recalled from Cuba
Actg. minister’s talks with
Tamils in Canada cancelled
By Dushe Ranetunge
The Sri Lankan government has recalled Mr.
Lakshman Kiriella, the acting Foreign Minister from
Cuba, cutting short his tour of North America and
the UK, resulting in the cancellation of talks with
Tamils in Canada and leaving the LTTE in Canada
jubilant and the anti LTTE and "hearts and
minds" efforts in tatters.
Sri Lankan Canadians are an angry lot. They feel
badly let down by the Sri Lankan government, whose
irresponsible actions have resulted in the
empowering of the LTTE in Canada, and egg on the
faces of Sri Lankans who have been working hard to
build bridges and pursue a "hearts and
The "hearts and minds" policy was one
of the most important policies undertaken by the
present government in its quest to build bridges
with the Tamil community which had for decades felt
isolated and abandoned by the irresponsible actions
of consecutive Sri Lankan governments. This policy
had far reaching consequences, from improving the
behaviour of members of the armed forces in Jaffna
towards Tamil civilians resulting in advancements in
human rights, to enhancing military intelligence,
greater participation of Tamils in the democratic
process and even isolation of the LTTE, by driving a
wedge between the Tamils and the LTTE.
Mr. Lakshman Kiriella, the acting Foreign
Minister, who is at present in Cuba, after
participating in the 13th NAM ministerial meeting
which took place from the 7th to the 9th of April in
Cartagena in Colombia, was due to visit Canada and
participate in a seminar arranged by the Sri Lankan
High Commission in Ottawa.
The seminar was arranged for Sunday 16th April,
in the Toronto Tamil neighbourhood of Scarborough.
It was titled "The Devolution Package and the
Search for peace in Sri Lanka". The Ramada
Crown Plaza had been booked and invitations sent out
to 200 Sri Lankans, including a very large number of
Tamils, several of whom supporters of the LTTE and
leaders of the Tamil community in Canada. Kiriella
had been keen to talk to Tamils in Toronto, a hot
bed of LTTE activity, and was prepared to speak
candidly, even at the risk of being insulted. The
invities had been carefully selected so as to
maximise impact on the Tamil community. Out of the
200 invitations sent out, 90% had accepted,
including over 50 Tamils.
On Wednesday 12th April, the Sri Lankan High
Commission in Ottawa was fanatically trying to
inform Sri Lankans that the seminar which the
Minister Kiriella was supposed to attend has been
cancelled. It seems that Minister Kiriella has been
requested to return to Colombo directly from Havana
(via London), cancelling his planned visits and
appointments in Canada and the UK. Lionel Fernando,
Secretary Foreign Ministry, when contacted from
London and questioned, was economical with the
truth, while confirming that Minister Mr. Kiriella
is expected back from Havana. He offered no credible
explanation as to why Mr. Kiriella was required to
be in Colombo urgently, cancelling a seminar with
the Sri Lankan community in Toronto, a meeting with
Canadian business leaders, interview with the BBC
etc. He is expected in London this weekend (15th
& 16th) and is expected to leave for Sri Lanka
early next week.
Others speculated that with the President away in
Europe, Foreign Minister Kadirgamar abroad
recuperating, Lakshman Jayakody not being in the
best of health, Kiriella was required to be in
Colombo urgently in case of an emergency. But surely
there are others Prof. G. L Peiris, who could have
been assigned as acting foreign minister. It has
been pointed out.
Already the LTTE in Canada are boasting to the
Tamils that the cancellation of the seminar is as a
result of their actions and a sign of their power
and influence. A power and influence handed over to
the LTTE on a plate by the irresponsible and
insensitive actions of the Sri Lankan government.
The present Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar
also took several important initiatives to reach out
to the Tamil diaspora, such as the discussion that
took place at Chatham House in London several years
back. These efforts were an acknowledgement of the
importance of the Tamil expatriate community, in the
big picture of the Tamil struggle and the Sri Lankan
conflict, and the need for reconciliation, with the
dawning of enlightened ideals of a new era of
western style multicultural-sensitive governance.
The LTTE in Canada, in the form of the WTM (World
Tamil Movement, classified by the US State
Department as a LTTE front organisation) was
furious, and alarmed at the Sri Lankan embassy
holding the seminar and attempted to sabotage it by
issuing a "notice" to stay away from the
event. These notices are interpreted by Tamils as a
warning by the LTTE to stay away.
