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Madugalle completes rare double by overseeing a century of Tests

Dec 10 (DT) Ranjan Madugalle made history in the third and final cricket Test between India and Pakistan in Bangalore on Saturday when he became ICC’s first match referee to complete a century of Tests. With this, the 48-year-old became only the second match official, after umpire Steve Bucknor, to reach three figures in both forms on the game. Besides 100 Tests, Madugalle has also officiated in 209 ODIs thus completing a rare double. more..

COI probe 'deliberately delayed'

Dec 10 (BBC) Sri Lankan authorities are accused of delaying a crucial amendment to make presidential commission's enquiries efficient. Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Investigation (COI) to investigate serious human rights violations, retired Judge Nissanka Udalagama said the the inquiry is being delayed due to technical problems. According to the Commission of Inquiry Act, Justice Udalagama said, any investigation could not be continued even if a single member of the panel fails to appear for a hearing. more..

SLMC issues 'ultimatum'

Dec 10 (BBC) Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) says the party would leave Rajapaksa administration within days unless Muslims farmers' land dispute resolved. SLMC Deputy General Secretary, Nissan Kariyappar, told BBC Sandeshaya that the party would take a firm decision on Wednesday unless a written pledge issued on the land dispute. "The Environment ministry has designated Muslim farmers' paddy fields as uncultivating land," he said. more..

Sri Lankan school children soon may own “$100 laptop”

Dec 10 (LR) Some of the two million primary school students in Sri Lanka soon may get to own the “$100 laptop” if an ambitious plan to introduce the product into Sri Lanka gets adequate support, officials said. Education minister Susil Premajayantha had responded “favourably” when shown the computer last week by representatives of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a US-based organization that partners with several technological and academic institutions. more..

Vaiko flays Naval officer's remarks

Dec 10 (CO) MDMK General Secretary Vaiko today charged that the remark of naval officer in-charge of Tamil Nadu Commodore P E Van Halteren that Sri Lankan Navy had never deliberately fired at Indian fishermen in Palk Straits was "unwarranted and unjustified". In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, copy of which was released to the media here, he flayed the Naval officer's statement that Indian fishermen fell prey to the crossfire between the Lankan Navy and LTTE in the international waters. more..

The phantom limb in human rights protection

Dec 10 (ISL) A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. The pronouncement of the Sri Lankan government that it has adequate local mechanisms to deal with investigations into human rights violations reflects a similar mentality. The recent statement of Mahinda Samarasinghe, is the latest expression of this same mentality. more..

Czech Republic offers to provide anti aircraft missiles to Sri Lanka

Dec 10 (ISL) Czech republic has offered to provide anti aircraft missiles for SLAF while LTTE's de facto air force continued to pose a threat to Sri Lanka. Czech offer includes supply of state-of-the art AA missiles, training and even personnel to man the launchers if required. Whether the GOSL will accept the offer or not remains to be see. LTTE is known to operate between 5 to 10 Zlin-143 light planes and have so far attempted 7 raids on both military and economic targets in Sri Lanka. more..

Mechanized Infantry Division concludes training phase

Dec 10 (ISL) Sri Lanka Army (SLA)'s newest offensive fighting formation has concluded its training phase and is now ready to enter the heated battlefields in Northern province. The Mechanized Infantry Division, commanded by Colonel Ralf Nugera, consists of specially trained ground troops and armored vehicles. Although it has successfully concluded its training phase, the process hasn't been a joyride. On February 14th, a meeting of army officials was taking place at 53rd division HQ. more..

Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka

Dec 10 (LG) On December 5, 29 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in fighting in Sri Lanka. The country is fast sliding into a civil war as fierce clashes between Tamil rebels and the military have escalated in the wake of a Tamil chief’s death. On November 2, the Tamil Tiger’s political wing leader Thamilselvan was killed in an air force raid. It has been estimated that the sea clashes, ambush and other military attacks have killed about 5,000 people since last year. more..

MP Sharma criticised over Tigers charge

Dec 10 (LG) Newly elected MP Verendra Sharma has been forced to defend himself after sharing a stage with the leader of banned terrorist group the Tamil Tigers. The Ealing Southall MP has provoked outrage by speaking at the Tamil Remembrance Day event held at the Excel Centre in Docklands last on Tuesday last week to pay tribute to the thousands who have died in the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka. more..

