CURRENT AFFAIRS


US to support Sri Lanka in defeating terrorism
Daily News : 23 Sept 1998

The United States will support Sri Lanka in defeating terrorism, President Bill Clinton assured President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday.

"President Clinton clearly stated that America would support us in defeating terrorism and will also encourage us in efforts to solve the ethnic problem through a political settlement," President Kumaratunga told a news conference at the United Nations in New York.

A release from the Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission to the UN said last night the Sri Lankan and US Presidents discussed the problem of terrorism and measures to counter it.

The release said: In response to a question raised by a journalist on President Clinton's strong call for international action on terrorism and whether their discussions covered the issue of terrorism, she replied, I had occasion to have a long chat with him because we sat at the table at the Secretary General's lunch along with President Nelson Mandela and several other leaders. We were talking about the similarities of our two views in our speeches. I also thanked him for the action taken by the US to declare the LTTE a terrorist organisation. Well, he clearly stated that America would support us in defeating terrorism and also encouraged us in our efforts to solving the ethnic problem through a political solution."

Meanwhile, a New York datelined AFP report said: Sri Lankan leaders said Tuesday their country, after 26 years of war with Tamil Tiger rebels, could teach much to others in any world cooperation against terrorism.

"We have a tremendous amount of sad experience about how the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) operates," said Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

"We think a lot of countries would be interested in the ramifications of an international terrorist organization," he told a press conference at the United Nations.

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said Sri Lanka backed the call for an international conference on terrorism, the major theme of the opening session of the UN General Assembly.

"We cooperate (against terrorism) with any country. The LTTE has many varied ways of collecting money," she said.

In an address to the assembly on Monday, Kumaratunga called for action against organizations raising funds for terrorism.

Kadirgamar pointed to "the use of front organizations, innocent looking organizations purportedly devoted to charity and religious matters but really fronts for money collecting and arms buying."

President makes frank, forthright and succinct address to UN General Assembly

Daily News : 23 Sept 1998

From Geoff Wijesinghe in New York

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, addressed the 53rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on Monday in a frank, forthright and a succinct manner, pulling no punches and even engaging in a self-critical appraisal of Sri Lanka.

President Kumaratunga, in her speech explained that Sri Lanka's ethnic issue is an internal problem and we can find a solution to it with the support of our people.

She stated that no outside interference is tolerated in this regard. She thanked all the friends for the support extended to bring
about a solution, while appreciating the decision taken by the United States of America and India to ban the LTTE.

President Kumaratunga, who is the Chairperson of the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation said: "The message I bring from the Colombo Summit, which met a few months ago is that the prospects for enhanced economic, social technological and scientific co-operation in our region are exceedingly bright. Last year and this year has marked a turning point in the life of our Association. We are determined to put aside the political differences that bedeviled relations among some of us in a common and united effort to improve the quality and life of our peoples."

She further stated: "I am especially grateful to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan for the magnificent spirit of friendship and understanding they showed for the collective regional interests and concerns and SAARC too, like the Non-aligned Movement recognises that the twin currents of globalization and liberalization which are swirling around us contain both the potential for prosperity as well as "the seed of a dangerous new process of uneven development. It must be remembered that developing countries need special consideration in regard to the problems they face in globalizing their economies and plugging them into the international economic system.

"We believe that ethnic grievances exist in Sri Lanka. We must also with humility examine our failures. We have failed in the essential task of nation building. We have meandered and faltered along that path, whilst among our neighbours in Asia and in many other countries, peoples of various racial, religious and linguistic communities live in harmony. The causes of this failure will be judged by history. Others will apportion and assign blame.

"My Government is firmly committed to redressing ethnic grievances peacefully through political discussion and negotiations in which leaders of all ethnic communities, political parties and other groups participate. Only the LTTE chooses to prowl the path of violence resorting to terror to achieve goals which they along espouse. However, the opportunity to join other Sri Lankans in negotiating a settlement of all outstanding ethnic issues remains open to the LTTE if it eschews terrorism and its bloody call for a separate State.

"With regard to children, my Government has recently passed legislation setting up a National Child Protection Authority directly under my supervision. This Authority deals with such issues as child employment, the sexual exploitation of children, education, health and the plight of children trapped in armed conflict. We have formulated a "Children's Charter" and a National Plan of Action to provide for the safety and protection of our children. While we are conscious of the tragic incidence of child prostitution and pornography in Sri Lanka, we have also traced the insidious international linkages which aggravate the problem further. We urge the international community to tighten laws and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that those responsible for such heinous crimes will not receive refuge anywhere.

"Over the past few years the Government of Sri Lanka has in various international fora strongly advocated the need for collective international action in order to overcome the scourge of terrorism. Our reasoning has been that a group like the ruthless LTTE which continues to frustrate my Government's efforts at finding a negotiated political settlement to our ethnic problem have found sustenance in the liberal asylum policies that prevail in some countries. This group which recruits children as young as 10 years and indiscriminately targets innocent civilians assassinates the elected representatives of the people including Tamil political and human rights leaders and destroys places of religious worship and assassinate foreign Heads of Government on their soil. Yet they are permitted to operate freely in many countries. They maintain an international network which engages in fund raising, narcotics trafficking, trade in illicit arms, the smuggling of illegal immigrants and in more recent times, maritime and cyber terrorism.

"Addressing the United Nations 50th Anniversary celebration in New York three years ago, I observed, and I quote, 'concerted international action is essential to combat terrorism and to compel the terrorists to renounce violence and enter the democratic process. Unfortunately effective action that end has been frustrated through sterile philosophical debate about the nature of terrorism' ".

After her speech US President Bill Clinton, South African President Nelson Mandela, President Kumaratunga and Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had a minute chat in the VIP Lounge of the UN and President Clinton, who was particularly in a warm and friendly relaxed mood, shook hands with the writer as he was leaving the VIP Lounge.

President Kumaratunga told me that President Clinton was very supportive to Sri Lanka's problems and so did Foreign Minster Kadirgamar.

The President called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for talks on Monday evening.

On my way from the United Nations Headquarters, I met a group of ladies, both young and old, carrying placards and slogans and shouting "We will go to jail for Clinton".

President tells UN: Don't permit safe havens or fund raising for terrorists
(Daily News : 23 September 1998)

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga addressing the 53rd General Assembly of the United Nations expressed hope that all States will take steps to implement the necessary domestic legislation, aimed at giving effect to the commitments made in the UN Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist bombings earlier this year, in order to ensure that terrorists are neither provided safe haven nor permitted to raise funds, within the borders of one State to sustain terrorist activities in another State.