Sri Lankan High Commissions and Embassies all
over the world have been trying very hard to bring
together the many Sri Lankan racial, cultural and
religious groups, by organising discussions,
seminars etc. in an effort to reconcile and to build
bridges. Several of these efforts have succeeded to
the great annoyance of the LTTE, whose strategy is
one of trying to isolate Tamils in order to keep
them within an "Eelamist" constituency for
fund raising and political reasons.
An English translation of the Tamil notice on WTM
headed paper is as follows:
LET US AWAKEN TO THE FOLLOWING
Dear people of Tamil Eelam living in Canada,
Amidst the many economic difficulties created by
the Sinhalese government, our people and our
liberation forces are continuously sacrificing their
lives for our independence. In the northern part of
Tamil Eelam the Sri Lanka armed forces are engaging
in unlawful activities and the area is devastated by
The southern part (east) of Tamil Eelam is under
our control except for the cities and few other
places. The people are living in these areas freely
and are independent. In the Vanni a large area has
taken over by "Ojatha Allaikal 3".
Presently our forces are in the process of winning
back the gateway of Jaffna, Elephant Pass.
The racist Sri Lankan Government is directing its
forces, who have lost their fight, in a different
direction and is seeking assistance from Canada and
other countries. The Government is trying to show
these other countries and the displaced Tamil people
in Canada that intentions are different.
The Sri Lankan community living in Canada has to
understand the following facts. They are organizing
functions such as the independence day, a discussion
on "The devolution package and the search for
peace in Sri Lanka", dinner dances and other
functions which are mediocre so that the Sri Lankan
Tamil community do not want to participate in such
activities. However they have decided some of the
Sri Lankan Tamil people and the Canadian news media
who seem to support them. Consequently, the Canadian
news papers are publishing news items and articles
which are false and damaging to our community. These
facts should be weighed and taken into
The above activities organized by a government
that is engaged in planned destruction of the Tamil
people, should not be attended at any cost. The
peace package that was proposed six years ago does
not address the needs and rights of the Tamil
people. Therefore the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam rejected the peace package. To offer it to the
Tamil community again is an insult to them. In fact
if the government is sincere in negotiating for
peace it could have considered the proposal for
peace talks mediated by third party, proposed by the
LTTE Leader on National Hero’s day in 1998.
It is evident to all that the displaced Tamil
people living in many countries around the world
today are fighting for their liberation. The largest
contribution for this struggle is given by Tamil
people living in Canada and we applaud it. We should
remember it. Further they are also helping to
sustain this struggle.
The Sri Lankan Government by organizing the
activities mentioned above, is trying to show the
Tamil community and other communities that they
strive for peace and harmony with the Tamil
community and that they intend to continue such
activities in the future.
It is however important for the Sri Lankan Tamil
people living in Canada to know the truth behind
Dear Tamil People living in Canada,
We must oppose such activities of the Sinhala
government. At the same time we must intimate to the
people of Canada the true nature of our struggle.
Consider this your duty and act accordingly.
-World Tamil Eelam Society
"Ulagathamilar" a Tamil pro-LTTE news
paper in Canada has also made the same request. This
notice was one of panic and alarm at the
"hearts and mind" initiative and the
impact it was having as part of a much larger anti-LTTE
The LTTE in Canada had been badly bruised in the
last month. During the last week of March, the
Canadian newspaper, the "National Post"
had carried a series of damaging articles exposing
criminal activity by the LTTE in producing illegal
Canadian passports in the far east. This was a part
of a sophisticated human smuggling racket, being
used as a major fund raising effort. It alleged that
the LTTE was raising a significant portion of its
annual US$ 150 million war chest by smuggling
thousands of illegal immigrants to the west every
year. This was compounded by anti-LTTE reports by
Macleans and an unclassified security report issued
by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
Reeling from an anti-LTTE publicity barrage,
Tamils in Canada are increasingly concerned of being
identified with an organisation which is being
regarded as being on the wrong side of the law.
Other Tamils were angered by the LTTE
"notice" which had been faxed around Tamil
homes in Canada. They complained that they were
living in a free country and that the LTTE cannot
tell them which meetings they can or cannot attend.
What was most noticeable was that despite LTTE
efforts to intimidate and sabotage the meeting, more
than 90% of the Tamils invited had accepted.
In light of all the above, which has taken place
in the last 30 days, the timing of the "The
Devolution Package and the Search for peace in Sri
Lanka" seminar, organised by the Sri Lankan
High Commission in Ottawa, with multi-cultural
participation was a gift from heaven. But then,
there are those who would argue, that the Sri Lankan
government would have difficulty in recognising a
gift from heaven.
Can PA-UNP talks end by May?
