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Monday 19 March 2001




World thinking on terror
There is more good news coming Sri Lanka's way with the Government of Canada taking steps to impose curbs on organisations which, under various pretexts, Siphon funds raised in that country to terrorist organisations. The best news, of course, in recent times in this area of public concern was the passing of the British Terrorism Act 2000, which ensured the listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation by Britain. This piece of legislation is currently being debated by the House of Lords, after having been passed in the House of Commons by a huge majority.

Among other things, the huge majority with which the Act was passed in the House of Commons, (396 to 17 against) demonstrates the negligible level of support for a so called "liberation organisation" such as the LTTE which consciously and intentionally uses bloodshed and violence to promote their cause. 

The bulk of the credit for the West awakening fully to the true nature of the Tigers should go to President Kumaratunga and Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who conducted a robust campaign in the councils of the world against global terror in general and LTTE brutality in particular. They are certain to earn the gratitude of the people for their indefatigable efforts. 

Right now, the US, UK, India, Malaysia and some other countries to lesser extents have launched concrete moves against the LTTE and its activities on their soils. When President Kumaratunga visited Germany a few days back, she won the support of German leaders for the fight against global terror. Now we learn that Canada is acting fast to curb terrorist funding. 

These developments point to a gathering international consensus on the need to combat global terror and its principal agents such as the LTTE. There seems to be a growing global awareness that brutality and bloodshed cannot be condoned whatever the reasons trotted out for their perpetration. 

On the other hand, the world seems to be veering to the point of view that peaceful, democratic means should be used to resolve secessionists and identity-based conflicts. The IRA was one of the principal militant groups to realise the counter-productive nature of violence. Hence the Good Friday Agreement at the conflict in Northern Ireland. 

Likewise, the installation of autonomous governing bodies in Scotland and Wales in Great Britain pointed to the weight the world is beginning to attach to devolved power as a dispute-resolving means in the context of identity conflicts. 

The options before us are, then, very clear. International opinion is unlikely to tolerate mindless, brutal militancy but it is also unlikely to condone feet-dragging on measures aimed at resolving identity-based conflicts politically. 





Unmasking the Tiger
A group of Muslims is reported to have spiked the LTTE's gun when the latter made an attempt at a discussion in the British Parliament to drag Sri Lankan Muslims, too, to the terrorist camp. (A report on the discussion was published in The Island on Saturday) At this forum, "Peace in Sri Lanka and the way forward in Fiji” chaired by Piara Singh Kabra, a British MP, the LTTE propagandists had tried to project themselves as representatives of the 'Tamil-speaking people' including the Muslims. But the Muslims present had risen to their feet protesting against such generalisation pointing out that the LTTE considered Muslims as Tamil-speaking only to serve its (LTTE's) purpose. They had pointed out how the LTTE massacred thousands of Muslims and tens of thousands of them had been driven away from the north using sheer force. 

Most parts of the north are today devoid of Muslims and Sinhalese, most of whom were once successful businessmen there. Their places of religious worship were razed to ground, assets seized and driven away at gunpoint.

It is strange that those who are talking about minority rights turn a Nelsonian eye to the plight of Muslims in the north and east.

