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UAE draws up rules to protect foreign workers

Mar 6 (GDI) The United Arab Emirates, facing criticism of its record on workers' rights, on Sunday announced it was drawing up new rules to protect foreign workers, including Sri Lankans. Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahayan said a new domestic workers' contract would go into effect in April to help protect their rights and regulate salaries and vacations. more..

People start resettling in Vakarai today

Mar 6 (GDI) The lengthy yet essential resettling of people in the Vakarai area, which was recently liberated by the security forces from the clutches of tiger terrorists, commences today (06). The internally displaced men, women and children will start settling in their original homes through this programme that implements through the Ministry of nation building in coordination with the Sri Lankan Army. more..

Foremost priority North-East education

Mar 6 (GDI) The Government Peace Secretariat yesterday reiterated that education of children in the North-East remains a foremost priority of the Government and that it was the LTTE which ruined the aspirations of talented Tamil students and pushing the population into a war situation. Rejecting claims by the LTTE that the education of Tamil children in the North and East suffered due to the activities of the Armed Forces, more..

SAARC meeting to protect against power shortage

Mar 6 (GDI) The second meeting of the SAARC Energy Ministers will be held in New Delhi from 7th March. It will focus on discussing a plan to set up an energy ring connecting India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan to minimise the acute power shortage face by the SAARC countries. Minister of Power and Energy- W.D.J. Senevirathna will represent Sri Lanka at the meeting. more..

Immediate solution to the practical problems in ‘Jathika Saviya’

Mar 6 (GDI) Government has taken steps to introduce immediate solutions to the practical problems which arise while implementing the programmes under the ‘Jathika Saviya’ programme. Senior Adviser to the President, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa yesterday initiated a series of special meetings which will look in to the progress and the problems which are faced by the regional and provincial council members in the implementation of this process. more..

Let there be no hindrance to peace in Lanka

Mar 6 (KT) MILITARY victories, media victories and realities. This was the headline of a popular defence column recently. A diplomat who had a brush with death last Tuesday as he and several other diplomats saw mortar shells fired by Tamil Tigers exploding close to them as they alighted from choppers, met the defence columnist a couple of days later and told him, “We saw the reality”. more..

Unending journey of suffering and hardships

Mar 6 (RW) It is a tale of shock and grief; crossing swollen rivers, plodding through jungle terrain for days, running through crossfire.... Some 75,000 people; some on foot, others on tractors, left Vakarai on the island's north-east coast at night and were heading south towards government-held territory a few kilometres away. more..

Chandrika Chinthanaya paved way for all chinthanayas: CBK

Mar 6 (LeN) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday remarked that it was thanks to "Chandrika Chinthanaya" that all 'Chinthanakaarayas' have managed to come into power today. Addressing a meeting in Attanagalle on Sunday, Ms. Kumaratunga said she handled four ministries single-handedly but some other ministers tried to take credit for those. more..

Body found in Kelani river

Mar 6 (LNP) Another male body was recovered from the Kelani River yesterday within 48 hours after five unidentified bodies were found in Muthurajawela during the weekend, police said. They said the body had been floating near the bank of the Kelani River in the Kohilawatta area. The body is lying at the Police morgue and the police are seeking public assistance to identify the body. more..

Gang demands 4 mn ransom to release Negombo schoolgirl

Mar 6 (LNP) An unidentified gang which kidnapped a 15-year-old daughter of a millionaire Tamil businessman in Negombo yesterday is demanding a ransom of Rs.4 million for her release, police said. They said the businessman`s daughter and her elder brother were abducted near their house by a gang that came in a van while returning home after school around 1.30pm. more..

Newspapers in Education programme launched

Mar 6 (LNP) The inaugural conference on Newspaper In Education (NIE) was held in Sri Lanka to mark the launch of the programme in the country on Sunday. The NIE programme is aimed at enhancing the reading interests in children and now our country would join the network of other Asian countries such as Indonesia, India and Thailand. more..

Kuwait National Day celebrated in Colombo

Mar 6 (LNP) The National Day of the state of Kuwait was celebrated recently at Hotel Hilton and Professor Tissa Vitarana, the Minister of Science & Technology represented the government of Sri Lanka. Professor Vitarana expressed his gratitude to the government of Kuwait for extending invaluable support in various fields and especially for assisting Sri Lanka after the tsunami disaster with several hundred houses and goods. more..

New ministers sans office, staff

Mar 6 (SAMN) Some UNP reformists who were sworn in as ministers in the jumbo Cabinet were in for a shock due to the failure on the part of the government to delegate functions properly while providing sufficient physical and human resources to carry out their duties. Despite the lapse of more than a month, some Ministers are still without an office and staff to assume duties in their respective portfolios. more..

