Monday, March 01, 2010

General Sarath Fonseka to fight in Sri Lanka

General Sarath Fonseka, the former Sri Lankan army chief, who was arrested this month on coup charges, filed nomination papers yesterday to contest parliamentary elections on April 8 as the leader of an opposition alliance.

The soldier-turned-politician, who led the army to victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels last year, filed his application through his wife, Anoma, who is allowed to visit him in custody in the naval headquarters in Colombo. “It’s all gone through: he’s contesting for the Colombo district,” Tiran Alles, a businessman and close supporter of the general, told The Times.

Letting Agents and Estate for Fitzrovia Properties

Fitzrovia has been well known for offering beautiful landmarks ranging from Fritzrovia B.T Tower to Camden Roadside areas. One of the well known landmarks of this area is called Fitzrovia B.T Tower, which was also earlier called as Post Office Tower, was actually built for catering the telecommunication needs for the United Kingdom. In fact, what made this building more attractive is a restaurant, which will rotate. This restaurant will complete a circle with a time period of 22 minutes. It was in the 1961, the construction work for building the Fitzrovia B.T Tower started off. However, the engineers managed to get this building completely constructed within 1964 July. Unfortunately, the same building was closed in the year 1971, as some major terrorist attacks took place under this huge building.

In addition to the Fitzrovia B.T Tower, there are also other major attractions in this area such as the Charlotte Street. This street is also well known for locating the new media types, editing folk as well as the television production squads. There are also many cafes in each road of this area in order to sit back and relax having a cup of coffee. The Fitzrovia property has also become a topic from many well known writers including Fitzroy Tavern, George Orwell and Dylan Thomas.

Are you are looking forward to buy a property or sell in this area? If yes, then the good news for you is that we are exclusively available for this purpose. We have been aligned with many agents in order to make our service better and easy reachable for people in all ends of Fitzrovia. We boast ourselves with a highly knowledgeable staff, which is always ready to clarify your doubts and to answer for your queries. Canary Wharf Property guide.

Monday, November 10, 2008

STF confident of meeting LTTE threat in East

A series of hit and run attacks in the east, particularly directed at the renegade Karuna faction has prompted Army headquarters to review security measures in place to meet the LTTE challenge.

The army top brass has expressed serious concern over what a security official called an alarming increase in LTTE activity. LTTE infiltrators have claimed the lives of a dozen Karuna loyalists in the recent past.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that action was being taken to neutralise the threat. "They are operating in small groups trying to cause panic," he told The Island yesterday. He speculated on the possibility of the presence of sleepers awaiting orders to launch operations.

With the army pulling out bulk of the infantry and support units for operations on the Vanni front, the Special Task Force (STF) has had to play a pivotal role in anti-insurgency operations in the East.

STF Commandant DIG K. M. L. Sarathchandra told The Island that the LTTE was making a desperate bid to make its presence felt in the East.

He said some of the infiltrators had been killed and their arms, ammunition and equipment recovered in operations carried out by his troops. A confident STF chief said that the LTTE wouldn’t be allowed to exploit the situation.

"We are on a heightened state of alert and will do everything possible to destroy them," he said.

Responding to our queries, he said that the LTTE had launched a major false propaganda campaign to deceive the Tamil Diaspora and people living in the South. He said that reports on several successful LTTE attacks on the STF had been posted on the pro-LTTE Tamilnet in the recent past. But nothing could be more ridiculous than the claim that the Jayanthan Brigade killed ten police commandos and wounded two at Koappaaveli on the Badulla road on November 4. TamilNet also claimed that the STF had lost three personnel two days later during a 30-minute confrontation in the Panama area.

Task Force 1 troops crossing marshlands of Ponneryn

Amide vile weather and heavy terrorist resistance, Army Task Force 1 troops have stepped into the great marshlands of Poonaryn, the final obstacle they have to clear before achieving their mission, defence sources said.

According to the sources, heavy fighting have been reported since last evening (Nov 9) in the Chempankundu area, as infantrymen started crossing the extremely hostile terrain that runs about 18 Km, west to east from Chempankundu to Nivil. The marshlands that have about 2 km width at some parts stand as an excellent defence for the terrorists, the sources said. However, troops are not in a mood to slow down their pace of advance despite whatever barricade stand against them, the sources added.

