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Is it a crime to be a Tamil in Sri Lanka?

Dec 23 (GV) I like to share the daily experience of being a Tamil in Sri Lanka. The Tamils who are living in North and East of the country are subjected to various forms of discrimination. They feel utterly helpless due to fear. The civilians in these areas lead a horrible life beyond our imagination. Tamils who are living in Colombo for decades are not exempted from discrimination by various walks of life; may it be security forces or fellow workers or neighbours. more..

Fans' jeers must spur us on, says battered Harmison

Dec 23 (DM) Steve Harmison last night spoke of the pain England suffered at the hands of critical travelling supporters during the final Test in Galle, Sri Lanka, and how they will seek to use it as motivation. The banner-writers who came up with 'England — hang your heads in shame' after watching their side bowled out for 81 in their first innings were at it again yesterday, offering '15 days of torture — thanks for nothing, England'. more..

England were out-thought and outclassed

Dec 23 (CI) And so England's series ended as it had begun, with the tail clinging on amid the lengthening shadows, waiting for the elements to give them a reprieve. At Kandy they deserved a break and were given none; at Galle they deserved nothing of the sort and got one. Such is the way of Test cricket. It often rewards the tenacious, but it's rare that justice isn't done in the final analysis. more..

Military heat on Western Vanni

Dec 23 (LNP) The army yesterday seized the LTTE-held Uyilankuma-Anandakulam entry/exit point situated about a km off its own frontline as it stepped up pressure on the LTTE units deployed in the western part of the Vanni. Troops killed at least eight LTTE cadres during the battle in which the army lost a soldier while six others received injuries. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that the troops would hold on to the area. more..

LTTE denies Prabhakaran was injured

Dec 23 (LNP) The LTTE on Saturday denied that its leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran was injured in a Sri Lankan Air Force attack late in November in Killinocchi. `Our leader (Prabhakaran) is like a sun. Can anybody even think of extinguishing him? Do you think we will ever keep our leader in such a place where he is vulnerable to attacks? He is leading us from the front. He is not injured,` an LTTE spokesman said more..

Military aid: US out, enter Russia

Dec 23 (LNP) In the wake of the United States Senate slashing military assistance to Sri Lanka, the Russian Federation has stepped in to fill the vacuum, sending the first ever top level military delegation to Colombo to discuss military cooperation. A high level Russian military delegation led by Colonel General Vladimir Moltenskoy last week met Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Army Commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka and Air Force Commander, Roshan Goonathilake and visited several major military installations in the island. more..

SriLankan given ample notice on President`s travel plans

Dec 23 (LNP) SriLankan Airlines has been given ample prior notice regarding President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s travel plans from London on December 13, a senior member of the Presidential delegation disclosed yesterday. He dismissed allegations that the request for seats out of London was made on the day of the flight itself, recalling that President Rajapaksa`s travel arrangements were notified to Sri Lankan as early as November 30. more..

Moves to scuttle APRC?

Dec 23 (SAMN) Steps are underway to send the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to Northern Ireland and Spain to ‘study’ the system of governance adopted in the two countries. The move comes from very powerful quarters, informed sources said while Tamil political sources expressed skepticism over the move, charging that it could also be an attempt to scuttle the process by delaying the committee from reaching an agreement. more..

NGOs out: Mullaitivu faces food crisis

Dec 23 (SAMN) International and local NGOs operating in the Mullaitivu district have withdrawn from relief work and food distribution and returned to Kilinochchi on the instructions of the LTTE, officials said. Mullaitivu Government Agent Emelda Sukumar summoned a meeting on Friday to discuss the food situation in the Mullaitivu district in view of possible food shortages for displaced people in the area. more..

Beer sales on the decline

Dec 23 (SAMN) Sales volumes of beer in the Sri Lankan market have been on the decline for the past two years. "They are flat at the moment," said Managing Director of The Lion Brewery Ceylon Ltd, Suresh Shah. Shah attributed the sales decline to the restrictions on marketing and advertising of alcohol and tobacco products. "There is no possibility of promoting any alcohol or tobacco products under the current legislation." more..

