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Aid group quizzes CID

Mar 15 (DM) The French charity group Action Against Hunger (ACF) had expressed concern yesterday that the CID did not always follow the orders given by the judge inquiring into the murder of 17 aid workers in Mutur last year. “All evidence must be investigated and made available to the Court in a legal and secure manner in order to identify the culprits. more..

Power crisis hits Lankan cricket fans

Mar 15 (HT) Sri Lankan cricket fans are hoping and praying that the looming summer power shortage will not affect viewing of the World Cup matches here. A spokesman of the Power and Energy Ministry said on Wednesday, that generating capacity had dropped from 1050 million units to 705 million units due to the on-going draught. more..

6000 parcels to Jaffna shipped, another 5000 remain

Mar 15 (TN) The vessel "Merc Yala" carried six thousand parcels, a portion of the backlog of parcels lying in the Trincomalee general post office since January 13, when the ship left Trincomalee port Wednesday. About two thousand parcels were returned back to the post office due to lack of space in the vessel, which has also been taking a consignment of cement and flour to Jaffna district, more..

Food, shelter scarce in Sri Lanka war refugee exodus

Mar 15 (Reuters) Hunched over a fire cooking rice amid a sea of tents as a new refugee exodus swells already cramped camps in war-ravaged east Sri Lanka, Krishnagobal Sivamalar fears for her future. Forced to flee her home in a swathe of jungle and paddy fields to escape artillery shells and air raids as the military seeks to wrest the area from Tamil Tiger rebels, the 25-year-old housewife salvaged only the red checked dress she is standing in. more..

UN says Sri Lanka refugee numbers swell to 130,000; appeals for funds

Mar 15 (AP) The U.N. said Thursday the number of refugees fleeing fighting in eastern Sri Lanka has jumped to 130,000 and appealed for immediate funding, saying there was hardly any money to help them. "I am extremely concerned that tens of thousands of civilians have had to flee their homes once again in eastern Sri Lanka due to the new escalation in violence," said a statement more..

Reforms to end Sri Lankan conflict ready next month: FM

Mar 15 (AFP) Constitutional reforms aimed at ending three decades of ethnic bloodshed in Sri Lanka could be finalized as early as next next month, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said here. "We are expecting it to be by April, the political process to come up with definite proposals for a political solution -- the constitutional reforms," he told AFP in an interview in Washington ahead of talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday. more..

The Rise of “Peace” Professionals in Sri Lanka

Mar 16 (TW) Writing on the political economy of war, David Keen has written the following words: “[T]he study of war has been characterized by a kind of mental block. Sometimes war appears as a kind of ‘black box’, an important phenomenon which we somehow think that we understand but avoid analyzing in any detail.” I think this is also true of the political economy of peace. more..

Children at risk as Sri Lanka fighting worsens

Mar 16 (SC) As fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE intensifies, the lives of hundreds of school children in Batticaloa are being put at risk as heavy shelling sent from the main army camp in Batticaloa town is dangerously close to school buildings. Children exposed to this constant shelling are being traumatised and there are reports of school girls fainting after hearing the unbearable sounds of artillery fire. more..

"Ask UNP who goes in search of Bush even when they sneeze"- Media Minister

Mar 16 (LeN) Media minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa requested the media today to inquire about the Sri Lanka - America deal from the UNP saying that the UNP were the ones who bring out America even when they sneeze. He made this statement during a media briefing that was held at the government Information Department this morning. more..

A Sinhalese arrested regarding Muthurajawela & Anuradhapura massacres

Mar 16 (LeN) A high ranking officer of the CID told LeN that they are probing the cases where five burnt bodies were found from Muthurajawela and Anuradhapura and added that they have arrested a suspect regarding one case. He said that the arrested is a Singhalese. When LeN questioned whether the special report on these 10 dead were presented to the President today, more..

