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All political parties should join APRC devolution talks - President

May 16 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that it is the duty of all political parties to join the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) and join in the national endeavour to find a suitable devolution package. “It is not fair to criticize from outside. They all should join and assist us in this attempt”. President Rajapaksa, speaking to media heads at the Temple Trees this morning expressed confidence that the SLFP proposals would be a sound basis for decentralization process. more..

LTTE terrorists set fire to a passenger bus in Jaffna

May 16 (GDI) LTTE terrorists set fire to a passenger bus carrying a large number of school children and women after forcing them to get out from the bus. The incident took place in Jaffna and the bus belonged to Government Transport Board (SLCTB). The bus was plying from Maradanamadam to Urimpirai when it was forced to stop at a point on the Palai main road by a group of LTTE carders riding motorcycles. more..

Tourist rest houses at low cost for local tourists

May 16 (GDI) The Ministry of Tourism has taken measures with the objective of helping the local tourists by providing low cost tourist rest houses and promoting their awareness in religious and cultural affairs.As the initial step, newly built tourist rest houses for devotees, who come from distant places to Anuradhapura and Mihintale during the Poson Poya, would be handed over to the public on May 17 at 2.00 p.m with the participation of priests. more..

LTTE extortionist banned for five years in London

May 16 (GDI) London has taken steps to ban an LTTE extortionist for five year period for compelling people to pay ransoms. The Stratford Magistrates Court in London has imposed a five year ban under an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) to Senthuraj Thavapalasingham, 20, of Romford, (nicknamed "Psycho") as the enforcer leading a gang of Tamil Tiger extortionists, known as the “East Side Boys”. more..

President calls on Malwathu Asgiri Maha Nayakes Theros

May 16 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa called on the Mahanayakes of the Malwathu Asgiri chapters today after worshiping the sacred tooth relic at the Dalada Maligawa. He also held a cordial discussion with the two Mahanayakes. At the Malwathu Viharaya, President Rajapaksa called on most venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Mahanayake Thera and briefed him on the current political and defence situation. more..

Four days without air attacks only increased tensions in Kilinochchi District - SLMM

May 16 (AT) "As air strikes in the Vanni area have been an almost daily occurrence for the last few weeks, the fact that four days went by during the week without any attacks only served to increase the tension in the Kilinochchi District" said the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in its latest Operational Summary. more..

Parents in Jaffna hands over children to the Human Rights Commission

May 16 (LNP) Parents in Jaffna have handed over some 200 children to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) for safety and they are now accommodated in a special building in Jaffna following a court order, an HRC member said yesterday. HRC member and former Supreme Court judge Dharmasiri Jayawickrama told the media that these children, whose parents had feared that they would be abducted by the LTTE, are being cared for by Prisons officials. more..

UNP says it has vital information on Govt. - LTTE secret deal

May 16 (LNP) The main Opposition UNP said yesterday it possessed vital information on the secret deal between the government and the LTTE in the run up to the November 2005 presidential election and vowed to disclose the details to a select committee. Earlier sacked minister Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi alleged in parliament that more than Rs. 200 million had been handed over to the LTTE to ensure it enforced a boycott of the election. more..

Father, two sons chopped to death

May 16 (LNP) An unidentified gang on Monday chopped three persons to death ? an elderly father (65) and his two sons,Chaminda (35) and Upali (30)- at Diyalape in the Akuressa police area. Southern Province DIG Jayantha Gamage said that two suspects were taken into custody. According to him, the killings followed an acid attack on the suspects` family over a long standing dispute over the seizing of a child belonging to the victims` family. more..

New vehicle fleet for SPC officials to cost Rs 41 million

May 16 (LNP) The UPFA-run Southern Provincial Council is to acquire a dozen vehicles at a cost of Rs. 41 million. The council recently called for tenders for the purchase of 11 motor cars, each valued at maximum Rs. 3.5 million and one worth Rs. 2.5 million. The government has authorized the purchase of cars with engine capacity between 1300CC and 1800 CC on a priority basis. more..