JVP warns of year of trade union action

Dec 23 (SAMN) The JVP Saturday sounded warning bells saying 2008 would be a year of trade union action. Addressing the seventh convention of the Agriculture Public Servants’ Union, the JVP’s trade union chief and parliamentarian K. D. Lal Kantha said many trade unions affiliated to the party would stage protests over the government’s poor performance. more..

FOREIGNERS ONLY in sight of Rajapaksa pavilion

Dec 23 (LB) The majority - 95 per cent — of the guest houses, restaurants and hotels in Galle Fort do not serve local customers, and are practicing strict ‘apartheid’ by serving foreigners, largely whites only. This shocking situation — encouraged and initiated by white residents in Galle Fort —— is the sickening ground reality in this heritage city, despite the proud Southern patriotic ring given to the reopening of the Galle Stadium with the ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Pavilion’ named more..

The week after, and art of using and losing

Dec 23 (LB) It was as if the political version of the movie ‘The Day After’ had materialised. The government had won the vote on the third reading of the budget, and the UNP felt both betrayed and in a state of confusion. It was felt in some UNP quarters that the JVP’s politburo decision had been vacated and a new decision to support the budget taken by the party — a situation arising from its internal splits. more..

Ranil laments

Dec 23 (LB) The day after the Government won its budget vote, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe summoned an urgent meeting of his party to conduct a post mortem. Unfortunately, only a handful attended because most UNPers had already left town for the outstations. “We had enough opportunity to defeat the budget,” lamented Ranil. “But we couldn’t manage it because of the JVP. The JVP will now have to take full responsibility to the calamity that faces this nation. more..

Presidential Commission inquires into VAT refund frauds

Dec 23 (LB) The Presidential Commission of Inquiry in to VAT frauds has discovered that before the Audit Report on the subject, the Special Audit Team has disclosed a large number of firms which have defrauded VAT refunds. But the Inland Revenue Department has failed to take any legal measures against such disclosures. Retired High Court Judge H.P.Paranagama is the Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into VAT frauds while. more..

Ministers bask in luxury while masses burn

Dec 23 (NS) A large number of ministers appear to be celebrating the season in grand style, with many of them currently vacationing overseas. The Nation learns that most of the ministers who are abroad are on private visits. The majority of the ministers, it is learned, have travelled to either European destinations or more fancy holiday and shopping destinations, while another group is reported to have left the country on ‘work.’ more..

East turns into a hell hole as Pillaiyan runs amok

Dec 23 (NS) TMVP Deputy Leader Pillaiyan and his cadres are running riot in the Eastern Province, especially in Batticaloa, turning the entire district into a virtual hell hole for the civilians living there, highly placed sources disclosed. Grave atrocities, including murder, abductions, extortion and land grabbing continue unabated in the east, with civilians living in Batticaloa having to bear the major brunt. more..

“Govt. pushing us towards an alternative state”

Dec 23 (NS) Colombo District Parliamentarian Mano Ganesan, in a hard-hitting letter addressed to the members of the international community, warned that the President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government was pushing him and others towards an alternative state by restricting state protections and privileges only to partners of the government and people of a privileged community. more..

Foreign doctors to treat Prabhakaran who may slip out

Dec 23 (NS) The news that elusive LTTE Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was slightly injured in an Air Force raid was exclusively reported in The Nation last Sunday. Fellow columnist and senior journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj scooped what was easily a world-class exclusive. On Wednesday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS), quoting Intelligence Services, confirmed the story. more..

Anura moves his goods out of Visumpaya

Dec 23 (Island) Mr. Anura Bandaranaike has begun moving his goods out of Visumpaya to his house at Rosemead Place built some years and is currently living at his ancestral home in Horagolla. Both Anura and his sister, Chandrika, built their own houses on the original Rosmead Place compound. `Tintagel', the Colombo residence of the Bandaranaikes, belonging to the three Bandaranaike children, is now a boutique hotel which was opened earlier this month. more..

