danger. Several opposition embers attacked the plan, with one - Wimal Weerawansa of the Marxist JVP - saying it amounted to de facto partition of Sri Lanka, in the interests of the Tamil Tigers. "If the Swiss Confederation is a "de facto partition" the Sri Lank should perhaps support a similar "de facto partition", the anarchists say 06.03.2002. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has met a senior Norwegian official to discuss arrangements for monitoring the current ceasefire.
08.03.2002. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in a message on "International Women's Day" expressed belief that all women should actively participate in the peace process. Since women have suffered most in this war, they should play a major role in the peace process, she said. "My warm and sincere wishes to all Sri Lankan women on the occasion of International Women's Day, March 8. This year's theme for Women's Day, "The increased participation of women in politics," is most opportune. Women's participation in Sri Lankan politics is insufficient compared to developed countries even though 51 per cent of our population is made up of women. However there are quite a number of Sri Lankan women who participate in social, economic and political activities. I am happy to note that the trend is on the increase. A spokeswoman for the Anarcha-Feminist International said this speech was an improvement compared to the matriarchal, militarist talking some days ago, and sends a special solidaric 08.03 greeting to all women of Sri Lanka.
The de-commissioning of weapons in line with a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire has begun in Sri Lanka. A former Tamil militant group, the Democratic People's Liberation Front (DPLF), has started returning its weapons to government forces ahead of a deadline to disarm paramilitary groups. Meanwhile at least four people were killed and 20 injured in an explosion at an election rally on the edge of Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo.The DPLF move probabaly puts pressure on other Tamil groups to fall in line with the deadline for de-commissioning weapons in the hands of paramilitary groups. Scandinavian truce monitors have already begun their preliminary work and the government hopes that initial talks with Tiger rebels could open within about two and a half months when the truce is set to be fully implemented. The truce allows Tiger rebels to enter into government-held areas so long as they are unarmed and out of uniform. But Tamil parties have expressed fears that they may fall victim to assassination and hit-and-run attacks as in the past, the Tigers have tried to eliminate any rivals.
14.03.2002. Senior U.S. officials visited Sri Lanka's Jaffna peninsula on Friday to throw Washington's weight behind Prime Minster Ranil Wickramasinghe's peace mission to the epicenter of the island's ethnic war.The visit by Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca and Marine Brigadier General Timothy Ghormley underlines the carrot-and-stick diplomacy that helped Norway broker a truce between the government and Tamil guerrillas. "We strongly support the peace process and hope the two sides will reach a settlement soon," said Rocca, disembarking from a U.S. Marines C-130 transport plane at Jaffna's Pallaly airport. Rocca, the highest ranking U.S. diplomat to visit Jaffna, held talks with Wickramasinghe, who received a rapturous welcome on Thursday when he became the first prime minister in 20 years to tour the heartland of the island's Tamil minority. Earlier this week, Washington warned the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against reneging on the truce. On Friday Wickramasinghe was promised America's support in the face of growing nationalist protests among the Sinhalese majority. Rocca gave Wickramasinghe a special message from President Bush and joined him in a tour of Chavakachcheri, a town that was pounded to rubble in the most ferocious artillery battle of the war two years ago.Chavakachcheri, still a ghost town, straddles the main highway into the peninsula which was once part of a de facto state run by the rebels fighting for Tamil independence n Sri Lanka's north and east. The rebels are listed as a terrorist group by several Western countries including the United States, which threatened on Monday to tighten the noose around the guerrillas if they tried to undermine the truce. The rebels, whose finances depend on an international Tamil diaspora, immediately promised to fall in line -- a rare public acknowledgement of the intense diplomatic pressure on both sides to end a conflict that, as mentioned, has killed more than 64,000 people. The Sri Lankan government said Ghormley, accompanied by a dozen marines, would discuss military training and assistance.
The normally staid Wickramasinghe, a Sinhalese Buddhist, was mobbed by crowds of mostly Hindu Tamils who have not seen a Sri Lankan president or prime minister since 1982, one year before the war began. By contrast, Buddhist monks took to the streets on Thursday in the largely Sinhalese south to denounce him as a traitor. But Wickramasinghe used the euphoria of his visit to plead for reconciliation. "There are doubts on both sides but we must give peace a chance," he said. Jaffna's media hailed Wickramasinghe as a peace maker but warned him that this could be Sri Lanka's last chance for peace. "If you don't deliver, the next time you come you'll need a passport," said the Tamil daily Vallampuri. The 1,000 square miles Jaffna peninsula, cut off from the rest of the island by rebel lines, has long been the biggest territorial prize of the war. The guerrillas drove the army out of the peninsula in 1990 but lost it to a massive military offensive about five years. The two sides eventually fought to a stalemate last year. "We have nothing to add to what we said before, so far," the Conference said.
11.04.2002. Peace possible says Sri Lanka PM: Tigers say they will end suicide bombings. Sri Lanka's prime minister sees a real chance of ending its bloody civil war after a historic statement by the leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels. Ranil Wickramasinghe said Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's rejection of new suicide bomb attacks created a "window of opportunity" for peace. While the rebels still called for a separate Tamil state, Mr Wickramasinghe said their leader had hinted he might settle for autonomy within Sri Lanka. Peace talks between the two sides are due to open in Thailand in May. "The peace process can be intensified after yesterday's comments by Prabhakaran," the prime minister told Sri Lankan TV. In his first news conference to the media for 12 years, the rebel leader had announced an end to "Black Tiger" operations - the suicide bombings which struck terror over the years into Sri Lanka and India alike. Mr Prabhakaran called the historic briefing in the wake of a ceasefire agreed with government forces in late December. The rebel leader insisted the government must lift its four-year ban on his organisation before the talks in Thailand. Eighteen years of war seem to be going towards an end. Tamils allege discrimination by majority Sinhalese. About 64,000 people have been killed. India lost 1,200 troops when it intervened against the Tigers in the late 1980s. "The current peace negotiated by the Anarchy of Norway is so far working a bit, but as mentioned, this less authoritarian tendency may easy stop, as it seems to be no significant common armed corps to stop any major challenge against the negotiated peace," the anarchists say.05.05.2002: International observers take blame for marine fighting. The Norwegian-led observer group in Sri Lanka shouldered responsibility for Thursday's sea battle between the navy and boats belonging to the rebel Tamil Tigers. The monitoring group composed of 23 members from Norway, Sweden and Finland failed to deliver a written request from the Tamil Tigers to cross government-controlled waters. Deputy leader for the council, Hagrup Haukland, admitted Friday that it had been an error only to deliver the message verbally. The skirmish developed into a minor sea battle and one of the guerrillas' boats was sunk and another exploded. A new round of talks between the parties managed to restore calm. "The situation is quite unstable, " the anarchists say: " We must remind you about the problems mentioned above!"
13.09.2002. European Commission to support peace talks in Sri Lanka. The European Commission has adopted on 13 September 2002 a decision to support the peace process in Sri Lanka under its Rapid Reaction Mechanism. Following the February 23 Cease Fire Agreement, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will start on Monday September 16, formal talks in Thailand on further steps to be taken in the peace process. The Commissions Decision is timed to coincide with the start of these talks. The additional Community funding is in recognition of the parties commitment to the Cease Fire Agreement. Its main objective, for which the total budget is 1.8 million (euro), is to finance a series of measures to implement key provisions of the Cease Fire Agreement and to build confidence in the peace process.
The programme will focus on highly visible actions and is additional to and supportive of other Community programmes.The programme consists of the following measures: Support to the implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement by rehabilitating schools that had been used for military purposes before being vacated as agreed in the Cease Fire Agreement. This includes clearing the school areas of mines, rehabilitation of the buildings and refurbishing them with basic equipment. The rehabilitation of electricity lines between the checkpoints on the Kandy-Jaffna road in order to improve the movement of people between the former conflict zones by allowing the checkpoints to be operational on a 24h per day basis. A financial contribution to the Peace Secretariat in order to facilitate activities aiming at the dissemination of information concerning developments related to the peace process to key stakeholders and the population. Support to activities of the Human Rights Commission aiming at raising awareness among the population of human rights in general and minority rights in particular.The contracts under this programme will be signed in the coming days. Implementation of the planned activities will start shortly after. In parallel, the Commission has started the process to mobilise 4 million under the Rehabilitation budget line. These funds will be used for the rehabilitation of the Batticaloa Railroad, an additional contribution to assist the return of displaced persons and to finance a mine survey under the UN Mine Action Programme. The Commission will follow up these activities with its Country Strategy Paper 2003-2006. "International contribution to the peace prosess is vital. For the future establishing federalism in Sri Lanka is discussed, as opposed to the separatist case. In this case a confederalist anarchist type of federalism, perhaps even in somewhat more horizontal direction than the Swiss Confederation, with great autonomy for the Tamils, is recommended," - says the anarchists, mentioning the http://www.anarchy.no/course1.html as a basis for further discussion. (This file updated was sent to Sri Lanka's general consulate in Oslo, embassies and media by AIE 19.09.2002.)
05.12.2002. Sri Lankan central administration and Tamil Tiger rebels agree on a federal/confederal managerial system on the island, paving the way for an end to almost two decades of war.04.11.2003 Sri Lanka's president has defended her decision to suspend parliament and sack key ministers, saying she acted to protect national security. In a nationwide address, President Chandrika Kumaratunga accused the government of making too many concessions to Tamil Tiger rebels. She offered to talk to the rebels but said law and order was her priority. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has 04.11.2003 accused President Chandrika Kumaratunga of bringing Sri Lanka to the verge of anarchy and chaos, according to BBC and several other newsmedia. If it is on the verge of anarchy the country cannot be on the verge of chaos, because anarchy is quite the opposite of chaos, according to the Oslo Convention, and Ranil Wickramasinghe gets a Brown Card from IAT-APT together with the newsmedia. The president's speech on state television came at the end of a day of fast-moving events. Her decision to sack the information, defense and interior ministers, suspend parliament and deploy troops around key buildings in the capital, Colombo, stunned the country and brought howls of protest from her political rivals. President Kumaratunga accused Mr Wickramasinghe of giving too much ground to the Tamil Tigers. 12.08.2005: Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has been assassinated in a gun attack in the capital, Colombo. The murder was blamed by a senior police officer on the separatist Tamil Tigers. A spokeswoman for the Norwegian monitors overseeing the truce warned that the killing could "put the whole ceasefire under risk".
"The current situation is a threatening one and we believe that the continuation of the fighting will only make the prospects for peace worse and will benefit neither side," a spokesperson for the Anarchist International (AI) says to AIIS friday 18.08.2006. Violence between government forces and rebels has spiked in the past few weeks in the north and east, where the insurgents want to establish a separate homeland for the country's minority 3.2 million Tamils. Hundreds of rebels and government troops have been killed in the past week alone in fighting in government-controlled northern Jaffna Peninsula, the heartland of Tamil culture. The clashes in Jaffna are some of the fiercest since the two sides signed a 2002 Norwegian-brokered ceasefire. Since Aug. 11, when the insurgents made a major push to retake the peninsula, fighting has killed at least 700 rebels and 106 government troops. The AI spokesperson said the ongoing fighting would "not resolve the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka." and that she was "deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and the suffering of innocent people." The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for the tropical island's ethnic Tamils. At least 65,000 people are known to have died before the ceasefire, many of them civilians. Thursday 17.08.2006, half a dozen hardline Buddhist monks hijacked a peace rally in the capital, shouting pro-war slogans and scuffling with some of the 1,000 anti-war demonstrators, underscoring divided sentiments here about the peace process. 2006 October - A suicide bomber attacks a military convoy, killing more than 90 sailors. Tamil Tigers attack a naval base in Galle, the southern city frequented by tourists. Peace talks resume in Geneva but fail.2007 January - After weeks of heavy fighting the military says it has captured the Tamil Tiger stronghold of Vakarai, in the east. Tens of thousands of civilians flee the area. President Mahinda Rajapakse's government secures a long-elusive parliamentary majority after 25 opposition MPs defect to its ranks. Italian and US ambassadors are slightly hurt as rebels shell a delegation of diplomats touring eastern areas. 2007 March - Government troops claim continuing success in clearing eastern coastal areas of rebels. Thousands of civilians flee the fighting. Tamil Tigers launch their first confirmed air raid, hitting a military base next to the international airport. 2007 April - Two international airlines suspend flights to Sri Lanka following another air raid by Tamil Tigers. 2007 May - Tourism slumps because of fighting between the army and Tamil rebels. 2007 June - Police force hundreds of Tamils out of the capital, citing security concerns, but a court orders an end to the expulsions.
09.06.2007. "Despite an official truce, Sri Lanka has been sliding back to civil war. More than 4,000 people have been killed in violence in the past 15 months. All parties involved in the war in Sri Lanka have come in for heavy criticism for disregarding human rights by the Anarchist International. 2008 January - 02.01.2008 Sri Lanka ends LTTE ceasefire agreement. Sri Lankan government officials announced plans Wednesday to withdraw from a ceasefire agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Officials announced the policy decision that ends the formal agreement brokered by Norway in 2002 between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel organization, the Sri Lanka Government news reported. "Today it was proposed to the Cabinet by the honorable prime minister that the ceasefire is no longer valid and it's time to withdraw from the ceasefire agreement," Anura Yapa, the Sri Lanka Cabinet spokesman, said in a statement. "All the ministers agreed to the proposal." Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake will be required to inform Norway about the government's decision and give LTTE 14 days' notice before officially withdrawing. Critics argue terrorist activities by LTTE and other military operations have resulted in an estimated 5,000 people killed as fighting intensified since the signing of the agreement.
Early Wednesday 02.01.2008, a roadside bomb killed four people and injured 20 others in Colombo. "The government has taken a policy decision to not to have any further agreement with a terrorist outfit since Norway facilitated 2002 CFA has failed," Government Defense spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said. "The attempts made so far to have a negotiated settlement with LTTE terrorists could bring no favorable results. Therefore the government sees no point of having any attempt to come to a settlement with a terrorist outfit." The LTTE has 10.01.2008 asked the Norwegians to continue as peace negotiators. The Anarchist International is troubled by the Sri Lankan Government's 02.01.2008 decision to terminate the 2002 ceasefire agreement. Ending the ceasefire agreement will make it more difficult to achieve a lasting, peaceful solution to Sri Lanka's conflict. We call on both the government and the LTTE to avoid an escalation of hostilities and further civilian casualties. All parties to the conflict share the responsibility to protect the rights of all of Sri Lanka's people. We urge them to work toward the goal of a just, political solution that ensures the rights of minority communities and benefits all Sri Lankans. Only a peaceful political solution, not a military one, offers a way out of the current cycle of escalating violence. The LTTE has 10.01.2008 asked the Norwegians to continue as peace negotiators.
28.01.2008. 'Scores die' in Sri Lanka clashes. Fighting between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels has killed at least 55 in the north of the country over the weekend, the army says. The dead included at least 13 rebels and two soldiers, the military said. The fighting took place in some northern districts. This month the government formally pulled out of a truce, which rising violence had already effectively ended. Hostilities have heightened between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels. Recently Sri Lanka said its air force had bombed a base used by Tigers leader Velupillai Prabhakaran - but the rebels said the air raid targeted civilians. Last week 16 bodies were found at a remote jungle location in government-controlled territory in Anuradhapura district. A military spokesman said the victims had been hacked to death, and blamed Tamil Tiger rebels. And earlier this month, at least 26 people were killed and more than 60 hurt in a bomb attack in the town of Buttala, 240km (150 miles) south-east of the capital, Colombo. The army blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the attacks, which came after the government formally ended a ceasefire.
04.02.2008. At least 12 people are believed to have died in a bomb attack on a civilian bus in northern Sri Lanka, the army says. They say that the bomb went off near the town of Anuradhapura. Security forces had been placed on high alert after a weekend of violence. At least 11 people were killed in a suicide attack at Colombo's main railway station on Sunday. And on Saturday, 18 people died in another bus blast in the central town of Dambulla. Both were blamed by the government on the Tamil Tigers rebels, though the rebels have denied involvement. News of Monday's attack near Anuradhapura came just after president Rajapaksa addressed a military parade in Colombo 60 years after it gained independence. The parade was a show of strength by Sri Lanka's armed forces - once again, officially at war with the Tamil Tiger rebels. The president said that "the defeat of the most ruthless terrorists of the world in Sri Lanka is also a victory of the developed world". "We are also fully committed to carry on this battle while safeguarding human rights. This is the reality," he said. "In short, two years ago, no one believed that terrorists could be defeated. But, during the last two years we made it a reality in our motherland." The Tigers have marked independence day by once again saying they will fight on for a separate state for the Tamil minority in the north and east. "This is not a day of independence nor is it a day of celebration for our people," rebel spokesman B Nadesan said. "The Sri Lankan government are still continuing its ethnic cleansing and mass killings among the Tamil people." Last month, the government pulled out of the 2002 ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers, arguing the rebels had used it to re-group and re-arm. Since then, fighting has intensified on the frontlines that surround Tiger-held territory in the north. Sri Lanka's army commander Lt-Gen Sarath Fonseka has said he now aims to defeat the rebels by the end of the year.
06.03.2008. Sri Lanka rapped over 'disappeared'. Sri Lanka's government is one of the world's worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances, US-based pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. An HRW report accuses security forces and pro-government militias of abducting and "disappearing" hundreds of people - mostly Tamils - since 2006. Sri Lanka's government says HRW has exaggerated the scale of the problem. In a separate development, a team of foreign judicial experts has announced its withdrawal from the country. HRW says many of the missing are young Tamil men targeted on suspicion of links to Tamil Tiger rebels. But their conclusions have been flatly rejected by the Sri Lankan government. Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona says there has been a "steady decline in disappearances over the last 12 months" because of new measures taken by the government. "Unfortunately Human Rights Watch has tended to exaggerate the real situation," Mr Kohona said. He said the group's "unfair" report was based on unsubstantiated claims and "anecdotal evidence", while the government's own investigations into disappearances were proceeding quickly. HRW said several hundred cases of disappearances had been reported since 2006, when fighting between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the government intensified. The rights group said the majority of cases "indicate the involvement of government security forces - army, navy or police". The group said pro-government armed Tamil groups - such as the faction led by renegade rebel commander Col Karuna - had also been implicated in the abductions and disappearances.
While most of the victims were members of Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority, HRW said, some Muslims and Sinhalese had also been targeted. These included journalists, aid workers, clergy and teachers, HRW said. Many of the missing were feared dead. HRW said the Sri Lankan government's response to the disappearances had been "grossly inadequate". It urged the government to reveal the whereabouts of the missing and prosecute those responsible. The rights group said the number of disappearances carried out by the Tamil Tigers in government-controlled areas was relatively low. But it said, the Tigers were responsible for targeted killings, forced child recruitment, bomb attacks on civilians and the repression of basic rights in areas they controlled. Meanwhile, a team of foreign judicial and forensic experts says it is pulling out of the war-torn island because the government has failed to investigate a series of high-profile cases - including the killing of aid workers. The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) said a government probe into abuses did not meet even basic minimum standards. The team comprises experts from Australia, Britain, Canada, India, Japan, France, The Netherlands, the US, the European Union and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The IIGEP said its suggestions had been ignored or rejected by the government, whose correspondence with them was "characterised by a lack of respect and civility". "There has been and continues to be a lack of political and institutional will to investigate and inquire into the cases before the (government) commission," an IIGEP statement said. Correspondents say that the group's conclusions are a major blow to the Sri Lankan government. 2008 April - Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle is killed in a blast blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels. Dozens of soldiers reported killed in clashes with Tamil Tigers in far north.
18.06.2008. Italy holds 'Tamil Tiger members'. More than 30 suspected members of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebel group have been arrested in Italy in a series of raids across the country, police say. They say all of them are Sri Lankan citizens suspected of extorting funds for the Tigers, who are banned as a terrorist group by the European Union. Police said that more than 200 officers were involved in the operation. They say that the arrests have effectively dismantled the Tamil Tiger fundraising network in Italy. The police swooped at dawn in simultaneous raids on suspected Tamil Tiger hideouts in eight different cities - from Genoa in the north to Palermo on the Mediterranean island of Sicily. Police said they have been investigating reports for the past two years that Sri Lankans had been extorting money from fellow nationals working in Italy and sending it to Sri Lanka to finance Tamil Tiger rebels fighting government forces. Three months ago the Italian authorities closed down an illegal Tamil Tiger propaganda TV channel operating from Italian territory. There are an estimated 50,000 Sri Lankan immigrants working in Italy. Many arrived illegally but have since obtained work and residence permits. The Tigers have been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka for a generation. More than 70,000 people have died in the conflict.