She also assured the Assembly that the "Government is firmly committed to redeeming ethnic grievances peacefully through political discussion and negotiations in which the leaders of all ethnic communities, political parties and other groups participate."

She told the assembly that "the opportunity to join other Sri Lankans in negotiating a settlement of all outstanding ethnic issues remains open to the LTTE if it eschews terrorism and its bloody call for a separate state."

Addressing the assembly as the newly appointed Chairperson of the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC), President Kumaratunga said the prospects for enhanced economic, technological, social and scientific cooperation in our region are exceedingly bright.

Speaking about the economic upheavals of East Asia and Russia, she said that not a single State, not even the most powerful can hope to remain immune from economic disease and contagion.

"The maladies that spring from economic globalization require remedies which are global in scope, remedies which must take account of the ailments of all states, and not be based solely on the prescriptions advanced by those who may seem to be secure," the President added.

President Kumaratunga called for radical reforms in the International Monetary System and the United Nations.

She stressed the need for a special effort to dissipate the effect of the discriminatory, social and psychological perceptions that affect the status of women.

Speaking about the plight of children, she informed the Assembly that the Government has recently passed legislation to set up a National Child Protection Authority and that a "Children's Charter" and a National Plan of Action have been already formulated.

The President's address in full:

At the outset, let me extend to you, Mr. President, Sri Lanka's warmest congratulations on your well-deserved election. We wish you well and have no doubt that you will guide the work of this session with wisdom, skill and commitment.

The Assembly owes a debt of gratitude to His Excellency Hennadiy Udovenko, which we acknowledge with pleasure, for his wise and astute leadership of the 52nd Session as its President.

This year Sri Lanka celebrates the golden jubilee of its independence. We reclaimed our freedom in 1948 ending nearly five centuries of colonial domination. We have given shelter within our land to all the great religions of the world - Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. We are a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. We are deeply committed to the democratic way of life. Our people have exercised universal adult franchise since 1931. We have a parliamentary system of Government with elections held regularly where the voter participation is uniquely high as much as 80% on average. We have an independent judiciary and a free media. The Rule of Law is observe and respected in our country. Fundamental rights are guaranteed and rendered justiciable. We are constantly alert to the protection of human rights , even in the face of grave provocation from some lawless elements that are bent on destroying our democratic society. Shortly after the achievement of our independence Sri Lanka became a member of the United Nations.

In the preamble to the Charter, our founding fathers expressed their determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. They re-affirmed their faith in fundamental human rights. They pledged to establish universally an environment in which international law and treaty obligations would be observed, and to promote the economic and social progress of all peoples. The United Nations has succeeded in keeping its basic promise of savings the world from the holocaust of a global conflict.

But more than 50 years after the Charter we cannot conclude that the world today is a safer place than it was when the United nations was founded.

Global nuclear disarmament remains a distant dream. Nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction have proliferated with no concern for the safety of humankind despite the Non-proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Members of the nuclear club who possess these weapons show no inclination to dismantle them, although the cold war has ended and inter-State conflicts have lessened. The United Nations has the responsibility to re-double its efforts to achieve global disarmament. That is a duty we owe to mankind, to unborn generations. We do not accept the thesis that these weapons are safe in the hands of some.

The Non-aligned Movement has been demanding for a long time that the Conference on Disarmament should establish, as its highest priority, a Committee to commence negotiations on a program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a time bound framework.

In 1976 my mother, Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, addressing this Assembly as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and chairperson of the Non-Aligned Movement spoke of disarmament in the following words:

"General and complete disarmament has been a declared objective of the United Nations and of the international community for nearly three decades. Despite many initiatives taken by this Organization and by nations committed to the cause of disarmament, the world has witnessed not even the semblance of disarmament but a race for supremacy in destructive power, based on the myth that peace can be preserved only by strident and single-minded preparations for war, and the refinement and sophistication of its techniques. It is indeed a sad reflection on the moral and intellectual standards of the 20th century, its values and priorities that so much of the world's resources, which might have been devoted to the eradication of poverty, ignorance, disease and hunger are being wasted for the production of monstrous weapons.

We do not accept the thesis that disarmament is the special preserve of powers that possess the paraphernalia of war. Every nation and every individual has a right to peace and, as much as peace is indivisible, so is the responsibility for its preservation. Hence the call of the Non-Aligned nations for a Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, and agreement for a World Conference".

At the recently concluded Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement held in South Africa under the distinguished Chairmanship of President Nelson Mandela, the Movement once again expressed its preoccupation with the issue of global nuclear disarmament. In the years ahead the clamour for disarmament among the great majority of nations will grow in volume. The Non-Aligned Movement has consistently called for the Geneva based Conference on Disarmament to establish, as the highest priority, an ad-hoc committee to commence negotiations on a program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a time-bound frame work. In addition, there is also a proposal for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. These are the challenges that have to be addressed by us as we approach the new millennium. The longer we shirk our responsibility, the greater the danger that looms ahead.

Mr. President,

Today I have the honour and privilege of addressing this assembly as the newly appointed chairperson of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which met in Colombo a few months ago.

SAARC represents one-fifth of humanity. South Asia is heir to a rich and complex plurality of cultural and religious traditions of great antiquity.

Like any other Association of sovereign States we have our share of problems. But I wish to convey to you my confident belief that our Summit meetings last year, and this year, have marked a turning point in the life of our Association. Our leaders are aware of the awesome obligations that we jointly owe to the hundreds of millions of people who inhabit our region. We are determined to put aside the political differences that bedevil relations among some of us, in a common and united effort to improve the quality of life of all our people. The message I bring from the Colombo Summit is that the prospects for enhanced economic, technological, social and scientific cooperation in our region are exceedingly bright. It is the will of our leaders, as vigorously manifested at the Colombo Summit.

I am deeply indebted to my fellow Heads of State or Government for their invaluable advice and cooperation during the Colombo Summit. I am especially grateful to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan for the magnificent spirit of friendship and understanding they showed for the collective regional interests and concerns.

SAARC too, like the Non-Aligned Movement, recognises that the twin current of globalization and liberalisation which are swirling around us contain both the potential for prosperity as well as "the seed of a dangerous new process of uneven development." It must be remembered that developing countries need special consideration in regard to the problems they face in globalising their economies.

However, what is abundantly clear is that not a single State, not even the most powerful can hope to remain immune from economic disease and contagion. Ripples have spread widely from the economic upheavals of East Asia and Russia. The maladies that spring from economic globalisation require remedies which are global in scope, remedies which must take account of the ailments of all States, and not be based solely on the prescriptions advanced by those who may seem to be secure.