By Prasad Gunewardene
While the PA government has not
included its controversial electoral reforms in the
May 5 agenda for talks with the United National
Party, the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
has urged the government to give priority to that
subject, adding that more time should be allocated
for that subject as several minority political
parties have made representations to him that the
proposed reforms would affect them badly. The
government has forwarded subjects such as the
judicial reforms and human rights for the agenda on
When the two sides met last time, President
Chandrika Kumaratunga was keen to end the talks by
May 15, but the UNP leader pointed out that it could
not be done as there were more important areas to be
discussed. After hearing the Opposition Leader’s
views, President Kumaratunga extended her deadline
upto May 29 to conclude the talks saying, ‘Even if
the talks are not finalised, I will close the
chapter as I have to bring the Tamil parties to the
table by June’. She also said that she would see
that a new constitution is brought before parliament
in July as the life of the present parliament ends
by August 16.
The electoral reforms proposed by the Kumaratunga
government is not to the liking of many minority and
small political parties. The PA’s proposal would
increase the number of parliamentarians from 225 to
260. Of this number 160 would be elected on the
first past the post, 80 on the district PR system
and the balance on the national list basis. The PA
feels that under the proposed system it would be
able to get two thirds majority in parliament in the
future to change the present constitution. PA
partners, the SLMC and the CWC have already
expressed their dissatisfaction over the proposed
reforms to the PA leadership. The two sides have
already had secret discussions with the UNP on this
issue. The other two PA coalition partners, the LSSP
and the CP too are up in arms over the issue.
The UNP which claimed that all previous elections
under the PA were rigged with initimidation,
thuggery and violence expressed fears that such acts
would increase if elections are held under the first
past the post system as sitting PA members of
Parliament in electorates may try to use force to
win back the seats. On the other hand they say that
even if parliament was dissolved the PA would be at
strength with nearly one hundred ministers and
deputies functioning under the provisions of the
present constitution. At the 1994 general election,
the UNP was badly defeated at electoral level being
reduced to a solitary seat and that was Mahiyangana.
At the inaugural sittings of Parliament in that
year, Minister Richard Pathirana in a lighter vein
quipped, ’Only the elephants have voted for you
and not the people in the country’.
The PA and the UNP have made arrangements to sit
six times in May to discuss the constitutional
reforms. While the UNP claims the time frame work is
inadequate the government is adamant to end the
talks by the end of May. Both sides have not put
forward the most important aspect of the reforms,
the unit of devolution in their proposals. The PA
proposals sent to the UNP leader did not contain
that vital aspect. Mr. Wickremesinghe in his counter
proposals did not include this issue saying that it
was upto the government in power to propose it. The
UNP stressed on the establishment of the four
Independent Commissions on Police, Elections,
Judicial Service and Public Service.
Though the UNP is bent heavily on these four
commissions which it feels would be the base for
their victory at the next elections, the government
is soft peddling on this issue. Six rounds of talks
have already gone through and these subjects were
not discussed. If the government takes up the issue
of electoral reforms, the UNP demand for these
commissions will play a lead role in the
discussions. According to PA sources the government
is likely to come before parliament in May with the
electoral reforms to seek an amendment to the
constitution. Such a move needs only a simple
majority in the House and a three member ministerial
team is now canvassing to get that majority from the
UNP side. If the PA forges ahead with the electoral
reforms in Parliament, it will be interesting to see
how its minority allies would help it in the House
at the time of voting.
to extend ban of LTTE for two more years, says L. K.
From S. Venkat Narayan Our Special
NEW DELHI, April 12: India will extend the
ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),
the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist guerrilla outfit,
for two more years after the present ban period
expires next month, Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani
Advani disclosed this to opposition Janata Party
President Dr. Subramaniam Swamy when the latter
called on him here yesterday. Dr. Swamy demanded
that the ban be further extended on the group
responsible for the brutal assassination of former
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi nine years ago.
In a statement issued here today, Dr. Swamy said
the growing connection between Pakistan’s Inter
Services Intelligence (ISI) and the narcotics trade,
and the Indian Supreme Court’s judgment against
the LTTE in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case
demands a continuation of the ban.
The Janata Party leader said he also raised the
question of executing the death sentence on four of
the LTTE cadres convicted for murdering Rajiv Gandhi
at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai
(Madras) in May 1991.
Advani apparently pointed out that the central
government is still awaiting the Tamil Nadu
cabinet’s resolution confirming that state
governor’s rejection of the convicts’ mercy
Dr. Swamy said he has requested Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi to send his
cabinet’s resolution on the subject to the centre
It may be recalled that the LTTE was banned in
India for two years for the first time in May 1992,
one year after it was implicated in the Rajiv Gandhi
assassination. The ban has since been extended in
1994, 1996 and in 1998 for an additional two-year
period on each occasion.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has gone abroad
for medical treatment, official sources said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike
was admitted to Sri Jayawardanapura Hospital on
Wednesday for a medical check up, the Prime
Minister’s office said.