19.08.2008. The war continues. The Norwegian peaceworkers still have formal role in the conflict, but in practice there is little to no activity from the Norwgian side. The Norwegian peacemaker that replaced Erik Solheim, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, has not been in Sri Lanka for some time. Suicide bombers, assumed to be Tigers, have killed several people, including some police officers, in May and June. The Anarchist International says: Stop the war - start negotiations again!
02.01.2009. Sri Lankan troops seize rebel HQ. Sri Lanka's military have seized control of the Tamil Tiger rebels' de facto capital of Kilinochchi, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced. He described the taking of the northern town as an "unparalleled victory" for government forces. A pro-Tamil website confirmed the news but said the town was mostly empty as the rebel fighters had moved out. A suspected suicide bomber later killed two airmen in the capital, Colombo, the military said. 26.01.2009. The Sri Lankan army says it is fighting the Tamil Tigers in their remaining jungle bases after taking the last key rebel town of Mullaitivu on Sunday. The military says it is advancing into the 300 sq km (115 sq mile) triangle of land in which the Tamil Tigers are still operating. Army commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka has said the war is "95% over". The pro-rebel TamilNet website has again accused the army of shelling civilians. The government has vowed to crush the rebels, who have been fighting for a separate homeland for Tamils for 25 years. At least 70,000 people have been killed during the insurgency.
01.02.2009. Hospital shelled in Sri Lanka conflict. Artillery shells slammed into a hospital Sunday in the northern Sri Lankan town of Mullaitivu, where civilians, including a growing number of children, are being treated as government forces and Tamil rebels continue to clash. More than 200 civilians and at least 30 children have been injured in the last three days of fighting, a relief worker said on Sunday."That is the absolute minimum (number of injured)," the aid worker, who did not want to be identified for fear of jeopardizing the work of relief organizations, said. On Sunday, Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised to "continue with the military offensive until we liberate the remaining area under LTTE control," according to Sri Lanka's state-run news agency. A "handful" of United Nations staff are working around the clock to save a growing number of children caught in the crossfire, a U.N. spokesman said Saturday. Children as young as 4 months old were being treated in local hospitals for shrapnel injuries and other "wounds of war," spokesman James Elder said. "There is just intense fighting in a small area where children and other civilians are," Elder said. "The space [where conflict is taking place] is shrinking and the fighting is augmenting." Thursday, U.N. aid workers rescued 50 critically injured children and 105 adults, he said. "We are trying to get as many people out of there as we can," Elder said. Humanitarian groups say as many as 250,000 unprotected civilians are trapped in the area. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised to allow safe passage to trapped civilians and urged the Tamil Tigers to promise the same. "We have declared a safe zone for civilians, the coordinates of which were announced by the security forces," Rajapaksa said on his government's Web site. "It is unfortunate that the [Tamil Tiger group] is exploiting this declared safe zone for civilians by placing their heavy artillery within the safe zone and using it as a launching pad to attack security forces and indiscriminately kill civilians." The fighting has created a "nightmarish" situation for civilians in the conflict zone, Elder said. An emerging shortage of humanitarian supplies and diminished access to clean water, sanitation, and food are compounding a crisis, he said. Sunday, Sri Lankan soldiers seized a key rebel stronghold in a surprise attack deep in Tamil held territory. Troops crossed a lagoon and entered the town of Mullaittivu before encountering heavy resistance from Tamil fighters, according to the government-run news agency. The The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, have fought for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority since 1983. The civil war has left more than 70,000 people dead. The Anarchist International declares "stop attacking civilians" and calls for a ceasefire.
02.02.2009. Nine people have been killed by shells which hit a hospital in a rebel-held area of north-east Sri Lanka, the Red Cross says. Sophie Romanens, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the shelling killed at least nine people and injured 20 inside the hospital premises, adding that many more had been killed outside. The Sri Lankan government has told civilians to leave an area where it is fighting Tamil Tiger rebels, saying it cannot guarantee their safety. A statement said the battle in the north-east was at a "decisive stage". It is unclear how the tens of thousands of people caught up in the fighting can escape. The rebels deny preventing people from leaving the area. "The government calls on all civilians to enter the demarcated 'safety zone' as soon as possible," a government statement said. The government's designated safe zone is inside a gradually-shrinking rebel enclave north of the town of Mullaitivu. The army offensive has pushed the rebels into a 300 sq km (110 sq mile) corner of jungle in the north-east of the island.
03.02.2009. Sri Lanka Tigers urged to end war. Sri Lanka's key international donors have urged Tamil Tiger rebels to disarm and discuss ending hostilities in order to avoid more civilian casualties. The US, EU, Japan and Norway said it would probably not be long before the rebels lost all territory they control. Both sides "should recognize that further loss of life... will serve no cause", the nations said. Sri Lanka's government says it is close to defeating the rebels. There was no immediate response from the Tigers. Up to 250,000 civilians may as mentioned be trapped by the fighting. Separately, the army says it has found an underground bunker complex it believes was one of the hideouts of the top leader of the Tamil Tigers. Norway, Japan, the US and the EU are described as the Tokyo Co-Chairs, TCC. The TCC sat at the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka in 2003, which raised $4.5bn in aid pledges that were linked to progress in the peace process. It is the first time the influential quartet has issued such an appeal to the Tamil Tigers. It is also the first international acknowledgement that the rebels may be near to defeat. In a joint statement, the quartet expressed "great concern" for the plight of civilians. They urged the rebels to "discuss with the government of Sri Lanka the modalities for ending hostilities, including the laying down of arms, renunciation of violence, acceptance of the government of Sri Lanka's offer of amnesty; and participating as a political party in a process to achieve a just and lasting political solution". The TCC also urged both sides to "declare a temporary no-fire period to allow for evacuation of sick and wounded, and provision of aid to civilians". The Sri Lankan government has previously ruled out any ceasefire and has vowed to crush the rebels.
The Tigers have said they will not lay down their arms until they have a "guarantee of living with freedom and dignity and sovereignty". The Tokyo Co-Chairs said both sides "must respect international humanitarian law". They said they would help transfer internally displaced people to humanitarian camps. The statement called on all combatants not to fire on a hospital in Tiger-held territory which has been shelled repeatedly. The Red Cross says the hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu town in Mullaitivu district has been hit five times in the past few days, leaving at least 12 civilians dead. One strike was on a paediatric ward, it said. The hospital is one of the last functioning health facilities in the area. The government says it is not responsible for the attacks and has told civilians to leave the war zone. Pro-rebel websites blame the army. Sri Lanka's military said there was no sign of the rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in the bunker found in the north-east. The two-storey-deep bunker was found hidden in a coconut plantation in Mullaitivu district during fighting on Monday, the army said. The ministry said the bunker had electricity generators, air conditioning and medical supplies. There is no independent confirmation of any of the army's claims - journalists are not able to reach the front lines. Sri Lanka's military says it has designated a safe zone for civilians in a 32 sq km buffer zone on the A-35 main road which links Paranthan and Mullaitivu.The zone is inside a gradually shrinking rebel enclave north of Mullaitivu. The Tigers are proscribed as a terrorist group by many nations, including the US and the EU. They started fighting in the 1970s for a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka's north and east. Norway has been a broker in previous rounds of unsuccessful peace talks between the rebels and Sri Lanka's government. - The Anarchist International agrees with the TCC in this case.
05.02.2009. Sri Lankan government rejects dialogue appeal. The Sri Lankan government has rejected a call by TCC, the anarchists and other groups for Tamil Tiger rebels to negotiate terms of surrender with the government. Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the government would accept only "unconditional surrender". Meanwhile officials say the army has captured the last known rebel naval base in the north-east of the island. Mr Rajapaksa said: "There is no question of negotiations on surrender. The rebels should surrender unconditionally. They should lay down their arms first." He ruled out any amnesty for top rebel leaders, but said that "lower level cadres" would be "given amnesty, retrained, given vocational training and integrated into mainstream society". Mr Rajapakse also rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying that the rebels had used ceasefire time "only to regroup and attack security forces". The Sri Lanka war is near end, but ethnic tension remains. There exists no military solution, the anarchists say, only a political.
The Sri Lankan government is poised to crush the Tamil Tiger rebels and end a quarter-century civil war that has killed tens of thousands. But it still faces a major challenge beyond the battlefield: resolving the ethnic conflict that fueled the uprising. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has consistently expressed support for a deal to give the ethnic Tamil minority on this South Asian island nation more say in a government long dominated by the Sinhalese majority. "The sowing of discord belongs to the past. The future belongs to those who sow the seeds of unity," he said in a speech Wednesday marking Independence Day. Critics welcome the words, but they say little has actually been done to reconcile the ethnic groups. "The military machine is in full action ... in the political arena there is no movement at all," said independent lawmaker Mano Ganesan, who is Tamil. "The causes that led to the creation of Tamil nationalism, and from Tamil nationalism to Tamil extremism, and from Tamil extremism to Tamil terrorism, they very much exist today." The ethnic conflict traces back to Sri Lanka's independence from Britain 61 years ago, when the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese took power after decades of what they saw as British favoritism toward the mainly Hindu Tamils. In the ensuing years, successive governments dominated by the Sinhalese pushed policies favoring their language and community and marginalizing Tamils. By the 1970s, a patchwork of rival Tamil political and militant groups began calling for a separate state in the historic Tamil heartlands of the north and east, which they called Eelam. War broke out in 1983 when Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed 13 soldiers in an ambush and Sinhalese mobs retaliated with anti-Tamil riots that human rights groups say killed as many as 2,000 people. Thousands of Tamils joined the rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE. Tens of thousands of others fled abroad, creating a Tamil diaspora that has been a rich source of funding for the rebels.
The Tamil community accounts for about 18 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million people, and Sinhalese comprise about 74 percent. Most of the rest are Muslims. The government says that once it finishes off the rebels it will be willing to devolve some power to the provinces, giving Tamils, with large populations in the north and east, a significant say in local affairs. It also promises a big influx of economic aid for development in the north. "With increasing prosperity the temptation to take up a gun and go to the jungle might be less," Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said. "We also feel that once the back of the LTTE is broken completely, the violence that we see in the country will gradually fade away." But many Tamils retain deep suspicions of the government, exacerbated by reported statements from politicians and military leaders about maintaining the Sinhalese, Buddhist nature of the country. Recent reports of large casualties among 250,000 Tamil civilians trapped in the remaining war zone have intensified those suspicions. At their height, the rebels controlled a shadow state in the north with its own flag, police force and courts. But government troops broke through the front lines a few months ago, routed the rebels from all their major strongholds and boxed them into a sliver of coast. The rebel group is on the verge of being destroyed as a conventional force, and its dream of establishing Eelam is in tatters. Rajapaksa predicted Wednesday that the war could be over within days. "Basically, they are finished, now we have the mopping up operation," said Nimal Siripala De Silva, a senior government minister. Many experts warn, however, that the rebels still have fight left. Military analyst Susantha Seneviratne, a retired colonel, said Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has proven himself a wily strategist.
"He's waiting for an opportunity," Seneviratne said. "This is not going to be the end of the fight." Others suggest that even if the bulk of the rebels are wiped out, insurgents may blend into the civilian population and stage guerrilla attacks for years to come. And even if the rebel movement is destroyed, a new one could rise if nothing is done to resolve ethnic strife, experts say. "A festering conflict will continue until that is resolved," said political analyst Jehan Perera. The government says it will use the example of eastern Sri Lanka, which it captured from the rebels in 2007, as a blueprint for resolving tensions in the north. Officials spent hundreds of millions of dollars on development projects in the east and held polls that ended with a former rebel leader, who defected to the government side, winning election as the region's chief minister. But human rights groups and residents say the east is still riven by chaos and violence, much of it blamed on chief minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan's party of defectors. The group remains armed and is blamed for a wave of kidnappings, killings and extortion reminiscent of the Tamil Tigers. Chandrakanthan's group itself has fractured into warring factions, leading to even more violence, while Tamil Tiger guerrillas hiding in the bush have launched increasingly frequent attacks on government forces in the region. Chandrakanthan, meanwhile, contends the national government has given him neither the power nor the funds needed to run the province. If the government plans to use the east as a template, "It does not give Tamil people much hope - or any hope," Perera said. Ganesan, the Tamil lawmaker, said he fears the rebels' imminent defeat has encouraged Sinhalese nationalists to work against the government making compromises with Tamils. "We feel more vulnerable now," he said.
06.02.2009. The Anarchist International and the United Nations warned that civilians caught in the shrinking sliver of territory still controlled by the rebels are facing a massive food crisis, and convoys may not be able to deliver supplies until late next week. Concern for the fate of civilians - hundreds of whom observers say have died in the latest fighting - has grown recently, and several Western countries have pressed the government to declare a ceasefire to allow noncombatants to flee. Sri Lanka has refused to let up its offensive, but President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised the U.N. secretary-general he would safeguard innocents caught in the government's relentless offensive, which has almost routed the Tamil Tigers, virtually ending their 25-year war for a separate Tamil nation in this Sinhalese-majority country. On Friday, troops captured the headquarters of a rebel regiment, the said. Rajapaksa assured U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a 15-minute telephone conversation Thursday that the offensive "would be carried out without harassment to the civilian population," a statement from the president's office said. Reports from the sealed war zone, known as Vanni, were spotty, but evidence has grown in recent days of mounting casualties among the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped there. The top health official there said last week that 300 civilians had been killed, and the U.N. said at least 52 civilians were killed Tuesday. Adding to concerns, the World Food Program said that the entire population of the Vanni is facing a food crisis. Some 250,000 people there are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but WFP said it has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since Jan. 16.
A convoy that was supposed to enter during a 4-hour "humanitarian window" Thursday could not go because the agency did not receive the necessary clearance from government officials, Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the agency in Geneva, told reporters. The earliest they would be able to send in another convoy is next Thursday, she said. "We don't have any more stocks to be distributed, and our staff are essentially hiding at the moment," Casella said. WFP has 16 staff and 81 dependents in the Vanni area. Amnesty International and the Anarchist International have called on both sides to declare a humanitarian ceasefire to allow civilians out and to let food, water and medical supplies be delivered to those who can't leave. "A quarter of a million people are suffering without adequate food and shelter while shells rain down upon them. Most of those who have managed to escape the conflict have not received adequate hospital treatment," said Yolanda Foster, a researcher at the London-based rights group. But the government has ruled out a ceasefire. At least 600 civilians crossed the front lines into the government-controlled area Friday, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. He said a total of 1,637 civilians crossed Thursday. Meanwhile, troops captured the headquarters of the rebel group's Radha regiment in Vishwamadu area on Friday, Nanayakkara said. The regiment is responsible for providing security to the Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and to the rebel group's tiny air force, now defunct. However, no rebels were captured as they fled on seeing the advancing troops, he said. "Troops surrounded the area so fast that the (fleeing) terrorists couldn't even take their flag," he said. The military captured the rebels' biggest sea base Thursday, effectively cutting off their main supply point. Also Friday, some 150 demonstrators demonstrated outside the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the capital Colombo, apparently protesting its reports of civilian casualties. Some among the protesters threw stones at the office, causing minor damage but no injury to staff, said Red Cross spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne. The Anarchist International condemns this attack on the Red Cross.
07.02.2009. The Red Cross and the Anarchist International urge safe passage for sick in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of sick and wounded people are stranded in a makeshift hospital in war-wracked northern Sri Lanka, the Red Cross said Saturday as it urged the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to let the patients out of the conflict zone. Meanwhile, the military said the chief of the rebel sea wing has been reported missing since an air force raid on his hide-out Friday. International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne said there are currently some 400 people, most of them lying on the floor in an overcrowded community center and in school buildings turned into makeshift wards, waiting to be taken to better hospitals in government-controlled territory.
10.02.2009. The Anarchist International criticized the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka. The Red Cross loaded about 240 sick and wounded onto a boat to evacuate them from Sri Lanka's northeast war zone Tuesday as the military accused rebel fighters of killing 19 civilians fleeing the area. The government says the rebels are holding civilians for use as human shields against the military's offensive. The rebels deny the accusation. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the insurgents fired early Tuesday on a group of more than 1,000 trying to escape the war zone in Udayarkattu, inside what remains of rebel-held territory. The attack killed 19 and wounded another 75, the military said. Confirmation of the reported shooting was not possible because independent journalists and nearly all aid workers are barred from the war zone. The rebels could not be reached for comment because communications to the north have largely been severed. Meanwhile, Red Cross workers and local fishermen ferried about 240 patients to a specially chartered boat anchored offshore at the village of Putumattalan inside the war zone, said Sarasi Wijesinghe, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The patients' injuries were making the operation difficult, she said. "Most of them can't sit upright. They have to be lying down. A lot of care has to be exercised," she said. The aid group chartered the ferry, which was flying the Red Cross flag, from the government-controlled town of Jaffna in the north, and was in contact with both sides to ensure no fighting interfered with the evacuation, Wijesinghe said. The patients fled the last functioning hospital in the war zone in Puthukkudiyiruppu last week after it came under repeated artillery barrages that killed several patients. The intense fighting between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels made fleeing south across the front lines too risky, so the group instead headed deeper into rebel-held territory. The Red Cross and government doctors set up a makeshift medical facility in an abandoned community center and a school, Wijesinghe said.
However, the area was shelled Monday, she said. In addition, the overcrowded center does not have a reliable supply of drinking water, and "the lack of sanitation and hygiene is a problem," she said. "Some patients are lying on the ground, the floor." In recent days, the military has reported an increasing flow of civilians out of the war zone. More than 1,000 civilians fled Tuesday, and 6,599 reportedly crossed Monday, even as a female bomber killed 19 soldiers and 10 civilians at an army checkpoint. The government earlier said the blast had killed 20 soldiers and eight civilians. Amnesty International condemned the attack as a clear violation of international law. "Blurring the distinction between civilians and combatants means that thousands of ordinary people, desperate to flee the conflict area, are at greater risk of reprisals and getting caught in crossfire," said Yolanda Foster, the London-based group's Sri Lankan researcher. Rights groups have also accused the government of killing and wounding civilians by firing artillery into the increasingly cramped war zone in a small pocket of the northeast. Meanwhile, U.N. experts in Geneva and the Anarchist International criticized the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka. "A climate of fear and intimidation reigns over those defending human rights, especially over journalists and lawyers," Margaret Sekaggya, a U.N.-appointed independent human rights expert, said in a statement Monday. Last week, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa accused the BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera and two ambassadors of favoring the Tamil rebels and warned they might be banned from the country. The BBC said Monday it was suspending FM radio programming to the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corp. starting Tuesday because of what it called "deliberate interference" in its broadcasts.
11.02.2009. The Tamil Tiger rebels denied accusations that they opened fire on civilians fleeing Sri Lanka's northeastern war zone, instead accusing the military Wednesday of turning so called safe zones for civilians into "killing fields." The accusations came amid reports of increasing casualties among the many of the tens of thousands of civilians reportedly trapped inside the war zone as government forces battled to destroy the rebel group. "The 'safety zone' unilaterally announced by the Colombo government has been turned to a killing field by the Sri Lankan military," C. Ilamparithy, identified as a rebel official, said in a statement posted on TamilNet. He urged the international community to "act fast" to ensure the civilians' safety. With the civilian death toll rising in recent weeks, the United Nations said it was outraged by the "unnecessary" deaths of hundreds of people inside rebel territory and urged both sides to avoid fighting in civilian areas. The flight of civilians continued, with more than 25,000 crossing into government territory in recent days, according to the military. The Anarchist International also urges both sides to avoid fighting in civilian areas.
