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Sri Lanka rebels threaten to pull out of peace talks

Mar 14 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels repeated threats to pull out of next month's peace talks unless Colombo delivers on a promise to disarm rival militants. Anton Balasingham, chief negotiator of the LTTE, said Monday that the talks scheduled from April 19 in Geneva were in danger following attacks in the country's east. more..

Public sector unions are threatening a 24hour strike later this week

Mar 14 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s public sector unions are threatening a 24hour strike later this week as a dispute over a proposed pay hike continues. Essential health services will not be disrupted in the midnight-to-midnight 24 hour strike scheduled to begin Mach 15. more..

Suspected Tamil Tigers abduct four people, including three teenagers

Mar 14 (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in eastern Sri Lanka abducted four people, including three teenagers, the military said Tuesday, amid warnings by the guerillas that crucial peace talks in Geneva next month could fail. Assailants traveling in a van grabbed two 15-year-old students in Valaichchenai town in Batticaloa district on Monday, more..

Rebel child recruitment casts shadow over Sri Lanka peace talks

Mar 14 (AFP) Sri Lanka accused Tamil Tiger rebels of conscripting more child soldiers, heightening uncertainty over peace talks scheduled for next month. The defence ministry accused the LTTE of abducting two schoolboys in the restive eastern district of Batticaloa on Monday despite pledges to end the internationally-condemned practice. more..

Sci-fi guru Clarke opposes time change

Mar 14 (AFP) British science fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke urged his adopted nation Sri Lanka to reconsider plans to put the clock back after a 10-year experiment on daylight saving. Clarke, 88, said he hoped "wiser counsel would prevail" and Sri Lanka will scrap plans to put the clock back by half an hour from April. more..

Govt optimistic on future talks

Mar 14 (BBC) The government of Sri Lanka expressed "confidence" that the next round of talks with the Tamil Tigers would go ahead as scheduled despite warnings by the rebels. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the LTTE would not abandon the talks as threatened as the international community exerts pressure on the parties to continue talks. more..

JVP rejects Indian federalism

Mar 14 (HT) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a key ally of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka, has categorically rejected the Indian model of federalism, which the moderate Tamil leader, V Anandasangaree, had proposed as a solution to the ethnic conflict in the island. more..

RedR-IHE provides security training to NGOs in Sri Lanka

Mar 15 (AN) In response to the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka RedR-IHE is currently running a series of security training courses for local, national and international NGOs. The organisation has already held a series of short training courses in ‘Personal Safety and Human Security’ (funded by ECHO) with more courses planned in security management. more..

Chinese state councilor arrives in Sri Lanka

Mar 15 (Xinhua) Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan arrived in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka, Tuesday evening for an official visit to the Indian Ocean island country. Tang was welcomed by Sri Lanka Railway and Transport Minister A.H. M. Fowzi at Bandaranaike International Airport. more..

Nandana Gunathilake changes his tune in a discussion with President

Mar 15 (LeN) Kalutara District JVP parliamentarian and senior politburo member Nandana Gunathilake has held a lengthy discussion with President Mahinda Rajapakasa recently to discuss his future political career. Gunathilake while expressing his fullest support for the Rajapaksa's peace drive has said that he believes in Indian style devolution of power to solve the national problem. more..

Sri Lanka-Bangladesh chamber launched

Mar 15 (DS) In a bid to promote bilateral trade relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, business leaders of the two countries yesterday launched Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SLBCCI) in Dhaka. S Renganathan, country manager of Commercial Bank of Ceylon in Bangladesh, was elected president of the new chamber more..

The fall out from Geneva

Mar 15 (ML) With the heat being turned on by the JVP both in relation to the government’s handling of the LTTE as well as the Norwegian facilitators, President Rajapakse has to bite the bullet sooner than later and decide between war and peace talks but either decision would come at a cost both politically as well as economically. more..

Rohitha’s Geneva bill Rs. 850,000

Mar 15 (ML) The private bill of Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and family for the Geneva visit is a whopping Rs. 850,000 it is learnt. President Mahinda Rajapakse on Monday directed Secretary Lalith Weeratunga not to charge the bill to the government account. more..

