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Navy diver also drowns in Kitulgala tragedy

June 19 (DM) Double tragedy struck Kitulgala where a boat carrying seven holiday makers capsized killing two in the Kelani River on Saturday while a Navy diver involved in rescue operations also drowned at the same spot yesterday. According to reports employees of a private company had gone on an office outing to a leading hotel in Kitulgala and taken a water rafting ride in the Kelani River. more..

Wellawatte businessman abducted

June 19 (DM) A 35-year-old Tamil businessman was reportedly abducted by an armed gang in Wellawatte yesterday morning. The abductee identified as Ganesan Johnson Vedamanikkam a resident of Charlemont Road had been abducted by a group while he was on his way to a private bank between 9.00 am to 11.30 am. Mr. Ganesan owned a grocery shop in Nelson Place and had opened the boutique in the morning and had set off to the bank leaving an assistant at the boutique. more..

stocks up in thin trade, rupee near life lows

June 19 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares ended slightly firmer on Tuesday as retail investors bought select blue chip shares such as telecom stocks, but many players stayed away as uncertainty amid renewed civil war nagged, traders said. The Colombo All Share index closed 0.45 percent firmer at 2,606.17 points, a rise of 11.67 points. more..

Primary Education in Crisis

June 19 (IPS) The dismal results of Sri Lanka's school-leaving General Certificate of Education (GCE) exams this year, which showed only 48 percent of the 525,000 candidates passing, have left educationists wringing their hands and asking where they went wrong. The results, announced last month, were a shocking drop from the 60-70 percent average pass rate recorded every year in this country which boasts South Asia's best human development indices including a 92 percent literacy rate. more..

Resettlement in Trincomalee banned

June 19 (HT) The government has banned the resettlement of Tamil refugees in Sampoor and Muttur East in the Eastern district of Trincomalee following the designation of these areas as High Security Zones (HSZ) through a Presidential gazette notification. Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told Hindustan Times on Monday, that the civilian refugees from this area would not be allowed to go back to their homes and lands "both for their own security and the security of vital establishments to come up there." more..

3 Tamil rebels killed in clash with soldiers in eastern Sri Lanka, military says

June 19 (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers attacked a group of Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's volatile east on Tuesday, killing at least three guerrillas, the military said. Soldiers confronted the rebels in eastern Batticaloa district while they were fleeing a military operation in the area, an official at the Defense Ministry's media center said on customary condition of anonymity. more..

Sri Lanka's war displaced seek new start -- yet again

June 19 (Reuters) Saundrarajan Kannakai has been displaced by Sri Lanka's civil war over a dozen times in the past 16 years. Standing in front of a dust-caked tent where she has lived for the past five months, the 34-year-old mother-of-three is one of around half a million people displaced by the island's two-decade conflict -- or around 2.5 percent of the population. more..

Two Sri Lanka former ministers join opposition ranks

June 19 (LBO) Two former Sri Lankan government ministers crossed to the opposition benches of the parliament Tuesday, deepening divisions in the ruling coalition. Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, who were sacked from their portfolios after differences with President Mahinda Rajapakse, took their seats on the opposition benches on Friday morning. more..

Sri Lanka Freedom Party strongman forms new political wing

June 19 (LBO) Two former ministers of the main ruling party in Sri Lanka said they are forming a new political wing, after crossing over to sit in opposition benches Tuesday, deepening divisions in the ruling coalition. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party- Mahajana Wing or 'Peoples' Wing' would be formally launched Friday, a statement from ousted ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi said. more..

Ministry awaits autopsy results in maid’s mysterious death

June 20 (CM) THE HEALTH Ministry is waiting for the autopsy results of the body of a 22-year-old Sri Lankan housemaid who died at a Nicosia clinic 10 days ago before releasing her body for burial. Health Minister Charis Charalambous added that the ministry would cover all expenses to send Veronica Samaranayake’s body home. The 22-year-old became ill with flu symptoms a few days after arriving in Cyprus two weeks ago. more..