Troops of 583 brigade, attacked an LTTE strong point in Chempankundu around 6.10 PM and reported heavy damages to the terrorists. Few soldiers laid own their lives and several others sustained injuries. Meanwhile, troops of 582 brigade confronted with a group of terrorists in the Mulaikoduttavil area around 7.40 AM. Troops claimed heavy damages to the terrorists.

Snipers deployed in the forward areas reported shooting down of two terrorists in the Navalladi and Pallai areas during the day.

Task Force 1 launched their operations early this year to dominate the northwestern coast of the island. So far, troops have marched about 75 km along the Mannar- Poonaryn road (A-32) and established their forward boundaries 7km south of Poonaryn at present.

Defence observers are in the view that troops would be able to wrest full control over the A-32 road once they cross the marshland. The accomplishment of this would open a land route to Jaffna peninsula after 20 years, they add.

Monday, October 13, 2008

London Property index

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Catholic cabinet minsiter Ruth Kelly quits

Catholic minister Ruth Kelly insists her decision to quit the Government is a purely personal one.

The Transport Secretary is stepping down at the next cabinet reshuffle to spend more time with her family.

Her departure comes less than twenty-four hours after Gordon Brown's successful speech at the Labour Party conference.

But it’s a move that overshadows what was thought to be Brown’s most important political speech.

Ms Kelly’s resignation reignites suggestions of a fractured Labour Party.

In his speech, Mr Brown hoped to bury any doubts his over his leadership and claimed it was Labour's "duty" to focus on the challenges facing the country not disagreements within the party.

However, rumours persisted that Kelly had become disenchanted with Mr Brown's leadership. The Conservatives claim she uttered the word 'terrible' after his address.

But Ms Kelly, who's a member of Catholic group Opus Dei, is adamant that she's not leaving because of the Prime Minister's leadership.

“Bringing a front line politician, bringing up 4 your children, being a constituency MP - it’s not been easy all the time. I’ve relied on the support from my family and friends and I now think it’s time to take a step back and to repay them for the support they have given me over the years.”

Ms Kelly says this shouldn't fuel speculation she is unhappy with Brown’s performance. “I can’t think of anyone better.” She said, claiming that Gordon Brown was a towering figure of the Labour party and the right man for the job.

Mr Brown said: "She's been an MP all the time her children have been born. She is a very talented individual and I think the public will understand these are the things that happen when you have to juggle work and family life."

The Labour Party Conference comes to a close today. Chair of the Christian Sociality Movement, Labour MP Alun Michael tells Premier the mood among his colleagues.

“It’s very buoyant. We have had a lot of discussion not just among ourselves but people like the leaders of the free churches who have been visiting,” he said, “We have seen an increase of political engagement not just in the denominations but across faiths, upon which, I believe we can lead.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Api Wenuwen Api" Cultural and Musical show in London

Sri Lankan expatriates in Britain have organised a cultural and musical showcase to raise funds for the "Api Wenuwen Api housing fund" for the tri-services personnel in Sri Lanka, at the Troxy Theatre in London, on Sunday (21 September). According to the organising committee of the event, the musical show will also be conducted by the Sri Lankan tri-services personnel, who invite all patriotic Sri Lankans and peace loving people to be present at the occasion.
Following are excerpts from the media release of the event.

"Api Wenuwen Api Fund" is a collaboration between the Ministry of Defence and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to build 50,000 houses for the serving Tri-Service personnel.

The gift of housing is one of the best and most tangible ways to demonstrate our gratitude and appreciation. This is the time for all Sri Lankans to support our brothers and sisters who are committed to bringing peace to our motherland - Sri Lanka.

The main event of this project "Api Wenuwen Api Cultural and Musical show" conducted by Tri Services personnel in Sri Lanka will be held at the Troxy Theatre 490 Commercial Road London E1 0HX on Sunday 21st September 2008 at 2.30 pm.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Taj Lanka to continue investing in city hotel despite "turmoil"

Despite carrying accumulated losses of over Rs.1.3 billion in its books and posting a loss of Rs.30.3 million, down from a loss of Rs.63.6 million a year earlier, in fiscal 2007/08, Taj Lanka Hotels PLC will continue with its renovation program "in spite of present turmoil," the company's Chairman, Mr. Anil P. Goel has said in the company's just released annual report.

"The year under review has been extremely difficult for the hotel industry, a year in which your company operated under even tougher conditions," he said reiterating tht investment in their Colombo property will continue.

Goel made the point that the conflict in the North and the East and widespread media exposure of these events had contributed to the industry's "dismal performance" during the year under review.

