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By Malith Mendis 

 

The “Gujral Doctrine” as pronounced by former Indian Prime Minister I K Gujral in a speech made at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies on January 20 th 1997 consisted of  five points on which the Foreign policy of India was proposed to be based. The points were that first,  with  neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India would not ask for reciprocity, but would give and accommodate what it could in good faith and trust. Second, that no South Asian country should allow its territory to be used against the interests of another country of the region. Third, that no one should interfere in the internal affairs of another. Fourth, that all South Asian countries should respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. And finally, that they should settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.   

 

The Sethusamudram Sea Canal project (SSCP) is a kick in the face of the Gujral Doctrine. Sri Lanka was kept in the dark until construction was about to begin. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study did not consult a main stakeholder, Sri Lanka. Hence, the EIA is fundamentally flawed. Several bilateral meetings have not yielded meaningful results. Meanwhile, India goes ahead with the project stubbornly…..

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WUTEVERRR…

August 30, 2007

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By Indrajit Samarajiva 

I’m no particular fan of Mangala. For one thing, he was vital to getting Mahinda elected – a cardinal sin in itself. However, one thing he does have is political courage, catalyzed by expediency. People that do not have political courage – and who have disappointed me greatly – are the crossovers like Prof Peiris, Karu Jayasuriya, and Milinda Moragoda. I don’t know the former, but I used to have some faith in Milinda as a young person, but now I don’t. If he can join a government that evicts its own citizens and spends our retirement money on cars and corruption, then he’s no leader of mine. It is obvious that this country needs a vocal opposition to check the tyrannical and corrupt presidency. Some politicians are standing up and some are selling out, and they’re not the ones you’d expect. Milinda Moragoda is a sell-out. For all his talk of honest politics, when this country most needs an opposition he has abandoned us. Mangala is an opportunist, but at least he is here when his country needs him, not on water-carrying jaunts abroad. Forget the cross-overs and long live the Opposition.

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It was a sunny morning on Saturday, July 28. The swirling rotors of an Air Force Bell VIP helicopter stirred up a cloud of dust and dry grass as it slowly settled down in an open patch surrounded by thick jungle.

Troops clapped as the door swung open.

The visitors dismounted. They were Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera and Commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka. Unlike the highly publicised event at Independence Square on July 19, there were no television cameras, radio commentators or media corps. A lone official camera operator took photographs of this short ceremony. It was being held at Thoppigala. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa laid a commemorative plaque watched by the VIP visitors and troops.

He was then at his residence in Los Angeles and thus chose to give a slip, like his brother Basil Rajapaksa, to the Independence Square ceremonies. They were telecast live countrywide on TV and broadcast on radio. The move was intended to obviate criticism that together with their brother President Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa, they ran the military and the country. Whether the absence helped erase that wide public perception is doubtful. Even if the nation did not see him, the Defence Secretary wanted the troops to know that he, the one who ran the military machine, acknowledged their role.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had declared in an address to the nation that the Tiger rebels have all been driven out of the East. He wanted to be able to say that, more than anything else, to shore up the image of his Government. Allegations of human rights violations, killings, abductions, kidnappings, and the breakdown in law and order have all been having a telling effect on President Rajapaksa. He grew impatient when the military operations in the East dragged on.

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By D.B.S Jeyaraj  

 

Sri Lanka’s Eastern province will be experiencing a new sunrise, according to Government propaganda. The Rajapaksa regime claims to have vanquished the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and cleared the province of two – legged felines. Now the focus will be on development of the region. If Colombo is to be believed, the east is rising!

 

Naturally, the LTTE disputes this. The tigers say that they have merely executed a strategic withdrawal. Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan, the LTTE spokesperson on Defence affairs – an eastern son of the soil himself – was candid enough to admit on the BBC that the tigers had suffered a “setback”. It was not a “defeat,” he said. The LTTE is abandoning positional warfare and adopting guerilla tactics in the future.

 

There was a time when the LTTE controlled extensive territory in the East. The tigers claimed then that 70% of the East was under them. When Jaffna fell in 1996, LTTE propagandists tried to make the best of a difficult situation by pointing out that more “land” in the east had come under their control than what was lost in the north.

 

 In Trincomalee district, the LTTE had areas north of Trinco town and the greater part of Muttur and Eechilampatru divisions in the South. It also had a small portion of the Seruwila division.

In Batticaloa district, the LTTE controlled the bulk of territory in the hinterland to the west of Batticaloa lagoon, the Vaharai region and also the Kudumbimalai /Thoppigala areas.

In Amparai district, the LTTE controlled the Kanchikudicharu – Rufuskulam jungle areas and adjacent villages. It also maintained a presence in the Lahugala and Pottuvil jungle areas.

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Sinharaja

August 27, 2007

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By Gehan de Silva Wijeyratne

The rain drummed on the roof at Martin’s as I awoke to a Spot-winged Thrush singing sweetly. I had arrived in Sinharaja the previous day for a public relations cum field visit to meet Hugues, a Belgian birder who runs his own company specialising in bird watching tours. Wicky who was taking Hugues and Veronique on a tour had greeted me on arrival with good news. A Ceylon Frogmouth had been found roosting on some ferns just a few feet away from the main road. What good luck. We feasted our eyes on this nocturnal bird with a strange troll-like appearance because of its wide ‘frog mouth’. The bird opened its eyes once to take a look at me and then went back to sleep. I could think of no better proof than this that wildlife is not disturbed by heavy visitation. On the contrary if they are not harassed, they become habituated to people.