Rajapakse may get minority parties’ support

Mar 15 (Hindu) President Mahinda Rajapakse is likely to win the support of key minority parties representing Muslims and Plantation Tamils in his peace efforts. The emerging re-alignments come ahead of the March 30 local body polls. “The President has already initiated discussions with the CWC and the SLMC, but nothing has been decided,” more..

Jittery LTTE hit by rival Tamils insist on government disarming dissident cadres

Mar 15 (AT) As the Tamil Tigers' security conditions in the East becomes increasingly untenable and vulnerable, the demand for the disarming of Karuna faction continues to mount. Threats, intimidations and attacks are unleashed to force the Sri Lanka Government to fight a dirty war with the Karuna’s Group in the East. more..

Change in main posts of UNP soon! - Tissa Attanayake

Mar 15 (LT) Changes in many posts in the UNP including that of senior leaders would take place soon says Mr. Tissa Attanayake, Deputy Secretary General of the party. Addressing a propaganda meeting held in Kandy Mr. Attanayake said already membership of 28 people who held different posts in the party have been withdrawn. more..

Armed training for school children in Ampare by tigers

Mar 15 (LT) Wanni tiger organization has decided to give armed training to school children in Ampare District. School Principals in Ampare District had indicated that tiger organization had informed them about their intentions. Tigers have informed the principals to send the children in their schools in batches to a prearranged location on given dates. more..

Tsunami reconstruction: Slow but steady

Mar 15 (ML) Senior Coordination Advisor for Recovery, United Nations, Pablo Ruiz Hiebra says that one of the difficult challenges the government faces even 14 months after the tsunami is to provide permanent houses to those displaced by the disaster. Hiebra says the UN agencies are working closely with the government and other local institutions, more..

"Accusations, not negotiations" in Geneva - Nadesan

Mar 15 (TN) Sri Lanka’s delegation to the Geneva talks had no understanding of negotiation and set about hurling accusations at the Liberation Tigers rather than contributing to a constructive discussion that could lead to a resolution of the prevailing problems, Thamileelam Police Chief B. Nadesan said Tuesday more..

Sri Lanka's main opposition party to undergo reforms

Mar 15 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's main opposition party is to undertake serious reforms after this month's local election, a senior party official said Tuesday. Addressing a local election campaign in the central provincial district of Kandy, the UNP Assistant Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the crisis-ridden party will be reformed after the March 30 election. more..

Tamil Tigers feeding off Toronto kinsmen, rights group says

Mar 15 (G&M) Tamil families in Toronto are faced with extortion from Tamil Tigers of up to $10,000 apiece, and Tamil entrepreneurs up to $100,000 each, according to a new report released by Human Rights Watch. The New-York-based group says that Tamil Tiger fundraisers are increasingly strong-arming the Toronto Tamil community -- the largest Diaspora group outside of war-torn Sri Lanka more..

A Culture of Fear: LTTE Intimidation, Threats, and Violence

Mar 15 (HRW) In Sri Lanka, there is nothing scarier than being a Tamil person of influence—whether you are a teacher, a school principal, a doctor, a journalist, a politician, or a successful businessman. Ordinary Tamils have learned to keep their heads down, do exactly what their neighbors do, and not make waves. These lessons traveled with them to Toronto and London and Paris—where the LTTE and its supporters continued to take over and monopolize social structures, more..

LTTE Control of Hindu Temples in the West

Mar 15 (HRW) The majority of Tamils are Hindu. For many members of the Tamil diaspora, Hindu temples provide not only a place of worship, but also a focal point for social and community activities and an avenue for charitable giving. The Toronto area has approximately forty Hindu temples attended by Sri Lankan Tamils; London has twenty-two. more..

Paying for “The Final War”: LTTE Fundraising and Extortion within the Tamil Diaspora

Mar 15 (HRW) Although many Tamils willingly contribute money to the LTTE, many others do so because they feel they have little choice. The same fear that silences critics of the LTTE prompts many members of the diaspora to provide financial support for the LTTE, regardless of whether they support the LTTE’s cause. more..

Extortion of Tamil Expatriates Visiting Sri Lanka

Mar 15 (HRW) Since the ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE in February 2002, increasing numbers of Tamil expatriates have taken advantage of the relative peace to visit family and friends who remained in the North and East of Sri Lanka, areas that are largely under the control of the LTTE. more..