"Further, inflation and cost of living have gone up significantly along with cost of imports due to the sharp devaluation of the rupee. These have contributed adversely to the cost of operations. Due to the uncertain future based on the current scenario, the deferred tax charge had impacted further on the net results of the company," he explained.

However, the company was committed to enhancing the image and position of the hotel in the market having renovated four floors and the swimming pool and opened a brand new coffee shop which was already popular.

The next phase of the renovation will focus on the remaining floors, restaurants, banqueting and fitness centre facilities, the chairman said.

He was hopeful that tourism will stabilize by the end of the second half of the current financial year which is the winter tourist season on the basis of information received from key source markets.

This, together with the proactive stand taken by the Tourism Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board to increase arrivals, is expected to show results by the end of this year, he hoped.

"As a positive initiative to target India, one of the fastest growing outbound markets, Taj group is partnering with the Sri Lankan government in new strategies to cater to various segmented tourism and in (projecting) Sri Lanka as a selected destination," he said.

Goel identified negative travel advisories by major tourist originating countries including UK, Germany, Australia, Italy and France as a deterrent to the progress of the tourism industry.

"These advisories together with the uncertain security situation were reflected in a decline in arrivals from all the major markets, except the UK, the Maldives, Middle, East and Russia," he said.

"As a result, earning from tourism declined to US dollars 385 million in 2007/08, an all time low figure, from US dollars 410 million in 2006/07. Nevertheless several initiatives were taken in 2007/08."

Taj Lanka has a stated capital of nearly Rs.1.4 billion and a revaluation reserve of Rs.1.2 billion in its books with borrowings running at Rs.444.9 million.

Net finance cost during the year under review had declined to Rs.29.9 million from Rs.54.1 million the previous year.

The Taj had been marginally profitable for four of the last six years except 2004/05 when a tidy profit of Rs.155.3 million was posted. The last two years had been loss making.

Taj Asia Limited with 58.14%, the Indian Hotels Company (24.62%) and Mrs. Jane Elizabeth de Silva (2.04%) are the major shareholders of the company.

The Taj Lanka share with net assets of Rs.8.53 per share, down from Rs.8.74 the previous year, traded at a high of Rs.11.50 and a low of Rs.7 during the year under review. This compared with a trading range of Rs.17 to Rs.10.50 the previous year.

The directors of the company are: Messrs. Anil P. Goel, U.L. Kadurugamuwa, B.K. Chaudhary (alternate Nirvana Chaudhary), Arun K. Chaudhary, Tilak de Zoysa, J. Daboo, Souvik Das (resigned 27.03.2008), R.H. Parekh (w.e.f. 27.03.2008), J.P. Kanoria, Vish Govindasamy, Dr. G. Sundaram and Ms. D.M. Harris.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Army releases HSZ land in Jaffna

The army has released a small section of the High Security Zone (HSZ) situated in Ariyalai east between railway tracks and the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road. Army headquarters has authorised the release of 103 acres of cultivable paddy fields on the recommendation of Jaffna Commander Major General G. A. Chandrasiri.

Inter-Agency Standing Committee which represents all INGOs including UN agencies has confirmed the release of land in its latest bulletin.

A senior army spokesman based in Jaffna said the 73 families would be benefited. "We have already given them access to their land. They’ll be issued special identity cards," he said.

Ariyalai is situated in the area controlled by 51 Division deployed in the town and its adjoining areas. He said the return of the civilians would be subject to strict surveillance as part of the security measures to thwart LTTE infiltration.

Responding to our queries, the official said that the release of land had not been on a court order. He said people tend to mix up the release of Ariyalai paddy fields with an ongoing case over cultivable land within the Palaly HSZ. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said the armed forces had initiated discussions with the Government Agent of Jaffna and the judiciary to explore ways and means of facilitating the return of civilians. But this wouldn’t be at the expense of security of the strategic bases, he said. Northern Naval Area Commander Rear Admiral Tissara Samarasinghe and Major General Chandrasiri are involved in the ongoing deliberations.

The official said that gradual easing up of restrictions would largely depend on the support received from the civilian community. Emphasising the importance of thwarting LTTE attempts to cause trouble in the peninsula, he commended the civilians for protecting electricity transformers at the risk of their lives.