Bishops’ solidarity with Tamils forced to leave Colombo

June 20 (AN) In a message published in two Catholic papers, the English Messenger and the Sinhala Pradeepaya, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL), expressed its solidarity to the members of the Tamil community forced out of Colombo. The CBCSL statement was issued on June 7 by Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy and Bishop Norbert Andradi of Anuradhapura, respectively the CBCSL’s president and the secretary general. more..

Charles under Indian intelligence scanner

June 20 (MD) The LTTE chief Veluppillai Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony is now on the watch list of the Indian agencies after reports that he heads the air wing of the banned militant outfit. A central intelligence officer in Mumbai said Prabhakaran junior may have been trained by Israel’s Mossad, an intelligence agency. Reports indicate that the LTTE air wing is a complement of nine pilots and seven light single-engine aircrafts. more..

Ram Sethu man-made, says Madras HC

June 20 (ANI) The Madras High Court today said that the mythological Ram Sethu across Palk Bay is man made. The Sethu is coming in the way of the Central Government's Sethusamundram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), which proposes linking of the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka. The plan envisages dredging a 44.9 nautical mile (83 km) long deepwater channel in the shallow sea to provide a continuous navigable sea route around the Indian Peninsula. more..

Battle to grab Atapattu place in Sri Lanka line up

June 20 (AFP) Three Sri Lankan batsmen are competing for the void created by the self-imposed absence of former captain and opening batsman Marvan Atapattu for the series against Bangladesh. Thilan Samaraweera, Jehan Mubarak and Michael Vandort were all picked to represent the Sri Lanka A team here Tuesday in the three-day tour match with the visitors starting on Wednesday. The 31-year-old Samaraweera who captains the A team averages 41 in Tests with five centuries. more..

Night flights to resume at main Sri Lanka airport

June 20 (AFP) Sri Lanka's only international airport is to resume around-the-clock operations after air raids by the Tamil Tiger rebels forced its closure at night, an official said Tuesday. The civil aviation authorities decided to resume night operations shortly following talks with the military and airport officials, a spokesman for President Mahinda Rajapakse's office said. more..

Sri Lanka stock investors face more uncertainty ahead

June 20 (LBO) Stocks closed marginally higher on thin turnover Tuesday but brokers said the defection of two former government ministers to the opposition benches could further weaken investor sentiment. The ASPI closed up 0.45 percent or 11.67 points at 2,606.17 but turnover remained thin at 73 million rupees as most investors stayed away from the market. The Milanka rose 0.71 percent or 25.91 points to close at 3,653.54. more..

Money for new Sri Lanka ministers passed

June 20 (LBO) Sri Lankan government Tuesday narrowly secured parliamentary approval to raise the national budget amidst chaos in the house when two former ministers crossed over and joined opposition ranks. President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the country's finance minister, secured legislative approval to increase the government budget by 657.56 million rupees. The government last year secured approval to raise total state spending by 42 percent to 804.6 billion rupees in 2007. more..

UNICEF cautiously welcomes Tigers' release of child soldiers

June 20 (IRIN) The UN Children's Agency, UNICEF, today welcomed the release of 135 child soldiers by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, but said it was concerned that many more still remained with the rebels. The LTTE said yesterday that it had discharged the group of boys and girls under 17 years of age over the past six months, and pledged to rid its ranks of all children under 18 by the end of the year. more..

Navy sinks Tamil rebel boat off northern Sri Lanka, military says

June 20 (AP) A naval patrol under attack from a flotilla of separatist Tamil rebel boats of the northern coast of Sri Lanka sank one of the guerrilla ships in an exchange of fire Tuesday, the military said. Ground troops supported the navy in the defense of the patrol in the seas off Point Pedro of northern Jaffna peninsula, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. more..

Sri Lanka blocks TamilNet

June 20 (TN) TamilNet has completed 10th year of its web publication on 7th June 2007. TamilNet is a globally based news agency, run by an independent group of persons, to cover news and views related especially to the North and East of Sri Lanka. TamilNet has earned its credibility for news reporting and has become an indispensable news source to opinion makers worldwide. more..

