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LTTE air attacks: No fault of forces, Govt. acted ignorantly

May 10 (DM) The two main opposition parties UNP and the JVP charged in Parliament yesterday that the government had neglected the intelligence reports leaving room for the LTTE to carry out fierce attacks. The parties charged the government during the emergency debate in the House yesterday. UNP MP John Amaratunga who charged the government initially said intelligence units warned of possible air attacks but the government had ignored them. more..

Children hiding in wells or cattle sheds

May 10 (DM) The LTTE is reportedly stepping up its recruitment drive in the north in preparation for an all-out battle with government troops, Amnesty International told the Daily Mirror yesterday. The AI said it also received reports of Tiger cadres specially targeting teenagers in the Madhu area. Meanwhile aid agencies operating in the east said the recruitment of children by the LTTE and the Karuna faction was continuing unabated and more..

Floods a threat for Sri Lanka climate

May 10 (Dawn) As Tamil militant planes flew sorties over the national capital last week, the attention of political leaders were diverted from a worse disaster unfolding on the ground — flash floods, attributed by scientists, to climate change. No discussions followed either by the government or the otherwise active non-governmental sector on the dangers of global warming, although a United Nations panel had, in the same week, warned of the dangers posed by rising temperatures and sea levels. more..

Colombo to prevent British team’s visit

May 10 (Dawn) Caught in a web of criticism over reports of Britain being likely to get involved in Sri Lanka’s turbulent peace process, the Sri Lankan government has pledged to prevent a proposed visit of a group of British parliamentarians to monitor the ground situation in the war-struck north and east. A group British parliamentarians were expected to arrive in the country following a House of Commons debate recently on the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka. more..

ICRC provides rice for over 120,000 displaced people

May 10 (RW) Responding to a request by the World Food Programme, which is facing a shortage of supplies, the ICRC has begun transporting 750 tonnes of rice to eastern Sri Lanka, where it will be used to feed over 120,000 displaced people for a month. The following was issued as a press release by the ICRC delegation in Colombo on 9 May 2007. more..

Lanka bid to bridge yawning language gap

May 10 (HT) The one million strong Sri Lankan bureaucracy has a major flaw. Civil servants knowing Tamil, the country's second official language, constitute only 8.31% of the total staff, though Tamil is the mother tongue of about 20% of the country's population of 20 million. Two decades have passed since the 13th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution made Tamil the second official language of the country in addition to Sinhala, but Tamil is still to get its due. more..

A bottle of syrup to say ‘thanks for my new home’

May 10 (GR) DEWADASA SUKUMAL shows us into his kitchen and gestures at the tools of his trade. On a lopsided, battered old table sits a coconut grinder. It works by grating the coconut out of the shell so Dewadasa can earn a living to keep his family of five by turning it into coconut syrup. It’s a meagre living but for a man who nearly lost his life in the tsunami – by clinging to a tree he lost most of one foot when he was swept into some broken window panes – it’s a grateful living. more..

Former Sri Lanka leader protests security

May 10 (AFP) Former Sri Lanka president Chandrika Kumaratunga has protested the withdrawal of commandos assigned to protect her, saying she was still a target for assassination. Some 28 army commandos from her security unit moved out Wednesday following a Supreme Court ruling last week that she was not entitled to extravagant privileges, including a large band of bodyguards and state vehicles. more..

Tigers use pressure to raise funds, police say

May 10 (NP) The Tamil Tigers terrorist group has been aggressively fundraising in Montreal using a sophisticated pre-authorized payment scheme and other methods to collect money from the city's 25,000-strong Tamil community, according to the RCMP. Documents recently unsealed and filed in a Quebec court provide the first look inside an ongoing RCMP investigation called Project CRIBLE that is probing complaints that a Montreal nonprofit group has been working with the Tamil Tigers to raise money more..

US visit cut short by airport closure

May 10 (AFP) A top US envoy cut short a visit to Sri Lanka because of the night-time closure of Sri Lanka's only international airport over fears of Tamil Tiger attacks, diplomats and officials said Thursday. US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher had invited political leaders, analysts, human rights activists and others to a dinner before he was due to leave late in the evening. more..

