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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Monthly archive

China’s defence report highlights growing dangers of war

China’s military and strategic assessment, “National Defence in 2006”, published in late December, is a highly political document that reflects Beijing’s reaction to growing Great Power rivalry. The White Paper, the fifth since 1998, is largely a response to increasing pressure from Washington. Since Bush came to power in 2001, the Pentagon has published a series of annual reports presenting the Chinese military as a "threat" to the US. Chinese President Hu Jintao has sought to down play the criticism, saying that his country was engaged in a "peaceful rise." In a bid to deflect Washington’s claims that China’s military build-up is "secretive," the latest report provided far more detail about the country’s military apparatus than previously. It provided information about defence spending, the command structure and an overview of military policy. The government held a special press conference on the report for some 70 military attaches from 45 countries.

Mangala Samaraweera and A H M Fowzie in Delhi for talks

By M Rama Rao reporting for Asian Tribune

Two Sri Lankan ministers are in the Indian capital almost simultaneously. The visits are on a low key despite all the usual diplomatic trappings. So the conjecture in political and diplomatic circles is that the visitors in their own way may be sounding the Indian leadership about the Rajapaksa plans which are being viewed here with increasing skepticism. Only a fortnight back External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was in Colombo.

Ranil — the Jonah of Sri Lankan politics

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The stark contrast between President Mahinda Rajapakse and Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Leader of the Opposition, is that Mahinda attracts people and political forces whereas Ranil repels even his own allies. Put another way, Ranil’s capacity to drive people away from him is as great as Mahinda’s capacity to bring them into his fold. Ranil is an extraordinary phenomenon even among born losers. His record shows that he has no past nor future. But yet he hangs on. Why? For whose benefit? His presence in politics has not helped the nation, or his party. In fact, his presence in politics has not been beneficial to him either. He has been kicked out so many times by the people, by his rivals, and his loyalists that it boggles the mind as to why he bothers to pose as the leader of the United National Party.

German aid to Sri Lanka will not be blocked -- German Ambassador.

German Ambassador Jurgen Weerth yesterday denied that 1) Germany has blocked aid to Sri Lanka and 2) Germany, as president of the European Union, was making moves to get the EU ban on the Tamil Tigers lifted. At a meeting with a JHU delegation led by Ven. Aturaliye Ratana Thera, Parliamentary leader of the JHU, he said the ban on the Tamil Tigers was unanimous decision and it cannot be lifted by Germany alone. Ambassador Weerth emphasized that German aid to Sri Lanka was not frozen. He said that rreconstruction work on 14 schools was held up and no aid has been blocked.

Kitchens for food vulnerable schools courtesy Muslim Aid

Munza Mushtaq – Reporting from Colombo

Five disadvantaged schools in the Matara area received new kitchens, funded by Muslim Aid (Sri Lanka Field Office), on Tuesday under a Food For Education programme that is a partnership between Muslim Aid, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Ministry of Nation Building and the Southern Province Ministry of Education.

A Palestinian Family Caged in Hebron

By Mohammed Mar'i*

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and the Israeli Police prohibited Israeli Peace activists from interring the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, January 7th, 2007 in order to protest the violence towards Palestinians on the part of settlers in the town, mainly the harassment of a Palestinian woman by the Israeli female settler Yifat Alkobi. The Israel Radio reported Thursday that the Hebron army commander and the city's police chief had originally permitted the Peace Now demonstration, but (IOF) Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Ya'ir Naveh had decided to cancel it, saying in a statement that it was a danger to public security, peace and order in Hebron.

UN Agencies in Sri Lanka seek US $ 66 million for humanitarian aid in 2007

The United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners working in Sri Lanka has presented a Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) to the donor community setting forth priority activities over the next six to twelve months, with a request for $66 million in funding. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sri Lanka has pointed out of the recurrence of violence and hostilities in the north and east of the country since April 2006, which has impacted negatively upon the humanitarian situation of the civilian population -- a situation already strained by prior conflict and the widespread destruction wrought by the 26 December 2004 - Indian Ocean tsunami.

Kashmiri leaders to meet Emma Nicholson

Baroness Emma Nicholson’s draft report on behalf of EU has resulted in a Pakistan led campaign against it. This report has further split the Kashmiri community, with some people supporting it and others strongly opposing it. However there is a body of opinion which says the report has good points and bad points, and we need to seek amendments to these bad points without condemning the author and discarding the report. With that in mind a group of Kashmiri leaders from different walks of life and with differing political views are meeting Baroness Emma Nicholson on Friday.

Sri Lanka: ICRC calls on warring parties to respect hospitals and civilians

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed that it was increasingly alarmed by the hostilities, including shelling, in the Vakarai area in the restive Eastern province, where a hospital is located around which thousands of civilians have gathered. In a statement, ICRC has called on the Government of Sri Lanka and Tamil rebel outfit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to respect the hospital's protected status and to spare both its personnel and civilians who have sought shelter in the area.

Polls inflame Bangladesh

By M Rama Rao, Vinod Vedi & Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

Credit for the resignation of the President of Bangladesh Prof Iajuddin Ahmed as head of the interim caretaker government for conducting the general elections goes largely to the European Union and UN election observation groups. Sadly, India, the closest neighbour with some stake in the outcome of the election, remained a marginal player in the final hours of showdown between Ahmed and Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League supremo. The post of Indian High Commissioner was vacant for the past couple of months and finally Delhi sent its envoy, he found no one to whom he could present his credentials. That was because his arrival in Dhaka coincided with the resignation of Ahmed as Chief Advisor to the caretaker government. The point is EU and UN have a responsibility to ensure that the other parameters of a free and fair election are put in place before polling date. They cannot abdicate this responsibility. It is natural for Bangladeshis to expect these two entities to use their influence to have the fudged electoral roll rectified before the elections are held.

Sri Lanka Security forces captured LTTE controlled Vaharai

Sri Lanka Security forces announced of the capture Vakarai town a few hours ago located in the restive Batticaloa district. According to Defence Ministrty, "The LTTE terrorists had fled the Vakarai Town area unable to withstand the intrusive thrust of the armed forces. Following an hours long effort the SL army troops finally liberated the Vakarai town and hospital which was used as an artillery launching pad by the terrorists keeping civilians as human shields."