A response to Prof. Nalin De Silva and Mr. Udaya Gamanpila by Dr. S. Thavarajah

June 20 (AT) I had already informed this committee that I do not intend to delve into the past history or on the issue of Tamil grievances and aspirations; rather I preferred to address on the subject of how to solve the problem of the Tamil Speaking People, in particular to those living in North and East. more..

Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka elected Vice President of the UN Human Rights Council

June 20 (AT) Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva , was elected Vice President of the Human Rights Council, yesterday (19 June). The Asian Group unanimously endorsed Ambassador Jayatilleka as its representative to the new Bureau of the HRC. more..

Buddhist contribution to environmental protection – Judge Weeramantry

June 20 (AT) Presenting the Buddhist perspectives on the inter-relationships between all living beings and the environment, Judge C. G. Weeramantry, former Vice- President of the International Court of Justice, told the World Future Council in Hamburg that Buddhist teachings and Buddhist kings have been in the forefront of pioneering laws on environmental protection. more..

Mangala, Sripathi cross the great divide

June 20 (ML) Yesterday in a powerful political move that was to shake the bedrock of the SLFP polity, ousted senior Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi crossed over to opposition ranks. Calling themselves the SLFP People’s Wing Samaraweera and Sooriyaarachchi sat with opposition members in parliament throwing the House into confusion as members of the government looked on in disbelief. more..

Nation Building Minister accused of asking for Rs. 50m bribe

June 20 (ML) The Supreme Court yesterday issued a Restraining Order on the Minister of Nation Building Jagath Pushpakumara on a fundamental rights case filed by the Sevanagala Sugar Industries where it was alleged he solicited a bribe of Rs. 50 million from the chairman of the company to ensure the smooth functioning of the factory. more..

Regional politics — Sri Lanka needs to adopt cautious approach

June 20 (ML) Never in our history has there been such a colossal blunder committed by a government. The whole saga of the forcible removal of Tamils from lodges in Colombo sent shock waves all over the world. Political parties and religious dignitaries across the country were unanimous in reproaching the government that it should never have resorted to such high handed measures. more..

Resolution before US Congress calling for peace talks

June 20 (ML) A resolution was tabled before the US Congress yesterday calling on all parties to the Sri Lankan conflict to negotiate a political solution that will be fair to all ethnic communities whilst ruling out a military solution to the conflict. The resolution was initiated by Democratic Congressman from New Jersey, Frank Pallone and Republican Congressman from Illinois, Jerry Weller. more..

Remember Sri Lanka on refugee day

June 20 (RW) As the world commemorates Refugee Day on June 20, Muslim Aid is calling on the world to remember the plight of those fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka. “According to the United Nations, there are 10 million refugees and 13 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs), not including the five million Palestinians who are both refugees and displaced in their own land,” more..

Sri Lankan Maid Sentenced to Death for Murdering Infant

June 20 (AN) A Sri Lankan housemaid, who murdered a four-month-old infant two years ago, has been sentenced to death by a court in Dawadmi, 242 km from Riyadh. Delivering the verdict, High Court Judge Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al-Rosaimi said the murder had been proved beyond reasonable doubt. “In addition to the witnesses and circumstantial evidence, the accused also admitted that she killed her sponsor’s child and reconstructed the murder scene in court,” said the judge. more..

Sri Lanka surfers turn to anonymizers amidst allegations of net censorship

June 20 (LBO) Sri Lankan surfers turned to proxy servers to access a pro-guerilla news website amidst claims that the government has started to practise net censorship in the country. The website, alleged that authorities have asked internet service providers to block access to the site in Sri Lanka. To access the site, Sri Lanka surfers have turned to annonymizers or proxy servers that originally came up to counter net censorship practiced in authoritarian regimes such as North Korea and China. more..