President stresses national security in talks with U.S. envoy

May 10 (AP) Sri Lanka needs to be "vigilant" about its national security in dealing with its decades-old ethnic conflict, President Mahinda Rajpakse told a U.S. envoy Thursday, hinting that the South Asian nation is leaning away from compromising with rebels. Sri Lanka also needs help from the international community to resolve the conflict, Rajpakse told U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher during talks on the nation's sputtering peace process more..

Bodhi tree at Gaya not keeping well

May 11 (HT) The Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, which is sacred to millions the world over since Lord Buddha attained enlightenment there about 2,550 years ago, is threatened by an unknown disease. "Hundreds of fresh leaves of the holy tree are falling off daily like never before. Something is wrong with the tree," said a monk at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, about 100 km from Bihar's state capital Patna. more..

Sri Lanka to felicitate cricketers with commemorative coins

May 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to issue commemorative coins to felicitate cricketers, who emerged runners-up in the recently concluded World Cup held in the Caribbean, officials said. President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the island's finance minister, has asked Sri Lanka's Central Bank to begin work on issuing a new coin, his aides said. "Things are still at a planning stage. We have not worked out the designs yet. Obviously it will have a cricket element," more..

Parliament in uproar over Tamil legislator's speech

May 11 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's parliamentary sessions was disrupted Thursday over remarks made by a Tamil legislator on the Tamil Tiger rebels' air capability. Both the opposition and government legislators called for the withdrawal of comments made by TNA legislator S. Gajendran during Wednesday's sessions. Wimal Weerawansa, a JVP or the People's Liberation Front legislator, wanted Gajendran to withdraw his remarks as they were a violation of the island's constitution. more..

‘The gun is silencing the pen’ – Jaffna journalists

May 11 (TN) Following the recent murder of another journalist in Jaffna by suspected Army-backed paramilitaries, the Journalists Union there has appealed to the international community to defend media freedom in Sri Lanka. Despite international media watchdogs’ disquiet over threats to Sri Lankan journalists, paramilitaries are openly threatening media workers and civil society activists in the northern peninsula, reporters say. more..

Over one lakh of Indian tribal people to convert to Buddhism

May 11 (HT) India’s largest religious mass conversion will be held at Mahalaxmi Racecourse on May 27. Laxman Mane, a nomadic tribal whose autobiography Upara (Outsider) is a celebrated work of Marathi Dalit literature, will preside as lakhs of his supporters from 42 nomadic tribes convert to Buddhism. Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama will perform the rites. more..

President highlights the importance of vigilance in National Security

May 11 (GDI) At the discussions with the Ambassador Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, President Mahinda Rajapaksa explaining the prevailing security situation in Sri Lanka highlighted the importance of being vigilant in interest of National Security. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ambassador Richard Boucher held discussions this morning at the Temple Trees. more..

Karuna faction kills the father of Sinthujan -- their first victim in rival camp

May 11 (AT) Tensions and killings continue to rise in the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) camp divided into two factions -- Karuna Group and Pilaiyan group. Last night Karuna faction militant cadres led by Iniya Barathy shot and killed Sinthujan’s father Johnson (54 yrs) at Kallaru in the Batticoloa district. Sinthujan a.k.a Jeyakanthan, a Pillaiyan loyalist, was killed and buried on May 4, 2007 at Kiran. more..

Sri Lanka: Two years after the Tsunami

May 11 (RW) For many people all over the world, 26 December 2004 is a painful and sombre anniversary. The loss of life, the destruction of homes, and the damage to infrastructure and livelihoods caused by the South Asian tsunami was instantaneous – and devastating. In response, Medair set up a programme in the worst-affected area of Sri Lanka, in Ampara district on the East Coast. more..