12.02.2009. Army creates new 'safe zone' after international pressure. Sri Lanka's army disbanded the mostly ineffective "safe zone" it had established in the war-wracked north and set up a new refuge Thursday for the tens of thousands of civilians still trapped. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the government set up a new haven because the Tamil Tiger rebels forced most of the civilians seeking shelter from the fighting out of the original one. The two sides have been fighting heavy battles since government troops overran the rebels' de facto state in the north and boxed them into a tiny strip of land along the northeast coast. The military says it has pushed the insurgents to the brink of defeat and hopes to soon end the 25-year-old civil war. As mnetioned aid groups estimate that about 200,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone. The government says the figure is about half that number. The government established the first safe area Jan. 21 in a small patch of land inside rebel-held territory. Security forces encouraged families trapped in the war zone to move to the refuge and pledged not to attack that area. However, rebels, health officials and other observers said the zone came under almost immediate artillery shelling, at least some of it from the government side. An internal U.N. memo said some of its staff members and their relatives who sought shelter in the area where forced to relocate out of the "safe zone" because it had
grown so dangerous. The government has denied attacking the area. Over the past week, tens of thousands of civilians fled from the refuge into the neighboring government-controlled areas to the west, but the flow has slowed considerably over the past day. The military said the LTTE forced the civilians there to move to the east, toward the coast. The military has accused the rebels of holding the civilians hostage to use as human shields against the government offensive, an accusation backed up by several wounded patients evacuated from the area. The new refuge established by the government would consist of a 12-kilometer-long strip of land along the northeast coast where many of the civilians already were seeking shelter, Nanayakkara said. On Thursday, the Red Cross sent a ferry on a second trip into the war zone to evacuate scores of wounded civilians trapped in a coastal school being used as a makeshift hospital. The ferry also brought 240 patients to the town of Trincomalee inside government-controlled territory Tuesday. Meanwhile, troops advanced further into the rebels' shrinking stronghold Thursday, capturing a rebel factory in the village of Sugandirpuram, where the insurgents transformed 81mm mortar shells into roadside bombs, Nanayakkara said. On Wednesday, troops and rebel forces fought at least seven battles across the war zone, with both sides sustaining damage, the military said. Confirmation of the fighting was not available because independent journalists were still barred from the war zone.
Overnight, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brought another 400 people out of the Tiger-held coastal village of Puttumatalan and ferried them to the eastern port of Trincomalee.
There were 160 sick and wounded people among them admitted to hospital, where they joined a first load of 240 patients carried there on Tuesday, the ICRC said in a statement.
Puttumatalan is a coastal village which is inside a new no-fire zone the military set up for civilians on Thursday, to replace an older one over which both sides traded accusations over who was firing weapons inside it.
Those who escaped explained the horror they experienced as the rebels kept them from moving freely amid shelling and government air raids, most of it centred around Puthukudiyiruppu. Sri Lanka rejected on Friday Britain's appointment of a special envoy to oversee the end of its war with Tamil Tiger separatists, and thousands more people fled a war zone growing smaller by the day.
The military said at least 34,000 people this year have fled the war zone in the Indian Ocean island's northeast, where troops are battling to crush a 25-year-old civil war with the LTTE rebels.
More than 1,600 people reached military-controlled areas on Thursday, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. The area now held by the Tamil Tigers has shrunken to just 142 square km (55 sq miles), he said.
Tens of thousands of people are trapped between troops and the LTTE, drawing international concern for their welfare. The United Nations is preparing for an exodus of 150,000 people.
On Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed former state secretary of defence Des Browne special envoy to Sri Lanka, saying he would focus on the humanitarian situation and government efforts to forge a last political solution to the war. Sri Lanka's cabinet rejected the decision as unilateral."There should be approval from both countries and there is no need for that type of an appointment. It's quite unnecessary," cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said. Britain had no immediate comment, a spokesman for the High Commission in Colombo said.
16.02.2009. Tamil Tigers target civilians. The United Nations says it has received reports that Tamil Tiger rebels are actively preventing civilians from leaving Sri Lanka's war zone. It says a growing number of those trying to leave have been shot at and some have been killed. UN spokesman Gordon Weiss also said the Tamil Tigers were trying to forcibly recruit people into their ranks, including children as young as 14. The UN said one staff member had been forcibly recruited into the rebels and demanded his immediate release. The government has rejected international calls for a ceasefire, demanding the rebels lay down their arms. The Tigers have said they will not do so until they have a "guarantee of living with freedom and dignity and sovereignty", a claim mainly supported by the Anarchist International.
17.02.2009. A matter of life and death. Tamil MPs say Sri Lanka ignoring civilian safety. Tamil politicians accused the Sri Lankan government Tuesday of ignoring the safety of tens of thousands of civilians in its campaign to wipe out the Tamil Tiger rebels. The pro-rebel Tamil National Alliance political party said it had managed to compile a list of the civilians killed using the Tamil media, witness accounts and reports from medical authorities in the war zone. According to its count, more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since December and more than 4,500 wounded, said Rajavarothayam Sambanthan, a lawmaker from the party. "The situation is getting worse by the day. More and more people are killed and wounded," he said, continuing. "The government is only concerned about its military victory against the LTTE. The government is completely unconcerned about the safety and security of civilians." Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara denied the allegation. "We are concerned about the civilians and that's why the military campaign has slowed down," he said. Dr. Thurairaja Varatharaja, the top health official in the region, said fighting has abated in the past two days with fewer wounded patients seeking treatment. Sambanthan said the conflict was devastating for the civilian population in the area. "The government claims the war is conducted to liberate the Tamil people, but thousands of people are living under trees for weeks, their properties have been destroyed, they are starving, they are exposed to weather," he said. Meanwhile, the rebels have been increasingly turning to children as young as 14 to fill the ranks of their fighters, UNICEF said. "These children are facing immediate danger and their lives are at great risk. Their recruitment is intolerable," said Philippe Duamelle, the Sri Lankan representative for the U.N. Children's Fund. "Child soldiers suffer physical abuse, traumatic events and face death. Instead of hope, fear defines their childhood."
The rebels have a long history of recruiting children and UNICEF said it has recorded 6,000 such cases since 2003. Rebel officials could not be contacted for comment because most communication to the conflict zone has been severed. However in the past rebel officials had told UNICEF they would halt child recruitment and release all child combatants. Last week Varatharaja - the chief doctor at a makeshift hospital in the coastal village of Putumattalan - said about 40 people were being killed every day. The Red Cross also expressed concerns about the civilians in the northern war zone, especially the sick and wounded at the makeshift hospital. "Families continue to arrive in Putumattalan in a state of utter exhaustion and despair, hoping to be treated and rescued. But the reality is that there is an almost complete lack of medicine and relief items there," said Paul Castella, the head of the Red Cross delegation in Sri Lanka. The aid group on Monday carried out a third sea evacuation from the hospital, taking 440 of patients and their families from the war zone, he said in a statement. "But many people remain behind, helpless and anxiously waiting to be evacuated. It is now a matter of life and death," he said. The Anarchist International is clearly against the use of child soldiers.
18.02.2009. Red Cross sends food aid to Sri Lanka war zone.Sri Lankan naval boats accompanied an emergency Red Cross shipment of food aid for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the northeastern war zone as the Tamil Tiger rebels once again appealed for a halt to the war and a new round of peace talks. Government forces - pledging to end the quarter-century civil war - have pushed the rebels to the brink of defeat in recent weeks, seizing their strongholds across the north and trapping them in a 39-square mile (100-square kilometer) strip of land along the coast. Aid groups has as mentioned estimated that about 200,000 civilians are stuck in heavy fighting, though the government says the number is less than 100,000. The government has denied accusations it shelled areas filled with civilians, while the rebels denied reports they shot at families trying to escape. Rebel political chief Balasingham Nadesan accused the government of creating a humanitarian crisis in the area, and denied U.N. accusations that it was recruiting child soldiers and holding the local civilian population as human shields against the government offensive. "The U.N. is accusing the wrong side in addressing the concerns of the people," he told the rebel-linked TamilNet Web site. He also appealed for a truce, saying "the war has to be stopped immediately, paving way for negotiations." Defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella rejected new calls for a ceasefire. The United Nations said earlier this week that those caught in the fighting were facing severe shortages of food, medicine and clean water. An increasing number have fallen ill. The Red Cross said it was sending 30 tons of dry rations to the civilians in the north. Aid workers say a minimum of 2,500 tons a month is required to feed the civilians trapped there. Navy spokesman Capt. D.K.P. Dassanayake said naval boats were accompanying the Red Cross vessel. The Anarchist International once more calls for a ceasefire and peace-negotiations, and a just peace.
19.02.2004. UN top official: Avoid Sri Lanka civilian casualties. The United Nations' top humanitarian official, John Holmes, urged the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties amid heavy fighting in the country's civil war. Holmes also discussed the conditions of more than 30,000 displaced ethnic Tamils currently in government-run camps south of the war zone and the plans for tens of thousands of others expected to join them in coming weeks. "We are concerned about reports of heavy casualties to the civilian population" trapped in the area, Holmes told reporters after meeting with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama. He called on both sides to avoid civilian casualties and appealed to the rebels to allow civilians to flee if they wish. The Anarchist International urges both sides to avoid civilan casualties.
20.02.2009. Tamil Tiger planes raid Sri Lanka capital. Defying the government's efforts to destroy them, Sri Lanka's rebels sent two planes on a surprise raid over the capital Friday night before anti-aircraft fire shot both of them out of the sky, the military said. One plane crashed into a government office building in the heart of Colombo, killing the pilot and a bystander and wounding more than 40 others. The other came down in a suburb, killing that pilot as well, the military said. The raid was an embarrassment for the government, which said two weeks ago that it had seized all the rebels' airstrips, effectively grounding their small force of light aircraft. However, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the failure to bomb any strategic targets was a defeat for the Tamil Tigers. The rebels had used a series of successful air attacks in the past to boost their morale and humiliate the government. "This is the end of the LTTE, that's all I can say," Nanayakkara said. However, the attack also showed that the rebels were not ready to surrender. The attack was the first air raid there since October, when the rebels bombed a power station on the outskirts of the city. Friday's air raid came amid rising concern for civilian casualties in the northern war zone. Human Rights Watch said civilian deaths have skyrocketed in the past two months as government forces indiscriminately shelled the war zone and the rebels fired on families trying to flee. The New York-based rights group said some 2,000 civilians have died in the recent fighting and called on both sides to immediately stop "the ongoing slaughter of civilians." The anarchists agree with HRW.
22.02.2009. Sri Lanka Black Tiger attack targeted air force. The rebel kamikaze attack on Sri Lanka's capital could have destroyed the air force but didn't because the two explosives-packed planes were shot down before reaching their targets, the government said. he defiant air raid Friday night showed the Tamil Tiger rebels retained the ability to launch paralyzing attacks across the country even with their ground forces under siege in a small patch of territory in the northeast. The attacks targeted the national air force headquarters and an air base, government authorities said. "If they really worked, there wouldn't have been an air force," government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters. The two planes were hit by anti-aircraft fire. One crashed into a tax office building near the air force headquarters and exploded, while the second plane was downed near the air force base north of Colombo, authorities said. Four people died, including the two pilots. Air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said one of the planes was loaded with about 210 kilograms of explosives, but the pilot could not detonate it because he had lost a hand to anti-aircraft fire. In the northern war front, the government has taken or destroyed about 90 percent of the rebels' facilities, Rambukwella said. The military says it has captured rebel bomb factories, submarines, diving equipment and large amounts of weapons.
Rambukwella said the two rebel aircraft destroyed Friday night are believed to be the last in the insurgents' tiny air wing. "It's a great victory against terrorism," he said. However, the government had also said two weeks earlier that it had disabled the rebels' air capability, as mentioned making Friday's air raid an embarrassment. Meanwhile, a pro-rebel Web site published a letter reportedly written by one of the suicide pilots before he set off on the mission. It called on ethnic Tamil youths to join the Tigers in their fight for an independent state for the ethnic minority. "We have enough armaments. We urgently need manpower," pilot I. Rooban wrote, according to the TamilNet site. "While we march with explosives inside the lion's den, let's show the strength of Tamil people. I have never dreamed of wasting one's precious life," he wrote. "However, I feel privileged and proud that I can become a Black Tiger to earn respect for my people and my homeland." Rebel suicide bombers known as Black Tigers have carried out hundreds of attacks against political, military and economic targets since the civil war began in 1983. Also Sunday, the military said the number of civilians killed by suspected rebels in an attack on an ethnic Sinhalese village Saturday had risen to 14. The slayings raised concerns that the rebels, who were driven from their eastern stronghold two years ago by the government, still retained the ability to carry out deadly guerrilla attacks in the area.
23.02.2009. LTTE ready for truce. Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka have told the United Nations they are ready to comply with international calls for a ceasefire with government forces. But the rebels said they would not lay down their weapons, as the government has demanded. The Sri Lankan military said again that this must happen before the rebels could take part in negotiations. Many in the international community, including India and the leading international donor group headed by the US, EU, Japan and Norway, and the Anarchist International, have urged the rebels to lay down their arms.
The offer of a truce was made by B Nadesan, the political head of the rebels, in a letter to the United Nations and the international community. "Already more than 2,000 civilians have been killed and more than 5,000 have been injured," Mr Nadesan wrote. "It is painful to see the world maintaining silence on this immense human suffering as if it is amused by what is going on." Mr Nadesan said a ceasefire was needed to end the miseries of the Tamil people."The LTTE desires that this effort for a ceasefire... grows further into peace talks to seek a political solution to the ethnic conflict," he said. But he said that the Tigers would not consider disarming until "a permanent political solution is reached for the Tamil people, with the support and the guarantee of the international community". Sri Lankan military spokesman, Brig Udaya Nanayakkara, said the government would not accept a conditional truce from the rebels.
Government forces enter last town under rebel control. Sri Lankan forces entered the last town under rebel control Tuesday, the military said, as the government brushed aside international calls for a ceasefire to allow tens of thousands of civilians to escape the war zone. After breaching rebel defenses, troops entered the edge of Puthukkudiyiruppu and were fighting house-to-house battles with small groups of rebels on the outskirts of the town, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. "They are resisting and retreating," Nanyakkara said of the rebel fighters. The town's capture would be another devastating blow to the already reeling rebels and their dreams of creating an independent state in the north and east. The guerrillas, who controlled a wide swath of the north less than a year ago, would be left with little more than a handful of tiny villages and a small strip of coast. The Tamil Tigers accused the military of launching artillery into a government-declared "safe zone" inside rebel-held territory Tuesday in an attack that killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 25 others. More than 30 civilians were killed in fighting Monday, the rebels said in a posting on their Web-site. Dr. Thurairaja Varatharajah, the top government health official in the war zone, said five civilians sleeping in a hut were killed overnight by shelling less than 100 yards from the makeshift hospital he runs out of a school inside the "safe zone."
The military has repeatedly denied firing into the 7.5-mile-long (12-kilometer-long) area. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Monday for a halt to the fighting to allow the civilians to flee and for political talks to urgently end the conflict that has cost 70,000 lives since 1983. "There is an urgent need to bring this conflict to an end without any further unnecessary loss of civilian life and destruction of Sri Lankan society," Ban said. The government said Tuesday it had no plans to stop its offensive against the LTTE. "The LTTE must lay down its weapons and that will automatically guarantee a ceasefire," Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said. As mentioned in a letter to the United Nations on Monday, the rebels also appealed for a ceasefire but said they would not lay down its weapons. EU also has called for an immediate halt to fighting and says the government must stop its human rights abuses. India's government on Tuesday offered again to help evacuate civilians from the war zone and to provide relief supplies. The Anarchist International agrees with UN and EU and declares: Bring this conflict to an end without any further unnecessary loss of civilian life and destruction of the Sri Lankan society. The government must stop its human rights abuses. Stop fighting now!
26.02.2009. AI demands freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, and the release of the arrested editor Nadesapillai Vithyatharan. Sri Lankan police arrested the editor of a Tamil-language newspaper in the middle of a funeral Thursday, accusing him of aiding a rebel air attack on the capital last week. The arrest of Nadesapillai Vithyatharan came as the government faced growing criticism for a recent spate of attacks on journalists viewed as critical of the offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels in the north. Last month, a prominent newspaper editor critical of the war was killed by gunmen, a private TV station was attacked by assailants armed with guns and grenades and another editor was stabbed. Opposition officials and media activists have accused the government of a role in the attacks, an allegation the government denies. Vithyatharan, editor of the reputedly pro-rebel Sudar Oli newspaper, was attending a funeral near Colombo Thursday when three uniformed police officers drove up in a van, pulled him from a crowd of mourners standing near the coffin, and drove away, said E. Saravanapavan, managing director of the newspaper. "We were trying to push him inside and they were trying to drag him the other way," he said. Lakshman Hulugalle, a defense spokesman, said Vithyatharan was being held in connection with the rebels' kamikaze attack on Colombo last Friday, but that it was too soon to know if he would be charged. He defended the conditions of the arrest. "There was nothing harsh in the arrest because he's a wanted person," he said. Saravanapavan said the arrest came a day after police came to the newspaper's offices and demanded everyone's name and address. They did not explain the reason for the demand, he said. Reporters Without Borders demanded Vithyatharan's immediate release. "What is this respected Tamil editor accused of? Outspoken coverage of the situation in Sri Lanka, including the fate of its Tamil population," the group said in a statement. Meanwhile, army troops and the Tamil Tiger separatists fought fierce battles in Puthukkudiyiruppu, the last rebel-held town, the military said.
28.02.2009. India urges pause in Sri Lankan fighting. India has called for a "pause" in the fighting between Sri Lankan forces and Tamil rebels to allow the evacuation of thousands of civilians trapped in the nation's northern war zone. In a statement issued Saturday, India's external affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee, warned that the humanitarian crisis was "building up with every passing day" in Sri Lanka. Mukherjee referred to the recent rebel offer of a ceasefire as an "opportunity" for the Sri Lankan government to stave off the crisis. "While this (the ceasefire proposal) may fall short of a declaration of willingness to lay down arms, it is our view that the government of Sri Lanka should seize the opportunity presented by the offer to bring about a pause in the hostilities," Mukherjee said. Mukherjee said a civilian evacuation would require cooperation by the Tamil rebels as well. There are reports of more than 70,000 civilians trapped in the war zone. Fighting is occurring in the Mulaittivu region. Mukherjee said people are dying, and there are shortages of food, water and medicine in the war zone. He said India is working on sending an emergency medical team and medicines to the internally displaced people in the north. "The pause in hostilities must be utilized to facilitate the movement of Tamil population out of the war-affected areas to secure locations where proper rehabilitation is possible, and international aid organizations ... have free access and scope to provide medical and other forms of humanitarian aid," Mukherjee said, using the International Committee of the Red Cross as an example. The Tamil Tiger militant group has fought for an independent Tamil state since 1983. The Sri Lankan military has recently made gains against strongholds of the LTTE. Mukherjee said Sri Lanka should also carry out what he called "a proper devolution of powers to the provinces," after shifting war victims to safe locations. He called for "assurances of equality and equal rights to all citizens, particularly the Tamil people, within the constitutional framework of Sri Lanka maintaining its territorial integrity." The Anarchist International supports India's efforts, and urges pause in Sri Lankan fighting.
05.03.2009. Thousands of Sri Lankans are crammed into a squalid coastal strip along with retreating Tamil rebels face relentless shelling that has killed dozens of civilians in the past two days and left many scrounging for food to survive, witnesses said Thursday. The Anarchist International has growing concern for the trapped civilians as the Sri Lankan army seeks to deal a knockout blow to the Tamil Tiger rebels to end the island's 25-year civil war. 07.03.2009. Sri Lankan soldiers assailed the last slice of land still controlled by ethnic Tamil separatists, killing at least 32 rebels, the defense ministry said Saturday.
10.03.2009. A suicide bomber attacked government ministers leading a procession to mark a Muslim festival in southern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, killing 14 people and severely wounding one of the officials. The government blamed Tamil Tiger separatists for the blast, which wounded 45 other people, saying the rebels had grown desperate in the face of an army offensive that has driven them close to defeat after more than 25 years of civil war. The Anarchist International takes a clear stand against terrorism.