United Nations bodies must play a critical role in all this, particularly by facilitating and fostering international cooperation for equitable development that could resist the economic contagion that now afflicts us. The international monetary mechanism has proved desperately inadequate in handling the recent crises. We now have to think in terms of a new financial architecture to obtain radical reforms of the International Monetary System. This should aim at achieving a balance between the adjustments demanded as against available financing. I wish to propose three areas of action that merit serious consideration. Firstly that a "lender of last resort" facility must be formulated by the MIF to meet the problems of volatile capital movements. Secondly that effective international surveillance devices must be designed to anticipate problems before the demolition squads of speculators move in. Thirdly the resumption of the Special Drawing Rights of the IMF is a vital requirement of the proposed restructuring. The major voting powers of the IMF, as well as the developing nations, will have to consider larger allocations than are now contemplated. We should beware of attempts to liberalise capital accounts, before the modernisation of national financial structures and the reforms of the International Monetary System are affected.

A constructive dialogue between developed and developing countries must be pursued on the basis of mutual benefit and on shared responsibilities. Closer consultation should be promoted between groups like the Group of 7 and those of the developing countries such as the G77, and the G15.

Institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) must live up to their declared aims and genuinely facilitate a transparent, rule-based trading system that would permit stable growth.

UNCTAD should not be neglected. It should be strengthened as the focal point in the UN family for the integrated consideration of issues of trade, finance, technology and investment.

More funds for development activity need to be diverted from the United Nations administrative budget. The United Nations Agenda for Development which was launched with great expectations seems to be losing momentum. Its implementation should not be delayed.

Mr. President,

Development is not merely a matter of economic growth and financial enrichment, to be measured in statistics, which could sometimes be misleading and illusionary. The totality of the human condition must be enhanced and improved. Our commitment and responsibility towards economic and social development should not be minimised and made secondary to other issues which though important do not touch on the well-being and survival of humanity. It is a grievous indictment on us that the age-old problems of grinding poverty and starvation still exist in the world. I appeal to the assembled nations not to allow ourselves to be beguiled or dazzled by the explosion of exciting new technologies, the seductive blandishments of global trade and high finance to the extent that the poor, the deprived, the desperate fall away from our agenda into the limbo of forgotten things. We must not forget that the least developed countries have special problems that cry out for attention. We must strive mightily, relentlessly, to banish these problems in the next century.

The G77 has proposed that a Third World Summit be held in the year 2000 to mark the dawn of the new century and the new millennium. Sri Lanka supports the proposal as an opportunity for developing countries to chart their own agenda for development in the new era.

The countries of SAARC have agreed at Colombo that to complement economic progress, a Social Charter be drawn up for the benefit of our pepoles in South Asia. This Charter would focus on determining practical, basic norms in the areas of poverty eradication, the empowerment of women, the mobilisation of youth, the promotion of health and nutrition and the protection of children.

We must make a special effort to dissipate the effects of the discriminatory, social and psychological perceptions that affect the status of women. The SAARC Heads of State or Government condemned violence against women, as well as acts of discrimination and humiliation which further depress the dignity of women. There was particular concern over the plight of women and girl children caught in situations of armed conflict. In Colombo, the seven SAARC States finalised the draft text of Regional Convention on Combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, which will be signed at the next Summit in Nepal. Within Sri Lanka, my Government has adopted a national plan of action based on the relevant conclusions of the 4th United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing and on the specific of our own national situation. The Constitution of Sri Lanka enshrines the fundamental right of equality between the sexes. We have ratified relevant ILO Conventions guaranteeing equal remuneration and other benefits to women. Sri Lank has also strengthened legal provisions against harassment and sexual abuse of women.

With regard to children, my Government has recently passed legislation setting up a National Child Protection Authority directly under my supervision. This Authority deals with such issues as child employment, the sexual exploitation of children, eduction, health and the plight of children trapped in armed conflict. We have formulated a "Children's Charter" and a National Plan of Action to provide for the safety and protection of our children. While we are conscious of the tragic incidence of child prostitution and pornography in Sri Lanka, we have also traced the insidious international linkages which aggravate the problem further. We urge the international community to tighten laws and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that those responsible for such heinous crimes will not receive refuge anywhere.

A particularly cruel offence against the innocence of children is their forced recruitment by a terrorist group in Sri Lanka to serve as suicide killers in the name of a cause they are too young even to comprehend.

This is just one sordid aspect of the activities of a terrorist group known as the " Tamil Tigers " or the LTTE. They seek to dismember Sri Lanka with the objective of creating in our land a mono-ethnic and racist entity - an objective totally unacceptable to the overwhelming majority in the country and even to the very community whose cause the LTTE claims to represent.

Mr. President,

We believe that ethnic grievances exist in Sri Lanka. I said so in my address to the nation at the 50th anniversary celebrations of our independence this year. I said that the golden jubilee of independence is an occasion for reflection, as well as the renewal of hopes and aspirations. It is an occasion to savour applause for achievements; it is an occasion to rue the consequences of failure. I went on to say (and I quote)

"We must also with humility examine our failures. We have failed in the essential task of nation building. We have meandered and faltered along that path, whilst among our neighbours in Asia and in many other countries peoples of various racial, religious and linguistic communities live in harmony. The causes of this failure will be judged by history. Others will apportion and assign blame.

Let us, those of us, who have undertaken the responsibility to guide and govern the Nation, march towards the future in unison putting behind us mean desires for petty personal or political gain. The Nation's need today is so great and urgent that it permits space only for largesse of heart and mind, which will supercede in the national interest all that is irrelevant and small."

My Government is firmly committed to redressing ethnic grievances peacefully through political discussion.

However, the opportunity to join other Sri Lankans in negotiating a settlement of all outstanding ethnic issues remains open to the LTTE if it eschews terrorism and its bloody call for a separate State.

The LTTE claims to be a "liberation organization" while it murders hundreds upon hundreds of Tamil people it claims to liberate when they disagree with the LTTE's terror politics.

The LTTE's claim to a liberation organization is negated by its unilateral resort to violence and its constant refusal to put its claims to the true test - that of participating in an open, democratic and peaceful process of consultation with the people.

By contrast, in Palestine, Chairman Arafat pursues what he calls "the peace of the brave" confident not only of the justice of his cause, but also the strength of support freely given by the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable national rights in Palestine. During the SAARC Summit, our leaders expressed growing concern at numerous setbacks affecting the peace process in the Middle East including illegal attempts to change the jurisdiction and borders of Jerusalem.

