NEWS FROM SRILANKA Demonstration against the war in ColomboASYLUMSEEKER KILLED IN CUSTODY (The Srilanka Monitor) Reports say that Operation Command Colombo (OCC) is authorised to carry out secret investigations and search operations without any notice to the local police. SOURCES say that a Tamil killed in police custody in Colombo in 1995 was an asylum-seeker in Denmark and Sweden and had been deported. In 1995, some 30 bodies were found in Bolgoda Lake, 10 miles south of Colombo, and other lakes. Twenty one of the dead were identified as Tamils, killed in the custody of the Special Task Force (STF) at its headquarters in the capital. Twenty two STF officers were charged, but the case was dismissed in March 1997, after the accused and the Attorney General failed to appear in court. Three STF members are now said to be facing charges of abduction and illegal detention. Ratnam Suresh was deported to Sri Lanka in March 1994 from Sweden after his attempt to enter Denmark failed and the Danish authorities returned him to Sweden. The Swedish authorities issued Mr Suresh an Emergency Identity Document to enable deportation. The Sri Lankan police have notified the ICRC that Mr Suresh was among those killed in the Bolgoda Lake cases. In Colombo, arrest and detention of Tamils continue. The US State Department in its Sri Lanka Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998, says that arrest and detention by police took place in violation of the legal safeguards built into the Emergency regulations and other legislation, particularly regarding requirements that receipts be issued and that the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission be notified of any arrest within 48 hours. The State Department also says that impunity for those responsible for human rights abuses remained as a serious problem. TAMILS FROM EUROPE HARASSED [TamilNet, September 24, 1998] The friends and relatives of Kalirajah Thirugnanaseelan, 31, a Danish citizen appealed to Tamil Parliamentarians today that he was being unduly detained by the Sri Lankan Police since his arrival in Colombo on Sunday September 20. They said Kalirajah is from Mutur, south of Trincomalee in the eastern province and had settled down in Denmark ten years ago. He had arrived in Colombo by Balkan Airlines flight LZ 2581 on Sunday around 11.30 a.m. He had been detained, according to his relatives, by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID). The detaining authorities had sought a bribe of seventy five thousand Sri Lankan rupees from the relatives who were at the airport to receive Kalirajah, alleged one of his friends this afternoon. They charged that Kalirajah is being detained illegally. Meanwhile an immigration officer at the Colombo International airport is reported to have torn the passport of a Tamil passenger for not 'donating' to a television to him as he had demanded, said sources. The incident occurred when Mr. Sinnathmaby Muthulingm, a Tamil living in Switzerland, arrived at the Colombo airport on September 19. MASS GRAVES FOUND IN SRILANKA [TamilNet, July 13, 1998] Between 300 and 400 of the 700 civilians who were reported missing soon after the Sri Lankan government forces took control of the Jaffna peninsula three years ago, are buried in the paddy fields surrounding the main road near Chemmani checkpoint said this week's issue of Yukthiya, a Sinhala weekly. The paper has also published a map of the area, marking the location where the bodies are buried. The Yukthiya's article follows revelations made by one of the accused in the 'Krishanthy Kumaraswamy' trial, about the existence of mass graves of civilians in the Jaffna peninsula. Folowing is the translated extracts of the article: When travelling to Jaffna from the south of the island, you will find a concrete structure built in an arch form, 3 km. from Jaffna town, on which it is written Jaffna welcomes you. Chemmani check posts are situated between this welcome board and Navatkuli bridge. There are no other buildings in the area, except the structures of check posts. After the completion of 'Operation Riviresa' security personnel manning the Chemmani check posts received dead bodies with specific orders to bury them. They also received some living prisoners to be killed and buried the paper reports. All these killings took place on the instructions of the senior commanding officers in Jaffna at that time reports the paper. We feel that there is no need for secrecy this time since the present government has an International reputation for Human Rights. According to our sources, these mass graves are quite close to the location where Krishanthy was buried after being repeatedly raped and in the map we published, we pinpointed where these graves are located, to make them easy to detect. There is absolutely no way that so many civilians could have been killed and buried without the knowledge of these officers. If an inquiry is ever launched in to this affair, the parts played by these officers should also be exposed to protect the true image of Human Rights in Sri Lanka. POLITICAL DETAINEES TO BEGIN PROTEST FAST [TamilNet, June 22, 1998] Forty-seven Tamil political prisoners held at the Kalutura prison, 43 km south of capital Colombo, have warned that they will begin a fast unto death from Tuesday, June 23, demanding that the authorities either begin legal proceedings against them or release them. The detainees are reported to have sent requests to the diplomatic missions of India, Briton, USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Australia, Germany and Italy in Colombo urging them to secure their release. In the message they have also requested the diplomatic missions to put pressure on the SriLankan Government to find a political solution to the burning issue of the island, the ongoing war. GUNMEN FIRE AT SRILANKA EDITOR'S HOME (Reuters,June 18) Unidentified gunmen fired at the home of the editor of a Sri Lanka weekly newspaper, damaging vehicles but injuring no one, police said on Thursday. They said the gunmen had opened fire at the home of Lasantha Wickrematunge late on Wednesday. Wickerematunge edits the independent Sunday Leader, which has been critical of the ruling People's Alliance government. Damaged buildings in Jaffna"