Sri Lanka gem imports held up by red tape

Dec 10 (LBO) Sri Lanka's gem and jewellery industry says plans to allow imports of rough stones to add value and develop the trade are blocked by cumbersome and archaic regulations. Proposals in recent government budgets that removed taxes on gem imports to encourage the free flow of raw materials for the domestic industry to do value addition have not had the desired effect, trade officials said. more..

Sri Lanka could stabilize economy with inflation targeting: IMF director

Dec 10 (LBO) Sri Lanka could stabilize its economy and rein in galloping prices by moving to an inflation targeting framework and a flexible exchange rate, a top International Monetary Fund official said. "Countries that adopted inflation targeting have been able to reduce level of inflation and they have been able to reduce the variability of inflation," Anoop Singh, the head of IMF's western hemisphere department, said in Colombo. more..

“COI deliberately delayed by UNP” – Jeyaraj

Dec 10 (LD) The Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in Parliament today blamed the United National Party for delaying the Commission of Inquiry Act. “This Act must be tabled in Parliament soon. And the government has nothing to do with the delay,” he said. Citing a news report in the BBC website, Minister Fernandopulle said that this should be discussed taking a couple of extra hours on the date when the Vote for the Justice Ministry will be taken up. more..

Pillayan group stages massive protest in Batticaloa

Dec 10 (LD) The Pillayan group staged a massive protest demonstration at Batticaloa this morning against the LTTE and the TNA. Reports revealed that the event received the support of the security forces and that a large number of security personnel were deployed on either side of the roads to provide security. Reports revealed that Pillayan group had informed of this mass rally through loudspeakers last night, noting that they would punish anyone who refuses to attend the event. more..

“Pencil a weapon against eraser rule” ; protest against media suppression

Dec 10 (LD) Under the theme of “Freedom of expression; foundation of all freedom”, A massive protest demonstration and march headed by the Free Media Movement was staged today (Dec. 10th) against the state suppression of the media. The protestors, carrying placards, lead a silent demonstration, gagged in black cloths that read, “Stop media suppression” signifying the suppression of their right to express. more..

High drama in Colombo as police crackdown on protesting undergrads

Dec 10 (LD) High drama took place near Town Hall in Colombo today, (Dec.10th) when the Police anti-riot squad clashed with protesting undergraduates of the Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF), who were attempting to march towards the University Grants Commission (UGC). Roads to the UGC were barricaded and the anti-riot squad were already stationed with water cannons prepared. more..

Safety buses used for road security in Kebithigollawa

Dec 10 (LD) Defence officials have reportedly decided to use thicker metal sheets for buses providing public transportation in the areas of Welioya and Kebithigollawa, to ensure the security of the villagers. These new “safety buses” will transport commuters back and forth between the Kebithigollawa town and the LTTE-threatened areas. Commuters from the danger zones will be transferred to normal buses from the Kebithigollawa town. more..

Sri Lanka commemorates International Human Rights Day

Dec 10 (GDI) International Human Rights Day is commemorated through out the island today (10). This year’s theme is Human Rights and Development. A special commemoration ceremony was held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI), Colombo jointly organized by the Ministry for Human Rights and Disaster Management and the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the UN agencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Ministry representatives and special invitees. more..

Government appoints a ministerial committee on fingerprint attendance

Dec 10 (GDI) The Government appointed a Ministerial Committee comprising of Minister of Healthcare, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Public Administration, Karu Jayasooriya, Minister of Labour Relations and Deputy Minister of Finance, Ranjith Siambalapitiya, to formulate a national policy regarding the introduction of fingerprint registration of attendance. more..

GCE O/L exam begins today

Dec 10 (GDI) The GCE Ordinary Level examination began today with a total of 528,887 candidates attempting what is considered the first crucial hurdle for Sri Lankan students. Among these, 399,169 are school candidates while 129,718 are private candidates. The exam is being held in 3,990 centres including those in the North and East. Meanwhile another 105 students from the Sri Lankan refugee community will appear for the examination in Chennai from 10 th December to the 20th of December, more..