Govt. charge-sheets Mayor, CMC

May 16 (SAMN) Deciding against a sudden dissolution or a suspension of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) the Government Tuesday decided to issue charge sheets against the Colombo Mayor and the Council. Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray issued the charge sheet seeking explanation on seven charges. These include granting of a solid waste contract to a private company outside the tender procedure and ignoring the decisions of the tender board, more..

Training for novice Buddhist nuns

May 16 (SAMN) The Ministry of Religious Affairs has taken steps to set up a special training institute in Matara for training novice Buddhist nuns. The novice Buddhist nuns will be educated on "Tripitaka Dhamma", Buddhist psychology, Pali, English and Tamil languages, Buddhist History and culture, Meditation, counselling and Buddhist Communication skills. more..

Psychiatrists in short supply

May 16 (SAMN) Sri Lanka is short of psychiatrists to treat the increasing number of patients suffering from depression in the country. According to medical organisations, the depression rate in the country is on the rise. Sahanaya, an organisation which looks into the issues of mental problems faced by people noted that the rate was on the rise around the world. more..

Malaysia won’t mediate here

May 16 (SAMN) Malaysia has no intention of mediating in the protracted Sri Lankan conflict as there was no such request from that country’s government; the Malaysian parliament was told Tuesday. Foreign Ministry secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek told the House during question time that Malaysia did not want to meddle in the peace process being pursued by the international community. more..

UNP must prove Australian Tiger terrorist funding allegations or resign en-masse

May 16 (DN) As an Australian organisation which has been actively countering LTTE misinformation, and calling for its proscription in Australia, the Society for Peace Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (SPUR) deplores the baseless allegations made by the United National Party that the Sri Lankan Government and its President Mahinda Rajapaksa provided funds to LTTE operatives in Australia for the purchase of weapons to be used against Sri Lankan Defence Forces. more..

Fancy fish in Coral Gardens reducing gradually after tsunami

May 16 (DN) The shoals of fancy fish of Coral Gardens, Hikkaduwa seems reducing gradually, especially after tsunami disaster say the glass bottomed outboard motor boatmen who carry tourists to coral gardens. According to boatmen there were various varieties of multi-coloured fish inhabits gethered around bottom rock reeps, but at present there are less quantities roaming around along with ordinary fish varieties. more..

Sri Lanka : Who is The Organ Grinder?

May 16 (DV) A week ago, some one in Colombo sent me a note saying that the war has come to a grinding halt. According to him there were two specific reasons. One, the Rajapaksha regime has been baffled by the Tamil Tigers’ below the radar aerial attacks. Two, Rajapaksha brothers’ [Government is run like a family business] popularity is taking a nose dive and the mass support is threatened. more..

Tigers at the door

May 16 (GU) Belated perhaps, but with new impetus, Britain is finally responding to a severe escalation of fighting in Sri Lanka that has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths in the past year. The horrific violence following the breakdown of a ceasefire signed in 2002 forms the latest chapter in a two-decade war between the Tamil Tiger militants and Sri Lankan government forces. more..

Education Survives Amid War in Sri Lanka

May 16 (AS) As refugees flee relentless shelling in an eastern province, little appears normal except, strangely, the desire of children for schooling. "The Future. Today." boasts a rusty billboard pushing mobile phone service in Batticaloa, a coastal town in Sri Lanka’s troubled eastern province. Batticaloa is at the center of a renewed military campaign to drive out the separatist forces of the LTTE. more..

Prayer/government helps stave off anti-conversion bill

May 16 (MNN) Harsh anti-conversion legislation has been making its way through Sri Lanka, but right now it's on hold. The bill went through first reading, then to the Supreme Court, and then it went to committee. James Kanaganayagam says, "One thing that's probably going to keep it at that stage for some time is the pressure that came upon the government by countries like the United States and the United Kingdom not to bring this to a law. I know in the U.S. the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Washington was called for a meeting. " more..