Sri Lanka media rights body slams moves to block internet

June 20 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Free Media Movement (FMM) has slammed a move to block access to a Tamil news internet website , saying that the country was on a "slippery slope of web and internet censorship". "This is a significant turn in the erosion of media freedom in Sri Lanka and clearly demonstrates the extent to which media is censored and the free flow of information curtailed, without any accountability, transparency or judicial oversight," more..

Rocking of Mahinda’s boat

June 20 (ISL) The Mahinda Rajapakse administration has shown a marked inclination to fall into deep pot holes, quite often of its own creation. It has for the past six months been stumbling from crisis to crisis and quite unfortunately for the country, taken it along with them. Political stability is a basic requirement for any country and for that there should be a politically stable government. more..

Why the JHU is an affront to Buddhism

June 20 (ISL) In my last article I promised to revert to the subject of the JHU and its non-negotiable demand for a Buddhist Sinhala state. Since then the JHU has released its proposals in full. It is a futile exercise to enter in to any kind of dialogue or attempt any analysis of their proposals. They can be succinctly described in a slightly altered Churchillian expression. It is bigotry wrapped in hatred within a container of collective schizophrenia. more..

SL Embassy in Palestine soon - President

June 20 (LeN) Sri Lanka Embassy will soon establish a diplomatic mission in Palestine to further strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries and the Middle East, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he met with the President of the World Muslim Congress at Temple Trees yesterday (19). Representatives of the World Muslim Congress are in Sri Lanka now to attend the 80th anniversary activities of Congress marked by a Seminar on "Muslims and their cooperation with other faiths", more..

'Prevalent religious harmony in Sri Lanka ushered an era where the rule of law can prevail'

June 20 (GDI) “Because of religious harmony that is prevalent in Sri Lanka, we have been able to usher an era where the rule of Law can prevail, and there we advocate the rule of law for the country ‘s society to sustain its future,” said the Minister of Foreign Affaires Rohitha Bogollagama. Minister Bogollagama stated this addressing the Seminar on ‘Muslims and their cooperation with other faiths’ at the Holiday Inn in Colombo on Monday. more..

'Conspiracy of joint opposition to topple the Govt failed miserably'

June 20 (GDI) "Government was able to defeat the conspiracy of the joint opposition to overthrow the Government during the voting session of the Supplementary estimates held yesterday," stated the Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. Minister Fernandopulle said this today addressing the media at the Government Information department Premises in Colombo. more..

President sought to finalize APRC proposals without delay

June 20 (GDI) On an invitation of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, members of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) gathered at Temple Trees Yesterday (19). The members informed the progress made by the APRC and sought the President’s advice to further the activities of the Committee, a media release issued by the President’s Secretariat said. APRC is established with the vision of finding an all party accepted permanent solution to the ethnic issue. more..

Snatching power in the expense of public security - Opposition`s recreant political games

June 20 (LNP) UNP Member of Parliament Lakshman Seneviratne`s brazen request to bring Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse before a Parliamentary Select Committee in connection with the latest purchase of MiG fighters only highlights the UNP`s malicious campaign against the Government further. This is a serious allegation and it simply boils down not only as an individual attack on the Defence Secretary but the whole of the Security Forces. more..

Small clique running SLFP now: Sripathi

June 20 (LNP) Former Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi who crossed over to the Opposition along with Mangala Samaraweera told the Daily Mirror yesterday, the launching of the new political party was only a move aimed at taking the SLFP into the hands of true party members. `Today the party is in the hands of a small clique. We are attempting to save our party and true SLFPers will join us,` he said. more..

A problem too serious to be tackled perfunctorily

June 20 (LNP) Some state policies in this country defy comprehension. Successive governments have made grand shows of their campaigns to battle alcoholism and tobacco addiction while encouraging the production of those two products and raising funds by way of taxes on them to bridge budget deficits. Governments become compassionate towards animals only on Poya days, when their slaughter and the sale of their flesh are banned. more..