Response of the U.K. and Canadian Authorities

Mar 15 (HRW) Only two of the individuals who spoke to Human Rights Watch about their experiences of being pressed for money had reported the incident to the police or other government authorities (see below). Many expressed fear that filing a complaint would only expose them further within the Tamil community, and result in further harassment, intimidation, or worse. more..

Gov't ally not to rock boat despite differences

Mar 15 (Xinhua) The main ally of President Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday that it will not upset the Rajapakse administration despite a decision to contest this month's local election independently. Tilwin Silva, the general secretary of the JVP, told an election rally in Kandy that they will continue to support the Rajapakse government at the center. more..

Old British cars keep war-hit Sri Lanka on the road

Mar 15 (Reuters) If war returns to northern Sri Lanka, garage owner Raja Durai says it might be too much for the new Japanese-built cars he repairs. He'd rather trust veteran British cars half a century old. When two decades of civil war ended in 2002, the only vehicles left on the Jaffna peninsula were old British cars and Sri Lankan army vehicles and trucks. more..

Sri Lanka's balance of payments records US$100 mn surplus

Mar 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's balance of payments (BOP) has recorded a US$100 million surplus for the two-months to February, the Central Bank said Wednesday as it stayed pat on interest rates for the third straight month. A balance of payments is a record of a nation's total payments to foreign countries, including the price of imports and the outflow of capital, more..

Valaichenia protests against student abductions

Mar 15 (TN) Valaichenai-wide hartal was observed and Valaichenai Hindu College in Batticaloa was closed Wednesday as protesters demanded the release of students, Jeyaraj Kirisanth and Suthaharan Kulosan, who were abducted by paramilitary cadres two days ago, sources in Batticaloa said. more..

"Anecdotal evidence no basis for disparaging HRW charges"

Mar 15 (TN) Expatriate Tamils in Canada reacted on Wednesday against a report by Human Rights Watch alleging extortion by the Tamil Tigers, saying the report had characterized their entire community as one moribund by fear and questioned its integration into Canadian society. more..

SLMM repudiates minister's claim on paramilitaries

Mar 15 (TN) Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on being interviewed by BBC in London, told that SLMM report had proved there were no armed groups operating in government controlled areas, reported Daily Mirror, a Sri Lanka English daily Tuesday. The minister's claim was rejected by the SLMM, added the daily. more..

Furious suspected LTTE men capitalize on Children’s uprising

Mar 15 (SLA) CIVIL-CLAD SUSPECTED LTTE MEN, absolutely furious at school children protesting over continuing abduction of their schoolmates, in an apparent attempt to distract attention from the issue, went on torching two state buses at VALAICHCHENAI area on Wednesday (15) between 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 noon. more..

Three Men: Two braves and a coward

Mar 15 (ISL) There are three men whose names figure a great deal in the politics of the Tamils of Sri Lanka today; one is a seasoned politician, the other a brilliant educationalist and the third is a terrorist, an underground one in only the literal sense. more..

A new radio channel for children commences on the 28th

Mar 15 (SLBC) A new radio channel especially for children commences on the 28th of this month. Chairman of SLBC Sunil Sarath Perera says all preparations in this regard are in place. It is being carried out under the direction of media minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and according to a proposal by President Mahinda Rajapakse. more..

Hundreds of Sri Lankan workers in Kuwaiti jails

Mar 15 (KT) Sri Lankan authorities announced this week that some 264 Sri Lankan nationals who traveled to Kuwait for work purposes are now in prison in Kuwait. According to sources in the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau 64 of these prisoners are women, reports a local newspaper. more..

Lankan Foreign Minister expresses optimism of talks with LTTE

Mar 15 (IRNA) Sri Lankan foreign ministry in a statement in Colombo today said, "it was optimistic about reaching an agreement on a "wider range of issues" with LTTE at the next month's talks despite the rebels' warning that the negotiations were in "grave danger" amid the alleged military-backed attacks on their posts. more..

Treasury signs a US$ 455 mn deal with China for coal power

Mar 15 (LBO) The Treasury inked a deal with China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation on Wednesday, to build a US$ 455 million power plant in Norachcholai. Two decades overdue, the 300 megawatt plant as well as supporting infrastructure will be entirely funded by the Chinese government, more..