REPORT ON DISAPPEARANCES [TamilNet, June 14, 1998] The Bishop of Mannar(North-Srilanka) has written a detailed report of the disappearance of 4 civilians on 26 May 98, and the subsequent discovery of their bodies in a remote area. All 4 had been shot, and evidence indicating SriLankan soldiers may have been involved was found, says the report. INFO ON LTTE TRAINING UNIT IN KANDY (The Sunday Times) A LTTEer arrested at an Institute in Talatuoya(Hill country) who has foreign connections confessed to the special police group that apprehended him, that the LTTE sends Tamil youth for training, and they collect information on important places in Kandy town. CIVIL RULE IN JAFFNA CRUMBLES (The Midweek Mirror,june1998) In another shattering blow to civil administration in the northern capital, all courts of law in the Jaffna peninsula have been closed down indefinitely following threats by the LTTE. Five courts operating in the peninsula and the Kayts island on Monday put up notices signed by the respective registrars that courts will not function until further notice. The notice did not give reasons for the sudden closure, but it is believed that threats from the LTTE to the Judges and court officials had led to the closure. Accordingly the Jaffna, Mallakam, Chavakachcheri, Point Pedro courts have been closed down and their cases all postponed. CENSORSHIP ON WAR REPORTS COLOMBO, June 7 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan newspapers left columns blank on Sunday and the main opposition criticised the government for imposing censorship on war reports by local and foreign media. `The war is the single most important issue in the country today, but the government apparently does not want the people to know too much of what is going on,'' the independent Sunday Times said in an editorial. "Censored," screamed the page which every Sunday carries a widely-read column by the newspaper's military analyst Iqbal Athas. The page was mostly blank and had a note saying that all but two paragraphs had been censored. A front-page headline of the independent Sunday Leader simply said: ``Killed,'' referring to a war report that had not escaped the military censor. Sri Lanka on Friday imposed censorship on news reports on the war between government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam separatist group. A Defence Ministry statement said print and electronic media were prohibited from carrying news about operations by the military, police and the special task force. They also cannot report deployment of troops and naval vessels and aircraft or ``any statement pertaining to the official conduct or the performance of the head or any member of any of the armed forces or the police force,'' the statement said. It did not say why the censorship, which applies to both local and foreign media, was being imposed. The ministry said on Saturday all photographs, news reports and television material on the war should be submitted to a special cell for screening. It was the first time that a military censor has been appointed by the government, the Sunday Times said. ``We hope this is not the first step towards martial law,'' the newspaper added. The local MTV radio station quoted Ranil Wickremasinghe, leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), as telling a public meeting that he was baffled by the decision at a time when the government was claiming victories on the battlefield. The Foundation for Freedom of Expression said in a statement the censorship would deprive the public of its right to know the actual situation in the country. The Foreign Correspondent's Association of Sri Lanka (FCA) said in a statement censorship was highly regrettable as it ran contrary to the government's commitment to a free media. ``Suppression of news is counter-productive and can lead to a situation in which news gives way to rumours, falsehoods replace facts and information is supplemented by indoctrination,'' the FCA said, while asking the government to lift the restrictions. TRANSPORT RESTRICTION [TamilNet, June 04, 1998] The army announced today that transport between the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) controlled and the LTTE controlled areas in the Vanni, through Madhu junction, 30 km west of Vavuniya on the avuniya-Mannar road, will not be permitted until further notice. The Army has also asked NGOs operating in the Vanni to restrict their movements to within the areas under its control. TROUBLE IN SOUTH AGAIN [TamilNet, June 02, 1998] A Sri Lankan Army (SLA) sergeant was killed and 7 other soldiers were wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire at an army vehicle, near Yale sanctuary on the Puttalm-Kadhirgamam road in the southern Sri Lanka, today said SLA sources. The dead SLA