Sajith stars at UNP convention

Dec 23 (Island) The UNP held its 52nd annual convention on December 16, just two days after their budget debacle. As could be expected, the convention was hardly an exuberant affair, coming so soon after yet another ‘defeat’. Normally, the budget is supposed to be yet another bill passed in parliament and not a contest between the government and the opposition. more..

Air chief commends his men

Dec 23 (Island) Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilake yesterday paid a glowing tribute to officers and men who have contributed to the ongoing campaign against the LTTE. "Without their commitment, dedication and valor, we would not have overcome the daunting challenge," he told The Sunday Island, expressing confidence the enemy has been largely weakened. more..

The state of the nation: a year end look

Dec 23 (Island) Had the security forces failed to meet the LTTE military challenge in August last year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s minority government would not have anything to boast about this year. Despite some successful LTTE operations including the devastating attack on the Anuradhapura airbase, the military pursued its multiple objectives. The successful elimination of S. P. Thamilselvan on November 2 could not have come at a better time. more..

70% of Indian community live in estates

Dec 23 (SO) Though the Indian Tamil community has lived in Sri Lanka for more than 200 years, still 70 per cent of this community work and live in the plantations. They live as a backward community due to the denial of rights of citizenship, franchise and other socio economic rights, said Minister of Community Development and Social Inequity Eradication P. Chandrasegaran. Addressing a seminar on Indian Origin people are descendant of the great ancient civilisation in Malaysia, he said last week, other communities have progressed and have transformed into advanced communities. more..

May Christmas bring peace to all -President

Dec 23 (SO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his Christmas message said that the season of Christmas brings with it the glad tidings of peace on Earth and goodwill among all people. He said: the message of all encompassing love preached by Jesus Christ, who was born on Christmas Day has an undiminished relevance to this day, in a world faced with bitter divisions among people based on religions, nationality, ethnicity, language, colour and caste. more..

Project to reduce alcohol consumption

Dec 23 (SO) Ministry of Community Development and Social Inequity Eradication Media Secretary, H. H. Wickremasinghe said in a press release, on the progress of the Mahinda Chinthana - 10 year plan under the ministry: 'The Ministry of Community Development and Social Inequity Eradication formulated its Development Plan for the year 2008, based on the Mahinda Chinthana 10-year Plan. more..

Implementing infrastructure projects next year, a priority - Siyambalapitiya

Dec 23 (SO) Implementing infrastructure development projects next year will be a priority in the 10-year development program, said Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya. He said the huge defence expenditure will not be a hindrance to implement development programs. Ensuring security, law and order cannot be compromised. The government has allocated Rs. 170 billion for defence next year. more..

Sri Lanka, highly desirable posting - Dr. Palitha Kohona

Dec 23 (SO) The United Nations Staff Union (UNSU) cannot discourage UN officials from undertaking assignments in Sri Lanka, as the country is considered to be one of the highly desirable postings in the world, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Palitha Kohona said. Commenting on the recent assessment by the UNSU, which categorised Sri Lanka among 'the world's most dangerous places for aid workers', Dr. Kohona, the former Chief of the UN Treaty Section in New York, in an interview with the 'Sunday Observer' said that the assessment was based on somebody's imagination to discredit the government. more..

Tsunami billions still at sea

Dec 23 (ST) As Sri Lanka marks the third anniversary of the catastrophic 2004 tsunami, it has come to light that only US$ 1.7 billion of the US$ 3.1 billion pledged by foreign donors has been received. As a result of the shortage of funds and other reasons, thousands are still living in makeshift camps while rehabilitation work has been delayed. According to Nation Building Ministry figures, there was a shortfall of US dollars 1.4 billion as against the money pledged for tsunami rehabilitation and related projects. more..

Prorogation coming next month

Dec 23 (ST) For most Sri Lankan parliamentarians, both in the Government and in the Opposition, it is migratory season. With the bickering over a lengthy budget debate now over, they have spread out to various parts of the world on holiday. If voters in their electorates miss them, most happy are their security details. The occasion has come as good reason for them to obtain much needed leave. Thus, it is holiday season for them too. more..

