ahmpg.jpg (4341 bytes) News Opinion Features Business Sports
22 killed in LTTE blast in Batticaloa

22 killed in LTTE blast in Batticaloa

By Kesara Abeywardena and Mohamed Ghouse, Batticaloa Correspondent
A powerful bomb set off by the LTTE on Vesak day near a vesak pandal close to the Mangalarama Buddhist temple in Batticaloa town killed 22 people including 16 civilians, mostly Tamils and six security personnel.

Police in Batticaloa said that the time bomb had been brought to the site concealed in an ice box.

They said the explosion which occured at about 5.30 pm on Wednesday had injured 69 people including 41 civilians, 18 soldiers and 10 policemen. The injured were admitted to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital.

The Vesak pandal and lantern exhibition near the police station in Batticaloa is an annual event organised by the Army and Police.

The government yesterday condemned the explosion at Batticaloa, where Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims live, as an attempt to trigger an ethnic backlash.

A statement issued by the Special Media Information Centre of the government said that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had placed on alert the civil defence committees already set up in different parts of the country to protect the Tamil people.

The Media Information Centre said news about the explosion was disallowed by the censor until measures were taken to protect civilians and prevent communal violence.

A story about the explosion sent to the Censor by "The Island" on Wednesday was not returned on that day.

Following is the text of the statement issued by the Media Information Centre:

On May 15, 2000, around 5.50 p.m. a powerful bomb was exploded by the LTTE near a Vesak Pandal close to the Mangalaramaya Buddhist Temple in Batticaloa town. Sixteen (16) civilians mostly Tamils, and six (06) security forces personnel were killed in the blast.

The day marked the first time Vesak Poya Day was declared an international holiday by the United Nations. The blast set off near a Buddhist Temple confirms the ruthlessness of the fascist LTTE.

The blast in the eastern town of Batticaloa where the main Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities have been living harmoniously, seems an attempt by the LTTE to trigger an ethnic backlash and bolster their propaganda machine.

The LTTE’s attacks on innocent civilians and Buddhist Temples began several years ago. The attack on the Temple of the Sacred Bo Tree at Anuradhapura in 1985, the killing of Buddhist Priests at Arantalawa and the assassination of the Chief Priest of the Dimbulagala Temple are a few examples of LTTE brutality.

As the Vatican for the Christians and Mecca for the Muslims, Buddhists hold sacred, the Temple of the Tooth Relic at Kandy. LTTE bombed this hallowed temple in 1998.

The aim of the LTTE seems to be to stall the war effort in the North by causing ethnic disharmony through the bomb blast on this day held sacred to Buddhists all over the world.

There is no doubt that Buddhists who were engaged in various religious activities to mark the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Lord Buddha, would have been deeply shocked by this brutal attack. It is for this reason that the government decided to withhold this news until necessary steps were taken to safeguard innocent civilians and prevent an ethnic backlash.

The President has ordered that the Civil Defence Committees established to protect the ordinary Tamil population be kept at full alert.

The Government appreciates the responsibility shown by most sections of the media. However, some sections of the media have published this news without permission from the Competent Authority with a view to creating ethnic disharmony. The actions of these media institutions are now under investigation by the government.

The Government seeks the cooperation of the entire population including the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities in its military effort to root out terrorism without being misled by the brutal tactics of the terrorists. The Government also calls upon all citizens to protect from any Sinhala extremists, the majority Tamil population of the country who do not subscribe to the brutal acts of the LTTE terrorists.

Police arrest Tiger cadres at Kotahena, unearth explosives in Vavuniya

By Saman Indrajith

This operation was mounted on information obtained from an LTTE cadre arrested by the Bambalapitiya police last weekend following a tip off from an employee of the Department of Immigration and Emigration at Bambalapitiya, he said.

The Tamil Tiger had attempted to commit suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule hidden in his shirt collar when he was taken into custody. However the policemen saved his life giving proper first aid and medical treatment to the terrorist.

The LTTE cadre receiving medical treatment under police detention had revealed the names and addresses of some hard-core LTTE cadres including ‘Black Tigers’. Following the information police raided two of their hideouts at Kotahena and captured ten Tiger cadres. Policemen found six cyanide capsules hidden inside pens.

On facts gained from Black Tigers named Arulnadan, and Sadeep Kumar, police intelligence officials were able to unearth an explosive nook at Uppukulan Koviladi area in Vavuniya on Tuesday. This explosive hoard buried about three years ago comprised three boxes containing nine bombs, detonators, 90 kg of High Explosives, TNT and RDX, he said.