Draft Companies Act makes its way to parliament after 13-years

Mar 15 (LBO) Sri Lanka's parliament is due to take up the Companies Act within the next two months, after a delay of nearly 13 years. The draft bill, first prepared by a New Zealand consultant in 1994, will replace the present Companies Act of 1982, said Chanaka de Silva, Senior Partner of Nithya Partners, a corporate law firm. more..

Sri Lanka steps up a campaign to encourage people to eat chicken and eggs

Mar 15 (LBO) Sri Lankan ministers Wednesday threw their weight behind a campaign to encourage locals not to chicken out of eating poultry products, amidst fears that farmers are heading for financial ruin. Sri Lanka's poultry industry hit a rough patch, with sales of chicken and eggs falling 15 percent more..

Brattskar to visit Kilinochchi

Mar 15 (LT) The Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Mr Hans Brattskar is scheduled to leave for Kilinochchi on Thursday (16). The reason for his sudden visit is not revealed. On the last 13th instant Mr Brattskar met the Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Mr Palihakkara on his invitation. more..

Jeyaraj off to Madu and then Wanni

Mar 15 (LeN) Commerce Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle is scheduled to visit the holy Madu church tomorrow and then proceed to meet a high level LTTE representation for discussion says reports reaching Colombo. This visit, reports say, confirms the news that Minister Fernandopulle had 'one to one' talks with LTTE spokesperson Thamil Selvam in Geneva, during the Geneva CFA discussions. more..

Professor to pitch theory on tsunami to Sri Lanka

Mar 15 (AR) Arizona State University tsunami expert Professor Harindra Fernando departs for his native Sri Lanka on Sunday in an attempt to save lives should other killer waves come to the island nation. Fernando was part of a team of tsunami specialists who went to Sri Lanka following the devastating tidal waves of December 2004. more..

Triple injury blow for Sri Lanka

Mar 15 (CI) Sri Lanka have suffered a triple blow ahead of their opening one-day international against Pakistan, on Friday, with Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Ruchira Perera being ruled out. Jayasuriya had originally been cleared to play in the match, but aggravated a thigh problem during practice and it was felt that he shouldn't be risked. more..

Three friends drown in Deduru Oya

Mar 15 (LNP) Three youths ' all in their early twenties ' were drowned while bathing in the Deduru Oya yesterday morning and rescue operations were continuing last evening to recover their bodies, police said. Chilaw police said they had sought the assistance of the Navy to recover the bodies of the victims more..

Public sector workers to strike despite Mahinda`s assurance

Mar 15 (LNP) All work in the public sector will grind to a halt at midnight today when employees begin a one-day token strike in protest over the salary revision, in the public service, proposed by the Tissa Devendra Committee. Public Sector Trade Union`s Salaries Review Committee officials told The Island yesterday (14) that the recommendations were heavily tilted in favour of the executive and higher grades. more..

NICs not mandatory for voters at March 30 poll

Mar 15 (LNP) Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake on Monday (13) agreed that any official document such as a passport, driving licence or a photograph attested by the Grama Niladhari/Divisional Secretary could be subsitituted for the NIC at the Local Government Elections. more..

LG polls unlikely in LTTE areas

Mar 15 (SAMN) The local government polls, in the LTTE controlled areas of the North and East, are unlikely to be held due to the difficulties faced by staff, appointed by the Elections Commissioner, to set up polling booths and the inability of the police to provide security to polling centres, ballot papers and elections staff, more..

Private bus fares going up?

Mar 15 (SAMN) Private bus owners are likely to announce a fare hike by about 20% today while indicating yesterday that the minimum fare of Rs. 4 might be doubled. Lanka Private Bus Owners Association Chief Gemunu Wijeratne said private bus owners were compelled to seek a price revision in accordance with the National Policy due to increased costs. more..

Prisoners take to chess in Kandy

Mar 15 (SAMN) Prisoners from the Bogambara prison were recently exposed to chess as part of a programme to educate prisoners in recreation that will keep them occupied in the future as well. Anatoly Karpov Chess Club of the Russian Centre in Colombo conducted this chess coaching camp on a successful note at Bogambara Prison early this month. more..