The LTTE recently damaged several electricity transformers as part of their efforts to harass the Jaffna administration.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Army captures Palamoddai and Ulathuvely areas

The counter terrorist offensive operation launched to liberate Wanni region from LTTE clutches has reached to a significant milestone as the troops of Task Force-2 and 59 Division captured the Palamoddai Town, west of A-9 Road, near Omanthai, and Ulathuvely beach area, 4 km to the north of Kokkutuduvai in the Welioya front, respectively this afternoon, 28 August, the latest report received from battlefront said.

Troops of Task Force 2 advanced along the northwestern border of the Vavuniya district, on the west of the A-9 road have gained the total control over the Palamoddai town area. LTTE terrorists raised their fullest effort to protest this strategically vital area and to delay the security forces advances directing heavy resistance on them. With the fallen of Palamoddai, terrorists have to make more efforts to defend their territory in north of Omanthai area to face the fast moving soldiers towards Kilinochchi, defence sources said.

Simultaneously, troops of the 59 Division advanced to the north of Kokkutoduvai have captured the Ulathuvely area, about 4 km, north of Kokkutoduvai, a strategically important beachfront.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Farmers allowed cultivating lands in HSZ in Jaffna

With the improvement in the security situation in the Jaffna peninsula, the farmers who own paddy land in the Ariyalai East High Security Zone (HSZ) have got the opportunity to cultivate their land. According to the Army Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna (SFHQJ), the farmers have been allowed to cultivate 103 acres of land that lies between the Ariyalai railway track and Jaffna-Kandy road (A-9) from 17 August.

73 farmers who had registered with the Ariyalai East Farmers' association commenced their work on Sunday (Aug 18). The sources said that the each farmer have been issued a special identity card by the civil military coordination office of 512 brigade.

The officials of the farmers association have welcomed the security forces' decision to allow the lands for the cultivation work. They have called the decision a vital confidence building measure between the civilian community and the security forces.

'Peace & Goodwill' continues to remain in Jaffna

A review of all security measures in force, steps taken to prevent robberies and thefts, ongoing humanitarian and welfare projects in the Jaffna peninsula was made during the forum, "People's Council for Peace and Goodwill," assembled at the transit hall in Kankesenthurai Forward Maintenance Area last Sunday (17th August).

The meeting, led by Major General G.A Chandrasiri, Commander Security Forces Jaffna was attended by Chief Hindu Priest in Jaffna Rev Sri Somasundar Paramacharya Swamy, Jaffna Bishop Rt Rev Dr Thomas Soundaranayagam, Jaffna High Court Judge R.T Vignarajah, District Secretary for Jaffna K Ganesh, 51 Divisional Commander Major General L.B.R Mark, Northern Division Deputy Inspector General of Police W.F.U Fernando and a host of other senior Army and Navy officers.

Major General G.A Chandrasiri, giving an updated account of ongoing projects such as Chunnakam power project, Achchuveli industrial zone, Re-opening of Kankesanthurai cement factory, conduct of medical clinics, distribution of dry rations among low income groups, conduct of religious ceremonies and advanced level and grade five scholarship examinations, organizing of an educational exhibition, inter-school sports meet, computer training programme for school drop-outs and coordinated security network, run by combined Police and Army personnel in the peninsula, etc. highlighted that uninterrupted 24-hour power supply to the Jaffna people, has largely helped Security Forces to combat swelling criminal activities, the meeting was told. Establishment of a new rehabilitation centre for children and women, close to the existing Thelippalai one, is also in progress, it was disclosed, as numbers seeking protection from the Security Forces after abandoning LTTE terrorism are on the increase.

It was also pointed out that people over 60 years of age need not seek security clearance for their exit from the Jaffna peninsula. 51, 52 & 55 Divisions, effective from 1st September would issue security clearance for respective areas directly from the Division offices.

Possibilities to relocate Pannai Police station and Jaffna Police Headquarters were also taken up for discussion during this meeting.

Major General Chandrasiri announced that some 700 connections to CDMA telephones are to be restored and given to their owners on the recommendations of the security authorities, the gathering was told.

Matters concerning distribution of foods, arrangements made in connection with Nallur Kovil festival and smooth conduct of affairs in the peninsula, were also discussed during this friendly gathering.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tamil Gangsters to be sentenced for murdering youth by stabbing - London

Four Tamil gang members were convicted for the murder of another Tamil youth by stabbing him 31 times on a London street in the most insensate manner and the Old Bailey said they will be sentenced July 7.

The police said gangs of violent Sri Lankan Tamil men in South London area, where illegal fund raising activities of the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are quite rampant are "constantly tooled up" and "ready to go", for such crimes .