Cash squeeze began after trip to island

May 11 (NP) In 2006, police interviewed a Montreal resident who had allegedly been coerced into permitting the Tamil Tigers to make monthly bank withdrawals from her account. The problems began when the woman returned to Sri Lanka to visit family. She flew to the capital Colombo and travelled by bus to the Tamil Tigers controlled north. Upon reaching the city of Vavunya, the bus stopped at an LTTE checkpoint manned by armed Tigers in uniform. more..

Ancient bridge or modern channel

May 11 (SM) The Lok Sabha session of May 7, witnessed uproarious scenes as the opposition BJP demanded an apology from Shipping Minister T. R. Baalu for misleading, the House over the controversial Sethusamudram project. According to reports the government of India has decided to start work on the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project near Rameshwaram. However, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has warned the central government to reroute the present position of the ship canal project before May 13. more..

Sri Lanka's promise to stem bloodshed broken: US

May 11 (AFP) The United States Thursday accused Sri Lanka of going back on promises to protect human rights and said the situation in the embattled island had "deteriorated" in the past year. Visiting US diplomat Richard Boucher said there was more bloodshed and that the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse had failed to honour pledges to reduce violence since he took office in November 2005. more..

U.S. concerned at Sri Lanka abuses, halts some aid

May 11 (Reuters) The United States has halted some aid to Sri Lanka as human rights abuses rise amid renewed civil war, a top U.S. State Department official said on Thursday. Wrapping up a three-day visit to the island, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said Washington was concerned by a spate of abductions and killings blamed on each side during the two-decade conflict. more..

Sri Lanka's spice renaissance

May 11 (AT) Since primeval times the exotic spices of Sri Lanka have enticed traders from around the world. This aromatic commodity opened trade routes to the West and the Far East. Arab traders arrived here in the 12th and 13th centuries in search of cinnamon, black and white pepper, clove, nutmeg, mace, ginger, turmeric, and saffron. The Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the British arrived in the 16th century lured by spice or more perhaps by their quest to conquer territory. Sri Lanka spices. more..

Don't Mess With Malinga!

May 11 (AT) I was distressed to read a story in the Independent Online (Cape Town, South Africa edition), which was captioned ' Malinga too Sexy For Sri Lanka'. The headline conveys the erroneous impression of a stuffily intolerant Sri Lankan society, which is disapproving of young Lasitha Malinga's looks and hairstyle. This is far from the truth, and the allegation is based on a single letter by reader Ranjith Chandrasekara, published in the pages of the Daily News. more..

Colombo has a right to neutralise LTTE air power: Boucher

May 11 (Hindu) U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher on Thursday voiced concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa talked about the need for vigilance in the interests of "national security". Mr. Rajapaksa gave an assessment of the situation, particularly in the context of the air capabilities of the Tamil Tigers, to Mr. Boucher. more..

Sri Lanka shuts airport fearing Tiger air raids

May 11 (AFP) Sri Lanka's only international airport shut to night flights on Thursday in line with new security measures against raids by rebel Tamil Tiger aircraft, an airport official said. As the last commercial flight for the day left for neighbouring India, the authorities closed the check-in counters and the only runway at the Bandaranaike International Airport, officials said. "Aeroplanes will not be able to come in or take off, but all other aspects will be fully functional," more..

Summary of Cabinet Decisions

May 11 (GDI) The Cabinet of Ministers has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by Hon. Prof W A Wiswa Warnapala, Minister of Higher Education for the construction of a building for the Information Technology Centre of the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka (SUSL). The proposed building, costing Rs 121 million will facilitate conducting of courses in Information Technology at the SUSL. more..

JVP pressure led to expulsion, says Kajendran

May 11 (TN) "Speaker of Sri Lanka Parliament W.J.M.Lokubandara despite being advised by Chief Government Whip, Jeyraj Fernandopulle, that Parliament Standing Orders allow parliamentarians freedom to make comments, succumbed to the pressure exerted by the extremist JVP in expelling me from the parliament," Selvarajah Kajendran, TNA parliamentarian told TamilNet more..

