Associated Press, Thu May 8, 2003 01:57 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) International peace monitors said Thursday that revenge killings of political opponents and former military spies mostly blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels could pose a serious threat to the truce in Sri Lanka - s civil war. The University Teachers of Human Rights of Jaffna a group founded by teachers in the Tamil heartland to keep track of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka - s northeast said last week that the rebels had killed at least 15 ethnic Tamils, who were allegedly Sri Lankan military informants, since the cease-fire was signed in February 2002.
The rebels had been fighting for a separate state since 1983, claiming discrimination of minority Tamils at the hands of the majority Sinhalese. The conflict killed at least 65,000 people, many of them civilians.
The rebels last month pulled out of peace talks, accusing the government of not doing enough to resettle displaced Tamil civilians. But they have said they are not necessarily withdrawing for good, and that they have no plans to go back to fighting.
Eelam Peoples Democratic Party a Tamil political party and a rival of the Tamil Tiger rebels has sought military protection against attacks by the Tamil Tigers. [Top]
08 May 2003 12:39:32 GMT
S.Lanka rebels said recruiting fewer children
By Lindsay Beck
COLOMBO, May 8 (Reuters) - The United Nations said Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels were recruiting fewer child soldiers but international truce monitors criticised the rebels on Thursday for alleged political killings.
The United Nations Children's Fund said the number of reported cases of child recruitment had declined each month since the beginning of 2003, with just eight cases in April, down from 92 in January.
"We still haven't seen significant releases of children, but we're hoping that will change once relief mechanisms are in place," said UNICEF official Sarah Lendon.
Action to stop the recruitment of children is seen as a test of the rebels' sincerity in peace talks.
There have been persistent complaints of the rebels' recruiting children as young as 12 despite past pledges to stop the practice and a ceasefire holding since February last year after 20 years of civil war.
The Norwegian-brokered peace process is seen as the best chance for ending the war that has killed 64,000, after four previous bids failed, although the Tigers suspended direct peace talks with the government last month.
UNICEF said despite the suspension, with the rebels say is over a lack of progress in rebuilding Tamil areas, it is pushing ahead to start construction in late May of transit centres to house released children while their families are traced.
But Nordic monitors overseeing the truce said a series of attacks on political opponents was undermining the ceasefire and created a climate of fear in the Tamil-majority north and east.
"Such attacks, especially when they appear to be systematic, spread fear among the population, create political oppression and are deliberately undermining the peace process," the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission said in a statement.
Monitors said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, fighting since 1983 for a separate state for minority Tamil people, denied involvement in the killings.[Top]
Colombo |From Our Correspondent | 06-05-2003 Gulf News
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The Norwegians monitoring the ceasefire in Sri Lanka have come under increasing fire from two minority Tamil organisations for ignoring the killing of soldiers and Tamil political activists.
The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), an academic outfit that made a critical assessment of the 20-year civil war in the island and the Eelam Peoples Democractic Party (EPDP), an anti-LTTE militant group, have separately accused the Norwegian led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission for remaining silent over a string of LTTE murders in recent weeks.
The UTHR said the Norwegians were maintaining a notable silence on these killings and only referred complaints against the LTTE to the police.
The teachers human rights group also blamed the government saying that the police lower rankers did not have proper instructions from the top on how to handle these LTTE killings due to the ongoing peace process.
In recent weeks, the LTTE has gunned down soldiers belonging to a till-recently secretive deep-penetration unit that once hunted the LTTE leadership in the jungles and also have been targetting rival EPDP cadres.
The teachers say that both in the Tamil populated north and east, as well as in greater Colombo areas, the LTTE has mobile pistol-squads operating on mo-bikes who act as a rapid deployment force when scouts spot a target.
The EPDP has asked that their cadres be re-issued with weapons that they had to surrender when the government-LTTE truce came into effect in February last year.
* SLMM says killing of political members
is a serious threat to the MOU
[ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka]
May 08, Colombo: Officials of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) have said that the continuing attacks and killings of political party members and locally elected representatives pose a serious threat to the ceasefire in the country.
It also said that these criminal acts are direct attacks on the foundations and development of democracy and have no place in a civilized society. Such attacks spread fear among the population, create political oppression and are definitely undermining the peace process.
The SLMM said it is of the utmost importance that these attacks are stopped immediately. [Top]
Colombo, May 8
Sri Lanka has lodged a strong protest over a series of killings of political leaders and former intelligence operatives by Tamil Tiger rebels in violation of a truce, a senior minister said on Thursday.
The protest was conveyed through Norwegian peace facilitators, government spokesman and constitutional affairs minister GL Peiris said, adding that the authorities will deal with the perpetrators under normal criminal law.
The government has protested strongly about the assassinations, Peiris said. Criminal law will be applied against those responsible for the killings in and around Colombo and the east (of the island).
