Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

p
o
l
i
t
i
c
a
l
Int’l community’s ‘Save Praba’ cry, WPC terror & TNA’s blunders

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake

Int’l community pressurising GoSL to save Praba

UN strikes deal to see IDP situ at 1st hand

WPC terror campaigns

Ganeshan, TNA, in hot water

 

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces in Sri Lanka have found a video tape that displays TNA Leader Sambanthan and Mano Ganeshan attending a PonguTamil festival in the then LTTE controlled area of Pudukuduirippu. Recently this video tape was telecast over the airwaves of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Following the airing of this tape there has been a massive southern uprising against both Sambanthan and Ganeshan. The people question how MPs who have sworn an oath according to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, to protect the territorial integrity and the unitary status of the country, could publicly attend a ceremony held by the LTTE which is a banned organisation in the country, and speak on behalf of Eelam

The Armed Forces’ humanitarian operation to liberate the people of the north, has reached a climax, with the Tigers now being holed up in a five square kilometre area. According to military intelligence, about 10,000-15,000 civilians remain trapped in the tiny area along with the LTTE fighters, a number confirmed by former Tiger Spokesman Daya Master who surrendered to the Army last week. Daya Master has also told the Security Forces that LTTE Supremo Vellupullai Prabhakaran remains inside the ‘safe zone’ with the civilians.

While all this is unfolding in the island’s north, a few countries in the world are applying maximum pressure on the Sri Lankan government, to save Prabhakaran and the remaining LTTE senior leadership from the wrath of the advancing government troops. It is for this reason that these countries, including the US, Britain, Norway, Australia, France, Germany, the European Union and Japan are calling for a halt to the hostilities, supposedly to allow the 150,000 civilians in the area to be evacuated.

While President Mahinda Rajapaksa was on a tour of Libya, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon telephoned him to ask that a ceasefire be called to allow the civilians to escape. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also telephoned President Rajapaksa making the same request. Last week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown contacted President Rajapaksa and asked him to call a two week ceasefire. President Rajapaksa who turned down this request said that in two weeks the Wanni operations would be over, and there would be no need for a ceasefire.

Prime Minister Brown then stated that he would like to send Des Browne to Sri Lanka as Britain’s special envoy. Des Browne, however, is believed to be a hard core LTTE sympathiser, and there were media reports that he had even attended a pro-LTTE conference in London recently. President Rajapaksa, therefore, denied Premier Brown’s request, and said that if Britain were to send a delegation comprising all political parties in Britain, he would be more than happy to welcome them to Sri Lanka.

Last Wednesday meanwhile the UN Security Council met and took up the Sri Lankan issue up. Mexico currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, and the country has shown anti-Sri Lankan sentiments in the recent past. Although Mexico tried several times to get Sri Lanka included in the Security Council agenda, the moves were thwarted because of opposition from China and Russia, both permanent members of the UN’s most powerful body. It was in this context that Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona made a trip to Mexico, in order to brief the government of that country about the real situation in Sri Lanka. Kohona’s visit was apparently a success because on Wednesday, the UN Security Council President called on the LTTE to surrender and lay down arms and allow the trapped civilians within their area of control to go free.

Deal

The UN meanwhile struck a deal with the government to be allowed into the north of the island, in order to see first hand the situation of the displaced civilians in the area.
The Indian general elections which are currently underway, have made the Sri Lankan issue a central theme in that country at present. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi recently called a hartal in solidarity with the Tamils trapped in Sri Lanka, calling for shops to be closed and public transport to come to a standstill. However, Karunanidhi’s protest received no support from other Tamil Nadu leaders including Jayalalitha.

Congress Party Leader Sonia Gandhi’s children Priyanka and Rahul have adopted a completely anti-LTTE position. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also gone on record saying that India has not changed its position on the LTTE in any way.