Thousands suffer as health workers go on strike

May 16 (DM) Health care activities at Colombo National Hospital and other General Hospitals in the country were crippled yesterday when health employees staged a half day token strike to protest the introduction of Finger Sensing Machines to register the arrival and departure at their work places. However Colombo National Hospital Director Dr. Hector Weerasingha told the Daily Mirror that he managed to maintain essential patient care services with the help of available doctors, para medical staff, nurses and some minor employees. more..

Govt. grants concession to import duty free vehicles

May 16 (DM) The government has restored to senior executives of the Public Service the concession to import vehicles duty free. The concession initially granted in 1999 was later withdrawn. According to the Trade, Taxes and Investment Policy Circular No.1, senior officers of the Public Service, Parliament, Armed Forces, the UGC and Universities with five years of minimum uninterrupted service are eligible to import a duty free vehicle effective from April 25. more..

Stocks fall on high rates, credit rules

May 16 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares fell sharply on Wednesday, a 12th straight daily loss, as investors sold stocks given high interest rates and looming new rules curbing credit brokers can extend to customers, dealers said. The Colombo All Share index closed a provisional 2.39 percent lower at 2,525.89 points, a fall of 61.96 points. The index fell 2.92 on Tuesday, and has now fallen around 10 percent in a fortnight. more..

Oil helps Sri Lanka Q1 trade deficit narrow on year

May 16 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's first-quarter trade deficit narrowed 15.9 percent from a year eariler to $659.5 million as oil imports fell and garment and textile exports rose, the central bank said on Wednesday. Quarterly imports rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier to $2.377 billion, while exports rose 13 percent to $1.717 billion. more..

Arrest warrants issued in Sivaram murder case

May 16 (TN) The Colombo High Court has issued arrest warrants on three key State witnesses listed by the Attorney General in the murder case of popular journalist and Senior Editor of TamilNet, Dharmaretnam Sivaram. The sole accused Arumugam Sriskandarajah alias Peter of Trincomalee was produced in court when the case was taken up for inquiry Monday. more..

Major incidents involving the LTTE outside Sri Lanka

May 16 (SATP) In the recent past, there have been many instances in which cadres of the LTTE or their front organizations have been arrested or sentenced to prison for a variety of subversive activity across the world. Some of the major incidents involving the LTTE outside Sri Lanka include: May 10: Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, a Sri Lankan citizen, pleaded guilty in a US court to conspiracy to provide material support to the LTTE and attempted export of arms and ammunition. more..

Remittances rescue Sri Lanka's balance of payments

May 16 (AFP) Sri Lanka recorded a trade deficit of 659.5 million dollars in the first quarter, but foreign remittances pushed the overall balance of payments into positive territory, the central bank said Wednesday. Sri Lanka's exports in the first three months of 2007 earned 1.71 billion dollars while imports cost 2.37 billion dollars, leaving a deficit of 659.5 million dollars, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said. more..

Sri Lanka appoints new minister for ports and aviation

May 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka Wednesday appointed Chamal Rajapakse, brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, as the new minister of ports and aviation filling a post held by sacked minister Mangala Samaraweera, officials said. President Rajapakse had sworn in the new minister early Wednesday, prior to meeting the heads of newspaper editors at his heavily guarded 'Temple Trees' office in Colombo. more..

LS adjourned over Sethusamudram project

May 16 (ToI) Heated exchanges between UPA-Left members and Opposition BJP over the Sethusamudram project on Wednesday led Lok Sabha to adjourn for 90 minutes as Government maintained there was no scientific evidence of any historical structure there. Trouble began when BJP leader V K Malhotra said the alignment of the project would "destroy the Ram Sethu" and such a move would hurt "religious sentiments of the Hindus", provoking Congress, Left and DMK members. more..

Sri Lanka will not depend on aid: president

May 16 (AFP) Sri Lanka's president vowed not to depend on foreign aid after Britain said it would suspend debt relief to its former colony until Colombo improves its human rights record. President Mahinda Rajapakse said he would accept "genuine aid," but will not depend on it, his office quoted him as saying during a meeting with local newspaper editors at his residence. more..