Over the past few years the Government of Sri Lanka has in various international fora strongly advocated the need for collective international action in order to overcome the scourge of terrorism. Our reasoning has been that a group like the ruthless LTTE which continues to frustrate my Government's efforts at finding a negotiated political settlement to our ethnic problem have found sustenance in the liberal asylum policies that prevail in some countries. This group which recruits children as young as 10 years and indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, assassinates the elected representatives of the people including Tamil political and human rights leaders and destroys places of religious worship, and assassinate foreign Heads of Government on their soil. Yet they are permitted to operate freely in many countries. They maintain an international network which engages in fund raising, narcotics trafficking, trade in illicit arms, the smuggling of illegal immigrants and in more recent times maritime and cyber terrorism.

Addressing the United Nations 50th Anniversary celebration in New York three years ago, I observed, and I quote, "concerted international action is essential to combat terrorism and to compel the terrorists to renounce violence and enter the democratic process. Unfortunately effective action to that end has been frustrated through sterile philosophical debate about the nature of terrorism."

I am happy to note that since then significant measures have been taken in this sphere. The adoption of the "UN Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings" earlier this year, has been a considerable moral victory for the international community in its fight against terrorism. Sri Lanka is hopeful that all States will speedily take steps to implement the necessary domestic legislation, aimed at giving effect to the commitment made in the Convention, in order to ensure that terrorists are neither provided safe haven nor permitted to raise funds, within the borders of one State to sustain terrorist activities in another State.

While we enact legislation, we must also be eternally vigilant to ensure that terrorists do not find loopholes in our laws or use procedural delays to circumvent the emerging international consensus against terrorism.

We in Sri Lanka are particularly conscious of the capacity of terrorist groups to resort to the strategy of using front organisations for raising funds which end up in the LTTE war chest to contribute towards murdering and brutalising our people. Moral and legal sanctions against terrorists are not enough. Laws must be effectively implemented. Only by such concerted action would we be able to ensure that terrorists are compelled to renounce violence and enter the democratic process.

Mr. President,

If at this stage I mention Madam Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar it is because I am personally aware of the loneliness, the anguish, the difficulties and dangers that a woman leader faces in political life. The people of Sri Lanka and the people of Myanmar and their Governments have been friends over many centuries. Our peoples share an invaluable heritage - the timeless message of the Buddha, the enlightened one who taught the world the meaning of compassion, tolerance and understanding. This message moves me to express the hope that political issues in Myanmar could be approached in a spirit of conciliation and tolerance.

In all this, a catalytic role can and must be played by the United Nations system. The United Nations has passed its half century mark. The Secretary-General has described the UN as "a noble experiment in human cooperation". Last year was designated the Year of UN Reform and we are happy that a major portion of the reforms introduced by the Secretary General have been implemented. Some others require further study. We are aware of the financial crisis the UN is facing due to the default of certain member states in paying their contributions. We urge them to pay their dues without conditions and on time.

We are disappointed that agreement has not been reached over the reconstitution of the Security Council to reflect better the generality of UN membership. The Council should be more representative and its democratic deliberations more transparent and thus responding more closely to the concerns of all, shedding its image, not entirely inaccurate, of largely serving the interests of the major powers.

In the closing years of the present millennium, the world is a far more complex place than it was when the UN Charter was adopted. The range and ramifications of the issues with which the Organization must contend have dramatically increased. Change in the orientation of the United Nations must keep pace with new realities. The Secretary-General's Programme for Reform is a step in the right direction. Yet nothing will contribute more to the success of the United Nations than the extent of the commitment member-States have to the Organization's decisions. The credibility and strength of those decisions will itself depend on the transparency of the decision-making process and on how closely member States identify with those decisions.

If the UNO is to continue its voyage into the 21st century with renewed vigour- to achieve its objectives of peace, security, economic development and social reform, all its members must be empowered to participate meaningfully and at every level of the decision making process. To this end, two important reforms must be placed on our agenda.

First the enlargement of the Security Council, in order that it represents more fully, two thirds of the world populace is an indispensable requirement. The developing nations and the regions of the world in which they predominate, must have permanent representation on the Security Council. Secondly the crucial role of the General Assembly in the decision-making
process of the United Nations must be recognised, respected and guaranteed. The General Assembly of the United Nations is the supreme Parliament of mankind.

Today the era of the Cold War is over. Economic globalisation is breaking down national boundaries to an extent which would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. The world is truly on the threshold of a new order which surely cannot be driven any more by the narrow national concerns that have paralysed the imagination of man for so long. Never before in human history have we been presented with the stupendous possibilities that surround us today of breaking the mundane bonds that bind us to banality and triviality. When the unconquered, unconquerable spirit of man is allowed to soar to its full potential we will achieve a world in which truth and justice prevail, a world which we can proudly bequeath to unborn generations of our peoples.

In November 1956, Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, my late father, spoke as follows in his address to this Assembly:

"My country is a small one, a weak one, a poor one, but I venture to think that today, particularly in an Organization such as this, the service that a country can render - that a Member can render - is not to be measured alone by the size of that country, its population, its power or its strength. This is an Organization which expresses itself most effectively by bringing to bear a certain moral force - the collective moral force and decency of human beings. That is a task in which the weak as well as the strong can render a useful service, and I give the Assembly the assurance, on behalf of my country, that as far as we are concerned every endeavour that we can make in all sincerity to assist in the achievements of those noble ideals for which this Organization stands will always be forthcoming in the fullest measure".

Addressing this Assembly 42 years later I make bold to say that Sri Lanka remains a loyal and dedicated member of this Organization. We have made a contribution to the quality of its deliberations and to the implementation of its programmes. We are deeply committed to the principles of the Charter. We believe in the United Nations. We want it to be a strong, principled and effective body, the common inheritance of all mankind, not the preserve of a few wealthy and powerful States but the guardian of all, especially the poor, the weak and the defenceless.

 

LTTE may shift HQ from UK to South Africa

Unconfirmed reports say that the LTTE may be shifting its international headquarters from the UK to South Africa, following the passage of a tough anti-terrorist law by British Parliament last Friday.

15 September 1998
 
His Excellency Nelson Mandela
President of Republic of South Africa
Union Buildings (West Wing)
Government Avenue
PRETORIA 0002

Your Excellency,

We wish to bring to Your Excellency’s notice the report published in the Hindustan Times of September 8, 1998, which stated that the LTTE (better known to Sri Lankans as Tamil Tiger terrorists) are planning to shift their international headquarters from UK to S. Africa.

This move is a direct result of the new anti-terrorist laws passed by the British Parliament. It is a law that makes it an offence for any group to conspire against another government using Britain as a base. The new law ban even the sending of a fax or e-mail by agents of terrorism in UK. Needless to say that this law has deprived the LTTE of its long-standing base -- a foreign base used by the LTTE agents in UK to fund and organise acts of terrorism against the Sri Lankans who are yearning for peace.