As we pointed out recently the following are proof of what LTTE terrorism is like behind the facade of 'liberation.' The LTTE has so far committed over 200 massacres obviously to rid the north and east of Sinhalese and Muslims. The following incidents selected at random are glaring examples of LTTE terrorism: 1984 - the LTTE kills 127 civilians, mostly Sinhalese, in the north, 1985 - The LTTE kills 150 Sinhala civilians at prayer in Anuradhapura, 1986 - (May 3 ) The LTTE bombs an Airlanka plane in Colombo killing 16 people and (May 7) bombs the Central Telegraph Office, Colombo killing 14 people, 1987 - the LTTE kills 113 people in Colombo by exploding a car bomb and in June kills 29 Buddhist monks at Arantalawa, 1988 - The LTTE kills 15 Sinhalese civilians in Morawewa on March 3, blows up a truck in Trincomalee killing 24 civilians on March 5, blows up a bus in Trincomalee killing 22 passengers on May 1; and kills 27 Sinhalese civilians in a bus on Nov. 14, 1989 - the LTTE kills by hacking and shooting 34 Sinhalese civilians in Duluwewa on Feb. 11, kills 37 Sinhalese civilians at Borawewa on Feb. 28 and kills 51 people in Trincomalee on April 23, 1990 - the LTTE massacres 600-700 policemen who surrender on government orders during the LTTE-UNP talks, the LTTE uses machetes, guns and grenades to kill 40 Muslims praying in a mosque in the eastern village of Kattankudy on Aug. 3, the LTTE massacres 122 Muslims in Eravur on Aug. 12, 1991 - the LTTE kills 21 Sinhalese villagers in Moneragala on April 21, and kills 27 civilians in Batticaloa, 1992 - the LTTE kills 56 Muslims at Alinchipathana on April 29, explodes a bicycle bomb in Batticaloa on Oct. 15 killing 22 Muslims, the LTTE massacres 166 Muslims in Palliyagodella on Oct. 15, 1993 - the LTTE assassinates Sri Lankan President Ranasingha Premadasa on May 1, together with 22 others, 1994 the LTTE kills 15 bus passengers at Anuradhapura on Jan. 19, the LTTE kills 22 fishermen in Puttalam on March 21, the LTTE kills Sri Lankan Opposition Leader Gamini Dissanayake and 51 others in Colombo during the LTTE-government talks on Nov. 24, 1995 - The LTTE kills 42 Sinhalese civilians at Kallarawa, the LTTE kills 24 Sinhalese civilians in Colombo on June 4, 1996 - the LTTE bombs the Central Bank killing 82 civilians, the LTTE bombs Hotel Galadari killing 18 civilians in October, 1998 - the LTTE bombs Dalada Maligawa killing 16 persons, the LTTE explodes a vehicle bomb in Maradana killing over 10 civilians in May, 1999 - the LTTE explodes a bomb at the Kandy private bus station killing 2 civilians, the LTTE assassinates TULF MP Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam in July, the LTTE makes an attempt on President Chandrika Kumaratunga in December and kills 22 civilians, the LTTE bombs a UNP election rally on the same day killing 10 civilians, 2000 - the LTTE kills Minister C. V. Gooneratne and 22 others in June, the LTTE kills 6 persons opposite the Eye Hospital in October. 

Thus could be seen the crimes the LTTE has perpetrated against humanity - and against 'the Tamil-speaking people,' like Muslims. 

The Muslims who spoke up their minds at the forum under discussion must be commended for having laid bare the true face of the LTTE. The LTTE sympathisers may still argue that these incidents are only the outcome of the means adopted by the LTTE and the end will justify the means. But in a terrorist struggle like that of the LTTE there is no separation between the end and the means. They both are the same - naked terrorism. This is the real danger of terrorism to which even the so-called liberal countries like the UK have woken up at long last. 

Powerful nations such as the US and the UK have come down hard on the LTTE terrorists. India, Malaysia have shut the door firmly in the face of the LTTE. Singapore has imposed a ban on the LTTE activities in her soil. Canada has given serious thought to introducing anti-terrorist legislation, the British ban is very likely to have a domino effect in the European Union with other members of the Union following suit. With the imminent danger of being declared a pariah Tiger the world over for its crimes against humanity, it is no surprise that the LTTE is now trying to woo other minorities in Sri Lanka to project itself as a 'liberation' movement so as to make up leeway. 

The LTTE will not turn any stone unturned in its efforts to continue terrorists activities overseas even in the countries it is banned. The LTTE propaganda organ, the Tamil Guardian, in its editorial, a few weeks ago before the British ban was announced, boasted that despite the US ban more funds were being raised than ever before for the LTTE in that country. It is up to the US authorities to investigate and find out whether this is really so. 

However, the LTTE having crossed Rubicon in its terrorist struggle will stop at nothing to achieve its final goal. Hence the need for the Sri Lanka government not to be lulled into a false sense of complacency after the British ban. A global campaign must be launched to lay bare the true face of LTTE terrorism. The recent visit of President Kumaratunga to Germany has been fruitful in that Germany has given an undertaking to help combat global terrorism. The momentum must be maintained.

Pressure must be stepped up on the LTTE so that it will give up terrorism and be amenable to a lasting solution acceptable to all communities. 