Police Terrorist Investigation Division is conducting further investigations.

DWLC employees assaulted

By Chittaranjan de Silva
Two employees of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) were admitted to Puttalam hospital last Saturday (13) after they were severely beaten at Kaluwaragaswewa by a group led by a politician of the area, Director DWLC, A. P. R. Gunesekera said yesterday.

He said that the two men, a park ranger and a driver, who had been attacked with the butt of a pistol, were seriously hurt. A complaint had been lodged with the Puttalam police.

According to the attackers, the DWLC men had slandered the MP of the area, he said.


Mr. Gunesekera while denying the reason for the attack, charged that the attackers were drunk at the time of the assault.

This was the third occasion, he said, where employees of the wildlife department had been assaulted by politicians while they were on official duty in the last few weeks.

Earlier two employees were attacked and injured by a politician and his men with the butt of a T56 rifle in the Udawalawe National Park.

In another incident at Lunugamwehera, employees from the wildlife department had come under attack by politicians, he said.

The settlement at Kaluwaragaswewa, according to a Wildlife and Nature Protection Society source, lies in elephant territory.

The source said that the settlement has blocked an important elephant corridor linking Raswehera and Wilpattu National Park.

The human-elephant conflict in the area has worsened due to the blocking of the corridor. A few people have died due to attacks by wild elephants.

The society appealed to the authorities to take action to resolve the human-elephant conflict in the area.

Troops repulse attacks on Colombuthurai

The special Media Centre of the Information Department in a situation report on Jaffna, said yesterday that troops continued to repulse terrorist attempts to push back the Security Forces defences at Colombuthurai. Several attempts by the terrorists to advance eastwards from Ariyalai area too were contained by the Security Forces by readjusting the defended localities. Seven Security Forces personnel have been wounded due to confrontations during the last twenty four hours, it added.

Sri Lankan General visits Chennai

By Our Special Correspondent



Buddha Purnima in Bangalore under the aegis of Sai Baba

The annual Buddha Purnima festival in connection with Vesak will be held on May 25 under the aegis of Sathya Sri Sai Baba at White Field in Banglore with the participation of a large number of Buddhists from all over the world.

Many Sri Lankan Buddhists have already left for India to take part in this event where they will be given pride of place in regard to performing Pada Namaskara (worshipping Sri Sai Baba).

Commemoration for lives lost to AIDS

Colombo will be among 400 cities and towns that will hold an AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Sunday May 21.

The annual event, coordinated worldwide by the Global Health Council, commemorates the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrates support for people living with HIV/AIDS, and mobilizes community-based response to HIV/AIDS.

Alliance Lanka is organising the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial event together with its Partner NGOs in Sri Lanka. The local event is scheduled to take place at the Vihara Maha Devi Park, Colombo on Sunday, the 21st of May from 3.30 to 6.00 p.m.

The theme of this year’s International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is "Break the Silence: Honour Every Death, Value Every Life." According to Swarna Kodagoda, Executive Director of Alliance Lanka, coordinator of this event, "The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is an opportunity for each of us to dedicate ourselves - for the first time or once again - to the fight against AIDS. We will join together in our commitment to continue our fight against AIDS until the pandemic is over for all people everywhere."

Around the world, local coordinating Organisations, which are often community-based AIDS Organisations, religious groups, or coalitions of people living with AIDS, have already begun planning Candlelight events in their areas.

Alliance Lanka and its Partner NGO network will be lighting candles, distributing leaflets on HIV/AIDS, reading the International Declaration and reciting / singing poems / songs especially composed for the occasion at the Vihara Maha Devi Park on the 21st of May.

Alliance Lanka is a local non-Governmental Organisation with a mission to build capacity of other NGOs and Community based Organisations in implementing HIV/AIDS prevention and Care & Support programmes aimed at reducing the spread of the pandemic. Since its inception, Alliance Lanka to-date, has supported 173 projects of 98 local NGOs in 16 districts covering 8 Provinces of Sri Lanka.

Conservationists protest against privatisation of nature reserves

by Chittaranjan de Silva
Wildlife and nature conservationists yesterday protested against an eco-tourism project to be undertaken by the government with funding of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Director, WildLife Department, A. P. R. Gunasekera said that a Memorandum of Understanding on the eco-tourism project was signed two weeks ago between the government and the World Bank.