Their latest act of terror was to assassinate the Mayor of Jaffna, P. Sivapalan, on September 11, 1998 when he was attending a conference in the Administrative Centre of Jaffna. Three months ago the LTTE murdered the Mayoress of Jaffna, 62-year-old widow, Sarojini Yogeswaran. She is the first to hold that office in thirteen years. The only crime committed by these two courageous Tamil Mayors was to renounce violence and enter the democratic process by contesting the local council elections held in April this year. The ruthless Tiger terrorists have earlier liquidated 17 elected Parliamentarians, eleven of whom are Tamils. They are targeting their own Tamil people who refuse to toe their political line. These acts of terror are also aimed at preventing the people of Jaffna choosing an alternative leadership to that of the LTTE. Tamil Tiger terrorists are hell bent on suppressing the will of the people and, consequently, subvert the democratic process.

Their main source of strength is derived from their agents abroad who had established their international headquarters in 211, Katherine Road, East Ham, London. Britain finally decided to take firm action against terrorists using their country as a base to destabilise friendly and foreign countries after the horrendous bombing of Omagh by IRA terrorists. It would have been morally indefensible for Britain to take drastic action against the IRA terrorists who were destabilising their country whilst turning a blind eye to similar terrorists destroying other nations. Mounting criticism from Africa (particularly from President Mubarak of Egypt) and Asia (Sri Lanka and India) too accused Britain of giving protection to political criminals who were terrorising Afro-Asian countries.

Besides, Britain could not be seen to be out of step with the rest of the international community who were taking the Tamil Tiger terrorists head-on. In response to requests from Sri Lanka USA has banned the LTTE as a terrorist organisation in 1997. India and Malaysia too has banned the LTTE earlier. Australian government has adopted the policy of refusing to talk to the agents of the LTTE lobbying for support until they renounce violence. Britain is the latest to join the list of growing nations that will take firm action against the LTTE.

In the post-Cold War era separatism tied to terrorism has posed the biggest threat to global peace. The separatist violence of the Tamil Tiger terrorist is no exception. Separatism and terrorism are inseparable. Separatist terrorism in Sri Lanka has already claimed the lives of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and President Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka not to mention the old Tamil leadership, including Appapillai Amirthalingam who was the leader of Tamil parliamentarians.

Terrorism linked to separatism is an evil force that stalks every continent, including Africa. We note that a considerable part of Your Excellency’s leadership is now devoted to tackling this threat to African nations. Separatism linked terrorism can thrive only on the support it derives from foreign sources. Your Excellency will agree that separatism can be contained if foreign sources are restrained from collaborating with local groups. This makes it imperative that S. Africa should not be turned into another base to destabilise Sri Lanka.

We understand that the LTTE has influenced a certain section of the Indian population in S. Africa, mostly of Dravidian origin, to lobby on their behalf. If their lobbying succeeds then, we are told, the LTTE will find an alternative base in S. Africa. We are aware that the LTTE had won some support in the past in S. Africa mainly on the basis of a total misrepresentation of the realities of Sri Lanka’s post-independent history. Without repeating the realities of that history, we wish to state that the international community has now accepted the new measures introduced by President Chandrika Bandaranaike’s government to work out an amicable solution. If at this critical stage, the S. African government decides to grant the LTTE another safe haven for them to perpetuate their terrorist acts against another member of the Commonwealth and a pioneering member of the Non-Aligned Movement it would be detrimental to the stability and the progress of South Asia.

The greatest gift that Your Excellency can give to the Sri Lanka is to deny the Tamil Tiger terrorists a base in S. Africa. We, therefore, humbly beg of Your Excellency to consider the plight of the war-weary people of Sri Lanka and reject any proposals to provide a terrorist base for the LTTE in S. Africa. No doubt, Your Excellency’s enlightened leadership on this issue will help to end the 14-year-old war in Sri Lanka.

Wishing Your Excellency all success in all endeavours to bring peace and stability to Africa and the rest of the war-torn world.

Yours sincerely,

Society for Peace Unity and Human Rights (Inc).
(SPUR is a non-governmental organisation established in Australia to promote peace and unity among all communities in Sri Lanka.)
Please send your letter of protest to:
er sent to His Excellency Nelson Mandela
His Excellency Nelson Mandela, President of Republic of South Africa and Chairman of NAM anchq@anc.org.za ; nmandela@anc.org.za
Please write to the leaders of South African Political Parties and Organisations
Britain's new terrorist laws may blow up LTTE's London base (News from Sinhaya Webpage)

The Labour government's tough new terrorist laws could put several groups, using Britain as a base for their activities, out of work. Changes in the law, introduced in a special session of Parliament early this month, come in the wake of the Omagh massacre in Northern Ireland and the recent embassy bombings in Africa. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, fighting for a
separate homeland in Sri Lanka, and the Armed Islamic Group and Islamic Salvation Group -- ultra Muslim outfits from Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- could find themselves in a spot of trouble once the new measures are adopted. Fund raising is also carried out for Hamas, the pro-Palestinian outfit. These measures include: police power to seize terrorists' homes and confiscate assets believed to be used for insurgent activity, conviction of suspects belonging to a banned organisation solely on the word of a senior police officer, and power for police and courts to take account of a suspect's refusal to answer questions or assist with inquiries as "a new offence of plotting terrorism abroad". Early this year, the government was set to draw up a net law under which incitement in Britain to commit terrorist acts abroad -- such as publicity or fundraising -- would be a criminal offence. At that time, Interior Minister Jack Straw said the new law, which would take effect by 2000, showed London would not "drop its guard" against groups that "commit acts of terrorism in the United Kingdom, raise funds or use the UK as a base from which to launch attacks elsewhere in the world."

But with the Omagh bombing, the battle-lines are drawn for what could be an intense fight. Several Muslim organisations are already protesting but the LTTE office, surprisingly, seems to be lying low. Manzoor Moghal, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "The British Muslim community has no sympathy whatsoever for any act of terrorism, local or foreign, and would support all just and legitimate measures to deal with the problem. "But the proposed measures make bad law and carry a serious risk of compromising our own respect for civil liberties, rule of law and commitment to human rights." Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament in Britain, has written to the prime minister warning of the consequences of the new legislation. The letter said: "The Bill will curtail freedom of speech of all legitimate activists." Earlier this year, when the Labour Party was contemplating on introducing a consultation document to ban organisations from fundraising and abetting terrorist acts outside, the LTTE chief international spokesman, Anton Raja, told this correspondent that he was unconcerned. "Our group has purely political objectives. As local Tamils we will keep our campaigns going, whatever any new law says," Raja had pointed out in March this year.