12.03.2009. Sri Lanka says seizes hospital from rebels. The Sri Lankan army Thursday seized the last remaining medical facility held by separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the north of the island, a military official said. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the troops took the facility near Puthukkudiyiruppu after launching an operation Wednesday. "We took complete control this morning," he told The Associated Press. "The hospital building was intact, but we are not sure about any of the equipment." There was fighting during the operation, Nanayakkara said. In early February, more than 300 patients were forced to flee the hospital because of fighting. The taking of the hospital comes a day after the military said a senior rebel leader was killed in fighting in Puthukkudiyiruppu, the last town held by the rebels. The rebels could not be reached for comment, and it was not possible to verify the reports independently because reporters are barred from the coastal war zone. The town is about 280 kilometers northeast of the capital of Colombo in a shrinking area held by the Tamil Tigers. The death of Sabaratnam Selvathurai on Wednesday would be a boost for the government as it appears poised to defeat the LTTE. Nanayakkara said fighting in the area was going slowly because of worries about civilians. Human rights, aid and anarchist groups have voiced concern over tens of thousands of ethnic Tamil civilians trapped in the shrinking sliver of land still under rebel control. "The concern is the civilian factor, we have to go slow," Nanayakkara said. He estimated there were fewer than 500 Tigers still fighting, although they had also forced some civilians to fight as well. Nanayakkara said about 12,000 government troops had surrounded the area. "We are clearing the area house by house, street by street." Selvathurai, whose nom de guerre was Thamilenthi, was in charge of the Tamil Tigers' financial unit. The head of the political wing, S.P. Tamilselvan, was killed in 2007. The leader of the Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is thought to be still in the war zone.
13.03.2009. The Anarchist International and the UN warn of humanitarian crimes in Sri Lanka. Both government forces and Tamil rebels may be breaking international humanitarian laws and must suspend their fighting to allow thousands of civilians to escape, the U.N.'s human rights head said Friday. "Certain actions being undertaken by the Sri Lankan military and by the LTTE may constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement. She said the army has repeatedly shelled inside safe zones set up for the civilians, and "a range of credible sources" showed that more than 2,800 civilians had been killed and more than 7,000 wounded since Jan. 20. Both figures are higher than previous estimates, and Pillay said 150,000 to 180,000 remained trapped in the rebel area on Sri Lanka's northeastern coast. "The current level of civilian casualties is truly shocking, and there are legitimate fears that the loss of life may reach catastrophic levels, if the fighting continues in this way," said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge. The anarchists agree with UN in this case. The government denied allegations it has harmed civilians, and accused the Tamil Tiger rebels of using the civilians as a human shield in a desperate attempt to avoid being defeated. "We have very clearly stated that we have not at any time fired at the no-fire zone," said Mahinda Samarasinghe, the minister for disaster management and human rights. He said Pillay should have appealed to the rebels to let the civilians go."We are perplexed and dumbfounded that the real issue has not been commented on," Samarasinghe said. Pillay's statement did accuse the Tamil Tigers of possible war crimes by using civilians as human shields and shooting at people trying to flee. "The brutal and inhuman treatment of civilians by the LTTE is utterly reprehensible, and should be examined to see if it constitutes war crimes," Pillay said. The anarchists agree with the UN in this case. The government has rejected calls from international aid groups for a ceasefire, saying it is on the verge of victory. Rebel officials could not be reached. Most communication to the north has been severed, and accounts of the fighting could not be verified independently because independent journalists still are barred from the war zone.
17.03.2009. Sri Lanka deaths blamed on lack of medical supply. A lack of medical supplies has led to the needless deaths of hundreds of hospital patients in parts of northern Sri Lanka ravaged by the civil war, the regions' top health officials said. The International Red Cross said conditions for civilians were "deteriorating by the day," and the U.N. Children's Fund said thousands of children were at risk because of "a critical lack of food, water and medicines." The Anarchist International demands a sufficient amount of medical supplies to the war zone.
22.03.2009. ICRC sends supplies to Sri Lanka war zone hospital. The first shipment of medical supplies in two weeks has been sent to the last remaining major health facility in Sri Lanka's war zone and 500 civilians have been evacuated from danger, the Red Cross said Monday. The area's top health official has blamed a lack of medicine and supplies for causing the needless deaths of hundreds of hospital patients caught in the all-out offensive the government has launched against Tamil Tiger rebels. On Sunday, fighting in the shrinking rebel enclave left at least 13 insurgents dead, the military said. The Red Cross supplies arrived in the war zone on the northeast coast Sunday aboard the "MV Green Ocean," said Sophie Romanens, a Colombo spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. She did not know how large the shipment was, but said the ship returned with 500 patients and family members. The Red Cross and other international groups, included anarchists, have voiced concern recently for the civilians trapped in the last remaining rebel territory. The rebel holdouts - along with tens of thousands of terrified civilians - are confined to about 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) of jungle and beach on the northeastern coast. The U.N. says 150,000 to 180,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone. The government says the figure is much lower, and as mentioned accuses the Tamil rebels of using the people as human shields.
Romanens said there had been an influx of displaced people into the coastal strip near the medical facility and that there was not enough clean water and food for them. Last week, in a letter to the Health Ministry, officials from two northern Sri Lankan regions hit by the war said just 5 percent of the needed drugs and dressings had been received in the last quarter of 2008 and the first part of this year. The letter said more than 500 patients had died since January after arriving at hospitals and that thousands more may have died elsewhere in the area. Besides the 500 evacuated on the Red Cross ship, the military said in a statement that another 845 people, including more than 200 children, crossed over to military-controlled areas on Sunday. Fighting continued Sunday near the last rebel-held town of Puthkkudiyirippu with army troops killing at least eight guerrillas, the military said in a statement. It did not provide details of army casualties, but said government soldiers"suffered minor damages." Separately, the navy repulsed an attempted Tiger suicide attack, killing five rebels. It said the rebels were on a boat that had mixed in with three other boats carrying civilians escaping the fighting. One of the rebels opened fire and all were killed when the navy fired back. Rebel officials could not be reached because most communication to the north has been severed, and accounts of the battles could not be verified because independent journalists are still barred from the war zone. The Anarchist International calls on the Red Cross (ICRC) to send more help.
25.03.2009. More than 1,500 civilians flee Sri Lanka war zone. An exodus of civilians fleeing the fighting in northern Sri Lanka has picked up, with more than 1,500 escaping in the last day, the government said Wednesday. Tens of thousands of terrified civilians are as mentioned trapped in a sliver of jungle and beach along the island's northeast coast where government troops are battling to dislodge remnants of the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels. A statement on the government's Web site said 1,515 people, including nearly 650 children, had crossed into military-controlled areas by late Tuesday near Puthkkudiyirippu, the last rebel-held town, where battles have been raging for weeks. The statement said the civilians were being screened and would be taken to displacement camps in the island's interior.The military also said its troops captured a safe house belonging Pottu Amman, the rebels' powerful intelligence chief. Independent accounts of the fighting are not possible because access to the war zone is still restricted. Risks to the civilians have led the United Nations, the European Union, and numerous countries and organizations, including the Anarchist International, to voice concern. The U.N. has said 2,800 civilians caught in the fighting have been killed since late January, though the government disputes that figure. The U.N. estimates at least 150,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone. The government says the number is closer to 50,000 to 60,000, and as mentioned accuses the rebels of using them as human shields in a bid to avoid defeat.A separate notice on the military's Web site Wednesday said the rebels fired surface-to-air-missiles at two air force helicopters evacuating military casualties. It said the rockets, which forced the pilots to take evasive action, were fired from the "no-fire" zone set up to shelter the civilians. The military also said Wednesday that suspected Tamil rebels shot dead five farmers and wounded two others in a village in the east. No reason was given for the attack. The rebels often punish civilians who do not support them or resist being recruited into their ranks. The rebels could not be reached for comment since communication with their stronghold has been severed. The rebels as mentioned have been fighting since 1983 for an independent state for the Tamil minority, which suffered decades of marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have as mentioned been killed in the fighting.
27.03.2009. More than 2,100 civilians fled in one day from Sri Lanka's northern war zone where the military is squeezing the Tamil Tiger rebels into a smaller area, the military said Friday. The displaced, including 900 children, crossed over Thursday to military-controlled areas in Puthkkudiyirippu, near the edge of the front lines in the northeast of the island, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. It was the largest number of civilians to flee in a single day in several weeks, Nanayakkara said. An average of 1,000 civilians a day have fled the area in recent weeks, highlighting the danger they face as the military has driven the rebels into just 8.4 square miles (21 square kilometers) of jungle and beach on the northeastern coast. In a statement posted on its Web site Friday, the military said it killed 29 rebels. It said 13 were killed in a battle near Puthkkudiyirippu, while army snipers killed another 16. It did not say when the clashes took place.
11.04.2009. 100,000 Tamil supporters march through London. At least 100,000 people marched in London on Saturday to demand an immediate end to Sri Lanka's military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels. Ethnic Tamils and their supporters packed the streets of the capital, brandishing Tamil Tiger flags and urging the U.K. to suspend development aid to Sri Lanka, a former British colony. Sri Lankan forces have recently made significant gains in their more than 2-decade-long war against the rebels, who draw their support from the country's minority Tamil population. But the offensive has sent the civilian death toll soaring and led to international criticism. "The people here have lost direct family members," said Suren Surendiran, of the British Tamils Forum, which organized the march. "They are here for a reason. They are worried about their next of kin. This is not about a 'Stop the War' march or anything like that," he said, referring to the massive London protest against the Iraq war in 2003. "This is about our own people and our direct family."
12.04.2009. Sri Lanka to suspend offensives against rebels. Sri Lanka's president ordered a two-day suspension of offensives against Tamil Tiger rebels to enable tens of thousands of trapped civilians to leave the war zone, his office said Sunday. President Mahinda Rajapaksa directed the armed forces to restrict operations during the April 13-14 Sri Lankan New Year to a defensive nature and renewed his call to the rebel group to "acknowledge its military defeat and lay down its weapons and surrender," a statement said. He said the rebels must renounce violence permanently. Rajapaksa's call came amid increasing international pressure on the government to protect civilians trapped along with the remaining guerrillas in a government-declared "no-fire" zone measuring just 7.7 square miles (20 square kilometers). The U.N. says about 100,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone with dozens dying every day. The government and aid groups accuse the rebels of using civilians as human shields and have called for their release. The rebels and rights groups have accused the military of firing into the safe zone - a charge the military denies. The Anarchist International welcomes the two-day suspension of the offensive.
13.04.2009. Sri Lanka civilians stay in war zone despite lull. Sri Lanka's army began observing a two-day ceasefire Monday in the war against the cornered Tamil Tiger rebels and used loudspeakers to urge thousands of trapped civilians to escape the war zone. By the end of the day just 18 people took advantage of the lull. The two-day ceasefire took effect after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered the military to restrict operations to a defensive nature only for the Sri Lankan new year. The move came amid increasing international pressure on the government to protect civilians. Government forces say they are close to crushing the 25-year separatist war after a string of battlefield victories trapped the rebels into a small strip of land in the Indian Ocean island's north. The U.N. as mentioned says that more than 100,000 people are trapped along with the cornered guerrillas in a government-declared "no-fire" zone measuring just 7.7 square miles (20 square kilometers). It has said scores of civilians have been killed in the fighting. The rebels and rights groups have accused the military of firing into the safe zone, a charge the military denies. But the lull in fighting did not set off an exodus, despite loudspeaker announcements urging civilians to leave. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said just 18 people had left the war zone by Monday evening. The military said the rebels may be preventing people from fleeing. The government and aid groups have in the past accused the rebels of holding civilians as human shields - an allegation the Tamil Tigers have denied. Nanayakkara accused the rebels of dishonoring the ceasefire by killing a soldier in sniper fire and wounding another in an artillery attack. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and as mentioned the Anarchist International welcomed the ceasefire and called on both sides to refrain from fighting.
U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann expressed hope it will lead to peace negotiations and an end to violence in the country. "Negotiations between the warring factions are the only way to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and this requires an end to military action and sending urgent humanitarian aid to the civilian population," d'Escoto said in a statement. "In these situations, military solutions are not solutions." The anarchists agree. Sri Lanka's government on Monday dropped Norway as a mediator, accusing Oslo of failing to protect its mission there from Tamil protesters. Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates have taken to the streets in European capitals over the past months to protest the military offensives and to demand a ceasefire. Angered by the attacks on its embassy in Oslo, Sri Lanka's foreign ministry summoned Norwegian Ambassador Tore Hattrem on Monday and told him it was "no longer feasible for Norway to act as facilitator in the peace process," a government statement said. The announcement was unlikely to make any difference on the ground because a 2002 Norway-brokered peace process had already collapsed and Colombo formally withdrew from a formal ceasefire last year. The Norwegian Embassy in Colombo said Oslo police regretted they did not have enough personnel to protect the embassy. The International Anarchist Tribunal condemns the violent attack by Tamil Tiger supporters on Sri Lanka's embassy in Oslo, and has started a people's direct action against such and other ochlarchical tendencies in Norway.
14.04.2009. Tamil Tiger rebels have said that a two-day ceasefire called by Sri Lanka's government is an attempt to deceive the international community. The rebels called for a permanent internationally supervised truce as the ceasefire entered its second day. The government announced the halt in fighting to allow civilians trapped in the conflict zone to leave. The rebels' statement said they were ready for open political talks to end the decades of bloodshed. The Tigers said the two-day truce was "merely an act of hoodwinking". They said there should be an internationally supervised truce and that such a ceasefire should also contain a base for political solutions. "The LTTE has for long been requesting a permanent ceasefire encompassing sensible military and political essence. This, the LTTE still reiterates," the statement said. "The LTTE desires that it should also create a conducive climate for a permanent political resolution to the national question of the Tamils in a peaceful way. The LTTE is ready to comply without any conditions to a ceasefire as described above."
15.04.2009. Sri Lankan forces attacked Tamil guerrillas with mortar fire, artillery and heavy machine guns Wednesday following a two-day ceasefire aimed at letting civilians flee the war zone, a pro-rebel Web site reported. The government said it had only launched a "rescue mission." The reported fighting could mark the start of planned final assault aimed at destroying the Tamil Tigers. However, tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the war zone, and diplomats and human rights groups have called on both sides to exercise restraint. The government had announced a unilateral ceasefire Monday and Tuesday and asked civilians trapped inside the war zone to move out, but only a few hundred left. The government says the rebels are preventing the civilians from escaping, while the rebels say the civilians don't want to leave.
16.04.2009. Sri Lankan troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked Tamil Tiger defenses in the northeast Thursday, a rebel-allied Web site reported, as international pressure, including from the Anarchist International, grew for a new ceasefire to allow civilians to escape the fighting.
17.04.2009. About 3,500 Tamils demonstrated in Oslo without ochlarchy for a peace solution i Sri Lanka, supported by the anarchists.
22.04.2009. Both the government and the rebels deny targeting civilians, but the U.N. estimates more than 4,500 have been killed the past three months. The UN Security Council expressed concern Wednesday at the plight of the civilians trapped in the tiny coastal strip still controlled by the Tamil Tigers. The UN Security Council asked the rebels to lay down their arms, renounce terrorism and join talks to end the nation's 25-year civil war. The Anarchist International supports this demand.
23.04.2009. Sri Lanka pleaded for international help Thursday in what it called an "emergency humanitarian situation," after a medical relief group warned that civilian casualties are rising rapidly in the country's war zone despite the exodus of more than 100,000 in recent days. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama did say that the government was working to grant more access for international aid to those who had left the constantly shrinking strip of land - which now measures just five square miles (12 square kilometers) and it says it is packed with 15,000 to 20,000 civilians. It says 102,790 civilians escaped the conflict zone so far this week.
26.04.2009. LTTE declares unilateral ceasefire. Facing imminent battlefield defeat, Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels declared a unilateral ceasefire Sunday and called on the government to halt its offensive to spare the tens of thousands of civilians trapped by the fighting. The government rejected the appeal and accused the rebels of playing for time as the military stands poised to rout them and end the separatist war that has plagued this Indian Ocean island nation for a quarter century. "This is a joke," Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said of the rebels' truce offer. The ceasefire declaration came amid a chorus of international appeals, including from the Anarchist International, for a pause in the fighting to allow the estimated 50,000 ethnic Tamil civilians remaining in the war zone to escape. The government and aid groups accuse the rebels of holding the civilians hostage to blunt the government offensive, a charge the rebels deny. Reports from the region have detailed growing cases of starvation and civilian casualties in recent days. The United Nations, which says nearly 6,500 civilians have been killed over the past three months, has sent its top humanitarian official on an emergency mission to Sri Lanka to push for a ceasefire. John Holmes met Sunday with senior government officials to underscore "the urgent need for humanitarian access by the U.N. to the combat zone," U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said. The government barred aid workers from the region when the fighting escalated in September. Holmes was to head Monday to the northern region of Vavuniya to inspect displacement camps and hospitals that have been overwhelmed by the more than 100,000 civilians who fled the war zone over the past week. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband will also visit Sri Lanka with his French and Swedish counterparts on Wednesday to try to mediate on the conflict, according to a statement from the prime minister's office in London. In response to the international truce appeals, the rebels said Sunday that all offensive military operations would "cease with immediate effect."
They asked the international community to pressure the government to halt its offensive as well, saying the "humanitarian crisis can only be overcome by the declaration of an immediate ceasefire."Both sides have declared previous ceasefires during the recent fighting, but they did little more than briefly disrupt the war's momentum because the other side continued fighting. The Tamil Tigers, listed as a terrorist group by many Western nations, as mentioned have been fighting since 1983 for an ethnic Tamil state in the north and east after decades of marginalization by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. The rebels ran a shadow state across a vast swath of the north. But a government offensive forced them out of their strongholds in recent months, cornering them into a narrow coastal strip 6 kilometers (less than 4 miles) long. New fighting erupted Sunday in the shrinking war zone, with navy patrol boats attacking a squad of rebel craft in a two-hour battle, destroying three boats and killing at least 12 insurgents, the military said. Army troops also seized the rebel-held village of Valayarmadam after gunbattles, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. In a sign rebel morale was crumbling, 23 insurgents dressed as civilians surrendered to the advancing troops, Nanayakkara said. Many rebel fighters wear glass vials filled with cyanide around their necks and are under orders to commit suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured. Last week, two prominent rebels - the group's former media spokesman, Velayutham Dayanithi, known as Daya Master, and an interpreter for its political wing, known only as George - also surrendered. Despite international concern, the offensive is wildly popular with many Sinhalese. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition won a sweeping victory Sunday in a local election seen as a referendum on the war. The government won nearly two-thirds of the vote in the Western Province poll and even secured a majority in the capital, Colombo, long a stronghold of the opposition United National Party, which advocated talks with the rebels. The governing coalition now controls all eight of the country's provincial councils. "The electorate ... clearly responded to the call of the president for a united Sri Lanka," Media Minister Anura Yapa said.
27.04.2009. Sri Lanka to stop airstrikes and artillery attacks on rebels amid pressure to protect civilians. The Sri Lankan government, under intense pressure to prevent civilian deaths, said Monday it would immediately stop airstrikes and artillery attacks but rejected calls for a ceasefire in its war against the Tamil Tiger rebels. The effect of the decision was not immediately clear. The military says it stopped using such weapons weeks ago, but a rebel official said government airstrikes continued even after the decision was announced. Reporters are barred from the war zone. The statement came a day after Sri Lanka brushed aside the rebels' call for a truce as a desperate ploy by the beleaguered insurgents to avoid certain destruction. The rebels and tens of thousands of ethnic Tamil civilians remain cornered in a small strip of land along the northeast coast. The U.N. as mentioned says nearly 6,500 civilians have been killed over the past three months, and top international diplomats, the Anarchist International and others have pressed for a humanitarian truce to allow the remaining noncombatants trapped in the area to flee. The government said in a statement Monday "that combat operations have reached their conclusion," and it instructed the military "to end the use of heavy caliber guns, combat aircraft and aerial weapons which could cause civilian casualties."