'My battle will continue until we completely eradicate terrorism in Sri Lanka'

Dec 10 (GDI) Addressing a large gathering of Sri Lankans at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo, President Rajapaksa said many underground currents are at work to upset Government’s battle against terrorism. He urged the Sri Lankan expatriates to render their support in the interest of the country to curb terrorism. “I believe as patriotic citizens you expect me to fulfill my duty to protect our motherland. We have to confront many obstacles in doing so. more..

Gains belie solution in Sri Lanka

Dec 10 (CT) In its all-out bid to finally defeat the country's Tamil Tiger separatists by military force, Sri Lanka's government has made some undeniable gains. It has seized the Tiger-held east of the country, sunk supply ships carrying arms to the rebels and, last month, it managed to drop a precision bomb on a meeting in the rebels' northern stronghold, killing the Tigers' top political leader. more..

Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to supply readymade garments to Co-optex

Dec 10 (Hindu) Thanks to the joint initiative by the Department of Rehabilitation, Co-optex, and the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation, a charitable organisation, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees on the Vazhavandankottai camp near here would soon be supplying readymade garments to the Co-optex. The women refugees, organised into 11 self-help groups, have been provided with sewing machines and the raw material to begin their venture. more..

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issues heartening report on Jaffna

Dec 10 (PISL) The Peace Secretariat welcomes the recent report on Jaffna Welfare Centres by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Sri Lanka. This timely report, based on careful research, is in marked contrast to a recent highly critical release by the UNHCR office in Geneva, which it seems was issued without consultation with the Sri Lanka Office. more..

LTTE braces for a second front in north

Dec 10 (LNP) The army is on the offensive in the general area west of Omanthai, with the current focus being the area south of Adampan, an LTTE stronghold now under intense pressure. The LTTE is believed to have shifted some of the experienced units from the Vanni front for re-deployment along the Muhamalai line and elsewhere. Authoritative military officials said that this was due to their belief that the army would make a thrust across the northern front. more..

No objections to war against LTTE, but don`t harass civilians - Maheswaran

Dec 10 (LNP) UNP Colombo District member T. Maheswaran, joining the debate, said that the government was harassing Tamil civilians while claiming it was fighting the LTTE. There was no objection to the war against the LTTE, but thousands of innocent civilians of the North, who had come to Colombo on legitimate business, were rounded up by the police and detained without any valid reason. more..

Beware! our coast is shrinking rapidly

Dec 10 (SAMN) Seventy percent of natural disasters in Sri Lanka are associated with weather and climate phenomena. Fifty five per cent of the coastline is continuously affected by an erosion rate of 0.3 metres a year. The rise in sea level as a result of a high rate of coastal erosion will have a lasting negative impact on Sri Lanka, more so because it is an island sate. more..

Courts go high-tech

Dec 10 (SAMN) Legal education in English at the Sri Lanka Law College will be commenced from January 8, 2008, said Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva PC at the inauguration ceremony of the new computer technology system including Internet facilities held at the Colombo District Court premises on Friday. A new programme involving the hearing of cases utilising new computer technology including internet facilities, more..

SriLankan introduces On-Line Check-In

Dec 10 (SAMN) SriLankan Airlines’ passengers no longer need to queue up to check-in at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, with the launch of the airline’s On-Line Check-In facility. Passengers even have the luxury of choosing their own seat on the aircraft, through the remarkably easy to use system! “On-Line Check-In is a major initiative that is part of our ongoing project to improve the convenience for everyone travelling on SriLankan Airlines. more..

16% hospital admissions injury related

Dec 10 (SAMN) Out of four million annual hospital admissions in Sri Lanka over 16 percent are injury related, Director Non Communicable Disease Unit Dr. Lakshmi Somatunga said at a Health Education Bureau organised seminar on "Prevention of Injuries" held last week in Colombo. Nearly 10 percent of deaths in government hospitals, she said, were due to injuries. In view of the grave situation, the National Committee on Prevention of Accidents had been set up she said. more..

‘Evacuation of families from A’pura Sacred City should be expedited’

Dec 10 (DN) Anuradhapura Government Agent H. M. K. Herath said the evacuation of families living in the purview of Anuradhapura Sacred City should be expedited to fully implement the Sacred City Development Project. The GA was addressing the Anuradhapura Sacred City development Steering Committee, Atamasthanadhipathi Ven. Pallegama Sirinivasa Thera, Local Government Commissioner and officials from the Archaeological Department, Anuradhapura Municipal Council, UDA, Irrigation Department, and more..