Lanka can do without foreign aid, says Rajapaksa

May 16 (HT) Clearly stung by Britain's withholding half of its assistance for tsunami relief work in Sri Lanka, citing the government's human rights violations and high defence expenditure, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday declared that Sri Lanka would not depend on foreign aid. "If we are offered genuine aid, we will take it. If not, we will forget about aid and do our job. We will not be dependent on aid," the President told media more..

India to push ship lane plan despite Hindu protests

May 17 (Reuters) India plans to go ahead with a controversial project to carve a shipping channel in seas off its south coast despite protests by religious groups who say it will destroy a mythical bridge of sand made by a Hindu god. The $560-million Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic. more..

Commission of inquiry holds inaugural session as it begins investigations

May 17 (SLE) The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) appointed by Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa in November 2006, to investigate and inquire into human rights abuses, which allegedly took place in Sri Lanka since August 1, 2005, held its inaugural session on May 14, 2007. The Chairman of the COI, Justice Nissanka Udalagama, who addressed the audience at the inauguration, said that the primary purpose of the COI is to more..

President asked to prove his genuineness in eradicating fraud and corruption

May 17 (AT) Anura Dissanayake, MP and JVP Politburo Member challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse to prove his genuineness in eradicating fraud, corruption, bribery and waste, by punishing the fraudsters found guilty after investigation by COPE. Disanayake was addressing a large number of intellectuals gathered at the Mahaweli Centre where a conference was organized by the JVP, speaking on the topic ‘Why the fraudsters revealed by the COPE should be punished?’ last week. more..

LTTE essentially a Sri Lankan group and no "direct" threat to US – Lanka's former US Ambassador

May 17 (AT) Despite LTTE being banned in the US, the rebel group "was essentially a Sri Lankan group and it did not pose a "direct" threat to the US" said the former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Jeffrey Lunstead in a report titled 'The United States' Role in Sri Lanka's Peace Process.' He added "US believed that direct talks with the LTTE was the right thing to do." more..

Second conspiracy against Ranil surfaces; another 6 to cross over

May 17 (LeN) Another conspiracy is once surfacing against the leader of the opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe. A specialty of the conspiracy this time is the fact that three of the MP's whom Wickremesinghe said were close to him and were granted with high ranking positions in the party, been engaged in the conspiracy. One of the main figures behind the conspiracy told LeN, the reason for the conspiracy is the dictatorship that is in the party leadership. more..

Navy fires at an Air force air craft

May 17 (LeN) It is being reported that the navy camp in Trincomalee has fired at an Air force beach craft this morning. However a large tragedy that might have occurred skipped as the sailors couldn't fire on target. The information that an Air force air craft was patrolling in the area had been informed to the camp but the message had not been conveyed to the ground troops properly which resulted in them getting confused what the air craft exactly is. more..

MIG 29 - No knee jerk reaction - President Rajapaksa

May 17 (LeN) The decision to purchase MIG 29 fighter jets for the Sri Lanka Air Force is part of the plans to modernize the Air Force and have a good Air Defense System (ADS). It was not a knee-jerk reaction to the LTTE's recent air attacks, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told Editors and Media Heads at Temple Trees today. He said there were reports of the LTTE obtaining light aircraft long before its recent air attacks, leading to some talk of a proper ADS, but nothing had been done. more..

Lawlessness spills into mob killing of suspected thief

May 17 (ISL) Mr. I. G. Pushpakumara (30) a navy officer said to be assigned to VIP security who was on home leave was beaten to death by a mob who believed that he was trying to escape after committing the theft of a mobile phone. When a crowd chased this navy officer, as some people shouted ‘thief’ it is reported that he tried to fend off the crowd by firing his navy issue pistol into the air. more..

"Stop war, killings, disappearances"

May 17 (BBC) A protest against the war urging authorities to stop killings and disappearances, was held on Wednesday at Lipton circle in Colombo. Organised jointly by human rights organisations, non governmental organizations and several political parties demonstrators strongly appealed to respect human rights and democratic values. The demonstrators donned black bands on their hands and gags. more..