Civil rights groups, however, are against such a law. They believe a fine distinction needed to be drawn between prosecuting people for what they do, and what they say. But despite this, the stakes are high for several organisations in London, especially for the LTTE. Many observers feel that this could be a major blow for the Tigers internationally, as London is the group's nucleus outside Sri Lanka. It could hit their military operations, funds and bank transfers for weapons, which have all been traced to London. The LTTE, however, has overlapping networks for fundraising, arms procurement and propaganda stretching across Asia, Europe, South Africa and the Americas. It is estimated that the Tigers generate several million dollars every month from world-wide donations, front organisations such as shops and restaurants and from property and other investments.

See for more details...

Will S.Africa be LTTE's new haven? (Sunday Times : 20 Sept 1998)

 

President at UN slates LTTE’s claim of ‘liberation organisation’
(The Island : 22 Sept 1998)

The opportunity to join other Sri Lankans in negotiating a settlement of all outstanding ethnic issues remains open to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) if it eschews terrorism and its bloody call for a separate state,President Chandrika Kumaratunga told the 53rd sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York yesterday.

‘The LTTE’s claim to be a ‘liberation organisation’ is an insult to organisations such as the African National Congress (ANC) and the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO),which courageously struggled against minority rule, racism and oppression and, with equal courage, negotiated the creation of the democratic, non-racial States of South Africa and Namibia.The LTTE’s claim to be a ‘liberation organisation’ is negated by its unilateral resort to violence and its reluctance to put its claims to the true test — that of participating in an open,democratic and peaceful process of consultation with the people, the President said.

She said that her government was firmly committed to redressing ethnic grievances peacefully through political discussion and negotiations in which the leaders of all ethnic communities, political parties and other groups participate. Only the LTTE chooses to prowl the path of violence resorting to terror to achieve goals which they alone espouse.

The President further said:

‘Over the past few years the Government of Sri Lanka has in various international fora strongly advocated the need for collective international action in order overcome the scourge of terrorism. Our reasoning has been that a group like the ruthless LTTE which continues to frustrate my Government's efforts at finding a negotiated political settlement to our ethnic problem have found sustenance in the liberal asylum policies that prevail in some countries. This group which recruits children as young as 10 years and indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, assassinates the elected representatives of the people including Tamil political and human rights leaders and destroys places of religious worship, and assassinate foreign Heads of Government on their soil. Yet they are permitted to operate freely in many countries. They maintain an international network which engages in fund raising, narcotics trafficking, trade in illicit arms, the smuggling of illegal immigrants and in more recent times maritime and cyber terrorism.

Addressing the United Nations 50th Anniversary celebration in New York three years ago, I observed, and I quote, "concerted international action is essential to combat terrorism and to compel the terrorists to renounce violence and enter the democratic process. Unfortunately effective action to that end has been frustrated through sterile philosophical debate about the nature of terrorism".

"I am happy to note that since then significant measures have been taken in this sphere. The adoption of the "UN Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings" earlier this year, has been a considerable moral victory for the international community in its fight against terrorism. Sri Lanka is hopeful that all States will speedily take steps to implement the necessary domestic legislation, aimed at giving effect to the commitments made in the Convention, in order to ensure that terrorists are neither provided safe haven nor permitted to raise funds, within the borders of one state to sustain terrorist activities in another State.

"While we enact legislation, we must also be eternally vigilant to ensure that terrorists do not find loopholes in our laws or use procedural delays to circumvent the emerging international consensus against terrorism.

"We in Sri Lanka are particularly conscious of the capacity of terrorist groups to resort to the strategy of using front organisations for raising funds which end up in the LTTE war chest to contribute towards murdering and brutalising our people. Moral and legal sanctions against terrorist are not enough. Laws must be effectively implemented. Only by such concerted action would we be able to ensure that terrorists are compelled to renounce violence and enter the democratic process."

President Kumaratunge added: "We must make a special effort to dissipate the effects of the discriminatory, social and psychological perceptions that affect the status of women. The SAARC Heads of State or Government condemned violence against women, as well as acts of discrimination and humiliation which further depress the dignity of women. There was particular concern over the plight of women and girl children caught in situations of armed conflict. In Colombo, the seven SAARC States finalized the draft text of a Regional Convention on combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, which will be signed at the next Summit in Nepal. Within Sri Lanka, my Government has adopted a national plan of action based on the relevant conclusions of the 4th United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing and on the specifics of our own national situation. The Constitution of Sri Lanka enshrines the fundamental right of equality between the sexes. We have ratified relevant ILO Conventions guaranteeing equal remuneration and other benefits to women. Sri Lanka has also strengthened legal provisions against harassment and sexual abuse of women.

"With regard to children, my Government has recently passed legislation setting up a National Child Protection Authority directly under my supervision. This Authority deal with such issues as child employment, the sexual exploitation of children, education, health and the plight of children trapped in armed conflict. We have formulated a "Children's Charter" and a National Plan of Action to provide for the safety and protection of our children. While we are conscious of the tragic incidence of child prostitution and pornography in Sri Lanka, we have also traced the insidious international linkages which aggravate the problem further. We urge the international community to tighten laws and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that those responsible for such heinous crimes will not receive refuge anywhere.

"A particularly cruel offence against the innocence of children is their forced recruitment by a terrorist group in Sri Lanka to serve as suicide killers in the name of a cause they are too young even to comprehend.

"This is just one sordid aspect of the activities of a group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which seeks to dismember Sri Lanka with the objective of creating in our land a mono-ethnic entity - an objective totally unacceptable to the overwhelming majority in the country and even to the very community whose cause the LTTE claims to represent.

"We believe that ethnic grievances exist in Sri Lanka. I said so publicly in my address to the nation at the 50th anniversary celebrations of our independence this year. I said that the golden jubilee of independence is an occasion for reflection, as well as the renewal of hopes and aspirations. It is an occasion to savour applause for our achievements; it is an occasion to rue the consequences of failure".

Continuing President Kumaratunga observed: Today I have the honour and privilege of addressing this assembly as the newly appointed chairperson of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which met in Colombo a few months ago.

SAARC represents one-fifth of humanity. South Asia reflects a rich and complex plurality of cultural and religious traditions. It is heir to a profound cultural continuum of great antiquity.

The message I bring from the Colombo Summit is that the prospects for enhanced economic, technological, social and scientific cooperation in our region are exceedingly bright. It is the will of our leaders, as vigorously manifested at the Colombo Summit. I am deeply indebted to my fellow heads of State or Government for their invaluable advice and cooperation during the Colombo Summit. I am especially grateful to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan for the magnificent spirit of friendship and understanding they showed for the collective regional interests and concerns.