Official figures show that about 25 military informants, operatives and Tamil political activists had been gunned down since the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) entered into a Norwegian-brokered truce on February 23 last year.
The Scandinavian team monitoring the truce said the attacks were a serious threat to the stability of the ceasefire which is the basis for peace negotiations between the government and the Tigers.
The talks have been suspended since April 21 when the Tigers said they were pulling out in protest against what they see as slow delivery by the government on decisions taken at previous negotiations.
The government has appointed a panel to investigate the spate of killings and recommend measures to prevent a recurrence.[Top]
P K Balachanddran
Colombo, May 2
Afraid that the Sri Lankan army will one day withdraw from the Jaffna peninsula and the LTTE will take over, many Jaffna businessmen are moving their capital to Colombo in South Sri Lanka, says the latest report of the University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna (UTHR-J).
The people are by no means enthusiastic about moving the army out. In the event of moving the army out, a number of traders are planning to wind up their operations in Jaffna and several of them have moved substantial capital to Colombo, the report says.
The report accuses the Scandinavian ceasefire monitors, the international (Western) backers of the peace process, and the Sri Lankan government, of wantonly allowing the LTTE to threaten, kidnap, extort and kill at will, only to keep it at the negotiating table.
The report recalls that at the last round of peace talks in Hakone, in Japan, in the third week of March, both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government shot down a proposal to entrust the monitoring of Human Rights to a neutral international body. Instead, they entrusted the task to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, knowing fully well that the SLHRC did not have the ability to do the job in the conflict ridden environment in the Tamil North East. Also, it had not demonstrated independence in its work thus far, the report added.
A former head of Amnesty International, Ian Martin, was at the talks venue in Hakone, specially invited to help set up a system to monitor human rights violations. But he was ignored.
The fear of Jaffna businessmen of an army withdrawal and a take over by the LTTE is well-founded because the LTTE has been pressing the government to move the army out from Jaffna town and other populated areas in the peninsula. In fact, it withdrew from the peace talks on April 21, saying that the army must first be moved out of the populated areas and must shrink the High Security Zones (HSZ) in the Jaffna peninsula.
Tamil Guardian, an acknowledged mouthpiece of the LTTE, has stated in an editorial in the latest issue, that the LTTE is unlikely to return to the negotiating table without significant concessions in this matter. This puts the government in a fix. And sure enough, the appeasers in the government have begun to exert pressure on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Meanwhile, the LTTE is getting tougher. Reacting to Wickremesinghes contention on April 30, that the army was moving out of Subhash and Gnanam Hotels in Jaffna town, the LTTEs Political Wing leader S.P. Tamilchelvan has pointed out that the place that the army will be moving into is still in the middle of a very thickly populated area. The new location is next to the Telecom Office, near the main Jaffna post office, the Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Veerasinghanm Hall, the fish market and the stadium, all places where people converge.
The governments move was against the letter and spirit of the Ceasefire Agreement which sought to minimise military presence in populated areas, Tamilchelvan pointed out.
But very significantly, and despite all the sound, fury and posturing on the issue, the LTTE has not been able to organise a mass movement in its support. Jaffna watchers say that the LTTE obviously lacks genuine public support on this issue. The people may not like the army, but certainly they dont want the LTTE back, says D.Siddharthan, the leader of the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). He also said that may Tamil expatriates were visiting Jaffna, not to buy or rebuild property, but to sell them, while the guns were silent!
The UTHR-J reports gives a list of political opponents, civilians and Sri Lankan armymen killed by the LTTE since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002.Atleast 15 army informants have been killed, some in the heart of Colombo. In Batticalao, the LTTE has been telling the people that despite its assurance at Hakone that it will not recruit children for its combat units, the old order to every Tamil family to give one child to the movement, still stood.
The UTHR-J points out that the Sri Lankan government, the SLMM and the international donors have callously brushed this grave human rights question under the carpet. Pleading for a long term view of the human rights issue, the report recalls what happened in Sierra Leone. There too, the foreign peace brokers had cynically installed a criminal rebel gang in power only for the sake of a settlement. But eventually, Britain had to deploy troops to clear the mess, created by this criminal outfit.[Top]
Associated Press, Fri May 2, 2003 05:52 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A Tamil human rights group in Sri Lanka - accused the Tamil Tiger rebels Friday of carrying out revenge killings and other abuses.
The University Teachers of Human Rights of Jaffna said the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam had killed at least 15 Tamils, who were allegedly Sri Lankan military informants, since a Norway-brokered cease-fire between the rebels and government was signed in February 2002.
The (rebels) intelligence activity and targeted killings have intensified ... as the LTT endeavors to eradicate political opponents and military enemies, the rights group said in an e-mail sent to news organizations in Colombo.
There was no immediate reaction from the rebels.
The group said reports of surveillance, harassment, and abduction by the rebels have also increased. Warning of more killings, it said the rebels were taking advantage of the truce to carry out the murders.