The government, which accuses the rebels of holding the civilians as human shields, said it would continue its efforts to free them, the statement said. The decision was surrounded by confusion. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the military had ceased using the weapons weeks ago to avoid endangering civilians. "We didn't use air (strikes), we didn't use (heavy) guns, we didn't use tanks. We used only small arms," he said. But rebel spokesman Seevaratnam Puleedevan told the TamilNet Web site that the military had launched two airstrikes in the small, coastal village of Mullivaikal even after the announcement and accused the government of "deceiving the international community." Government officials declined to elaborate further on the statement, but another statement posted on the Defense Ministry Web site said Sri Lanka planned to press ahead with its offensive. "Security forces are now reaching victory ... and in no form will leave a breather for the internationally banned terrorist outfit or its leaders," the statement said. Meanwhile, the top U.N. humanitarian official, John Holmes, met with Sri Lanka's foreign minister Monday to express concern for the estimated 50,000 trapped civilians amid reports of growing cases of starvation and casualties among the population. He then visited a village south of the war zone to inspect displacement camps overwhelmed by the massive influx of war refugees in recent days. Both sides have declared previous ceasefires during the recent fighting, but they did little more than briefly interrupt the war's momentum because the other side continued fighting. Early Monday, the military attacked Mullivaikal from the north, south and west, TamilNet reported. The village is in a no-fire zone the government demarcated inside rebel territory as a civilian refuge. The Web site said the area was densely populated with tens of thousands of civilians.
28.04.2009. Shelling reported in Sri Lankan war zone. Sri Lankan forces pounded rebel territory with a fierce artillery barrage Tuesday, a day after the government pledged to stop using heavy weapons to prevent civilian casualties, a rebel-linked Web site and a doctor in the region said. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara denied the accusation, saying that the Sri Lankan forces were using only small arms in the battle. The bombardment by artillery, mortar shells and multi-barrel rocket launchers started late Monday and lasted through Tuesday morning, the TamilNet Web site reported. About a dozen shells hit a makeshift hospital inside rebel territory, killing five patients and sending many others fleeing for their lives, said Dr. Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi, a government physician working in the war zone. Other civilians in the area were also killed, he said. The Anarchist International protests against the shelling.
30.04.2009. Sri Lanka president and rebels vow to fight on. Sri Lanka said Thursday it would push ahead with its offensive against the Tamil Tigers, brushing off international calls for a ceasefire aimed at protecting thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone. The rebels, facing near-certain defeat, vowed to fight on as well.
07.05.2009. Video shows Sri Lanka rebels forcing civilian help. Video footage captured from Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels showed their fighters forcing civilians to assist their war effort and depicted one insurgent in street clothes firing a heavy machine gun, the military said Thursday. The government said the footage, posted on the Defense Ministry Web site, proves that the rebels have been putting civilians in the line of fire and have shed their military uniforms so they would be mistaken for noncombatants themselves if killed. Fighting, meanwhile, continued Thursday, with soldiers capturing an earthen fortification in the shrinking rebel enclave, the military said. Troops also found the bodies of three slain Tamil Tiger fighters, the military said.
10.05.2009. 'Steep rise' in Sri Lanka deaths. At least 378 people have been killed by fierce shelling from the Sri Lankan army in the past 24 hours, a health official said. The doctor, working in the northern conflict zone, said 1,122 others had been injured - and more bodies were on beaches and by the sides of roads. The army denies shelling the designated "safe zone" for civilians, and blames any deaths on Tamil Tiger rebels. But health officials are convinced that the shells are coming from territory held by the Sri Lankan army. The pro-rebel Tamilnet website reported that the army began to fire artillery shells late on Saturday. The site said as many as 2,000 civilians had been killed. Dr V Shanmugarajah said he could not confirm that figure but said the makeshift hospital he is working in - at a school in east Mullaivaikal in Mullaitivu district - had so far taken in 378 bodies. He said 106 of those killed were children. In response to claims of civilian deaths, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said radar had detected Tamil Tigers themselves using artillery and mortar fire on two occasions on Saturday morning, directed against civilians within their zone. "These doctors are giving statements based on some of the false propaganda given by the LTTE," he said. "Maybe there is an LTTE gun pointing at them and asking them to give a statement. All these stories are exaggerated to tarnish the image of the Sri Lankan troops who are fighting the LTTE terrorists." Sri Lankan defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella also said that reports of government shelling were "propaganda" of the Tigers. He said the guerrillas were "holding people to ransom" in their area, and accused them of killing nine civilians who were trying to escape their zone on Saturday. Earlier, doctors said two hospitals were struggling to cope with the casualties, and that people were hiding in bunkers and many makeshift tents had been burnt. They added that a government nursing officer was among those killed. The UN estimates that about 50,000 civilians are trapped by the conflict in a three-km-sq strip of land.
12.05.2009. 1,000 civilians killed over the weekend. Doctor says 49 killed in Sri Lanka hospital attack. A mortar shell slammed into a crowd of wounded civilians waiting for treatment at the only medical facility left in Sri Lanka's war zone Tuesday, killing 49 people in the third day of intense shelling in the area, health officials said. The Tamil Tiger rebels blamed the government for the attack - the second deadly strike on the hospital this month - and called on the international community to push for an immediate ceasefire. Sri Lankan officials denied responsibility, saying they had ceased using artillery and mortars weeks ago. But the U.N. humanitarian chief said there was evidence the government was still using heavy weapons, despite the estimated 50,000 civilians stuck in the tiny coastal strip still under rebel control. The Red Cross said a ferry filled with aid had to turn back because of fighting. Pressing ahead with the offensive, government forces broke through a sand fortification, killed dozens of insurgents and advanced to the edge of the "safe zone" where the government had told the civilians in the war zone to gather, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The attack Tuesday on the makeshift hospital's admissions ward - little more than a tin roof and blue tarp walls - came after a weekend of artillery barrages that killed as many as 1,000 civilians, according to hospital officials.
13.05.2009. UN and the Anarchist International demand Tamil Tigers stop fighting in Sri Lanka. The U.N. Security Council demanded Wednesday that Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka stop fighting and allow tens of thousands of civilians being used as human shields to leave the war zone. It also called on the government to stop firing heavy weapons. The council press statement - which is not legally binding - expressed grave concern at the worsening humanitarian crisis in northeast Sri Lanka where the Tamil Tigers, known as the LTTE, have been pushed into a tiny coastal area by government forces. It called on the government to help trapped civilians evacuate and allow for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid. The council also urged the government to cooperate with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other international organizations in providing access to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting as soon as they leave the conflict zone. The government has so far refused to do so. Sri Lanka is not on the council's agenda because Russia and China, both veto-wielding permanent members, along with Japan and Vietnam, consider the war between the government and the Tamil Tigers an internal matter - not a threat to international peace and security. So, even a nonbinding press statement was considered a victory for Britain, France and Austria whose foreign ministers on Monday called for action by the U.N.'s most powerful body. "This is an important step forward by the Security Council," Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers said. "We have for the first time produced an official written statement by the council addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka." The statement was issued as the government offensive to destroy the reeling Tamil Tiger and thwart their 25-year quest for a separate homeland appeared to be nearing an end. Doctors and health workers said a wave of artillery bombardments across the war zone that began over the weekend has barely let up in five days, with as many as 1,000 people killed in the weekend attacks alone.
The government says its troops are not responsible for the shelling and that the military has not fired heavy weapons in the area in weeks. But Human Rights Watch says satellite images and witness testimony contradict that claim and has accused both sides of using the estimated 50,000 civilians packed into the tiny coastal strip controlled by the rebels as "cannon fodder." The Security Council expressed "grave concern" at the reports of hundreds of civilian casualties and called for "urgent action by all parties to ensure the safety of civilians." It demanded that both sides "respect their obligations under international humanitarian law," which requires the protection of civilians caught in conflicts. The statement also said council members "strongly condemn the LTTE for its acts of terrorism over many years, and for its continued use of civilians as human shields, and acknowledge the legitimate right of the government of Sri Lanka to combat terrorism." Members of the council "demand that the LTTE lay down its arms and allow the tens of thousands of civilians still in the conflict zone to leave," it said. The Security Council backed the personal involvement of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in dealing with the humanitarian crisis and urged the government to fully cooperate with the U.N. to resolve it. The council statement also looked beyond the end of the fighting to the eventual need for a solution that deals with the rights of Sri Lanka's Tamil minority. Council members underlined "the necessity to find a long term solution without the threat of violence" and stressed "that the needs of all communities in Sri Lanka have to be addressed," the statement said. The Anarchist International mostly agrees with the UN security council in this case.
15.05.2009. Sri Lankan military fights to surround rebels. Sri Lankan forces battled Friday to take complete control of the country's coastline and surround the reeling Tamil Tigers in a final push to destroy the rebel group and end the country's civil war, the military said. As the fighting raged, hundreds of desperate war refugees escaped the war zone and a top U.N. official headed here on an urgent mission to safeguard the tens of thousands of civilians still trapped amid the heavy shelling. The government has forced the rebels out of the de facto state they once controlled in the north and cornered them in a 1.5-square mile (four-square kilometer) strip of northeastern coastline. On Friday, two army units were fighting their way down the coast from the north and up from the south in an effort to link up, severing the rebels' last remaining sea outlet and completely encircling them, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The two units were only 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) apart, he said. Meanwhile, 1,800 more civilians managed to flee rebel-held territory Friday, joining more than 3,700 who waded across a lagoon to escape the day before, he said. The rebels fired on those leaving Thursday, killing four and wounding 14 others, he said. Families packed onto inner tubes floated across the water, past rows of coiled razor wire, according to photos released by the army. Mothers climbed out of the water clutching children, and elderly women carried their belongings in handbags. In one photo, dozens of people climbed out of a small speed boat. About 200,000 civilians have escaped the war zone in recent months and are being held in overwhelmed displacement camps. The rebels have denied accusations they were holding the civilians as human shields and were shooting at those trying to flee. Reports of the fighting are difficult to verify because the government has barred most journalists and aid workers from the conflict zone. International concern has grown for tens of thousands of civilians under threat from the heavy artillery bombardments shaking the war zone, and the Red Cross warned of "an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" for the hundreds of wounded trapped without treatment.
Hoping to end the bloodshed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, to Sri Lanka for a second time to try to bring the conflict to a peaceful conclusion. Nambiar is expected to meet with top government officials after he arrives Saturday and push for ways "to secure the safety of the 50,000 to 100,000 civilians remaining inside the combat zone," U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in light of the ongoing war, the United States had raised questions about Sri Lanka's application for a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that the government desperately needs. "We think that it is not an appropriate time to consider that until there is a resolution," she said in Washington. The U.N. says 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,700 wounded in the fighting from Jan. 20 until May 7, according to a U.N. document given to The Associated Press by a senior diplomat. Since then, doctors in the war zone say more than 1,000 civilians were killed in a week of heavy shelling that rights groups and foreign governments have blamed on Sri Lankan forces. Sri Lanka denies firing heavy weapons into the war zone. Health workers in the conflict zone remained in their bunkers for a second day Friday because of heavy shelling and gunfire in the area, leaving hundreds of wounded patients untreated in the area's only medical facility, according to a health official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. A Red Cross ferry attempting to deliver desperately needed food aid and evacuate the wounded had to turn back for a third day Thursday because of the violence. The Red Cross said the trapped civilians inside the war zone were taking cover in bunkers they had dug in the ground and were finding it even more difficult to get scarce drinking water and food. "We need security and unimpeded access now in order to save hundreds of lives," Pierre Krahenbuhl, the International Committee of the Red Cross' director of operations, said in a statement from Geneva.
The Anarchist International (via FF) has got the following message from USA's UN mission: "Your Concern Regarding Sri Lanka - Thank you for your email: Like you, the United States is concerned by the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka and are engaging this issue through multiple channels. Recently, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting on the topic.... We will keep you posted as the situation develops. For more information on this and other issues of international concern, visit our Web site at www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov . Thank you for your active engagement".
Sri Lanka's president vowed to end the decades-old war against the Tamil Tiger rebels within 48 hours as the military battled Friday to take complete control of the country's coastline. President Mahinda Rajapaksa said thousands of civilians still in the war zone will be quickly freed from a tiny slice of land still controlled by the guerrillas, formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. "The freedom of the Tamil civilians held hostage by the LTTE is near at hand and the rescue of all civilians in the small patch of land held by the LTTE will be done in 48 hours," Rajapaksa told migrant workers in Jordan on Thursday. As the fighting raged, hundreds of desperate war refugees escaped the conflict zone and a top U.N. official headed here on an urgent mission to safeguard the tens of thousands of civilians still trapped amid the heavy shelling. The government as mentioned has forced the rebels out of the de facto state they once controlled in the north and cornered them in a 1.5-square mile (four-square kilometer) strip of northeastern coastline. On Friday, two army units were fighting their way down the coast from the north and up from the south in an effort to link up, severing the rebels' last remaining sea outlet and completely encircling them, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The two units were only 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) apart, he said.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told The Associated Press in Jordan that Sri Lankan soldiers were probably fighting their final battle against the remaining rebel fighters. He said reports have indicated that relatives of top rebel leaders are starting to flee the war zone. The navy stopped a suspicious boat off the northeastern coast Friday and arrested the wife, son and daughter of the rebels' sea wing leader, who were among 11 people on board, Nanayakkara said. At least 1,800 more civilians managed to flee rebel-held territory Friday, joining more than 3,700 who waded across a lagoon to escape the day before, Nanayakkara said. The rebels fired on those leaving Thursday, killing four and wounding 14 others, he said. Families packed onto inner tubes floated across the water, past rows of coiled razor wire, according to photos released by the army. Mothers climbed out of the water clutching children, and elderly women carried their belongings in handbags. In one photo, dozens of people climbed out of a small speed boat. About 200,000 civilians have escaped the war zone in recent months and are being held in overwhelmed displacement camps. The rebels have denied accusations they were holding the civilians as human shields and were shooting at those trying to flee. Reports of the fighting are difficult to verify because the government has barred most journalists and aid workers from the conflict zone. International concern has grown for tens of thousands of civilians under threat from the heavy artillery bombardments shaking the war zone, and the Red Cross warned of "an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" for the hundreds of wounded trapped without treatment. Hoping to end the bloodshed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, to Sri Lanka for a second time to try to bring the conflict to a peaceful conclusion.
Nambiar is expected to meet with top government officials after he arrives Saturday and push for ways "to secure the safety of the 50,000 to 100,000 civilians remaining inside the combat zone," U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in light of the ongoing war, the United States had raised questions about Sri Lanka's application for a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that the government desperately needs. "We think that it is not an appropriate time to consider that until there is a resolution," she said in Washington. Bogollagama said however, countries should be rewarded for fighting terrorism rather than be penalized. "I think these are times where countries that are countering terrorism successfully should be rewarded. When one has to be rewarded one is denied that opportunity," he said. "I think a greater degree of understanding will prevail in Sec. Clinton and also in the IMF to look at the unfolding scenario in Sri Lanka and recognize the need for us to go forward." The U.N. says 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,700 wounded in the fighting from Jan. 20 until May 7, according to a U.N. document given to The Associated Press by a senior diplomat. Since then, doctors in the war zone say more than 1,000 civilians were killed in a week of heavy shelling that rights groups and foreign governments have blamed on Sri Lankan forces. Sri Lanka denies firing heavy weapons into the war zone. Health workers in the conflict zone remained in their bunkers for a second day Friday because of heavy shelling and gunfire in the area, leaving hundreds of wounded patients untreated in the area's only medical facility, according to a health official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. A Red Cross ferry attempting to deliver desperately needed food aid and evacuate the wounded had to turn back for a third day Thursday because of the violence. The Red Cross said the trapped civilians inside the war zone were taking cover in bunkers they had dug in the ground and were finding it even more difficult to get scarce drinking water and food. "We need security and unimpeded access now in order to save hundreds of lives," Pierre Krahenbuhl, the International Committee of the Red Cross' director of operations, said in a statement from Geneva. The Anarchist International once more a) calls on the LTTE to lay down arms, and b) supports the Tamil's demand for autonomy - but within the communist state of Sri Lanka.
16.05.2009. Sri Lanka president declares victory in civil war. The Anarchist International demands autonomy for the Tamils. Sri Lanka's president declared victory Saturday in his nation's quarter century civil war with the Tamil Tigers rebels. But the group's top leaders remained at large as troops and the cornered insurgents fought fierce battles across the war zone. A triumph on the battlefield appeared inevitable after government forces captured the last bit of coastline under rebel control early Saturday, surrounding the remaining fighters in a 1.2-square mile (3.1-square kilometer) patch of land. Thousands of civilians who had been trapped by the fighting poured across the front lines, the military said. "My government, with the total commitment of our armed forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation finally defeated the LTTE militarily," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said referring to the rebels by their formal name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. "I will be going back to a country that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of the LTTE," he said in a speech in Jordan that was distributed to the media in Sri Lanka. The rebels, who once controlled a de facto state across much of the north, have been fighting since 1983 for a separate state for minority Tamils after decades of marginalization by the Sinhalese majority. Responsible for hundreds of suicide attacks - including the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi - the Tamil Tigers have been branded terrorists by the U.S., E.U. and India and shunned internationally. The rebels also controlled a conventional army, with artillery units, a significant navy and even a tiny air force. After repeated stalemates on the battlefield, the military broke through the rebel lines last year and forced the insurgents into a broad retreat, capturing their administrative capital at Kilinochchi in January and vowing to retake control over the rest of the country.
The rebels have insisted that if they are defeated in conventional battle, they will return to their guerrilla roots. On Saturday morning, government troops sweeping in from the north and south seized control of the island's entire coastline for the first time in decades, sealing the rebels in a tiny pocket of territory and cutting off the possibility of a sea escape by the rebels' top leaders, the military said. Government forces have been hunting for the reclusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his top deputies for months, but it was unclear if they remained in rebel territory or had already fled overseas. Two senior fighters, known by their nicknames Sornam and Sasi Master, were killed in Saturday's fighting, Nanayakkara said. On Friday, the navy intercepted a boat off the northeastern coast Friday and arrested the fleeing wife, son and daughter of the rebels' naval leader, known as Soosai, Nanayakkara said. Even as Rajapaksa declared victory, the military reported that fighting continued to rage in the northeast war zone. Huge explosions could be heard across the battlefield as rebels detonated their ammunition stocks and artillery dumps, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. Reports of the fighting are difficult to verify because the government has barred most journalists and aid workers from the conflict zone. Some 11,800 civilians escaped the war zone Saturday, joining more than 200,000 others who fled in recent months and are being held in displacement camps, Nanayakkara said. Rights groups say the rebels were holding the civilians as human shields to blunt the government offensive.
The rebels denied the accusation. U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said an estimated 20,000 people had emerged from the combat zone in the past few days and were being processed by the government. "We have no access to that process. We hold grave fears for the safety of the estimated 30,000 to 80,000 people who are still inside the combat zone," he said. Weiss expressed concern for the fate of the top government health officials working in the war zone - Dr. Thurairaja Varatharajah and Dr. Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi - "who courageously kept the medical services going throughout the months of the siege of the combat zone." The pair ran a badly understaffed makeshift hospital in the war zone that was repeatedly shelled and overwhelmed with hundreds of casualties from the fighting nearly every day. The U.N. says 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,700 wounded from Jan. 20 through May 7. Since then, health officials say more than 1,000 civilians have been killed in a week of heavy shelling that rights groups and foreign governments have blamed on Sri Lankan forces. The government denied firing heavy weapons and brushed off calls for a humanitarian truce. The Anarchist International demands autonomy for the Tamils - but within the communist state of Sri Lanka.
17.05.2009. Sri Lanka rebels 'call ceasefire'. Tamil rebels holed up in a tiny enclave of northern Sri Lanka have declared a ceasefire, a rebel spokesman says. The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) had given up their fight against a major government offensive and "decided to silence our guns, to save our people ", he said. "This battle has reached its bitter end," said Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the Tigers' chief of international relations, in a statement on Tamilnet. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already claimed victory in the 26-year war. The Anarchist International declares: "The right decision, and we call for autonomy for the Tamils within the communist regime." The Tamil Tigers admitted defeat Sunday in their fierce quarter-century war for a separate homeland as government forces raced to clear the last pockets of rebel resistance from the war zone in the north. Far from the battlefield, thousands of Sri Lankans danced in the streets of Colombo, celebrating the stunning collapse of one of the world's most sophisticated insurgencies. But with rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran still at large, the threat of renewed guerrilla warfare remained. Several rebel fighters committed suicide when they were surrounded, but it wasn't clear whether Prabhakaran or other leaders were among them. The Tamil Tigers once controlled a shadow state complete with courts, police and a tax system across a wide swath of the north. By Sunday, troops had surrounded the remaining rebels in a 0.4-square-mile (1-square-kilometer) patch of land and were fighting off suicide bombs and other attacks, the military said. Huge clouds of black smoke rose over the battlefield as soldiers inspected the charred remains of rebel trucks and heavy artillery pieces, according to footage broadcast on state television. Civilians carrying backpacks and rolling suitcases were escorted from the area. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the civilians who had been trapped in the war zone - 63,000 in all - fled to safety during the past 72 hours. But rebel official Selvarasa Pathmanathan said the bodies of thousands of wounded and slain civilians lay strewn across the war zone.