He said that it would be beneficial to the country.

The Minister of Tourism had emphasised earlier that wildlife and nature parks are considered to be Sri Lanka’s major tourist attractions.

But conservationists, while understanding the need to develop tourism, said that the country’s wildlife would be further endangered if the project is implemented.

The WildLife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) and the Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL), said they are against the project’s proposals to privatise the country’s nature reserves.

According to them, under this project the government is to promote eco-tourism by allowing the private sector to set up hotels close to the borders of national parks.

They added that the nature reserves at Giritale and Minneriya are among the first to come under private sector management under the agreement. Yala, Udawalawe, Wasgamuwa and other parks would also be privatised later, they said.

The private management would be allowed logging and the controlling of the animal herds when managing these parks, they said.

General Secretary of the W&127;&127;NPS, Charitha Gooneratne, said that setting up of hotels close to the borders of national parks would greatly endanger the wildlife and also pollute the environment.

He said that according to the project, all the existing circuit bungalows inside the parks are to be removed.

Gooneratne warned that the move would endanger wildlife since monitoring activities such as poaching inside the park would be difficult without these bungalows.

He warned that water for the hotels would have to be obtained through deep wells and that would have adverse effects on the water table in the area. Eventually the fauna and flora would be affected.

He further said that garbage from the hotels, especially the plastics and even rotting food stuff, would attract animals and pollute the environment.

He explained that when the borders of the national parks become populated as a result of the development, poaching and the illicit trade of animal related artefacts would also increase.

Executive Director, Environmental Foundation Ltd, Hemantha Withanage said that the private sector management of the wildlife parks, which would be centred more on profitability, would be disastrous.

He said that there was no guarantee that private parties would ensure that the wildlife and the environment would be protected.

He said that community service organisations should be allowed to play a bigger role in the buffer zones of the wild life parks.

The funds collected at the gates should be entirely used for the development of the parks. The community close to the borders of the parks should also benefit, both the WNPS and the EFL officials stressed.

They said the fees collected at the park gates go to the treasury and are not used to develop the park, or assist the community surrounding it.

Seminar on ‘Understanding Labour Law’

The Institute of Industrial Law will hold a seminar on "Understanding Labour Law" at the Ball Room of Hotel Taj Samudra on May 31.

The Institute of Industrial Law was formed a few years ago, by a body of lawyers, professional labour consultants, administrators and human resource managers all skilled in the practice of labour law.

President of the Institute Nihal K. M. Perera said that one of the objectives of the Institute laid down in its constitution is to do research studies and to promote intellectual discourse and dialogue among the public, with a view to the better understanding and promoting of industrial peace.

He said that the growth of labour law is in a state of infancy when compared to other legally related disciplines. In the result there are several misconceptions relating to principles of labour law.

"We have already organized a series of seminars targeted at lawyers, administrators, human resources managers, company and state sector executives and professional labour consultants with a view to eliminating some of the prevalent misconceptions surrounding the practice of labour law."

The seminar on ‘Understanding Labour Law’ would address such aspects of labour law as the law relating to the termination of employment, employment of women, young persons and children. It will also deal with labour problems at random, such as matters relating to EPF, ETF, maternity benefits, payment of gratuity, shop & office legislation, industrial disputes, workmen compensation and holding of domestic inquiries.

Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva who will be the Chief Guest will deliver the keynote address at the seminar. The speakers include Nihal K. M. Perera, Dr. Joe Silva, V. Vimalarajah and R. K. S. Sureshchandra.

CWE officials demand commission from farmers?

From our Gokarella Corr.
"There is an allegation to the effect that the C.W.E. officials who purchase paddy in the Galewela area demand a commission of Rs. 20/- for each sack of paddy from farmers. This is a very sad state of affairs. This matter should be looked into without any further delay", said the member of the Galewela Pradeshiya Sabha D. S. K. Marasinghe at its monthly meeting held recently.

M. P. R. Jayathilleke, Chairman of the Sabha, presided. R. M. Wijethunge Banda, leader of the opposition said that nearly 90% of the people in the area were farmers and requested the chairman to inform the authorities concerned to make arrangements to purchase their produce at a reasonable rate.

Chairman said that he would take immediate action in this connection.

Member D. G. Sarath Jayasinghe (PA) said that school children in the area were faced with great difficulties in receiving their education as the year 7 maths book had not been received so far and requested the Chairman to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister of Education.