A few countries in the world are applying maximum pressure on the Sri Lankan Government, to save Prabhakaran and the remaining LTTE senior leadership from the wrath of the advancing government troops. It is for this reason that these countries, including the US, Britain, Norway, Australia, France, Germany, the European Union and Japan are calling for a halt to the hostilities, supposedly to allow the 150,000 civilians in the area to be evacuated. While President Mahinda Rajapaksa was on a tour of Libya, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon telephoned him to ask that a ceasefire be called to allow the civilians to escape. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also telephoned President Rajapaksa making the same request. Last week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown contacted President Rajapaksa and asked him to call a two week ceasefire

The Indian Premier was compelled to make this statement because Karunanidhi appeared in an interview on NDTV, and claimed that LTTE Leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran was not a terrorist and that he was a good friend of his. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s statement put the Indian government in an awkward position, especially since the party headed by Karunanidhi, the MDMK is a coalition partner of the Congress Government, and is contesting the present polls with the incumbent ruling party. Karunanidhi’s interview caused a furor among Congress party members, most of whom are vehemently anti-LTTE because the organisation killed its former leader and Indian Premier Rajeev Gandhi. The LTTE leader is still wanted in India for the assassination of its Prime Minister.

Upon realising the widespread ramifications of his statement, Karunanidhi retracted, saying that the television station had misinterpreted his words.

Britain meanwhile is intent on using India to put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government. Indian media reported last week that British Foreign Secretary David Milliband had discussed the Sri Lankan issue with his Indian counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee in a telephone conversation.

Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane told journalists last Friday that Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa would be travelling to New Delhi soon for talks with the Indian government. However a Government spokesman on Friday denied that there was such a plan in place. Indian media reported that Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Aloka Prasad last week travelled to New Delhi to brief Indian Foreign Secretary Shishankar Menon and National Security Advisor M.K. Narayan about the situation of the civilians trapped in the war zone. India State Minister Anand Sharma on Thursday announced that Menon and Narayanan would be travelling to Colombo for talks with the Sri Lankan Government. The two Indian officials arrived in Colombo Friday morning on a special flight and met with President Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona.

On Friday, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed grave concern over the Sri Lanka crisis and asked the LTTE to stop its ‘barbaric’ acts in Sri Lanka. Mukherjee made this statement following a high level meeting chaired by the Indian Prime Minister on Wednesday night. Defence Minister A.K. Anthony, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayan and Foreign Secretary Shishankar Menon. The meeting was called by the Indian Premier to review the crisis situation in Sri Lanka, after Karunanidhi declared a Tamil Nadu hartal on Thursday, and asked the Centre to take immediate action on the issue. “We are very unhappy over the continued killing of innocent Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. These killings must stop,” Mukherjee said, adding that it is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan Government to protect its own people. He lashed out at the LTTE for using innocent civilians as a shield to save themselves.

WPC fray

The Elections Commissioner is in the habit of summoning party secretaries to the Elections Secretariat from time to time in order to discuss the ongoing issues pertaining to the polls campaign. And so it was that Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake scheduled a meeting with the UNP, JVP and other parties to discuss the series of complaints with regard to election violence and corruption at the Elections Department in Rajagiriya. Tissa Attanayake, S.B. Dissanayake represented the UNP while Susil Premajayanth represented the UPFA and the JVP was represented by Sunil Handunetti. Hassan Ali represented the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress at the meeting.

Attanayake claimed that there was a massive terror campaign underway in the Central Colombo electorate, and a underworld group in that area was not only impeding the campaign activities of the UNP and SLMC in the area, but it was also not allowing any UPFA candidates except for Ajman Mawjood to campaign in the area. He said that other candidates were not allowed to set up an office or decorate their premises without the underworld gang descending on them. Attanayake added that although he had made Police complaints about the matter on March 26, April 19 and April 20, the Police have so far not acted to put an end to the problem. The UNP General Secretary expressed concern that the voters of Central Colombo would not be permitted to use their ballot in an environment free of threat and intimidation.

The JVP and the SLMC echoed Attanayake’s statements about the issues at the Central Colombo electorate. Apart from this, JVP MP Handunetti also brought up the attacks on the JVP campaign offices, the murder of a JVP member Balage and the attack on a JVP group in Kottawa. He asked the Commissioner to call on the IGP to look into all these incidents.

SLMC General Secretary Hassan Ali said that the terror in the Central Colombo electorate was being caused by one UPFA candidate contesting in the area. IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne who was also present at the meeting, however, claimed that he has so far not got a single written or verbal complaint about the problem in Central Colombo, and said it was nonsense concocted by the party secretaries.