"There have been a number of violent clashes involving groups of Tamil men in Croydon and other parts of south London in recent years", said a local newspaper Wandsworth Borough News.

"They culminated in the murder of 28-year-old Prabaskaran Kannan in Tooting last year. He was chased by a group of four men from Croydon who stabbed and slashed their terrified victim 31 times outside a fried chicken takeaway shop", the newspaper reported. The case came to be known as Chicken Cottage Tamil murder after the name of the take away restaurant. The chief detective in the case said Croydon's Tamil gangs were causing concern among officers.

Detective Sergeant Mick Snowdon spoke out about the problems surrounding Tamil gangs after five men were convicted of Mr Kannan's murder at the Old Bailey in London.

Witnesses said in the courts that Mr Kannan was heard shouting "It wasn't me, it wasn't me" shortly before he was brutally set upon and killed by the four Tamil gang members.

Last week, homeless Vabeesan Sivarajah, 22, Aziz Miah, 20, of Sumner Road, Croydon, Asif Kumbay, 20, of Grasmere Road, Purley, and Kirush Nathankumar, 18, of Purley Way, Croydon, were all convicted of murder by an Old Bailey jury. They all denied the charges.

"The young men burst into tears after the sentence was announced. A jury of nine men and three women took three days to reach their verdict", reported the local newspaper.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Police seeks public assistance to arrest terror suspect

Police investigation units seek public assistance to arrest the terror suspect who has detonated an IED slightly damaging a rail track injuring 18 civilians between Wellawattha and Dehiwala this morning (June 4).

The Police while commending the public for their awareness, which had made it possible to avert tragedy, issued a photo of the suspect with following details.

Available details are as follows:


Name: Jatheesan Balasubramaniyam

Date of Birth: 1978.08.28

Passport No: N 1898438

NIC No: 782413538 V

Address: Wattala (general area)

Inform details to following Police emergency numbers:






Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No nation should be ever forced to negotiate with terrorists - US President

US President George W. Bush recently made some valuable comments on terrorism and extremism and the way the world should treat the nations that are threatened by them. Addressing the Israeli Knesset at celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, the US President expressed his country's belief that the right of nations to defend themselves against terrorism and extremism must not be overridden by whatever sacrifices need to be made for peace. He then appreciated the courageous decisions made by Israeli leaders to build peace as well as to eliminate terrorism and said that no nation should be forced to negotiate with terrorists. More details

Terrorist chief Balraj dies in a heart attack

Pro LTTE websites today said a senior terrorist leader known as Balraj had died in a heart attack at an LTTE base in Wanni on Tuesday (May 20). Balraj said to be the first leader of the terrorist band named after the son of LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran - "The Charles Anthony Brigade".

Balraj being a founding member of the LTTE was an accomplice in many civilian massacres carried out by the LTTE. According to the Pro terror websites, Balraj has been given self styled rank of "Brigadier:" by the LTTE leadership.

LTTE is a ruthless terrorist outfit that has been fighting a bloody war against the citizen of Sri Lanka since 1983. Inspired by the tribal ideologies of its megalomaniac leader V. Prbhakaran, the outfit's main cause is to create a mono ethnic separate homeland for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The LTTE is also blacklisted under the UN list of shame for using child soldiers in combat.

Monday, May 19, 2008

President's Vesak Message

It is with much devotion and faith that I join all Sri Lankan Buddhists in celebrating the Great Vesak Festival.

We know that the greatest homage we could pay to the Buddha is to live the Vesak season according to the teachings of the Buddha.

The Buddha showed us that advancement in this world and the next could be achieved by appreciating what is good. The policy of the government is to steer the country to the correct path by adhering to the dhamma. In doing so our responsibility is to tolerate other opinions and act with loving kindness. As the Buddha has taught:

"Be alert; do not idle. Follow the law of virtue. He who is virtuous lives happily both in this world and the next" - Dhammapada. Ch. 13. v.168

Let us stop being indifferent and speaking ill of the past. We should brook no delay in working to build a virtuous land.

Our hope is to bequeath a prosperous country that is without armaments and fear of enemies and robbers; a country in which all could live in tranquility. Our resolve on this Vesak Day is to work with a correct vision in keeping with the dhamma. This will see the fruition of our actions to build a new Sri Lanka.

Let us resolve make this Vesak Festival meaningful by seeking refuge in the serene path of Buddha.