Sri Lankan economy threatened by Tamil rebel air wing

May 11 (BN) Sri Lanka's fastest economic growth in 30 years is threatened by a Tamil rebel air wing that attacked oil and gas plants near the capital, Colombo, and forced the international airport to close at night. The LTTE, flying light aircraft 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the north of the island, evaded air defenses and bombed Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Indian Oil Corp. plants and an air force base in two raids since March. more..

Sri Lankan construction firms eye overseas contracts

May 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka's construction industry is seeking to export professional services and eyeing opportunities in the building boom in the Middle East and south Asia, a senior official said. "We want to support the bigger players to go out of the country and do projects abroad – in the Middle East and south Asia," said Dakshitha Thalgodapitiya, CEO/ Secretary General of the Chamber of Construction Industry. more..

Sri Lanka to build airport out of special lottery revenue

May 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka plans to double the price of lottery tickets and use the extra cash to build a second international airport in Weerawila, the National Lotteries Board has said. From August, a lottery ticket will cost 20 rupees (0.18 US cents), while the board also plans to renew sales of the "Airport lottery" from June, National Lotteries Board (NLB) Chairman, Upali Liyanage said. more..

Karuna and Pillaiyan to patch up ?

May 11 (AT) Moves are afoot to patch up the difffernces between V.Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman, leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal and his commander Pilliyan. The go-betweens are urging them to come to some working arrangement where they can work together. The current move is to keep Karuna Amman as the overall leader of the TMVP in charge of the political activities of his outfit. more..

Greece foils LTTE fundraising strategies

May 11 (GDI) LTTE’s attempts to raise funds by forcibly collecting from Sri Lankan expatriates in Greece, has been foiled by the Greece Police. It is reported that the LTTE activists have made several unsuccessful attempts to collect funds from Sri Lankan expatriates in Greece. Greece is a member of the European Union, has already listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, there have been several attempts by Tiger agents to collect funds from the Tamil community living here. more..

“When Thoppigala liberated- East will be free from terrorists” – Eastern Army Commander

May 11 (GDI) “The LTTE’s only remaining stronghold in the East- Thoppigala, will be under Government troop’s control with in a very short period of time,” Eastern Army Commander Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya said yesterday talking to presspersons on an observation tour in Vakarai. He pointed out that once Thoppigala is liberated from Tigers the total Eastern part of the country will be free from terrorist threats. more..

President tells Archbishop of Canterbury

May 11 (GDI) The Government’s aim is to evolve a solution to the situation in the North and East to ensure that the Tamil people are protected and assured of their rights, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams yesterday. The President, who discussed the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka with the Head of the Anglican Church, said the Government was committed to a negotiated solution to the Sri Lankan crisis and always stood firmly by that position. more..

Tiger airbase located in Wilpattu?

May 11 (PISL) Military intelligence has gathered information that there is a secret location within the Wilpattu National Park where an LTTE light aircraft could land and take off. The location adjoining the Milewilla, Periyawillu and Periyakatti irrigation tanks, facing Mannar, has been used to hide the aircraft. According to information received, the Tiger aircraft, after landing, is ferried across a specially built canal to this secret location. more..

80 abducted in 4 months in Jaffna

May 11 (TN) According to Jaffna Human Rights Commission (HRC) representatives, there were 20 abductions in January, 8 in February, 33 in March, and 19 in April have either been abducted or gone missing in the last 4 months of this year. 72 persons have sought protective custody in Jaffna prison through HRC Jaffna for fear of death, abduction by the SLA and armed groups, the HRC added. more..

Boucher delivers tough message to Govt.

May 11 (LNP) U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher yesterday delivered a strong message to the Sri Lankan government to reign in paramilitaries, improve human rights and ensure press freedom. Speaking to the media at the conclusion of his visit to the island, Mr. Boucher, who earlier in the day met President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the US was concerned at the way things were developing in Sri Lanka. more..