The meeting turned tense with the IGP’s statement, with party secretaries becoming agitated and protesting the Police Chief’s words.

Intervening to calm the situation, the Elections Commissioner assured the party secretaries that whatever the IGP said, he would personally ensure that the election in the Central Colombo electorate would be conducted in a free and fair manner. Commissioner Dissanayake added that if one candidate was resorting to such violent campaigning methods, he would be compelled to make a harsh judgment on the matter. Although the IGP attempted to interject at this juncture, he was met with strong opposition from the party representatives, finally compelling him to stand up and leave the meeting room.

On April 22 meanwhile, the Polls Chief at a news conference attempted to respond to allegations that there had been an excessive number of polling cards printed for the WPC election and that some voters had more than one polling card. The Commissioner refuted charges that 133,000 additional polling cards had been printed, and challenged the parties making such a claim to prove this was so. He added that even though certain persons might be registered at more than one polling station, he or she would only be permitted to cast a ballot only at one station, and officers in charge of polling stations have already been sent a list of persons in whose case this is true.

Thirty eight politicians have been registered to vote in more than one station. This includes six Municipal Councillors and several candidates contesting yesterday’s election. The Polls Chief charged that each party had appointed members to scrutinise vote registers well ahead of time, and said that if these members had carried out their duties, such a situation would never have arisen.

The Commissioner also called on the Western Province voters to refrain from casting their ballots for candidates who engage in election violence, and those who are certified thugs and drug dealers.

Ganeshan and TNA in hot water

The defeat of the LTTE has put the Tamil National Alliance and the Mano Ganeshan led Western Peoples’ Front in an awkward position.

TNA Leader R. Sambanthan and MPs Mavei Senathiraja, Suresh Premachandran and S. Adaikalanthan, travelled to New Delhi recently for talks with Indian Foreign Secretary Shishankar Menon and National Security Advisor M.K. Narayan. They asked the Indian officials to pressure the Sri Lankan Government into calling a ceasefire, and calling on the UN to send a peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka. However, both officials denied these requests.
“We only want the trapped civilians in the Wanni to be saved. We cannot ask for a ceasefire,” Narayan told the TNA delegation.

Sambathan responded that Sri Lanka was maintaining close ties with both Pakistan and China, and warned that these relations could be a threat to Indian security in the future. However, Narayan responded that the Indian government was aware of this and was monitoring the situation.

The TNA delegation met with Foreign Secretary Shishankar Menon at the Prime Minister’s office. They asked the Indian Foreign Secretary to call on the UN to establish a peace keeping mission in Sri Lanka. However, Menon refused to do so and said that the UN Secretary General had sent his special envoy Vijay Nambiar to Sri Lanka, and it would be up to the UN Security Council to make a decision on such matters once the envoy submits his report.

When Sambanthan charged that the Indian government’s indifference was a betrayal of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, Menon asked the TNA to never forget that it was the LTTE that killed the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Foreign Secretary added that since elections were underway in India, it was difficult to grant any of the TNA’s requests.

Despite this stand by the Indian government, it has been hard pressed to ignore the pressure emanating from the state of Tamil Nadu about the state of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile the Armed Forces in Sri Lanka have found a video tape that displays TNA Leader Sambanthan and Mano Ganeshan attending a PonguTamil festival in the then LTTE controlled area of Pudukuduirippu. Recently this video tape was telecast over the airwaves of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Following the airing of this tape there has been a massive southern uprising against both Sambanthan and Ganeshan. The people question how MPs who have sworn an oath according to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, to protect the territorial integrity and the unitary status of the country, could publicly attend a ceremony held by the LTTE which is a banned organisation in the country, and speak on behalf of Eelam.

National Freedom Front Leader Wimal Weerawansa and JHU member Udaya Gammanpila have both called for the arrest of these two Tamil MPs. However, Mano Ganeshan claims that he did not attend this ceremony as alleged.

The Indian government recently arrested Vaiko and Tamil Nadu producer Seeman over the fact that they expressed pro-LTTE statements despite the fact that the organisation was proscribed in the country. These two parties question that since India has done this, it is high time for the Sri Lankan Government to follow suit and arrest Ganeshan and Sambanthan.
A group of MPs are preparing to submit a proposal to this effect when Parliament convenes again on May 5.

 

 


home