May you all obtain refuge in the Buddha!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The tsunami in Sri Lanka: A case study in US humanitarian missions

Since the cyclone engulfed Burma on May 3, there has been an incessant campaign in the international media to push for foreign militaries, along with aid officials, to be allowed into the country. Article after article contrasts the paranoia, incompetence and callousness of the Burmese junta with the supposed willingness of the US and other major powers to generously provide humanitarian assistance.

The Burmese junta has clearly demonstrated once again its repressive methods and callous disregard for human life. But the claim that Washington and its allies are acting purely out of concern for the Burmese people is simply a lie. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration is pursuing its strategic and economic interests—in the case of Burma to undermine a regime that is allied to China, which the US regards as a potentially dangerous rising rival.

In making the case for an intervention in Burma, the media commentary frequently raises the 2004 tsunami, claiming that the international response, including the deployment of foreign militaries, was a model of efficiency and benevolence. Completely ignored is what actually took place in 2004, its political implications and the fate of the tens of thousands of survivors who are still struggling to survive in countries around the Bay of Bengal.

The case of Sri Lanka contains important lessons. After Indonesia, Sri Lanka was the country hardest hit by tsunami. According to official figures, at least 30,920 people died, 519,063 were displaced and 103,836 houses destroyed. The devastation was horrendous. Homes, schools, hospitals, road, rail lines, communications were all swept away. Whole villages disappeared. The survivors were left without shelter, food, clean water and medicine. Many, particularly fishermen, lost their livelihoods.

Burma is not alone in having an incompetent, repressive administration. For days the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga did nothing, particularly in the East and North where a tense ceasefire was holding with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It was above all ordinary working people, including those with skills such as doctors and nurses, who streamed out of Colombo and provided the first assistance to desperate survivors.

The reaction of the government was to deploy soldiers and troops and place the entire aid operation under military control, including the teams of volunteers. Their prime concern was not to help the survivors, who faced appalling conditions in squalid improvised refugee camps, but to suppress any opposition or protests at the government’s indifference and lack of aid. Above all, the way in which ordinary Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims had come together to assist each other, cut directly across the decades of anti-Tamil communalism on which the Colombo political establishment has rested.

It was in this context that the Bush administration dispatched the US military to Sri Lanka. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell did not so much ask as demand that marines be allowed into the south of the island. Even in ruling circles, eyebrows were raised at allowing American troops into the country for the first time. An editorial in the Daily Mirror openly questioned whether the military intervention had ulterior motives—to further US interests in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Kumaratunga quickly acquiesced, however. Three hundred marines landed in the south of the island and were deployed there and at Arugam Bay in the East. The aid operation was very limited. The soldiers helped clear debris, handed out some relief supplies, posed for the media and then pulled out several months later. Undoubtedly some survivors received assistance, but the overriding purpose of the US military presence was political.

The operation had a number of motives: to overcome decades of deep hostility among the Sri Lankan masses towards US imperialism and to set a precedent that is now being invoked in the case of Burma. But as the Socialist Equality Party warned, above all Washington was seeking to forge closer military ties, including with Sri Lanka, to pursue its economic and strategic ambitions throughout the broader region.

Sri Lanka’s strategic significance

That warning was confirmed. Sri Lanka’s main strategic significance is its position astride the main sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean, including the main route from the Middle East through the Malacca Strait to the Pacific. In particular, the deep-water port of Trincomalee on the eastern coast has been long been regarded as an important prize. After the 2002 ceasefire was signed with the LTTE, a high-level team from the US Pacific Command visited Sri Lanka to make a detailed study of Trincomalee harbour and assess the potential LTTE threats.

At that point, the Bush administration was still publicly supporting the so-called international peace process as the means for ending the island’s bitter 20-year civil war. Washington’s concern was not, however, with the devastation that the war had brought to Sri Lanka’s population, but rather that the conflict was a destabilising influence which threatened US interests in the region, particularly in India.

By December 2004, however, the peace process was already at the point of collapse. Peace negotiations had broken down in April 2003 and in early 2004 President Kumaratunga summarily dismissed the United National Front (UNF) government for “undermining national security”. In the background, the military and Sinhala extremist parties, such as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)—a partner in Kumaratunga’s new government, were already pressing for a renewed war.