Namal Uyana as a research centre?

Mar 6 (SAMN) The National Namal Uyana at Galkiriyagama Ulpothagama is suitable to be converted to an Environmental Research Centre and the attention of environment researchers should be drawn to this fact said Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake during an observation tour in the area. Wickremanayake was engaged in an observation tour at the invitation of Namal Uyana Ven. Wanawasi Rahula Thera who had introduced this place to the nation sixteen years ago. more..

Health Secretary denies drug conspiracy

Mar 6 (SAMN) Denying reports that the state health sector was facing a huge shortage of essential drugs and as a result Osu Sala outlets were on the verge of closing down, Health Ministry Secretary Atula Kahandaliyanage said Moday the fear psychosis had been created by certain quarters within the state health sector. more..

LTTE cadres express desire to surrender

Mar 6 (SAMN) The Defence Ministry has received credible information that over 50 per cent of LTTE cadres in the East have expressed their desire to surrender to the Police or security forces, in the wake of heavy casualties suffered by the Tigers, Army Commander Sarath Fonseka said Monday. Tiger leaders who got wind of this information, mounted loud hailers on vehicles, in LTTE controlled areas and appealed to their fighting cadres not to surrender. more..

Tourist arrivals in January 8.5 p.c. above previous year

Mar 6 (DN) There was an 8.5 percent increase of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in January in comparison to the corresponding period last year. A total of 56,553 tourists had visited in January in comparison to 52,103 arrivals the previous year. The arrivals were spearheaded by the South Asian regions with 16, 611 arrivals from India, while 7,644 visited the country from United Kingdom. more..

Govt assures education, transport facilities for North-East students

Mar 6 (DN) The Government has now established that there is no truth to the LTTE's campaign that the education of Tamil children in the North and the East had suffered due to the activities of the Armed Forces, a statement from the Government Peace Secretariat said yesterday. The Government is paying attention to help these students come out of their mental agony so that they could devote their fullest attention to their academic pursuits with more..

New Minister wants to reduce chemical fertilizer

Mar 6 (DM) Environment and Natural Resources Minister Paatali Champika Ranawaka has requested the government to gradually withdraw the subsidy on chemical fertilizer and allocate it to carbonic fertilizer. This proposal of the last government brought forward under ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ should be expeditiously put into practice, Minister Ranawaka said. more..

Geologists warn of more landslides

Mar 6 (DM) The National Building Research Bureau (NBRO) yesterday warned residents of Padiyapelella in Walapane of land slides in the future and recommended the shifting of the town. NBRO Geologist H.G.S. Ariyaratne who visited Walapane recently said Padiyapelella town was a high risk landslide zone. He said over 62 shops in the town were in danger as the high lands above the town could cause landslides at any time. more..

Downer hints at fate of Sri Lankans

Mar 6 (AAP) The Australian government has given its strongest indication yet that 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers won't be processed on Christmas Island, where they are being held. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that if Australia were to process the men it would only serve to encourage people smuggling rings to send more boatloads of asylum seekers. more..

Indian businessman arrested in Lanka

Mar 6 (CO) An Indian businessman was arrested in Sri Lanka today on charges of being involved in an extortion racket on behalf of Tamil Tiger rebels. Police detective Sarath Lugoda said the man had been living in Sri Lanka for about three years and is suspected to be linked to an abduction and ransom racket on behalf of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). more..

Sri Lanka officials find 5 burned bodies

Mar 6 (AP) Police found five burned bodies Tuesday near an abandoned field in north-central Sri Lanka, the military said, as authorities vowed to rapidly investigate a growing number of unexplained killings and abductions in the island nation. Military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said the bodies were found in Thirapappane village in Anuradhapura district. They have not been identified, he said. more..

Sri Lankan police, troops involved in abductions: police chief

Mar 6 (AFP) Sri Lanka's police chief said police and security personnel have been involved in ransom kidnappings of civilians, vowing to crack down on mounting abductions and killings. Police Inspector General Victor Perera said Tuesday that a "large number" of police officers and troops had been arrested on charges of abduction and extortion. In some instances ransoms had been paid abroad. more..

LTTE says it will attack civilian ships

Mar 6 (HT) The LTTE on Monday asked civilians not to board Sri Lankan vessels plying between Trincomalee and Jaffna as it had taken a decision to attack such vessels with immediate effect. The warning was put out by the Voice of Tigers (VOT) radio, and had appeared in the pro-LTTE website and the Tamil daily Sudar Oli also. more..