soldier has been identified as Pathirirane, said sources. The Yala sanctuary which is one of the island's main tourist attractions lies on the southern end of the Ampara district. The southern edge of the Yala park is contiguous with the southern province. BOMB BLAST IN TEA PLANT [TamilNet, June 01, 1998] A tea factory in Hatton in the Central Province was heavily damaged in a bomb explosion around 2 a.m. today said sources. Several hundred thousand rupees worth of machinery were also damaged in the blast, they added. REFUGEES PROTEST AGAINST DETAINTION [TamilNet, May 22, 1998] 142 Tamil refugees being held at the Glass factory detention centre in Trincomalee staged a token protest this morning urging the authorities to send them back to their homes in the Jaffna peninsula said sources in the eastern town. HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP LEFT SRILANKA OVER CENSORSHIP COLOMBO, May 6 (Reuters) - A London-based human rights group on Wednesday said its work in Sri Lanka was brought to an abrupt end recently when the government demanded the right to censor the organisation's reports. Peace Brigades International (PBI) said it had \ officially pulled out of the country after being told it must submit reports to authorities before publication if it wished to remain working in Sri Lanka. It said it was given the order during a meeting on March 4 with officials from the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and other departments. ``PBI believes that placing such restrictions on local and international human rights observers is unacceptable,'' said a PBI statement released by its London office. ``When such measures are applied to non-partisan NGO (non-governmental organisation) witnesses whose presence can increase respect for human rights, the result is counterproductive: these measures undermine trust in the government, and weaken the possibilities for achieving true democracy and respect for human rights,'' the statement said. PBI, which has had a presence in Sri Lanka since 1989, said as a result its representatives had been unable to receive the residence visas necessary to work in the country. It said its work in the east of the country, scene of much of the fighting in SriLanka's long-running ethnic separatist war, was also ``noticeably hindered by the limitations on access to the region'' imposed by the government.``Under these circumstances we were forced to withdraw much more abruptly than we had planned,'' Anne Harrison, chair of PBI's International Council, said in a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Senior foreign ministry officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment. It said since PBI's arrival it had published regular reports on the human rights situation and distributed them internationally. Ethnic Tamil rebels have been fighting the Sinhalese-dominated government for a separate homeland in the island's north and east since 1983. PARENTS FURY [TamilNet, April 26, 1998] Parents of those who 'disappeared' in the Jaffna whilst in SriLankan army custody, accused A.T. Ariyaratne, a member of the Human Rights Commission, and founder of the NGO Sarvodaya,of also violating human rights, when he met them in Jaffna to convey that the Board of Investigation (BoI) appointed by SriLanka President to look into the disappearances had only listed 16 persons as having 'disappeared' during that time, said sources in Jaffna. The MPGA and international human rights organisations put the disappearances in Jaffna at around 600. Parents who had gathered at the office of the Missing Persons Guardian Association (MPGA) at Stanley Road in Jaffna town complained that Mr.Ariyaratne was violating the rights of the parents of the disappeared when he uttered such statements, despite knowing the truth about the disappearances in Jaffna. The parents said they had met Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga on January 16 this year and that she had acknowledged that large scale disappearances had taken place in Jaffna since the Sri Lankan army captured it. But the BoI's report and Mr. Ariyaratne's statement diluted the horror of what had taken place in Jaffna since late 1996 said the parents. The Chairman of the MPGA, S.Paramantham said that the BoI's statement left the parents in a dilemma as to what they should do in the future. Sources in Jaffna said that Mr.Ariyaratne, despite being a member of the non-partisan Human Rights Commission, was seen travelling in vehicles of the Relief and Rehabilitation Authority of the North (RRAN), which is a Sri Lankan Government body. Meanwhile, back in Colombo, Mr. Ariyaratne claimed in an interview to the SriLankan Government controlled Daily News that 500,000 citizens of Jaffna had placed their confidence in a sole individual - President Kumaratunga - to establish peace. A.T.Ariyaratne, is used to a hostile reception. A few weeks ago, the Jaffna NGO Consortium reacted with scorn at his proposed visit to the peninsula, in his capacity as leader of Sarvodaya, which is the largest NGO in Sri Lanka. His harsher critics say he is a manipulative charlatan keen on amassing political power and wealth via the expansion of his NGO. Ariyaratne was once perceived as a rival of President Premadasa which allegedly led to the harassment of Sarvodaya by the Government of that time. The Board of Investigation was appointed by the President to counter widespread domestic and international condemnation of the disappearances which occurred in Jaffna after it came under