The US and other major powers used the catastrophe created by the tsunami to push for a joint mechanism between the government and the LTTE to distribute international aid. The proposal was regarded as the first step towards restarting peace negotiations. Kumaratunga tentatively embraced the suggestion, in part because of broad popular sentiment that the tsunami had demonstrated that all Sri Lankans were in the same boat and that the fratricidal war should be ended. However, the military high command and the JVP regarded the temporary aid body as an impermissible concession to the LTTE.

The tsunami was a convenient pretext for forging closer political and military ties with Washington. Powell visited Colombo in early January as part of his tour of affected countries. In April, Admiral William J. Fallon, then head of the US Pacific Command, visited Sri Lanka, met with government leaders and toured areas hit by the tsunami, including Trincomalee. In the same month, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca arrived in Sri Lanka to discuss the joint aid mechanism.

The Bush administration was clearly pursuing a two-pronged strategy—publicly pushing for peace talks, while privately holding top level discussions with the Sri Lankan military over possible war plans. Discussions over a joint aid administration dragged on for months. A conference of major aid donors on May 16-17 issued an ultimatum to Colombo to establish the body as the condition for a $US3 billion aid package.

Kumaratunga reluctantly established the Post-Tsunami Operations Management Structure (P-TOMS) with the LTTE, but it was a lame duck from the outset. The JVP withdrew from the government and successfully challenged the constitutionality of P-TOMS in the Supreme Court. At presidential elections in November 2005, the JVP backed the new candidate of Kumaratunga’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party—Mahinda Rajapakse—on a platform that scrapped P-TOMS completely and set the course for a renewed war.

Having narrowly won office, Rajapakse with the tacit backing of Washington immediately adopted a highly provocative stance towards the LTTE. In January 2006, the US ambassador in Colombo Jeffrey Lunstead signalled Washington’s support for a renewed war, demanding the LTTE accept the government’s terms for talks. “If the LTTE chooses to abandon peace,” Lunstead warned, “we want it to be clear, they will face a stronger, more capable and more determined Sri Lankan military. We want the cost of a return to war to be high.”

A covert war of provocation and murders erupted into open conflict in July 2006 when Rajapakse ordered the army to seize the LTTE-held area of Mavilaru in open breach of the 2002 ceasefire. This open act of aggression brought not a murmur of criticism from the US or the other sponsors of the “peace process”. Today the island is bogged down in a brutal civil war—with the US providing political and military support.

According to a report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), direct commercial sales of defence materials to Sri Lanka increased from $US1.9 million in 2004, to $3.1 million in 2005 and $3.9 million in 2006. In return, the Rajapakse government quietly supports the Bush administration’s occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and last year signed an agreement to allow the US military to use the island for logistical support.

As for the victims of the tsunami, they have been completely forgotten. According to the government’s Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA), 6,718 families or more than 25,000 people were still living in appalling conditions in refugee camps in March—that is, more than three years after the tsunami. Most of the families—5,820—are in the North and East where the renewed fighting is taking place. Even in the district surrounding the capital of Colombo, there are 803 families in camps.

These official figures are undoubtedly an underestimate. Moreover, many more of the survivors, including those who have been re-housed, still face enormous economic difficulties. Many fishermen lost their livelihoods and were resettled away from the coastline. On the pretext of protecting the population, the government exploited the opportunity to clear away fishing villages to pave the way for luxury hotels and resorts.

The plight of these refugees speaks volumes. Hakeem from the eastern rural town of Marathumunai told the WSWS this week: “In our village 186 families were affected by tsunami. Hundreds were killed when the tsunami hit.” He said that no one in his village had a house. Many had no full time work and earned a little money as casual labourers. The central school at Maruthumunai has not been built.

The story is the same in the Western Province. An old abandoned government building in the Colombo suburb of Katubedda is where 56 families are currently living. The building is dilapidated. Each family has about 40 square metres partitioned off. Toilets overflow with effluent. Electricity has been cut off because the Disaster Management ministry has not paid the bill. None of the adults have a proper job.

A 19-year-old girl told the WSWS: “You ask about the situation in Burma. As we can’t watch television or have access to any other media we don’t know what’s going on there. I only know from you about the situation. It sounds somewhat similar. Throughout the world we see how ordinary people are hit by natural disasters and how the rulers treat them.”

The US marines have long since moved on, international tsunami aid to Sri Lanka has dried up and the government is diverting money from basic services into its renewed war. The story will undoubtedly be similar in Burma. The push to intervene in Burma is motivated by the economic and strategic interests of the major powers which are diametrically opposed to those of the majority of Burmese and will inevitably produce to new tragedies.