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By Sumanasiri Liyanage 

In his Mahaweera Day speech in 2005, Vellupillai Pirapaharan, the LTTE leader,
depicted Ranil Wickremesinghe as a calculating fox who tried to deceive everyone by
entering into a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE. Ranil Wickremesinghe has once
again shown his foxy behaviour in his comments on the capture of Thoppigala by the
security forces of the Government of Sri Lanka. His initial position was that capturing
Thoppigala would be a useless exercise as it is worthy only for collectors of fire-wood.
However, at the signing of a MoU with the SLFP (M), Ranil Wickremesinghe claimed that
under the Wijetunga-Wickremesinghe regime, Thoppigala was captured by the security
forces. Did he mean that Thoppigala was strategically important then but not now? As I
have no knowledge in military strategy and I have no idea to get an access to that
sphere of knowledge, I do not wish to comment on his current position on the strategic
importance of Thoppigala.

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Voldemort Rising

August 25, 2007

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By Sanjana Hattotuwa 

“If humanitarian intervention is indeed an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?”

                                          – Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General

At the time of writing, news of the liberation of the East and the resulting celebrations have captured headlines and the public imagination in Sri Lanka. Not much analysis though as to what it all means and answers to questions such as what now, and whether the fall of Thoppigala is any guarantee of animating a hitherto non-existent capacity of this government to articulate an enlightened approach to the ethnic question. Careful to not arouse the wrath of those who in power volubly state that to call to question the liberation of the East is to defile those who died for the protection of national sovereignty and undermine the morale of the troops, many analysts tread a cautious line.

Recognizing on the one hand the valour of troops, they have maintained that military victories are no measure or any guarantee of a lasting solution to a significant ethnic divide that unfortunately continues to widen. Many have also pointed out that there is a clear incompatibility between the government’s avowed interest in economic development in the East and the draconian regime of oversight, directly under the gaze of the President, of all actors so involved in the East. With the depletion of State coffers and the Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarianism that informs the Mahinda Chintanaya’s approach to and understanding of conflict and peace, it is fairly clear that liberation of the East is essentially the imprimatur of a single community over and above the aspirations, identity and history of others and replacing the violent hegemonic control of the LTTE with that of the State and its allied paramilitaries.

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Real broadband

August 22, 2007

By Rohan Samarajiva

Why broadband?

Just a few years ago, we were trying to figure out what the Internet was. Those days, pretty much everyone was using the Internet from their workplaces: using dial-up.

Now, life doesn’t feel complete without broadband. Some have always-on connections even from their homes, and their concern is that it takes ages to download a video clip, or that on most days, it’s impossible.

Is this some kind of upper-middle class fad, here today, gone tomorrow?

Doesn’t seem to be. Sri Lanka’s first mesh network popped up in Mahavilachchiya, within hoo distance of Wilpattu. They’ve got broadband; they’ve got blogs; they’ve even got a BPO. A BPO is a place that takes a part of a firm’s operations and does it for them. Not for charity, but for real money.

People are making money in the middle of the jungle using computers and telecom. Without broadband, they could not.

Broadband is not only about work and making money. It’s fun. One of the key drivers of broadband in the most advanced broadband country in Asia (and indeed the whole world, for a few years until little Iceland overtook it) is gaming.

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“Nation, is the geo-social entity
providing maximum security for the survival of a community,
Nationalism, is that fundamental desire
For the assurance of a Nation
Nations uniting and dividing
Of their own volition, is the
Expression of their urge for that assurance
Alas, as usual, this time too
Our Nation lost the basis of its existence”

 

V I.S Jeyapalan

 

By Shanthi Sachithanandam

Bathed in the glare of the media and a high-pitched war rhetoric, the military operations in the East were the visible war efforts to most of us in this country and abroad during the past few months. But simultaneously, elsewhere in the East, the government had stealthily opened up another war front away from all the publicity and fanfare. This particular battle was part of a longer term strategy than anything that had been envisaged by the security forces in the North-East. Extraordinary gazette notification was its hardware that carried ammunition in the form of legality, which was deadlier than the biggest multi barrel rocket launcher. Once ground control is consolidated, it is going to use the so called agents of development as its forces of occupation.

It is none other than the declaration of the Muttur East/ Sampur area within the Trincomalee district as a high security zone, and also as a special development zone.

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By Air Vice Marshal Harry Gunetilleke (Rtd)

Come around mid-July this year, there were victory celebrations with much euphoria, if not in the North and North East of Sri Lanka, with some enthusiasm certainly in the rest of the country, at the behest of the State which gave the lead with a colourful military parade at Independence Square, reminiscent of the yearly Independence day celebrations, on the occasion of the conquest of Thoppigala, even before the powder ran dry.

Here, it must be noted that the military hierarchy desired another week or two for mopping up operations but the power that be would have none of it perhaps, wanting to put up a great show before the other big event of the opposition planned for 26th July through a mass rally where crowds in six figures were expected for the event.

I leave it to the readers to judge the reaction of the masses and other organizations as to who outdid the other and at what expense to the nation. As an ex-military chief, I am pleased at the exploits of our soldiers, sailors and airmen in the battle-field which commenced with the Jaffna Peninsula being brought under the writ of authority of the Government in 1995, followed eleven years later with the reacquisition of a large land area in the Trincomalee district comprising Muttur, Sampur, Thopur, Mavil Aru and Kattaiparichan in July/August last year, ending up, to this point of time, at Thoppigala in the Batticaloa district after securing the seaward defences in Verugal, Mankeshi, Panichchankerni and Vakarai areas.

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