Member R. R. G. Alahakoon (UNP) said the year 10 Sinhala Text book too has not been received by schools as yet. Member T. G. Karunarathna, (PA) said that there were huge trees on either side of Galewela-Trincomalee Road that might fall and cause destruction and requested the chairman to bring it to the notice of Road Development Authority to remove them.

Sri Lanka crisis
No difference between Centre, State Govt.—

CHENNAI - There is no contradiction in the stands taken by the Centre and the State Government on the present crisis in Sri Lanka, the Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, said here today.

He came out with this clarification responding to a question at a press meet whether there was any incongruity in the context of his saying that he would be happy if the LTTE secured Eelam through armed struggle or negotiations and the Centre making it clear that it was not for Tamil Eelam.

Behind his expression was his anxiety that the present offensive in the Island nation should end and lead to a solution through negotiations. According recognition to Eelam or not was a different matter. Despite all the developments that had taken place, if the present war ended and a political solution was arrived at he would be all the more happy, the Chief Minister said.

Mr. Karunanidi said his sentiment should not be taken to mean that he would raise his voice on behalf of Tamil Nadu for the creation of Tamil Eelam. What he meant was, whether it was a question of Eelam or Tamils securing all rights, there should be a conducive atmosphere where Tamils could live in peace. However, he made it clear that for achieving this objective he would neither accept nor welcome the presence of LTTE in Tamil Nadu nor allow the Tigers to use Tamil Nadu as a base for their activities. Even recently, he said, the police had prevented certain activities of LTTE supporters in the State and that only demonstrated the Government’s firmness in this regard, the Chief Minister said.

His attention was drawn to the Centre’s contention that the ban on LTTE had been extended because the Tamil Eelam demand might whip up secessionist tendencies in Tamil Nadu also. In response, Mr. Karunanidhi said in Tamil Nadu the secessionist demand had gained strong momentum under the leadership of Periyar and Anna. "It is now long time since we have totally abandoned such a demand".

Since the start of the recent conflict in Sri Lanka, 114 Tamil refugees had arrived in the State and the Police and the Coast Guard were keeping vigil, he said answering a question on the steps taken by the Government to prevent the entry of militants in the guise of refugees.

Asked about the next stage of negotiations with Kerala on Mullai Periyar dam issue, Mr. Karunanidhi said, he had planned to stay in Delhi from May 19 to 22 to attend the meetings of Planning Commission, Cauvery River Authority and Inter- State Council. The Centre had also arranged talks also on the Mullai Perivar issue. On the penalty of Rs. 28 crore imposed on Mr. T. T. V. Dinakaran, AIADMK MP and nephew of Ms. Jayalalitha’s friend Ms. Sasikala, for contravention of various provisions of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, the Chief Minister said, action against Mr. Dinakatan was initiated during the regime of former Prime Minister, Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao. The penalty was in respect of the cases registered against him.

On the achievements of his regime in the last four years, Mr. Karunanidhi said there was satisfaction to a great extent and he was anxious to do more for the people. He was particularly happy about the popularity of the schemes he had launched during the period such as Samathuvapuram, farmers’ market, comprehensive free health check up for all, Anna Marumalarchi and self-help programme. (The Hindu)

French Ambassador meets Sri Lankan ‘Future World Leaders’

The French Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Elisebeth Dahan met the Sri Lankan delegation to the Future World Leaders Summit 2000 at her residence in Colombo last week. The ambassador explained to the delegation the workings of international aid and global trade.

A spokesman for the organisers said the Future World Leaders Summit would bring together over 200 student leaders in the age group 16-19 from around the world to Washington DC to explore international relations and to develop diplomatic skills. The Summit will also provide students with unprecedented access to Washington’s halls of power and people shaping international relations. "The Future World Leaders Summit organised by Presidential Classroom Inc, a non-governmental civic education institute in the USA calls for outstanding student leaders to become active citizens. The delegates will discuss a range of topics from diplomacy, global trade, international aid, world environment, arms control, human rights, peacekeeping, terrorism, nationalism and refugees."

The spokesman said that the participants will receive the opportunity to improve their skills in persuasion, compromise and consensus building which skills the professional diplomats use. All Future World Leaders Summit participants gain an enhanced university resume and credit for entrance to many American universities, he added.

Details of the 2001 March Summit are now available from South Asia Representative of Presidential Classroom on email; futureleader@eureka.lk or telephone on 077-609739. More information on website, http://futureleader.go.to."


ahmpg.jpg (4341 bytes) News Opinion Features Business Sports