Sri Lanka police, soldiers arrested over abductions

Mar 6 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's police said on Tuesday it has arrested policemen and soldiers as well as underworld figures in connection with a rash of killings and abductions in the latest chapter of the two-decade civil war. The admission comes as the government faces mounting pressure from human rights groups and foreign governments to halt rights abuses blamed on elements of the military as well as Tamil Tiger rebels and renegades -- and after the discovery of five corpses in the island's north. more..

Ceasefire Agreement 'legal'

Mar 6 (BBC) The judiciary in Sri Lanka has ruled that the truce signed with the Tamil Tigers has not violated the country's constitution. Appeals Court judge S Sri Skandharajah rejected three petitions by two Sinhala nationalist parties seeking an injuction order against the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) signed in February 2002. The petitions were filed by JVP and Buddhist-monk led JHU, more..

Buddhist sights and celebrations in Sri Lanka

Mar 7 (TB) May sees some of the biggest Buddhist celebrations in the world on Vesak Day, which marks the beginning of the Buddhist calendar. In Sri Lanka this sees people take to the streets, visit one another and put up lights and lanterns over a four-day period from the end of April to the beginning of May. more..

Sri Lanka pushes for disabled friendly trains, buildings

Mar 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka is trying to make it easier for disabled people and the aged to use public transport like trains and buildings, a government official said Tuesday. “We have already spoken to several ministries regarding this issue, and the cabinet has decided to name this year as the year of accessibility,” more..

Indian and Pakistani arrivals boost Sri Lanka’s tourist numbers

Mar 7 (LBO) Visitors from Pakistan and India helped boost Sri Lanka’s tourist numbers in January while shy western Europeans continued to disappoint the war-torn Indian Ocean island. In January 56,000 tourists came to the island up 8.5 percent over the previous year with Pakistani arrivals growing by 171 percent to 2,300 and Indian arrivals reaching 16,000, up 65 percent. more..

Sri Lanka cricket skipper demands more intensity

Mar 7 (AFP) Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene believes there is plenty more to come from his team despite a commanding World Cup warm-up win over Scotland. Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, cruised to a 159-run win at The 3Ws Oval, a victory based on a 117-run opening stand between Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga. "We had a great day out and we are pleased with the result at the end of the day," said Jayawardene. more..

IDPs witness Vakarai destruction

Mar 7 (BBC) Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Vakarai have expressed shock as they witnessed the destruction in the area caused by the shell attacks. Residents of Uriyankattu, Batticaloa were taken for a fact finding mission by the government officials on Tuesday. 51 IDPs including 17 women who came back to refugee camps in Valachchenai expressed despair as their village was reduced to rubble. more..

Another seven new investors plan to invest over 100 million

Mar 7 (AT) The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Investment Promotions have jointly issued ‘Letters on Approval’ for 7 new investments which include Software exports and setting up Business Promotion Offices, commonly known as BPOs. Issuing ‘Letters on Approval, Dr.Sarath Amunugama Investment promotion Minister says these new investments would bring over 100 million rupees. more..

IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program in Sri Lanka through NDB Bank

Mar 7 (AT) IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, announced that NDB Bank has become the first bank in Sri Lanka to join its Global Trade Finance Program. The program is providing NDB Bank with an $8 million facility. The Global Trade Finance Program supports trade with emerging markets worldwide and promotes the flow of goods and services between developing countries. more..

Church-run Rehabilitation Centers Show Addicts Better Future

Mar 7 (UCAN) Colombo archdiocese has changed the lives of more than 100 troubled men in six years, courtesy of a pair of Church-run rehabilitation centers established through the archdiocese's family apostolate. The rehabilitation programs at the Mithuma (freedom) and Pathuma (hope) centers, both founded by Father Boniface Mendis, address substance in a family atmosphere built around the centers' residents. more..

'India has a huge role to in SL peace process'

Mar 7 (HT) Ahilan Kadirgamar is a human rights activist with the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum, which works to promote human rights and a peaceful resolution of the Sri Lankan problem. A Tamil dissident, he is based in US and is currently visiting New Delhi to raise awareness about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Due to security constraints, he did not wish to be photographed. more..

BP may bid for Sri Lanka oil block -minister

Mar 7 (Reuters) BP is interested in bidding for oil exploration rights off the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, its foreign minister said on Tuesday. Rohitha Bogollagama, minister of foreign affairs, told a debt conference in London that the government had already assigned two of eight exploration areas, or blocks, identified in the Mannar Basin. "Of the eight blocks identified, the government has already allocated two blocks for India and China," the minister said. more..