Seasonal lull prelude to New Year battles

Dec 23 (ST) With the New Year only eight days away, the customary lull has returned to the battlefields of the North and East. In terms of both the military and the Tiger guerrilla calendar, the more than two decades of war has not seen any major encounters during the Christmas and New Year season. Yet, the defence establishment in Colombo does not want to take any chances. more..

Fixation or friction? UN’s battle with Sri Lanka

Dec 23 (ST) When a senior UN official addressed a recent news conference on human rights violations worldwide, a reporter asked him about the incarceration of a UN human rights official, Sigma Huda, by the military-run government in Bangladesh. A native of Bangladesh and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Huda was barred from leaving the country on the ground she was "a security risk for Bangladesh as she may give statements detrimental" to the government in Dhaka, more..

Sri Lankan soldiers capture rebel camp, as fighting kills dozens of combatants

Dec 23 (AP) Troops captured a Tamil guerrilla camp in embattled northern Sri Lanka as two days of heavy fighting along the northern front line left 22 rebels and one soldier dead, the military said Sunday. The Tamil Tigers, meanwhile, said they killed 17 soldiers in a fierce clash. Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said guerrillas hastily abandoned the camp in Periyapunchankulam village, Vavuniya district, as the soldiers advanced Saturday. more..

Sri Lanka army, rebels claim heavy losses in fighting

Dec 23 (AFP) Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan troops fought fierce battles in the north at the weekend, leaving several combatants dead or wounded, according to conflicting statements from both sides Sunday. The rebel LTTE said they resisted a 10-hour military push on Saturday into the district of Mannar, killing at least 17 soldiers and wounding 54. The guerrillas said they lost three of their fighters. But the defence ministry said the military killed eight Tigers for the loss of one soldier on Saturday. more..

28,000 Lankan Tamils in T. Nadu to get citizenship

Dec 24 (PTI) About 28,000 Sri Lankan Tamils currently in welfare centres in Tamil Nadu are to be given citizenship of the island nation. The decision was taken by the Select Committee for Granting Citizenship to Refugees. Committee Chairman JVP MP Ramalingam Chandrasekaran said most of the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu are willing to return to their motherland but are unable to do so as they have no way of proving their identity upon their arrival in Sri Lanka. more..

India discounts Prabhakaran injury in air raid

Dec 24 (Sify) The Indian government has no credible information that Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was injured in a Sri Lanka Air Force raid on his bunker in the last week of November. Indian security agencies believe that reports that Prabhakaran was injured and that he may seek medical treatment abroad are part of psychological warfare against a beleaguered LTTE. more..

'No fund shortage' for flood IDPs

Dec 24 (BBC) There is no shortage of funds to provide releif to thousands of flood-affected people, Sri Lankan authorities said. Secretary to the Ministry of Resettlement, ACM Razik, told BBC Sandeshaya that four districts in the north and the east are badly affected by the floods. Jaffna, Batticaloa, Ampara and Polonnaruwa are the worst his districts, he said. "However, I do not have exact figures on how many people are affected," more..

Manipulation of media in the marketing society

Dec 24 (LR) We are living in a marketing society where everything and everyone is being sold. Media plays key role in this culture. One must knowledgeable of the mechanism of marketing and its influence in media in order to survive and not being a slave of this vicious cycle. It is important to understand that advertising is not an isolate entity but part of well organized psychological plane. more..

Batticaloa flood victims need urgent help - MP

Dec 24 (TN) TNA parliamentarian for Batticaloa District. S. Jeyananthamoorthy, appealed to the Batticaloa Aditional Government Agent, K Maheshan, to immediately take all necessary steps to provide relief assistance to the flood victims in the Batticaloa district. Continued torrential rain is falling in Batticaloa, Amparai and Polannaruwa districts for more than 24 hours, and more..

Kinniya-Moothoor land route re-opened

Dec 24 (TN) Kinniya-Moothoor road along Trincomalee-Batticaloa A 15 highway was reopened last Friday for public transport after seventeen years by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA). Ferries have been put on service to connect the three causeways, Upparu, Gangai and I'raalku'li that separate Moothoor and Kinniya along A 15 highway. The strip of road was closed since 1990 due to security reasons by the SLA, sources said. more..