Before the cease-fire was signed, the government lifted a ban on the rebels, and dismantled road blocks and removed checkpoints in Colombo, making it easier for the rebels to move around.
The rebels had been fighting for a separate state for 19 years, claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese. The conflict killed at least 65,000 people, many of them civilians. While the cease-fire put an end to the fighting, the rebels last week pulled out of peace talks, stalling the island nations peace process.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday appointed a committee to investigate the allegations after several Sri Lankan newspapers reported on the killings. [Top]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after their most recent peace discussions with the Ranil Wickremesinghe government at Hakone, Japan had changed its priorities from child recruitment to assassinating its political opponents before the elections, charged a leading human rights organization in Sri Lanka.
Their policy had now become, elections and democracy, yes but after killing or crippling the remaining political opposition, said University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna (UTHRJ)
In a 23 page report issued May 2, 2003 that painstakingly documented details of many political killings by the LTTE, the human rights group said even after the United States, now widely considered to be a key player in the resolution of the Sri Lankan problem requested the LTTE to renounce violence and also heaped praises on the peace process the LTTE appeared more confident about killing its political opponents, with the Ranil Wickremesinghe governments complicity regarding such matters taken for granted.
In the report numbered 32 the UTHRJ charged Norway and Japan, the main external actors dealing directly with the LTTE for not making the terrorist groups assassinations and other attacks on its political opponents a critical concern in the peace process. It said , Their bottom-line has appeared to be that human rights must be pushed, but not beyond a point where the LTTE might break off talks. This may partially explain why the LTTEs continuing attacks on Tamil opposition groups has not featured as a critical concern in the peace process, even though any entity promoting resolution of this conflict would unhesitatingly acknowledge how critical democratic participation is to lasting peace.
The report pointed out as far as the assassinations are concerned the situation in the East has become so out of hand. It said, Having got the message that the MoU will do little to prevent or punish political killings, the LTTE is now quite open about it. Members of opposition parties, particularly in the East, dare not leave their political offices. They visit their homes at great risk. The incidents ... illustrate the kind of impunity the LTTE enjoys now. Even in the heart of Batticaloa town, LTTE spies quite openly hang out with cell phones. When they spot a target they summon the death squads who would come promptly on motorcycles or auto rickshaws. Under the MoU, the LTTEs political opponents have been deprived of the weapons they had for their protection, while the LTTE goes about with arms and has shot people in public, while the Police and the Army did nothing. In Jaffna things can be subtler and for that reason more chilling.
The report also said in details that the LTTE after an year of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ranil Wickremesinghe government now saw it had alienated the common people and saw it did not have a dependable electoral base. The report said the terrorist groups absurd claim that they were the sole representatives of the people was based on the Tamil National Alliances seats held by its grovelling MPs. This shaky foundation was also demolished when the TULF leader Anandasangary asserted the independent identity of the party. The report charged that LTTE political head P. Thamilselvan had ordered now that that the TULF should get rid of Anandasangary as leader. The report charged that the LTTE now wanted to use TULF as its front led by Mavai Senathirajah as a LTTE front accepting few LTTE members in to the TULF. The report called such an arrangement a Tiger in Sheeps clothing.
The report categorically said if the army was removed from Jaffna town, the most popular Tamil politician who was elected with the highest number of votes, V. Anadasangary and his supporters in the TULFs Stanley Road office would not be safe.
He reminded how a former mayor of Jaffna of the TULF was killed by the LTTE left the Stnley Road office of his party close to army brigade headquarters and moved to the Mayors office in Nallur.
The UTHR(J) said, Contrary to hopes raised by the ceasefire and the MoU, impunity persists in the North-East, especially on the part of the LTTE. The two crucial and inseparable areas of violations that we have consistently highlighted are child conscription and attacks on political opponents. The two go on in parallel and independently of each other with slack periods followed by periods of intense activity. At present child conscription appears to have subsided while the LTTEs intelligence activity and targeted killings have intensified, both in the North-East and the South, as the LTTE endeavours to eradicate political opponents and military enemies.
By the end of April newspapers were reporting that at least 15 Tamils working as informants to the Sri Lankan military had been killed since the beginning of the cease-fire in February 2002. The latest killing occurred in Colombo on April 26th, causing the Government to launch a long delayed investigation. Reports of surveillance, harassment, abduction and murder of rival Tamil political party members have also increased.
It appears that the LTTE has adopted a programme of first things first. In Batticaloa after the Hakone talks, the LTTE spread the word that whatever was said in the press about the peace talks, each family was still required to provide a child recruit. But intense scrutiny on the issue has made conscripting children outright more difficult. Since Hakone, the LTTE has launched a renewed effort to silence independent local observers and political groups. Their policy: elections and democracy, yes, but after killing or crippling the remaining political opposition.[Top]
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