Permanent homes for estate workers

Dec 10 (DN) Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardane has made arrangements to construct 103 permanent housing units costing Rs. 20 million for estate worker families in Kuliyapitiya. This is being done on the request of Mass Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and North Western Province Chief Minister Athula Wijesinghe. The Kuliyapitiya Municipal Council has allotted a one and half acre land for the construction of the houses. more..

Pakistan to the rescue of battered Bogollagama

Dec 10 (Island) Although Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama continues to be criticized for supporting Commonwealth’s recent decision to suspend Pakistan from its membership, Pakistan has defended him. Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister Inam-Ul-Haque, who met Bogollagama during the SAARC Council of Minister’s meeting held in New Delhi on Friday, once again expressed Pakistan’s appreciation of Sri Lanka for more..

Minister denies interfering in police investigation

Dec 10 (Island) Aquarius Sports Resort Chairman Dr. Dietmar Doering yesterday said politicians should be extremely careful of those who surrounded them as they usually used and abused their political clout. Politicians might not encourage their supporters and those who masqueraded as their loyalists to engage in violence but they took the law into their hands and caused mayhem, he said. more..

Ranil gives copies of proposals to JVP MPs

Dec 10 (DM) The UNP circulated copies of its proposed sweeping constitutional reforms for good governance, among the JVP members in the Parliament lobby last week. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe gave copies of the discussion paper on the proposed reforms to JVP MPs Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Wasantha Samarasinghe and a few others, when he encountered them in the lobby. Mr. Wickremesinghe said that, at this point, the proposals were for discussion among those concerned, and more..

Govt. says no to fresh ceasefire talks

Dec 10 (DM) The Sri Lanka government has ruled out any chances of another ceasefire with the LTTE further isolating the peace agreement signed in 2001. In an interview with India’s ‘Asian Age’ newspaper over the weekend, Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama has said future talks with the rebel outfit would only focus on a political solution and not a truce. “We will not speak in terms of ceasefire or any of those things. more..

2 Tigers caught buying boats in Chennai

Dec 10 (AA) The Tamil Nadu police claims to have busted a major supply module in the procurement wing of the LTTE by arresting two Sri Lankan Tamils, including an ex-cadre from the Sea Tigers, the marine wing of the LTTE, and one of their local accomplices in Chennai on Saturday night. The accused, according to the Q Branch, were involved in purchasing boats and spare parts for speedboats, as well as computer hardware, and more..

Match in the balance after Prior fifty

Dec 10 (CI) After their poor final session yesterday evening, England urgently needed a better second day at Colombo in order to stay in the match. And, thanks to Matt Prior and Ryan Sidebottom, they battled hard to revive a fledgling first innings before nipping out both Sri Lanka openers. But the relative ease with which the stonewalling Michael Vandort and Mahela Jaywardene combated Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar, more..

Sri Lanka says 20 rebels, 1 soldier killed as calls for international monitors grow

Dec 10 (AP) A series of battles between government troops and Tamil Tiger fighters along the front lines in northern Sri Lanka killed 20 rebels and a soldier, the military said Monday. The fighting came amid months of escalating confrontations between the two sides along the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in parts of the north. With the violence persisting, an international human rights group joined growing calls for the creation of a U.N. monitoring mission to more..

Rights group urges foreign intervention in Sri Lanka

Dec 10 (AFP) A human rights group on Monday urged immediate international action in Sri Lanka to prevent abductions and killings of civilians by government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels. In a statement marking international human rights day, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said Sri Lanka had the highest frequency of cases of disappearances in the world reported to the United Nations. more..

Japan to keep up Sri Lanka aid despite rights concerns

Dec 10 (Reuters) Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said on Monday Tokyo would continue to offer economic assistance to Sri Lanka despite the suspension of some U.S. and British aid this year over human rights abuses in the continuing civil war. Fukuda was speaking to reporters alongside visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the two leaders held talks. Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura told Rajapaksa Japan would approve 1.9 billion yen ($17 million) in grants-in-aid to Sri Lanka next week, more..