Tamil shops in London forced to display : Anton Balasingam poster

Dec 24 (LG) Tamil shop owners in London were visited by the LTTE activists last week and asked to display huge poster with Late Anton Balasingams’s photograph with verses praising him as the voice of the nation. The colourful poster is appearing in the shop widows. Some of the pro-LTTE shops have willingly displayed the poster whilst others were compelled to paste on the shop window. more..

TRAG in turmoil - Governance at UK Charity questioned

Dec 24 (ISL) The long established UK refugee charity Tamil Refugee Action Group (TRAG) is in serious crisis due to bad governance and malpractices. TRAG was formed following large influx of Tamil refugees to the UK post July 1983 state sponsored island wide anti-Tamil violence in Sri Lanka. It was providing yeoman service to the Tamil asylum seekers by providing legal, social, medical and housing assistance. more..

Egg sellers, street vendors, laundry men are among the SL Foreign Mission

Dec 24 (LeN) According to the Foreign Ministry information Deputy High Commissioner of Chennai has been granted the rank of Ambassador deviating from the existing practice and overlooking the officers senior to him with the ranks of Deputy Chief of Mission. Of course, his previous appointments as Chief of Protocol and later as the Deputy High Commissioner have also become highly controversial issues since these two posts are normally held by senior officers. more..

President's henchman in UNP top ranks

Dec 24 (LeN) United National Party (UNP) and the National Congress are alerted on a non-parliamentarian UNP top office bearer who is working to defend the Government while being in the opposition. The said UNP leader met the crossed over MP Wijedasa Rajapakse and showing him a copy of the horoscope of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe said that the latter's stars are not set to be the leader of the country. more..

IMF urges more flexibility for Sri Lanka rupee

Dec 24 (LBO) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Sri Lanka's exchange rate appears to be competitive but urged the government not to resist pressure on the rupee and allow it to depreciate. " . . . greater downward flexibility in the exchange rate is needed to help reduce vulnerability and safeguard reserves in a challenging environment," the IMF said in a report issued last month. more..

Sri Lanka media rights body appalled at state 'definition' of a journalist

Dec 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Free Media Movement said it was "appalled" by an attempt to define journalists as people who hold a card issued by the Sri Lanka government, after an international rights body named Sri Lanka as the third most dangerous place for media workers in the world. "The Free Media Movement is strongly opposed to and deeply regrets the self-styled definition of journalists as put forward recently by the Media Minister, Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa," more..

Sri Lanka needs more money for tsunami house re-building: World Bank

Dec 24 (LBO) The World Bank says Sri Lanka needs more money to re-build houses destroyed in the 2004 December tsunami, and its program is lagging behind in the island's war-ravaged areas. World Bank says its program has helped restore the livelihoods of around 100,000 families and re-build 44,000 damaged houses. "Together, the program has benefited directly more than 300,000 people," the World Bank said in a statement. more..

Sri Lankan or Mihin Lanka?

Dec 24 (LBO) The big news is that the CEO of the airline with the highest number of flights out of Colombo and a major investor has been stripped of his residency permit by the government body established to encourage foreign investment. His crime? The refusal to offload over 30 confirmed passengers to make room for the Presidential party. Was the President travelling on official business? Not exactly. He had gone to the UK to attend the graduation ceremony of his son who had jumped the queue for naval-officer training. more..

Undergrads to oppose ‘anti-ragging act’ - IUSF

Dec 24 (LD) The Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) has warned of a massive protest campaign by undergraduates islandwide if the government implements the anti-ragging act next year. IUSF Convener Duminda Nagamuwa says the provisions of the act, introduced in 1998, violate the fundamental rights of university students. It has been opposed and taken to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Parliament should pass it, by a two-thirds majority for it to become law. more..

Yala National Park to reopen next month

Dec 24 (LD) The government will reopen the Yala National Park for visitors from next month, Environment Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka says. It was closed after an LTTE attack on an army detachment at Thalgasmankada in Yala on October 15th. The incident claimed the lives of six soldiers and injured six others. The area has seen clashes between the army and the Tiger cadres until recently. more..