United Nations bodies must play a critical role in all this, particularly by facilitating and fostering international cooperation for equitable development that could resist the economic contagion that now afflicts us. The international monetary mechanism has proved desperately inadequate in handling the recent crises.

If at this stage I mention Madam Aung San Suukyi of Burma it is because I am personally aware of the loneliness, the anguish, the difficulties and dangers that a woman leader faces in political life. The people of Sri Lanka and the people of Mayanmar and their Governments have been friends over many centuries. Our peoples share an invaluable heritage — the timeless message of the Buddha, the enlightened one who taught the world the meaning of compassion, tolerance and understanding. This message moves me to express the hope that political issues in Myanmar could be approached in spirit of conciliation and tolerance.

In all this, a catalytic role can and must be played by the United Nations system. The United Nations has passed its half century mark. The Secretary-General has described the UN as "a noble experiment in human cooperation". Last year was designated the Year of UN Reform and we are happy that a major portion of the reforms introduced by the Secretary General have been implemented. Some others such as the proposals for time limits for initiatives, the revolving credit, the development dividend and the Millennium Assembly require further study.

We are disappointed however that agreement has not been reached over the reconstitution of the Security Council to reflect better the generality of UN membership. The Council should be more transparent and democratic, responding more closely to the concerns of all, shedding its image, not entirely inaccurate, of largely serving the interests of the major powers. To achieve a consensus or a general agreement on reform we should be prepared to move away from long-held positions, suspicions and prejudices and focus on a just and equitable arrangement based on the current international realities".

 

Tiger leader arrested in Canada
Daily News : 18 Sept 1998)
 
Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Toronto Service Tamil Task Force who arrested Muralitharan Nadarajah, an alleged leader of the LTTE has charged him with impersonation, obstruction of justice and having false documents.
 
He was under investigation by the RCMP Miltan Immigration and Passport Section for allegedly being in Canada under a false identification and for his alleged leadership role in LTTE activities in Switzerland. Nadarajah appeared in Scarborough Court on September 16.
 
He was earlier arrested by the Swiss canton authorities in 1996 for being the 'organiser of a criminal organisation', specifically for extorting money from Tamils. He was later released on bail pending further investigations. He had also served a prison sentence in the Welikada prison in 1986 for withholding information.
There was a news article on ....
ALP candidate defends link to Tamil Tigers
Sun Herald (Page 10): 6 September 1998

The Labor candidate for a Federal Sydney seat is an open supporter of the Sri Lankan guerilla terrorists, the Tamil Tigers. ............(details in the near future).

The Sun - Herald
GPO Box 506
Sydney, Australia
Fax: (02) 9282 2151 Email: letters@shd.fairfax.com.au

Please send your letter of protest to Labour Party leaders:

Hon Hon Kim Beazley
1/18 Council Avenue, Rockingham WA 6168
Tel: (08) 9527 9377, (02 6277 4022 Fax: (08) 9592 1361, (02) 6277 8495 Email : Kim.Beazley.MP@aph.gov.au
 
Hon Garath Evans
Suite 1 (PO Box 1076), Princes Highway, Dandenong VIC 3175
Tel: (03) 9791 4040, (02) 6277 4045 Fax: (03) 9794 0348, (020 6277 2307 Email: G.Evans.MP@aph.gov.au
 
Hon Simon Crean
401, Clayton Road (PO Box 5295), Clayton, VIC 3168
Tel: (03) 9545 6211, (02) 6277 4803 Fax: (030 9545 6299, (02) 6277 8496 Email: S.Crean.MP@aph.gov.au

Please bring this matter to the attention of the leaders of the other political parties:

Hon Alxander Downer
76 Mount Barker Road, Stirling SA 5152
Tel: (08) 8370 9288, (02) 6277 7500 Fax: (08) 8370 8166, (02) 6273 4112 Email : A.Downer.MP@aph.gov.au
 
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Suite 8, 12-16 Tryon Road, Lindfield, NSW 2070
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SPUR condemns Aussie MPs call for mediation
Daily News : 8 September 1998

A call made by two Australian MPs for the expulsion of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth and a halt to all Australian aid while at the same time offering their services as mediators to the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers has been roundly condemned as a misinformed and biased appeal by the society for Peace, Unity and Human
Rights for Sri Lanka (SPUR) based in Melbourne, Australia.

Will the Sri Lanka government ever dream of having these two MPs as mediators when they have prejudiced the case and asked for the expulsion of the Sri Lanka government from the Commonwealth? SPUR has asked.

There are 17 elected Tamil MPs in the Sri Lanka Parliament all of whom support the present Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga Government. But none of them have ever demanded that Sri Lanka should be expelled from the Commonwealth because they know it is counter productive, SPUR has said in a press release.

The SPUR release further said:

Paul Zammit, Federal MP for Lowe and John Bradford, Federal MP for McPherson have issued a press release calling for the expulsion of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth.

This press release was issued on July 22, 1998. In this press release Hon. Zammit and Hon. Bradford have offered to act as "mediators" in the 14-year-old conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers. The Tamil Tigers are demanding 60% of the coastline including the hinterland for 12% of the Tamils in an island smaller than Tasmania.

Consider the tone and the aggressive trust in the following demands put by the "mediators":

"I call on the Australian government to undertake immediate bans on financial aid, sporting, cultural exchanges as well as a ban on all imports into Australia of Sri Lankan goods and services and the same is to apply to Sri Lankan sporting teams," says Hon. Zammit.

In the same tone they add: "Our proposals to the High Commissioner included: 1. Cessation of military action 2. Feed, clothe and provide medical assistance to the people 3. Lift the media blockade, 4. Come to the negotiating table through the intermediaries of a third party.

In a last ditch attempt to resolve the issue, John Bradford MP, Federal Member for McPherson and I have met with the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Australia to act as mediators."

Whatever chances they had of acting as "mediators" would have gone out of the window the moment any sensible diplomat in the Sri Lankan Foreign Office read their press release. The touch of arrogance in it smacks of the insensitive approach to a very complex issue in which even the regional super-power, India, has failed to resolve with the backing of the superior Indian Forces who intervened to mediate in 1988.

Last week when a no-confidence motion was moved against the Minister of Telecommunications it was the Tamil parties that rose to his defence. They thanked the Minister for his valiant and progressive efforts to reconstruct Jaffna and refused to vote against him. But, Mr. Zammit, and Mr. Bradford, from the other end of the Indian Ocean, are demanding that the Sri Lankan government should be expelled from the Commonwealth. By making such unrealistic demands they have lowered their credibility not only as potential "mediators" but even as spokespersons for the cause which they seek to espouse. If these two MPs could pursue the moderate line of their Tamil counterparts in the Sri Lankan Parliament they might qualify to be considered as "mediators".