She is expected to be in hospital for a few days.
The Prime Minister’s 84th birthday falls
to suppress student activists'
By Saman Indrajith
University student activists yesterday
warned that a government backed movement is planing
to mount a countrywide programme to suppress the
student activists in the universities.
"This planned student suppression will be
more subtle and a result-oriented one than the
student annihilation that took place in 1989-90
era," a student activist said.
The Convenor of the Inter University Student
Federation, Kalawelgala Chandraloka thero said that
the Nidahas Sarasavi Sishya
Peramuna (NSSP), the university student wing of
the PA which was involved in recent clashes at
universities of Ruhuna and Kelaniya, is collecting
details of university student activists.
He said that the NSSP has already told the
authorities that they are collecting the details of
university students including their family
background for its future plans.
The Deputy Minister of Education and Higher
Education, Prof. Wishwa Warnapala, through a letter
has directed the Chairman of the University Grants
Commission (UGC) to release the details of
university students to the NSSP, Chandraloka thero
"This is totally illegal. No student
organization is entitled to collect information of
other university students without their consent. An
officially elected university student council can
only obtain addresses and names of students of that
In his letter Prof. Warnapala said that the
decision to support the NSSP to get information of
university students was taken in a meeting of the
Cabinet ministers, he said.
This time the government is using university
students as a tool to suppress student activists, he
The President of the students council of
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sarath
Chandrasiri, said that the Deputy Minister has
helped the NSSP misusing his ministerial powers.
"The recent history shows us that the
paramilitary groups had gathered information of the
university students in 1989-90 era for the purpose
of suppression," he said.
Chandrasiri said that the recent attacks at the
Universities of Ruhuna and Kelaniya were just the
outcome of the PA backed NSSPers’ over-enthusiasm.
President of Student Council of the University of
Kelaniya, Nakiyadeniye Uditha thero said the NSSPers
can encounter student activists individually once
they have relevant information.
The last week’s clash between two student
groups at the university was initiated by the NSSP
members who were backed by a powerful PA member and
their deliberation was to assault the student
"PA thugs supported the NSSP members to
assault student activist out side the university
premises," he said.
A student activist of Ruhuna University declined
to be identified for legal reasons also said that a
PA minister had hands in the clash between the NSSP
and student activists at Ruhuna university on
"The NSSPers, armed murderers, relations of
the PA minister had assaulted our student leaders,
demolished public properties, and threatened us that
we would be ended up in tyre pyres," he said.
killed, 60 injured in grenade attack musical show
Seven persons were killed and sixty injured when
a hand grenade was hurled during largely attended
concert organised by a private television station at
Trincomalee on Wednesday night as part of Sinhala
and Tamil New Year celebrations.
The injured persons have been admitted to the
Colombo and Trincomalee hospitals.
Trincomalee police sources said they suspected
that the LTTE was responsible for the attack.
dead, 601 injured during New Year
By Kalinga Weerakkody
Eight persons died after admission to the
Colombo National Hospital and 601 others were
treated for injuries sustained in brawls and road
accidents during the New Year period on April 12 and
13, Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, Director of the hospital
Of the 601 persons injured, 236 were admitted and
others were given out door treatment.
Some 143 patients admitted to the National
Hospital had been transferred from hospitals in
Kalutara, Panadura, Horana, Avissawella, Negombo,
Chilaw, Puttalam and Karapitiya.
Most of the victims had been under the influence
of liquor and had sustained fractures, and head and
abdominal injuries the Director said.
Nearly 120 had sustained assault injuries while
about 205 persons had sought treatment following
Dr. Weerasinghe said that 10 persons are being
treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
However, the number treated for burn injuries by
fire crackers had been only one. Dr. Weerasinghe
said that this was a good trend and was a result of
educational programs launched by some companies on
safety measures relating to fire crackers.
The Colombo National Hospital is at present
reported to be overcrowded due to the large number
of transfers from out station hospitals. Hospital
sources said that this situation had arisen mainly
due to the unnecessary transfers of patients who had
sustained minor injuries.
Meanwhile IP Walter Pinidiya of Traffic
Headquarters said that in a special traffic
operation conducted in Nuwara Eliya area during the
festival season police had taken action against 200
persons for traffic offences and another 500 persons
had been warned and educated about the road rules.