In the meantime, LTTE propaganda must be countered at every possible level like at the aforesaid forum, where Muslims gave the lie to the LTTE claim that it was the 'liberator of the Tamil-speaking people.'





Projects should be continued
Much as we lament the fate befallen the helpless pavement hawkers who lost their livelihood, we nevertheless cannot withhold our appreciation for Minister Mangala Samaraweera's courageous effort to restore to the pedestrian the use of the pavements constructed at much expense to ensure his safety and convenience.  We applaud the Minister for his earnestness in executing his Ministry's plan to modernise the city of Colombo.

A setback to Minister Mangala Samaraweera's project has now materialised.  The pavement hawkers are now allowed to continue their business till the end of the New Year season following a discussion on the matter between ministers Jeewan Kumaratunga and Mangala Samaraweera.  It is indeed reasonable that the displaced hawkers’ request for extension of time has thus been granted.  Even harassed pedestrians maybe considerate enough to tolerate the inconvenience a little longer.  

The vast majority of these hawkers could well be innocent and harmless persons pushed into such a menial trade by circumstances.  But patently there are many among them who are out to fleece those unfamiliar with hawkers’ ways and wiles.  They often foist inferior or damaged articles on unsuspecting buyers at high prices and adopt even intimidatory tactics to thrust their goods on the people.  Some are said to be employed by affluent businessmen to channel their inferior or damaged goods.  This is one aspect of the problem.  

The authorities should take the responsibility for allowing this problem to assume the present huge proportions.  The initial mistake was to allow the proliferation of the illicit trade on pavements. It is no secret that they thrived on the patronage extended to them by unscrupulous politicians and law enforcement authorities.  

Now that this required project has been launched, it must be accomplished without allowing the disruptive forces to achieve their selfish objectives.  After clearing the pavements and other state lands, it is very important that the authorities should exercise continued surveillance and vigilance to ensure that no unauthorised constructions come up again.  

Effect of Globalisation
Three of the four powerloom textile mills in this country are threatened with imminent closure, according to media reports.  Only the industry at Beruwala is functioning efficiently while those at Meegoda, Mahara and Thalangama are floundering.  It is not a matter for surprise considering the fate that befell our premier local textile industries at Pugoda and Veyangoda.  It is indeed not a phenomenon peculiar to Sri Lanka.  The ongoing sweep of the globalisation process does not leave any country unaffected.  Local industries even in the technologically advanced countries are suffering under its bludgeoning sway.  Even the country considered to be the Mecca of modern technology, Japan is affected.  For example, those engaged in Japan's towel industry are now complaining against the fierce competition they have from cheap imports from China and other countries in Asia.  

They want temporary import restrictions imposed to gain time for restructuring their industry.  The affected towel makers assert that it is not just the towel industry that is affected.  All industries in Japan will eventually collapse if no relief measures are taken, they say.  

It is the challenge of restructuring the industries to face the thrust of market forces and competition that has to be met by all affected nations now, after they enjoyed years of protective care from governments.  Industries everywhere now feel the full wrath of market forces.

Japanese are now criticising the government for continuing to resist serious economic restructuring.  It is said in Japan that "old style politicians protect inefficient companies.  Week companies support old style politicians.  Japan is struggling to break the bad marriage that blocks reform and recovery."  The government is criticised for supporting the limping economy with huge inputs of public money that allow unprofitable companies to stay afloat and banks to avoid calling in dud loans. 





Ensure safety of tourists 
As reported recently, a German tourist walking along the beach with her lover had been abducted and raped in Weligama area. Several similar criminal activities on tourist hotels were also reported from the South, which is a key tourist attraction.

These indicate the urgent need to activate tourist police units to ensure the safety of tourists.

Such criminal incidents not only become a slur on our entire society but also dampen the enthusiasm of tourists who choose to come to Sri Lanka. Police should be able to nab the robbers and sexual perverts who roam around freely in tourist locations.  Acting closely with hotel authorities, a fool proof system should be planned and implemented to ensure that foreign tourists are free to enjoy without being threatened by criminals. 