Kajendran won`t apologise, suspended for a day

May 11 (LNP) TNA front-liner Selvarajah Kajendran was suspended from Parliament sittings yesterday, for twice refusing to adhere to Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara`s request to withdraw his comments and apologise to the House for his controversial speech the previous day relating to LTTE air attacks. The Speaker requested the Jaffna District MP to leave the Chamber at 12.30 pm, after his conduct ran into a heated debate lasting more than two hours, resulting in sittings being suspended for fifteen minutes. more..

Surgical military action `inevitable`

May 11 (LNP) The head of the Anglican communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said surgical military action against terrorism `is inevitable` in Sri Lanka. After a three day visit to the island he told journalists in Colombo that the military solution to the problems of the country `increasingly appears to be no solution`. `It is undoubtedly inevitable that what you might call surgical military action against terrorism should take place`, more..

Better late than never

May 11 (LNP) It is indeed too late. But better late than never, goes the saying. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given strict instructions to the Treasury to curtail the funds allocated for ceremonies and other propaganda purposes and to give utmost priority only for development and welfare programmes benefiting a larger number of people. It may be recalled that similar instructions had been given in the past by former presidents too. more..

‘SLFP proposals wrongly interpreted'

May 11 (SAMN) Reactionary elements are giving a wrong interpretation to the set of proposals for devolution package put forward by the SLFP. Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne told the SLFP political committee at the Ratnapura New Town Hall. Minister Seneviratne said that the SLFP, as a true progressive political party, had realised the importance of political rights of the North and east Tamil communities and more..

JVP union to launch massive strike

May 11 (SAMN) Pro-JVP trade unions are planning massive trade union action against the government's delay to issue the draft for the rectification of salary anomalies in the state sector. Meanwhile, the committee comprising President's Adviser Basil Rajapaksa, Labour Minister Athauda Seneviratne and Power and Energy Minister W. D. J. Seneviratne had promised the National Trade Union Center, the umbrella association of over 200 pro JVP trade unions, to issue the draft before April 25. more..

All Ministers receive same salaries

May 11 (SAMN) The Government Thursday admitted in Parliament that there was no difference in the salary scales of, and facilities provided to, Cabinet and Non–Cabinet Ministers. This was revealed by Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Mano Wijeratne, in response to a question posed by JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti on the responsibilities of, and facilities provided to, Cabinet and Non–Cabinet Ministers. more..

Employment ban: No alternatives offered

May 11 (SAMN) The Government’s decision to ban mothers with children under five years of age from migrating for foreign employment has jeopardized their chances of finding easy employment since no alternatives have been found for them, a senior official of the Ministry of Childcare and Women’s Empowerment said. The ban should be in place after introduction of alternative avenues of employment generating opportunities. more..

Bus fare hike suspended

May 11 (DN) The Private Bus Owners’ Association has responded positively to the Government’s request not to increase bus fares considering the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka, Transport Minister Dalas Allahapperuma told Parliament yesterday. He said a special discussion was conducted on May 9 between the Government and the Association where the latter agreed to suspend their request of immediately increasing the bus fares. more..

No Govt funds granted to LTTE - Cabinet Spokesman

May 11 (DN) Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Anura Priyadarshana Yapa yesterday vehemently denied allegations that funds have been provided by the Government for the procurement of arms and ammunition by the LTTE from Australia. “We have not given a red cent. These are baseless and unfounded allegations to tarnish the good name of the Government,” Yapa told the Cabinet press briefing yesterday. more..

Chandrika hits out at IGP

May 11 (DM) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga in a statement released to the media said yesterday she was surprised the government believed only six security guards were sufficient to provide her security given the various threats she faced. In her statement Ms. Kumaratunga said that nowhere in the Supreme Court order had the judges mentioned the reduction of her security. more..

CBK’s security, vehicles taken away

May 11 (DM) The vehicles used by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s security staff were removed to the Police Garage yesterday from her residence at Independence Avenue on the orders of Police Chief Victor Perera, her secretary said. Ms. Kumaratunga’s secretary P. Dissanayaka told the Daily Mirror a police party took away 17 of the 18 motor cycles and nine of the 10 motor vehicles. more..