Sri Lanka gives nod for private consortium to firm-up light rail proposal

Mar 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka has given a private consortium of Indian and Singaporean firms the green light to develop a firm proposal with financing in place, to build a light rail system for Colombo. A letter of intent was awarded by Investment Promotion Minister Sarath Amunugama to the promoters, NEB Rapid Infrastructure to complete the financial feasibility and submit a proposal by June 2007. more..

Sri Lanka's exports grow but trade deficit widens

Mar 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka's exports grew by 11.2 percent in January led by industrial exports which surged 15.6 percent, the Central Bank said Friday. Tea exports were hit by production shortfalls following the strikes in December, but apparel exports surged 28.1 percent to 221 million dollars. "However, within the agricultural sector, the increase in rubber and other agricultural exports were more than sufficient to offset the reduction in the export earnings from tea," more..

Sri Lanka surveys territorial sea to claim added rights

Mar 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka is to soon begin a survey to re-draw its continental shelf boundary with the help of a British survey company, a top official said Thursday. Geophysical survey company Geotechnical Engineering and Marine Surveys (GEMS) of the UK is to conduct the two-month study, costing 5.2 million dollars, media minister Anura Yapa said. more..

Indians visiting Sri Lanka likely to touch 1.5 lakh: Tennakoon

Mar 16 (NT) The manager of the Sri Lankan Airlines for western region, Mr Dimuthu Tennakoon today said that the number of Indian tourists arriving in Sri Lanka would touch the 1.5 lakh mark, this year; an improvement upon 1.10 lakh such tourists who visited the island state, last year.The Sri Lankan Airlines began its flights between Sri Lanka and Goa, and vice versa on October 31, 2006, initially with two flights per week, on Mondays and Saturdays. more..

Three new hospitals in the South

Mar 16 (GDI) The Government will establish three hospitals in Hambantota and Beliatta in the deep South part of the island and in Nuwara Eliya in the central hills of the country and a water rehabilitation project in Kalatuwawa in Labugama area, in the Western province. The Hungarian Government has granted Euro 170 million to the Sri Lankan Government to be utilized in these projects. more..

USAID Rehabilitates 39 Tsunami Damaged Schools in the Hambantota district

Mar 16 (AT) USAID Rehabilitates 39 Tsunami Damaged Schools in the Hambantota district, out of which USAID has renovated 18 and re-equipped 21 of these schools, 10 of which were inaugurated on March 9. The projects, supported by the USAID Transition Initiatives Program, brought together zonal educational officials, teachers, parents and students from the ethnically diverse communities to collaborate and jointly identify priorities and work together. more..

The Economic Cost of LTTE Terrorism; Lost opportunities for the Tamils

Mar 16 (AT) The highest cost of LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka is the loss of lives of thousands of Sri Lankans, of all communities, most of them young men and women on both sides of the conflict. Some have died in battle and many have died caught in the cross fire of battles. Sadly, many innocent people, mainly Sinhala people have been massacred by the LTTE in the most cruel and unjust manner. more..

CPJ urges government to ensure newsprint delivery to Jaffna without interference

Mar 16 (IFEX) The Committee to Protect Journalists is distressed by the shortage of newsprint in the northern peninsula of Jaffna, which seriously threatens the ability of major Tamil-language newspapers to continue publishing. The Sri Lankan government has a duty to safeguard the right of Jaffna residents to receive and impart news and information, and should ensure that vital paper supplies are delivered without interference. more..

Sri Lanka storm to 243-run win

Mar 16 (CI) Three fluent half-centuries set up Sri Lanka's dominance before a scorching spell from Lasith Malinga made a mess of Bermuda's maiden World Cup appearance at Port-of-Spain. The 243-run walloping was the third-heaviest in one-dayers and it was only thanks to some lower-order resistance that it avoided being an even more gory bloodbath. more..