Sri Lanka battles Tiger remnants. International concern including from the Anarchist International, is growing over the fate of civilians in northern Sri Lanka as fighting continues despite reports of a Tamil Tiger ceasefire. Sri Lanka's government said troops were engaged in "final brushing up" hours after a website linked to the rebels said the Tigers were laying down arms. EU ministers are expected to call on Monday for an independent inquiry into claims civilians have been targeted. Both sides say the other has killed civilians in the closed off war zone. On Sunday the Tigers chief of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, said in a statement on the Tamilnet website: "This battle has reached its bitter end." A later statement appeared to modify the rebel position, saying the LTTE was "prepared to silence its guns if that is what needed by the international community to save the life and dignity of the Tamil people".
18.05.2009. Sri Lanka says war over, rebel leader killed. Sri Lanka declared Monday it had crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels, killing their chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and ending his three-decade quest for an independent homeland for minority Tamils. State television broke into its regular programming to announce Prabhakaran's death, and the government information department sent a text message to cell phones across the country confirming he was killed along with top deputies, Soosai and Pottu Amman. The announcement sparked mass celebrations around the country, and people poured into the streets of Colombo dancing and singing. Prabhakaran's death has been seen as crucial to bringing closure to this war-wracked Indian Ocean island nation. If he had escaped, he could have used his large international smuggling network and the support of Tamil expatriates to spark a new round of guerrilla warfare here. His death in battle could still turn him into a martyr for other Tamil separatists. While Velupillai Prabhakaran was a hero to some, his group was branded a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, but not Norway, and it was accused of waging hundreds of suicide attacks, including the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by a female bomber. The rebels also forcibly recruited child soldiers. Sri Lanka's army chief, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, said on television that his troops routed the last rebels from the northern war zone Monday morning. "We can announce very responsibly that we have liberated the whole country from terrorism," he told state television. Rajapaksa confirmed Prabhakaran's death in a phone call to India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Indian foreign affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash said in a statement. Senior military officials said troops closed in on Prabhakaran and his final cadre early Monday. He and his top deputies then drove an armor-plated van accompanied by a bus filled with rebel fighters toward approaching Sri Lankan forces, sparking a two-hour firefight, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Troops eventually fired a rocket at the van, ending the battle, they said. In addition to Prabhakaran, the attack also killed Soosai, the head of the rebels' naval wing, and Pottu Amman, the group's feared intelligence commander, the officials said.
One of Prabhakaran's sons was also killed, the military said. Suren Surendiran, a spokesman for the British Tamils' Forum, the largest organization for expatriate Tamils in Britain, said the community was in despair. "The people are very somber and very saddened. But we are ever determined and resilient to continue our struggle for Eelam," he said, invoking the name of the Tamils hoped-for independent state. "We have to win the freedom and liberation of our people." But in Colombo, which had suffered countless rebel bombings, people set off fireworks, danced and sang in the streets. "Myself and most of my friends gathered here have narrowly escaped bombs set off by the Tigers. Some of our friends were not lucky," said Lal Hettige, 47, a businessman celebrating in Colombo's outdoor market. "We are happy today to see the end of that ruthless terrorist organization and its heartless leader. We can live in peace after this." The chubby, mustachioed Prabhakaran turned what was little more than a street gang in the late 1970s into one of the world's most feared insurgencies. Prabhakaran demanded unwavering loyalty and gave his followers vials of cyanide to wear around their necks and bite into in case of capture. They often used suicide bombings - a tactic pioneered by groups in Lebanon years earlier but perfected by the rebels. The rebels demanded a separate state for minority Tamils after years of marginalization at the hands of the Sinhalese majority. Full-fledged war broke out in 1983 after the rebels killed 13 soldiers in an ambush, sparking anti-Tamil riots that human rights groups say killed as many as 2,000 people.
By the time the war ended, more than 70,000 had been killed. At the height of his power, Prabhakaran controlled a shadow state in northern Sri Lankan that had its own border control, police force, tax system and law school. The rebels feted foreign diplomats at one of the many guest houses they ran in their administrative capital of Kilinochchi. He commanded a force that included an infantry, backed by artillery, a significant naval wing and a nascent air force. Prabhakaran was renowned as a master strategist, but made a series of fatal miscalculations. The assassination of Gandhi alienated his supporters in India, his stubborn line during negotiations eventually convinced the government it could never reach a peace deal and a Tamil boycott he enforced during the 2005 election ensured a victory for the hard-line Rajapaksa. The Tamil Tigers were also badly weakened when one of his top commanders defected along with thousands of fighters to the government side. Earlier in the day, the military announced it had killed several top rebel leaders, including Prabhakaran's son Charles Anthony. The military said special forces also found the bodies of the rebels' political wing leader, Balasingham Nadesan, the head of the rebels' peace secretariat, Seevaratnam Puleedevan, and one of the top military leaders, known as Ramesh. Government forces ousted the rebels from their strongholds in the north in recent months and brought the group to its knees. Thousands of civilians were reportedly killed in the recent fighting. Senior diplomats had appealed for a humanitarian cease-fire in recent weeks to safeguard the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone, but the government refused, and denied persistent reports it was shelling the densely populated war zone. Three Sri Lankan doctors - whose harrowing reports from the war zone were some of the only to reach the outside world in recent weeks - were detained on accusations they gave false information to the media, a health official said Monday. The official said the doctors were detained by the military when they fled and were later turned over to police. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The U.N. said it believed the doctors were being held as well. Sri Lanka's Tamils live mainly in the north and along the east coast. In these heartlands the Tamil Tigers set up their bases.
Three years ago they controlled a third of the country. They were determined on statehood, and after years of talks, compromises, possibilities and Norway's mediation, negotiations never really took off. It became clear the Tigers wanted it all, and the government was determined not to budge. That became even clearer with the election of President Rajapakse on an "end-talks, crush-the-Tigers" platform four years ago, a victory the Tigers supported. They intimidated moderate voters who wanted a "pro-talks, federal state" solution to the conflict. The tactic seriously backfired. Years of struggle made the Tigers dictatorial, accused of child conscription, and using civilians as human shields. The Tamil community was trapped, and seen by the Sri Lankan government as potentially dangerous. For more than the last 40 years the choice for Sri Lanka's Tamils has mostly been between armed struggle or emigration. Now with demobilization, unemployment may jump and masses of young people will search for something to do and a place in society. Is the war government ready for peace? If the answer is no, the Tamil diaspora which has swollen in the last 20 years could become an exodus. Neighbours like India, with its large Tamil population, are nervous about the implications of that possibility. Diplomats in Brussels said Monday the European Union will endorse a call for an independent war crimes investigation into the killing of civilians in Sri Lanka. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions were ongoing. The rebels were also accused of using the civilians as human shields and shooting at some who fled. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband says there have been "very grave allegations" of war crimes on both sides of the conflict adding "they should be properly investigated." The U.N. said 7,000 civilians were killed in the fighting between Jan. 20 and May 7. Health officials in the area said more than a 1,000 others were killed since then. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Sri Lanka on Friday and meet with the president, the government's Web site reported. The world body's refugee agency said Monday that 265,000 have fled the fighting in recent months. Spokesman Ron Redmond said thousands were arriving in camps short on food stocks, land, shelter and water. The U.N. was consulting with the Sri Lankan government on the refugees' humanitarian needs. The Anarchist International calls for an independent war crimes investigation into the killing of civilians in Sri Lanka, and more humanitarian aid.
19.05.2009. Sri Lanka's president declared his country "liberated from separatist terror" Tuesday as state television broadcast images of the Tamil Tiger rebel leader's body after it was recovered from the battlefield. But in his victory address to parliament, President Mahinda Rajapaksa appeared to reach out to the minority Tamils, for whom the rebels had said they were trying to carve out a homeland. He also alluded to promises to forge a power-sharing agreement with them. "Our intention was to save the Tamil people from the cruel grip of the (rebels). We all must now live as equals in this free country," he said, briefly speaking in the Tamil language. Meanwhile, TV footage showed a bloated body resembling the rebel leader, still dressed in a dark green camouflage uniform, laid out on a stretcher on the grass. A blue cloth rested on top of his head, apparently to cover a bullet wound. His open eyes stared straight up. "A few hours ago, the body of terrorist leader (Velupillai) Prabhakaran, who ruined this country, was found on the battleground," army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka told state television. Prabhakaran's body was later identified by Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, a former rebel commander known as Col. Karuna, who defected from the group and is now a government minister, the government said in a statement. Defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said they government might conduct a DNA test as well. He declined to reveal what the plans were for the disposal of the body. The death of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the unquestioned leader of the Tamil Tigers, would make it far more difficult for the rebel movement to re-form and continue its nearly three decade separatist war. Speaking before the announcement, a rebel official abroad denied Prabhakaran was killed and said the Tamil Tiger leader was in a safe place. With the war on the northern battlefields over, Rajapaksa delivered a victory address to parliament early Tuesday. Recounting how the rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, once controlled a wide swath of the north and east, Rajapaksa said that for the first time in 30 years, the country was unified under its elected government. "Our motherland has been completely liberated from separatist terrorism," he said, declaring Wednesday a national holiday.
20.05.2009. Aid groups and UN push for access to Sri Lankan war zone to evacuate remaining civilians, with support by the Anarchist International. Aid groups and the UN appealed Wednesday to be allowed to survey the aftermath of the final battle of Sri Lanka's civil war and pushed for unfettered access to some 280,000 Tamils displaced from the former combat zone. While the nation celebrated the crushing of the 25-year Tamil insurgency, the army clashed with two squads of rebel fighters in the east of the country, an area under the government's control for more than two years. The military said all eight insurgents were killed as they were preparing ambushes. Soldiers manning checkpoints in the capital remained vigilant; the government feared sleeper cells might seek revenge for the death of rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the battlefield defeat in the north, where he had ruled a breakaway ministate until early this year. Pressure mounted on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to open areas that have been off limits to independent journalists and aid workers for months, amid reports that thousands of civilians were killed in the crossfire between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels in the final weeks of the war. Since last weekend, aid trucks have been restricted from the largest camp, bringing the distribution of supplies there to "a temporary standstill," said Monica Zanarelli, the deputy head of operations for South Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Until then, the Red Cross had delivered water, food, personal hygiene kits, baby-care parcels, emergency household items and kitchen utensils to the camp, known as Menik Farm, which housed more than 130,000 refugees, she said on the Red Cross Web site."There are several issues that need urgent attention, including overcrowding and the limited services available at the camps," according to U.N. refugee agency spokesman Ron Redmond. "Civilians coming out of the conflict zone are sick, hungry and suffering from acute malnourishment and dehydration," he said in Geneva. Rishard Badurdeen, the minister for resettlement, said foreign access to the camps was restricted because fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - as the rebel group is formally known - were hiding among the refugees. "There are some 3,000 LTTE cadres in the camp and we haven't finished screening," Badurdeen said. He said trucks bringing supplies were allowed into the camps and dismissed allegations that aid workers had been required to carry in aid by hand. Zanarelli also said Red Cross officials had visited and registered more than 1,800 rebels who had surrendered. It was the first word on how many fighters had turned themselves over to the military. When inducted, rebels fighters vow never to be taken alive and are given cyanide capsules to be swallowed in the event of capture. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pressed for U.N. access to the war zone when he met Sri Lanka's health minister in Geneva on Tuesday, U.N. spokeswoman Elena Ponomareva said. The world body has no information on any injured civilians still in that area, but the U.N. or Red Cross should be granted access "to evacuate any who remain," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s humanitarian operations, said Wednesday. The Red Cross also appealed for permission to aid anyone left on the battlefield, said Paul Castella, the head of the Sri Lanka office of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said troops had evacuated more than 60,000 civilians caught in the fighting and that no wounded remained behind. "There are no civilians still in that area," Nanayakkara said.
Ban said in a statement that the situation in Sri Lanka was of "grave and growing concern." "A good start would be to provide the U.N. and its partners with full, unconditional access to all civilians," said Ban, who has asked to see the camps when he visits Sri Lanka on Friday. The U.N. has said at least 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,000 wounded in the recent fighting. Redmond said an estimated 80,000 people had left the former war zone in the last three days, bringing the number of displaced civilians to more than 280,000. About 230,000 were in 41 displacement camps, while another 50,000 were still being screened and registered, he said. The rebels fought for more than a quarter century for a separate Tamil state in the north and east. According to U.N. estimates, the conflict killed between 80,000 and 100,000 people, Byrs said. Nineteen local Red Cross workers who had taken part in earlier evacuations and medical emergencies were missing, along with their families, Castella said . "We don't know where they are and, as you can imagine, we are extremely worried." In the capital, Sri Lankans commemorated the victory with a national holiday. People cooked pots of milk rice - a traditional treat - and handed it out to passers-by on the streets. "I feel a great relief after hearing of Prabhakaran's death" said Nimal Seneviratne, 42, a port worker, who makes a two-hour daily train commute from his home in Kandy. "Traveling in the train used to be a matter of life and death. A bomb might have gone off at any moment. Now that fear is gone with that murderer's death." The mood was somber in Colombo's Tamil neighborhoods, where most people stayed indoors. "It is natural for people to celebrate when their wishes come true. But some behave in a way to hurt the Tamils," said Suresh Kumar, a 36-year-old Tamil shopkeeper. "Their thinking seems to be, 'All Tamils are terrorists and we have defeated you,' and this will only increase hatred." Newspapers splashed photographs of a mustachioed body in military fatigues that the government said was Prabhakaran, who created one of the most feared guerrilla movements in modern history and refined suicide bombing as a weapon of war. The body and face appeared unmarked, with just a handkerchief covering the apparently fatal wound at the top of his head. The images cast doubt on the original reports that he had been killed by a rocket while trying to flee in an armored vehicle along with other rebel leaders.
21.05.2009. Sri Lanka vows to resettle most Tamils this year. The sooner the better, the Anarchist International declares: Close the communist Gulag consentration camps! Sri Lanka said Thursday it planned to return most of the nearly 300,000 civilians displaced by civil war to their homes this year as the president called on the country to be magnanimous in victory. The fate of the ethnic Tamil civilians in the overcrowded, fenced-in camps has caused great concern among the minority community. Aid groups say their access to the camps has been greatly restricted, and human rights groups accuse Tamil militias of abducting children there. Two top Indian officials met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to express their concerns about the humanitarian situation. In a joint statement, both governments said they had agreed on the urgent need to resettle the civilians in their villages in the north as soon as possible. "The government of Sri Lanka indicated that it was their intention to dismantle the relief camps at the earliest and outlined a 180 day plan to resettle the bulk of (displaced) to their original places of habitation," said the statement from the president's meeting with India's Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan. India promised help with de-mining the former war zone and rebuilding homes and infrastructure, said the joint statement. An estimated 280,000 civilians were displaced in the recent government offensive that routed the Tamil Tiger rebels on the battlefields of the north and quashed their more than quarter-century war for a separate state. The U.N. estimates at least 7,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final offensive this year and between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed throughout the war.
22.05.2009. UN chief to press for Sri Lanka reconciliation, supported by the Anarchist International. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon appealed to a triumphant Sri Lanka on Friday to seize its moment of victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels to resolve long-standing grievances of the Tamil minority. The world body head also said he would seek permission for more international aid to enter camps where about 280,000 desperate war refugees are sheltered. Ban's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, said Ban will discuss the reconciliation process the government should begin with the Tamils, who are 18 percent of the population and who complain of systematic discrimination and harassment by the Sinhalese majority.
23.05.2009. UN chief visits Sri Lankan war refugees. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited a displacement camp packed with Tamil civilians and flew over the former battlefield Saturday as he appealed to Sri Lanka's triumphant government to "heal the wounds" after three decades of civil war. Nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians were displaced in the final months of fighting and sent to dozens of government-run camps in the north. Ban toured a section of the massive Manik Farm camp, went into people's tents to see their living conditions, spoke to displaced people and met with wounded in a hospital. "The situation, which I have seen for myself, is very, very difficult. It's a real challenge," Ban said. "There is clearly a limitation. The United Nations should try to fill this gap." Ban called on the government to give aid groups unfettered access to the camps and welcomed Rajapaksa's promise to resettle the bulk of the displaced by the end of the year. Aid groups and the Anarchist International have appealed to the government to allow the displaced more freedom, but military officials say it is too dangerous to let them out because rebels could be hiding among the civilians. The U.N. chief's impressions will be of concern to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has planned a special session on Sri Lanka on Monday at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. "I'll convey the concerns and aspirations and expectations of the international community to Sri Lankan leadership," Ban said. "Wherever there are serious violations of human rights as well as international humanitarian law, proper investigation should be instituted."
24.05.2009. Sri Lankan president rejects UN chief's and AI's appeal for full access to camps for war-displaced. Sri Lanka's president on Sunday rejected a call by the U.N. secretary-general and others to lift restrictions on aid delivery to overcrowded displacement camps, saying the army must first finish screening the hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's statement came in response to an appeal by Ban Ki-moon during a 24-hour visit to Sri Lanka for unfettered access for aid agencies to the camps, where nearly 300,000 Tamils were herded during the final stages of the war against Tamil Tiger rebels. Ban's hurried visit was intended to press the government to ease what aid agencies described as a humanitarian crisis in the camps, with inadequate food supplies and reports of epidemics because of improper sanitation. But Rajapaksa said security had to be assured "in view of the likely presence of LTTE infiltrators" among the refugees. "As conditions improved, especially with regard to security, there would be no objections to such assistance, from organizations that were genuinely interested in the well being" of the displaced Tamils, he said. The wording appeared to reflect widespread mistrust among many Sri Lankans who believe some humanitarian agencies have a pro-Tamil political agenda. The bluntness of the president's statement contrasted with the milder tone of a joint communique with Ban, released almost simultaneously.
Defeated Tamil Tiger rebels confirm death of leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in final battle. The defeated Tamil Tiger rebels confirmed Sunday that their supreme leader was killed in the group's final battle against Sri Lankan troops. The almost mythic commander, Velupillai Prabhakaran, led a terror-driven Tamil insurrection in Sri Lanka for more than a quarter century. Last week the government declared it finally killed Prabhakaran and proclaimed victory against his Tamil Tigers, crushing the rebellion that the U.N. estimates cost between 80,000 to 100,000 lives. But many Tamils didn't believe it. For some die-hard followers, especially those living abroad, it hardly matters whether the legendary guerrilla is alive or dead, as long as there is a continuing story line of an independent Tamil state in part of this Sinhalese-dominated island. Meanwhile, the government said it believes Prabhakaran's deputy and feared intelligence chief was also among the dead but his body has not been identified.
25.05.2009. Sri Lanka to hold local elections in north. Sri Lanka announced Monday it would hold elections for two key town councils in the war-torn north, a week after government forces crushed the separatist Tamil Tigers who ran a de facto state across the region. In the wake of its victory, the government said it would hold elections across the area as soon as possible. Local Government Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon said the government would start with elections to the Jaffna and Vavuniya town councils. Both those areas lay just outside the de facto state the rebels had controlled in the north. Jaffna is considered the cultural center of the ethnic Tamil minority on whose behalf the Tamil Tigers fought a quarter-century civil war. Tennakoon said these would be the first local elections in the area since 1998 and called them "the first step toward ensuring the democratic rights of the people in the north." The elections commission will soon announce the date of the poll. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said he now intends to negotiate a political compromise to address the Tamils' grievances. The recent war victories have boosted the popularity of Rajapaksa's de facto communist coalition - the United People's Freedom Alliance - which has swept recent elections for provincial assemblies.