In pictures: Sri Lanka's spice of life

Dec 11 (BBC) While Sri Lanka's most famous export is tea, historically the most important has been cinnamon. In fact, so strong is the the link between cinnamon and Sri Lanka that the botanical name of the spice - Cinnamomum zeylanicum - is derived from the island's former name, Ceylon. Every morning cinnamon peelers go to the fields to collect branches to be stripped for bark. The plant grows as a bush. It's hot, hard work. more..

No infiltration of terrorists in TN: army officer

Dec 11 (PTI) Naxalite activities have been reported in Tamil Nadu but the state was free of infiltration of terrorist groups, a top Army official has said. “There is no infiltration of terrorists in Tamil Nadu,” Commander of Southern Army Command, Lieutenant General Nobel Thamburaj said here last evening apparently referring to reports about movement of LTTE cadres and a recent e-mail threatening of bomb explosions in some areas of the state. more..

Australia to scrap contested refugee policy: minister

Dec 11 (AFP) Australia's new government, making its second big policy shift in just a week in power, began Monday to scrap a controversial scheme which sent refugees to remote foreign islands for processing. The move came exactly a week after centre-left Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change in his first official act after ousting John Howard's conservative government in elections. more..

TVMP protests TNA-LTTE nexus, urges govt. to proceed with eastern development

Dec 11 (GDI) In a massive demonstration in Batticaloa town today, the TMVP, urged the government to continue with the accelerated development of the Eastern Province, while pointing out that the TNA and the LTTE were working together and had no right to talk about the grievance of the Tamil people. "The TNA has no right to bellow on the grievances of us Tamils. They are neither our representatives nor democrats. They survive under the sympathy of the LTTE and only peddles its tribal ideologies", more..

Charges against Wanniyala-Aetto honey collectors dropped

Dec 11 (SI) Charges against four Wanniyala-Aetto men, arrested in Sri Lanka in August for collecting honey on their own land, have been dropped. The four men were collecting honey for presentation at the Tooth Temple in the town of Kandy during Sri Lanka’s annual Esala Perahera – the country’s major Buddhist festival. Presentation of honey is central to the Wanniyala-Aetto’s participation in the festival, and they believe hunger, disease and other disasters will occur if they do not comply with this yearly ritual. more..

Lifeless pitches killing Murali

Dec 11 (CI) As a general rule, Muttiah Muralitharan does not succumb to grumpiness, least of all when he is so heavily in the wickets as he has been in this series. But there was more than just a tinge of frustration in his voice at the close of an attritional day in Colombo. Between the two teams, 198 runs were added for the loss of seven wickets, which is stodgy fare in this day and age of Test cricket. And according to Murali, it's only going to get stodgier as the match wears on. more..

Muralitharan calls for second spinner to share workload

Dec 11 (AP) Muttiah Muralitharan wants another spinner in Sri Lanka's test team to help lessen his workload. The 35-year-old offspinner, who last week overhauled Shane Warne's 708 wickets to become the leading wicket-taker in test cricket, has bowled more overs since left-arm spinner Sanath Jayasuriya retired. "It's not easy to bowl 47 overs within five sessions, but I had to do it because we had only four bowlers," more..

Detonators from Kerala finding way into Sri Lanka?

Dec 11 (IANS) Police probing the recovery of a large quantity of detonators at a bus stand here suspect that the explosives were to be smuggled into Sri Lanka. A gunny bag containing 10,000 detonators, placed in 100 boxes, was found at a bus stand on Sep 6. Two people were arrested in connection with the incident soon after. It was the investigation into the dealings of Najeeb, one of those arrested, that helped police in unravelling the Sri Lankan connection. more..

Sri Lanka's Tamil party for political solution to ethnic issue

Dec 11 (Xinhua) The leader of Sri Lanka's major Tamil party said Monday that the country's ethnic issue could not be solved militarily and only a political solution can bring peace to the island. R. Sampanthan, the leader of the Tamil National Alliance told a gathering of foreign correspondents in Colombo that the Sri Lankan government was wrong in thinking that it could solve the issue by flushing out Tamil Tiger rebels from the northern Wanni district. more..