No one know what's happening now in the prevailing confusion -- JVP leader

Mar 16 (AT) Somawansa Amarasinghe, leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), is the last remaining member of the old guard that led the Marxist uprisings in 1971 and 1980s. He went into exile and led the party from London. When the JVP took to mainstream politics he returned to take over the leadership of the party. The JVP is now considered to be the Third Force in southern politics, next to the SLFP and UNP. more..

Sacked ministers want bribery panel to investigate MiG-27 deal

Mar 16 (Gulf) Two ministers sacked from President Mahinda Rajapakse's cabinet want the Bribery Commission to probe one of the largest military deals involving the procurement of four MiG-27 aircraft. The former ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Suriyaarachchi have formally handed over the petition calling for the probe to the commission which has accepted the documents. more..

Andrews defends Nauru transfer

Mar 16 (APP) IMMIGRATION Minister Kevin Andrews has defended the transfer of a group of Sri-Lankan asylum seekers to Nauru on grounds that processing in Australia would give people smugglers the green light. Mr Andrews said the 82 Sri Lankans who were aboard a boat that tried to illegally enter Australia last month had chosen to undertake a very dangerous and very expensive voyage, in order to bypass Australia's normal immigration queue. more..

Catholic aid agencies reach out to displaced as violence erupts in war-ravaged Sri Lanka

Mar 16 (CO) More than 200,000 people have been forced from their homes in war-ravaged Sri Lanka, threatening a humanitarian disaster, said Catholic relief organizations at work in the Asian island nation. In March 13 and March 14 statements from Caritas Internationalis and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), respectively, the two relief organizations pointed to escalating violence in the north and northeast of the country in the last two weeks that erupted into open conflict. more..

Bishop Rayappu Cautions Gothabaya about Civilians Casualties

Mar 16 (TW) The Catholic Bishop of Mannar most Rev. Joseph Rayappu met Gotabhaya Rajapakse on Thursday March 15th and cautioned the Defence secretary about the need to avoid civilian casualties during military operations. Bishop Rayappu also pointed out to the defence secretary who is also President Mahinda Rajapakse’s sibling that more than 10, 000 displaced persons had taken refuge at the well - known Madhu Church premises and outlying precincts. more..

IDP’s from Five Camps in B’Caloa Forcibly Removed to Muthur in Thirty Buses

Mar 16 (TW) Displaced persons staying at five refugee camps in Batticaloa district were forcibly removed to Trincomalee district in a sudden “operation” masterminded by an Assistant Superintendent of Police around noon on Thursday March 15th. Though exact figures are not known NGO sources said that nearly a thousand people were taken against their will in thirty buses to Trincomalee district. more..

906 students selected for Jaffna University

Mar 16 (TN) The University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka selected 906 students for the academic year of 2006/07 in Jaffna University, Prof. R. Kumaravadivel, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University said. The name list of the students was received Thursday and 59 students were selected to study Medicine and 17 for Law. more..

Ships meant for civilian use, carryout military tasks

Mar 16 (TN) While refusing to open the A9 land route, the Sri Lanka government (GoSL), under the pretext of shipping passengers and essential food items to Jaffna district, is using the ships to bring in the requirements of its armed forces occupying Jaffna peninsula, civil society sources in Jaffna said. more..

Sri Lanka's top Women-in-Business juggle family with professions

Mar 16 (LBO) Allowing employers and female workers to negotiate a work-family balance is far more effective in practice than laws, Sri Lankan women in business told a forum this week. Females who balance both work and family generally prefer the right to negotiate for perks and benefits, than be given them through broad legislation. more..

Sri Lanka to counter economic forces in fast developing regions with new laws

Mar 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka is planning to bring new laws and hefty fines to prevent coconut lands being put to alternative uses that bring higher returns to the owners, a senior minister said. Coconut land in fast growing areas like Kurunegala and Chilaw which have become more valuable for alternative uses and their owners have been using them for residential and commercial development. more..