Massive strike against interest rates in the offing

June 20 (LNP) Nearly one million State sector workers, of 254 trade unions attached to the National Trade Union Centre, will join hands shortly to participate in a massive protest against the higher interest rates to be levied on housing and property loans. The Public Administration Ministry last week issued a circular increasing the rate of interest from 4 per cent to 11 per cent. more..

Road development at a standstill: JVP

June 20 (SAMN) The government admitted in parliament Tuesday that certain projects launched under the ‘Gama Neguma’ and ‘Maga Neguma’ programmes had come to a standstill, due to lack of funds. Chief Government Whip, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, informed the House of the matter, in response to a question raised by JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake. Fernandopulle also admitted that there is a delay in the payment of monies to contractors who implemented projects under these programmes. more..

‘MR concerned about UNP, JVP uprising’

June 20 (SAMN) Plantation Development Minister Milroy Fernando said in parliament Tuesday President Mahinda Rajapaksa accommodated 17 opposition MPs in the government because he knew there would be an upsurge against him by the UNP and JVP one day. Speaking during the debate on supplementary estimates for several ministries, Fernando said the government had to increase the number of ministers only under these circumstances. more..

Lanka world’s 25th worst state

June 20 (SAMN) Sri Lanka has been ranked 25th in the World Failed States Index of 2007. The ranking has been based on 177 countries with Sudan ranked No. 1 with a total of 113.7 points and Iraq ranked No. 2 on 111.4 points. Somalia and Zimbabwe have been ranked No.3 and No. 4. Sri Lanka has scored 93.1 points with Yemen ranked just above Sri Lanka in the Failed State Index with a score of 93.2 points. more..

SLMM, SCOPP discuss contentious issues

June 20 (SAMN) SCOPP Secretary General, Dr. Ranjiva Wijesinha and Major General Lars Solvberg, Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, agreed to issue a joint press release following each meeting between the two sides on issue relating to the peace process, the Government's Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission said. more..

Opposition claims Lanka president rigged 2005 poll

June 20 (ANN) President Mahinda Rajapakse has no legitimate mandate to rule since he became president by denying the Northern and Eastern Tamils from casting their votes at the November 2005 Presidential Election, the main opposition UNP charged yesterday (June 19). Kandy District UNP MP Lakshman Kirialle addressing a press conference in Colombo said that former Port Development Minister Sripathy Sooriyarachchi has pointed out that more..

Swiss Tamils protests against hoisting of Eelam flag

June 20 (PISL) President Mahinda Rajapakse has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lodge a strong protest to the Government of Switzerland for allowing the agents and supporters of Tamil Tigers to hoist the ‘Tamil Eelam’ flag on Swiss soil. This flag -- depicting a snarling Tiger putting his head out of ring of 33 bullets and two guns fixed with bayonets crossing overhead -- was hoisted on June 11 opposite the United Nations buildings located in Geneva. more..

Pakistan outplay Sri Lanka in volleyball opener

June 20 (Dawn) Hosts Pakistan got off to an excellent start in the second Asian Central Zone Men’s Volleyball Championship as they blanked Sri Lanka 3-0 on the first day of the contest at the Liaquat Gymnasium Hall, Pakistan Sports Complex on Tuesday. Both the teams started the match with confidence and scored important points, as the first set went neck and neck from love all and then the score was 9-9. more..

Clear majority for Govt

June 20 (DN) The Government reaffirmed its majority in Parliament yesterday when the vote for Supplementary Estimates for Rs.650 million was passed with a majority of 20. At the division by name in Parliament 107 Members voted for the estimates while 87 Members opposed. The PA, SLMC and CWC voted in favour while the UNP, JVP, TNA and Western People’s Front voted against. more..

Railway won’t be privatised - GM

June 20 (DN) The Government’s policy is to make the railway an efficient public institution without privatising it, new General Manager of Railways Dr. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan said. In an interview with the Daily News, the GMR said instead of drawing up plans to make the Railway a private venture, steps will be taken to ensure the proper management of the loss making venture. more..