the control of the SLA. However, the BoI, which was headed by a senior officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) and comprising four senior, serving members of the security forces and the police, was criticised because it was largely seen as tantamount to an attempt by a criminal to act as the judge in his own case. GIANT REFUGEE(CONCENTRATION) CAMP PLANNED [TamilNet, April 01, 1998] The PLOTE's deputy leader, Manikkam Daasan,objected strongly today to the Sri Lankan government's proposal to establish a giant refugee camp in Vavuniya to house refugees from the areas of the Vanni which do not come under the control of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and who are awaiting transport to the Jaffna peninsula, said sources in Vavuniya. The camp is to be capable of accommodating more than 200,000 people. The decision to set up the camp was taken at a high level security meeting held in Vavuniya on Monday under the chairmanship of Deputy Minister of Defence, General Anuruddha Ratwatte at which the Sri Lankan military top brass and senior government officials were present. SRILANKAN ARMY SPEARHEADS SINHALA COLONISATION [TamilNet, March 25, 1998] The Sri Lankan army is continuing to forcibly remove Tamil civilians from their villages in the Muthur area, south of Trincomalee despite protests by Tamil Parliamentarians, said ex-militant Tamil groups in the eastern port town today. In its latest move, the SLA has ordered the people of Iththikkulam, southeast of Muthur, to leave their village by today. Fearing the consequences of refusal, 175 families from Iththikkulam have already sought refuge in the government school building at Pallikkudyiruppu. The forcible evacuation of the Tamils in Iththikkulam comes on the heels of the army's action last week, when it drove out Tamils and Muslims from several villages in the Upparu region between Muthur and Trincomalee. An EPDP Parliamentarian, Mr. M. Chandrakumar has protested to the government about the forcible evacuation Tamil and Muslim civilians from their traditional villages in Muthur. He said that this an attempt to settle Sinhalese in these traditional Tamil villages. The Sri Lankan army has created and sustained many Sinhala colonies in several parts of the predominantly Tamil eastern province, particularly in the Trincomalee district, since 1983 by driving out Tamils from their traditional villages in those areas. The largest network of such Sinhala settlements established by the Sri Lankan army is in Manalaaru (renamed in Sinhala as Weli Oya),south of Mullaithivu and in Thennamaravaadi, in the northern end of the Trincomalee district. Thousands of Tamil residents were forcibly driven out of eighteen traditional villages in Manalaaru and from the large old village of Thennamaravaadi almost overnight by the Sri Lankan army in 1984. More than ten Tamil villages were also destroyed later as part of the Sri Lankan army strategy to secure the Sinhala colonies which were established in Manalaaru. Army's action in Muthur is aimed at undermining the Tamil and Muslim population in the region. TAMIL PRISONERS BEGIN FAST UNTO DEATH [TamilNet, March 23, 1998] Five political prisoners in Sri Lanka's high security Kalutara jail, 43 kilometers south of Colombo, began a fast unto death today demanding that the government should begin legal proceedings against them or release them from the prolonged incarceration. All Tamil and Muslim political prisoners who were held in the Welikada jail in Colombo were transferred to Kalutara last year after they began a fast unto death there which was brutally crushed by Sri Lankan Police. Three were massacred on December 12 when Sinhala prisoners attacked these Tamil and Muslim political prisoners in the Kalutara jail. SRILANKAN ARMY DESTROY TEMPLES (Tamilnet March 24, 1998) The Union of Hindu Priests from the Northeast of SriLanka has sent a memorandum to the UNESCO and the leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India,charging that more than 1800 Hindu temples in the Tamil areas have been completely or partially destroyed by the Sri Lankan security forces. 1500 TAMILS ARRESTED IN COLOMBO [TamilNet, March 22, 1998] More than 1500 Tamils were arrested in Colombo during a simultaneous cordon and search operation by the Sri Lankan army and Police which was launched last night. Hundreds of Tamils in Kotahena, the foreshore and Bambalapitiya were rounded up and hauled off to local Police stations. A journalist and the photographer of the Tamil daily Thinakkural were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy while they were covering last night's mass arrests. Very few were released until this evening said Police sources in Colombo. JAPAN ADVISORY HIT TOURISM (Mar 08, 1998,Reuters) Tourist arrivals from Japan have been falling and Sri Lankan travel industry officials fear recent advisories by the Japanese government will lead to further declines, the independent Sunday Times reported. The Japanese Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory in January after a Tamil Tiger rebel bomb attack in Sri Lanka's central Kandy town killed 16 people and badly damaged the country's most sacred Buddhist shrine, which is also a popular tourist attraction. `This is the first time that we got something (travel advisory) so serious involving Colombo and the surrounding areas,'' the newspaper quoted a Ceylon Tourist Board official as saying. The newspaper said the Japanese advisory was fairly comprehensive and included a map of Sri Lanka