Tigers should face reality 
Close on the heels of the British ban on the LTTE several other countries have also decided to act against the Tigers.  This is quite a welcome trend.  Even Germany has expressed willingness to take steps to eradicate international terrorism.  Tigers should at least now face the reality of the international community rising against its atrocious and murderous activities.

All communities in Sri Lanka, including Tamils, have suffered untold misery at the hands of the Tigers.  The entire public life in the North-East has been severely disrupted with children being deprived of schooling due to being recruited to the LTTE by force.  The economy of the country is ruined and agriculture in the Batticaloa areas severely hampered due to Tiger activities.  It is time for the LTTE to give up its pursuit of Eelam, which is nothing but a mirage, and co-operate with other communities to live in peace.





Undercurrents of estate dispute 
The final settlement of the estate dispute, which dragged on for 23 days, was welcome in all sectors of the country.  Political forces, hell bent on destabilizing the PA government, tried to use this dispute to further their objectives by encouraging estate unions to be intransigent on their demands.

These traitorous forces tried their best to get Minister Thondaman to leave the government.  They also aimed to ruin the country's economy by disrupting the tea industry.  Their intention was to deliberately add more economic problems to the government already struggling under increased crude oil prices and adverse weather.  It is indeed a victory for both employees and employers that this dispute was not allowed to be hijacked by political forces to achieve their devious aims.





Timely step
It is well known that the use of brand names by doctors when prescribing, causes severe difficulties to hapless patients. One and the same drug is available in pharmacies under various brand names and sold at widely different prices.  It was Professor Senaka Bibile who originally bared the massive racket carried out by multinational drug cartels in Sri Lanka and other third world countries.

It is a fact that certain groups of doctors are hand in glove with drug companies in fleecing the patients by using brand names, instead of generic names.  In this situation, the Health Ministry decision to penalize doctors who do not use generic names is a timely step in the right direction. 





The much feared white van in vavuniya 
Persons arriving in a white van arresting youths in Vavuniya has become a common occurrence. These youths have later been reported missing, with no one taking responsibility for their arrests.  Vavuniya is not an uncleared area.  The Army and the Police are in full control.  They should, therefore, be answerable to these arrests and disappearances.

The government is making a big fuss about taking action to establish law and order in even uncleared areas.  It is, therefore, surprising that these incidents are  happening under the very noses of the security forces in a controlled area.  An Inspector of Police, Mahinda Pathirana, is alleged to be making arrests in Vavuniya, using white coloured vans and ambulances.  Disclosing this, Vavuniya District Judge, M. Illancheliyan has issued strict orders to the Vavuniya Police to stop this activity, following a complaint to him, by the Human Rights Commission.  The government should ensure that not only in Vavuniya, but also in no part of the country, such incidents are allowed to take place.





Canadian legislation on terrorism
A Bill to control fund raising in Canada by terrorist organizations is before the Canadian House of Commons.  Before this Bill was presented to Parliament, a comprehensive assessment on the activities of fund raising charitable organizations had been undertaken.  During this assessment, it was found that several of these organizations had substantially funded the LTTE, which was killing innocent civilians and causing damage to public property in Sri Lanka.  This revelation had shocked the people of that country badly.

This piece of legislation will go a long way in wiping out terrorism in Canada and elsewhere, the Canadian Attorney General has observed.  In presenting this Bill, Canada has followed in the foot steps of the USA, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Britain to curb terrorist activities.






A political stranglehold 
"There are chances for the two sides to the dispute in Sri Lanka to get closer and engage in peace talks".  This is an opinion expressed by the Norwegian Special Envoy, Erik Solheim.  The gap between the two sides is a result of vicious communal activities.  The government is adding much stock to its political solution, which is on hold for a long time now.  Even the Tamil parties have definite reservations about this document, which has been completely rejected by the LTTE.  This rejected "Package" would appear to be unacceptable to certain sections in the government as well.  Nothing tangible can be expected from such a document.

The Norwegian government is steadfast in its attempt to bring peace to this country, not swayed by any attempt to oppose its moves.  Unless the government is firm in discarding selfish politics and keeping disruptive forces in their proper places, no progress could be expected in the path to peace.  It is up to the President, the Opposition and the LTTE to get out of the stranglehold and disruptive situations and forge ahead in their search for peace.




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