Sri Lanka's defence secretary has rejected the Tamil Tigers' offer to enter a democratic process after their military defeat by government forces. In an interview with the BBC, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said the LTTE rebels could not be trusted to give up "terrorism". "I do not believe the LTTE can enter a democratic process after years of their violent activities," Mr Rajapaksa said. The rebels had said they would give up violence after their leader was killed in recent fighting in the north-east. "I am not interested in LTTE at all," the defence secretary - the most senior civilian official in charge of the war against the Tamil Tigers - told the BBC in a wide-ranging telephone interview. He said there were "enough democratic Tamil political parties in the country" to represent the Tamil minority. On Sunday, speaking to the BBC's Tamil service, senior rebel spokesman Selvarasa Pathmanathan said they would now use non-violent methods to fight for the rights of the Tamils and had agreed to enter a democratic process to achieve their aims.Mr Rajapaksa also said the work of government forces was not yet over as they had to recover weapons hidden by the LTTE in the northern and eastern regions. "Some people think that the army's task is over... it is not. The entire area has to be de-mined and then we have to look for any remnants of the LTTE hiding in the jungles," Mr Rajapaksa said. He has also appealed to Western nations to dismantle the LTTE's overseas network and hand over their local leaders, who he said were trying to purchase arms and ammunition for the group. On reports of intrusive checks against Tamils in the capital Colombo in recent weeks, Mr Rajapaksa said the Tamil community was not being singled out. He said everyone - including government officials and politicians - was being stopped at checkpoints for security reasons. "It is not our aim to continue with these security procedures. These checks will be eased once normality gradually returns to the country," he said. The Tigers' defeat has almost brought to an end their 26-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland. Most of the senior leadership of the Tamil Tigers is thought to have been killed in fighting with government forces in recent weeks. About 280,000 Sri Lankan civilians have been displaced, posing a huge problem for the government and the international aid agencies. Only a few days ago, visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had called for a process of national reconciliation that would fully address the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
29.05.2009. More than 20,000 civilians were killed in the final months of Sri Lanka's civil war -- nearly three times previous estimates, The Times newspaper in Britain reported Friday. The Times said it had acquired confidential U.N. documents that record nearly 7,000 civilian deaths in the no-fire zone up to the end of April. The toll then surged, the paper quoted unidentified U.N. sources as saying, with an average of 1,000 civilians killed each day until May 19, when the government declared victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels. That means the final death toll is more than 20,000, The Times said. "Higher," a U.N. source told the paper. "Keep going." The United Nations has previously said 7,000 civilians were killed in fighting between January and May. A top Sri Lankan official called the 20,000 figure unfounded. Gordon Weiss, a U.N. spokesman in Sri Lanka, told CNN that a large number of civilians were killed -- though he did not confirm the 20,000 figure. "Up until a certain point, we had very good evidence to show that there were about 7,000 people that were killed," he said. "Then the intense battle kicked in and there were many more deaths, but we didn't know exactly how many. "Things went really bad" after the battle began, Weiss said. 31.05.2009.
Sri Lanka has dismissed calls for an independent inquiry into claims of human rights abuses by the military, saying its own courts will investigate. Foreign minister Rohita Bogollagama said the claims that heavy weaponry was used in civilian areas during the war with Tamil rebels were "fictional". He said the claims were being used to boost accusations of genocide against the country's Tamil minority. Aid agencies, the Anarchist International and the United Nations have called for an inquiry. The exact number of civilians killed in the final weeks of the long-running war has not been established, but one report as mentioned put it as high as 20,000. The UN's senior humanitarian affairs co-ordinator, John Holmes, said that while the estimates had no "justification," the claims were serious and needed to be investigated. Human rights group Amnesty International also called on the UN to investigate. The Anarchist International once more calls for an independent inquiry, to find out whether a genocide happened or not.
03.06.2009. Sri Lanka president calls for outreach to Tamils, the Anarchist International calls for quick implementation of the outreach. Sri Lanka's president urged the military on Wednesday to win over the Tamil people and to ensure they live without "fear or suspicion" in the wake of the army's victory over Tamil separatist rebels. President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressed a military parade and victory ceremony that commemorated the government's defeat of the Tamil Tiger separatists last month after more than a quarter-century of conflict. The government has held a succession of celebrations over the past two weeks, to the delight of the majority Sinhalese community. But many Tamils fear even harsher security crackdowns and worry their appeals for a greater voice in the government will now be brushed aside. Speaking in the Tamil language, Rajapaksa reached out to the minority group, saying the war was fought against the rebels, not against Tamils. "Beloved soldiers now the war against the terrorists is over, you must now win over the hearts of our Tamil people," he said. "You must protect the Tamil-speaking people, and they must live without fear and suspicion. That is the responsibility of all of us." The U.N. estimates tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were killed or wounded in the last months of fighting, and nearly 300,000 are being held in overcrowded displacement camps in the north. Rajapaksa's speech was followed by a two-hour parade that included tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces. Naval craft skimmed the waters off the coast, jets flew overhead and paratroopers jumped out of planes. The rebels had been fighting for a separate state for Tamils in the north and east after decades of marginalization by Sinhalese-dominated government. Rajapaksa has promised to give greater power to the minority in the wake of the military victory. On Wednesday, he called for rapid development of the north, which was long controlled by the rebels.
06.06.2009. UN chief and AI urge war crimes probe in Sri Lanka. The U.N. chief lent credence Friday to the possibility of war crimes in Sri Lanka, saying an international investigation is needed to examine the military actions of the government and defeated Tamil Tiger rebels during the civil war. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at a closed-door briefing for Security Council members, called for a credible inquiry to be undertaken with international backing and full support from Sri Lanka's government. The Anarchist International supports the UN's call for an international, independent war cimes inquiry.
11.06.2009. Amnesty and AI say Sri Lanka fails to probe war abuses. The Sri Lankan government never seriously investigated reports of human rights abuses during 25 years of civil war and needs to rapidly overhaul its justice system to bring peace to the country, Amnesty International and the Anarchist International said Thursday. In a report Amnesty called for the establishment of an international commission to investigate those allegations because past government probes into abuses have gone nowhere.15.06.2009. Erik Solheim is talking on BBC Hardtalk a.o.t. about the situation in Sri Lanka, click on http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/8100549.stm .
17.06.2009. Sri Lanka rebels try to rise again after defeat. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels are trying to rise from the ashes of their devastating battlefield defeat, swearing off violence and pledging to transform their internationally shunned terror group into a democratic movement for Tamil statehood. Their rebranding effort faces long odds. The Tamil Tigers' self-proclaimed new leader is a wanted arms smuggler, the group has no presence inside Sri Lanka and the government has brushed off the remaining rebels as irrelevant. It's not even clear if anyone is really in charge of the tattered and demoralized group. "There is no LTTE now, because we have totally destroyed their capabilities and their hierarchy," Media Minister Anura Yapa said, referring to the rebels by an acronym of their formal name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The rebels once controlled a shadow state across northern Sri Lanka backed by thousands of guerrilla fighters, a navy and even a nascent air force. They were crushed by government forces last month after a quarter century of civil war. In the final days of the battle, the military killed much of the Tamil Tigers' leadership, including Velupillai Prabhakaran, the unquestioned ruler of the group. His dispatch of hundreds of suicide attackers - whose victims ranged from former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to commuters in a train station - landed the group on terror lists around the world. Now, nearly 300,000 ethnic Tamil civilians from the rebels' former stronghold are being held in displacement camps in the north as security forces sweep through the rest of the country searching for remaining sleeper cells. But the rebels also maintained a vast international support network among the estimated 800,000 Tamil expatriates living in Canada, Australia, Britain and other countries. In the wake of Prabhakaran's death, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the group's chief of international relations, has seized the leadership mantle and immediately begun trying to recreate the Tamil Tigers' image. He acknowledged the rebels could no longer hope to achieve their dream of a separate state for minority Tamils - known as Eelam - on the battlefield and renounced violence.
He promised the group would reorganize itself based on democratic principles - a major change from Prabhakaran's almost cult-like leadership style. And he announced the creation of a committee to set up a "provisional transnational government" for the proposed Tamil state. "The struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam for their right to self-rule has reached a new stage," he said in a statement Monday. "It is time now for us to move forward with our political vision towards our freedom, bearing in mind the practical realities in our homeland." Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, a former rebel legal adviser appointed to head the committee, said he planned to register Tamils abroad to vote for a constitutional assembly. The committee would also reach out to foreign governments and create a platform for negotiations with Sri Lanka. But Pathmanathan may not be the ideal person to transform the Tamil Tigers into an internationally respected liberation movement. Known as "KP," he ran the group's vast international weapons smuggling ring and remains a wanted man internationally. The government has appealed to foreign governments in recent days to find and arrest him. "I don't know where he is, but basically we are asking his extradition from whatever country (he is in)," Yapa said. There are also signs that the Tamil Diaspora is divided over whom to support. The TamilNet Web site, seen as a mouthpiece for the rebels, has refused to carry statements from Pathmanathan and there have been reports that many Tamils are furious with him for quickly acknowledging Prabhakaran's death while others refused to believe the rebel chief had been killed. Pathmanathan's efforts to transform a violent rebel group based in the jungles of northern Sri Lanka into a peaceful government-in-exile will be "extremely difficult, if not impossible," said Indian journalist M.R. Narayan Swamy, who has written books on the rebel group and Prabhakaran. Western governments are not likely to lift their bans on the group, Sri Lanka has no incentive to entertain its demands and Tamils abroad may no longer be willing to give money to the remnants of the defeated and discredited rebels, he said. "As far as I'm concerned, the LTTE does not even exist," he said 18.06.2009.
Rights groups and the Anarchist International want probe into Sri Lanka war abuses. Human rights groups called Thursday for an international investigation into wartime abuses in Sri Lanka, saying the government lacks the political will to investigate the incidents on its own. Rights groups accused the government of firing heavy weapons into civilian areas in the final months of the island nation's quarter-century civil war, which ended last month. The Tamil Tigers were accused of holding the civilians as human shields and shooting those who tried to flee. Both sides denied the allegations. The Tamil Tigers' intelligence wing confirmed Thursday that rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was among those killed in the fighting, ending an apparent rift with other rebel officials who announced Prabhakaran's death last month."We confirm emphatically that the national leader did not surrender and was not arrested, but fought attaining martyrdom," Kathirkamathamby Arivazhakan, a top rebel intelligence official, said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. Security forces continue to sweep the country for rebel sleeper cells, and police said they killed three rebels who attacked a group of officers trying to search a car in the northern Vavuniya district Thursday. After declaring victory last month, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the government would look into abuse claims itself, but Human Rights Watch said Sri Lanka's decision to shut down a presidential inquiry into earlier abuses proved it had little intention of pursuing justice. That commission was investigating 16 cases, including the killing of 17 aid workers in eastern Sri Lanka in 2006. Though it had only completed seven of the cases, its mandate expired Sunday and was not renewed. "The decision to disband the presidential commission shows that President Rajapaksa has little intention of fulfilling his promise to Secretary-General Ban," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at the New York-based rights group. "It's now up to concerned governments to step in and ensure that justice is done for the victims of abuses in Sri Lanka's long war." The group said that despite tens of thousands of cases of rights violations, including enforced disappearances and unlawful killings, there have only been a small number of prosecutions. Government spokesmen did not respond to calls for comment. Officials have previously brushed off calls for an international inquiry as a violation of Sri Lanka's sovereignty. Amnesty International, which also called for an international investigation, demanded that the defunct presidential commission's reports be made public.
"Families of the victims and survivors need answers," said Yolanda Foster, the London-based group's Sri Lanka expert. "These people still have not received any justice from the Sri Lankan government, either through the judicial system or through this presidential investigation." Meanwhile, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 11 Sri Lankan reporters were forced to flee the country in the past year amid a government crackdown on dissent. A total of 39 journalists across the globe were forced from their countries, but Sri Lanka had by far the highest number of fleeing reporters, the report said. "Sri Lanka is losing its best journalists to unchecked violence and the resulting conditions of fear and intimidation that are driving writers and editors from their homes," said Joel Simon, the media rights group's executive director. "This is a sad reality in countries throughout the world, where governments allow attacks on the press to go unpunished."
27.07.2009. US concerned over Sri Lankan camps. The United States on Monday expressed concern over hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans displaced by war who are currently confined to military-run camps and pledged funds to help their resettlement. Eric P. Schwartz, the U.S assistant secretary of state for refugees, on Monday announced $8 million to help hasten the resettlement and recovery process of some 280,000 people living in camps. The displaced are ethnic Tamils who fled their homes at the height of a civil war between government forces and Tamil Tiger separatists, which ended in May after 25 years. Schwartz spoke to reporters after visiting one of the camps, Manik Farm, in Vavuniya district in the north of the island nation. He said the U.S was "deeply concerned about a range of issues where further progress is essential." "In particular the vast majority of displaced persons remain confined to camps," he said. "Moreover there remain burdensome limitations on access to those camps for those international humanitarian organizations and others who are in a position to ameliorate the conditions faced by these victims of conflict," he said. Schwartz said, however, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other top officials have assured him of "significant and substantial returns" of displaced people to their homes over the next month. Foreign diplomats and aid workers fear that the camps are actually internment camps where the displaced people are being held indefinitely. Schwartz said he raised the issue with government officials who insisted that camps were only temporary. He said the government also invited him back to observe the process of return and recovery. He said he hoped to do so. AI repeats: Close the communist Gulag consentration camps!
07.08.2009. Arrest of new leader a major blow to Sri Lankan rebels. The arrest of the Tamil Tigers' new leader has dealt a major blow to the rebels' efforts to regroup and push on with their separatist struggle after being routed by Sri Lankan forces, the government said Friday. It was also a major public relations coup for President Mahinda Rajapaksa ahead of elections Saturday in two northern towns that he billed as the first seeds of democracy along the former war zone. Sri Lankan authorities on Friday were questioning Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the former chief arms smuggler for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and its new chief, after he was arrested in Southeast Asia and flown to Sri Lanka. Soon after the rebels' defeat, Pathmanathan declared himself their new leader, swore off violence and worked to transform a group shunned internationally as a terror organization into a democratic movement for Tamil statehood. However, some Tamil expatriates were furious with him for swiftly acknowledging Prabhakaran's death in the final battle. Suren Surenthiran, a senior member of the British Tamils' Forum, said the separatist movement had survived the loss of many leaders over the decades and would push on. "The struggle will continue until our aspirations are met," he said.
08.08.2009. Local election. Sri Lanka's ruling coalition and an ethnic Tamil party seen as a front for the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels have won the first postwar elections, held near the island's former battlefields. According to state television, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling coalition has captured Jaffna town council, securing 13 of the 23 seats, while the pro-rebel Tamil National Alliance came second with eight seats in the election held Saturday. The pro-rebel party won the Vavuniya town council, taking five of the 11 seats, while the ruling party won two seats. The victory in Jaffna, the heartland of the country's ethnic minority Tamils and birthplace of militancy, will give the government a chance to claim it as an endorsement of its handling of ethnic relations, postwar rehabilitation and a rejection of separatism. However, the results do not fully reflect public opinion in these war-battered regions, with more than 77 percent of the Jaffna voters staying away and only half of the Vavuniya voters casting their ballots. "We have undergone a lot of hardship but we have no solutions to our problems. So we are in no mood to vote. It's not going to make any difference," said G. Selvam, a 52-year-old Jaffna resident, explaining why he stayed away from the polls.
19.11.2009. UN confirms Tamil camps exodus. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes has confirmed that more than half the Tamils who were in refugee camps in northern Sri Lanka have now left them. The camps were set up to house Tamils who fled the final stages of a 25-year civil war between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May. Mr Holmes, who has just visited the area, said fewer than 135,000 out of 300,000 people were still in the camps. The government had been under pressure to speed up their resettlement, from anarchists and others. Mr Holmes said it was clear those who had been able to go home were glad to be going back to their villages. "I welcome very much the recent paces of releases and returns of internally displaced people from the camps. It's very good to see that the number of people in the Menik Farm camp, the main camp, is now just under half what it was at its peak," he said. "That process of releases and returns is continuing andů that's extremely welcome."
Lack of consultation. He expressed the hope that the issue of freedom of movement for those remaining in the camps would be tackled soon - and said the Sri Lankan government had indicated some flexibility on this. And he still had concerns about the nature of the returns process; there had been some lack of consultation with the Tamils themselves, and with the UN. Mr Holmes said the safety of returnees, and their access to basic services, had to be ensured. "The places I saw have got those basic services," he said, although he added that areas people were returning to needed to be "properly de-mined and certified as de-mined". Mr Holmes admitted it would be years before normality returned to northern Sri Lanka. He said he was shocked at the number of ruined buildings. "[People] face major problems in terms of shelter. Most of the houses I think which people have left, they find in ruins when they return so there are big issues there," he said. Mr Holmes' trip has taken in the areas most scarred by the conflict and its aftermath - including the displacement camps near Vavuniya, and Jaffna, once held by the Tamil Tiger rebels. The rebels started fighting in the 1970s for a separate state in Sri Lanka's north and east, arguing that Tamils had been discriminated against by successive majority Sinhalese governments. Resettlement from the camps has been so rapid that the Tamil National Alliance, a pro-Tiger party, has accused the government of abandoning people without proper infrastructure. Schools and other facilities in Vavuniya town are now reported to be overcrowded. Overall this was an upbeat assessment from John Holmes after what has been a difficult year in UN-Sri Lankan relations.
01.12.1009. Sri Lanka opens up the communist Gulag war refugee camps. Sri Lanka gave permission Tuesday to nearly 127,000 Tamil refugees to leave squalid and overrun government camps where they have been detained since the country's civil war ended six months ago, an official said. Some 300,000 war refugees were forced into the camps after fleeing the war zone in the final months of the government's decades-long fight with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May. The ethnic-minority Tamils were held against their will, surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers. The government maintained that the Tamils had to be screened for rebel ties and that land mines had to be removed from their villages before they could return. Rights groups and anarchists have called the detention an illegal form of collective punishment for the ethnic group. More than half were released in recent months amid pressure from rights groups, anarchists and foreign governments, and the remaining 127,000 could apply to leave starting Tuesday under a plan announced by the government last month.
After registering with camp officials, the refugees are free to leave, although those whose villages have yet to be cleared of mines will not be allowed to resettle, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The camps will be closed completely by Jan. 31. The registration process is quick: Nanayakkara said refugees need only inform camp officials where they intend to go and how long they want to stay. Nanayakkara said nearly 7,200 people so far sought permission to leave, many of whom were headed to find family members after being separated for months by the fighting. Authorities say de-mining work has been stepped up so refugees can be sent to their home villages. Sri Lanka pledged in September to the United Nations that all civilians would be sent home by the end of January. The U.N. and anarchists have welcomed the government's decision to close the camp, but are waiting to find out how the registration process for departing detainees works. Government troops routed the Tamil Tigers in May, ending their 25-year fight for an independent homeland for the country's minority Tamils. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed in the violence.
19.01.2010. War refugees struggle to rebuild in Sri Lanka. The vast rice fields of Kilinochchi are overgrown with shrubs. The herds of cattle and goats have disappeared. The tractors and motorcycles are gone. Buildings and homes have been bombed into heaps of concrete rubble. War refugees have found little left of their old lives as they trickle back to their villages in the former Tamil Tiger stronghold eight months after Sri Lankan forces crushed the rebel group. The government says the returnees are getting food rations and money to help them out, but conceded it was not enough. "You should understand that this is a poor country, you will not be able to give everything at one go," said Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, the military official in charge of the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians displaced by the fighting.
For more than a quarter-century, this Indian Ocean island nation was consumed by the conflict between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the ethnic Tamil separatists who were fighting for an independent state in the jungles of the north. The rebels controlled a vast swath of the area, set up a de facto state with police, courts and banks, and used Kilinochchi as their administrative capital. The economy of the rebel-held region had long been stifled by the war, with a government blockade keeping out everything from gasoline to cement. But agriculture thrived and some entrepreneurs managed to run shops and small industries producing soap and cologne. All that disappeared last January when government forces overran the area, sending the insurgents and the residents fleeing deeper into rebel territory. Some civilians managed to grab their valuables and drive off with their motorbikes, but were eventually forced to abandon everything as the offensive swept over them.