UNICEF reaches out to children and families displaced by escalating conflict

May 17 (UN) UNICEF is playing an increasing role in addressing the psychosocial needs of children affected by ongoing violence in Sri Lanka. In northern and eastern Sri Lanka, the escalating conflict between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, is having grave humanitarian consequences. The fighting has impeded access for UNICEF and other aid organizations working in the region. more..

Not Ram Setu, just Adam's bridge: Baalu

May 17 (ToI) Adam's bridge or Ram Setu, the issue rocked the Lok Sabha on Wednesday as BJP members refused to transact business in the House when the government said that there was no archaeological evidence of any ancient construction. The House was adjourned for the day soon after it reassembled at 2 pm when the BJP members trooped into the well of the House protesting against the Sethusamudram project amid objections raised from the Treasury benches. more..

Jayawardene wants to win it for the coach

May 17 (Gulf) Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said his side was ready for a fresh start and were keen to win the Warid Cricket Series against Pakistan to give their coach Tom Moody a winning farewell. The Lankans had workouts at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium ahead of tomorrow's first day-night clash against Pakistan, who were to arrive early this morning. more..

Connecting Sri Lankan families at the bottom of the pyramid

May 17 (LBO) The theme of the 2007 World Telecom and Information Society Day (May 17th) is connecting the young. It is difficult to connect the young without also connecting the old. The young usually connect within the context of economic and other decisions made by family units. This column examines what is required to connect families at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) in Sri Lanka, more..

Police questioning of editor over Goldquest expose deplorable: rights body

May 17 (LBO) Police has questioned a newspaper editor over reporting of the activities of the Goldquest scheme in Sri Lanka, and a subsequent controversial investigation by the country's Central Bank. Sri Lanka's Free Media Movement protested the questioning of Sonali Samarasinghe, the editor of the Morning Leader newspaper Wednesday, describing the move as 'deplorable' and a chilling attempt to undermine media freedom and democracy. more..

Sri Lanka closed airport to avoid insurance premium increases

May 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka closed its only international airport for night flights at the request of national carrier SriLankan Airlines, who would have otherwise been slapped a high insurance premium, the president's office said in a statement Wednesday. The government earlier said they were shutting the Bandaranaike International Airport check-in counters and the only runway, as a security measure against raids by rebel Tamil Tiger aircraft. more..

Sri Lankan boat evades surveillance, reaches Indian coast

May 17 (PTI) Evading strict surveillance by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, a Sri Lankan fibreglass boat managed to reach Ramanathapuram coast to smuggle beedis and other articles to that country, police said. Two Sri Lankans, who brought the boat fitted with two high speed outboard engines and three Indians who helped them smuggle the contraband, were arrested, they said. more..

No Murali at Twenty20 World Cup

May 17 (BBC) Muttiah Muralitharan will not play in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup from 11 September, meaning he will be available for Lancashire's season end. BBC Sport understands that Muralitharan has just begun his summer in county cricket, and is keen to play as many games for them as possible. He will play Sri Lanka's two Tests against Bangladesh from late June, but not the one-dayers against the Tigers. more..

'Naxalites in touch with militants'

May 17 (ToI) The government on Tuesday informed Parliament that naxalites were working in close coordination with some terrorist outfits operating in J&K and were also in touch with the LTTE of Sri Lanka. "Though the government has no documentary evidence of any memorandum of understanding signed between international terror outfits with naxalites in the country, we have enough information suggesting that there is coordination between them," more..

New beginning for Lanka schools after tsunami

May 17 (KT) The derelict shell of Al Hussain school stands like a monument overlooking the clear blue sea, its waters lapping gently on the white sandy beach. On Boxing Day 2004, primary school children sitting at their desks for holiday tuition were washed away by the force of a very different sea, when the Asian tsunami swept Sri Lanka. Fifty-eight girls and boys from Al Hussain were killed. more..