See Also:
A socialist and internationalist perspective to confront the Asian tsunami disaster
[9 February 2005]
Why the propaganda campaign for international intervention in Burma?
[10 May 2008]
A new Asian disaster: Cyclone kills tens of thousands in Burma
[7 May 2008]
Bush administration moves to exploit Burma cyclone disaster
[7 May 2008]

Sunday, May 11, 2008

UPFA wins Eastern Province

The ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won the Provincial council election in the Eastern Province 2008, by securing 20 seats against 15 by the main opposition the United National Party (UNP). The Jantha Vimukthi Peramua (JVP) and Tamils' Democratic National Alliance (TDNA) won one seat each.

In Batticaloa district UPFA secured the power winning 6 seats. The UNP won 4 seats and TDNA one seat. Ampara district was also won by the UPFA with 8 seats against the 6 of the UNP.

The UNP won the most number of seats in Trincomalee district winning 5 seats against f the UPFA. The JVP also won one seat.

Overall 55%-60% voter turnout in violence-free Eastern PC poll

With an overall 55% to 60% voter turnout, the curtain came down on the Eastern Provincial Council election yesterday sans any major poll-related acts of violence.

The turnout for the poll in the three districts of the Province, Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa -- held after a lapse of 20 years, was satisfactory, Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake said

Though there was a lull as polling opened at 7 am, it gathered momentum as the day progressed, election officials said.

"There were no major election-related incidents of violence", senior police and security officials said.

Ampara's Chief Returning Officer, Sunil Kannangara said polling was in the range of 60% to 65% in the Digamadulla district.

Trincomalee's Chief Returning Officer, Major General (Retd) Ranjith de Silva placed the voter turnover 55% to 60% in the district under his purview.

Chief Returning Officer of Batticaloa, Government Agent Sundaram Arumainayagam reported 55% polling in his district.

There were no major incidents during polling and voters were observed casting their votes in a relatively peaceful atmosphere, said W. P. Sumanasiri, the Additional Commissioner of Elections (Provincial and Local).

However, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) reported certain poll-related incidents in the three districts.

CMEV said in a statement that 25 complaints of incidents of election related violence were received and of them 18 fell into the 'major offences' category.

PAFFREL's Executive director Kingsley Rodrigo said 56 incidents were reported and of them 28 were made by the UNP. Most of them related to chasing away voters, impersonation and clashes between political party supporters.

He said that overall 80% had gone off smoothly but 20% had been marred by untoward incidents.

The leader of the TMVP, who is also the Chief Ministerial candidate of the UPFA Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan better known as Pillaiyan cast his vote at the polling station at Vipulananda Maha Vidyalaya in Valachchenai. Similarly, the other UPFA hopeful M. L .A. M. Hisbullah voted in his hometown of Kattankudy under heavy military cover.

The Chairman of the SLMC and chief candidate of the UNP from the Batticaloa district Basheer Cegudawood cast his vote at the Arafat Vidayalaya booth, adjoining his residence at Eravur.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, coordinating his party's campaign yesterday charged that the polls were not free and fair and cited certain incidents at Tirukkovil in Ampara, Verugal in Trincomalee. He accused the TMVP leader of rigging votes in Batticaloa but said he is hopeful of victory for the UNP.

Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa who was associated with Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva in leading the UPFA's campaign in the Digamadulla District also expressed confidence of victory for his party.

UPFA General Secretary and Minister Susil Premajayantha leading the campaign from the Batticaloa district said that the situation was quite calm without any major incidents and the voter turnout was improving by noon, "The UPFA is assured of an overwhelming victory "

Senior Advisor to the President (MP) Basil Rajapaksa leading the UPFA's campaign in the Eastern Province expressed confidence that the Government would get a resounding victory to move forward with developing the province.

DIG (Digamadulla) Shantha Rajapaksa said no violent poll-related incidents were reported.

DIG (Batticaloa) H. M. D Herath said that the situation was under control without any incidents worth mentioning.

DIG (Trincomalee) Upali Gunasekera said that expect for a few isolated incidents, voting took place in a peaceful atmosphere.

The last elections to the formerly merged North-East Province was held on November 19, 1988

This poll was held according to the Electoral Register for 2006 under which there are 982,721 registered voters who were eligible to cast their vote for 1,342 candidates belonging to 18 political parties and 56 independent groups to elect 35 members. Two bonus seats will go to the party or group that receives the highest number of preference votes.