Consider also the four proposals put to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canberra.

1. Cessation of military action

Presumably this refers to the "military action" of the Sri Lankan government and not to the "terrorist" activities of the Tamil Tigers. The non-partisan approach of these two Honourable Members would have been made clear if they stated categorically that both sides should ceasefire. The text does not make this clear and points directly to the "military action" of the Sri Lankan government. The first requirement of any mediator in a conflict situation is to demand that there should be a cessation of hostilities from both sides. The British government, for instance, went as far as demanding the disarming of the IRA before any talks began. That is the norm. But these two gentlemen only insist on halting the "military action". No member of the international community will yield to such a one-sided demand. It is totally unrealistic, therefore, for the Sri Lankan government to even respond to such partisan demand. This is precisely the demand made by the Tamil Tigers each time they are cornered and it is apparent that these two gentlemen are repeating the demands of the Tamil Tigers on the run.

Having said that, it must be emphasised that there should be an end to the unwanted war in Sri Lanka. Three times negotiations were opened to bring the Tamil Tigers to the negotiating table. The last time was when the current President Chandrika Kumaratunga initiated a new dialogue on January 8, 1995 with the Tamil Tigers. On April 19, 1995 the Tamil Tigers once again unilaterally broke off negotiations and opened fire leading to the current situation.

The SAARC summit, which was held last week in Colombo, indicates clearly the response of the regional and international community. There are 17 Tamil MPs in Parliament who met the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Atari Vajpayee, and made representations on the Sri Lankan crisis. The Indian Prime Minister listened to them politely and did not utter a word for two main reasons: 1) India's failure to implement the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement resulted finally in the Gujral Doctrine which said that India would not interfere in the affairs of its small neighbours and 2) India regards the Tamil Tigers as an unreliable group of terrorists who must be restrained militarily as a lesson to the separatist groups threatening India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Besides, the entire international community is behind the efforts of the Sri Lankan government's efforts to start negotiations. But the Tamil Tigers refuse to end the war, which has caused untold suffering to all communities - Muslims, Sinhalese and Tamils. In fact, the Australian government too has joined the international community and refused to talk to the agents of Tamil Tiger terrorism in Australia unless they renounce violence. The press release of Mr. Zammit does not mention the violence and the intransigence of the Tamil Tigers, which has been the main cause of prolonging this unwanted war.

As regards the excesses of the Sri Lankan Security Forces, we join the rest of the human rights activits in condemning such violence. The two gentlemen refer to mass graves in Jaffna. A Human Rights Commission appointed by the government has just initiated investigations into it. It is only fair that genuine human rights activists, as opposed to partisan propagandists, must await the outcome of the findings of this Commission before commenting on it. We welcome the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry by the government.

It is a matter of deep concern that the two Australian MPs have not mentioned one word about the violations of the human rights by the deadliest group of terrorists who have been branded as the latest "Pol Pot" of Asia by the prestigious and independent newspaper The New York Times (May 26, 1995). The Indian Express (January 13, 1997), the leading independent daily in India, echoed similar opinions when it wrote: "But democracy itself is anathema to the LTTE. Prabhakaran has no time for niceties of pluralism and dissent, the reason why more Tamils have been killed by the LTTE than the Sri Lanka army does. The LTTE cannot countenance a situation where it will have compete with other groups for the affection of the Tamil community."

2. Feed, clothe and provide medical assistance to the people

From the press release, it is safe to assume that the two MPs have been briefed by the former vicar General of Jaffna, Fr. S. J. Emmanuel. Each of the four demands put to the High Commissioner comes from the political agenda of Fr. Emmanuel.

This priest raised each of these four demands at a lecture he gave to a group of Sri Lankans at the Monash University on July 13, 1998. When Fr. Emmanuel stated that food was not provided to the north he was confronted with the fact that the UN itself has commended the unique efforts of the Sri Lankan governments to feed, clothe and provide medical assistance
to the Tamils of the north. Fr. Emmanuel had no answer. At a time when food supplies, under the UN flag, are blocked in Bosnia, Somalia, or Rwanda etc, Sri Lanka is the only country, which sends supplies to a rebel-held territory. Fr. Emmanuel also had no answer when he was told that it was the Tamil Tigers who had obstructed non-military essentials shipped to the predominantly Tamil north of Sri Lanka. Even the Red Cross ship was attacked by the Tamil Tigers and this neutral organisation pretested against blocking the supply of food as a means of destabilising Jaffna for the political gain of the Tamil Tigers. As members of the international community, the Australian parliamentarians have a duty to promote peace in the region and the first step towards that is to get the facts straight.

3. Lift the media blockade

This again is another complaint made by Fr. Emmanuel at the lecture given at the Monash University. It is apparent that Hon. Zammit and Hon. Bradford have picked it up from him. If both these MPs have been following the Sri Lankan media they would realise that it is one of the most open wars covered in minute details - including the corruption in the high ranks of the Security Forces. Whatever is missed by the local media, is covered by the international media, particularly the Tamil Tiger propaganda machine based in London. This is not to say that media personnel are given a free run in the war zones. Monitoring the flow of information from a war zone is the common practice even in the wars conducted by the Western democracies. For instance, the coverage of the Gulf War, in which Australia was an active partner, was conducted behind the lines. Every evening a high-ranking officer would brief the journalists covering the war. Peter Arnott was the exception reporting directly from Baghdad. But that is done by the Tamil Tigers reporting their side on the Internet. In fact, when Fr. Emmanuel made this complaint about media coverage one Australian Executive of a leading company investing in Sri Lanka asked: "Did Churchill conduct World War II without a censorship?" Fr. Emmanuel's silence was deafening.

4. Come to the negotiating table through intermediaries of a third party

This is another political line plugged by Fr. Emmanuel, who is noted as a pro-separatist activist. This aspect was dealt earlier and needs no further elaboration. However, it is necessary to emphasise that President Chandrika Kumaratunga has agreed to accept a "Facilitator" (not a "mediator') to initiate negotiations. The international community and the Sri Lankan government are very wary of the Tamil Tigers, having burnt their hands three times. The agents of Tamil Tigers are now running round the world trying to drum up support for (a) the cessation of the war and (b) third party negotiations without giving any guarantees that the Tamil Tigers will not break off negotiations at a convenient time of their choosing, after they recover from the battering they've been getting from the Sri Lankan Security Forces.

Clearly, the war must end and negotiations must begin. But the big question is: How do you shake hands with a clenched fist grip


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