Fallout of the LTTE attack on aircraft carrying US and other envoys

Mar 7 (ML) As though to drive home Ambassador Robert Blake’s point, LTTE brought mortar fire upon him, the German Ambassador Juergen Weerth and the Italian Ambassador Pio Mariani along with Sri Lanka Minister for Human Rights and Disaster Management Mahinda Samarasinghe when they were alighting from an aircraft at Batticaloa military airfield on the morning of February 27. more..

Sripathi submits motion to probe Tiger deal

Mar 7 (ML) Former Port Development Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi yesterday handed over a motion to the Secretary General of Parliament, calling for the appointment of a select committee to probe any alleged pact between persons representing President Mahinda Rajapakse including his brothers and the LTTE prior to the 2005 presidential election. more..

HR issues continue to dog Rajapakse government

Mar 7 (ML) Just one week after the LTTE accused the government of endangering the lives of foreign diplomats by bringing them into the military zone without following diplomatic procedures to ensure their safety, the Tigers warned of a blood bath in the island if the international community failed to stop the government’s military’s offensive into Tiger-held areas. more..

UNP calls for Select Comm. probes on cope and AG’s reports

Mar 7 (ML) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday announced that the UNP would move separate motions today (7) calling for the appointment of two select committees, one to probe the contents of the interim COPE report and another, to investigate the Auditor General’s Report that included the VAT scam. more..

India must play its regional role to bring peace in Sri Lanka

Mar 7 (ISL) The time is fast progressing for India to assert its regional authority to find a lasting solution for the plaguing political, military and terrorist crisis in Sri Lanka. India’s past direct involvement in Sri Lanka may be sour grapes for it to involve directly again. Unfortunately, the tear Drop Island is bleeding and will be bleeding profusely as the time passes if Indian foreign policy does not take a pragmatic turn. more..

Gwadar, Hambantota & Sitwe: China's strategic triangle

Mar 7 (ISL) Very few would have heard of Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sitwe (Akyab) in Myanmar before 2002. These were essentially fishing harbours used by the fishermen of these countries. Sometimes, there used to be references to these places in articles on fishing rights, but rarely in articles on possible threats to India's national security. more..

Use of Emergency Regulations for Police Convenience should be deplored

Mar 7 (ISL) The recent news that ‘Five women and two men taken into custody from a Karaoke entertainment and night club in Mt. Lavinia under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and their acquittal by the learned Mt. Lavinia Magistrate, Ayeshani Jayasena is only the tip of an iceberg of police abusing Emergency Regulations for their convenience. more..

International community must stop Tigers from killing Tamils leaving Jaffna in ships -- Douglas Devananda

Mar 7 (AT) Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, condemned the Tamil Tigers for threatening to attack ships ferrying Tamil civilians from Jaffna to Trincomalee. He said that the Tamils of Jaffna have been warned not to travel in the passengers ships as the Tigers have decided to attack all ships, including those carrying Tamil civilians. more..

Sports heal - UNDP's Sports for Peace program

Mar 7 (AT) A five-day residential Sports for Peace training programme for sports coaches from around the country was held recently organized by Colombo based UNDP. The one hundred and twenty participants, among them 30 women from twelve districts were a satisfied lot having had the opportunity to interact with their counter parts from all areas of the island. more..

Tiger organizations abroad function according to our agenda and instructions -- Tamilselvan

Mar 7 (AT) In an interview with Tamil Murasu, a daily Tamil newspaper published in Singapore, S. P. Tamilselvan, Head of the Political Division of the LTTE, dismissed the need to find a replacement for Anton Balasingham because Tigers organizations of the Tamil Diaspora are carrying out their tasks in all the countries according to the Tiger agenda. more..

Mutturajawela swamp bodies identified

Mar 7 (TN) Five bodies of male persons recovered from Mutturajawela swamp in Kandana police division Friday and Saturday have been identified as belonging to persons from Batticaloa district, a private electronic media reported Tuesday in the late night news bulletin quoting a police officer, G.Amaratunge, of Pamunugamuwa Police. more..

Sri Lanka's private international airline approvals stalled

Mar 7 (LBO) Promoters of three private international airlines in Sri Lanka are running into stormy weather with authorities saying provisional approvals are no longer in effect, while a state-owned carrier completed a test run this week. State-owned Mihin Air completed a test flight to India this week to gain a license, using a third party aircraft. more..

Sri Lanka calls foreign stock brokers to trade in Colombo

Mar 7 (LBO) Sri Lanka is allowing foreign stock brokering firms to start operations in the country to boost overseas portfolio flows in to the country. "As part of the CSE's strategy to broad base the Stock Market, the Board of Directors has decided to admit a limited number of Trading Members, affiliated to a Stock Broking Company or Investment Bank operating outside Sri Lanka, aimed at attracting foreign investors to the Colombo Stock Market," more..