indicating danger areas. ``A quick glance at the map would scare people away,'' the official was quoted as saying. Japan also issued a similar notice last October after Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) exploded a truck bomb in the capital's business district, killing 18 and damaging several buildings including three five-star hotels. "WE EXPECT MORE BOMBS" (March 8 Reuters) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, blamed for a deadly bomb blast in Colombo last week, could resort to more attacks on the capital as a government military campaign in the country's north grinds on,diplomats and analysts said. A powerful bomb in a mini-bus ripped through a busy intersection in Colombo's Maradana district on Thursday, killing 37 people and wounding more than 250. Military officials said they were expecting more explosions. POLICE STATE (March, Reuters) Sri Lankan editors have expressed concern over a spate of recent attacks on journalists, saying the strong-arm tactics indicated a drift towards a police state. The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka said in a statement seen by Reuters on Sunday that an escalation in incidents against journalists was stifling the climate for a free media. Last month a group of armed men stormed the house of a senior local journalist,Iqbal Athas, and threatened him and his family. Athas, a defence correspondent with the independent Sunday Times newspaper,writes a weekly column where he has often criticised the military fighting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in northern Sri Lanka. NO SECURITY FOR U.S.PEACE CORPS (march,Reuters) U.S. Peace Corps volunteers are likely to pull out of Sri Lanka because of security fears, local newspapers reported Sunday. The independent Sunday Times said some 48 volunteers were being recalled by the United States, which is worried about their security after a recent spate of bomb blasts in Sri Lanka. ARMY BANS CIVILIANS FROM LEAVING VANNI [TamilNet, January 28 , 1998] The government decided to completely ban civilians from the LTTE controlled parts of the Vanni unless for very special reasons according to new strict regulations which came into affect from today. No civilians from the LTTE controlled parts of the Vanni will henceforth be permitted to enter Vavuniya. CHINESE JOURNALIST ARRESTED IN SRILANKA (Feb 28, 1998 Reuters) Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Chinese journalist for misreporting a Tamil Tiger rebel attack on a navy convoy off the northern coast earlier this week and police said on Saturday he was likely to be deported. They said the Colombo correspondent of Xinhua news agency, Jin Hui, was arrested at his home late on Friday after he apparently reported that the SriLankan naval commander had been killed in the attack in which two ships were sunk. 650 TAMILS EXPELLED FROM COLOMBO (Tamilnet,feb.7,1998) The Srilankan Police closed down three lodging houses in downtown Colombo leaving about 650 Tamils from the north-east stranded on the roads. The Police told them to leave immediately to the north or east. Sources said that the Police was reacting to unconfirmed information that the female suicide bomber responsible for bomb explosion near an airforce checkpoint in downtown Colombo is said to have stayed in one of the lodges. DEMONSTRATIONS AT POKUNNI, DENOUNCING POLICE AND HOME GUARDS. demonstrations of the public took place in Pokkunni village where 15 youths were murdered by the Police and Home guards after arresting them on suspicion. They also handed over a memo to the Army Brigadier and SP of Police in Trincomalee demanding home guards and police to be replaced by the army. (Virakesari feb.3,1998) KILLINGS AT TAMBALAKAMAM. The innocent civilians are highly worried about the violence that is prevalent in this country, though that is one thing all wants to be without. In this country mean while, the tamil people are forced to go through immense torture and suffering continually and no constructive action is being taken to remedy it. To ad to their miseries, their children are being killed after being arrested on suspicion. Recently 15 youth were thus killed at Parathipuram by the police and home guards. The Press Media too play such events down deliberately and up to now no one knows the fate of 600 such Youth arrested in Jaffna during post-Sathjaya Operation days. Such acts, that creates a considerable void between communities, should be stopped immediately by the govt and the govt should arrest all those responsible and punish them fittingly. Other wise such acts will continue to occur bringing additional disrepute to the country Internationally. (Virakesari feb. 3,1998) DETAINEES FACE MORE SEVERE CONDITIONS (Tamilnet,Jan.15,1998 & Sarinihar) President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga promulgated under the public Security Ordinance on December 6 1997,that visits to persons detained or remanded under Emergency Regulations or the PTA had to be limited to one a week. Only one person would be permitted to visit the detainee and that the visits had to be at a time specified by the prison authourities.Furthermore,visits are only permitted if the visitor produced a letter from the officer-in-charge of the police station in the area where he or she resides. The letter must state that the Police had no objection to the visits. This letter has to be handed over to the prison official on each visit. The Justice Minister informed that he was unaware of these new regulations.