'Proscribe Tamil Tiger Front Organizations and Prevent Fund Raising in US'

Mar 16 (AT) Sri Lanka’s visiting Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama Thursday March 15 called on Bush administration’s top officials to assist Sri Lanka’s quest for peace, by taking stern action to prevent the LTTE from engaging in fund raising activities through numerous front organizations in the U.S. more..

Sri Lanka earmarked to get US $ 400-500 million from U.S. Millennium Challenge program

Mar 16 (AT) The United States government has decided to include Sri Lanka, among several other countries, as a recipient of Millennium Challenge program, the Bush administrations most ambitious overseas economic development grant that promotes good governance, equality in disbursing economic benefits and arresting the growing poverty in the Third World. more..

Surrendees confirm LTTE’s heavy defeat

Mar 16 (GDI) Two youths, aged 16 and 27, who have surrendered to the Army personnel in Batticaloa have admitted that LTTE are facing a major crisis and unrest among the cadres with their degrading leadership. These two youths have stated that after the recent mortar attack on the diplomatic delegation at Weber grounds in Batticaloa, the LTTE leadership celebrated it and talked very highly of it, as a major victory, sources report. more..

Government commits offering constant relief to consumers - President

Mar 16 (GDI) "Government works with constant consideration on the consumers while doing its utmost to provide relief to consumers," said President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his speech at the ceremony to mark World Consumer Rights Day at the Temple Trees on Thursday (15). President added that the Government is fully aware about the hardships faced by the consumers, and more..

Strict security measures in India to foil LTTE arms smuggling in Tamil Nadu Coast

Mar 16 (GDI) Foiling the LTTE attempts to smuggle arms in its soil, India takes strict security measures in its Tamil Nadu coast. Accordingly, Indian security forces have taken measures to assign three of their highest officials to ascertain the places along the Tamil Nadu coast from where Tamil Tigers smuggle arms into Northern Sri Lanka. more..

Bermuda have 'wonderful experience' in huge loss

Mar 16 (CI) Refusing to be downbeat after an embarrassing 243-run defeat to Sri Lanka, Irvine Romaine, the Bermuda captain, said his side had plenty to gain from the experience of playing on the big stage. This was Bermuda's World Cup debut and Romaine said his men were overawed by the occasion in Trinidad. Sri Lanka overwhelmed their opponents by piling on a massive 321, more..

Tigers may abandon B’Caloa as civilians flee en masse

Mar 16 (TW) A humanitarian tragedy of massive proportions is unfolding in the Batticaloa district of the Eastern Province. Intensive artillery shelling and aerial attacks have resulted in a massive displacement of more than 100,000 Tamil civilians living in areas controlled by the LTTE. The current conflict is of a military nature but its consequences are cruelly victimising the ordinary , helpless civilians. more..

UN wants human rights regional office here

Mar 16 (LNP) The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is seeking to establish a regional office in Sri Lanka, UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour told the Geneva Human Rights Council during an interactive debate on Wednesday. Her comments came after the German Ambassador Michael Steiner, speaking on behalf of the European Union, questioned what sort of action the international community should take to work with the Government of Sri Lanka. more..

UN reports on HR blown out of proportion – Govt.

Mar 16 (PISL) There had been some adverse reports on Sri Lanka on what was discussed at the recent UN sessions on Human Rights and certain elements had blown it out of proportion saying that Sri Lanka was taken to task by other countries for human rights violations. But the actual position was that of the 39 countries represented, only Sweden, Switzerland and France had made some reference to Sri Lanka’s human rights record, but they were not critical about it. more..

Reports on IDPs exaggerated - Rambukwella

Mar 16 (PISL) Defence Spokesman, minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday denied exaggerated reports about the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have crossed over to the government controlled areas. Some reports indicated the number of IDPs at 200,000 but it was nowhere near that, he said. The correct count is around 52,447 and they are being resettled in the areas from where they fled. more..

It is the government’s baby

Mar 16 (ANN) The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed the Sri Lanka government for banning mothers of young children emigrating for work. It has called for immediate rescission of the ban on the grounds of discrimination against women. There are more than 660,000 Sri Lankan women working as domestic helpers abroad to support their families, more..