Those with money in rebel banks saw their savings instantly disappear. According to U.N. documents, more than 7,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the fighting. About 300,000 Tamils were forced into government Gulag detention camps, awaiting government permission to return to their homes. Kilinochchi today looks like a garrison town with dozens of military camps, large and small, and soldiers patrolling the streets. Rebel monuments have been replaced by army war memorials. No building is without damage and the streets are nearly empty, because only 8,000 of the district's estimated 120,000 pre-war residents have returned.
About 70 percent of people in camps have gone home or live with relatives and friends. Some others live in transit camps, cleaning up their land before moving back. The returnees receive a resettlement package of $250 from the United Nations refugee agency, six months of food rations, 12 tin roof sheets and a tent. In the village of Karaichchi, soldiers have also built mud and thatch huts as temporary shelters to protect returning families from the rain and helped clean up land and wells. Returnees say the resettlement package is not enough for them to make the needed investments in cleaning up and replanting their farms or restarting businesses. "The government doesn't have a roadmap as far as resettlement is concerned," said Suresh Premachandran, an ethnic Tamil lawmaker. He accused the government of taking over private property for military camps and continuing to block international aid groups from helping the people.
The government is not willing to compromise on security so soon after defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The government says they have to prevent the remnants of the LTTE or germs of terrorism filtering back to the villages. But the government is also trying to help the residents, lending them its own tractors to plow the fields, and it plans to distribute rice seed as well.
UNHCR spokeswoman Sulakshani Perera said the U.N. was distributing food rations and hygiene kits in resettled villages. "The need to develop livelihoods remains a key issue that must be tackled in order to ensure that the returns are durable," she said. Some of the returning refugees are working to make the most of their situation. Ramasamy Kanthasamy, a 50-year-old father of three, once ran a restaurant along the roadside and owned more than 600 goats, cows and sheep, which he was forced to abandon. Their loss cost him around $40,000, an unimaginable fortune here, he said.
He now sells cookies, tea and cigarettes he bought with his government grant out of a hut he built out of his tin and plastic sheets on the site of his former restaurant.
"We have lost everything, but I know how to do business," he said. "With some help I can rise."
22.01.2010. Attacks mar Sri Lanka's first poll since war's end. Assailants attacked the house of an opposition activist in Sri Lanka's capital amid fears that election-related violence could mar the country's first poll since the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels after decades of war. On Friday, the main opposition group blamed incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa's supporters for the Thursday attack on the house of Tiran Alles, a businessman and a close aide to the main opposition presidential candidate, former army chief Sarath Fonseka. No one was injured in the attack, but Alles' car was destroyed and home damaged. The government denied it was involved, saying the attack was aimed at disrupting and discrediting this Tuesday's vote, in which Rajapaksa and Fonseka are locked in a bitter and close race.
Both men are at the height of their popularity for their role in crushing the Tamil Tigers in May and ending the rebel's 25-year armed campaign for an independent state for the ethnic Tamil minority. Some 80,000-100,000 people were killed in the conflict. The rise in the number of election-related incidents has already prompted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to call on all sides to refrain from violence. U.S. Embassy and the country's influential Buddhist monks have also called for restraint. Five murders and 78 assaults have occurred during the two-month campaign period, according to the independent Center for Monitoring Election Violence. The number of attacks is higher compared to those recorded during the 1999 election, the center said in a statement.
Last week a bus carrying Fonseka's supporters was sprayed with gunfire by unidentified assailants, killing a woman and wounding nine others. A grenade blast at the house of a government minister killed his driver in another incident. Rights groups have accused the government of using state resources to secure Rajapaksa's re-election. Reporters Without Borders said Thursday that Fonseka is getting almost no air time on state media. It also accused the telecommunications regulator of ordering mobile phone operators to issue text messages on behalf of the president. A spokesman for Rajapaksa said the group's allegations went beyond its mandate and was not worth responding to. Typical marxist-communist ochlarchy, AI declares.
08.02.2010. Sri Lankan opposition leader arrested for sedition. Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate was hauled from his office by military police Monday and will be court-martialed for allegedly planning to overthrow the government while serving as the head of the army. Sarath Fonseka, who as the top general helped defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels, was forcibly detained after objecting to his arrest, opposition politician Rauff Hakeem said. Fonseka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa were once strong allies who combined to end the country's 25-year civil war last May. But they subsequently fell out, and Fonseka quit his post. They contested a bitter election last month for the presidency that Rajapaksa won by 17 percentage points, according to official results. Even as those votes were counted on Jan. 26, hundreds of government troops surrounded a Colombo hotel where Fonseka and other opposition leaders had gathered to await the results. He was later allowed to leave the building, but the show of force foreshadowed Monday's arrest.
Officials have repeatedly accused Fonseka of plotting to kill Rajapaksa and overthrow the government with the help of army deserters and former military officers since the election. Fonseka has called the allegations fabricated and vowed to push on with his political career. A number of serving officers, which the government said were considered to be a threat to national security, have been fired. Now, government minister Keheliya Rambukwella says Fonseka will be tried in a military court on charges of conspiring against the president and planning a coup while army chief. "When he was the army commander and chief of defense staff and member of the security council, he had direct contact with opposition political parties, which under the military law can amount to conspiracy," Rambukwella said. "He's been plotting against the president while in the military ... with the idea of overthrowing the government," he added.
Mano Ganeshan, an opposition lawmaker, said Fonseka was "arrested and forcibly carried away" while having a discussion with a group of political allies. Hakeem said Fonseka objected to being arrested by military police instead of civilian officers, since he was no longer in the military. The officers dragged Fonseka and his secretary by their hands and legs into their vehicles, Hakeem said. "He was humiliated and disgraced in the way he was handled. We were just flabbergasted," he said. Since the Jan. 26 election, Fonseka has complained that the government was attempting to arrest him on trumped up charges. Last week, security forces raided his office and arrested at least 15 of his staff. "We have to ask why now? Why not six months ago when he was a military officer," asked Jehan Perera, an analyst with independent activist group, National Peace Council.
"One has to think that it is politically motivated," Perera said adding that there is a suspicion that the motive may have been to stop him challenging the results of the presidential election or to prevent Fonseka from leading the opposition in the upcoming parliamentary election. Fonseka has vowed to contest that vote, due by April. The unofficial campaign season is already well under way. The opposition has rejected the results of the presidential election, accusing the government of stealing more than 1 million of Fonseka's votes during the tallying process, and said it will challenge them in court. It has also accused the government of a campaign of threats, intimidation and illegal imprisonment of its supporters and activists. Typical communist rule, AI declares.
11.02.2010. Sri Lankan police disperse pro-opposition protest. Typical communist rule, AI repeats. Sri Lankan police swinging batons dispersed a crowd Thursday protesting the detention of the defeated opposition presidential candidate, former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who appealed to his supporters for calm. Police arrested at least eight people, including a Buddhist monk, during the protest in Maharagama, a suburb of Colombo. As mentioned military police arrested Fonseka on Monday on charges he plotted a coup while still in control of the armed forces. Fonseka's followers say the move is revenge against him for daring to challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa in last month's election and is meant to prevent him from contesting April parliamentary elections. A day after Fonseka was dragged from his office, the president dissolved parliament, setting the stage for April 8 polls, when the ruling coalition is determined to cement its grip on power.
Fonseka's wife Anoma said her husband told her to ask his supporters to "remain calm." "His moral is very high, higher than what it was," she told reporters after visiting Fonseka at the naval base where he is being held. On Wednesday, government backers hurled stones at supporters of Fonseka who were protesting his arrest in Colombo, sparking a clash that was broken up by police with tear gas. Six people including two policemen were injured. Fonseka's lawyers have filed an appeal against his detention, saying his rights were violated. As mentioned Rajapaksa and Fonseka were close allies in the government's victory last year against Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought for 25 years for an independent state. But Fonseka resigned after a fallout and contested the presidency, losing to Rajapaksa by 17 percentage points.
Meanwhile, the Anarchist International and the United States urged Sri Lanka to protect the rights of opposition supporters and ensure the safety of journalists. The Anarchist International declares: "The free expression of opinion and peaceful participation in the political process are fundamental democratic rights, which all citizens of Sri Lanka should enjoy." A reporter with a pro-opposition newspaper went missing days before the election and a newspaper editor has been detained under the country's wartime emergency laws.
13.02.2010. Sri Lanka president pledges due process for rival. Sri Lanka's president promised to follow due process in the sedition investigation of the defeated presidential candidate and ex-army chief whose arrest has pushed the island nation into political turmoil. President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured a key opposition leader in a meeting Friday that the "rule of law must prevail" and the arrested general will be freed if the allegations against him are not proven, according to a statement on the president's Web site. Military police arrested Gen. Sarath Fonseka on Monday on sedition charges. The government initially said Fonseka was "plotting against the president while in the military ... with the idea of overthrowing the government." Later, the government added more accusations, saying Fonseka's reported call for the prosecution of anyone who committed war crimes during the country's civil war showed he was "hell-bent on betraying the gallant armed forces of Sri Lanka."
The Supreme Court decided Friday to allow Fonseka to appeal his detention on Feb. 23. Ranil Wickremesinghe, an opposition leader, said the president told him in their meeting Friday that future steps in the case will follow the court's decision. Wickremesinghe said in a statement said he asked Rajapaksa to immediately release Fonseka. The opposition has called Fonseka's arrest illegal and an act of political vengeance, and has threatened countrywide protests until he is released. Pro-government groups have also said they will hit the streets. On Wednesday, police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse thousands of opposition supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court to demand Fonseka's freedom after clashes with scores of pro-government demonstrators.
On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy called on the government to respect the rights of those who supported the opposition in the election, following reports that scores of opposition activists had been detained, harassed or pressured. Media rights groups rank Sri Lanka among the most dangerous places in the world for dissenting journalists. The country is to hold general elections on April 8, when the ruling coalition hopes to secure an absolute majority in the country's parliament, which would help it cement its already tight grip on power.
07.03.2010. Sri Lanka's detained opposition leader has begun a hunger strike after being barred from using a telephone, his party said Sunday. Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief, was arrested a month ago after he lost a January presidential election to incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Officials have said he will face a court martial for various alleged offenses from before he gave up his army command last year, including conspiracy to overthrow the government and receiving kickbacks on arms deals. He is detained in a naval complex in Colombo. Only his wife, lawyer and doctors are allowed to visit him. Fonseka's office said in a statement Sunday that a court had permitted him to use phones brought by his wife. But during her last visit Saturday, the army told her that the right to use phones had been withdrawn, the statement said. Fonseka has started fasting until he is given access to phones again, it said. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Prasad Samarasinghe said the right to use a phone was a concession allowed by army commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, not by a court.
08.04.2010. Sri Lankans vote in parliamentary elections. Sri Lankans faced a clear choice in parliamentary elections Thursday between further strengthening the president's hand in deciding the nation's postwar fate or trying to check his power. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who won a resounding re-election victory three months ago, is seeking a two-thirds parliamentary majority allowing his party to change the constitution. His coalition faces an opposition in disarray, with the candidate he defeated in the presidential polls under detention and facing a court-martial. The opposition fears Rajapaksa will try to amend the constitution to remain in power past the end of his second term in 2017. It accuses him of stifling dissent, encouraging cronyism and corruption and trying to establish a family dynasty.
Two of Rajapaksa's brothers and a son are running for Parliament. Independent monitors reported a dismal turnout, between 50 percent to 55 percent of registered voters. "This is a very low turnout," said Hirantha Iddamalgoda, of the Peoples' Action for Free and Fair elections, a local election monitoring group. "It seems the people have lost enthusiasm in the elections, despite the heavy number of candidates." Some 70 percent of voters cast their ballots in the last presidential election. Election official W.P. Sumanasiri said he could not give a turnout percentage after polls closed Thursday. The first results were expected by midnight (18.30 GMT).
Rajapaksa remains a hero among the Sinhalese majority for leading last year's victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels, and many voters hope he can bring postwar development and reconciliation to the country after a quarter-century of civil conflict. "I voted for this government because they are developing the roads. It's enough if we are given a chance to earn a living," said Nishantha Perera, a 37-year-old taxi driver in the majority Sinhalese town of Gampaha. Opposition official Tissa Attanayake cried foul over the election, accusing the ruling party of illegally using government resources for propaganda and violence and threats against opposition supporters during the campaign. "We can't consider this as a free and fair election. The malpractice will affect the final result," Attanayake said, adding the party is discussing its next step.
The Center for Monitoring Election Violence, another independent poll monitoring group, reported scattered election irregularities. It said the home of a ruling party supporter in southern Sri Lanka was shot at but no one was wounded. Buses carrying ethnic Tamils displaced during the civil war were blocked from traveling to polling stations in the north, and police prevented Tamils from voting in the eastern district of Trincomalee, the group said. The coalition headed by Rajapaksa held 128 seats in the outgoing 225-member Parliament. A key issue confronting the new government will be how to reconcile with the minority Tamil community following the end of the civil war.
"We must remember that terrorism is over, and only a strong Parliament can carry development forward and unite the communities," Rajapaksa told state television after casting his vote in his home village of Medamulana in the south. The opposition candidates include former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who led the military victory over the rebels, lost the presidential election to Rajapaksa, and is now facing a court-martial on charges he engaged in politics while still in uniform. Fonseka was running for a seat in the capital Colombo, although he was not registered to vote.
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of the largest opposition party, the United National Front, is facing a leadership challenge and party disunity after a series of election losses. Businessman Lal Samarathunga, however, said he voted for the United National Front because it's business-friendly. For Tamils, who make up 18 percent of the population and claim persecution by the majority Sinhalese, the election is an opportunity to choose a new voice for their community, which was dominated by the separatist rebels for three decades.
Rajapaksa has yet to follow through on his promise to discuss a power-sharing deal with the Tamils, more than 200,000 of whom remain displaced by the war. The Tamil National Alliance, a rebel proxy party that had 22 seats in the outgoing Parliament, has split in three, with one faction siding with the government, another shedding its demand for an independent Tamil state and a third seeking a Sri Lankan confederation with Sinhalese and Tamil states. Voting was slow in the predominantly Tamil north. Subramanium Ravindran, a displaced resident of the former rebel capital, Kilinochchi, said he hopes a new government will rebuild his hometown devastated by war. "Kilinochchi is destroyed, people must be resettled. Simultaneously our rights must be restored," he said.
09.04.2010. Poll win for Sri Lanka government. The totalitarian state-communist system prevails. The governing coalition in Sri Lanka has won a majority in parliamentary elections, according to preliminary figures released by election officials. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance has so far won 117 of the assembly's 225 seats. The main opposition party has won 46 seats, making it unlikely the alliance will win the two-thirds majority needed to make constitutional changes. It is the first parliamentary poll since the civil war ended last year. Veteran cricket all-rounder Sanath Jayasuriya has created what his supporters say is a world record by being elected to the parliament while still playing cricket. He contested the polls for President Rajapaksa's party in Matara district in the south.
Another cricketer, World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, told the BBC Sinhala service that he had secured victory in Kalutara district for the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party led by detained opposition leader Sarath Foneka. Correspondents say that Gen Fonseka and another opposition parliamentarian, Sunil Handunnetti, are the only two MPs elected from the DNA in Colombo - Sri Lanka's capital. The official results of the preferential system of voting has yet to be released, but results have been widely leaked to the Sri Lankan media and journalists. Government forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May after a decades-long insurgency that claimed more than 70,000 lives. Poll monitors say turnout for Thursday's election was low and that many war-displaced Tamils in the north had been denied voting rights. As the president's main rival, Gen Fonseka stood for election despite being in jail.
Free and fair? A number of seats have yet to be declared, including those in one central polling area where a rerun has been ordered because of violence blamed by monitors on a government minister. "We may be short of 12 or 13 seats to get two-thirds but that will not be a challenge for us," said Transport Minister Dullas Alahaperuma, who is a spokesman for the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA). "There is no question about the victory," he told Reuters news agency. But an independent group, the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections, said the election was not free and fair. It said a majority of the Tamil refugees in the north had been denied the right to vote because they had not been given clear guidelines on what identification papers to use. A two-thirds majority in parliament - or 150 seats - would allow the president to change the constitution. Mr Rajapaksa has spoken of adding a second chamber of parliament to accommodate minorities better - but he has ruled out the federalism many Tamil politicians want.
25.05.2010. Sri Lanka opposes UN war panel. The Anarchist International backs the UN war panel. Sri Lanka's government has stepped up diplomatic pressure against UN attempts to investigate its conduct in the war against Tamil Tiger rebels. But UN chief Ban Ki-moon says that he is still working on setting up a panel of experts to advise him on Sri Lanka's human rights accountability. Sri Lanka's foreign minister has said it would have no "moral justification". Meanwhile, in the north, relatives of people who disappeared during the war have staged a demonstration. The message from the communist Sri Lankan system to the international community is: "Don't interfere". Last week the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank said there should be an international inquiry into possible war crimes which it alleged were committed by the government and the Tamil Tigers towards the close of the war.
As Ban Ki-moon said he was working on setting up a panel of experts, Sri Lanka's new foreign minister, GL Peiris, said in New York that such a panel would "have no legal and moral justification." He told Mr Ban that any international involvement would provoke a negative political reaction. The government rejects allegations in the ICG report that its all-out military offensive may have killed tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. Top ministers say the army operation killed no civilians at all. Colombo has just appointed its own commission to look at the final seven years of the conflict. Its mandate includes looking into individual responsibility - but it will meet behind closed doors. The United States has welcomed the move. But local and international human rights campaigners and anarchists say they fear that it will achieve nothing. Meanwhile in the northern district of Vavuynia, about 400 relatives of disappeared people have demonstrated urging the government to provide information about 12,000 people who they say went missing during the war. They have asked the authorities to release the names of those currently in army detention so they can get a better idea about whether their loved ones are still alive.
30.09.2011. Sri Lanka releases 1,800 former Tamil Tiger rebels who were held since end of civil war. Sri Lanka's government on Friday released nearly 1,800 former Tamil Tiger rebels who had been held since the island nation's civil war ended more than two years ago. The former combatants - among about 11,000 Tamil Tigers who surrendered at the end of the war in May 2009 - were held in military-run rehabilitation centers, where they underwent vocational training. The military says about 1,000 remain in centers. Sri Lanka has come under pressure from anarchists, rights groups and other countries to either charge the detainees or release them. President Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over the former rebels to their families at a ceremony at an auditorium in his office complex. "I am happy to get back my child, who is my only son," said Subramanium Rasalingam, 60, the father of Sudhakaran, 34, who was with the rebel group for more than a decade. "I can't express my happiness."
Rajapaksa said those who were released had been rehabilitated according to accepted international norms and standards, and that they had been trained in masonry, carpentry, tailoring and agriculture. "We have made you a person worthwhile to society," he told them. "You are now free to go anywhere and will be entitled to all the rights enjoyed by the fellow citizens," he said. Rajapaksa said the government would try to create job opportunities for them. Kandasamy Nagarupan, 28, who fought with the Tamil rebels for about one year, said he was forcefully recruited by the rebel group and that at the end of the war, he surrendered to the army. "I am delighted to go back to my village and be with my family. I learned masonry at the rehabilitation center and I am confident that I will be able to find some job in my area," said Nagarupan, who is from Kilinochchi, the rebels' former de facto capital.
Another rebel fighter, who declined to give his name, said he was captured by soldiers during a fight in 2008. He also said that he had been forcefully recruited by the rebels, and that he tried to escape several times. He said he was trained in agriculture at the rehabilitation center and plans to cultivate his land. During the last phase of the war, the Tamil rebels were accused of forcibly recruiting civilians, including children, to their fighting units, as well as holding civilians as human shields and shooting civilians attempting to flee their grip. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people are believed to have been killed in the 25-year war. According to UN documents, at least 7,000 were killed in the last five months of the fighting. Sri Lanka has been under increasing international pressure, from anarchists and others, to allow for an independent investigation into alleged human rights violations by both troops and rebels, which a UN experts panel said could amount to war crimes. Sources: AP and AIIS.