- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2002

Tamil Tigers demand recognition and trade

MALLAVI, Sri Lanka Tamil Tiger rebels said this week they would not enter peace talks with the Sri Lankan government until the ban on their organization is lifted and an economic embargo on guerrilla-held areas ends.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they would take part in negotiations only as a "legitimate organization."

S.P. Thamilselvan, leader of the LTTE's political wing, told reporters Wednesday in the rebel-held town of Mallavi that the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must remove the ban imposed in 1998 to push forward a Norwegian-backed peace process.

WFP seeks food for Burmese Muslims

DHAKA, Bangladesh The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) issued an appeal this week for food aid for 21,500 Muslim refugees from Burma living in Bangladesh.

The WFP, which is asking for food aid worth $2.1 million, said the refugees in two camps in southeastern Bangladesh are heavily dependent on food aid. "The refugees have suffered from chronic malnutrition since they arrived as part of 250,000 people fleeing the North Rakhine province of Myanmar in 1991-92," it said in a statement, using the country name adopted by Burma's military rulers.

Most of the refugees returned home under an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees two years later.

Large school spurns Pakistan's new rules

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A large Islamic school in the Pakistani capital says it will resist moves by the military-led government to register seminaries in line with efforts to wipe out religious extremism.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, vice president of the Jamia-tul-Uloom Al-Islamia Al-Faridia school here, accused President Pervez Musharraf of behaving like a dictator.

"Musharraf is acting like a military dictator and not like a president," he said. "They sent the 21-point questionnaire to the madrassa [school] we are refusing to fill it out."

Gen. Musharraf announced a crackdown on Islamic extremists and militants during a landmark speech to the nation a week ago.

Weekly notes

Osama bin Laden is probably dead, and his recent video broadcast looked like the farewell message of a doomed man, says a former friend and journalist. "I 99 percent believe he's been killed in the caves of Afghanistan by the very hard bombing," Essam Darez, an Egyptian free-lance writer who spent time with bin Laden in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1990, told Reuters in an interview. A delegation of U.S. congressmen led by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told human rights groups in Uzbekistan this week the United States would continue to help the former Soviet republic build a democratic society, according to Uzbek activists. Mr. Daschle reportedly said the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, one of several authoritarian post-Soviet regimes in the region, would remain an object of scrutiny for the United States.

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