Colombo traders shut down in protest against ransom demands

Mar 16 (TN) "Members of the Karuna group, in collaboration with the police, demand ransom from us and though we have complained to the police along with phone numbers as evidence, no action has been taken," said Pettah and Fort traders in Colombo, taking part in the protest shutdown of their shops Friday, against the demands and death threats. more..

Asylum seeker claims he was tortured

Mar 16 (AAP) A SRI Lankan asylum seeker detained on Christmas Island claims to be a victim of state-sanctioned torture and denies he has come to Australia for economic reasons. Sanje Selvanainar is among 82 Sri Lankans who will be sent to Nauru to have their claims assessed after Indonesia refused to accept the men for processing. Mr Selvanainar claims he was "detained and tortured" by the Sri Lankan army in January last year. more..

Alarming increase in abortions

Mar 16 (SAMN) Nearly 800 to 1,000 abortions take place in Sri Lanka per day while the birth rate per day remains changed. It is a very unhealthy condition and needs to be addressed immediately, Commissioner, Probation and Child Care Services, Sarath Abeygunawardena said. He said that the abortion rate is very high and it violates child rights. more..

JVP demands copy of deal with US

Mar 16 (SAMN) The JVP will ask the Government in Parliament next week to table a copy of the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) signed with the United States recently. The party said this was a controversial agreement the Government has struck with the US and people must know its impact on the country. more..

Permanent solution to garbage problem

Mar 16 (SAMN) In an effective bid to rid the Colombo city of mounting garbage dumping grounds, the Government will present a permanent solution by 2010 implementing Pilisaru, a national waste management programme to create a green and clean environment which sustains human life and nature. "This programme will create an ambient environment in the Colombo city," more..

Plantation workers threaten TU action

Mar 16 (SAMN) Unrest in the plantations sector seems to be growing again, with JVP led All Ceylon Estate Workers’ Union threatening to take trade union action against the government’s failure to appoint a committee to look into the grievances of the estate workers. The union is also up in arms over what it calls unfair pressure exerted on the workers in a bid to achieve higher production targets. more..

Nilmini Tennakoon critical after motor accident

Mar 16 (DN) The condition of popular film and tele drama actress Nilmini Tennakoon injured in a motor accident is critical, Ragama, North Colombo Teaching Hospital Director Dr. M. Rajamanthri said. He said the victim's liver was seriously damaged and she was still in the ICU. The actress, a household name for her teledrama roles, was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday around 7.30 p.m. following a road accident while she was returning after from a shooting assignment, on the Colombo-Kandy road near Weliweriya. more..

Stop preaching double standards - Presidential Advisor

Mar 16 (DN) Reacting to media reports about moves being made to the United Nations by the New York based Human Rights Watch for the creation of an international monitoring mission in Sri Lanka Secretary-General of the Muslim National Alliance (MNA) Nazeer Ahamed said he was surprised to hear of the 'manipulations' considering the fact President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Government was taking all necessary steps to stem the abuses which more..

Prisoner swap likely

Mar 16 (DM) A prisoner exchange is in the offing between the Government and the LTTE, an official said yesterday. The Government has sought SLMM support for the release of five security forces personnel in LTTE custody.The request was put forward to the LTTE yesterday during a routine meeting between SLMM head Lars Solvberg and the LTTE peace secretariat head S. Pulithevan, an SLMM spokesman said adding the LTTE was considering the request. more..

TNA meets Prasad, Jürgen

Mar 16 (DM) The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs representing the Batticaloa district briefed Indian High Commissioner Alok Prasad and German Ambassador Jürgen Weerth of the present humanitarian crisis triggered by the ongoing hostilities in their area. The Tamil legislators impressed upon the two diplomats the need to urge the Sri Lankan government to address the humanitarian needs of the displaced in this context. more..